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Biz Class through Asia: OZ, QR, TG, SQ, UA

Biz Class through Asia: OZ, QR, TG, SQ, UA

Old Dec 19, 13, 11:10 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: LAX/SNA/LGB
Programs: UA Platinum, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold
Posts: 203
Biz Class through Asia: OZ, QR, TG, SQ, UA

PREFACE: Hi Everyone! I have been sitting on the publishing of this very long TR for what seems like almost a year because I had hoped to insert the pictures into the TR itself. The aforementioned airlines took me on an 8 segment trip starting in HNL and took me through ICN, SGN, BKK, SIN, BKK, ICN, and NRT, until I returned back to HNL 68 hours later. Anyway, my lack of technology IQ and lack of time due to a demanding work and home life basically threw the embedded picture idea way out the window. So, for better or worse, here is the report, without embedded pictures (but with a link to my photo album for this trip). Feel free to skip the "starters" paragraphs and get right to the "Today's Offerings" where the flight details and story really begins.

The picture album for this trip (without any captions) can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=39cb95e8d2


MY LONG HAUL FLIGHT Most of you have never heard of me on FT. I'm one of those hide-in-the-dark lurkers who have taken generously, but had very little to post (mostly due to my demanding job). The time has come for change. I have a new job and therefore travel less on business and more for pleasure.


IN THE BEGINNING
A good vacation in my book is getting on a plane and appreciating what mankind has accomplished up in the air: engineering, aerodynamics, physics, design. Then there's the soft product accomplishments such as catering, entertainment, and sometimes, yes, even the flight crew. A better vacation entails the careful planning of what kind of plane I will be occupying: a 747, A380, and, in the years past, a 727 (with boarding or alighting on PSA from the rear under-fuselage stairs). Sightseeing is a must including what's taxiing, on the apron and tarmac, the takeoffs and landings. My favorite photo moments are the plane, especially the tail insignia. The more tail insignia in one photo, the better; it's what I remember most of my childhood days at LAX.

But as far as I can remember, I was a foodie addict. Thus, while I plan for trips, it's mostly about the quality and quantity of the meal. If one meal is served: good. If the flight has two meal services: spectacular! Souvenir collecting could be the in-flight magazine, the amenity kit, a swizzle stick, waste bag, deck of playing cards, bars of soap (that's an old school thing), the route map (still have a 1972 Pan Am route map book), and now the very rare hardcopy timetable (just picked up a Saudi at BKK). Just as important are the lounges I will get to experience including the selection and quality of food, hard and soft beverage, and other amenities such as a shower or slumber room. Thus, the destination cities themselves and all their hyped glory are merely consequences of my desire to extract as much of the airplane experience as I can. That's what this trip report is all about. But the food! The food! It's what gets most of my attention. It's what I find most attractive about any trip report. When I fly, I try to snag at least one menu from every flight (and I've got to have a spare and can't tell you why).

30 YEARS OF PENT UP EXCITEMENT
My apologies for taking so long to post this trip but my wife and I, along with our young children, moved from Hawaii to California for job reasons in July 2012, and I decided to take this trip in June 2012 at the last minute as a reward for surviving a grueling job interview process that landed us back in sunny (and mostly less humid) Los Angeles three weeks later (using one way UA MP award miles to get us there). My Asia 2012 trip report is told the way I envision a wonderful airplane meal service. I hope you enjoy all of the juicy and delicious details.

AMUSE BOUCHE
I will admit that I took my first big award trip in 2011. It was an amazing adventure at the time: HNL (F)-ORD (F)-HKG (C)-ICN (C)-NRT (C)-HKG(F paid)-BKK(F paid)-HKG(F)-SFO(F)-HNL. But overall, a very ineffective use of something around 235,000 MP award miles for the core itinerary. Stop cringing!!! I know, I know. I was inexperienced at planning these trips when I was sitting on something like 300,000 UA MP points at the time with more coming my way. Looking back, I would have flunked FT 101 for poor use of points, but this 2011 trip was booked just about two months prior to departure for travel in the middle of the summer.

To atone for that sin, I booked this 2012 summer trip using only 75,000 for an all business class routing to and through Asia from my home base in Honolulu. During the booking process, I let the UA website help guide my initial itinerary because I didn't have access to the paid flight subscription services at the time. Here is a summary of how my initial itinerary played out: HNL-ICN-SGN-BKK-ICN-NRT-HNL using a combination of OZ, QR (when they still partnered with *A), Thai Airways, and United. You may be scratching your head as to why I selected United as one of the segments. While I have flown United in International First between ORD and HKG, it was obviously not through Japan, and I so much wanted to try the acclaimed Washoku Zen Japanese meal, which is supposedly best when flying ex-NRT. Plus, NH had no seats available between HNL to NRT at the time I booked.

Thus, I initially booked a six segment route to terminate in BKK but trying to further please the FT gods above, and being a 1K at the time, I called reservations to extend it to Singapore, thus adding two more segments for a total of eight flight segments. As many of us have experienced, the first UA reservation agent I spoke to said I could not add on the BKK-SIN-BKK segment without using additional miles. What? Hang up, Call againl! I was connected to a much more knowledgeable reservationist (based in Honolulu, of all places) who magically did wonders what the first reservationist could not.

I was proud of this routing, which I did just two weeks before I left my job and our home in Hawaii. Award availability was dwindling and I had to take what I could find. Being between a current job and a future job, I didn't have the luxury of taking anything more than just a few days off before I permanently relocated back to Los Angeles. So on this particular adventure, I spent all my time in the airport transit lounges at all of the airports ranging from a little over two hours to as long as 11 hours. Given this fact, I have no passport stamps to show where I have been. Passport stamps are not really important to me but I know it is to many of you. Before I actually left for ICN from HNL, I thought about this and wondered if I would be detained on my arrival back to HNL from NRT for compromising some kind of U.S. National Security law and ultimately ending up in the local Honolulu newspaper with a headline that read, "Government Official's One Night in Bangkok." What was U.S. immigration going to be thinking when I arrived back in Honolulu from Asia with nothing to show in my passport? I thought I'd roll the dice and deal with that potential dilemma three days later. So now on with my delicious story of flying to nowhere in particular.


