Tails from the Nose

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  1. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Tails from the Nose

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    Most people are aware of US Dividend Miles and the great *A trips you can get on the cheap from them. Last April (2012), a great friend of mine was getting married, and I was invited to be the best man. So having 150k US DM miles in the bank was definitely a nice coincidence!

    This trip was the one of the last times most people could feasibly get Lufthansa group First Class seats. It's nothing compared to the last wild travel which I wrote up about (and was a *A redemption with BD DC). Also, given that I am a graduate student who should be submitting soon (any graduate student will know that those are always famous last words!), this was the last major international travel I've done. It was also the only international trip I did in 2012.

    Along with the wedding, I was able to string together a bit of time in Eastern Europe, and before I returned home, there was a stop in AKL to meet up with friends closer to home for some really, really good food.

    Although the travel was mostly in premium, everything else was mostly on the budget end of the scale (or tried to!). Like a true FFer, the journey seemed to get more attention compared to the destination! :D (OK, not quite that...) There's lots of upfront travel and nice hotels (mostly on points), but then there's also travel at the back and really budget stays. Hence the title of this TR - whilst there's travel in the 'nose', there's also a healthy amount in the 'tail' ;)

    Either way, there's plenty of food shots in this TR. You can tell I love food. Those of you who have met me can probably tell that I obviously love food - perhaps too much! :D

    So, without much more of a blurb that you'd want, first up - the standard anat0l TR disclaimer: I use a lot of pictures in my TRs and a lot of them are food. So please approach with caution if you are on a diet.

    I know the trip was taken almost a year ago now. Some minor things have changed since then; the award landscape has changed for sure. But hopefully, memories are timeless...and I hope you enjoy reading this TR all the same.

    Now, let us proceed......

    Flight Schedule
    Code:
    Date   Flight  Sector   Dep   Arr     Dur'n  A/C  Cls  Connect
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    09APR  DJ 920  BNE-SYD  0730  0905     1:35  738    Y     6:50
    09APR  TG 472  SYD-BKK  1555  2215     9:20  346    F     1:05
    09APR  OZ 742  BKK-ICN  2320  0655+1   5:10  333    J     5:35
    10APR  OZ 541  ICN-FRA  1230  1700    11:30  744    F     1:15
    10APR  LH 936  FRA-LCY  1815  1840     1:25  E90    J  5:13:45
    16APR  FR8353  STN-BUD  0825  1145     2:20  738    Y  5:09:15
    21APR  FR2319  BTS-STN  2100  2215     2:15  738    Y  2:10:55
    24APR  LH 929  LCY-FRA  0910  1140     1:30  E90    J    21:20
    25APR  LX1069  FRA-ZRH  0900  0950     0:50  322    J     3:20
    26APR  LX 196  ZRH-PEK  1310  0500+1   9:50  343    F     6:50
    26APR  NZ 286  PEK-AKL  1150  0445+1  12:55  772    J  3:08:00
    30APR  NZ 119  AKL-SYD  1245  1415     3:30  772    J     2:45
    30APR  DJ 965  SYD-BNE  1700  1830     1:30  738    Y      END

    My Previous Trip Report on MilePoint
     
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  2. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Monday 9 April 2012


    Who invented early starts? Definitely wasn't me....

    Nevertheless, this wasn't too bad this morning - only a 0730h flight, not a 0500h, so I did manage to wake up at 0430h-ish... and spend about another half-hour actually kicking myself out of bed. Spending some time the previous night packing paid dividends this morning, as there was no mad rush to throw everything in, and my checked bag and smaller backpack (courtesy of the Global Corporate Challenge) was just about ready to go. I thought I was going to be smart this morning - I had a shower the night before, you don't sweat overnight so in the morning a quick face wash and brush of the teeth and you're pretty set for the morning. Besides, that's what lounge showers are for. Saves time in the morning - and ditto that for breakfast at home, too...

    The folks drive me to the airport and we thankfully find some space at the new drop off complex, particularly so near the Virgin Australia end, which is very short. Into the terminal, not a person to be seen in the check-in lines and the only line up at the Premium Check-in was a ball of lint, so even the tumbleweed had already checked in! I managed to interrupt a trio of check-in ladies gossiping when one of them had me checked to SYD quicksmart with bag tagged on its way (with Priority Baggage). Security was quick - no need for Priority Security - and then it was up to the Virgin Lounge.

    I was planning to have a shower at SYD rather than at BNE, with the former having better shower facilities by a country mile. So I settled in for breakfast at the BNE lounge. The Virgin lounge morning offerings at the time had improved since their more basic, continental-only days. No hot food - except for toast or toasted sandwiches - but at least there's enough there to make a satisfactory European breakfast: sliced ham, cheddar cheese and hard boiled eggs. Then, there's all the regular continental spread.

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    The breakfast spread at the Virgin BNE Lounge

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    Bircher muesli glasses and mini chocolate muffins

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    Breakfast at the Virgin Lounge

    Seeing as my flight down to SYD was on a Saver, there'd be no food included in the fare so it was a good idea to get something in the stomach before the journey down.

    Checking the FIDs it seems the flights this morning were on time. Not that I really needed to get to SYD in a hurry - my layover was over 6 hours, and there's no great F lounge or anything waiting for me when I got there. But, I definitely had my errands to run when in SYD, and whilst I munched on breakfast I was already plotting how I was going to achieve everything I needed to do before my flights to Europe.

    We're informed to go to the gate pretty much on cue for boarding, which was at the circular concourse of Virgin's end of the domestic terminal. Get to the gate, and Priority Boarding seems to be indifferent, or there were a lot of elites on this flight. Whatever, can't care less, at least we're being boarded quickly.

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    View of the rest of the Virgin tarmac from the pier connecting the main terminal and the circular concourse


    Flight: Virgin Australia DJ920 Brisbane (BNE D) - Sydney (SYD T2)
    Depart: Sched 0730h; Actual 0739h
    Duration: 1 h 35 min
    Distance: 467 mi (752 km)
    Aircraft: VH-BZG "Brett's Jet" Boeing 737-800
    Class: Economy
    Seat: 3C
    Seat Colour: Grey



    I luckily found a place in the overhead for my bag. Whilst row 3 on the refurbished Virgin 737s have plenty of space before you hit the class divider, you can't put a bag there, and you wouldn't really want to anyway. The flight wasn't fully packed, but there was enough to get a scattering of everyone across all rows of the aircraft.... except for Business, where not a single person took a seat there!

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    Everyone on board and getting seated
     
  3. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Legroom at 3C

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    The new Virgin Australia domestic Business on the 737 aircraft. On this flight, no one had the privilege of enjoying these seats or service.

    We pushed back a bit later than schedule, but soon were into the skies and on our way to SYD. As soon as the safety demo was over, I could only think about sleeping, but I didn't really manage this until we got a bit beyond cruise.

