Lufthansa, Business Class – Airbus A 321: Frankfurt to Malta

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INTRODUCTION
I’m on my way to Malta for this year’s edition of the Malta Marathon. I shall be running the half-marathon with a distance of 21.1 kilometres, which is in fact longer than the width of the island!

I confess I’m a bit of a wuss, I’ve never been able to bring up the cojones to attempt a full marathon. That’s still one for the bucket list. Others of course, like my friend the valiant M., probably do a nippy full marathon every morning, just to work up an appetite for breakfast…

But I digress. Again. So yes, last year I flew with Lufthansa via Munich and I must say, I was hardly impressed. But given my recent, rather positive experiences on SWISS, I figured I might as well give Lufthansa another chance. There’s also that fact that their schedule is the most convenient for my purpose.

GETTING TO THE FRANKFURT
Just to give Lufthansa a bit of a head start, I shall not regale you with a full trip report of the Basel to Frankfurt sector. Suffice to say it was not so nice. My biggest complaint is the aircraft. Those Canadair RegionalJets really are stinkers! Everything is really tight and cramped and the bins are simply too small for all the hand luggage people take on board these days.

LUFTHANSA BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE ON CONCOURSE A
The bus from the aircraft to the terminal ejects me somewhere in the bowels of the A concourse of Terminal 1. From here I take the stairs one floor up and make my way to the Lufthansa Business Class lounge.

The lounge is nicely designed and very bright, using a lot of white paint and light wooden panelling. The views of the apron are quite spectacular too, despite those pesky stripes that run along the width of the windows.

It’s just too bad there hardly any place left to sit. There are people everywhere and I’m left wondering if all these good men and women really have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than hang around an airport lounge. But it doesn’t matter. I only have about 15 minutes in the lounge before it’s time for me to head for gate A 36, from where the flight will be boarding.

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BOARDING
Only, getting to the gate may prove to be a bit trickier than I thought. The queue of passengers for Schengen emigration is so long that it’s blocking access to the A concourse, which is in the opposite direction from the non-Schengen area. But eventually, after a long stream of ‘uh…sorry…hello…’tschuldigung…was that your toe, sorry…excuse me’ I finally get through and reach my gate just as boarding is about to start.

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THE CABIN
Today’s flight is operated by an Airbus A 321. I am seated on 2F, which is a window seat on the starboard side of the aircraft. On this side of the aircraft, row 2 is the first row of Business Class, there is no row 1. Whereas on the opposite side there is.

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The leg space is excellent on the bulkhead row. Other than that though, the seat is very hard, with little or no cushioning and – and I know I keep saying this – the grey metallic finish of the panelling really makes the cabin look rather dark and gloomy.

In total, there are 14 Business Class seats on this service. Occupancy is at 50%, with six human beings and a rather regal looking feline who looks as though he owns the aircraft. And Lufthansa actually…

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SERVICE & CREW
The maître de is a woman in her fifties, I should say. What strikes me about her is the eloquence and ease with which she makes her announcements. It seems unrehearsed, but it comes across as being very polished, charming and approachable.

The service only begins really once the aircraft is airborne. Until then, unlike SWISS or KLM, there is no welcome drink, refreshing towel or anything of the sort.

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THE MEAL
Once the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, the meal service begins. Despite the fairly long flight time of two hours and fifteen minutes it is obviously not foreseen that there should be a drinks service before the meal.

The meal is cold and consists of:

  • a very nice yoghurt, the content of which I was unable to make out, save for the slice of orange and the pistachios,
  • a plate of cheese,
  • a plate of cold meats,
  • a bowl of fruit,
  • a selection of buns and croissants that are served warm and nearly burn your fingers,
  • the bread is served with unsalted butter and Hero strawberry jam,
  • cream, sugar and a towl are also on the tray.

As the flight attendant passes through the cabin with the bread basket, she encourages the passengers to take as much as they like, insisting that there’s really more than enough. All in all, the meal is rather tasty and hits the spot nicely.

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ARRIVAL
It looks like it’s my lucky day today. Landings and take-offs are towards the north, which means that passengers seated on the starboard side of the aircraft are treated to a spectacular view of the island.

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The airport is fairly busy when we arrive, but seeing as I only have hand luggage, I’m already on the X2 bus to St. Julian’s within just 15 minutes of landing.

5 Star Airline – I don’t think so…
So what about my Lufthansa experience? First of all, to be fair, I think I should say straight away that this experience was by far much more agreeable to the flight from Munich to Malta last year. Where last year’s crew were a right bunch of nasty old witches, this lot was a more accommodating and willing to interact in a professional and friendly way with the passengers. On this flight I actually felt welcome, and not like I was a burden.

On the down side, and I know this is something Lufthansa has only limited control over, the experience on the ground in Frankfurt really is a nightmare. The airport is a rat hole, with long journeys by bus to and from the aircraft, seemingly endless corridors to walk along and people everywhere that make it difficult to get through.

The inflight product on the other hand, is something Lufthansa very much can control, which makes it all the more unfortunate that precisely this is the carrier’s weakest point. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with what passengers are offered on board in Business Class, it’s just that it’s quite obvious that every attempt has been made to cut costs. I don’t in principle think there’s anything wrong with that. After all, the airline is accountable to its shareholders. But even so, I think the passengers should never be allowed to see the cost cutting.

Other than that, throughout today’s flight there was a constant stream of passengers coming through from Economy Class to use the forward toilet. And quite frankly, I don’t blame them, given that the crew left the curtain between Business Class and Economy open throughout the flight and actually encouraged passengers to use the forward loo. Again, this is in itself not a big issue. But it certainly makes me wonder wherein exactly Lufthansa sees the selling point of its European Business Class product: it’s not the lounges, because they’re too full to be enjoyed anyway; it’s not the catering; and the seat is the same one they have installed in the back of the bus. Which leaves what exactly?

So in the sum of all things, yeah this flight was not bad. But honestly, if anyone at Skytrax seriously thinks Lufthansa is deserving of its 5 Star ranking, then I suspect they probably also still believe in Father Christmas.

Posted in Airbus A 321, Business Class, Lufthansa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swiss International Air Lines, Business Class – Bombardier CSeries: Zürich to Luxembourg

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INTRODUCTION
As some of the more regular readers of this blog will know, I’m not exactly a fan of Lufthansa and the Lufthansa group of airlines. But sometimes, circumstances change and we can either adapt to them or spend a lot of time not feeling sexy.