TODAY'S OFFERINGS...

HNL – ICN OZ#231 Qantas Lounge, then A-340, 3 hour ICN layover – Asiana Lounge
ICN – SGN OZ#735 777-200 (2 class on 3 class plane), 3 hour SGN layover – Rose Lounge
SGN – BKK QR#608 777-200LR 11 hour layover – Royal Silk Thai Lounge, Singapore SKL
BKK – SIN TG#413 A-330 4 hour layover – Singapore Silver Kris Lounge
SIN – BKK SI #978 777 3 hour layover – Thai Royal Silk Lounge
BKK – ICN TG#658 777-200 3 hour layover – Asiana Lounge
ICN – NRT OZ#102 747-400 (it could have been a Combi, but not sure) 8 hour layover – ANA Lounge, United Business Lounge
NRT – HNL UA#880 747-400

FIRST COURSE: HNL – ICN Asiana Airlines
A genetic curse from my mom has been forcing me to take aisle seats so I have access to the lavatories. I miss gazing out the window and taking picture but when nature calls... I was sweating bullets about this flight because it was all about having some culinary fun and drinking adult beverages, which I only do when my kids aren't with me on a flight. To make matters worse, the Wizards of OZ auto-assigned me to a window seat, but when booking two weeks prior to departure, what else should I expect? Using the on-line OZ tool showed no window seat availability through T-1. "Are there any window seats left?" I asked sheepishly during the check-in process at HNL. Fortunately, the kind station manager, who said I was the first person to check in for the flight that day (duh, I was standing at a slight distance while they were still putting the OZ check-in signage that morning), magically produced an aisle seat as you experienced OZ flyers knew they could. Whew!!! I was mentally dancing up and down in my head as if I had won a Las Vegas jackpot. The second jackpot was receiving an unexpected pass to the Qantas Lounge. No RCC today? I had no idea. What a treat. Yippee!

OZ departs from the Ewa (West) Terminal at HNL. I had not been in this terminal since my days of flying on Pan Am 747s to and from HNL. The boarding lounge was very crowded with mostly tourists return from holiday in my home state. I spied the A340 parked at the gate. You can appreciate the excitement of gazing at that big metal bird that will transport you into a little fantasy world for several hours. I snapped a lot of pictures (as you can never have too many). As a footnote, I flew Asiana in 2010 from HKG to ICN in the newly-installed QS seats, and that was also completely unexpected. I realized that I would not have these same wonderful seats as the year before but the recliner seats were nothing to sneeze at either compared to the much of the junk seats that UA provides its F customers between the mainland and HNL. It was a very nice seat and offered satisfactory comfort for an eight hour day flight. An amenity kit in a gray zippered pouch with Biotherm products, the usual mouth care products and utensils, were provided. I dare not use the contents. Who from FT actually does? Well, not me!

I love airplane food, not all, but most, regardless of class. I am always amazed, and even fortunate, that mere mortals can eat steak or chicken, and drink wine while traveling through the air about as fast a speeding bullet. Yes, I've been served a lot of nasty stuff (most memorable were those armpit enchiladas, LAX-HNL, DL, coach, mid-October 2004 on my first wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii). In contrast, I've had successful meals like on TK, economy, LAX-IST, and OZ, biz, HKG-ICN, where they provide a nice Korean bi bim bap with all the accoutrements, and silver coffee service. For this flight to ICN, I was not disappointed with the menu, choosing the Western option (since I have bibimbap frequently at a pretty good place near my home on O'ahu).

WESTERN
Canape - Chicken Breast and Salmon Tartar
Appetizer-Prosciutto Ham, Crab Claw and Vegetables
Soup-Mushroom Cream Soup
Main Course
Beef Tenderloin Steak, Served with Bordelaise Sauce, Grilled Potato and Vegetables
or
Seared Salmon, Served with White Cream Sauce, Potato and Vegetables
or
Roasted Chicken Breast, Served with Herb Butter, Mushroom Risotto and Vegetables
Cheese and Fruit-Brie, Gouda, Cheddar
Dessert-Praline Cake
Coffee and Tea
Petit Fours

KOREAN
Starter-Chicken Breast and Salmon Tartar
Korean Pancake
Korean Pumpkin Porridge 'Hobakjuk'
Main Course
Mixing and Harmonizing
A Famous Korean Cuisine 'Bimbimbap'
Steamed Rice, Various Kinds of Vegetables and Mince Beef
Mixed with Red Chili Paste, Sesame Oil
Accompanied by Assorted Side Dishes and Soup
Dessert-Fresh Fruit
Coffee and Tea
Korean Traditional Cookies

REFRESHMENTS
Besides the main courses, the light snacks described below are provided upon your request throughout the flight.
Sandwich, Seasonal Fruit, Ramen

SNACK
Appetizer-Squid Salad and Grilled Scallop
Main Courses-Stir Fried Seafood, Served with Fish Veloute Sauce, Steamed Rice and Vegetables
or
Beef Stroganoff, Egg Spaetzle and Vegetables
or
Shrimp Broccoli Porridge
Dessert-Fresh Fruit
Coffee and tea

BEVERAGES
Champagne-De Venoge Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2002
Chardonnay-Rully 2010
Reisling-Villa Huesgen Kabinett 2010
Meritage- Chateau Boutisse 2006
Syrah-Emiliana Coyam 2009
Pinot Noir-Artesa 2008
Port- Port Sandeman 20 Years Old
Ice Wine-Sawmill Creek Vidal 2008

Coffee-RA (Rainforest Alliance Certifified)
Tea-Earl Grey, Camomile, Oolang, Ginseng, Green, Jasmine

I passed a lot of my time watching movies and reading. About two hours before landing, a second hot meal was provided, and I went with the seafood option (which I later regretted, as it may be healthier, but it's also fishy smelling). Of course I have failed to mention that prior to this second serving, I had already had champagne, a Bloody Mary, Wine, and Port. After consuming that much alcohol, fishy entrees and anything else going down my gullet just wasn't appealing.

