This will be another picture report from me, with some comments here and there. You are hereby warned, if you don’t like negative comments and disappointments, stay clear of this trip report. I try to make a balanced review of the trip, not just glorify everything. For those of you who find my comments to negative, there are plenty of other TR that are positive from beginning to end.
It will be as a free standing sequel to my trip to Kuala Lumpur 5 weeks earlier, as it was similar in some ways. That TR is found here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1365543-europe-asia-lh-lx-nh-tg-f.html
Part 1, Oslo to Shanghai
Check in and security at OSL was fast, and then off to the Scandinavian lounge for some breakfast. I was not impressed with the cleanliness of the restroom, I guess to many tourists and kids compared to the regular businessmen filled lounge.
Oslo-Frankfurt LH859 10:25-12:30
Boeing 737-530 Seat 2F
Even if the business section was not full, I had problems finding space for my carry-on. The gentleman across the aisle had filled up the entire overhead bin. Really considerate.
Had some good views of Oslo heading south. Here is Oslo downtown, Royal Castle in the middle, city hall lower left and the parliament at the bottom. I could see the building I lived in at the time, and I can also see the building I currently live in, in the picture.This was the day before the terrorist attack in downtown Oslo and at Utřya, so the city we left was not the same we came back to 3 weeks later.
Another picture, this is the western part of Oslo. Note the peninsula with the green fields. Not many capitals have areas like that, just meters away from downtown.
This peninsula was Oslos previous airport, Fornebu. Closed in 1998, when OSL Gardermoen opened the new airport. Fornebu was really close to the city, and is now used mostly for offices etc.
This flight had some kind of early lunch. A really lousy salad. Not a big fan of the tasteless Warsteiner either, so this was not impressive. Crew were nice though, but the seats (NEK) are just terrible. I ended up sitting on a newspaper to get some more padding.
Hazy day in Frankfurt, landing on 25L
Parked at an A-gate, all the way to the end.
Frankfurt am Main 12:30-15:30
Shops, lounges and terminals.
Long walk from the gate, ended up stopping in FCL in the A-gates for some proper lunch. They suggested that we should walk over to the B-lounge, since they did not have any car, and our flight would leave from C-gates. I had other plans anyway.
Wine trolley. Red wine at 21-23 degrees? Not my favorite
Menu in FCL, same as in FCT
I am impressed with their selection, especially with whisky!
Then it was time for some shopping. I really wanted a new suitcase, so I ended up in Worldshop and got a Rimowa Lufthansa Private Jet, 82liters. An excellent suitcase!
Everything had a Lufthansa logo printed on it
Bags for laundry, shoes, coat hanger and a bag for a suit were included.
After that, we left for the FCT. They informed us that I had to go back for tax refund, so that took about an hour of the planned FCT time. Bad planning by me!
I got a nice shower, and then it was time for dinner. Yes, more food!
Gazpacho as a starter, with Champagne. Very good.
Steak and chips, with Australian Shiraz. Also good.
Jul 28, 12, 6:56 am
all this food images just made me hungry. nice report. thanks!
Jul 28, 12, 7:14 am
Then it was time for a coffee with Glenmorangie 18YO, better than the Johnny Blue they have onboard
Driver followed us into the plane, and carried carry-on to the upper deck.
Frankfurt-Shanghai LH728 17:30 – 09:55+1
Boeing 747-430 “Bremen”, seat 82C (ended up in 82H)
Only 2 seats taken the day before, but when we got to the upper deck, all the other 6 seats were taken. My first thought was, “wow, this plane has really changed in 5 weeks!” The colors and layout were just excellent, and better in real life than on pictures I’d seen before this trip.
I know it’s been documented a lot, but anyway, here are some pictures from the upper deck on a reconfigured 747.
Bed and seat
Pudong at night
View from the Cathay Room, a restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel
Then it was time to depart Shanghai. I would not miss this city, as I did not like it very much. The people seemed rude at not welcoming at all, and the temperature of 35-37 degrees made staying outside not very pleasant.