    Once we were up in the air without a fuss and the seat belt signs turned off, the crew sprang into action. First round of service with the cart is for Flexi pax, who get a complimentary meal. In this case, the Flexi pax (found by referring to a manifest) were given a white box with what I would imagine seems similar to a QantasLink breakfast box, but I didn't get to see inside. The second service round is the cash service for all other passengers. A recent change in Virgin Australia service policy meant that water, tea and coffee were free of charge, but I didn't feel like anything and started to get as comfy as I could in the leather seat so I could get a few winks before touchdown. Luckily my seatmate in 3A didn't have to use the bathroom, though I guess the walk all the way down to the back was a significant disincentive.

    BNE-SYD flights are standard procedure for me now, so a mere 90 minutes or so later and we were in the misnomer national capital of Australia. We parked up at terminal 2 and once inside, my first thoughts were a shower, so I bee-lined it to the Virgin Lounge.

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    SYD Terminal 2 main airside concourse

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    Airside entrance to the Virgin Lounge at SYD T2

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    Now you're entering the Virgin Australia Lounge at SYD T2
     
  4. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    I approached the front desk at the lounge and explained the situation with my checked bag and wanting to use the lounge. The front desk attendant seemed a bit annoyed at my story, so when she asked how long was I going to be in the lounge, I decided not to push my luck and just explained that I wanted a shower, a coffee and then be on my way. After showing her my bag tag details, she said she would inform baggage services and allowed me into the lounge.

    I do like the fact that there's been more effort put into creating nice shower facilities in SYD compared to my home port of BNE. Unlike the newer MEL T3 lounge, where the shower rooms are outfitted with brilliant shiny black tile, the SYD shower rooms are more dull and subtle by comparison. But all the essentials were there and still enough space to swing a kitten.

    Love a warm shower when the body isn't feeling right up to the day.... feeling a bit better after it, I headed out to the bar and got a barista-made soy latte (yes, a human barista), then to the servery for a couple of pikelets with jam and cream.

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    Coffee and pikelets... oh, and did I mention I have a penchant for the biscotti and panforte?

    I checked the watch after a polishing off the coffee - 10.45 am. My flight to BKK was due to depart 1555h, which left me until 1455h to check-in. That's less than 4 hours to get what I need to get done. Better get moving... and especially before baggage services thinks I'm pulling a funny one and decide to destroy my bag.

    Out of the lounge and to arrivals, I picked up my bag and did a bit of repacking. The prospect of running a few errands with a checked bag behind me wasn't a good one, so I walked over to SYD T3 to the QF arrivals level where SmartCarte have a storage facility. It's not manned all the time, but luckily when I called them on the service phone this time they were relatively prompt. $10 and my piece of baggage put behind the counter, it was off to the public bus stop to catch the 400.

    A Busy Layover

    I was optimistically hoping that within 3 and a bit hours I could achieve all I needed to and get back to the airport on time for international check-in. The public bus is the cheapest way to get to and from Sydney city, albeit it was not the most convenient, and pot luck on the frequency given it was a public holiday today. It requires a change of buses (usually) and, short of a MyZone ticket, requires one to purchase a ticket for each leg of the journey (rather than just one ticket with transfers). In peak hour, one may also be forced to get a MyZone ticket because cash tickets aren't accepted or sold on key flow routes. So the 400 to Mascot Shops, then almost anything else from the other side of the street to the city. It's definitely longer than the train, but paying $15.00 one way for the train is a little bit extortionate.

    Once in the city, first thing was to head on down to the supermarket and pick up some Australian fare for my expat friend in LON, who was in need of his Australian food fix (less the Vegemite). The Woolworths on George seemed good enough for purpose, so loaded up on Tim Tams, Shapes and In-A-Biskits. You'd think that England would take a shine to at least Tim Tams to the extent they'd either import them or copy them, but whatever. I was thinking about picking up some Lamingtons as well, but I'm thinking that supermarket packet Lamingtons are probably not worth it, so I passed on it. Also managed to pick up a nice congratulations card before heading to the checkout.

    Next errand - wedding gift. I'd only thought about this gift at the last minute, and it was a book. I thought it might be a real challenge, given our era of e-books, book shops are not the "in" thing at the moment; indeed, they are closing down pretty frequently! Fired up my portable wireless hotspot and the iPod touch to look for bookstores around George and Pitt, and was glad to find out that there was a Dymocks a couple of blocks away. Thank goodness some are still around. Found the Dymocks and was glad to also find it was a pretty big store, so the chances of their having a great selection of books was high.

    Next, I went to a customer service point and asked if they had the book I wanted. So glad they catalogue these things! Few taps on the system, and yes they have it! Woo hoo! And a quick dash upstairs to the section confirmed they had a copy of the book. To top it all off, the store has a gift wrapping service for gold coin donation - wonderful.

    For those that are interested, I highly recommend the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

    The watch told me I had a bit under 2 hours to go - better hurry up...

    Next stop was Bondi Junction, reached by train. I found the small Chemist Warehouse near the exit of the train station. Found what I needed after a bit of a confusion over getting the correct potency, but that was soon sorted and now I had to head back to the airport.

    The first thought that came to mind was the train - Bondi Junction back to the city loop, then to the airport. At least $15.00. Then I remembered that the 400 runs all the way between Burwood and Bondi Junction. I'm in Bondi Junction, why can't I take the bus? Thinking how clever I was to be in position, I inquired where the bus stops were and found the one labelled 400 to the airport. Waited around 10 minutes for the correct 400 bus to arrive, got a ticket and hopped on.

    Sometimes I think I should really think these things through properly. :(

    The bus lurched on. And winded here and there. Half an hour passes and it doesn't seem we're getting anywhere near the domestic airport or Mascot. The bus shifted between full to the brim to standing room only and back again. My watch was telling me I was going to be down to the wire getting to check-in on time. And my brain was telling me that if I didn't get to check-in on time, my entire flight schedule could be in utter ruins.

    I didn't really have a backup plan, short of hopping off the bus randomly, calling for a taxi, praying it would arrive in less than 10 minutes, then telling it to take me to the domestic then the international airports. Expensive but worth it not to miss my check-in cut off.

    Suddenly, that extortionate train probably was a much better idea.

    Eventually, I we arrived at the public bus stop at SYD T3. My watch told me I had 30 minutes before close of check-in. No time to waste at all. I jogged to SmartCarte, got my bag back. Found an empty bench, opened up my checked bag, quickly fitted in my shopping into the checked bag, and re-zip it back up. At this point, I would normally go to the train or T-Bus (the former I know well) and pay the $5.50 or whatever to get to T1. Heck, even the 400 goes to the international terminal as well. But, there was no time today - I rushed to the taxi rank as a line of taxis came to fill up and take on the half-dozen of us waiting, including me.

    I apologised to my driver that I was offering him such a trivial fare, but he took it in his stride and even made good on getting me there as fast as he possibly could. Got to T1, paid the driver with my credit card and was into the terminal. A shade less than 10 minutes to check-in closure.

    TG, like several airlines away from their home base, don't have their own staff here (except for a single customer service manager), but rather use contracted services. They were situated near Air New Zealand at the furthest end of the check-in counters (from the perspective of the departures entrance).