Asiana does a great job in the lavatory with presentations of cologne, lotion, facial mist, combs, toothbrushes (which I had to grab a few of these for the home collection). Prior to landing, many passengers were busy with their obligatory duty free shopping chores. After flying a circle around ICN, we finally landed. This was a very comfortable way to spend eight hours.

ICN Asiana Business Lounge
A rather large lounge, but not so warm and cozy due to its cavernous feel. There was a grand piano in the middle to add elegance and nice wood bookshelves (filled with book prop). The food offerings were porridge, stir fry of some sort, chow mein, some various breads and pastries. The porridge was very tasty with traditional garnish of Japanese takuwan and the Korean trademark seasoning: sesame oil. After filling up with lounge edibles, I really needed a nice, hot shower. This was accomplished by getting on the waiting list at the front lounge desk and leaving my boarding pass. After about 15 minutes, I was provided a shower room that was clean and well-maintained. Afterwards, I was able to check up on my emails in the computer room. An Asiana lounge attendant was there to help those having log-on problems. There were several massage chair rooms but they were all occupied so I didn’t get a chance to sit in one and give it a test drive.

SECOND COURSE : ICN – SGN Asiana Airlines
About a month before I left on this trip, I decided that it would be wise to get a Vietnam visa just in case if I had to overnight for any reason if the Korean gate agent didn't know that American transit passengers did not need a visa. Lo and behold, even though Ho Chi Minh City was only a transit point, the Asiana transfer desk agent asked if I had a visa, which I promptly produced. Not sure what would have happened if I didn't have one but it removed another level of travel stress that I didn't need, including denied boarding or pleading to get on a flight when the control point belonged to someone else.

I was still wide awake and excited to board the next leg of my trip. I walked down the jetway, turned right and...imagine boarding your flight, thinking your seat is going to be a nice business class seat along the aisle, but your boarding pass seat number actually take you to a seat in the first class cabin. Bingo! My guess is that, rather than putting five passengers in business class on a three class plane, Asiana put all of us in the F cabin. I was flying high! With a 1-2-1 configuration on this 777-200, I was seated in 2D in the middle section. I sat here until the front door closed, and seeing 2A available, I asked the FA if I could switch seats, and she happily said I could. She was also kind enough to take my picture as proof to myself that wasn't dreaming three days later.

What a nice treat! These were the flat bed seats in a suite configuration that are the same F seats found on the OZ 747. Of course, the angled configuration made it difficult to see out of the window, but it was nice just the same, and having more privacy from my inside aisle seat mate. The F cabin looked a little worn out with some tears and rough use on the seat cushions, but hey, I was seated in an F seat. Even better, the OZ FAs were absolutely great. The catering, however, was business class - definitely not first. That didn't matter as it was great to be in an F cabin and I relished the food offerings.

WESTERN
Appetizer-Smoked Duck, Orange and Balsamic Onion
Mixed Greens, Italian Dressing
Main Course-Beef Tenderloin Steak, Served with Madeira Sauce,
Pimento, Green Bean and Fried Potato
or
Deep Fried Seafood
Seasoned with Bulgogi Sauce, Sauteed Vegetables and Steamed Rice
Cheese and Fruit-Taleggio, Munster, Comte
Dessert-Ice Cream or Fresh Fruit
Coffee and Tea
Petit Fours

We are pleased to offer hot ramen on your request

KOREAN
Starter-Eggplant Roll with Bean Curd
Nutritious Korean Cuisine, 'Ssambab' - Steamed Rice Topped with Grilled Bulgogi and Bean Paste *
Wrapped with Various Kinds of Leafy Vegetables
*Bean Paste: Contains various nuts (peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, etc) Those with allergies should be careful
Dessert-Fresh Fruit
Coffee and Tea
Korean Court Cake 'Kkultarae' -Made of Fine Strands of Honey and Sweet Nut Filling

How to enjoy Ssambab
1. Place a leaf of lettuce or other leafy vegetable in the palm of your hand.
2. Add steamed rice, beef bulgogi and bean-paste
3. Roll up and eat.
4. Enjoy the Ssambab with the bean paste soup and various side dishes.

Sorry but I didn't take a picture of the wine list. I'll bet it's not much different than the wine listed on the menu from HNL-ICN.

The kind FA asked me if I knew how to enjoy Ssambab. I'm the kind of person who would drive around in circles rather than ask for directions, but somehow, her charm and kindness let my guard down, and I thought: Teach me Master (ok, Mistress, actually)! She then proceeded to describe how to place the bulgogi fillings in the green leaves with the bean paste, and roll up. So that was my first lesson in rolling a Korean-style burrito, and what fun it was.

After dinner, I reclined the seat to a flat position and thought I'd catch 20 winks. Well, 20 winks ended up being like a thousand. I fell into a deep sleep in that wonderful flatbed seat. I'm sure I was snoring louder than the jet engines. The flight attendant was kind enough to cover me with a blanket mid-flight. It was like something right out of a television commercial.

