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

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

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

Part 8: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Bangkok to Singapore

Part 9: Exploring Singapore

Part 10: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Singapore to Mumbai

Part 11: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Mumbai to Singapore

Part 12: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Singapore to Hanoi

Part 13: Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

Part 14: Qatar Airways Economy Class, Hanoi to Bangkok

Part 15: Bangkok / Park Plaza Soi 18

Part 16: Emirates A380 First Class Suites, Bangkok to Hong Kong

—————————————-

For a 1:45pm departure, I left my hotel at 11:20am, forgetting just how bad Bangkok traffic could get. Fortunately, the inbound flight was Dubai looked like it would be late, so perhaps I could get away with it.

And get away with it I did, with the help of the Airport Skytrain from Makkasan station. The 15-minute ride took a bit over 18 minutes, enough to make a Swiss train engineer contemplate a new career but not so much as to put a dent in my travel plans.

I had originally booked this flight in Business and had been thinking about upgrading to First, after the surreal experience on my first leg. Indeed, the Emirates load managers must have read my mind as my e-mail inbox soon contained an offer to upgrade from Business to First for a seemingly low price. A quick Google search of “1200 HKD in USD” confirmed that it was around $150. OMG, not too shabby! Now, if this were Delta or United or American, I’d probably not go for this, but I will rarely get a chance to fly Emirates, let alone in First! I went through with the transaction, commenting “YOLO*” while my credit card processed.

*Urban Dictionary defines YOLO as: “Acronym for You Only Live Once. Mainly used to defend doing something ranging from mild to extreme stupidity.”

I made my way to the Emirates (EK) counters, empty in all 3 lines. Considering I arrived barely an hour before “shed-jeweled” departure, most passengers were already at the gate. The First counter agent commented, “looks like you’re the only passenger who is in F today.” Music to my ears, though I wouldn’t be sure of it until the doors were closed with just 1/14 in First. Especially since the Boarding Number on my BP was #598. How many people can this plane fit?!

EK check-in counters

With a Premium Lane pass, I quickly passed through security and wandered around to find the EK lounge. Even with a printed map given out with the boarding pass, I made a few wrong turns.

I wonder if Tiger Airways got permission from EK to put their sign there …

At first look, Emirates’ Bangkok lounge is much better than the Hong Kong one, though it helps that the number of passengers here today were in the single digits. One thing the BKK lounge has that HKG one doesn’t is a sit-down dining room. Though I’ll give HKG a hat-tip for its views over the concourse and the tarmac, while the BKK lounge looks inward to the Suvarnabhumi courtyard. Neither has a separate First lounge.

Massage chair of doom.

I waited out the delay with some lunch and some small talk with Atlas Air pilots on their way to fly a 747 freighter out of Hong Kong. Now how cool does that sound?

A few minutes before boarding should have started, I began to exit the lounge … until the lounge agent said it would be another 15 minutes until boarding would actually begin. But the expected value of a few more minutes in an A380 suite outweighed that of staying in the lounge for 15 minutes, so I went ahead anyway.

View of the concourse

I approached the gate waiting area and scanned my boarding pass to enter the small waiting area, with great daytime views of the A380.

A beluga whale with sunglasses

Ground-level view of A6-EDF

Ground workers put the size of the engines in perspective

Only after I “boarded” into the waiting area did the gate agent mention that it would be another 30 minutes until boarding would begin. While I would normally just stick around, the seating at the gate didn’t seem to take into account a fully loaded A380, so I requested to “de-board” of the flight. A quick show of my boarding pass and an explanation of my intentions to return to the lounge met no resistance.

A packed waiting area

But why am I explaining all this? As I sit now, at a table in an air-conditioned room in the good ol’ U S of A, I’ve realized one thing about my country: we are incredibly liberal with air conditioning.

All this walking to-and-fro from the lounge in a world-class airport was like walking through the Mojave Desert. And more humid. This only made the prospect of another airborne shower oh so worth it.

