Auckland to Miami - The Voyage Home [Review of NZ/TG C & TG/LX F]

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by 787Flyer, Jan 11, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. 787Flyer

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  2. Flyer1976
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    NZ135 Auckland - Brisbane Boeing 777-300ER
    January 5th, 2012

    Seating: 2J Business Premier

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    Air New Zealand has a Premium Check-In area for their Premier Business and Elite Customers as well as Star Alliance Gold and Silvers. I had to check my 20" TravelPro since I bought several boutique wines from wineries around Australia and New Zealand while down Under. After checking in and collecting my Boarding Passes I promptly went to the Koru Club to partake in some Champagne & Pancakes before my flight from Auckland to Brisbane in Business Premier. It's off to the gate we go where we see our Boeing 777-300ER getting ready for boarding.

    What many people might not know about the Kiwis is that they are very family oriented in New Zealand so imagine the outrage that typical Americans might have when they hear that boarding for Elderly and Families with Children come before Business Premier and Elite Customers, I think that this is an nice touch and gets the families situated on the aircraft before ensuing the mass chaos of boarding. After all the octogenarians and families are accommodated I board the flight to get a warm Kia! Ora from the Purser and find my seat 2J with a warm welcome and a champagne we are off to start our Safety Team Talk with Richard Simmons on this flight. I think the only airline in the world that can get away with stuff like this is Air New Zealand as we all chuckle at this video.

    Somewhere over the Tasmanian Sea we are offered our savory Garlic Bread with Tasmanian Smoked Salmon and New Zealand Trout for our appetizer. I should warn you though that even for a three hour flight between Auckland and Brisbane they will feed you plenty of food in Business Premier! For Lunch I opted for the New Zealand Snapper with Potatoes with a Chardonnay and believe me when I say it was a good choice, the flavoring and crispiness of the catch of the day was excellent. As soon as I was done the Purser came around and ribbed me about being a loyal United flier since I mentioned that I knew they went above and beyond on service over their American counterparts. For just desserts an Apple Crumble and Honey Mango Ice Cream was offered with Ice Wine from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.

    As soon as the meal service was done, there was some time to read their inflight magazine Kia! Ora and I'm starting to doze off here from the Wine.
     
  3. Flyer1976
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    Brisbane - Koru Club

    January 5th, 2012

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    After landing in Brisbane, I went through the transit process which was rather harmless and quickly efficient however the navigation was difficult due to an earlier arriving Singapore and Thai Airways flight around the duty free shops and the customs area. Contingent on clearing Brisbane Security I headed directly to the Air New Zealand Koru Club where I had approximately four hours to kill before my next flight on Thai Airways to Bangkok on another Boeing 777-300ER. The Beverage and Food selections in the Koru Club was limited in comparison to the Auckland Club however it was more than enough to whet my appetite in between flights!
     
  4. Flyer1976
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    TG474 Brisbane - Bangkok Boeing 777-300ER
    January 5th, 2012

    Seating: 14K Royal Silk [Business]

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    It's time to board yet another long haul flight from Brisbane to Bangkok, since this is the regional Boeing 777-300ER for Thai Airways there is only Royal Silk and Economy service on this route. Fortunately for us today I flew in Thai Royal Silk in seat 14K, there was only 16 out of 34 passengers booked today. Thai Airways serves Piper-Heidsieck Champagne to its' customers in Royal Silk and as you can see they use the slanted Business Class seating on offer with this aircraft today. Here comes the Royal Silk Menu after we take off from Brisbane and start climbing to 36,000 feet where it's supposedly a smooth flight today from what the Purser told us.

    Unfortunately it started to get turbulent somewhere over the Northern Territories but that did not stop the service at all so we had appetizing prawns for our starter. I'm starting to notice a Tasmanian Salmon theme here with smoked Trout as this is the second consecutive flight that I have enjoyed this delicacy however I asked for seconds since the cabin was lightly booked and got what I wished for. The main course was a difficult choice so I told the cabin crew members to select on my behalf and that I would not be offended because I liked everything on the menu, after some discussion they brought me my dinner which was a filet of Pork Loin with Potatoes so I heaved away and finished the plate with mucho satisfaction.