The F cabin lavatory near the front galley had a variety of spray toiletries and a face mist. The facial spray was very nice and relaxing, and I enjoyed trying products that I would never try or buy. I awoke during the initial descent. The five hour flight ended nicely with a perfect landing in Ho Chi Minh City that allowed me to get a night glimpse of the city lights.

SGN Rose Lounge
Upon deplaning, I followed the signs to the transit security point. This basically entailed showing my travel documents to the immigration officer on duty and running my carry-on bag through a metal detector. From there, I took an escalator to the upstairs floor containing the shops, snack bars, and transit lounge entrance. Since I had a couple hours of connect time, I walked the length of the terminal looking for the Rose Lounge. To get to the lounge, one had to descend an elevator or stairs, and show the attendant your boarding pass for entrance.

The Rose Lounge was a little cramped in terms of size of seats and density of seating arrangements; and it was very crowded due to too many flight leaving late at night. Exploring the layout, I found the food selection to be a combination of French snack type baked goods and Vietnamese hot and cold foods. To my delight, I easily found the pho (noodle) station, which seemed to be the centerpiece of the food offerings, where the native flagship offering, despite it being a do-it-yourself proposition, was very tasty. For those of you who enjoy this quintessential Vietnamese food icon, the pho broth was absolutely delicious and better than anything I've had recently in Hawaii due to its complexity of flavor. Think of the difference between a cheap beer or wine and really high end version - there is a difference. Watch out: those garnish chiles were also hotter than anything I have had in the US, and I tried to maintain my composure as my mouth ignited into a blazing inferno. I also snacked on some cold spring rolls, and washed it down with French wine, a soda, and water. After about an hour or so of enjoying this lounge, I decided to make my way to the next exciting course on Qatar Airways.

THIRD COURSE: SGN – BKK Qatar Airways
Thank the Man upstairs for Fifth Freedom rights! Of course, my flight was at the opposite end of the terminal from the lounge. By the time I arrived at the gate, boarding had already commenced. The Qatar business class cabin was pretty much empty. The cabin was very luxurious in feel, size, and choice of cabin materials . It was a restrained-luxury, somewhat akin to the luxury of a German luxury car, with wood insets, high quality leather seats, clean lines. The soft blue lighting along the cabin walls put me in a deep sense of relaxation and tranquility. I could handle this environment for dozens of hours. Unfortunately, this was only a 1.5 hour Fifth Freedom Dream.

There were three flight attendants, one stationed in the galley and the other two working each of the aisles. Since there couldn’t have been more than six of us in business class, the attention and treatment was excellent with frequent offers to top off beverages.

LIGHT MEAL
Seasonal Fresh Fruit
Entree-Vietnamese beef tenderloin with oxtail gravy, hue fried rice and stir-fried Asian vegetables
Tea and Coffee- Coffee: Cappucino, Espresso, Cafe Late, Macchiato, American
Tea: Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Green, Roasted Japanese, Moroccan Mint, Camomile, Sencha Green, Green Jasmine.

Dinner consisted of a visually-pleasing Vietnamese beef roll, which I found to have an exotic herbal aroma but enough salt to raise my blood pressure a few notches. The Viuve Cliquot was crisp and delicious but I was the only one who drank any, and I usually limit myself to one glass of any alcohol with the meal. Much of the bottle did not get consumed based on the bottle only coming may way. The bathroom, which wasn't roomier than the lavs in the back of the plane, was well stocked with shaving razors, lotions, and cologne.

INTERMEZZO Bangkok Suvarnabumi Airport - Lower Level Arrival Concourse, Transit Lounge Bench, Thai Lounge, Singapore Lounge

I was the only business passenger deplaning the Qatar Airways flight at BKK. At this dismal hour of midnight, I was alive but felt like the walking dead. I did not have proper bed-ridden sleep for almost 24 hours. Since the airline lounges were nearing closing time, and I had recalled a bad experience the year prior in BKK of waiting two hours for a hotel-provided shuttle van, I decided the safest bet was to stay put on the transit level and make the best of roughing it. After walking for what seemed like a mile to get to the transit security check point, and upon clearing, watching other sleepy travelers crashing on the many but dwindling available lounge seat ensembles, I found a modern metal bench seat that appeared to be only for the most desperate of stranded travelers; but in reality, was reasonably comfortable for full horizontal napping with a make-shift sweatshirt pillow and my favorite earplugs from home.

Upon waking at around 5:30 am, I dragged my sleepy body parts to the airline transit desk to get my coveted boarding pass that would allow entry to the Thai Royal Silk Lounge. I was going to use the lounge near the "C" Concourse, not too far from the SQ Lounge. Upon entry, I found a seat in this somewhat tired lounge, powered up my laptop, arranged for a badly needed shower, and ate several plates of Asian-style foods, including delicious porridge, baked savory snacks, and a plate of fried rice and noodles. After about two hours there and getting a little bored of my back-at-home work, I made my way to the SQ Lounge that had just opened for the day, where I ate a few slices of fresh fruit and dim sum nibbles (being too full from the food at the Thai Lounge), and several glasses of fruit juice. While the SQ Lounge was nice, there were so many lounge attendants standing around waiting to assist so few passengers, that it made me a little uncomfortable, but maybe it's because I wanted to take a lot of pictures of the buffet but was a little embarrassed with people staring at me. Surely I didn't want to come across as a novice at this C class travel thing, but hey, I was. This lounge was nice because it had a lot of dividers to create small pockets of needed isolation among a good-sized lounge. I hope to make a repeat visit here when I pass through BKK on my way to SYD in TG F later in 2013.

