Home > Emirates, Hong Kong, Lounges, Trip Reports > Asia 2012 Trip Report: Emirates A380 First Class Suites, Hong Kong to Bangkok

Asia 2012 Trip Report: Emirates A380 First Class Suites, Hong Kong to Bangkok

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: United Airlines LAX-SFO, United International First Class Lounges at LAX/SFO

Part 3: United Airlines Global First Class, San Francisco to Frankfurt

Part 4: Lufthansa First Class Terminal at Frankfurt

Part 5: Lufthansa FRA-ZRH, SWISS First Class Lounge at Zürich

Part 6: SWISS First Class, Zürich to Hong Kong

Part 7: Emirates A380 First Class Suites, Hong Kong to Bangkok

—————————————-

Emirates was just about to send out a direct flight to Dubai when I arrived at Hong Kong, so the check-in counters were still open. I stood in front of the First carpet waiting for one of the desk agents to call me over, but none did. In fact, as soon as I arrived, the sole First desk agent left. I approached the agent at the Business desk and asked if I could check my bags for flight 385. She responded that check-in for that flight wasn’t open yet.

Me: “But I just landed at HKG and am connecting to this flight. I really want to get these bags off my hands so I can go into the city for a bit.”

Her: “Are you in economy or business?”

Me: “First.”

Sometime during the progress of our conversation, check-in magically opened. I got my bags off my hands and made sure that my new Alaska Airlines mileage number was on the ticket. I love it, I’ve flown Alaska Airlines 4 times but credited the miles to Delta; I opened an Alaska account since they just partnered with Emirates and were offering double miles during my trip.

Emirates check-in counters at HKG

My kind of red carpet!

After a brief walk through Kowloon, I headed back to HKG and quickly went through exit immigration. This wasn’t my first time at HKG, but I still have the same feeling about how it was designed as when I first experienced it. I think this meeting took place sometime in the early 90s:

1) “We need to build a new Hong Kong Airport.”
2) “Well, I have the blueprints for a gargantuan shopping mall.”
1) “Good enough!”

I made my way to the upper level and through the labyrinth of lounges there, noting that the Emirates space is right next to the United Club and First lounge I’ve heard so many good things about. I’d visit that lounge in a few weeks time.

The Emirates lounge at HKG is pretty vanilla. It’s as if there was a Delta Sky Club there and they just plastered some gold panels on the walls. Limited food/drinks/space. No separation between First & Business class either. While that may not bother most people (myself included), I find it peculiar for an airline that has private suites in their First Class cabin.

There was a roaming lounge attendant who’d find a seat/table for passengers and bring them drinks at first. Once the lounge got full, she’d begin to seat solo travelers with other solo travelers. I spent about 20-25 minutes in there to send some emails, then headed out the door to Gate 62 to get a glimpse of my first Emirates and first A380 ride.

Emirates 385, HKG-BKK
10:05pm – 12:05am +1 (3h)
Airbus A380-800 (Ship A6-EDQ, according to the brilliant in-flight entertainment)
Suite 2K, First

I went to the window to take some shots of my first A380; a gate agent approached me and told me to go back in line, until he saw the big block letters starting in F and ending in IRST on my boarding pass. “Sir, please, come to the front of the A line.” Okay, I will be a gate louse, but only if you insist.

My excitement was palpable. Also, I was in dire need of a shower, having had my last one 20 hours prior in Zürich and before walking through Kowloon on a muggy night. So there was that.

A horrible night shot of A6-EDQ

All alone in the boarding queue.

Rather than announce boarding and invite a throng of passengers to start a mob at the gate, they quietly opened the door and allowed me in. I’d have first crack at this behemoth. Most excellent.

I stepped inside the mausoleum of flight and handed the flight attendant my boarding pass for suite 2K, on advice from online than row 1 is narrow and windowless, while 3 and 4 are closer to the galleys. I was escorted to my suite and asked what I’d like to drink, thinking that something other than champagne would be inadequate for this momentous occasion.

Suite 2K

The goodies in the suite, minus the seat

The view behind

I could get used to this

Not knowing how full First Class would be, I also requested my shower then, so that I could get it out of the way. “After takeoff, sir.” Well, yeah, what’s the fun in taking a shower on the ground? I requested to have it as soon as possible.

I sat in my seat and had a look-see around me. Just one word came to mind: “wow.”

In the past 2 days, I had experienced my first 3 international first class products. The United First class was okay, reminding me of those “Trade Up to a Ford” commercials. Perfectly adequate. It’s comfortable but not very customizable. Limited service. A lot of storage space for the things you probably don’t have. An in-dash screen that has just recently come up to date. Fits 12.