Late in 2017 it became clear that I would be spending a lot more time in Luxembourg. I think I should explain at this point that I don’t have a car, and a few years ago the direct train link between Basel, where I live, and Luxembourg was terminated, making it necessary to change trains at least once in Strassbourg and sometimes even a second time in Metz.

That’s why, so far, I have always chosen KLM for my trips to Luxembourg. First of all, because that allowed me to arrive and depart from Basel. And secondly, because I rather like KLM and their Flying Blue programme.

But of course, there are a few drawbacks in flying KLM. Mainly, over a distance of roughly 400 km it hardly makes sense to have to change aircraft in Amsterdam, which only makes the journey unnecessarily long and doesn’t really do anything to improve my carbon footprint either.

And so, more out of necessity than conviction, I have decided to shift back to SWISS – at least for the trips to Luxembourg. On the one hand, flying from Zürich will allow me to travel to and from Luxembourg without interfering too much with my work in Switzerland. On the other hand, it’s only a short 45 minute flight from Zürich to Luxembourg.

I have no status with the Miles and More programme and these days, achieving any sort of status is near impossible, unless you spend most of your waking hours on a plane or pay unreasonably high fares simply for a booking in an RBD that yields a higher mileage per segment. Both of which don’t strike me as exceptionally exciting right now.

Well, so be it. On European short-haul flights I think you can get by perfectly well without a lounge anyway. And for long-haul trips I would travel Business Class, which gives me lounge access anyway.

I won’t regale you with a post for every one of the planned flights between Zürich and Luxembourg. But I figured it would be good to post about my first experience under the new regime. After all, who knows what might happen. Perhaps I’ll be back to my old tricks with KLM in a month’s time…

CHECK-IN
I arrive at Zürich airport by train at 07h15. Much to my surprise, it looks as though the morning rush is already over and there aren’t that many people milling about.

I’ve already checked in online. The app works well and is easy enough to navigate, but still, for some reason the SWISS boarding passes don’t show up on my iPhone’s locked screen.

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AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
The SWISS Schengen lounge is currently closed for refurbishing. As a compromise – the Swiss are good at that – SWISS passengers have the option to use one of the other lounges in Zürich. With the understanding however, that the other carriers’ passengers are given preference. If the lounge is full when you arrive, you are given a voucher for a coffee in one of the public airside outlets.

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I’m feeling rather hungry anyway, so instead I go directly one floor down to the Marché restaurant in the passage between the B pier and the A pier and have myself a rather tasty and quiet breakfast there.

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BOARDING
Boarding starts on time at 08h35. The gate agent is new, I’m guessing. The announcements she makes are oozing with the embarrassment of a person not used to hearing the sound of their own voice.

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Business Class passengers are invited to board first. But I’m sitting on 1A, so I figure I might as well wait so as not to get in everybody’s way.

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As I step aboard the aircraft, I am greeted by the maître de – a German female – and a young man, also German.

SERVICE
As soon as I take my seat, the young man brings me a small bottle of water and a pre packed refreshing towel. He seems kind of shy, mostly avoiding having to interact with the passengers as much as he can, which seems a bit strange given that you do have quite a bit of interacting to do when you’re a flight attendant.

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The maître de is polite, but otherwise, as we say in Maltese, a kaxxa silg, an ice box. Whenever she smiles you feel guilty for the pain it must be causing her…

CABIN
The cabin on the CS100 is nice. The seats are a nice warm brown colour and the bulkhead and walls are white, which makes a refreshing change from that godawful and depressing Lufthansa grey.

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The seating configuration is 2 + 3. In Business Class the seat next to you is always kept empty. On the downside, in the fully upright position the seatback is quite far forward, so you really have to sit very upright. Secondly, there is no cabin divider at all. Not even a curtain. It’s no big deal really, but I think a divider would be nice.

The windows on the CS100 are definitely are larger than on other aircraft. The inflight video screens, in contrast, are minute and I really wonder what on earth they were thinking installing those in the first place.

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THE MEAL
We take off and very soon after we find ourselves climbing above the clouds. The view of the snow peaked mountains is spectacular. And then the meal service begins. It consists of a thin, long plate which contains

  • a brioche filled with smoked salmon and horseradish,
  • a small ramekin of müsli,
  • a bowl of fresh fruit.

To drink I have an orange juice.

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Hot drinks are available from a thermos, and don’t look and smell too appealing. The guy one row behind me on the other side of the aisle orders a cup of coffee and I think you can actually hear his jaw hit the floor as the flight attendant serves him his drink in a cardboard cup. I mean, admittedly, it’s not the most elegant presentation but the flight time is only 45 minutes. So I think they can be forgiven for not bringing out the bells and whistles and the fine bone china cups.

ARRIVAL
We’re only in cruise flight for about twenty minutes before we start our descent again. Eventually the aircraft dives under the thick layer of clouds as we start our final approach into Luxembourg. Before we land, the cabin crew pass through the cabin with a basket full of Swiss chocolate and shortly after we touch down.

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The SWISS flight quite reliably uses a contact stand at Luxembourg airport. And so, ten minutes after landing, I’m already on the bus line 16 on my way to Kirchberg.

CONCLUSION
So, I left Basel on the 06h07 train and I was in the office in Luxembourg at 10h30. I timed it. If I’d taken the train, I would have left Basel at 06h21 and would have arrived at Luxembourg station at 10h21 – which means I would have been in the office at around 10h45. So in summary, the flight is roughly the same duration as the train.

Other than that, what can I say about SWISS? Obviously the flight was hardly long enough for them to distinguish themselves. While I rather like the meal service and the table ware it is served on, I still found the whole experience a bit lacklustre.

I also thought the crews were subpar. On the one hand, they were obviously not interested in engaging with the passengers in any way, even though the flight was far from full and they would have had the time. On the other hand, I also noticed that their uniforms are evidently of very bad quality and quite frankly, they just looked shabby. They were okay, I guess. But that doesn’t make me a convert yet.

Posted in Bombardier CS100, Business Class, Swiss International Air Lines | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Garuda Indonesia, First Class – Boeing B 777-300: Jakarta to London

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INTRODUCTION
Three days before my flight back to London, I receive an e-mail from the Garuda First Class concierge asking me a) what I had in mind for the complimentary pick-up, b) if I had any specific dietary requirements they should know about and c) what size pyjama I take. That more or less sets the tone for my flight back home and the end of what has been a truly relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable vacation…

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
I leave the FM7 Hotel at 09h30. This morning the traffic is much thicker and for some unearthly reason we find ourselves taking backroads through some small village. The journey to the airport takes twenty minutes to complete.

