SYDNEY to BANGKOK (SYD-BKK) on Thai Airways A340-600 in first class
I went to the gate when boarding was called in the lounge. Unfortunately boarding was not underway and there seemed to be general confusion amongst the gate agents. Boarding in 5 minutes was announced, several times about 5 minutes apart. There were "lines", one for first business and star alliance gold, and 2 for economy. The lines morphed into a mass of people.
When boarding was eventually underway I was told to wait in the airbridge as the first class cabin wasn't ready yet, but when others in first class walked right onboard I decided to not wait and follow them.
The first class cabin, which earlier in the day was showing F4A3 availability (ie half full) was totally full. A family of 4 had been upgraded and a Thai manager of some kind was also in the cabin. A couple and me filled out the rest of the seats.
Before departure I chose the Dom Perignon 2000 over water or orange juice - I may as well start in the manner I intend to continue for the flight. This was refilled before we left.
At the seat when I boarded was an amenity kit (which seems to have suffered from cost-cutting since my previous Thai first class flights a couple of years ago) and noise cancelling headphones. We were handed the hideous Thai F pajamas and a menu, and offered newspapers or a small selection of magazines.
Despite the late start to boarding we pushed back not very late at all, so I was still confident about the short connection to the next flight.
We had a short taxi and I saw the QF A380 which recently blew a couple of tires on landing parked up by the hangars.
After take off another couple of drinks and some cold nuts, followed by some more bubbles and canapes. The first meal was served shortly afterward.
I timed it well, eating slowly and finishing the movie just as I finished eating.
I can't recall if I've described the Thai first class suites before. They are open and thus not at all private. Fairly comfy to sit and sleep on. I like the ottoman can slide forwards or backwards - the inner shelf is comfortable to rest my feet on if I don't want to raise them to sit on top of the ottoman. There is a solid light fixture at the rear of the seat (as well as overhead lights). No airvent. Plenty of space for body and legs, and some cubby holes in the adjacent sill to put a few things into.
I noticed the amenity kit no longer had aftershave but there was still some in the bathroom - Salvatore Farragimo's Incanto.
I managed a few hours sleep, much less than I was hoping for (since I wanted to experience a new-to-me first class on my next flight). Still it was refreshing and took the edge off my tiredness.
Some people had commented to me that on their recent Thai first class flights only 2 bottles of Dom Perignon 2000 were loaded. So in the interest of research (yeah that sounds a plausible excuse), I had some more. Yup, definitely more than 2 bottles on this flight.
The second, lighter, meal was served about 2 hours prior to landing. I watched another movie.
On descent transfer cards were handed out to the first class passengers who had connecting flights. That turned out to be all of us except the Thai manager. I'm not sure why they bother with the cards because there are also staff waiting with our names on a sign, and no one asks to see the transfer card or hand it over. When I did a recent clean out of a few boxes of flight stuff I found I had several of these cards.
We had a long taxi to and around the terminal and got a remote stand that was about as far away as possible from where we pulled off the runway (just a couple of adjacent stand positions from the end).
Stairs pulled up to front and rear doors and there were several buses waiting. We disembarked and took the first bus which is fitted out with comfy chairs for first class. A moderate length ride to the terminal and the awaiting buggies to take us on to gates, lounges and transfer desks.
Apple Berry Crumble and Vanilla Sauce
Tea, Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino
Tom Yam Goong Soup
Hot Light Meal
Chicken Satay with Satay Sauce
Tortellini with Mushroom and Chorizo Sausage
with Olive Caper Sauce
Frangipane Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Sauce
TG 478 F - MENU A : JAN/APR/JUL/OCT
Motzenbacker Dem Himmel So Nah 2008
Graceful Riesling full of life. Aroma of flowers (lillies, roses) and fruits, such as apricots, vineyard-peach and red apple. Well-constituted with a smart, noble suave mouth-feeling.
Pouilly Fuisse Cuvee Armand Cottin 2008
Pretty pale yellow colour. The bouquet starts with mineral notes then develops into smoky, toasted notes prior to revealing aromas of orange blossom. The mouth is straightforward and lively with elegant woody complexity with a lemon finish.
Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru Classe St Emilion 2004
Full bouquet where matured tannins are mixed with a rich woody note. Nice length in the mouth.
Chateau Dauzac Margaux Grand Cru Classe 2003
A huge and very evocative nose, packed with red and black berries, with a little note of cherry too which is a common theme with this vintage. Deeply rounded, ripe fruit profile. With such initial superficial pleasure the palate seems quite vacuous thereafter, with a huge wall of peppery tannins and insufficient texture to match. (Available after Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru Classe St Emilion 2004 has been depleted.)