FOURTH COURSE: BKK – SIN Thai Airways
The TG plane to SIN was parked remotely. After waiting in the departure lounge, I finally got on a crowded bus, and made my way to the awaiting plane with a scheduled departure time of around 11:45 am. The plane was a very old A-330, and it reflected its age on the inside. The bright colors of Thai Airways didn't seem to work so well on the worn and frayed fabric seats; overhead panels and rear-lit seat number lights that easily looked two decades old. I was surprised to see the lavatories stocked with actual fabric material hand towels for drying the hands. I wasn't sure what to do with them: trash can or somewhere else. Anyways, the efficient Thai Airways staff made up for the interior shortcomings, who were able to fully cater the business class passengers from drinks, to meals, and more drinks in a very fast time. While they were methodical and fast, their personalities and approach was very personalized and respectful. If it's true that a relationship really comes down to the people, I was a believer.

FIRST COURSE
Marinated Prawn and Scallop Skewer with Tamarind Sauce, Cherry Tomato Salad and Mozzarella Pearls in Cabbage Cup
MAIN COURSE
Steamed Prawns and Scallop in Soy Sauce
Egg Fried Rice
Sauteed Taiwanese Cabbage, Carrot and Black Mushroom
or
Classic Chicken Curry "Pa-naeng" (with Peanut)
Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice
Stir-Fried Gourd with Egg
or
Pan-fried Snapper with Black Pepper Dark Vinegar Sauce
Vegetables Fried Rice
Sauteed Taiwanese Cabbage, Carrot

Assorted Bread, Crackers, Butter, Cheese
DESSERT
Raspberry with Vanilla Panna Cotta
Tea, Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino

Champagne-Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne
White Wine-Terra Burdigala Bardeaux White 2009, Pouilly-Fuisse 2010
Red Wine-Chateau de Rouillac 2005, Chateau de Chantegrive 2006
Volnay 2008, Cote de Nuits-Villages 2009


Changi Airport Singapore Silver Kris Lounge
Thai Airways parked the flight a very long distance from the Singapore Lounge that I used. In fact, the Changi Airport (in my limited architectural understanding) is a lesson in a sprawling, spacious, shopping mall with an airport tacked on as a pleasant and functional afterthought. I had heard so much about Changi and its exceptional shopping opportunities, but I was not on this trip to shop. It probably took 20 minutes of walking to get from my arrival gate to the Singapore SK Lounge. However, upon arrival, I was in a for a treat. Next to the Turkish Lounge in Istanbul, this was probably second best business class lounge I ever visited. The seating area was large, but intimate in its own way due to divider walls and the arrangement of chairs. I liked the high dining room tables with chairs. While there were no windows in this lounge, it did not feel a cave, and was probably intended that way to help unintended resetting of the body's internal clock with bright light. The use of wall panel lights was soothing and actually helped a traveler feel like they are absent of the hustle/bustle of the airport. You really forget about the flight before or awaiting you outside the confines of temporary luxury. The shower facility was disappointing as the particular shower stall I used seemed to be out of hot water, forcing a cool but somewhat welcomed shower. This is not what you would expect of this airline and one of its own facilities, but that was the reality and I just plain dealt with it.

The food buffet was all that this lounge had been hyped up to be. I won’t go into the major details here in this written report as the pictures on my link do better justice. I did try as many hot dishes as possible from stir fries to curries to stews, to vegetable dishes representing a variety of nations. All were delicious.

FIFTH COURSE: SIN – BKK Singapore Airlines
After a great lounge experience, I made my way to the flight lounge. I was surprised that security takes place just before boarding, but I guessed that this allows the arrival passengers to also enjoy the airport shopping offerings and amenities, too. The 777-200 regional aircraft was partially full. With a 6:00 pm departure, I settled into my seat and was immediately offered a tray of several beverage choices, which I chose a sweet, lemony signature beverage of SQ. After take-off, the FA's made their drink rounds, and was awaiting the delivery of my pre-ordered dinner, naturally, the famous slipper lobster. Despite what can happen to protein-laden meats, it was actually tasty, still somewhat tender, and a size portion that filled me up. I seemed to have chosen wisely, and would happily pre-order this meal again.

DINNER MENU
Starter-White Asparagus Terrine with Prosciutto Ham, Mesclun and Champagne Vinaigrette
Main
Panroasted Corn-Fed Chicken Breast in Morel Sauce with Wild Mushrooms Ballotine and Garden Vegetables
or
Beef Hor Fun, Chinese Style Fried Beef with Rice Noodles, A Popular Singaporean Dish
or
Prawn Sambal, Fried Prawns with Sambal Chilli served with Curried Vegetables and Tumeric Rice
Finale-Ricotta Cheesecake with Berries Compote
Gourmet Coffees & Selection of Fine Teas

Champagne- Henriot Brut Souverain
White-Wild Horse Chardonnay 2009, Weinhaus Ress Rheingau Reisling Germany 2010
Red-Chateau D'Aurilhac Haut-Medoc 2008, Brolio Chianti Classico Tuscany Italy 2008
Port-Fonseca Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage 2005

Cocktails
Tropical Fizz-An invigorating concoction of pineapple juice and bitter lemon
Singapore Sling-Synonymous with the Lion City since the early 1900s, this classic cocktail is made with dry gin, DOM Benedictine, Cointreau, Cherry Brandy, Angostura Bitters and Grenadine, mixed with lime & pineapple juice
Screwdriver-A classic concoction of vodka and orange juice
Kris in Love-A delightful concoction of white wine stirred with 7-Up
Silver Kris Sling-One of Singapore Airlines' special touches, this cocktail is a delicious mix of gin, Cointreau, Orange Juice and Pineapple Juice, topped with Champagne
Rumba-An exotic thirst quencher of rum mixed with pineapple juice and 7-Up
Skyhigh-An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up
Solitaire Dreams-A cool concoction of run, pineapple juice, Sling mix with Ginger Ale
Non -alcoholic Cocktails-Fruit Spritzer, Awaiting The Golden Dawn, Golden Spice, Apple Bliss, Citrus Royale
Coffee-Brazil Santos, Kenyan AA Kilimanjaro, Colombian Supremo, Brewed Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Espresso, Mocha, Cappuccino, Cafe Royal
Tea-Royal Darjeeling, English Breakfast, Chamomile, Singapore Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey, Nuwara Eliya OP Ceylon, Decaffeinated Earl Grey, Paris-Singapore Tea, Sencha, Jasmine, Pu-Erh, Indian Masala Tea, Oolong