Then there’s the Swiss A340 F. An older Audi, it has a style and grace to it, with the delight that architects and Type A’s find in the now-defunct Saab. Functional 4-engine Quattro, great service; while not as popular or refined as its Lufthansa/Mercedes counterpart, nevertheless a fantastic way to speed through the air.

Then there’s this. The Emirates A380 F suite. The Gold Cadillac Escalade. With 28-inch rims. That spin. It lets the world know that you are on top. You can’t be bothered to close all 3 of your window shades, you must have a button that does it automatically in one touch! The driver has a touchscreen remote control the size of a small TV for the entertainment that’s already at his fingertips – why? Because he damn well pleases. Welcome to Nouveau Riche Bling Airways, and by god, I love it.

The champagne arrived, at first Moët. I randomly commented, “Oh, I thought Emirates served Dom onboard,” having read several trip reports that mentioned that. I’d say the same thing if I received Dom instead of Krug on Cathay Pacific, having read so many of those reports and just knowing what to expect. I really didn’t care for the difference, but the purser noted that they indeed did have Dom, and would bring that instead.

The Dom soon arrived, just as business class passengers were entering the doors and turning right. Cheers, mates. The funny thing is that I was looking to book biz on this leg but it was plum full once I decided to finally buy the ticket. Hurrah for my procrastination.

With the sheer number of buttons available within the suite, I did the only imaginable thing a human with a Y chromosome can do – I started pressing all of them. One unmarked button called the FA, and before I could deactivate it, I had a lovely Australian at my beck and call.

Me: “Sorry, I didn’t know what that button did.”

Her: “You know, we have a guide to the suite here,” as she pulled out a 24-page booklet on how to operate the suite from the suite’s magazine rack. “You can read it on the way to Bangkok.”

Me: “But I’m illiterate.”

Her: “Oh, so you won’t be requiring a newspaper or magazine?”

I could tell I was going to like this crew.

A young Thai couple soon arrived to occupy 1F and 1K. That was it though, just 3/14 seats taken. Another FA, a Hong Kong native, welcomed me on board and asked if it was my first time on the A380 (I guess my constant photo snapping was giving it away). I explained it was not just my first A380 but also first Emirates flight. She asked if I was going to Dubai before I explained I was just going to Bangkok and then heading to India on Singapore Airlines. She then asked if I was a Hong Kong-er as well, and I responded that I was connecting from a flight on Swiss and specifically came through here to try out Emirates since I’d never flown with the airline.

“Well then, I have to show you a good time, so that you know that Emirates is better than Swiss and Singapore.”

Her first task: refill the Dom. A good first step. My meal order was also taken, which I believe was before takeoff only due to the short flight time.

My wish for a delayed departure went unanswered and our flight time of 3h00m was somehow reduced to just 2h45m when the captain made his remarks. With my early boarding, I did have enough time on the ground to soak in the bling.

Why hello there.

While a lot is hunky-dory with the suite, there are a couple of things that bothered me a bit, not much for a 3-hour flight, but would be annoying on a longer sector. The power port for computers/mobile phone chargers is located right next to the mini-bar on the side, so if you have an Apple-style laptop charger (with the “brick” that plugs directly into the wall), it won’t fit and won’t charge your device. You can avoid this by bringing the 3-prong U.S. extension, but I don’t like to travel with excessive things. Also, a lot of the input functionality for the suite works through the smaller touchscreen device to the side, which controls seat adjustments, IFE, suite doors, and more. While it is a fine-looking device, it can be slow to load, especially while on the ground. Since it is a wireless device, you can’t take it out during taxi/takeoff/landing.  Lastly, the windows are at such an angle that it can be difficult to look out. #FirstClassProblems, anyone?

The fact that the plane has engines is unknown to most First Class passengers. This photo took a bit of acrobatics.

But that’s just in retrospect. I was having a blast in the present. The other 2 passengers must have gone light on the champers, as my new favorite FA came by and asked if I wanted to finish off the bottle before takeoff. Don’t mind if I do.

The Emirates cabin crew is definitely the most diverse bunch of folk I’ve seen man an aircraft, including my later short segment on Qatar. I’ve flown plenty of foreign carriers, and most are just a set of FAs from the home country plus one or two from the flight destination/origin country for language purposes. Not this flight – they all could have starred in a Benetton ad (save for the beige uniforms).

The announcements begin in Arabic, then in English, rather than the other way around. The purser mentions the list of languages spoken by the crew on each flight, and both of my Emirates flights could have been staffed by UN translators.