It has a deep, bright red colour. Very fresh, its fruit is very delicate with plum, raspberry and strawberry in fresh jam and fallen leaves (typical), even tobacco. Its body is fat, big and spitrited (sic) with good background.
Each vintage offers a new aspect of Dom Perignon, reflecting an assemblage that isa unique act of creation for the winemaker Richard Geoffroy. Dom Perignon constantly insists on choosing only the best harvests and thereafter, on a long, slow ageing of the wine on its lees. In its constant quest for the ultimate balance between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Dom Perignon style traces, vintage after vintage, a complex structure made up of aroma and sensations, silky smooth, light as air and full of sensuality.
Dom Perignon Vintage 2000
Fresh, crystalline, and sharp, the first nose unveils and unusual dimension, an aquatic vegetal world with secret touches of white pepper and gardenia. The wine then revcals airy, gentle richness before exhaling peaty scents. The attack bursts forth, and matures into a sensual fullness that winds around itself, like a tendril of foliage. Notes of aniseed and dried ginger linger on the skin of fruit (pear and mango), more textured than ripe. The finish gradually unfurls and then settles, smooth, mellow, all-encompassing. An indefinable je ne sais quoi, never upsetting the integrity of the wine, has worked its charm.
Bolliner is a champagne house, a producer of sparking (sic) wines from the Champagne region of France. Founded in 1829, the house continues to be run by member of the Bollinger family. Before being a great champagne, Bollinger is a great wine, and the quality of our grapes is a determining factor. Pinot Noir is the basis of our blend and contributes vinosity, complexity and strength. Bollinger favours Grands and Premiers crus. Chardonnay adds a touch of elegance and refinement. Meunier imparts freshness and lightness. La Grande Annee develops a majestic vinosity, intense, rich and complex aromas whose tonality varies according to the nature of the millesime. La Grande Annee ages a minimum of five years (and often more than six in the cellar under cork, prior to shipping.) Bollinger Grand Annee 1999 has more perfume, with aromas of flower petals, rose water, and a trace of toffe-caramel richness. A lovely palate, surprisingly light and elegant in view of that evolving maturity on the nose. Still a little plump at present, yourthful (sic), although with a soft and clean character at the finish.
1795 Extra Cognac Otard
1785 Extra Cognac was born in the royal Chateau de Cognac. Stand proudly on the banks of the Charente river. It was here, in 1494, that Francois 1er, famous king of France, was born. In 1795, Baron Jean Baptiste Antoine Otard, of Norwegian and Scottish ancestry, chose to craft his cognac in this royal chateau, in the depths of its unique, vaulted cellars. Otard Cognac symbolises all the richness of their cognacs in the tear-drop shape of their carafes, the distinctive and unique hallmark of the brand for decards. Otard 1795 Extra Cognac offers a rich, complex bouquet of dried fruit (plum, grape and hazelnut), orange peel and cigar box. This profusion of aromas further explodes on the palate providing incomparable pleasure thanks to the mellowness of the old Champagne eaux-de-vie. Its gold and ruby colour is the sure sign of its long years of maturing.
Warre's Warrior Port
Bristol Cream Sherry
Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
Diet Soft Drinks
Perrier Mineral Water
A Range of Soft Drinks
Special Blended Coffee
Earl Grey Tea
Japanese Green Tea
English Breakfast Tea
Chocolate Malt 3 in 1
Programs: AC SE, SPG Plat, Marriott Plat, Hilton Diam, Hyatt Plat
Enjoyed reading the SYD-BKK TG F report, thanks for posting it Kiwi Flyer. Quick question, what seat were you on and was that the best on the a/c or would you recommend another F seat for someone flying on a 346?
For someone flying alone A and K seats are best. Normally I prefer the last row in the cabin (ie row 2) as being more private, but in this cabin the middle E & F seats are set back slightly behind the A & K seats.
I've now sat in all of 1A, 1K, 2A, 2K and really didn't notice a difference between them.
If flying with someone else the middle seats are best and I'd prefer 2EF.
Since I didn't have an onward boarding pass I headed by buggy to transfer desks by G gates. The airline wanted to check me in only for the next flight and not the onward flight (also on them). As this next connection was also not overly long I asked again to get checked in for onward flights and eventually was given a second boarding pass. Since clearly there is no system limitation on this I am puzzled why they would want to inconvenience a passenger and not respond favourably to the request right away.