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Before we depart from the hotel, the driver hands me a refreshing towel and a bottle of still water.

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CHECK-IN
We pull up to Terminal 3, where I am already being expected by the First Class ground crew. I step out of the car and a young lady greets me by name. She welcomes me to the flight, while a young man takes my luggage out of the booth. She then escorts me to the dedicated First Class check-in area and invites me to take a seat while she checks me in and tags my suitcase.

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Once that’s done, she accompanies me through security and immigration. There is a dedicated lane for First Class passengers for security and behind that, we head straight for the counter for holders of diplomatic passports – which of course speeds things up considerably…

AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
And then form there we head for the First Class lounge on the mezzanine level. The place is deserted when I arrive. The lounge is a nice size, although it seems a bit large now, given that currently Garuda’s flight to London is the only with a First Class service and even that only operates three times a week.

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I take a seat in the lounge and am brought another yet another refreshing towel, followed by some still water, a plate of fresh fruit and the menu for the lounge. There is no buffet in the First Class lounge, so food can only be ordered from the staff. I go with the Gnocchi Neapolitana, which is very good.

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BOARDING
At around 11h45 the gate agent comes to inform me that the flight is now in the final stages of boarding. It’s time to leave. At the lounge’s reception area all the staff are lined up to say goodbye and wish me a pleasant trip.

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We breeze through the boarding gate and take the left aisle down to the airbridge for First Class passengers only. Here too there are ground staff in the First Class uniform wishing me a pleasant flight. I step on board. The ground attendant hands me over to the purser – who also greets me by name – then says goodbye and wishes me a safe journey. One of the First Class cabin crew then shows me to my seat on 2K.

CABIN
Garuda’s First Class cabin is really quite amazing. Every seat is enclosed in a sort of mini-suite, with sliding doors that can be closed for more privacy. Apart from that, the cabin and seat have a very elegant appearance and are kept in rich, dark colours.

There is plenty of storage space, including a closet with two hangers that is wide enough for me to hang my clothes in once I change into the pyjamas.

The seat is very comfortable and the sliding doors certainly give the you the feeling of being in your own suite. It’s not just that the sliding doors will give you more privacy. I also think you are disturbed a lot less when you rest because you really don’t notice at all when somebody passes by your seat.

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CREW & SERIVCE
As I already mentioned, the crew were waiting for me at the door as I step on board. By the way, the curtain to Business is closed during boarding, which is just a minor detail but something I really like.

There are a whole lot of goodies expecting me at my seat:

  • the food and drinks menus for the flight,
  • noise cancelling earphones,
  • a vanity kit,
  • two pillows,
  • a set of stationary with a pen,
  • the pyjamas.

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As soon as I take my seat, one of the cabin crew comes to offer me a welcome drink. A few moments later she returns with a scented hot towel, a glass of the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé and a small ramekin of warm macadamia nuts.

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The flight time is announced at 14 hours and 15 minutes. Brilliant! All the more time to enjoy Garuda’s First Class service!

The crew on this flight are truly excellent. They’re personable, charming and very friendly. They make passengers feel at ease in a way that seems very natural.

AMENITIES
The amenity kit is of no particular brand. It contains:

  • a brush,
  • earplugs,
  • lip balm,
  • eyeshades,
  • a dental set,
  • two Payot branded creams.

What strikes me about the vanity kit is that the content is of less good quality than the one I was given in Business Class on the Melbourne to Jakarta leg of this trip. The toothbrush for example, is rather small, although adult size toothbrushes are available in the lavatory.

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The pyjama is black and not of any particular brand. It’s comfortable enough but be warned, the cut is rather tight. I’m wearing an XL and the pants still make me look like a primo ballerino…

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In contrast, the slippers are excellent. They’re solid and very comfortable. There’s a bit of an awkward moment when the cabin crew bring me the slippers, because they insist on helping you take off your shoes and kneel before you to do so.

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THE MEAL
Orders for the meal are taken before we push back.

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The meal service begins with the caviar service, which is served with warm blinis, crème fraîche and shrimp crackers. And more of the champagne.

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For the first course, I go with the chicken musakhan roll, served with a beetroot relish and garlic sauce. I have no idea what the brown powder dusted on the rolls is, but it’s certainly fragrant, with a subtle hint of citrus.

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Next comes the pumpkin soup with enoki mushroom and crème fraîche. The soup is served with toasted bread. Perhaps the soup might have been a tad warmer. But other than that, it’s a very hearty soup with a strong underlying flavour of celery.

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For the main course I have the grilled beef sirloin. This is served with a thyme jus, asparagus, mushrooms and grilled cherry tomatoes. It should also have had a potato soufflé, which I request to have swapped for the truffle ravioli, which are excellent. The meat is good too, it’s cooked just right and has a nice charcoal flavour.

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And then I have the cheese board and crackers. There is no information about what cheese it is – I’m guessing some sort of camembert, a cheddar and maybe a Roquefort.

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And then, for dessert I have the chocolate lava with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit. The lava also could have spent some more time in the oven. But other than that, you can’t really go wrong with anything that contains warm melted chocolate, can you?

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And just in case I’m still hungry, the cabin attendant brings me two shortbread biscuits with the cappuccino. And that concludes the meal service. And I feel totally gorged!

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After the meal, one of the flight attendants makes up my bed for me to sleep. The duvet I’m given is amazingly fluffy and the pillows are nice and comfortable. There’s also a thick mattress on the seat for greater comfort. With the doors closed the suite feels very intimate and cosy.

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At some point during the flight I wake up and ask for a noodle soup and a drink. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever had a decanted Diet Coke!

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And then I go off to sleep again.

SECOND SERVICE
I awake about two hours out of London. Just in time for the second meal service. There is a whole list of items to choose from, the second service consists of a starter, a main course and a dessert.

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To start I have the cream of asparagus with a dumpling and fresh asparagus. This dish is excellent. The soup has a velvety texture and the different flavours are very finely balanced.