    I have to say that in general, I don't really like contracted services. The main reason I find is that, overall, contracted airline services (not airline employees working under contract for another airline, I mean like Menzies or Toll) lack the customer service that airline employees have. They do their jobs very rigidly and seem to struggle a lot in service recovery. We may complain about airline employees not being able to do their jobs properly, or not being empowered enough to solve problems, but these seem to be magnified n-fold with contracted services. This has quite a bit of repercussions, too, when considering premium check-in (i.e. Business, First or elite level check-in).

    Back to the story. There was a dedicated line for First Class (or Royal First) check-in and I was invited to come forward straightaway. Good sign - I'm in time for check-in!

    Me: "Good afternoon."
    Contractor Check-In Agent: "Afternoon. Where are you going to?"
    Me: "London City, via Bangkok, Seoul-Incheon and Frankfurt"
    Agent: "I beg your pardon?"

    Then there was that look of, "Are you pulling my leg or are you an idiot?" At this time, I pulled out my US Dividend Miles booking and show her my ticket details. Yep - printing your reservations has some use even in this era of e-ticketing!

    Once my reservation was in the agent's hands, along with my passport, I think things started to clear up. A bit of tapping away, a call to the supervisor ensued. Guess it's not everyday you get a multi-stop connecting ticket like this.

    Agent: "You're going to London you said?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Agent: "It doesn't look like your final destination is London."
    Me: "Yes - that's London City, LCY."
    Agent: "No, London is LHR."
    Me: "No, LCY is London City Airport - there are five main airports in the London area, and London City Airport is one of them."
    Agent: "Hmmm....."

    Another one of "those" looks ensued... :rolleyes: yes I know what I'm talking about....

    The supervisor checks over what's going on, lends a helping hand and eventually it's all sorted out. I get my BPs for SYD-BKK and BKK-ICN, but I can't get any further BPs at the moment, so I'll have to collect them at a later point in time. Two bag tags were required to route my baggage all the way to my final destination, and I was told that I can use the Air New Zealand Koru Club in SYD T1 before my flight.

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    Bag with two tags - extra long journey!

    Having spent about 10 minutes at check-in, it was now about 55 minutes to scheduled departure, and I'm still landside. Not great. Thankfully, Express Path works magic today, despite the usual silly arrangement at the immigration counters. I navigate my way through the maze Duty Free shop after security screening and make my way to the far pier where my flight was scheduled to depart and the NZ KC was located.

    At the far pier of SYD T1, there's another Duty Free shop to navigate through in order to access the gates and lounges, but thankfully this one is more straightforward than the one just after security screening to airside. Up the stairs to the entrance of the Koru Club, which is tucked into the end of a hallway near the farthest point of SYD T1 terminal.

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    Welcome to the SYD T1 NZ Koru Club

    With only limited time before scheduled boarding, there wasn't much time for me to soak in the ambiance of the lounge, which is a shame because I think NZ have done a great job of creating a good lounge which isn't at one of their home bases. It's very relaxing, the decor is pleasant and the food is quite acceptable - not spectacular, but certainly not insufficient.
     
  5. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    The Koru Club seating area and decor - distinctly green, just like the best of New Zealand

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    The SYD T1 NZ KC servery with a decent assortment of mini savouries, sandwiches and salads. For those who want something slightly more substantial, there is a hot dog stand with large buns and hot dogs, sweet onion jam and condiments.

    I took a couple of nibbles with me to a table to settle my hunger (hadn't had any lunch! Yes, I'm aware I was about to board) and get onto the free internet so I could pay a couple of bills and make a couple of calls to the credit card companies (always a great idea to do this before you head off on an international journey - or so I've been advised). Doing two things at once plus keeping an eye on the FIDs for your flight to board isn't easy. It doesn't make it easier when the free wifi works but is as slow and unreliable as a drunken pack mule. Back to the portable hotspot! Thank goodness it works so I can get those bills paid, and my phone calls were quickly tended to.

    Done! Now... pressure is off - time to board and get this journey going in earnest!

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    The SQ bloat-bus passing by, as viewed from the NZ Koru Club at SYD T1
     
  6. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Flight: Thai Airways International TG472 Sydney (SYD T1) - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ) (BKK)
    Depart: Sched 1555h; Actual 1546h
    Duration: 9 h 20 min
    Distance: 4,662 mi (7,503 km)
    Aircraft: HS-TNE "Nonthaburi" Airbus A340-600
    Class: Royal First
    Seat: 1A



    Coincidentally enough, this particular aircraft was the same one that I flew on when going from BKK to SYD with TG in F during my 2011 trip.

    Once at the aircraft door, I was greeted with a Sawadee and directed to go to the left. Boarding at door 2L, getting to the F cabin on the 346 involves walking through the front-most cabin of J class. Thankfully there were not too many people getting settled in here so I had a nice straight walk to the refuge of 8 seats in First.

    The old TG First seats aren't the most advanced around. The main advantage of TG F in the 346 is the privacy, and a fully flat seat compared to an angle flat one in J (if that is an issue for you). They are definitely comfortable enough, however, and the upholstery on the seat was distinctly Thai and matched the mood.

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    TG F Class on the 346

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    My seat, 1A

    I was greeted once I got to my seat 1A by the most respectful First cabin manager, who offered me a pre-flight drink. There were two Champagnes loaded today - Dom Perignon or Veuve Cliquot Rose. Not a fan of the former, so I opted for a glass of the Rose. As I've previously mentioned, staff on TG are not necessarily quick on their English, so avoid colloquialisms, speak clearly and be patient. Although TG staff may not be proficient at English, the very good ones genuinely want to offer good service, and this should be kept in mind.

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    Glass of Veuve Cliquot Rose before take-off

    I almost thought I would be the only one in F, but close to scheduled departure a few more entered the cabin, bringing the F total to four passengers today, all of us occupying row 1, funny enough. Another coincidental fact - all of the pax in First on this flight were male. Make of that what you will...

    I don't know why FlightStats had us departing much earlier than scheduled departure, because we certainly were late pushing back. After the stress of pulling off what I had to do today before getting on board, I was starting to stress a little again because my next connection at BKK to ICN was a window only 65 minutes long based on schedule, which was further compounded by the fact that the connection was not on TG (oh anat0l, you're doing it again...), but OZ. I was praying that we would get going soon and make up some time, because otherwise my connection was going to be very, very tight.

    Menus, slippers, amenity kits and sleeper suits were distributed before push back. Eventually we were locked and loaded, so about 20-35 minutes late off schedule we pushed back, listened to the safety demo and soon the long aircraft soared into the skies en route to BKK.

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    TG F menus in a traditional looking menu holder

    Once we got up to cruise height from SYD, the seat belt signs were turned off and I used this opportunity to go use the bathroom to change into my sleeper suit. Something you always notice about flying in F is that everyone has no hesitation changing into their sleeper suit, and usually they do it before take off. Well, almost everybody, but I see it more often than not. Last time when I got a sleeper suit from TG, they were a light blue colour, but this time they had one of lilac instead.

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    Legroom in 1A, showing off my lilac coloured sleeper suit bottoms
     
  7. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Pre-meal drinks were promptly offered. I decided to try my luck again at the Dom Perignon, which was served with a small plate of everyday nut mix.

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    Aperitif of Dom Perignon with nuts

    This was fairly quickly followed up with canapes, which were pretty close to very simple open sandwich creations in two-bite form.