I was escorted to security, which I quickly cleared, and on to the secondary Thai first class lounge (by E gates). This is pathetic compared with the main first class lounge (by D gates) - much smaller, minimal selection of food & drink, only 1 bathroom and 1 shower, 2 computers, self service versus waited on hand and foot in the main lounge. If I'd had more time I would have gone back to the D gates lounge, but as it was I only had 20 minutes until boarding.
So, I rather comfortably made the illegal connection as I expected would be the case. This is where familiarity with airports and processes (for instance I knew I'd get a buggy on arrival) really helps in dealing with situations where "computer says no".
I needed to get to the transfer desk before the flight closed for check in. Yes I could have made it in time by walking, but I wouldn't have had much time to spare. My buggy driver was a bit mad and drove much faster than walking speed.
BANGKOK to ISTANBUL (BKK-IST) on Turkish Airlines 777-300ER in first class, flying solo
Even though the gate was close to the lounge I was escorted there as part of the Thai first class transfer service. Sign the form at the gate. Boarding was almost complete when I arrived and one of the gate agents closed the passport check and boarding pass scan step at the entrance to the gate in order to escort me to the aircraft. I don't really need this hand holding.
I was warmly welcomed by name even before I stepped onboard, and the reason was soon very clear - tonight I was flying solo, the only first class passenger with 7 empty suites. So no need to use up some of my legroom with my carry on, I put this in the suite across from me.
Before takeoff there was a drink (choice of champagne, orange juice or water) and some cold nuts. Also a refreshing towel with a choice of hot or cold.
The suite is enclosed like on Emirates A380/A345/77W and Singapore Airlines A380. The doors don't lock tight so during the flight I experienced them opening of their own accord and also partially closing of their own accord when we descended or climbed.
There is plenty of length and width and the suite does not feel claustrophobic. There is an air vent and reading light, a small closet to hang jackets or coats, a decent sized ottoman and a large table. The side panel is also decently sized and provides some space in a cubby hole.
Unusually, the IFE controller and headphone socket are tucked away into the cubby hole which is a bit annoying as you have to choose between leaving the cubby lid open or having it closed with the IFE controller dangling which means it moves across the slick surface at the slightest bump or change in attitude.
There is also a touch screen seat controller (like on Emirates and Qantas A380), and this gives away the game - these are Jet Airways aircraft. Oddly the IFE functions are not accessible from the seat controller.
As for the seat itself, I don't like it. There was a solid bar under my thighs, which no matter the seat position always seemed to dig in. I tried a few other suites just in case my one was anomalous but they were all the same.
There is a bathroom at the front of the cabin, and being positioned in the centre with toilet facing right angles to the door it is huge. The bathroom amenities however were weak (for first class).
We taxiied around the terminal, past the TG A346 I'd recently arrived on.
After take off I received headphones, amenity kit, menu, another drink. In a sign of things to come, I had to ask for a pillow and they forgot to hand out slippers, remembering them about an hour into the flight.
I'd read reports on FT that the Turkish first class cabin crew were not polished or as well trained as you'd expect for longhaul first class, but I'd hoped these reports were either overstated or just a temporary effect as they got up to speed on the added expectations of first class passengers. Unfortunately, my experience was similar - enthusiastic and friendly, but not at all polished and lacking in some fairly basic elements. As an example there was an inconsistent approach to coasters under the glass, sometimes yes and other times no. It is unlikely the service manual would be inconsistent.
Indeed I've had many business class and economy class flights with "better" service, although rarely with so many waiting on me hand and foot. Maybe my expectations are too high but I don't think it unreasonable to expect (in a premium cabin) someone to periodically check up if I want something (assuming I'm not asleep). This only occurred sporadically during the flight, and I found myself using the call button more than I would normally and also wandering into the galley far too often to request a refill.
But, the service wasn't all bad and really there is only so much pampering I can take.
As with previous times where I've been the only passenger in first class I felt guilty about the huge quantities of food being prepared just in case I wanted each particular item. For example for the fruit plate they had prepared (cut and arranged) half a dozen kiwifruit, two whole melons of different types, a couple of oranges, and more besides. I figure that times like this the cabin crew gets lucky with better than normal food to eat for themselves.
I took my time with supper, and finished a whole movie well before I was done eating (and drinking). I then tried to sleep but only managed a brief doze due to the uncomfortable seat. So I then watched another movie with some more drinks and watching lights of towns and cities drift by in the night outside my windows. I tried dozing again and eventually gave up. I watched a 3rd movie over breakfast and timed it just right as it finished less than 5 minutes from touchdown.
