Tag Archives: business class

Thailand 2014: Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon (HKG to ICN)

OZ 746
Hong Kong (HKG) to Seoul Incheon (ICN)
Depart: 12:30am
Arrive: 4:50am
Duration: 3h 20m
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Seat: 2K -> 1G

Sometimes I do things that I know are bad for me. Like book fake red eyes. This flight is honestly not very much fun (although if you were to take it now you might get Asiana’s A380) since it departs after midnight, which is after the Thai and Singapore lounge close, and it arrives around 5am, which is before the Asiana lounges even open, and it’s only about 3 hours in the air. Heck, the Asiana first class lounge doesn’t even open until 6am.

When I originally booked this itinerary, this flight was scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 747, and even though it was sold as two classes of service, I was able to pre-select a seat in the first class section of the plane, which would have featured fully flat seats. As it turned out, the flight ended up being operated by a Boeing 777-200ER with angled-flat seats in business class. Oh yay (not).

Not a Boeing 747 :(

Not a Boeing 747 ūüė¶

The business class seat is typical for regional flights within Asia, which is to say angled flat. The business class cabin wasn’t very crowded, so I ended up moving to a group of empty seats.

Business class seats

Business class seats

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Seat back

Seat back

Kinda looks like it's falling apart a little

Kinda looks at little worn down

Seat controls

Seat controls

Angled flat

Angled flat

Not very flat

Not very flat

This is going to be a really boring flight review because all I pretty much slept from wheels up to wheels down. The limited service that I did encounter¬†was quite good, and¬†the flight attendants addressed me by name at every interaction, and I never heard them chatting away as is so common on US carriers even though I saw their mouths moving. The landing at ICN was also one of the softest I’ve ever had.

Anyway, I don’t recommend these fake red eyes, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I took this flight mostly so I could get to ICN in time to take Asiana’s flight to JFK in their first class suites product, so I promise that that review will be more interesting than this one.

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Thailand 2014: Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok (HKG to BKK)

CX 709
Hong Kong (HKG) to Bangkok (BKK)
Monday, February 3rd
Depart: 10:00pm
Arrive: 11:55pm
Duration: 2h 55m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 14A

This flight featured a regional business class configuration on an A330-300. While it’s obviously not as nice as Cathay’s long-haul business class configurations, these seats are plenty comfortable for a 2.5 hour flight.

My seat, 14A

My seat, 14A

Look across the 2-3-3 configuration

Look across the 2-3-2 configuration

The in-flight entertainment is on demand, although it appeared as if there weren’t any movies on demand. I guess this makes sense since the flight is barely long enough to finish a movie, and there were plenty of TV options.

In-flight entertainment and foot space

In-flight entertainment and foot space

Seat controls

Seat controls

I was offered a pre-departure beverage and selected Cathay Delight. This crew definitely had a lot more personality than the crew we had on the SFO-HKG leg, and some of the crew members even memorized the names of all of the business class passengers to address us by name, which I thought was impressive for such a short flight.

Menu

Menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

I had pre-ordered a vegetarian oriental (VOML) meal through the website prior to this flight, which I didn’t really enjoy. This was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t hungry after stuffing myself on the previous flight and in the lounge in Hong Kong, but also because the entree was just lots of mushrooms, which are not my favorite food. I did enjoy the dessert, which was sweetened silken tofu, like you can get in dim sum. They also had Hong Kong style milk tea on this flight, and I consumed many cups.

Vegetarian oriental (VOML) special meal)

Vegetarian oriental (VOML) special meal

They handed out immigration forms and fast-track immigration passes for BKK. The fast-track immigration passes weren’t really necessary since lines were non-existent when we arrived, but you can generally save the passes for future use if you so desire (they’re dated, but I don’t think they really check the dates).

Overall, this flight was great, and the crew was fantastic. If only flying around the US were as comfortable as regional flights within Asia…

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago (VIE to ORD)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 65
Vienna (VIE) to Chicago OHare (ORD)
Thursday, January 2nd
Depart: 10:15am
Arrive: 2:00pm
Duration: 10h 45m
Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3K

I had already flown Austrian Airlines Business Class across the Atlantic at the beginning of my trip, and I was generally disappointed by the experience. The lauded food and coffee service was lacking because the airline failed to plan its staffing appropriately, and the actual service provided by the flight attendants was indifferent at best. This time around, my flight had the full food and coffee menu, and the food was actually quite good, but the service was absolutely horrid, and several flight attendants need serious retraining.

I was offered a pre-departure beverage and chose Austrian’s cocktail, which was okay. I settled into my seat, and everything about the hard product on Austrian is slightly better than that of Swiss, as it seems a little newer, the screen is better quality (although the selection is worse), the screen is a touch screen, and the seat controls are nicer.