Jul 29, 12, 9:09 am
Shanghai Pudong Aiport
PVG is a very efficient airport, no lines for check-in or security.
The lounge was not very good. It was the same as Swiss uses, but this time we were in the business section.
View from the lounge
Large and spacious terminal
Pretty good mix of airlines and aircraft at the international terminal
Emirates 380 and 340, Delta 744 and 330, United 744, Cathay 773, Singapore 772 and 773, Swiss 343, Finnair 343, Lufthansa 346 and 744, Malaysia 330, Thai 330, Garunda 330
After takeoff, satay with peanut sauce, unions and cucumber was served. The table was not set for this
Then the table was set, and we got cold scallops, I continued with Bollinger
Had the Dong Po Pork as a main, with the French red wine. Both were good.
Pain ice cream for dessert
Then the cheese
To round it off, chocolate, coffee and Highland Park 12YO
The rest of the flight was uneventful, landed early and were shortly thereafter on our way to the hotel. All in all, I found Singapore Airlines to be a bit overrated. Of course they are good, but not that good.
Jul 29, 12, 11:09 am
Booked this hotel due to good ratings on tripadvisor. Big mistake. This is a small hotel, with major flaws. It does not even have a proper entrance. No piccolo, concierge, bar or restaurant. The only thing I really liked, was the pool on the roof. Rooms were of ok size (52sqm) and standard, and the location just behind Raffles was good. Lesson learned, stay in Mandarin Oriental, Raffles, Conrad, Fairmont or some other large hotel next time.
Desk and “kitchen”
In the drawer in the bedside table, there were condoms and earplugs. Strange!
Alarm and water that were chilled when we arrived. Nice touch. Soft drinks were free.
View from the roof, Raffles just in front
Raffles, Fairmont and Swisshotel
The “bar” where breakfast was served in the morning
Our nice and famous neighbor
Jul 29, 12, 11:10 am
Among other things, we went to the zoo. Just excellent!
The Grand Prix circuit in the middle of the city
Lots of hotels, from the left Swisshotel, Fairmont, Raffles, Marina Mandarin, Mandarin Oriental, Pan Pacific, Ritz Carlton.
The tribune used in the F1 races, and also for the national day
The national day was a few days later, so they had rehersal
Raffles at night
Jul 29, 12, 12:54 pm
After a few days, it was time to fly some more. Singapore to Bali is flow by several airlines, but due to good reviews, we chose Qatar. Ticket was booked well in advance, which ended up being a problem. When checking in, the personnel requested to see the card I used to pay the ticket. Since it had been paid so long ago, I did not have that card anymore. It was a co-branded card, and I destroyed it when I got a new one as my frequent flyer status changed. They had to call Doha, and asked me to call my credit card company and get a confirmation. I refused. They asked me to buy a new ticket, and get a refund for the first one afterwards. Again, I refused. After a while, they said it was ok. Not very impressed with Qatar here, and I decided to think long and hard before ever flying with the airline again. Anyway, here is the report from the flight.
Qatar uses SATS premier lounge, which was pretty standard. Not crowded, and an ok selection of food and drinks, and even some view of the tarmac
Not crowded at all
Open and airy
Buffet of food and drinks
Good room for storage
Pocket for reading material
Too bad not all airlines have these in first and business
Pre departure drink. My friend LP2000. I like the shape of Qatar’s glasses, much better than Singapore and Thai. Managed two refills before departure.
Wingview. Sitting in the front of a 77W is some of the very best places to be. You can hear the impressive growl from the engines at take-off, but it is quiet the rest of the flight.
View just after departure
Nuts and more champagne were served a few minutes later
Not a very full flight, at least not in business.
I don’t have the menu for this flight, only the wine list. But what a wine list, and this was just for a 2:30h long flight. Nice to have an evening flight, so we could take advantage of the offerings.