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For the main course I go with the seabass in a turmeric pickle sauce and potato croquettes, baby pak choy and vegetables. When I order the fish, I notice a slight hesitation from the flight attendant, and I can’t help but feel that she’s trying to dissuade me from having it. Once I tuck in, I realise why: because what I thought were green beans are in fact small and really vicious green chillies that literally blow the top of my head off! My friend the valiant M. always says he doesn’t get how I can eat very spicy food and enjoy it, but this is too much even for me! Other than that though, the fish is moist and the sauce is flavourful and tangy.

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For dessert I have the plate of fruit, which includes two slices of Guava and manages to quench the fire burning in my mouth!

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And then to conclude, I have mint tea, served with two sticks of Valrhona chocolate.

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I really must say, the quality and quantity of the food served in Garuda’s First Class is quite impressive. The tableware is attractive and the presentation of the dishes shows a lot of attention to detail. My other friend, the tall, blond M. has a stomach that is a bottomless pit. I really don’t know where the guy puts it all. But I’m sure he would have had a whale of a time on this flight!

ARRIVAL
By the time the second service ends, we already nearing the top of descent. It’s already gone eight in the evening and traffic in Heathrow is calm. As the flight draws to an end, one of the cabin crew takes my vanity kit, slippers and pyjamas and places them in Garuda First Class branded bag for me to take with me.

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We land in an easterly direction without even having to hold, and then very slowly taxi to our gate at Terminal 3. When eventually we reach our stand, only the airbridge for the L2 door is attached because the police are there to meet our flight. Apparently they’re looking for one particular passenger. Once he is removed from the flight, we’re free to disembark. It’s really quite embarrassing how the cabin crew request all the Business Class passengers to step aside to allow me and the other three First Class passengers to disembark first.

There is a representative from Garuda holding a sign up with my name as I step off the plane. He welcomes me to London and then escorts me through immigration, assists me with my bag and takes me through customs. Once we’re landside again, he gives me instructions on how to get to Terminal 5, where I’ll be spending the night, before sending me on my way.

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CONCLUSION
I’m wondering where Garuda is going with its First Class product right now. Personally, I think this was one of the best First Class experiences I’ve had in a long time that was truly deserving of the term first class. The hard product is excellent and the crews on the ground and in the air obviously made an enormous effort to provide passengers with a service that is refined and polished. But it just seems like an awful lot of effort for just the one route with a service that doesn’t even operate daily to Heathrow.

But apart from that, I think Garuda Indonesia offers a good and solid product, both in Business Class and in First. Admittedly, I do think they could significantly improve the experience on the ground for passengers not travelling in First. I understand that the two domestic flights I did were delayed due to the severe weather that the airline has no influence over, and perhaps it goes without saying in Indonesia that all you can do in such cases is to sit and wait for it to pass. Even so, I think it wouldn’t hurt Garuda to communicate more proactively in cases of irregularity – and with that I don’t mean having a gate agent yelling at the top of her voice in Bahasia only.

I sincerely wish Garuda the best of luck for the future. And I hope their new CEO will succeed in maintaining the high standard of service and professionalism that I experienced and enjoyed on all my flights with the airline so far.

Would I choose Garuda again? Definitely!

 

Posted in Boeing B 777-300, First Class, Garuda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Garuda Indonesia, Business Class – Airbus A 330-200: Surabaya to Jakarta

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INTRODUCTION
Had I already mentioned it’s the monsoon season in Java? Goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this. No sooner have we left the hotel, the rain starts. This must be what they mean when people speak of the heavens opening. Within minutes the streets turn to rivers and it becomes nearly impossible to see anything up ahead of the car. I think it’s kind of atmospheric though, sitting in the comfort of the car with the rain pelting down on the roof as we drive through the rain drenched streets of Surabaya under a thunderous sky. And the Indonesians? To be honest, I think they hardly notice the rain. At least they all seem to be going about their business as usual – and their driving certainly hasn’t slowed down…

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
My flight to Jakarta will be leaving at 18h00. Given how long it took me to get from the airport into Surabaya when I got here, I arrange for the car to pick me up from the Majapahit at 15h00. Of course I hadn’t considered that this being Friday there would be less traffic. And so it happens that the trip to the airport only takes me fifty minutes to complete instead of ninety.

CHECK-IN
Garuda has its own domestic terminal here in Surabaya, which is Terminal 2. The facility looks rather new and very modern. The check-in area is only accessible for passengers with a valid ticket and you are required to show your ticket or boarding pass to enter the restricted area.

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There is a separate check-in are for premium customers, located opposite the regular check-in counters. The lady at check-in is friendly and obviously in a good mood, and apparently she was expecting me. I was able to check in using the app, but downloading the boarding pass to my Wallet or sending it by mail or text message didn’t work.

AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
The security check point and lounge area are located one floor up from check-in. Much to my surprise, there is even a lounge for Business Class passengers. It’s fairly small. In addition, there are a few weather related delays, making it difficult to find a place to sit. But eventually I manage.

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There are no washrooms in the lounge, and passengers should use the toilets next to the prayer room.

BOARDING
I think it’s safe to say we’re not going to leave on time. The previous service to Jakarta at 15h30 has been delayed due to weather and will now only be departing at 19h00. At some point, my flight shows up with a delay of thirty minutes, for a departure at 18h30.

Surprisingly though, 18h30 is when the boarding for my flight starts, which isn’t too bad. Eventually we close doors and push back at 19h10, with a delay of slightly more than an hour. The flight time is announced as one hour and six minutes. Although eventually, with the holding in Jakarta it’s more like ninety minutes.

CABIN
The cabin and seat configuration on the A 330-200 is identical to Garuda’s A 330-300 that I flew on from Melbourne to Jakarta. There is a pillow at every seat and blankets are available upon request.

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CREW & SERIVCE
The flight is full this evening, so there are two cabin crew working the Business Class cabin. Again they’re friendly and polite. The steward approaches me and ask me if I’d like a welcome drink. He returns shortly after with a glass of apple juice and a scented cold towel.

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THE MEAL
As on the flight from Jakarta to Surabaya, the meal consists of

  • a bowl of fruit,
  • a bread roll and butter,
  • a strange dessert which I suspect and hope is made out of rice,
  • a hot meal with a choice of either fish or chicken.

I go with the chicken, which is quite enjoyable. I have really no idea what the white and green dessert thingy is supposed to be, but it tastes okay actually.