Suvarnabhumi Royal Silk Thai Lounge - Concourse "D"
Having spent a lot of time in this lounge earlier this morning, I only spent about an hour here, grabbing a few snacks, a little bit to drink. The lounge was very crowded and just not the relaxing environment I was looking for, so I jetted out a little early and made my way to the shopping areas to get some exercise. My poor waist line was already expanding from too much airplane and lounge food! Must keep walking and burning calories.

SIXTH COURSE: BKK – ICN Thai Airways
This TG flight employed an A-330 aircraft, and was parked on the opposite side of the airport terminal from where I alighted from the SQ flight. Departure was scheduled close to midnight. Thus, I hung around the gate area, a little anxious to get on board, eat, and get some very badly needed sleep. I was an early boarder , and got settled into my comfy seat quickly. My seat mate, presumably a Korean, arrived at the last minute with a scheduled departure around midnight. The crew was very pleasant and gracious. It appeared that most of the business class passengers were Koreans returning from holiday. The flight was perfect with an on-time departure. After takeoff, the late supper was served followed by a hot breakfast.

FIRST SERVING
Salad - Marinated Scallops, Mozzarella Pearls, Kalamata Olive, Mixed Salad with Thai Vinaigrette Dressing
Mini Pastries, Bread, Butter
Tea, Coffee
Instant Soup, available upon request

SECOND SERVING
Fruit Juice
Fresh Fruits and Yoghurt (Kim Chee not on menu but was on every tray)
Main Course -
Omelet stuffed with Potato, Onion and Capsicm
Premium Chicken Sausage, Farmer Potatoes with Bacon
Roasted Tomato with Herb
or
Braised Chicken with Soy Sauce (Dak Gang Jung)
Steamed Rice
Carrot, French Bean
or
Thai Fried Rice with Ham, Omelet stuffed Minced Pork Thai Style

Roll, Croissant, Butter, Jam
Tea, Coffee, Chocolate Malt
Instant Noodle Soup, available upon request

I selected the Thai Style Fried Rice and Omelet. It was a lot of carbs I didn't need. It was a little bland but I nicely prepared. I did not partake of any alcoholic beverages but the same drink menu was provided to passengers on this flight. I didn't see anyone order any alcoholic drinks within my view. In retrospect, I wish I had tried the Chocolate Malt beverage beverage but I'll save that for my 2013 trip to Australia over the North Pacific which has a total of four segments on TG. Can you tell that I think highly of TG? It has more to do with the flight attendants than anything else.

Incheon Airport
Upon arrival at the break of dawn, I found myself in the remote terminal, and then taking the underground train to the transit security check point. After clearing security, I checked in at the Asiana Lounge, requested a shower room, refreshed myself, and had a breakfast snack of what looked like corn flakes and cocoa puffs. However, the texture and flavor was different than what we get in America, and quite frankly, would make good chicken feed - the flavor was very grainy and more natural, less sweet. I would have preferred a bowl of hot porridge but none was to be found, and the hot food (whatever it was meant to be) was not on the warming table when I passed by. Nonetheless, the shower was the most important part of this lounge visit after such a long flight. I proceeded to use the internet terminals to catch up on email and to let my wife I was on my way back to Honolulu. Thereafter, I went and looked in some of the airport shops and then proceeded to the boarding area to await the flight. This was the beginning of the grand finale.

SEVENTH COURSE: ICN – NRT Asiana Airlines
This was the much anticipated event of my life: flying in the hump of the 747 for the very first time. Many hears ago I had the good fortune of actually visiting the first class lounge of an American Airlines 747 upon landing in HNL from LAX back in the mid-70s, and was able to also take a peek at the cockpit. That was a memory firmly ingrained in my brain and one that I hoped to be repeated if I was so lucky.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I was staring at the big, colorful tailed metal plane on the apron, and then finally imagining what it would be like getting to board and sit down. I was I strolled through the jetway, and got a little giddy with a big smile as I walked up stairs to find a very spacious looking cabin-ala-bump. The kind flight attendant ushered me to my aisle seat and offered a pre-departure beverage, which I politely declined. Another passenger that I had the pleasure to sit across from was also flying on award points. We were the only two passengers upstairs this morning so I quickly switched seats over to the window seat. I'm actually glad I was not by myself because I enjoy a little pre-departure chit chat with seat mates, and quickly explained my incredible routing. He was merely traveling from Bangkok back to Edmonton through ICN and NRT.

The flight left the gate just a few minutes past scheduled departure time of 10:00 am. I was pleased to be able to see the number four engine (far right, if I numbered them correctly) from my seat if I looked back - don't want a bad neck strain. I guess it was nice to see when the pilots fired these engines up but I did not get the thrill that others on FT have indicated. The bigger thrill was just sitting up in that bump and thinking back when I was younger how nice it would be to sit upstairs and peer out the window, watching the lesser metal birds pay respect to my favorite Big Bird. Take-off was an absolute thrill and, with the sensation of the rotation, we were above Korea. The take-off was a different experience upstairs versus the nose of the 747; I liked it a lot!

I perused the abbreviated meal options for the two hour flight to NRT.