I like that Qatar selects high quality wine from different countries
Jul 29, 12, 12:57 pm
It was a short flight, so the meal was served all at once.
Sushi as a starter tasted and looked very good. Continued with the LP2000
Pretty well peppered meat
Fruit for dessert
Had a solid glass of Brunello, which was very good. Maybe still a little young.
Coffee and Glenfiddich 15YO. I had never had that whisky before, but it was good. So good, that I needed 2 refills.
Nice view of the sunset
The raked wingtips of the 77W is easy to recognize
All in all, I was impressed by the cabin, the seat and the wine selections. The service was just average, not at welcoming as Singapore.
Landed on time, and arrival was a mess. We had to get visa on arrival, and that took about an hour. Definitely the worst arrival service on this vacation.
Driver was waiting for us, and took us to the villa.
Jul 31, 12, 2:45 am
Seminyak – Bali
La Villais Exclusive Suites & Spa
The last day, we rented a guide with a van, and toured the island.
Traffic in Bali is entertaining. Wonder how big omelet one can make if this guy has an accident?
Lots of different crafts in Bali
Same as the outbound, everything served at the same time
Sushi as appetizer, not as good as the previous flight. I asked for the Mersault, which the reluctantly gave me. It was, of course, too cold. Served 5-6 degrees, it was good for drinking when I was in the middle of the main course. Anyway, it was very good! Read in another TR that BA serves this wine in first class, so getting it in a 2:30h flight in business is good. It was served by a FA from Eastern Europe, who seemed a bit clumsy and nervous. The other FA were very good, both friendly and professional.
Chicken. I had the Bordeaux with this course, and it was an excellent red wine.
Plain fruit for dessert. I planned to get some dessert wine for this, but they never took any orders.
Found room for some whisky on this flight too.
Getting ready to cross the equator
I found this IFE option, that mimics the captains view, fun and interesting
Arrived in Singapore before schedule, and again immigration and bag pick up were done in a few minutes. This time we had a different hotel, both cheaper and better than Naumi.
Jul 31, 12, 2:50 am
Pan Pacific Hotel
Just a normal hotel room, nothing fancy. I don’t have any points for use at hotels, so when going on a 19 day vacation, I had to try to stay within a reasonable pricerange.
Singapore is a good place for shopping. I also went to a tailor, and got 2 suits and 5 shirts that I was happy with.
Aug 1, 12, 11:55 am
After a few relaxing days in Singapore, it was time to head west and north.
Check-in and security was again very efficient at Changi, and then we headed to a Silverkris lounge. I was disappointed, and found the SATS lounge far better. The lounge was crowded and had no windows. Food selection was not that good either. I had a small omelet:
It took almost 10 minutes to walk from the lounge to the gate, as it was almost at the end of the pier.
Singapore Airlines SQ972, 09:40-11:05
As a pre-departure drink, I had the Bollinger. My fellow traveler had apple juice, as it was morning and we had a very long journey ahead of us. It would be some 40 hours of travel before we would be home.
The cabin was the old regional with 2-3-2, which is a big step down from the refurbished regional C.
Wing view. Much closer to the engine than on the 77W, and the sound was much less impressive as well, but louder in cruise.
More Bollinger, seatmate had coke
A nice plate of fruit
I had pre-ordered the lobster, and she had the rib eye
It was ok, but tasted mostly sauce
The rib eye was ordered well done, but was red all the way though. The FA tried to heat it more, but the could not fix it
Dessert, pudding with berries
Had to hold close to BKK due to a runway closure, and landed 30 minutes late. An ok flight, but not impressive. Qatar were miles better on the two similar length flights.
Aug 1, 12, 3:32 pm
Another great report and pics !!!!!!!!!!!!
can't wait for more !
have a nice flight ahead !