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ARRIVAL
Eventually we land with a delay of not quite two hours. The aircraft comes to a stop at a gate on the international concourse, which means that after disembarking, we are bussed to domestic arrivals. There are separate busses for Business Class passengers. I will be spending my last night in Indonesia at the FM7 Hotel close to the airport. Ground transportation in Indonesia really is a nightmare, and the FM7 is only about a ten minute drive away from the airport.

Posted in Airbus A 330-200, Business Class, Garuda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hotel Majapahit, Surabaya

Here’s the link to the Hotel

The Majapahit Hotel, Surabaya was built in 1910 by Lucas Sarkies, who also founded The Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. The hotel has the same old world charm as other, more famous establishments – like The Savoy in London or The Peninsula in Hong Kong. The public area in the lobby is kept in the Art Deco style, while the rooms are elegantly appointed in what I can only describe as a colonial style – although nowadays it’s probably politically incorrect to say something like that.

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The hotel is laid out in a number large courtyards with lush vegetation and neatly trimmed lawns. The rooms are all located around the individual courtyards, giving the hotel a very open and exotic feeling.

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During my stay I was lucky enough to be upgraded to a Heritage Suite, thanks to my status with the Accor group of hotels. Apart from the fact that suite really is huge, it also has direct access to the pool, which incidentally is 25 metres long.

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Admittedly, there isn’t really anything much to see or do in Surabaya city and the traffic is bad enough to make a grown man cry. But if ever you happen to find yourself in this part of the world, it would be a shame to miss the fabulous and stylish Majapahit Hotel.

Posted in Surabaya, Indonesia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Garuda Indonesia, Business Class – Boeing B 737-800: Jakarta to Surabaya

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INTRODUCTION
Surabya Johnny, warum bist du so roh…? Surabaya Johnny, no-one’s meaner than you…

I just landed in Jakarta on a flight from Melbourne. We’re coming up to eleven in the morning. I’m not staying in Jakarta though. Instead, I’ve decided to heed the advice of my friend P., otherwise known as the Flying Dutchman, and head for Surabaya instead.

Why Surabaya, I hear you say? Don’t worry, I will explain later.

TRANSFER
The process is fairly straightforward. If you’re continuing on a domestic flight, you will have to clear immigration and customs in Jakarta. Once you exit customs, just follow the signs for domestic check-in. Eventually, the escalators will eject you on the second floor of Terminal 3, which is home to Garuda and its SkyTeam partners.

Domestic check-in for Garuda is on rows E and F. The SkyPriority counters are F2 and F3.

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AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
There is a dedicated line for security for SkyPriority passengers and when I arrive, the place is deserted. The staff manning the check point are very friendly and seem glad to see somebody. I suspect they’re probably just bored out of their wits.

The new terminal in Jakarta is airy and spacious. Surprisingly though, it’s also already showing first signs of wear and tear, despite that fact that it hasn’t been open that long. The roof is leaking in places, while other parts of the facility appear to be not quite finished or completed yet.

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The Garuda lounge is fairly large, but here too there is some urgent need for repairs. The lounge’s big selling point though, is that they serve Indonesian food! I don’t know what half the stuff I’m eating is here, but it sure is tasty!

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BOARDING
I think ‘organised chaos’ best describes the experience of flying in Indonesia. At 13h00 my flight shows up as ‘now boarding’ from gate 15. Only, when I reach gate 15 they’re still in the process of boarding the previous flight, which is heading for Denpasar. But still my flight is showing as being on time for a 13h30 departure.

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About twenty minutes later, I decide to check on the departures monitors about my flight. Only to find that the gate has been changed to 20, which is quite a schlep from gate 15. So I trek down to gate 20, where apparently they’re boarding a flight to somewhere else. My flight is also on the display and still down as on time, despite the fact that it’s already 13h35.

The only thing in the way of an announcement is one of the gate agents yelling something at the top of her voice in Bahsa. I approach one of the ten (!) agents at gate 20 to inquire about the status of my flight. She tells me that boarding will start soon from this gate.

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Eventually boarding starts at 14h20. By the time we push back it’s 14h40. So by now we’re already more than an hour behind schedule. The captain comes on the speaker to inform us that we’re currently number 15 in the departure sequence and will probably have to wait another forty minutes before it’s our turn depart…

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The flight time is announced as one hour and twenty minutes.

CABIN
Even for such a short hop, Garuda offers a Business Class product with a dedicated Business Class cabin. The seat has a pitch of 42 inches and a width of 19 inches. The design of the seat looks similar to the one I had on the Virgin Australia flight. The only difference being that Garuda also has a footrest installed on its seat, which really is much more comfortable to relax in when the seat is in the recline position.

There are twelve seats in a 2 + 2 configuration on three rows.

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CREW & SERIVCE
The Business Class cabin is taken care of by one female flight attendant. While boarding is still in progress she brings me a scented cold towel and a glass of orange juice. She’s obviously more focussed than friendly, but that’s okay.

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THE MEAL
Eventually we take off. The first few minutes of the flight are really bumpy, so it takes a while for the seatbelt sign to be turned off.

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Quite surprisingly, the crew are planning on doing a full tray service, despite the short flight time. They even use tablecloths!

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The tray arrives and consists of a bowl of fruit, another bowl with something sweet and a side plate with a cheese bun and butter.

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It’s only after I start on the fruit that I realise there’s also a hot meal, which is served separately. There is even a choice between two dishes: one is a piece of fish, while the other is chicken in a spicy gravy. I go with the latter and I really must say, the meal is excellent. But apart from that, I’m quite amazed how Garuda manages to serve up a hot meal on a flight of just over one hour, and how one flight attendant manages to serve twelve passengers in that time and remains friendly and courteous throughout.

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ARRIVAL
Eventually we start our descent into Surabaya. The light outside looks strange. It’s murky and wet. The approach is quite nice though. We come in over the sea, we make landfall, flying over these enormous rice feels. It’s a very poetic landscape, especially in the strange light.

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Garuda operates out of Terminal 2 in Surabaya.

GETTING INTO TOWN
Traffic in Indonesia is so bad, it’s legendary. And while Surabaya may not be quite as atrocious as Jakarta, it’s still bad. The airport is 19km away from the hotel where I’m staying. With the really nasty traffic it takes us ninety minutes to make the journey.