WESTERN
Appetizer - Black Forest Ham with Mixed Greens
Main Course - Stir Fried Rib Eye, Seasoned with Bulgogi Sauce, Served with Mushroom, Garlic, Pine Nuts and Steamed Rice
Dessert - Fresh Fruit with Fruit Juice
Coffee and Tea

KOREAN
Korean Style 'Chicken Ginseng Porridge', A Famous Healthy Porridge
Accompanied by Assorted Side Dishes
Dessert - Fresh Fruit
Coffee and Tea

ASIANA BAR
Spirits - Scotch Whiskey Ballantine's 17 years, Bourbon Whiskey Jack Daniel, Vodka Smirnoff, Gin Beefeater's
Cognac & Liqueur - Camus X.O, Baileys Irish Cream
Beer - OB, Cass, Hite, Max, Heineken, Beck's, Budweiser
Korean Rice Wine 'Makgeolli'
Champagne - Champagne Cattier Brut
Rose Wine (Featured) - Castello di Gabbiano Rose
White Wine - Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Red Wine - Heathecote Shiraz Limited Release 2009
Non-Alcoholic Beverages - Orange, Apple, Tomato Juice, Pineapple, Guava Juice, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale
Coffee - RA (Rainforest Alliance Certified) Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Espresso, Capuccino, Cafe-Latte
Tea

Breakfast consisted of either Korean porridge with chicken and ginseng (I don't care for ginseng too much) or a Korean-style bulgogi beef with rice and vegetables. I choose the beef as I could always eat porridge on another occasion in Los Angeles. The food entrée meal was a little dry and overcooked, especially the white rice, which had sort of fused together into a sticky mass, but the taste of the beef dish was superb. The meal included a very simple but picturesque fruit plate, and a bread roll. I opted to have champagne with my meal, but the flight attendant steered me towards a more fitting sparkling pink wine selection to complement the beef.

Narita Airport – United Club and ANA Lounge
To continue, I first stopped off at the United Club since it was close to the transit security check point. So here's my take on the United Club. It was very large and spacious, and had a nice collection of Japanese art work on the walls and objects on tables, which were tastefully done in a somewhat restrained Japanese manner. More loose in its interpretation of Japanese This is where the praise ends. The primary attraction for me in a lounge is the food selection, and United was such a let down, and here's why: The offerings were very poor: an almost depleted plate of makizushi, a bowl of edamame, container of rice cracker snacks, a watery version of a Western style vegetable soup "a la Japanese," Japanese style rolled cakes, a soft drink machine, a few wine offerings, a sake bottle, and the all-too-famous robotic beer machine. After checking a few emails, I had enough mental notes and pictures to make my departure to the ANA Lounge.

Upon walking out the door of the United Club, I was confused and a little directionally challenged at this sprawling airport. I'm usually a really good map ready, but I was unable to find that elusive ANA lounge, and ended up walking in circles and down dead-end paths. After many minutes of walking and getting back tracked, I eventually found the lounge down a long corridor, and suddenly found that little piece of Nirvana. I checked in to the lounge, and tried to replicated what I did last year: the sandwiches, the onigiri, sushi, cakes, sake, etc. What I sought out more than anything was another bowl of udon. As a kid, my mom loved these noodles more than anything and often served "Tanuki" brand udon to me, which I fondly called "mouse noodles." (Tanuki is the word for a badger but the wrapper looked like it had a picture of a mouse.) After getting my noodle fix and glass of sake, I made my way back to the United Club to try out that shower room I've heard so much about on FT.

From FT, I had read good reports about the United Club shower room. Luckily, I was the last passenger to use the showers for the evening . It is true: The United Club showers are large but a little dated compared to the shower facilities at the Silver Kris Lounge at Changi, but better than the shower the Emirates Lounge in Hong Kong, which were the tiniest showers stalls I've ever been in. The shower amenities at United were quite standard. The water was hot and powerful, and it prepared me for my final segment back home.

EIGHTH COURSE: NRT – HNL United Airlines
After spending about seven hours at NRT, I was ready to say "sayonara" and call it the end of my stay in Asia airspace. I wandered to the nearby United waiting lounge where there was a growing contingency of passengers anxiously awaiting to board. Finally, the board announcement came and went, and First Class and Global Services were invited to board first. Upon walking down the jetway, I still had that big smile on my face as I was about to take yet another ride in the hump of a 747. Walking upstairs, I was not greeted by any flight attendant; they were in the galley doing some pre-flight preparation. This is no surprise and the usual treatment I get on any US domestic F flight, so it was just business as usual. I easily found my forward-facing aisle seat on the right side and got settled in. The cabin was, of course, a little dark because of the low lighting and a somewhat cramped looking due to the seat pod configurations. I’m sure a day flight would have been more conducive to appreciating the upstairs cabin, especially since I had just alighted from the OZ 747 upstairs cabin, where it just seemed more spacious and inviting.

While the seat did not compare as favorably to the United First Class seat that I enjoyed a year ago from ORD to HKG, it was like a mini-version of it. What I noticed this time flying in a United premium cabin were the in-flight slippers provided that not even first class passengers received only a year earlier. I assume that Global First passengers now get slippers, and I'll know for sure when I fly KIX-SFO in Global First in the Fall of 2013, but I digress. My seat mate was a fellow Hawaii resident, so we were able to spark up a nice conversation all the way past dinner hour. Take off was not as exciting as when I was on the OZ flight (since this is the second time in the hump in one day) and it was a little bit of a blur but I do remember not being able to see much of anything out the window but darkness and rain sweeping across the window. I guess after already taking seven flight segments in the last 60 hours, gazing out the window at night from the aisle seat of the upstairs cabin doesn’t do much for my curiosity or needs.