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    Canapes of classic sandwich combinations - buffalo mozzarella and tomato; smoked salmon and creme fraiche; and goose liver

    Finally, it was time to get the big table out for dinner.

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    Big table in the F seats - whether it's dining or business, there's space for everything on the mahogany finish

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    Table set for the meal
     
  8. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    An interesting concept that I had on this flight compared to my last TG F flight was the personal bread basket. On my last TG F flight we were simply offered a choice of bakery from a tray, but in this case we had a whole basket of assorted bakery items in one corner of the table - pick as much or as little as you like!

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    Personal bread basket

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    Moist towel presented on a metal tray

    The first course after canapes was the caviar course. As First Class turns into a dying breed around the world, so does the caviar course, but TG (probably again referring to the textbook) still offers it, with all the regular accompaniments, including an optional shot of vodka in an icy frosted shot glass. Great touch, but did they really have to serve Smirnoff vodka?

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    Caviar being served from the service cart
     
  9. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Frosted shot glass of Smirnoff vodka. Not for the feint of heart.

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    Caviar plate with accompaniments

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    TG serve their caviar with Melba toast rather than blinis

    Expensive product as it is, caviar doesn't do a lot for me. The purists say you have to eat it plain and cold so you can experience the bursting of the small fish eggs on your tongue, and enjoy the saltiness of them. I suppose I can't see the beauty in it (just like trying to appreciate a nice bottle of wine, or a cheese, etc.), but I don't mind combining caviar with the accompaniments - that tastes good, even if it does tear the heartstrings of the purists.

    The next course was the real entree, consisting of a medley of seafood and a piece of duck. I know being in the air makes it very difficult to serve good seafood, but I think this dish lacked quite a bit of taste, especially the duck, which seemed under-seasoned as well as a bit tasteless. The accompanying sauce helped lift the dish a bit.

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    Cold crayfish medallion, duck, prawn and scallop entree. Yes, that's tartare sauce served in a plastic container, not unlike something you might get at a fish and chip shop.

    Seeing I was a bit underwhelmed with the entree, I asked the FA if I could have another serve of caviar. Lucky me, there was enough for a second serving!

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    Second serving of caviar. Lucky this isn't buy on board.
     
  10. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    I think I've found out that I'm a bit of a slow eater, because by the time I was thinking about mains, the rest of row 1 had already settled into theirs. The cabin manager came around and asked for my choice. I didn't really see something that caught my eye in particular - a couple of them look interesting, but in the end it still seems rather pedestrian. So I took a punt on the Thai option of the curry, just like I did last time.

    Before the main course, however, I was offered a garden salad, which could be dressed with Thousand Island or balsamic dressing. Could I get half-and-half dressings? Why not - the cabin manager was only happy to do so. The garden salad was very fresh - tomatoes, in particular, are difficult to get in a tasty state up in the air (they usually end up frozen and then tasteless in the ensuing thaw), but these were great (note that these are not truss tomatoes, so this comment is saying something!)

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    Garden salad with Thousand Island and balsamic dressings

    Finally, it was time for my main of Thai pork Pa-naeng curry. Despite the basic appearance, the curry was quite good. I don't know whether this curry was meant to have a kick in it, but this didn't. Very "peanutty" (but not crunchy) and a bit sweet (reinforced by the choice of stir-fried vegetables). I would've probably liked more of the sauce / curry soup.

    [​IMG]
    Main of Pork Pa-naeng Curry. Those of you who are familiar with Chinese food may recognise the Chinese sausage on the plate.

    [​IMG]
    For the curious, here's another one of the mains ordered by my nearest neighbour in 1D: seared beef fillet with Madeira sauce

    TG's service carts are always presented very well, and the cheese and fruit cart was no exception when it arrived. The cheese is by no means better than what you can get from most supermarkets, covering the basic groups of cheese - a "by the book" affair here. The fruits were both nicely cut and quite delicious. The plate was served with a nip of Warre's Warrior Port. I'm not usually a port drinker, but I was willing to give a nip a try. Besides, there was no dessert wine on board the flight.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    TG F Cheese and Fruit service cart
     
  11. anat0l
    Original Member

    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    My cheese and fruit plate

    [​IMG]
    Warre's Warrior Port

    Finally, the meal draws to a close with the dessert and the offer of tea or coffee. I decided to have my tart with a white coffee.

    [​IMG]
    Dessert of apple and berry crumble with vanilla sauce

    [​IMG]
    White coffee to finish the meal
     
  12. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    After finishing dinner and the table cleared, the cabin was largely being set up for everyone to have a nap. Window shades were drawn down, and I was offered to have my bed made up. I accepted the offer whilst I moved to the bathrooms to freshen up.

    The F amenity kit is a zip amenity bag (traditional shape) made by Tumi. The only thing which differentiated it from most common zip bags was the the zip line at the top was made of a reinforced material so it was almost impossible to rip the zip at the top. Apart from that, however, the bag was definitely not as good as the Rimowa cases - really missed the Rimowa cases (and I here they are only offered on A380 flights now).

    Another thing I noticed was that the bathroom amenities on my TG F flight last year were from Salvatore Ferragamo, whereas this time they were from the lesser known Aigner. This got me wondering whether there is a substantial difference in the service and product between flights going to BKK as opposed to those from BKK.

    [​IMG]
    Aigner products in the TG F bathrooms, rather than Salvatore Ferragamo

    [​IMG]
    TG F amenity kit by Tumi

    [​IMG]
    Contents of the TG F amenity kit - nothing too fancy schmancy here

    As I exited the bathroom, I noticed that the F cabin had all the lights out and my bed had been set up. I slipped into the bed and soon slipped into a slumber...



    ...well, that didn't last very long. When I woke up again, I checked my watch and noticed that there was still quite a bit of time left before we arrived in BKK (though I was still concerned in the back of my mind about my next flight!). Having woken up and everything was still dark, I thought about doing a bit of work, but I didn't really want to put on any lights because it would definitely impact on the rest of my row. So what to do?

    Having a mostly empty cabin and everyone in row 1 helps a bit! I got my belongings out quietly and moved back to 2A. Then I set up shop there. I used my personal reading light to shine the dimmest of lights on my workspace, making careful note not to shine it directly into the row in front. This seemed to work well. Fired up the laptop, cut the sound and reduced the brightness.

    The cabin manager noticed I was up and asked if there was anything I would like. I asked for a glass of the Australian Domaine Tournon 2009, a Victorian Shiraz. Not a bad drop, I must say.

    [​IMG]
    Glass of Domaine Tournon Shiraz 2009

    As I worked away, the cabin manager noticed I had finished my red wine and offered a top-up. I declined and instead wanted to shift gears to something a bit sweeter and basic. Would you believe that at this time all I wanted was a chocolate drink, but I didn't want a hot one. I noticed on the menu there was something called "Chocolate Malt 3-in-1" (whatever the three ingredients were). The cabin manager informed me that this drink is normally served warm, but I asked him whether it was possible to serve it cold. He said, "Let me see what I can do".