While I’m still partial to the Boeing 747 (and hope to fly the new Boeing 747-8 soon), this A380 is something else. I turned on the tail-cam for my taxi/takeoff entertainment, as the windows on the upper deck are small to look out (and there’s a glass partition between the seat and window, making looking out a bit tough). After the quietest takeoff roll ever, we were up above Kowloon, ready to make the turn back toward Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Shortly after takeoff, I was told one of the most peculiar yet grandest things I’ve heard on a plane: “Sir, your shower is ready.” I grabbed my bag. And because I was planning a blog post, my camera as well.

Water feature between the two shower lavatories

What else can be said about the A380 “shower spa” that hasn’t already been said? What a feature. The room is basically a 3/4-bath, larger than the bathroom I had in my house growing up. Immediately behind the door is the shower: 5 minutes, with an on/off button that allows you to control when you get water. There’s a meter on the wall that shows how much water is available. The water shuts off when 1 minute is left, as a warning. While it doesn’t sound like much, it’s more than enough. Just turn off the water while lathering.

First look

Wow

“ARE YOU SERIOUS” – my reaction in person.

View from the shower (don’t worry, that shirt is the one I’d change into, so I’m still clothed while taking the pic. In case you needed to know …)

The location of my first airborne shower

The set of “Relax” bath products. I took the “Revive” products before the pictures.

More shower spa amenities

A 4-minute shower

The amenities next to the sink. The shower spa also acts as a regular lavatory when the one at the rear of the cabin is occupied.

I quickly took my shower, all the while amazed at how far aviation has come. From the Wright Brothers, to the jet age, to flat-beds, to in-flight showers. What’s next?

I soon returned to my seat and was greeted by new favorite FA within a few seconds. “How was the shower?” Sublime.

As soon as I sat down, my meal service began. Given the short sector, this probably isn’t indicative of a normal EK meal, but still miles better than anything you’ll find on a similar U.S. flight. For example, Hong Kong-Bangkok is 1050 miles, shorter than LAX-Dallas, Miami-JFK, and Denver-ATL.

I was also asked what I’d like to drink with my meal. I perused the wine menu but wasn’t really a fan of any of the selections. NFFA stated, “we have another bottle of Dom, in case you’d like to have that.”

I obliged. While the meal isn’t the best in the world, it’s still great for such a short flight. In fact, it was better than any meal I had on my two 11-hour United First segments on this trip. Below is the menu (I took pics but they’re tough to read if I don’t post them at maximum resolution).

Light Meal

Appetizer

*Pastrami Salmon – freshly cured salmon, topped with aromatic oriental spices, served with a delicious mustard sauce and a creamy apple and potato salad garnished with quail’s egg

Barbequed crispy duck – thin slices of barbequed duckling breast, glazed with plum sauce, served on sweet and sour fruit salad

Salad

*Seasonal salad – crisp fresh garden salad leaves with tomatoes, tossed in your preferred dressing

Main Course
*Prawns Asian style – stir-fried prawns dressed in lemongrass and ginger sauce, garnished with mixed chillies, served with egg noodles and fresh snow peas

Braised beef with black beans – prime beef tenderloin marinated braised with oriental black bean sauce, served with egg fried rice, pak choy green and carrots

Pan-fried chicken break – tender chicken medallions topped with a light chicken jus with sautéed mushrooms, served with garlic infused mashed potatoes, broccoli florets and pumpkin

Steamed sea bass fillet – fresh fish fillet steamed and topped with a mixed herb butter, accompanied by roasted red cherry tomatoes and steamed rice

Vegetables – we offer a selection of vegetables to your taste, including roasted red and yellow peppers, fine French beans, fried new potatoes and turmeric rice

Bread
Bread basket – choose soft, crusty, granary, garlic or Arabic from our variety of freshly baked rolls and breads

Dessert
Raspberry gâteau – light raspberry cake, topped with roasted almonds

Cheese
Cheese board – a carefully chosen assortment of the finest boutique cheese from around the world; served with a selection of crudites, crackers, and dried fruits.

Table setting, with the logo facing myself.

Salmon appetizer. I don’t know what it is about salmon on airplanes, but it’s always a good selection. The salad was a bit dry (even with some vinaigrette) but the main appetizer was delicious in all ways.

I would visit restaurants with this setup. It took some fiddling with, but I was finally able to remove the seat controller a while after takeoff – massage functions, suite door controls, secondary airshow (when on the dock), lighting controls are all on there.

Prawn entrée. A good amount of spice, especially for an airline meal.

Private meal.