We landed in the dark, and had a long taxi right around the terminal. Hmmm this is getting to be a bit of a pattern. We pulled into the gate slightly late. There were two agents waiting for me inside the airbridge to take me to the lounge by buggy. Our gate was some distance from immigration and transfers so we wizzed by at high speed. I already had the boarding pass for my next flight so no need to stop at the transfer desk. There is no priority lane for the boarding pass checks to go to departures level, but the agents barged their way to the front of the queue and I tried to follow in their wake. Upstairs another buggy was waiting to take me to the lounge at the far end of the terminal (I don't understand why Turkish agreed to locate here, it is very inconvenient for both transfers and also in respect of walking to the gate there is a moderate degree of doubling back required). Since the departures level was crowded even at this early hour, this second buggy ride was slow and barely more than walking speed.
espresso, Turkish coffee, regular coffee, selection of teas
coca cola light
S Pellegrino sparkling mineral water
sour cherry juice
selection of herbal teas
Earl Grey tea
English Breakfast tea
Pouilly Fume La grande Cuvee 2007
Plant by Benedicte monks in the 11th century, this wine is a rich Sauvignon Blanc with a great concentration. The nose and the palate are dominated by some notes of nuts, honey and brioche. This is a quite full bodied white wine with a delicate and long finish.
Pinot Grigio Collio 2008
Golden yellow in colour, it presents a fruity and intensive bouquet with a pronounced hint of Acacia flowers and green apple. On the palate, it is elegantly and fruity.
Gruner Veltliner Smaragd "Rotes Tor" 2008
Bright lemon colour with gold reflects. The nose is complex, intense with some notes of white flowers, exotic fruits and nice lemony freshness. The nose has as well the typic Gruner Veltliner touch, bit peppery. The palate is rich and elegant, full bodied with a long finish.
Sarafin Sauvignon Blanc Doluca 2008
To preserve the unique characteristics, grapes get transferred to Doluca premises with specially cooled frigorific trucks. In the Doluca winery the aim is to preserve every nuance of this noble grape's character. Cool fermentation technique is used so that none of the grape's lively, fresh nature gets lost. Sarafin Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing wine that invokes the aromas of green apple, green plum to fresh green herbs.
Chateau d'Amailhac, 5ieme Cru Classe 2006
Deep and intense ruby colour. Aromas of blackberries, ripe fruits, hint of cedar and cigar box aroma. Full-bodied, with some velvety tannins and a rich and ripe finish.
Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Ruby red colour tending to garnet red. The aromas are intensely pure and refined, reminds of sweet violet, tobacco, chocolate with some forest fruits (ripe wild strawberries) and a note of vanilla.
This wine offers a deep and dark ruby red colour. On the nose fine and delicate aromas of blackberries, cassis, and a fine note of cedar wood. On the palate this wine is medium to full-bodied, with a nice balance and a rich structure.
Vina Ardanza 2000
This wine presents a ruby red colour with a touch of brown. A delicate nose with an open medium intensity of red berries very ripe, strawberries, raspberries. On the palate, the wine is dry with a nice structure, aromas of very ripe red fruits and lead to a nice finish.
Graham's 2003 Late Bottled Vintage
Whereas Vintage Port spends only 2 years in casks and then bottled with a light filtration at between four and six years old. It has a superb deep ruby colour. On the nose brimming with aromas of ripe red fruits with hints of eucalyptus, invokes the aromas of red fruits, vanilla, cinnamon and caramel.
Karma Cabernet Sauvignon-Okuzgozu 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon, a world famous noble varietal, is known as "the king of red grapes". This grape variety, cultivated in Doluca's own vineyards near Murefte (northwest of Turkey), expresses its tannic, full-bodied and fruity characteristics in KARMA Cabernet Sauvignon-Okuzgozu. It invokes the aromas of red fruits, vanilla, cinnamon and caramel.
Golden colour with fine bubbles. Nose of fresh fruit. Smooth and complexe palate with some flavors of white fruits (apple, pear) as well as some notes of red berries. Long and delicate finish.
Martini Extra Dry
Chivas Regal 18 years
Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 years
Macallan 12 years
The Glenlivet 15 years
Gordon's Dry Gin
Bombay Sapphire Gin
"Efe Yas Uzum Rakisi"
Tekel Turkish Liqueur Special Product (Sour Cherry)