    When he returned, I saw a glass of malted chocolate milk drink with ice cubes in it. Tasted fantastic! I wasn't too phased with the ice cubes, as the ice cubes don't melt fast enough to compromise the flavour of the drink. Full marks to the cabin manager.

    [​IMG]
    Cold malted chocolate milk drink
     
  13. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    1D started to stir, probably again, like me, not quite able to sleep the whole flight to BKK. He switched on his IFE and looked for another movie to watch. Soon enough, 1K stirred as well and copied my form, moving to 2K to do some document reading. This left 1G as the only passenger snoozing away in the dark cabin.

    Eventually I tired of working and returned to my bed to snooze until the cabin lights were turned on and we were ready to think about landing. A check of my watch and the moving map confirmed that we had made up a little bit of time, but I was still staring down the barrel of a 35 - 40 minute connection.

    After getting changed back into civilian clothes again, I sat down for the pre-landing snack. This started off with a traditional Tom Yam soup.

    [​IMG]
    Tom Yam Goong soup

    The two choices of snack were chicken satay or tortellini. I opted for the chicken satay, which was tasty, though the peanut satay sauce was a bit sweet for my liking. I usually prefer a much more concentrated peanut flavour with a very good hint of spices / lemongrass.

    [​IMG]
    Chicken Satay snack

    The conclusion of the snack was marked by a dainty Frangipane tart, which I had with some green tea.

    [​IMG]
    Frangipane raspberry tart with vanilla sauce

    Now well and truly fed, it was time to plot my transfer at BKK. By my estimations, I was hoping to run to my next gate after we land at BKK, and hoping my bag could similarly make it in time, too. I had no backup plan if I didn't make this flight - it probably wouldn't be pretty and might involve an unpleasant experience of calling US DM when I was overseas and not in normal communications contact. I even repacked my bags to be as "security screening compliant" as possible - all of my loose items put into my bags so I wouldn't be emptying my pockets; my laptop was placed near the front of my backpack for easy access.

    As the cabin manager and F FA came around to say thanks for flying Thai and farewell, they reassured me that I would make my next flight. I thanked them for their hospitality on this flight and wished them well.

    With that, we were seated for landing and soon arrived late at night into Suvarnabhumi Airport.

    As the plane pulled up to the terminal and gate, I kept glancing out the window to find where my OZ aircraft to ICN would be, and where we might be pulling up. If I had to run over two piers to make my connecting flight, I want to have enough strength so that I collapse into a disheveled mess once I'm on board the next flight, not whilst running to it.

    We parked at the gate and the jetbridges were lined up. I headed out to the terminal to find a TG staff member waiting with my name on a board. I believe TG are ready for all of their F pax when they arrive in BKK, providing a buggy service to take them to their next service (i.e. arrivals for those coming into BKK, or transit and lounge for onward departures). My assisting staff member knew I had a connection and helped me into the waiting buggy. We powered down the arrivals level concourse until we got to the nearest transit point. I think this ride gives Johnny Knoxville in golf cart extreme racing a run for its money!

    [​IMG]
    How do you say, 'step on it,' in Thai?

    Security at the transit point was pretty quick thanks to my preparations, but I did also have to remove belt and shoes. Once through as fast as I could (without losing anything, too), my assistant walked with me towards my departing pier. She did ask if I wanted to stop by the lounge for a drink, however I thought that right now is not the time to risk anything. In hindsight perhaps I should've said yes, but I was tired and not thinking it would add much to the experience anyway.

    So I was directed to where my next flight was. I walked briskly to the gate and had my documents checked, then I waited in the gate lounge just like any other pleb. Scheduled boarding was supposed to start when I arrived, but it seemed nothing happened. Minutes passed by......nope, still not regretting skipping the lounge - at least I can get to the front of the line here and get on board ASAP. Judging by how full the gate area looked, this flight was going to be full. Lots of people are flicking away at their mobiles. Some kids are keeping themselves entertained with almost any electronic gaming system under the sun. A few randoms are hacking up and sneezing - hope they aren't near me. Sitting out with the plebs... you really have to do it once in a while :D

    Finally, albeit late, the boarding announcement came, the staff started moving towards the boarding doors, and I started gravitating like the traditional gate lice nearest to the Business / premium boarding door. The glass doors were opened, I got my boarding pass checked, then I was straight onto the aircraft.

    There's no other safe haven in a connection until you're on your next flight......
     
  14. anat0l
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    MENU
    Thai Airways International TG472 Royal First Class Sydney - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
    Monday 9 April 2012



    First Serving (Dinner)


    Canapes

    White Sturgeon Caviar with Garnitures


    First Course

    Crayfish Medallion, Scallop, Duck and Prawn with Mesclun Garnish


    Salad

    Mixed Green Salad with Thousand Island Dressing and Balsamic Dressing


    Main Course

    Sauteed Prawn with Chilli and Lemon Cheeks
    Linguini Noodles, Ratatouille

    Seared Beef Fillet with Madeira Sauce
    Potatoes with Herb, Mixed Vegetables

    Stir-fried Chicken with Macadamia Nut and Oriental Sauce
    Pilaf Chicken Rice, Vegetables

    Pork Pa-naeng Curry
    Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Stir-fried Vegetables


    Assorted Bread served with Butter


    Assorted Cheese and Fresh Fruits


    Dessert

    Apple and Berry Crumble with Vanilla Sauce

    Tea, Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino


    Second Serving (Snack)


    Soup

    Tom Yam Goong


    Hot Light Meal

    Chicken Satay with Satay Sauce

    Tortellini with Mushroom and Chorizo Sausage
    Tomato and Olive Caper Sauce


    Dessert

    Frangipane Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Sauce

    Tea, Coffee


    Chocolates


    Drinks


    White Wine

    Les Chenes des Bouscaut 2009 (56% Semillon, 44% Sauvignon)
    Pessac-Leognan, France

    Meursault Chardonnay 2007
    Meursault, France


    Red Wine

    Chateau Latour-Martillac 2007 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot)
    Pessac-Leognan, France

    Chateau Berliquet 2007 (70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon)
    Saint-Emilion, France

    Domaine Charles Thomas Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chenes Pinot Noir 2007
    Nuits-Saint-Georges, France

    Domaine Tournon Shiraz 2009 - available for flights between Sydney, Bangkok and London
    Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia


    Champagne

    Dom Perignon Vintage 2002

    Veuve Cliquot Rose Vintage 2004


    Cognac

    Otard 1795 Extra Cognac


    Aperitifs

    Campari

    Gin Martini

    Screwdriver

    Bloody Mary

    Black Russian

    Vodka Martini

    Warre's Warrior Port

    Bristol Cream Sherry


    Spirits

    Rum

    Gin

    Bourbon Whisky

    Whisky

    Vodka


    Liqueurs

    Kahlua

    Drambuie

    Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge


    Beer

    Heineken

    Chang

    Singha


    Soft Drinks

    Fruit Juices

    Diet Soft Drinks

    Perrier Mineral Water

    A Range of Soft Drinks


    Beverages

    Espresso

    Cappuccino

    Decaffeinated Coffee

    Special Blended Coffee

    Ceylon Tea

    Oolong Tea

    Earl Grey Tea

    Japanese Green Tea

    English Breakfast Tea

    Peppermint Tea

    Camomile Tea

    Chocolate Malt 3 in 1[/color]
     
  15. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Flight: Asiana Airlines OZ742 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ) (BKK) - Seoul Incheon (인천국제공항) (ICN)
    Depart: Sched 2320h; Actual 2325h
    Duration: 5 h 10 min
    Distance: 2,277 mi (3,665 km)
    Aircraft: HL7741 Airbus A330-300
    Class: Business
    Seat: 2G



    OZ was a new experience for me. I've done this route (BKK-ICN) on TG, which use a similar set up to the aircraft OZ have on this flight - a two-class aircraft, suited for a regional flight. Like TG, the seats in OZ J are lie-flat rather than fully flat, but I have no qualms with this at all; many usually complain they can't sleep on an inclined plane, especially without slipping.