    Now here's where things get interesting as they offer you both the Cheese & Fruit and then the Plum Cheesecake with Chocolate Pudding on the side and a good selection of Tawny Port for your just desserts. After all that I don't know how anyone manages to stay upright so it's off to counting clouds in the skies and falling asleep for yet another nap. The cabin starts to shake and we're hitting some bumps across the Eastern Malaysian Strait then with the seatbelt sign going on everyone's scrambling to their seats as we start to climb and descend at a rapid rate. At this time I took a photo out of Eastern Malaysia or known as Sabah with Brunei and reminisced about my days as an ex-pat working for an NGO in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia then I realized we were climbing to 40,000 feet where things were getting smoother.

    A glimpse at the Flight Map shows us getting closer and closer to Bangkok and it's time for our pre-arrival meal which consisted of noodles and prawns, at this point I started to get excited in anticipation for what laid ahead in Bangkok with the Thai Royal First Lounge & Spa!
     
  5. Flyer1976
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    Bangkok Royal First Lounge & Spa

    January 5th, 2012

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    I will admit that I was somewhat disappointed not to be escorted to the Royal First Lounge upon arrival in Bangkok because I was under the impression that Thai Airways would have someone meet me off my flight and they did meet several other customers traveling in Royal Silk but I did not see anyone for me specifically. So I went ahead and walked down through the Transit process again and cleared security where one has to walk a rather long way to their gate but fortunately for me the Royal First & Spa Lounges were near me. Upon arrival at the Royal Orchid Spa I was offered a selection of snacks and tea before my one hour Thai Touch Massage.

    The Masseuse came and escorted me to the suite where I will be enjoying the Thai Touch, if you didn't know all Royal First Customers get the option of enjoying several choices of massages I opted for the longest and relaxing massage ever. It was just amazing to feel so relaxed and in touch with oneself after an experience like this, I made conversation and then tipped my masseuse very well and wished her a Happy and Prosperous 2012. Upon exiting the Royal Orchid Spa I proceeded to the Royal First Lounge where I had approximately 25 minutes to eat lightly before boarding began for my Bangkok to Tokyo flight in Royal First.

    This is where Thai made up for not escorting me from my inbound to the Lounge, they promptly escorted us to our Tokyo flight where there was 4 out of 14 booked in Thai Royal First.
     
  6. Flyer1976
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    TG640 Bangkok - Tokyo Boeing 747-400

    January 5th, 2012

    Seating: 2A Royal First

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    After a relaxing one hour massage at the Royal Orchid Spa I can definitely sleep good tonight on TG640 to Tokyo. Upon boarding I was rather ecstatic to see that we had a lie-flat seat which is better for my sleeping habits because the lie slant seats sometimes makes me feel like I'm too tall for them despite being 5"6. Our purser came to me and started speaking in Italian because he noticed my last name on the manifest and I returned his pleasantries in italian by muttering si si... prego... grazie... grazie... and then started to drink my 2002 Dom Perignon Champagne that they had on offer which was excellent in comparison to the mid-tier Champagnes that other airlines serve on this route.

    Unfortunately for me this was the red-eye to Tokyo so I did not get to experience Royal First to it's finest but for this flight we had an accompaniment of Mushroom Soup (Chelsea Catering anyone?) with appetizers on the side and after all that bubbly I decided to catch some winks so I could relax while having a five hour layover at the Tokyo Narita airport. As always I woke up when we started to descend somewhere over the Southern part of the Sea of Japan and was offered Boiled Rice with Chicken Congee for Breakfast as it was light enough I took it and let me tell you Thai does their catering very well.

    It's time to head into the Airport and find FriendlySkies from MilePoint as he'll be joining us on this Voyage from Tokyo to Zurich on SWISS International Airlines in SWISS First.
     
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  7. Flyer1976
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    Tokyo Narita ANA Suite & United First Class Lounge
    January 6th, 2012

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    I did not realize that with an early arrival into Tokyo I would need to actually enter Japan because the transit security checkpoint did not open for another hour so to access the SWISS Check-In Counters to print my LX Boarding Passes I had to "enter" Japan for a while. After doing so the Check-In Counters did not open until 7:45AM and it was about 6:45AM when I officially cleared customs so I walked around the Airport to stretch my legs and it was a rather cold brisk morning by Tokyo standards.