DESSERT IS SERVED
This is the last sweet bite to my final trip report buffet. Dinner began shortly after the plane leveled out, and (as you guessed it), began with the customary warm nuts washed down with a glass of red wine. To avoid what happened to me on ANA last year, where the flight attendant on that flight successfully steered me away from the Japanese meal that I so much wanted to eat (telling me that they had run out of the Sensai Japanese meal), I didn't want to take any chances here, so I pre-ordered the Washoku Zen Japanese meal, and I’m so glad I did. It was a nice, lighter meal, and an appropriate way to end this incredible three day adventure.

TO BEGIN
Chilled Appetizer
Fresh Seasonal Greens - Cucumber, bell pepper and croutons with your choice of creamy garlic dressing or shiso vinaigrette

MAIN COURSE
Pan-seared Filet Mignon - Mushroom bordelaise sauce, Asiago potato pie, green beans and carrots
Steamed Fillet of Sea Bass - Shiitake mushroom seafood jus, steamed rice and mixed vegetables with oyster sauce
Panzerotti Pasta - Creamy sauce, mushrooms, leeks and Parmesan cheese

Washoku Zen Selection - Appetizers of salmon sushi with fish eggs, roasted lime-flavored beef with miso, quick-blanched tuna, broiled salmon, sansho-flavored sweet smelt, seaweed-flavored flounder an somen noodles with sweet egg
A main course of braised pork kakuni with sauteed onions, white leek julienne, green beans and carrot flower served with steamed rice and Japanese-style pickles
Gekkekan Junmai Shu Sake and green tea are available with this meal.

TO FINISH
International Cheese Selection - Grapes and crackers served with Noval Fine Ruby Port
Dessert - Ice cream with your choice of toppings

PRIOR TO ARRIVAL
Chilled Deli Selection - Prosciutto, ham, turkey ham and cheddar cheese

FEATURED CHAMPAGNE AND WINES
Champagne - Paul Dangin Brut N.V. Champagne
White Wine - Burgans Albarino 2009, Rias Baixas, Spain
Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc 2009/2010, Carneros
Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2010, Carneros
Red Wine - Santa Duc - AOP Les Buissons Cairanne 2010, Cotes du Rhone Villages
Cosentino The Cab 2009, California

BEVERAGES AND BAR SERVICE
Spirits - ABSOLUT Vodka, Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin, Bacardi Superior Light Rum, Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, Dewars "White Label" Blended Scotch Whiskey
Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Jim Beam Black Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Liqueurs - Grand Marnier, Courvoisier VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, DISARONNO Amaretto, Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua
Beer - Budweiser, Miller LIte, Heineken
Beverages- Assorted Soft Drinks, Bottled Water, Seltzer Water, Tonic Water, Apple Juice, Cranberry-Apple Juice Cocktail, Orange Juice, Tomato Juice, Bloody Mary Mix, Coffee (Regular and Decaffeinated), Hot Tea.
Regional specialty beverages may be available on your flight. Please ask your flight attendant for additional selections

The Washoku Zen meal was amazing (for United). The appetizer plate is just plane eye candy served on beautiful dishes. There was a vegetable salad (no lettuce, in the Japanese tradition), white thin soba noodles elegantly placed in an intriguing figure "8" pattern in the bowl garnished with egg strips, green onion, and grated daikon, resting in a dashi noodle broth. This course was followed by braised pork and vegetables in a delicate soy-seasoned sauce. White rice of average quality accompanied the meal.

Following the completion of the Washoku Zen meal, the FA's began the usual distribution of both cheese and fruit plates as well as the ice cream sundae trolley. You didn't have to choose one or the other as both were available if the passenger so desired. This is a change that I think I like. I had both! I have a big appetite and I was completely stuffed. Dinner service probably lasted about 1.5 hours. Thereafter, there was about four hours remaining on this flight, and given the fact that I had to fly to Florida at 10:00 pm from HNL that same evening upon arrival, I decided that some needed shut-eye was more important than reading or watching a movie. My poor seatmate as I'm sure I snored. I guess that's what the ear plugs are for when flying.

I closed my eyes thinking I'd take a one hour cat nap. Wrong! Before I knew it, we were flying by Kauai and just about ready to land in Honolulu. I had missed the cold cuts continental breakfast, which is not my ideal breakfast for such a long journey. Upon landing, and parking at the gate, I had expressed to the flight attendant that this was my first time riding in the upstairs of a 747 (but only true if you count the Asiana 747-400 ride as being all part of one long continuous trip. Just as I was saying that, the flight attendant grabbed the attention of one of the flight officers who had just exited the cockpit. Upon explaining my situation, that officer of the plane invited me to sit in the cockpit of the 747. Wow! I was thrilled. Yes, I got a picture. This was the fireworks at the end of a grand journey that began 68 hours earlier.

The letdown was deplaning and boarding a "wiki wiki" bus from the terminal to the immigration and customs hall. Such busses are just not pleasant to be on after a premium cabin experience (or any class experience for that matter!). Luckily, I had no luggage to wait for so I was one of the first to face U.S. border officials. I am also proud (or maybe just astonished) that I never exited through immigration desks at any of the airports except when I returned to Honolulu. When I arrived at the immigration/customs desk, the officer looked at my immigration/customs form. It honestly listed the five countries I had landed at over the past several days. Then he asked me where I had been and the purpose of my trip, and I recall mentioning something to the effect that I was on a trip to burn some frequent flyer miles. He seemed a little amazed that I had traveled to so many destinations. He kindly waved me through and back I was in my transplant home of Honolulu. It was a most special ending to a 68 hour trip to nowhere in particular.

Thanks for making it to the end of a very long journey.

Last edited by rodjune; Dec 20, 13 at 8:43 am Reason: typos
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Old Dec 20, 13, 12:18 am
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Thanks for the amazing report!
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