    [​IMG]
    The OZ 333 J cabin

    [​IMG]
    OZ J seats

    The OZ colour scheme in the cabin might be a bit off putting for some, looking like some dated curtain colour with tacky gold lining here or there. I think it was supposed to emulate a sort of calming tone.

    The J seat itself doesn't look graceful, but is quite functional, with stowage for slippers / shoes and water bottles / small trinkets.

    [​IMG]
    Legroom in 2G

    Unlike TG, OZ do not offer amenity kits on this route, even though it is an overnight flight. Basic slippers are provided for comfort. The bathrooms have combs and basic dental sets for a bit of grooming, but nothing else. The focus of this flight was a little feed and sleep. Some chose just to sleep. For a 5 hour flight, you'd better get at least a bit of it.

    The OZ service started with pre-flight drinks. Like TG's FAs, the OZ FAs are good enough in English to do their jobs, but not necessarily quick, so be patient and don't talk too fast.

    [​IMG]
    Pre-flight drink of orange juice

    As passengers started to settle in, menus were distributed. Service on this flight would be a single meal, with a choice between a light meal or two slightly more substantial selections. Again, this differs to TG, who serve a light supper followed by a breakfast service.

    More and more passengers filed into the J cabin, most of them Korean males. The cabin is full tonight. What is it with red-eyes and a full cabin? More menus were distributed. Arrivals cards into South Korea were distributed with an offer of a pen to fill them out, all offered in faux gold coloured basket trays.

    As the cabin started to get full, the FAs went around to each passenger asking for their choice of meal, which would be served after take off. This is very quick off the mark, but not a bad idea so as to get service over and done with as soon as possible. I had a more interesting plan in mind: I asked the FA if I could have my meal not after take off, but before landing. She was a bit confused but after a bit of thought...

    FA: "How soon would you like your meal before landing?"
    Me: "How late can I have it?"
    FA: "One hour before landing?"
    Me: "That is fine. Thank you."

    She scribbled something on the service sheet in Korean for my seat and was on her way.

    The first cabin PA comes on with a ding. The FAs rush back to the front and greet all of us in the cabin with a bow. The main PAs are made in Korean, with most of the other PAs (the "non-changing" ones) in English made in prerecorded playback messages.

    There was much activity on the ground before boarding had been finalised and the doors had to be closed. A peculiarity of the OZ door arming procedure is that the confirmation directives are made over the public system rather than kept just through the phones.

    "Door 1 armed."
    "Door 2 armed."
    "Door 3 armed."
    "Door 4 armed."

    ...and we're ready to go.

    Our taxi takes us to the farthest end of the runway before we line up and take off towards Seoul. With reports of military activity in North Korea possibly affecting flights that dare go near the border, hopefully the North Koreans are asleep, or rather our pilots know what they're doing :)

    As soon as we're in cruise I set the seat into flat mode, remove my eye mask from my pocket and get settled in for slumber. I don't bother changing out of my civvies, though I do remove my shoes (like everyone else does - funny that). For a moment with my eyes closed, I hear seats being adjusted, cutlery clattering and random talk, mostly in Korean. But soon I'm off to sleep...


    Tuesday 10 April 2012


    When I eventually woke up again, it wasn't a tap on the shoulder that did it. But... unlike when I fell asleep, the cabin was completely pitch dark.

    I checked my watch. About 1 h 15 min to go. I didn't do too bad with the sleep.

    I rested in the dark for the next 10 minutes or so when one of the FAs, probably in her routine cabin checks, noticed me awake and asked whether I'd like to have my meal now. I confirmed this and put my seat back into eating position (never a quiet thing to do!). I turned on my personal reading light - after all, it's a bit hard to eat in the dark! Hope it wasn't a pain for my fellow pax around me.

    I had chosen one of the more substantial selections for my meal. The starter for this was a simple salad of Western influence. Not a bad way to start the meal, but that tomato was pretty dead, having been frozen solid and not quite defrosted.

    [​IMG]
    Supper entree of salad
     
  16. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    This was followed up by the delicious main course of grilled halibut. Halibut has a distinctive taste which I think works well in the air due to the need to compensate for the change in senses. Not sure what it would taste like on the ground. The seaweed pasta was a bit dry and chewy on the exposed edges, but it still tasted really good with the fish and vegetables.

    [​IMG]
    Grilled halibut main course with seaweed pasta, vegetables and white wine sauce

    As I was on the last part of my main course, the time remaining must have slipped under an hour and the cabin lights were turned on dimly.

    The final part of supper was cheese, fresh fruits and dessert. Simple but effective.

    [​IMG]
    Simple cheese plate and a mascarpone cake

    We had a bit of turbulence in the late part of the flight, which had our pilots turn on the fasten seat belt sign. Once an episode of turbulence had subsided, they kept it on. I'm not one to doubt the pilots' judgement, but it didn't stop me from going to the bathroom (and yes at this point I'm fully aware I could very well not make it back to my seat and sporting a sore head).

    [​IMG]
    Inside the OZ J bathrooms on the 333

    It was a good time to go use the bathroom, as with most morning arriving flights, there's always a rush for the bathrooms before touch down, so I beat the rush and managed to return to my seat in time to leisurely await arriving in ICN.

    ICN this morning was quite gloomy; not raining, but barely a sun shining through and misty all over.

    Flying OZ means that we arrive at the main terminal rather than Pier A (also known as "The Concourse"). This means you don't have to use the inter-terminal shuttle to get to passport control and transit. I also had a bit more time up my sleeve this time before my next flight, which I thought would be good to spend walking and exploring the terminal a bit before heading to the OZ Lounge.

    [​IMG]
    The 333 from BKK docked at the gate at ICN

    The 333 from BKK was docked near the end of the terminal complex, which ensured a very long walk back towards passport control and transit. Once I got to the transit point, I tried to get my next BP from the information desk, but I was told to go through security and get it from the transit service counters two floors up. Security was a fairly simple affair (I'm getting more and more used to this not-so-strict approach to LAGs - seems that as long as it isn't a huge amount and all under 100mL, it's all fine), then I was up to the main departures level at ICN.

    ICN has been acclaimed as one of the best airports in the world, and depending on which ratings you go by, it often can be called the best in the world. The terminal presents itself quite well and calming. HKG, BKK, BNE and some others use a similar design concept for the terminal "shell", but the floors and the rest of the fittings are all unique.
     