    After checking in with SWISS I proceeded directly to the ANA Suite First Lounge near the 40s Gates where I met FriendlySkies for some Coke & Whiskey and Sushi. After nibbling on Japanese Gourmet we proceeded directly to the United International First Lounge that was on our way to the Gate for approximately thirty minutes. It is amazing to see a huge IFL that was empty and about the same size as the United Club downstairs but the amenities were slightly better as well as the food selection somewhat I would prefer the ANA Suites over the UA IFL for this reason.

    It's time to board and experience what SWISS International Airlines has to offer us on LX161 from Tokyo to Zurich in First Class.
     
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  8. Flyer1976
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    LX161 Tokyo Narita - Zurich Airbus A340-300
    January 6th, 2012

    Seating: 1G SWISS First

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    After visiting the ANA Suites First and the United International First Lounges we set off to our gate and saw the gate lice :rolleyes: was already blocking the boarding podiums. Fortunately for FriendlySkies and I we managed to snake our way through the gaggle and board LX161 to Zurich. Upon arriving the aircraft door we were warmly greeted by the Purser who then took us to our seats in 1G and 1K where I gave FriendlySkies a hard time about him being such a Do You Know Who I Am [DYKWIA] with his seating selection but I'd love to travel with him anytime again because he is the most politest and well behaved 1K I know out there.

    Our Airbus A340-300 to Zurich had the old First Class product however the seats were very comfortable although you would be surprised at how large the table was. FriendlySkies at this point was going holy cow look at how big this table is you could fit a lot on here and a lot indeed! I can definitely say our two cabin crew members working First Class was the best cabin crew members that I have had the pleasure of being their guests and FriendlySkies can attest to that. They talked to us and made us feel welcome at home and exchanged dining selections in Zurich for my overnight layover and about our eccentric traveling habits then we started to exclaim as we could see Mt. Fuji on our left side climbing over the clouds.

    What you do not know is that SWISS will feed you a lot of food, we started with an assortment of Sushi. FriendlySkies asked for seconds and we got seconds and a lot of extra helpings! I will have to go on a diet after this trip for sure with all the food, I mean we had sushi then Balik Salmon with an assortment of smoked meats and fish as well. After finishing up with the hors d' oeuvres we had a spicy mustard tomato soup accompanied by bread and for the main entree I opted for the Loin of Pork and started to sigh in contention that SWISS First Class is truly the best First Class product out there in terms of Comfort and Catering.

    Somewhere over the former Soviet Union I glanced out of the window from seat 1G and stared at the mesmerizing Siberian tundra with the mountains capped in snow our crew members came out with the Cheese & Fruit cart and moar would be consumed whether we liked it or not but it was such an enjoyable culinary experience I could not help myself as I kept eating through all the dishes. For the final dessert we had Ice Cream and Bananas accompanied by Ice Wine from Canuckistan which was refreshing and fit the Cheeses and Ice Cream exponentially. After this I barely could move without feeling stuffed from all the exquisite food as the maitre de cabin came around with Swiss Chocolates and more Wine.

    FriendlySkies and I looked at each other and said best damn flight ever and we started to doze off in a food-induced coma as I decided to stay up for a little bit and chat with the maitre de cabin about what it's like working for SWISS International Airlines and the former SWISSAIR. We chatted as the miles went by and by and at this point I decided it was time to catch some winks.

    Somewhere over the Siberian Tundra, a photo of the Flight Deck was taken for me with the sunrise coming up. On the Tokyo to Zurich flight you will be flying into the Sunset and into the Sunrise as we flew very north near the Polar region. I didn't get to take any more photos since my camera battery died at this point but this was a flight that I did not wish for to end at all.
     
  9. Flyer1976
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    Zurich SWISS First Class Lounge

    January 7th, 2012

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    Upon arrival from Tokyo I immediately went to the Holiday Inn nearby the Airport to meet my friends for dinner and to sleep off the jetlag and get adjusted to U.S Eastern Coast Time. However I quickly realized how dehydrated I was so I had to cancel dinner plans but not to fret it gives me another reason to come back to Zurich soon so the next day I proceeded to the Airport earlier than usually since I slept in the night before. Checking in at the First Class area was very seamless and I managed to check my bag again without any issues as I made my way through the airport to the SWISS First Class Lounge I ran into some United Airlines Crew Member friends of mine.