Posted in Boeing B 737-800, Business Class, Garuda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Garuda Indonesia, Business Class – Airbus A 330-300: Melbourne to Jakarta

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INTRODUCTION
I’ve really enjoyed this holiday. I had a great time and I think Australia is just a brilliant visit. It has so much to offer and the people are really friendly. Just as long as you can ignore the fact that many of the world’s most dangerous animals live here…

I spend that last two days of my trip in St. Kilda, which is a suburb of Melbourne. I rather like the place. Parts of it are quite run down and overall it comes across as the Australian interpretation of the British seaside resort.

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Oh yeah, and the weather was just brilliant!

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GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
My flight will be departing at 07h45, which is too early for me to catch the Skybus. The first service from St. Kilda doesn’t depart until 06h30, which is too late. So it’ll have to be a taxi this time, which will set you back about AUD80. I think this is rather steep for a journey of not even thirty minutes. But then again, I find that generally speaking the cost of living is quite expensive in Australia.

CHECK-IN
Garuda checks in on row F of the international terminal. There are two separate queues for Business Class and SkyPriority passengers.

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AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
In any case, passengers travelling in Garuda Business Class are entitled to use the priority lane for security. But that is hardly an issue this morning, given that the international terminal is really quiet.

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Once I’m airside, I’m hoping to find a shop that sells Tim Tams, which are, in my view, Australia’s best contribution to the world. Tim Tams are these chocolate covered biscuits that taste absolutely divine. Just a piece of advice though: if you’re thinking of taking some of these delectable goodies home with you from your trip to Oz, get them at Woolworths in the city, where a packet will cost you around AUD3.80. If you buy them at the airport, it’ll cost you AUD6.80 for one packet of AUD5.- if you’re getting four packets.

They call it a bargain, I call it a rip off!

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Garuda uses the Qantas Business Class lounge in Melbourne, which I already covered in a previous trip report pretty much a year ago when I flew Qatar Airways from Melbourne to Doha and then on to Frankfurt.

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BOARDING
Apparently there was a delay on the inbound flight from Denpasar, so instead of 07h15, eventually boarding starts at 07h45. As a result, we depart thirty minutes late. However, the flight time is announced to be slightly over six hours, which is significantly less than the scheduled flight time, which is given as seven hours and five minutes.

There is a separate lane for SkyPriority passengers.

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CABIN
Garuda operates the A 330-300 in two different cabin configurations. Version 1 has 215 seats in Economy and 42 seats in Business Class, while version 2 has 239 seats in Economy and only 24 in Business Class.

The Business Class seat in the version 1 configuration is similar to the one Air France has on some of its aircraft. The width is 20.8 inches, and the pitch is 60 inches. The seat is comfortable enough. Of course, it’s not as private at the resvers herring bone configuration, but given that this is a day flight of only six hourse, I think it’s perfectly fine. The seats are in a traditional 2 + 2 + 2 configuration.

One draw back though, is that there is next to no storage space on this seat. But at least the seat next to me stays empty on today’s flight, so I can park my things there.

And just one final rant: the armrest in the middle, so between my seat and the neighbouring one, is higher up than the one on the window side, which is just feels awkward.

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CREW & SERIVCE
But despite the seat, a good crew can go a long way to make up for all sorts of short comings. And this is where Garuda really shines, I think. No sooner have I taken my seat that a crew member approaches me, welcomes me by my name and takes my jacket to hang in the closet. She also brings me a cold, scented towel and a glass of orange juice.

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AMENITIES
There is a pillow and a blanket already at my seat. In addition, there are two English language newspapers, the amenity kit, the menus and a bottle of still water at the seat.

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The amenity kit includes slippers.

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THE MEAL
The breakfast service begins with another glass of orange juice and a bowl of cashew nuts.

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Then the tray arrives with the fruit, yoghurt and the pastries. I really like the presentation of the meal and the tray. The only things that is perhaps not so nice is that the yoghurt is still in its original plastic container.

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Once I finish with the fruit, the plate is removed and I am brought a new set of cutlery for the main course. I’ve decided to go with the Western breakfast, which includes scrambled eggs that are freshly prepared on board, a veal sausage, mushrooms, tomato, potatoes and the Australian interpretation of baked beans.

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The meal is good. Moreover, the portions are quite decent. The meal concludes with the coffee. And after that, I think I need to nap. It was an early start this morning.

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SECOND (and THIRD) SERVICE
About two hours later I wake up again feeling hungry, so I order the noodle soup from the snack menu.

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What I don’t realise, is that there is actually a second service on this flight, which is served about 90 minutes out of Jakarta. I go with the selection of satay, which tastes really good.

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ARRIVAL
Eventually we start our descent. But the weather in the Jakarta is quite bad. And so we spend quite a while doing circuits in fairly rough conditions before eventually we are cleared for the approach. We land at 10h40, slightly behind schedule.

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As we taxi in, we pass quite a few derelict aircraft is varying stages of repair or decay. A Boeing 747 that is being scrapped very nearly breaks my little heart. How can people do this…?

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TRANSIT
The new terminal is a vast improvement over thew old one. I kind of get the feeling though, that’s it’s not entirely finished yet, and there are closed off areas everywhere.

If you’re travelling on an EU passport, you’re probably going to need a vist for Indonesia. This can be obtained on arrival. You have to have USD35 in cash on you. Fortunately, the terminal is very quiet when I arrive, and so the whole procedure is easy and painless.

To be continued…

 

Posted in Airbus A 330-300, Business Class, Garuda | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Virgin Australia, Business Class – Boeing B 737-800: Brisbane to Melbourne

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INTRODUCTION
This ticket was purchased using Etihad Guest miles. In the original booking, I would have travelled on VA334, which departs from Brisbane at 14h55. Really quite by chance, I realise that I’ve been rebooked to VA332, which departs from Brisbane one hour earlier at 13h55.

According to the IATA rule, until departure the entity which made the original booking is responsible for the passenger – so in this case, Etihad Airways. Quite frankly, I think it’s a piss poor show that they can’t even be arsed to at least inform me that I’ve been put on a flight that leaves a whole hour earlier!

And so I leave the Spicers Balfour in New Market and make my way to the airport one hour earlier than expected. The journey by car takes about 25 minutes, depending on traffic. My first stop though, is the BNE Service Centre – as I have to return the rental car with a full tank.

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Once I return the car, I take the elevated walkway that connects the car park and the airport’s railway station with the domestic terminal.

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CHECK-IN
There is a dedicated Business Class check-in section for Virgin Australia passengers only.

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AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
Right next to the Business Class check-in counters is the priority line for security. In Australia, on domestic flights you only need to take out your laptop from the bag. Not liquids.