Aug 2, 12, 6:28 am
Thanks, better finish off this today, as I will fly to Asia with Swiss F again tomorrow
The plan was to store my computer bag at the airport, but there were no such options. The bag had to roll with us the entire day.
Busy Chinatown with a lot of pollution
Then it started to rain, and we grabbed a cab back to the airport. Check in had to be done at the business check in, so we had to walk all across the terminal. Then there was a long discussion with the agent on how to tag our bags, since we were going through Shanghai. Transit in Shanghai means collecting luggage, go upstairs and checking in again, so no point in checking our luggage all the way home.
Immigration and security was a breeze, and after some shopping we went to the lounge. The lounge was pretty empty at first, but started filling up as it was getting closer to the rush of European flights around midnight. Had some wine and food in the lounge.
This lounge did not have a shower, so we went to the c lounge to clean up.
Terminal is nice and spacious, and since we found a seat close to the gate, we were among the first onboard.
Flew the same flight 6 weeks earlier, and I did not really look forward to it. It is a red-eye, and even with business seats, I did not think that I would get much sleep. The seats are pretty bad, with limited recline. Thai is re-configuring the 330’s, so these seats will be gone in a while.
Load in business was about 30%
Piper as pre departure drink. Not my favorite, but it bring back good memories. I celebrated my multi commercial pilot license with this champagne, since it was flown in a Piper (Seneca)
Seats were very dirty
After 3 hours relaxing with closed eyes, it was time for breakfast. Same menu as 6 weeks earlier
Fruit was decent
This time I had the shrimp and noodles, big mistake. Hardly ate anything, even if I was very hungry.
Landed before schedule, and had a nice arrival over the city. The flight was again not very impressive, far below the standard of both Singapore and Qatar. I can understand the limited service due to the time of day, but sleeping is really hard in such terrible seats.
After landing, we had to get the “transfer without visa” stamp, which most officers seem to be unaware of. It takes 6-7 minutes, but got it done eventually. The stamp gives 48 hours of transfer without visa in Shanghai.
Check in was quick, and I was able to change to a window seat, so we would be seated in 1 A&D, G being empty. We also got escorted past security and up to the second floor and into the underwhelming first lounge. Relaxed in the lounge a few hours, drinking Perrier and surfing on the internet. No tempting food this time either. For pictures of the lounge, check my other report; http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1365543-europe-asia-lh-lx-nh-tg-f.html
Flight left at a gate 6-7 minutes of walking from the lounge, Shanghai is an easy airport to find the gate.
Aug 2, 12, 6:30 am
Shanghai-Zurich, Swiss Airlines LX189, 09:05-15:55, 11:50, actual flying time 10:40
Airbus A340-343X, seat 01A
This flight had only 3 of 8 seats taken, so privacy in the pretty narrow 340 cabin would be no problem. Just after boarding, we got the usual stuff: PJ, amenity kit, headset (declined) and menus. Of course we were also offered drinks, and a small amuse bouche.
Again I went with the Grand Siecle, an excellent champagne. 8:30am is not too early for this stuff.
Fruit and croissant-ish thing.
The empty seat 02A, enough space next to the wall
The head-rest is pretty low, and does not have any good adjustment option.
Aisles are pretty narrow, so it is nice when you know the person across the aisle, or the seat is empty.
The middle seats are also pretty close to each other, I guess the narrow 340 limits possibility of putting seats at an angle
Still a pretty open an spacious cabin
We used 17L for take-off, and at ISA+20 the 340 uses a lot of runway. Our take-off roll was 55 seconds before rotation started, and then we began our slow climb to cruise altitude. During this time, we had some time to study the menu and empty another glass of champagne.
Before landing meal
After take-off, table was set, and champagne and nuts were served while waiting for the first course
Then the bread came along. The table is huge, and sufficient if you want to dine together. We did not try that option. The large table gives a much better setup than airlines with small tables
I had tried the appetizer options before, so this time I asked for more Balik salmon and not any of the dried meat. I also had the lobster cocktail and vegetable terrine
Swiss has excellent presentation of the food they serve, and it is served from a cart next to the seat. The FA’s really know what they are doing.