    The SWISS First Class Lounge is very cozy and small, they had a selection of light snacks for breakfast that included eggs, sausages, and smoked salmon as well as Champagne and drink selections on offer. There is also a bar area as well as a dining area for these who wish to sit down and eat before their flight. I opted for the grated French Onion Soup and Chicken Caesar salad at 3AM Eastern Time but it would not be too odd at 9AM Zurich time. After topping up the fuel tanks I proceeded to visit the World's Longest Attended Lounge Bar in the SWISS Senator Lounge which was a really long bar with three bartenders available and the drinks are free of course.

    The weather report did not indicate any snow but the flurries started to come down lightly as we made our way to the Limousine for the ride from the FCL to the newly built E Gates for LX64 to Miami.
     
  10. Flyer1976
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    LX64 Zurich - Miami Airbus A330-300
    January 7th, 2012

    Seating: 1A SWISS First

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    After an exciting ride from the FCL to the Gate that involved leaving Switzerland through Border Control downstairs we arrived at the E Gates where we had to go through the typical American security screening process... Our flight was delayed in boarding due to the snow outside but we still departed the Gate in time despite boarding 20 minutes late. Once on board I recognized that there was a Swiss FAM in 2C across from me and we chatted for a while about the differences between American and Swiss FAMs as far as public knowledge goes...

    The Captain informs us that the headwinds today are pretty bad but that it should be a smooth ride across the pond and instead of the 10:45 flight time we will have 11:30. So the Champagne comes out and the pour is constant until we finally deplane and make our way to the runway through the conga line. If you haven't flown out of Zurich before you will experience an exhilarating climb profile that requires a steep left turn after departure and flies over the airfield before joining the departure point due to the Mountainous terrain surrounding the City and Airport.

    As with the last flight on LX161 the catering onboard was excellent and I was served plenty of food as well as wine along with McCallan 18 & Coke... In comparison with the old and new First Class product I would have to say I liked the new First Class product along with the SWISS First soft product onboard but prefer Lufthansa First for their ground services and the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. ALL in ALL I wouldn't hesitate to take SWISS International Airlines again anytime, anywhere, & anyhow because their First Class product is SOLID!

    Thank you for reading my Trip Report!!!
     
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  11. msv
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    Sure sound like a good use of 80K miles!
     
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  12. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Nice report, Ryan!
     
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  13. FriendlySkies
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    I highly recommend flying LX F. Great crew, more than enough food, lots of Swiss chocolate :cool: :drool:, and a comfortable seat.. Seat 1K is also great for UA 1Ks to sit in :p
     
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  14. Flyer1976
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    As always it's been a real pleasure traveling with you.
     
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  15. TheTravelAbstract

    TheTravelAbstract Silver Member

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    Great reports. NZ looked the "freshest". TG looked a bit worn out. But that LX flight was insane, do they ever stop feeding you?

    I look forward to my 1st First Class experience.
     
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  16. FriendlySkies
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    Never! :D

    The Purser left me a whole box of chocolates to eat :eek: Probably a good thing that I asked her to take them away :p
     
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  17. TheTravelAbstract

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    What? That is absolutely worth the 80k miles for the award journey. Sign me up for two!
     
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  18. FriendlySkies
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    Only 67.5K for me :cool:
     
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  19. Flyer1976
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    That's correct... It's now 70K though for USA to Asia and it's 80K from Australia/New Zealand to USA*
     
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  20. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

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    Did you manage to book it online, or was you forced to deal with a reservation agent?
     
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  21. MikeIAH
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    Nice TR! I've been considering a lot of these routes, especially on LX.
     
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  22. NYBanker
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    Nice, succinct report. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  23. Flyer1976
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    I couldn't book this online but the Elite Desk was nothing short of amazing with the 100+ phone calls I've made on this single PNR.
     
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  24. MDDCFlyer

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    Yes, I figured that it would be impossible to get it done online. I am amazed they actually let you do it through the phone. Somehow I would think this would violate all the rules, especially for such low number of miles.
     
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  25. ORDnHKG

    ORDnHKG Active Member

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    If this is your first time flying F, perhaps you can say that. If you had done others in F like SQ, NH, OZ, you would not think LX is really the best F product. I mean LX F is ok, the seat in the 343 is totally dated, and they don't have any plans to install to new F from 333. The catering can certainly improve especially the mid-flight snack department. The food they have is ok, nothing really stand out

    Actually if it is US-Japan, it is indeed 67.5K miles, it is only if you go anywhere in Asia but Japan would be 70K miles
     

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