Raspberry gâteau. Small but tasty.

An unexpected box of Godiva

Service was quick, with a flight attendant walking down the aisle every so often to quickly clear plates and refill drinks.

Yes, Mr. Martin and Co. This could be Para, Para, Paradise. And Mr. Flo Rida (né Dillard), if you want a Good Feeling more than sometimes, I recommend booking an Emirates F ticket.

After the 40-minute meal service, we had just about an hour before reaching Bangkok. New Favorite FA invited me to follow her to the full-service bar at the back of the business class cabin. Like the shower spa, it’s only available on the Emirates A380. I obliged, and it is definitely something to be seen. I didn’t spend much time there, because at the moment, I was scheduled for a business class return a few weeks later (I later upgraded to First but that’s another part of the story … and more pictures). Placing First and Business together on one deck is also something that invites a much different experience; with Economy fully on the lower deck, it gives an almost “full-premium” feel to the aircraft. The bartender offered up quite a selection, including some Moët. No thanks, I have some other good stuff awaiting me up front.

Packed forward Business cabin with staggered setup. If I were a single traveler, definitely an A/K seat with both window and direct aisle access (set away from the aisle). For a couple, definitely E/F since it’s direct aisle access but set away from the aisle as well.

Smaller rear J cabin. Closer to the bar but not as vast. I was booked for 23A (bulkhead window) on the return at the time, which seems to be a good selection.

Huge TV at the back of the bar with awesome flight map.

#MYSCENE

Bar bites

I’m not a club kind of guy, but I wouldn’t mind dressing up and ordering bottle service on an A380.

I returned to my suite and loaded up the in-flight entertainment. What a selection. I can see why people rave about it. I told many friends I’d fly Emirates on his trip, and each one of them raved about the airline, particularly the IFE, even though all flew in coach.

The plane might have had a couple bottles of Dom as well

With less than a half-hour to BKK, NFFA came by and asked how the flight was. “Incredible,” I responded. “I need to make an excuse to come to Dubai soon with Emirates.” I also need to figure out a way to accumulate a ****load of Alaska or Emirates miles to do so, but I didn’t say that. There’s no Alaska Airlines chart out yet, but it costs 210K Korean Miles via Chase UR points to fly First Class USA to Dubai rt, so I don’t have high hopes for a longer mileage redemption.

She also brought along the rest of the 2nd bottle of Dom and left it with me. It was good for about 1.5 more flutes. As soon as I finished, it was collected for landing.

When you turn down the lights, the amount of bling goes down.

BKK landing

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a flight to not end. Sure, the crew wasn’t as formal as Thai or Cathay or Singapore, but they loved their work and the attitude was contagious. It also helps to have an amazing hard product. Would I fly Emirates again? Definitely, if I needed to go from North America to the near Middle East. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the Asian carriers I’ve come to enjoy for trips further east.

We made a quiet descent into Bangkok and landed shortly after midnight. A quick deboard (with business class passengers held back for the 3 First passengers to go first) and I was at immigration, the priority pass not needed. My bag arrived first, so “Priority First” actually means something on Emirates.

My flight to Singapore wasn’t until 9:40am, so I found a cheap airport hotel that provided free shuttle services. The >1.5 bottles of Dom hit me as I entered my room, perfect for a 6.5-hour siesta.

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  1. May 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Well written. Some other bloggers sound over-priveleged or spoiled. Your voice comes across as thankful or like you really enjoy what you are experiencing. Good job. Also that flight sounded awesome.

    • Amol
      May 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, it was definitely an awesome flight, definitely up there in terms of the “cool” factor. I imagine this is what it was like to fly back when flying was something you dressed up for.

      I’ve flown domestic First before (always on status upgrades) but never flew international First/Business before late last year. It’s a huge difference and you can’t really ask for more than what they give you, especially when you book a relatively cheap fare or use miles.

  2. Pete
    September 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Don’t they have any caviar when flying from HKG to BKK? I’m doing that in February and would be so disappointed…

    • Amol
      September 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Nope, not on the BKK-HKG leg.

  3. Carl
    February 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

    What are the hotel choices near BKK airport with airport shuttle service? When arriving/departing on UA it seems like a waste to pay for a hotel in town the first/last night.

    • Amol
      February 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      I used hotels.com to search, stayed at one called Regent Suvarnabhumi for about $30 including transfer. I am not picky when it comes to hotels, that was alright. Another trip, I stayed at Thong Tra (sp?) for the same price, pretty decent room.

  1. December 4, 2012 at 7:17 am
  2. February 5, 2014 at 4:01 am

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