My seat, 3K

My seat, 3K

In-flight entertainment screen

In-flight entertainment screen

Seat controls

Seat controls

Pre-departure beverage

Pre-departure beverage

I started noticing deficiencies in the service almost immediately with the onboard chef. He was the meanest, least helpful crewperson I’ve seen onboard a plane in any class of service. He was extremely gruff and curt, and he was completely unwilling to engage in conversation. I overheard people asking him for recommendations, and he seemed exasperated that someone would even bother to waste his time. He would also tell passengers things like, “I’m just the chef on board, I can’t help you with that”, and not offer to find someone who could help.

Beyond the terrible service of the chef, no one else on the crew seemed to be at the standard of an international business class product. I had to ring my call button multiple times to get trash taken away, and even when I would ring the button and I would ask the person to take certain items, they wouldn’t take everything so I’d have to ask someone else. If you needed to go to the bathroom during a meal service, they wouldn’t get out of the way, nor would they make room for you in the galley. And I didn’t get a single response to a pleasantry or a thank you.

Main menu for the flight

Main menu for the flight

Second service menu

Second service menu

Service aside, the food was actually quite good. The appetizers were all pretty tasty, to the point where I wouldn’t mind paying for that sort of food on the ground. I opted to get the soup, which I’d say was considerably better than the soup that I tried in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and the chocolate dessert was probably the best dessert I’ve ever had on a plane. The entree was a little bit tasteless, though.

Appetizer cart

Appetizer cart

Selection of appetizers

Selection of appetizers

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

Entree

Entree

Dessert cart

Dessert cart

Dessert

Dessert

I was also able to enjoy the coffee menu. It seems more like a gimmick than anything else, but it can be a fun complement to dessert. (As an aside, I was a bad trip reporter and slept through the pre-arrival meal service.)

Coffee menu part 1

Coffee menu part 1

Coffee menu part 2

Coffee menu part 2

Wiener eiskaffee

Wiener eiskaffee

Overall, I really, really wanted to like Austrian given their great hard product and good food, but the service is the worst I’ve experienced in any international business class product. They have so much to offer, but I never felt the sense that the flight attendants were there to serve or make my flight more pleasant. I know that many others rave about Austrian, so perhaps I should chalk up my two bad flights to bad luck with crews, but Austrian will definitely be at the bottom of my list of airlines to fly in the future.

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Zurich to Vienna (ZRH to VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 568
Zurich (ZRH) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, January 2nd
Depart: 7:40am
Arrive: 9:15am
Duration: 1h 35m
Airbus 320
Seat: 4A

I’m always amazed at the amount of food served by non-US carriers on such short flights. On my flight from Zurich to Vienna, which has a flight time of roughly an hour, one flight attendant did a full hot meal service in business class. Granted, there were only two of us in business class, but it’s still a full hot meal in less than an hour.

This flight featured slim-line seats, which many people have complained about, but I think are actually pretty cool on shorter flights since it does mean that you get considerably more legroom. After about two hours on these seats, though, your butt definitely feels it.

Seats on the A320

Seats on the A320

View back to economy class

View back to economy class

Slimline seats

Slimline seats

Even though there were only two of us seated in business class, they had eight rows blocked off for business class. Economy class also ended up being somewhat full, so it was a bit comical to see eight rows for two people while the back of the bus was pretty crowded.

My window seat also afforded me a good view of deicing in action, and the flight was delayed for a short while to get deiced.

De-icing action

De-icing action

As stated before, the flight attendant served a hot breakfast in business class, and they even had a special VGML for me. This wasn’t fancy, but it was much appreciated given that there wasn’t any hot food in the lounge, and the food was definitely adequate for such a short flight.

Hot breakfast

Hot VGML breakfast

Overall, flying short-haul international business class is always a treat just to see the service. The seats are economy seats, but it’s always so amazing to me how much the flight attendants accomplish in such a short period of time when certain US legacy carriers don’t even serve hot meals on flights up to 3.5 hours.

Tokyo for the New Year: Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich (NRT to ZRH)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


LX 161
Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Zurich (ZRH)
Wednesday, January 1st
Depart : 11:15am
Arrive: 3:50pm
Duration: 12h 35m
Airbus 340
Seat: 11K

At the Narita airport, I used the ANA business class lounge, which I’ve already reviewed. This time, I used the lounge in satellite no 5 and not the main ANA lounge, and I preferred the satellite lounge because it was significantly less crowded than the main ANA lounge. If you have some extra time, I would consider making the walk to the satellite lounge for a more peaceful lounge experience.

The plane taking me to Zurich

The plane taking me to Zurich

Upon boarding the my flight, I was greeted by flight attendants wishing everyone a happy new year. For the most part, I enjoyed the service the most on this flight of my four long-haul Star Alliance business class flights, but this was largely because one of the flight attendants serving my aisle was very friendly and attentive.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

My seat, 11K

My seat, 11K

I got a window seat on this flight, and this time, there was actually a window! Overall, the hard product is almost identical to the hard product on Austrian Airlines, except that the in-flight entertainment screen is smaller and of worse quality (but has a better selection).