Continued with the Laurent Perrier
Being from a valley that used to have a famous salmon river, I really appreciate this excellent salmon. Both the taste and body is perfect
Potato and leek soup was also good, still with Laurent Perrier
This is the main I did not have, Szechuan chicken with noodles
This was my main, veal tenderloin. Switched to the very good Bordeaux.
This was medium done. I might have it a little more pink when I cook my own tenderloin, but it was still very tasty, juicy and full of flavor.
We were over Mongolia by now, looks pretty deserted.
Then they rolled out the cheese trolley. Looks very appetizing
Had the port with the cheese
Swiss really know cheese, best I’ve had on an airplane. Perfect presentation and taste. The mustard marmalade is a good accessory
Now we are really in the middle of nowhere, about 2:40 after take-off
So, what do they have at the buffet?
Swiss chocolate of course
And even more dessert, with the superb Sauternes
Both taste and look on this dessert were of very high standard
One more window view, not much to see really
After a long meal, with half an hour break in the middle, it was time for a nap for my neighbor. This was about 3:30 after take-off
Aug 2, 12, 6:33 am
I rounded off with a lungo and Macallan 18YO with some more chocolate before rolling over for 4 hours
Speed was pretty low getting closer to Zurich, but would arrive 1 hours ahead of schedule, increasing our connection to 2 hours
Over 160kph headwind
Another meal before landing, I had the olive focaccia with parma ham and parmesan. Same thing with this meal, it was also very good. Had some more Bordeaux as well.
It tasted better than it looked. Last time on this flight, I had the chicken instead
I also had the mushroom quiche
Dessert was good, but of course it did not have all the elements as the first one
Finished it off with another lungo and Macallan, and we could keep our glasses until the outer marked. No rush to prepare the cabin 30 minutes before landing in first class!
Switzerland is a beautiful country, both in summer and wintertime
Picture of one of the hairdryers
Landed 1 hour ahead of schedule, and after a short ride with Heidi and some duty free shopping, we were off to the lounge. The return from Asia was originally booked with Thai to Frankfurt, but I’m really glad we ended up with the de-tour through Shanghai and had this excellent first class flight. Of course we missed out on Thai First spa and lounge, but it was well worth is. Swiss did not have any fault at all on this flight!
First lounge Zurich.
Nespresso and fruit
Soft drinks and beer
Champagne and wine
Selection of small courses
I had something simple
Aug 2, 12, 6:35 am
Had the 5 minute walk to the gate about 35 minutes before departure, and it is easy to spot which flight is going to Oslo. It is of course the one where passengers are lining up from one side of the pier to the other long before boarding commences.
Zurich-Oslo LX1216 16:50-19:10
Airbus A319 Seat 01A
Due to the long line, we were among the last onboard. Only 2 rows of business on this flight, and after all those wide body flights in F and C, we were totally back to earth. The seats are pretty similar to Lufthansa, but offers a lot better comfort. I think it has to do with the padding of the seat.
After take-off, we did a 180 and had a nice view of the airport
Flew just over the airport, where another airplane took off
Pretty close to the engine at row 2, which gives a lot more noise than 738, 739, 321, 752, 753, MD80 and MD90. Good thing it was just a 2 hour flight, and I had my QC15.
Pretty solid curtain behind row 2. It did not, however, restrain the masses from using our business lavatory when they felt like it. Norwegians are among the worst to not respect curtains, I wish cabin crew would be better at direct people to the back of the airplane. It is not so nice to have dinner with a big line next to the seat.
All in all, a pretty good intra European business class. Swiss is way better than Lufthansa, KLM and Air France. Service is good, food is good and drinks are good. Only thing lacking, is putting up a chain with a lock between economy and business.
