Aircraft: Boeing B 747-8
Cabin: First Class
From: Hong Kong
Date: 25. August 2013
Arrival: 05:20 (+1)
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
At 20:45 the shuttle leaves from the Novotel to take me back to the airport. There are only two other passengers with me.
I like the design of the terminal structure, it’s really quite impressive.
Check-in for the Lufthansa flight is done in row F, with two First Class counters on the far left. The check-in agent issues my boarding passes for the flight to Frankfurt and the onward connection to Basel. She also hands me a voucher for the golf cart shuttle through the terminal. I still have some time on my hands, and so I decide to walk instead.
Once check-in is completed, I am escorted to the security check. On our way, the young lady escorting me explains to me that I have a choice of either using the United Airlines lounge or the Thai Airways one. I decide to go for the latter. It’s the same lounge I sat in the day before on my way from Hong Kong to Bangkok with Thai Airways. I will be picked up from the lounge once boarding commences.
There is one other passenger in the First Class section of the lounge. One of the lounge attendants immediately brings me a menu and asks me if I’d like a drink. I order a Perrier with lime and to eat a selection of dim sum.
True to her word, the escort appears to pick me up about thirty minutes before departure. As we reach the gate there are already two long queues forming for boarding. But the intrepid young lady takes my boarding pass and marches right past the queue to the counter with the scanner. The gate attendant scans my pass and I am cleared to board.
This is my first experience with the B747-8 and I’m rather curious to see how the First Class cabin compares to that of the older -400 model, with First on the upper deck. There are three window seats on each side of the cabin and one double seat in the middle.
The first impression is good. For one, there is a lot more storage space than there is upstairs. For another, I always find it a bit iffy that a First Class passenger – once on board – should have to schlepp his luggage through the Business Class cabin and then up those stairs. So that’s certainly an improvement. As on the A 380, Lufthansa has also provided individual lockers for passengers.
On the downside, the cabin down here seems more cramped and less intimate. I am on 1K, which is in the tip of the beast’s nose, where the curvature is most pronounced. The proximity here to 1A is a bit too close for me.
Generally speaking, one thing that has always bothered me with Lufthansa, is the complete lack of privacy in First Class. There is of course a screen that can be raised. But even so, compared to the seat Malaysian has on the A 380, you’re still quite exposed as a passenger.
But all of this shall not be of any concern on tonight’s flight, as there are only two other passengers in First tonight, both of which have settled in on row two.
Service in the First Class cabin is by a friendly German young woman. She’s very pleasant in her manner, she strikes a balance between making passengers feel at home, without however being intrusive.
At my request, she brings me a glass of water, together with a bowl of nuts and a plate with a warm towel. The rose petal on the plate with the towel is an elegant touch I find.
After that, in sequence, she brings me the pjs, slippers and the vanity kit. Since my last trip with Lufthansa to San Francisco in January, they appear to have changed the vanity kit and replaced it with something by Bogner. It looks just as boring as the previous one to be honest.
Traffic is quite busy in Hong Kong at this time of night (we’re approaching midnight). Finally, behind the British Airways and Virgin flights to London and a Hog Kong Airways A 330 it’s our turn. The departure route seems somewhat circuitous. We take off in a northerly direction and then initially turn eastwards, then southwards before eventually turning north-westwards in an elegant, wide turn. It’s stunning to watch the clouds lit up by the city below them.
The flight attendant brings me an amuse bouche of crabmeat with roe in a steamed bun and the menu with that.
As she sets the table I can’t but notice that Lufthansa has done quite a bit of revamping of it’s product. It’s small things, like the new cutlery or the napkin holder. All in all I like the changes, they make the experience more elegant. Apart from the butter dish there is now also a dish with olive oil.
I choose a slice of garlic bread and some focaccia from the breadbasket, and then we begin.
The first course is the signature caviar service with trimmings.
For the second course I have a small dish of smoked salmon with blinis, a bowl of mushrooms marinated in rosemary infused olive oil with crème fraîche and a salad of mixed leaves with pine nuts and dried tomatoes. Just of word of caution here: I go for the tomato dressing, which comes in a jar and is produced by Heinz. Whatever you do, at all costs try to avoid this dressing. It’s an abomination!
On a side note, the étagère the second course(s) used to be served on has been replaced by a rectangular platter.
For the main course I have the braised beef in a red wine juice, with grilled vegetables and potato gnocchi. The sides are okay, but the beef is just way too fatty and so I leave most of it.
For dessert I have a plate of cheese with crackers. I opt for the Stilton, Cheddar and Brie. While the cheese is rather nice, it would have been good to have some dried fruit or, better still, a bit of chutney with the cheese.
After the meal I go and change for bed. When I return, the flight attendant has already made up my bed. I lie down and only wake up again much later, three hours out of Frankfurt.
Two hours out of Frankfurt the flight attendant brings me a coffee with milk and sugar, followed be a hot towel to wake me up and a glass of orange juice. She then dresses the table for the breakfast service.
I start with a plate of fresh fruit.
This is followed by a selection of cheese with bread and toast.
For the hot dish, I have an omelette with tomato coulis and broccoli.
To drink I have mint infused still water, which is very refreshing.
Once the meal has been cleared away, I busy myself with collecting my stuff from the various stowage compartments and make a few notes for the last in this series of trip reports.
We arrive at gate A69, which at the far end of the newly opened A+ concourse. From here it’s quite a trek where ever you’re going. But that’s alright, it’ll do me good to stretch my legs after the flight and my onward connection to Basel is not for another four hours.
So I make my way to the First Class lounge. First thing I do, is have a shower. Perhaps I should send these to British Airways…
CONNECTION TO BASEL
Eventually, at 09:15 I head over to the pick up area for passengers being driven to their aircraft. Which is the case here, as a Canadair Regional Jet, using a remote parking position, will operate my flight today.
I shan’t do a full report on this last leg, after all it’s only a hop of 35 minutes. I have here a few pictures from our departure and of the meal.
I am delighted to see that Lufthansa has finally decided to improve its catering on shorthaul regional routes: instead of those fully disposable plastic and cardboard trays, this meal here is served on real crockery, with real cutlery. And it even tastes good. So well done for that Lufthansa.
This brings to an end my excursion to Australia. For those of you have joined me along the way, thanks for your interest and also for your patience and endurance.
So how does one bring to an appropriate close such wonderful journey? Here’s my suggestion. While I was at Uluru I visited the Cultural Centre of the Anangu People. The centre is certainly worth visiting. During my visit, there was a woman sitting outside, working on a painting of the Seven Sisters, which is a story from the Dreamtime. There was something so serene about the concentration and accuracy with which she worked on her painting. I feel very fortunate in that this lady accepted my offer to buy the picture from her once she’d finished it. To me, this picture is the essence of my journey to Australia.
The Seven Sisters, by Teresa Curtis