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The Virgin Australia lounge is opposite gate 41. To be honest, I was expecting this lounge to be a bit of an anti-climax after having experienced the lovely Qantas lounge in Perth.

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But much to my surprise, this is also a very nice lounge. I don’t think I could say if it’s better or worse than the Qantas lounge, because they’re just so different. While the Qantas lounge is elegant in a very grown-up kind of style, the Virgin lounge has a much fresher, more modern look that is also very attractive.

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Food and drinks offerings are good and include a range of hot and cold snacks. Although where the food in the lounge is concerned, I do think the Qantas lounges are ahead of Virgin Australia.

BOARDING
The flight is departing from gate 43. There is a dedicated line for Business Class passengers and members of the frequent flyer programme.

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CABIN
Virgin Australia has a dedicated Business Class cabin on the Boeing B 737-800 with eight seats in a 2 + 2 configuration on two rows. The seat pitch is 38 inches and the seat width is 19.5 inches.

The appearance of the cabin is sleek, with the seats in black leather and a purple, see-through cabin divider. The seat is certainly comfortable and beats the European interpretation of Business Class seating any day. The disadvantage with this seat however, is that while it has excellent recline, there is no foot rest to put your legs up. On a flight of only two hours this is hardly an issue, but I’m not sure what it would be like on a longer flight.

What I really like on Virgin Australia is that once the fasten seatbelt sign goes off, the crew will cordon off the Business Class section from the rest of the aircraft, which significantly diminished the amount of foot traffic in the Business Class cabin.

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CREW & SERIVCE
There are three ladies and one gent working in the cabin on today’s flight. The Business Class section is being taken care of by the purser, Sarah. I think this young lady does a really outstanding job in the way she goes about her duties, which is something you rarely find with flight attendants these days. She has excellent manners, she’s friendly and approachable and throughout the flight she goes out of her way to ensure that passengers have everything they need.

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There is a choice of orange juice or water as a welcome drink. There are no refreshing towels though.

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THE MEAL
The whole meal is served on one tray and consists of

  • a small salad with parmigiano shavings and an excellent dressing,
  • a small bun with butter,
  • coconut and chocolate sweets for dessert, and for the main course
  • a pork pie served hot,

or

  • Baba Ghanoush, served cold with flat bread.

The salad is definitely much better and certainly larger than that miserable excuse for a side salad served on Qantas. For the main course I choose the Baba Ghanoush, which is really very tasty.

And the coconut chocolate sweet is quite lovely and goes well with a cup of coffee.

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ARRIVAL
Eventually we land in Melbourne after a flight time of two hours and five minutes. As we taxi in, we pass a LAN Chile B 787, which seems awfully far away from home!

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Eventually our aircraft comes to a stop at Terminal 3.

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GETTING INTO TOWN
In Melbourne I’ll be staying at the Novotel St. Kilda, which is right on the waterfront. To get to St. Kilda, your cheapest option is to take the red Skybus express shuttle which runs directly from Melbourne airport’s Terminal 4 to St. Kilda. The journey from the airport takes about 60 minutes, depending on traffic, and will cost you AUD19 one way. On weekdays the service runs every 30 minutes.

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CONCLUSION
So who is better, Qantas or Virgin? It’s really quite hard to say. The food and the crew on the Virgin flight were definitely better. But the lounge and the level of comfort were better on Qantas. Although the latter point is not really quite fair, given that my Qantas flight was with a wide-body, whereas the Virgin Australia flight was with a narrow-body.

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Posted in Boeing B 737-800, Business Class, Virgin Australia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Qantas, Business Class – Airbus A 330-200: Perth to Brisbane

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INTRODUCTION
At this point you’re probably wondering why the heck I didn’t just fly directly from Bangkok to Brisbane, instead of taking the detour through Perth. It’s a long story and I’m not even going to attempt to explain. It has something to do with a compulsion for flying, a fascination with aeroplanes and probably some deeply rooted neurosis a psychologist would likely have a field day with…

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
To get to the airport, I take the bus line 935, which makes the journey in about 30 minutes. The fare is AUD4.70 and the bus stop is literally across the road from the hotel. In the photo below, my hotel is the tall building in the background.

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CHECK-IN
I’ve checked in using the QANTAS app. If you’re checking in at the airport, QANTAS have these very funky self-service check-in machines at which you can check yourself in, issue the baggage tags and drop off your baggage. It nearly makes me wish I had more than just hand luggage!

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AIRSIDE/LOUNGE
There is a separate queue for Business Class passengers for security. The process is swift and efficient. From security I head straight for the QANTAS lounge.

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I really do think QANTAS seriously has the best lounges of all airlines. Ever. In the world. And the lounge here in Perth is no exception. It’s beautifully appointed and offers a wide range of seating options. Even the loos have style!

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There is a large buffet with an extensive selection of hot and cold dishes. Apart from that, there is a coffee station where they make excellent coffee and a separate drinks bar. Oh yeah, and the apron views are pretty good too!

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BOARDING
Boarding for my flight is from gate 14. Business Class passengers use the L1 door of the aircraft to board, while all others use the L2 door. From what I can tell, the flight is completely sold out in Business.

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CABIN
Qantas operates the A 330-200 in two different configurations. There is one version with a seating capacity of 199 in Economy and 36 in Business Class and another with a seating capacity of 243 in Economy and 28 in Business Class. The lower-density configuration is used primarily on international services but is also deployed on domestic routes, while the higher density configuration is only used on domestic services and to New Zealand.

The international configuration has the Qantas Skybed, which is sufficiently comfortable but offers very little storage space and is really quite ugly to look at. This configuration has angled lie-flat seats that are 21.5 inches in width and have a pitch of 60 inches. The seats are in a 2 + 2 + 2 layout.

The domestic configuration is definitely much nicer and obviously newer. This is a completely lie-flat seat, width is also at 21.5 inches. Stretched out into the bed position, the seat is 78 inches long. The seats are laid out in a 1 + 2 + 1 configuration. On uneven numbered rows, the A, F and K seats are aisle seats. While on even numbered rows only the E seat is directly on the aisle.

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Apart from the fact that it looks much nicer, the domestic configuration also provides a lot more storage space. And fortunately for me, today’s flight is operated by an aircraft in the domestic configuration.