Very similar to the Austrian seat, but worse screen

Very similar to the Austrian seat, but worse screen

Amenity kit and other goodies

Amenity kit and other goodies

Seat and in flight entertainment controls

Seat and in flight entertainment controls

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Menus were distributed, which wasn’t really relevant for me since I had pre-ordered the Japanese meal. Swiss offers a special Japanese meal only on the flights to/from Tokyo, so I figured I might as well get it. I think it was a good choice, as even the flight attendant commented on how good it looked.

Menu for the flight

Menu for the flight

Wine list

Wine list

The in-flight entertainment on this flight was a little odd. For one, we were all forced to watch Japanese news for the first 30 minutes or so of the flight. I think they made an announcement in Japanese to this effect, but not in English, as all the white people (and myself) were curiously poking at the screen and wondering why it seemed to be stuck on this random Japanese channel.

Japanese news

Japanese news

Overall, while the selection on the in-flight entertainment was decent once it got going, the screen itself was a little disappointing as it’s pretty small and doesn’t have great resolution. It’s also not a touch screen.

Lots of problems with the in-flight entertainment on this flight

Lots of problems with the in-flight entertainment on this flight

Soon after departure, they handed out drinks and a quick snack.

Departing snack

Departing snack

While other people got western food, I was served the first course of the Japanese meal. The appetizers were okay, but it would’ve been nice to have something hot as everything on the tray was served cold.

Japanese meal part 1

Japanese meal part 1

The second part of the Japanese meal was quite tasty. The salmon was tender and covered in a tasty sauce. I wasn’t fond of the soup, though, particularly when I spilled it all over myself.

Japanese meal part 2

Japanese meal part 2

For dessert, I decided to skip the cheese and get the mousse and some fruit.

Dessert cart

Dessert cart

Dessert

Dessert

Again, the seat is almost identical to the business class seat on Austrian, so I found it to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. Definitely lower the armrest (which I have not done in the picture) to give yourself a little bit more space.

Bed in lie-flat mode

Bed in lie-flat mode

I napped on and off throughout the flight. They had a lot of snacks available in the galley of both Japanese and Swiss varieties, and the flight attendants would periodically go through the cabin offering some of these snacks and beverages (e.g. ice cream, green tea, onigiri). I can see why they offered so many snacks, as the pre-arrival meal was not so much a meal as a very small snack. This didn’t matter a ton to me since I had eaten continuously through the flight to try every kind of unknown candy bar (and a pack of cookies that should have been split amongst 4 people at least), but you should know that the pre-arrival meal isn’t particularly substantial.

Pre-arrival meal

Pre-arrival meal

Pre-arrival dessert

Pre-arrival dessert

The easiest comparisons to make with this product are to Austrian’s business class since the hard products are so similar and they’re both a part of the Lufthansa group. Overall, the hard product on this flight is slightly worse than Austrian, but not meaningfully so. I thought that the in-flight entertainment selection was good, and significantly better than Austrian’s, even if the screen is worse. There were also small things, like offering slippers instead of socks and having lotion in the bathrooms, that made me appreciate Swiss over Austrian. But the biggest difference between Swiss and Austrian that would make me choose Swiss over Austrian in the future was the service. On Swiss, the main flight attendant serving me was friendly and attentive and talkative and provided better service by himself than all of the flight attendants on my Austrian flight combined.¬†It’s amazing how much of a difference a single flight attendant can make.

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna (ORD to VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 66
Chicago (ORD) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, December 26th
Depart: 4:10pm
Arrive: 8:40am +1
Duration: 9h 30m
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 6A

This was the first long-haul segment from a recent trip to Tokyo that I did by booking a 90k US Airways business class ticket to North Asia transiting via Europe. I flew Austrian, Swiss, and Turkish in business class for the first time, and I had overnight layovers in Zurich and Chicago on the way back.

Of all of the airlines I was scheduled to fly on this trip, I was initially most excited to fly Austrian Airlines. I had read that their catering, hard product, and service were phenomenal, and that it was one of the best business class products out there (they don’t offer a first class product). As far as I know, they’re also the only airline to advertise having a coffee menu, and a friend strongly recommended that I get a wiener eiskaffee from the coffee menu.

Unfortunately, in the month of December, there were service cuts to Austrian’s product due to poor staff planning, so many of the things that I was looking forward to did not materialize on this flight. Specifically, the meal service was limited, there wasn’t a coffee menu, and the service as a whole was pretty lacking. Anyway, on to the report.

