Old Apr 27, 09, 6:19 pm
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: London
Programs: BA
Posts: 2,361
Flying in the right direction; homeward bound (Part 5)

Getting back to HKG and check-in
The terminal building was fairly quiet and it took a few minutes to pay at the left luggage desk and collect my luggage. I took the escalator up to the departures level and found the Swiss check-in desks. Despite a fairly sizeable Star Alliance presence in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific handles Swiss. I don’t know if this is a throwback to the days of Swissair or Swiss almost joining OneWorld; either way I didn’t mind as it meant a visit to the Wing rather than the RCC or one of the other *A lounges.

Bags tagged and boarding passes in hand, I made my way through security and embarkation control. I didn’t bother to walk around the vast duty free area as I was in need of a shower and a drink so I turned left and entered the Wing.

The Wing Lounge at Hong-Kong

After leaving my bag with the concierge at reception I walked over to the lounge attendant in the middle of the main lounge area and enquired about a shower. It had been a warm day in Hong Kong and I was beginning to flag a little. One long hot shower later and I was reinvigorated and ready to try out what the wing had to offer.

I began by walking through to the noodle bar in the business class section of the lounge. I had done my homework in advance and heard great things about it. My big bowl of noodles (Japanese ramen with beef) took less than 10 minutes to make. When you order, the waiting staff hand you a small circular pager. When your noodles are ready, the pager buzzes and you go and collect your steaming hot bowl of silky noodles and juicy beef.

My hunger satisfied, I walked back upstairs to the ‘Long Bar’ and a glass of passable Chardonnay. Not wanting to drink another average glass, I switched to ginger ale for the remainder of my stay. I knew that I had the delights of LX’s F wine list later that evening and chose not to spoil it.

I walked back to the F lounge and caught up on some work. The three waitress were diligently (but discreetly) checking glasses throughout the evening, offering to refresh glasses when they were almost empty. I felt like a little snack at 10pm and so went into the F dining area. Drinks were served by a waiter but the food was a small buffet spread at the back. There was an impressive range of salad options, a hot plate (short ribs) and a few Chinese and European dishes. The lounge is catered by the Peninsula and was up to their usual standard. I made myself a Caesar salad and had a few slices of smoked salmon.

At 11.30pm, my escort arrived to take me down to the gate.

We arrived at gate 21 to see that the flight still hadn’t been called to board. He apologised and asked whether I would like to go back to the lounge as it was going to be 10 minutes or so before the flight boarded. I thanked him but said that I would rather have a quick look around the terminal. He told me that he would be taking all the F passengers on board and so asked me to meet him back at the gate in 10 minutes.

A quick stroll around the immediate area and I was back at the gate. The gate staff had arranged two queues, business and economy but hadn’t started boarding the flight. My lounge escort got the 7 of us in F and took us on board before the rest of the passengers. As we entered the jet bridge, there was a split, first left was for F passengers only and led to 1L. Straight on led to 2L for C and Y passengers.

HKG-ZRH : Seat 2K – Swiss First Class on an A340-300
The lounge escort showed me to my seat whilst three cabin crew assisted the other 6 passengers. I thanked the lounge escort for his assistance and he went back to the gate. I put my bag in the overhead locker above my seat and took my jacket off. As I did, one of the FA’s came over and introduced herself taking my jacket and a putting it on a hanger (marked 2K) that was sat on the ottoman. She asked me if I would like a drink and some amous. I received a glass of sparkling water and a small plate of amous and could hear the small business class demi-cabin behind me, fill up.

The potato and cheese cup was a little bland and greasy. The crab mouse was full flavoured and heady. The star of the show however was the pastry which was crisp, light and very moor-ish. When I had finished my amous, I was offered a refill of my now empty water glass or an alternative drink. I took a second glass of water and was given tonight’s menu. The FA asked if I had flown LX F before (I had), she said that although it had been omitted from the menu, there would be a soup course and a salad course tonight so I ought to make sure I leave enough room for them!

The FA serving me (and the Maitre de Cabin) noticed that I was that unlike my 6 fellow passengers tonight, I was at least 10 years younger and not travelling on business. As a result, they were slightly more informal and a little ‘Mumsy’ with me. I prefer this to the overly formal service that one can experience in F (and occasionally in J).

The Captain told us that we were looking at a take-off time at 12.30 (timetable 11.59) but that our flight time was such that we would land in Zurich on time. We left the gate at 12.15 and were on our way to Zurich just before 12.30.

Once the seat belt sign was extinguished, the FA’s came out of the galley and prepared the cabin for dinner. The cabinet in front of 1D and 1G was set up with water, a bottle of each of the wines on offer and champagne. Once the dinner service was completed, a selection of soft drinks were added and passengers invited to help themselves or hit their call button during the flight.