  17. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Previews of the main terminal at Incheon International Airport

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Huge double food court at ICN - Korean or International, your taste is here

    As instructed by the information desk on the arrivals level, the transit desk was up on the 4th floor.

    [​IMG]
    The transit desk is not in this rather grandeur complex and marble desk, it's upstairs and looks rather more pedestrian

    Once up at the transit desk, there was no one there, so one of the two attendants called me forward and I presented my US DM printout to obtain my other two BPs. A bit of tapping away with not a word exchanged ensued, but soon enough I had my two BPs - the first one for my First leg on OZ to FRA, then the second one for my Business leg on LH to LCY.

    The OZ F Lounge, just a few steps away and across a small bridge, was calling me...
     
  18. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Through this arch and across this bridge is the OZ F Lounge

    I walked inside to the reception and was greeted warmly by the desk attendant, who checked my details and welcomed me into the lounge. The decor looked quite sophisticated, but very much Western sophisticated rather than Korean, especially with the wooden book cases (with only filler books in them, nothing of note to read).

    People have been told by staff not to take photos in the lounge before. I knew I wanted to take photos, so I was very discreet in shooting a photo here or there, documenting as much of the experience as I could with snaps. (Not using flash obviously helps!) Not sure if I was ever caught, but no one ever mentioned to me to stop taking photos in the lounge.

    [​IMG]
    Map of the OZ F Lounge at the main terminal at ICN

    [​IMG]
    First looks into the OZ F Lounge

    In 2011 when I transited through ICN, I used the Boarding Gate lounge (also operated by OZ) at the Concourse. The style of this lounge is actually quite similar, except the Boarding Gate lounge doesn't have the open ceiling like this lounge does. It does make you think that perhaps OZ decided to create 4 pretty much identical lounges...

    [​IMG]
    Very traditional Western style furniture and lounge.

    [​IMG]
    Faux chandelier (no jewels or crystal) and Western style bookcase. I think this looks a bit like a den.
     
  19. anat0l
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    MENU
    Asiana Airlines OZ742 Business Class Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - Seoul Incheon
    Monday 9 April 2012 / Tuesday 10 April 2012



    Supper


    Western



    Appetiser

    Smoked Ham and Vegetables, Dried Fig and Tomato Caprese


    Main Course

    Stir Fried Beef (498 kcal)
    Seasoned with Oyster Sauce, Vegetables and Steamed Rice

    Grilled Halibut (460 kcal)
    Served with White Wine Sauce, Seaweed Pasta and Vegetables


    Cheese and Fruit

    Camembert, Gruyere


    Dessert

    Mascarpone Cake


    Coffee and Tea


    Light Meal


    Mixed Greens (120 kcal)
    Served with Warm Grilled Beef and Vegetables, Balsamic Dressing


    Dessert

    Fresh Fruit


    Coffee and Tea


    Hot ramen available upon request


    Drinks


    Aperitifs

    Campari

    Sandeman Medium Dry Sherry


    Spirits

    Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky 18 years

    Ballantine's Scotch Whisky 17 years

    Jack Daniel Bourbon Whiskey

    Smirnoff Vodka

    Beefeater's Gin


    Cognac and Liqueurs

    Camus X.O.

    Baileys Irish Cream


    Cocktails


    Beers

    OB

    Cass

    Hite

    Max

    Heineken

    Beck's

    Budweiser


    Korean Rice Wine

    Makgeolli


    Non-Alcoholic Beverages

    Orange Juice

    Apple Juice

    Tomato Juice

    Pineapple Juice

    Guava Juice

    Coke

    Diet Coke

    Sprite

    Ginger Ale


    Champagne

    Cattier Brut


    White Wines

    Rully Chardonnay 2010
    Burgundy, France

    Villa Huesgen Reisling Kabinett 2010
    Mosel, Germany


    Red Wines

    Chateau Puygueraud Bordeaux Cotes de Francs 2006
    Libournais, France

    Hahn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2009/2010
    Monterey, California, USA

    Artesa Pinot Noir 2008
    Carneros, California, USA


    Dessert Wines

    Port Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny Porto
    Porto, Portugal

    Sawmill Creek Vidal Ice Wine 2007
    Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada


    Coffee and Tea

    Asiana uses Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee

    Decaffeinated Coffee

    Espresso*

    Cappuccino*

    Cafe Latte*

    * Coffees only available on aircraft fitted with espresso machines


    Earl Grey

    Camomile

    Oolong Tea

    Ginseng Tea

    Green Tea

    Jasmine
     
  20. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    The main part of the lounge is, of course, the large lounge hall which also connects to the smaller dining area. For a bit more privacy, there are the few small "dens", but for those that desire a bit more their own space to relax (and snooze), the non-enclosed relaxation areas with recliners are available, or even the home entertainment areas with large flat screen and DVD player. Note that the relaxation areas are not like the day rooms in the FRA LH FCT or ZRH LX F Lounge, or even a dark room similar to the LH slumber rooms in J lounges.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The mini-cubicles in the home entertainment section. One of the relaxation areas are similar in design.

    Anyway, having got into the lounge, my first priority was a shower. I hadn't had one since yesterday morning, and so much had happened in between. My late arrival at SYD T1 gave me no time to have a shower before my TG flight, and my layover at BKK was far too short to even think of a shower, so I really needed one now. Unfortunately, when I asked the lounge staff if I could have a shower, they told me that all the showers were occupied at the moment, however they would fetch me as soon as one was free and cleaned up.

    So my next focus was the buffet. The buffet was not anything really special and probably doesn't really stack up against other F Lounge food selections around the world (except, perhaps, the F Lounges owned by the USA airlines), though in saying that it's not underwhelming enough that you'd go hungry. There were a handful of bain maries with hot food in it (initially breakfast, then moving onto all-day selection), some dabblings of salad and sandwiches, a few cheeses and a standard selection of bar. And of course, on request, is the snack food which keeps both busy office worker and stressed university student up and running - instant ramen!

    [​IMG]
    The buffet in the OZ Main Terminal F Lounge at ICN.

    [​IMG]
    My favourite part of the buffet - as much Haagen-Daaz ice cream and ice cream sandwiches as I want. Yum!

    [​IMG]
    Standard bar selection.
     
  21. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Cheese, crackers and bread. Nothing special here. No, the bread cannot be toasted.

    [​IMG]
    Salads, fruits and cold items. Probably of note here are the seasoned tofu salad and smoked salmon.

    [​IMG]
    Bain marie with small eggs Benedicts. The silverware used in this lounge has got to be one of the shiniest silver coloured cutlery I have ever seen.

    I was still a bit full from this morning's early meal and knew I had a F meal with OZ coming up. Not that I knew what I'd be expecting on board, but in saying that nothing much on the whole buffet really took my biggest fancy. So it was a small bite and a glass of Piper Heidsieck.

    [​IMG]
    Light breakky bite - eggs Benedict, smoked ham and tofu salad, served with a Champagne.

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    The "den" like feel continues in the dining area.