My inbound flight to Chicago was delayed, so I unfortunately didn’t have much time to check out any of the lounges in Chicago, as my flight was already boarding by the time I had schlepped my way to the international terminal and recleared security. This also meant that the cabin was mostly full by the time I got on board, which made picture-taking a little harder.

I was seated in 6A, and row 6 is probably the least desirable row for the window seats because row 6 is missing a window. The even rows also have the seat closer to the aisle while the odd rows have the seat closer to the window, but 6A was all that was available for a window seat when I had my seat assigned a couple of months prior.

My seat, 6K

My seat, 6A

The seat itself feels new, and there’s a good amount of space per passenger. I appreciate having the “shelf” space next to the seat to place things throughout the flight, and you can use the small amount of floor space to place a small bag and not impinge on your own foot space. The seat controls were fine, although some of the functions felt useless (e.g. “massage” didn’t seem to do much). The seat is essentially an air cushion, and you’re supposed to be able to adjust the firmness or softness of the seat, but the controls didn’t seem to work for me, and I would periodically feel the seat moving beneath me, which occasionally disturbed my sleep throughout the flight.

Seat controls

Seat controls

In-flight power and amenity kit

In-flight power and amenity kit

The in-flight entertainment screen was large, had good resolution, and was a touch screen that was easy to use; however, the selection was quite limited. There weren’t very many movies, and even though they boast over 100 hours of programming, that’s really quite limited in the airline industry (e.g. Etihad has over 675 hours of on-demand entertainment).

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Open cabin

Open cabin

The table was a little tricky to use at first, because it’s not particularly easy to take it in or out, but there were helpful instructions for the seat. The trick to lower the armrest is also key for sleeping comfort to make the seat feel a little bit wider, as it’s pretty narrow as is.

Instructions for the seat

Instructions for the seat

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this...

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this…

Instead of the normal trolley service for the meal service which would generally offer about 6 choices for appetizers and 3 desserts, the menu offered two choices for appetizer and one dessert, and everything was served on trays. I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal to see what it’d be like. In general, Austrian takes pride in their food offerings since they’re catered by Do & Co and they have an onboard chef, but it seemed more gimmicky than anything else, and the chef wasn’t the friendliest person in the world.

Menu part 1

Menu part 1

Menu part 2

Menu part 2

The chef taking orders

The chef taking orders

I’ll just go ahead and say that my VGML was pretty bad. Yes, I know I should expect these things, but I actually think that United does a pretty good job with vegetarian meals, and I was hoping that Do & Co would do an even better job. Anyway, the appetizer was a salad of iceberg lettuce, the entree was a mishmash of flavorless oversteamed vegetables, and the dessert was just fruit. There seemed to be very little effort involved in the creation of this meal. I’ll also say that the meal service took a loooong time. I waited so long between getting my appetizer and entree that two different flight attendants attempted to clear my tray thinking that I had already finished my meal when I hadn’t even gotten my entree.

VGML starter

VGML starter

VGML entree

VGML entree

VGML dessert

VGML dessert

At the end of the meal, I asked the chef if they had the coffee menu, and he said, “not on this flight”, without any additional explanation. I later found out that others on Flyertalk had reported receiving letters detailing offers of compensation for the diminished service, but there was no such letter on board my flight and no flight attendants were forthcoming as to why there was diminished service. (I later tweeted my disappointment to Austrian, and they said they would investigate follow up, but it’s been about a week and I haven’t heard anything yet).

I put the seat into bed mode, and I found it to be pretty comfortable, although I can see how larger people would find issues with the seat. I’m a pretty small guy, and just lying down on my back my arms touched the sides of the seat, so I found it at times more comfortable to sleep on my side so I wouldn’t feel the narrowness as much. The foot cubby would also be problematic for people with larger feet, as I occasionally felt constricted by the space. But it’s a lie-flat seat, and everyone has direct aisle access, which is a pretty good deal in my book.

Two hours prior to arrival, they served the second meal. My VGML meal was marginally better than the first meal service, mostly because I got a pretty tasty smoothie to go with it. But the hot food itself was pretty flavorless and mushy, so I used the salt and pepper liberally.

VGML pre-arrival meal

VGML pre-arrival meal

All in all, this flight was a huge disappointment. The hard product was quite good‚Äďthe seat is great for business class, and the in-flight entertainment screen is large and of good quality‚Äďbut the service was seriously lacking in many respects. The meal service was disappointing, there was no coffee menu, and the IFE options were limited, but the service itself was also pretty terrible, as the flight attendants were almost uniformly unfriendly and inattentive. Nobody would take away trash at the seat, the meal service took forever, I never received refills on my drinks, when I would go to the galley to ask for something the flight attendants would ignore me until I literally had to poke them, and the flight attendants never engaged in pleasantries like saying “you’re welcome” after I thanked them. And even though other people reported receiving proactive offers of compensation, there was nothing on this flight.