CREW & SERIVCE
There are four female cabin crew working the Business Class cabin. They’re friendly enough I guess, but their interaction comes across as being slightly put on. But at least they are very professional in the way they deal with the passengers. But I have to say, throughout the flight the crew come through the cabin repeatedly to make sure passenger are hydrated and have something to drink, which is something for example the Thai crews didn’t do.

While we’re still on the ground, welcome drinks are served. There is a choice between wine, water and some cranberry juice spritzer, the name of which I didn’t catch.

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THE MEAL
The meal service is something I never really quite get about QANTAS. I’m assuming they think is very stylish and sophisticated. I just think it’s weird and more than just a little pretentious. The menu has a choice of two starters, four main courses and two desserts, which is quite extensive I think, especially on a domestic flight. But the things they have on the menu are just slightly odd.

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For the starter I go with the mozzarella with grilled radicchio, green beans and crushed hazelnuts. This is rather unusual and quite good. So far so good. The dish is served with a minute side order of salad and two slices of sourdough bread.

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For the main course I have the chicken parmigiana, which is also quite good but just looks slightly forlorn, sitting on the plate with just a slice of lemon and nothing else. I mean, some sort of side dish might have been nice.

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And then for dessert I have the cheesecake with berries.

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I spend the rest of the flight watching an Australian film called ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert’, which I can highly recommend. The film is not that recent, but I thought it was hilariously funny in a tragic sort of way.

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ARRIVAL
Eventually we land after a flight time of just over four hours. The approach is spectacular and brings us in right past the city of Brisbane on our left.

The temperature is more or less the same as in Perth, but it’s definitely more humid here.

GETTING INTO TOWN
In Brisbane I’m picking up a rental car. My first stop is a small town on the Sunshine Coast that goes by the name of Mooloolaba and which has a lovely sandy beach. I have to say, it really does feel so nice to swim in the sea and feel the heat of the sun on my body again. With the rubbish weather we’ve had back home recently, I’d started to forget what the sun even looked like!

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Posted in Airbus A 330-200, Business Class, Qantas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thai Airways, Business Class – Boeing B 787-8: Bangkok to Perth

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INTRODUCTION
It’s just coming up to six in the morning and I feel like the lead villain from Zombie Apocalypse – assuming, of course, that the lead villain of such a movie would himself be a zombie. I’m bleary eyed, my tongue feels like it needs a shave and my body obviously didn’t get the memo that we’re in a different time zone. Get with the programme, brain!

I still have forty minutes to go before boarding is called for my flight to Perth, so I figure I might as well go scavenging for coffee. The Royal Silk lounge is the very exotic and elegant sounding name of the not so exotic and certainly not at all elegant Thai Airways Business Class lounge at Suvarnabhumi airport. By the time I get there, the place is crawling with likeminded travellers, all of which look as though they might be befallen with the curse of the undead. And what a cursed hovel it is, too. I mean, yuk! The seats are so worn and filthy they’re sticky…I think I’ll just grab a quick Coke Zero, and then I’m out of here.

BOARDING
Boarding for the flight to Perth starts at 0640. The flight is departing from gate E3. To access the lounge, I have to undergo a further check to ensure that all liquids are properly stowed in a sealable plastic bag and do not exceed 100ml. Apparently, this is a requirement imposed by the Australian government.

Our aircraft is parked on a remote stand, so we’ll be boarding via bus. My spirits temporarily revive at the prospect of getting up close and personal with the big shiny aeroplanes. But no such luck. The B 787 is simply too big. Or rather, I would have to stand further away. But the ground crew are not having any of that, because they don’t want passengers milling about on the apron – and my midnight oil is well and truly spent for me to want to argue with them.

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CABIN
How many different cabin layouts does Thai Airways have anyway? Their Boeing B 787-8 has a capacity of 240 seats in Economy Class and 24 seats in Business Class. The seat width in Business Class is 20 inches, the pitch is 60 inches and when extended into a bed, the seat has a length of 78 inches.

The seats are configured in a rather traditional 2 + 2 + 2 set-up. I’m guessing this is the regional Business Class configuration. After all, the flight time to Perth is only 6 hours and 15 minutes. The seat pairs on the port side of the cabin are turned slightly towards the windows. The middle row of two and the row on the starboard side are turned towards that side of the aircraft. Furthermore, the two seats on a pair are slightly staggered and there is a small separator between the seats. Even as I write this up, I’m still trying to figure out what the point is of having such a seat design and cabin layout.

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In the bed positon, the seat is comfortable enough. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough space for my feet. I wear a size 46/11, which I don’t think is exceptionally big, and it’s a tight fit to find a position in which my tootsies aren’t being squashed.

CREW & SERIVCE
As on the previous flight, menus, a pillow, a blanket, the amenity kit, and ear phones have already been placed at the seat. The cabin attendant brings me a warm towel and a glass of sparkling mineral water. When she comes to take my food order, I tell her that I’m on the verge of passing out and will, therefore, not be eating.

AMENITIES
The design of the amenity kit itself is different to the one on the previous flight. The content however, is pretty much the same.

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THE MEAL
As soon as the wheels leave the ground, I extend my seat into a bed and go off to Noddy land for a few hours. Once I awake hours later, one of the cabin crew immediately comes to ask me if I’d like to eat. Figuring it might revive the spirits, and yes I do so enjoy my food, I agree. Again, as on the previous flight, I take the Thai option which consists of

  • steamed rice with steamed spinach with chili and garlic,
  • a soup of chicken meatballs and tofu,
  • some cold chicken salad with chili, and
  • a beef green curry.

For dessert I have custard with fresh fruit and a mango and passion fruit salsa. Again, the quality of the meal is very good. The tastes are nicely balanced and there’s touch of spice in the curry.

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There is only one meal service on this flight.

ARRIVAL
We arrive in Perth just after 15h, slightly ahead of schedule. The airport is not very busy and I am through immigration and customs fairly quickly.

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GETTING INTO TOWN
In Perth I’m staying at the Aloft Hotel, which is easily accessible from Terminal 1 via bus line 380. The journey will take about 15 minutes and costs AUD4.70.

CONCLUSION
So what’s the final verdict? What I definitely liked about my Thai Airways experience is that you can make the journey from Europe to Perth in just 19 hours. The food on both flights was really very good and of a high quality, I thought. On the downside, I found the whole experience rather bland, quite as though they weren’t even trying to make an impression. And the lounge in Bangkok was just a dive. That place is in serious need of an overhaul!

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