The FA’s came round and asked each passenger whether they wanted the full dinner service, a truncated version or just a single plate of something. Everyone, bar the man in 2A opted for the full dinner. He had asked for a plate of cheese when he boarded and it was brought to him directly as everyone else’s tables were set up. After he ate his cheese he slept and was the last to wake up just before we landed in Zurich.

The two people travelling in 1A and 1D decided to have dinner together using the ottoman on 1A. I had wanted to try this out when I travelled with Mrs BiH to JFK last year but the A330 that we travelled on did not have seat belts installed on the ottomans and so we ate side by side.

My huge table was laid with a with a crisp white linen tablecloth. As the FA laid out the various accoutrements, she suggested a glass of champagne which I took. It was the 1998 Cuvee Louise which I really enjoyed. It had all the qualities that you want in a ‘flight champagne’. It was medium dry with a no great alcoholic oomph. She poured me a second glass before the starter cart came out. I selected a few slices of balik salmon, a couple of tandoori scallops (executed well, the right balance between spice without overpowering the tender scallop) and a few slices of roast beef which sadly had seen better hours; it was quite dry.

I moved onto the salad choosing a simple bowl of leaves with some thousand island dressing on the side. The last time I had thousand island dressing was the early 90’s and it was as cloying and addictive as I remember! I had moved on from champagne to the Tokaji. As many of you will know, the Hungarian’s are famous for their sweet desert Tokaji but much less so for regular dry versions. This was a 2007 Furmint Tokaji and whilst a little young was very exciting with a fruit nose and a clean finish.

Whilst plating up my salad, I asked if it was possible to reheat my rack of lamb for as short as possible in a vain effort to keep it pink. I explained that I appreciated that a galley oven was not the most precise cooking instrument and with a wry grin, the FA told me that she would see what she could do! My lamb arrived, brought by the Maitre de cabin who told me that she had done everything possible to keep it pink inside. Indeed, it was the ‘rarest’ piece of red meat that I had eaten on a plane. She came back to check and I thanked her for her efforts. The soft lamb and vegetables, which were just on the point, were rounded off nicely with a big 1995 Bordeaux (Chateau La Tour Haut-Brion).

Fatigue was beginning to set in. I couldn’t face dessert and so skipped straight to cheese. I had a sliver of Reblochon and a few slices of mild Gruyere with a glass of Calem Port.

The FA could see that I was sleepy and offered to make up my bed. Whilst she did that, I changed into the comfy Swiss pyjamas. I got back to my freshly made bed and got 6 hours of sleep.

I woke and was amazed to see that I had managed to sleep uninterrupted for so long. I helped myself to a few glasses of water (though I was offered any drink by the FA on duty) and decided to get some more sleep. I got another 3 hours of sleep and woke to the smell of coffee coming from the galley and the noise from the J cabin behind me.

On getting up and out of my seat, a FA asked if I would like some breakfast and whether I wanted my bed turned back into a seat. I accepted and went to change out of my pyjamas whilst this was done. I returned to find a table laid out with fruit, a glass of orange juice and an espresso. The FA had remembered that after dinner, she had offered me a coffee and I had declined but told her that I would have an espresso with breakfast.

The fruit was followed by a beautifully presented hot breakfast. I ate the bacon and picked at the rest as I wasn’t really hungry for a full on breakfast yet. I also knew that if I got a move on when I left the plane, I could grab some crispy bacon in the LX F lounge.

I had another glass of orange juice and a second espresso whilst I listened to some music on the IFE system.

Right on schedule, we made our approach into Zurich. It was snowing lightly; it looked typically Swiss outside. We were part of a procession of Swiss A340’s and A330’s arriving from around the globe at this early hour. We taxied to our gate on the E dock and I thanked all of the F FA’s as I exited the aircraft.

Knowing that I had little time in the F lounge but determined to get some of that crispy bacon, I ran to the train and just managed to catch one as the doors were closing. Once in the main terminal, I made my way quickly to the F lounge where the attendant confirmed the gate for my flight to LHR and told me that I had about 35 minutes to use the lounge before I ought to leave.

Swiss First Class Lounge at Zurich
As I ate my crispy bacon and indulged in a glass of rose champagne, I watched the initial reports of the commuter plane crash in Buffalo, NY. Always a sobering thought after so many flights in the last couple of weeks.

At the time suggested earlier, I made my way to the exit where I found a member of staff waiting to take me through security. She took me to a separate queue and I was able to bypass those already waiting.

ZRH-LHR : Seat 1D – Swiss Business Class on an A321
The gate was just beyond the security area. The flight was already boarding with just a few people left waiting to have their BP’s checked. I walked up to the desk to see if 1A was occupied (I was in 1C), the lady told me that it was but that 1D and 1F were vacant. I moved to 1D and was issued with a new BP.

On the short flight to London, I read a newspaper and picked at my third breakfast of the day.

I did however, take several glasses of orange juice and a couple of coffees!

At LHR it took almost 20 minutes for the baggage belt to be announced, but my bags were amongst the first to emerge from within the bowels of Terminal 2.
baggageinhall is offline