    Not long after I had finished my little bite that I was informed that a shower room was ready for me. Not that my timing is stellar or anything, but just that the sooner I had this shower, the better. The value of a refreshing shower when you aren't quite awake or energised should not be underestimated.
     
  22. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    This is another of the relaxation areas near the back of the lounge, next to the shower rooms. Some chair they have here - where is the "EJECT" button?

    The shower rooms are quite generously sized and, also unlike the shower rooms in the J Boarding Gate lounge, has a toilet as well. Accessories are nothing to write home about - no famous named brands, though some accessories and the shower supplies are by The Body Shop in full size bottles (rather than single-serve miniatures). Although the shower rooms are fairly large, adequate ventilation still seems to be a problem, which causes problems when you exit your hot shower and then need to use the mirror to shave.

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    Shower room in the OZ F Lounge, complete with advanced toilet and generously sized shower.

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    Shower accessories from The Body Shop.

    Like their Japanese neighbours (and very much unlike their other neighbours, the Chinese), OZ have the latest in toilet technology installed, with almost every personal hygiene service under the sun on offer. Well, not quite...

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    Experimentation is not advisable!

    After a very satisfying shower and a shave, naturally the last thing to do is get dressed. Problem was, I had only absentmindedly packed a change of shirt. I hadn't packed a spare pair of underwear and socks. How in the hell did I miss that... so what to do?

    Some would say, "Unless you really sweated, big deal - keep on going with what you've got". Probably not advisable - it has been a long day.

    Some others would say, "Well, for the underwear, just turn them inside out and you've got virtually a new pair". Yeah, I don't quite subscribe to that school of thought.

    So the only other thing left was... wash my current pair there and then! The best thing about wet clothes versus a woman is that the former doesn't complain about having the wrong kind of hair dryer. :p :D About ten minutes later, I had clean and dry underwear again so I was finally dressed and ready to face the world again.

    As I exited the shower rooms and headed back into the lounge proper, the lounge attendant who assisted me earlier didn't quite recognise me.

    Attendant: "Oh... you changed clothes?!"
    Me: "Yes."
     
  23. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Now I had a couple of hours to pass before my flight to FRA boarded, so I located myself at one of the "dens" nearest to the entrance of the lounge. It was the furthest from the dining area so it almost felt like a remote part of the lounge.

    One of the odd things about the view from the lounge is that whilst you could get a nice view of the tarmac from the "den", the glass windows of the terminal, at least in this section, have been "lined" in order to prevent excessive light from getting through. The downside is that the view is not that great.

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    Keeping my satiety under control: coffee from the robot barista, green tea Haagen-Daaz and a small bowl of tofu salad and dumpling

    The wifi is pretty decent and, naturally, free of charge in the lounge, which allowed me to fire up the laptop and answer quite a few messages from work and personal. It was probably a good idea to knock out as much as I could then, since my next sector was going to mean my being out of contact for about 11 hours.

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    A selection from the all-day buffet: Tomato Caprese with pesto, croquette, skewers, smoked ham, and smoked salmon with capers and horseradish cream.

    As it was getting closer to 1200h, I asked the front desk whether they would be calling us for boarding. She said someone would fetch me when it was time to board. Fair enough, I went back to my chair and relaxed.

    Time now 1205h. Nothing yet. Perhaps they're delayed. OK...time for another lemonade.

    Now it's getting up to 1215h. Alright - what's going on... I go to the front desk...

    Me: "Hello, is the flight to Frankfurt boarding yet?"
    Attendant: "Yes, boarding started."

    Part of me inside curses, and where's the person that is supposed to fetch me to go? I semi-sprint out of the lounge and head downstairs. Lucky my gate isn't far away, but gates usually close at T-10 minutes, so I was really putting it down to the wire.

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    Move it! Luckily the status isn't, "Flight Closed".

    As I was making my way down the concourse towards the gate, I was intercepted by another OZ staff member.

    Staff: "Are you going to Frankfurt?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Staff: "You in First Class?"
    Me: "Yes."
    Staff: "Oh! We were looking for you."
    Me: "I was in the lounge! Someone said they would tell me when we were boarding."
    Staff: "Yes, I was looking for you but could not find you."

    Perhaps that's a disadvantage of sitting in a corner of the lounge. So it seems normally you would be escorted from the lounge to your flight, but it didn't quite work in this case. No matter, at least I was going to make my flight. A short walk later, my BP was processed and I was led aboard my OZ flight to FRA.
     
  24. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Flight: Asiana Airlines OZ541 Seoul Incheon (인천국제공항) (ICN) - Frankfurt am Main (Flughafen Frankfurt am Main) (FRA)
    Depart: Sched 1230h; Actual 1230h
    Duration: 11 h 30 min
    Distance: 5,323 mi (8,567 km)
    Aircraft: HL7421 Boeing 747-400M Combi
    Class: First
    Seat: 3A



    I turned left at the aircraft door as I was greeted with an Annyeong Haseyo, which I returned (as well as the English greeting so as not to let the staff on that I might know some Korean when I knew none at all!). The OZ F class on the 747 is, like most, located in the nose, with a cabin of only 10 seats: 4 on each side as window seats, and a sole pair of seats in the middle of the cabin. Again, the colour scheme of OZ makes the cabin almost disappear into the cream / off-white colouring of the standard aircraft fittings, and may be off-putting for some. Nevertheless, each seat is quite functional and cosy. The seats are probably designed for the typical Asian profile, which pitches the height of such people as not as tall as those from a Western country. It works OK for me as I'm pretty short by Australian standards; might be a different experience for others.

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    The OZ F cabin on the 747-400M.

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    My seat, 3A.

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    Legroom in 3A.
     
  25. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    As I got settled in, the crew came around to offer pre-flight drinks, amenity kits and sleeper suits. For my pre-flight drink, I opted for the simple orange juice, which was served with a handful of nuts.

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    Pre-flight orange juice and nuts.

    Whilst I drank my orange juice, boarding was being finalised, and I notice that there were only going to be 3 of us in the F cabin for this flight, with myself being the only one on the left side of the aircraft, and another two gentlemen taking positions 3K and 4K. As the cabin service started in earnest, just like my previous flight with OZ, the cabin FAs took their positions at the front of the cabin, bowed and greeted us, and the initial welcome PA was made by the cabin manager. Unlike my previous regional flight, a lot more of the announcements in English were made live rather than from pre-recorded messages.

    Soon enough, we pushed back from gate as the FAs armed the doors and commenced with the safety demonstration. Then, through a slightly clearer but still gloomy ICN, we taxiied to our runway and was soon into the air and flying towards FRA, keeping clear of North Korea in the process. ;)

    As we approached cruise height, the seat belt signs were switched off and I decided to use this moment to visit the bathroom and get changed into my sleeper suit.

    The F bathroom looked nothing special compared to the factory default, but it was otherwise quite well appointed with the essential grooming supplies. The sleeper suit reflected the colour scheme of the OZ cabin - off-putting perhaps, but ultimately very comfy sleeper suit with a full button-up shirt, a rather unusual design compared to others.

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    The rack in the OZ F bathroom contains enough grooming supplies for most purposes.

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    Me wearing the OZ F sleeper suit, with full button-up shirt.
     

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