Aug 2, 12, 7:20 am
Time for a little comparison
Swiss vs Lufthansa intra European in business class
Swiss is better in every way, and wins hands down.
-Real drinks with champagne and cognac
-Starter, choice of main, dessert and café avec
-Better seats, but leg room is similar
-Good service from both, but more friendly and warm with Swiss
-Transfer easier and quicker in Zurich than Frankfurt
-Boeing 735 vs Airbus 319 is a tie, both short narrowbodies.
Swiss vs Lufthansa longhaul in first
-Swiss has remarkably better food and drinks
-Lufthansa has caviar, which is a plus, but in every other part of the meal, Swiss is better. Swiss has also much more exclusive wine and champagne, Lufthansa wines are more fit for business class.
-Lufthansa new upper deck with seat and bed is excellent. Seat is good for sitting, bed is excellent for sleeping. A brand new cabin gives and exclusive feel. Privacy is also better at Lufthansa’s 744. It’s not that Swiss has a bad cabin and seat, it’s just that the new Lufthansa hard product is superb.
-Lufthansa has a better product on the ground than Swiss, both the lounges and transport to the airplane.
-Airbus 340-400 vs 747-400. The jumbojet is far better, much due to privacy. The 747 gives a special feeling. Both are very good in terms of comfort and noise.
-Service is very good at both carriers. Friendly and professional at the same time. Swiss just a small notch better, but hard to say exactly why. Could just have been that Lufthansa had 8/8 and Swiss 3/8 load factor.
Swiss wins a clear victory on this. If lounges are a must, one can stop in FRA on the way to ZRH. Lufthansa’s new cabin is a huge improvement, but they can improve a bit on food and drinks. Food and drinks at Swiss has no flaw at all.
Singapore vs Qatar vs Thai intra Asia business class
-Qatar has the best food, wine and spirits
-Singapore not far behind Qatar
-Thai was, just like a few weeks earlier, pretty bad
-Qatar has the best seats, followed by Singapore. Thai seats are bad in comparison
-Singapore has the best service, followed by Qatar and then Thai
-Thai has a better lounge than Singapore in PVG+SIN and Qatar in SIN+DPS. The best lounge was SATS premier which Qatar uses in Singapore
-77W vs 772 vs 333. Clear victory for 77W, which is much more quiet. 772 has more noise, but is still wide and airy. 333 feels narrow compared to the 777, and has more noise and vibration.
Pretty clear victory for Qatar, that even on 2 short flights has a product that is better than Singapore on a twice as long flight. I find Singapore to be overrated. Thai was better than on the previous flight, this flight did not have the terrible smell. Anyway, Thai is far behind both on hard and soft product. I would have no problem flying 10+ hours in Qatar business product, but with Thai, 4 hours are more than enough.
For the destionations, I’d say the following.
This town is pretty cheap, but has no charm at all. The locals are not friendly at all, and politeness seemed to be missing. Fairmont hotel is recommended, good in every way.
This town is a little more expensive, but it is easy to find cheap places to eat and sleep. Everything is nice and clean, people are friendly and talks English well. Lots of good shopping opportunities. Pan Pacific was decent, but Naumi has a very overrated 2nd. place on tripadvisor. The city is also close to the airport, and the airport is a pleasure. I’d like to stop in Singapore next time in Asia too.
Totally overrated place for tourists, where garbage and mess is all over. Kind of surprising, since tourism is so important to this island. Lokals are a bit pushy, and sometimes pretty indiscreet. I doubt i’ll ever go back, i think other islands in the area will give a better experience. Seems like Bali is to Austalians what Mallorca is to Scandinavians. A place to go to party and drink beer.
I do not like this city, to much pollution and a mess compared to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Aug 2, 12, 10:23 am
Another great TR from Dag ^
How long did you stay in Shanghai ?
I agree with you : Singapore is a very pleasant city.