I returned to the lounge and kept to bottles of water, the ones that spell “naivE” backward.

After a 25-minute wait in the lounge, the agent announced that boarding would begin in 5 minutes. I Usain Bolted out the lounge though slowed down when I realized the throng of economy class passengers already at the gate would use a separate jetway for the lower deck. My pathway to the suite would be mostly unhurdled.

Priority boarding for monks. Or maybe he has transcended even Emirates Gold Status.

Emirates 384, BKK-HKG
02:30pm – 06:15pm (2h45m)
Airbus A380-800 (A6-EDF)
Suite 2K, First

I walked in through Door U1L (upper deck, first door, left side) and presented my boarding pass for Suite 2K, the same seat I had 3 weeks prior. I had no desire to sit on the A side, since the views of Hong Kong are usually better on the right, and didn’t require the extra headroom availed the center suites.

An Australian purser greeted me and escorted me to my seat. Ahh, home suite home, again. I soon heard more music to my ears: “You’re my only First passenger today!” commented a flight attendant, yet another Australian. Is this flight going to Sydney? Though I wouldn’t mind, it would be a longer flight in the suite. The Hong Kong Airport Express stops at Botany Bay, right?

Anyway. I requested the Dom. Retail price: less than the upgrade from Business to First. I turned on the air nozzles, one on the suite’s wall and the other along the personal minibar. It was a hot day. In fact, I one-touch closed all 3 of my window shades (a very un-me thing to do) and turned on the tail-cam on the 23” screen in front. Though this is an Airbus, so even the screens in Economy are likely larger than the windows.

Home suite home

The champagne arrived, along with an offer of Arabic coffee and dates. Not just some dates … the entire box, since I’d be the only one partaking. The Brazilian flight attendant offering the two explained the customs behind the coffee, explaining everything from the Dallah (the coffee pot with the extended spout) to the funjal (the handle-less cups) to the subtle elevated shake of the cup to indicate when I’d have my fill. The things you learn about Arabic culture from a South American on a flight from Thailand to a Chinese SAR…

Arabic coffee (that I drank), dates, and short-haul amenities

My Australian FA returned, this time with the menu, stating that I could have anything I wanted, even multiple entrées since boarding had just completed and the other 13 suites were empty. Huzzah. Now let’s fly the long way to Hong Kong. You sure this aircraft isn’t due for maintenance at Dubai?

After another quiet takeoff, I headed up to have my shower. Not only was it hot and humid in Bangkok, but I also realized as I boarded that I’d be meeting relatives in Hong Kong, so I had to look somewhat presentable.

Nicer than my bathroom at home

The EK A380 shower spa is really just something else. I mentioned during the part of my first flight that the top deck is all First/Business, giving an all-premium feel to the aircraft. But it’s easy to forget that there’s a main deck below that’s all Economy. And that somewhere above Row 43, there are two über large lavatories where passengers can strip down fully naked, with permission from the airline (though the shower flight attendant whose sole responsibility is to maintain the showers will limit you to just one person in the lav). I really think Seat Guru needs to take this into account. Something like:

Seats 43 ABCHJKAdvantages: Front of the cabin, bulkhead legroom, easy boarding and disembarkation from Door L1L.

Disadvantages: Placement underneath a shower while already in a cramped space may be mentally disturbing.

Or perhaps that’s what the blocked stairwell from Economy to First is for. The curtain is for your own good, economy class! You do not want to know what’s going on up here!

You don’t see this in many showers …

Better than the shaving kit I brought along …

Afterward, lunch! Though nothing too extraordinary … despite being the only First passenger, I didn’t go all out, mostly because I’ve read a lot of reports for this specific flight that said the food was only okay. Here’s the menu:

Bangkok – Hong Kong

Light Meal

Appetizer
Smoke trout and salmon with five pepper
aromatic smoked trout and salmon with distinctive five pepper flavourings, served with a crunchy refreshing apple and celery salad

Lemongrass chicken
tender chicken infused with delicate lemongrass flavours, roasted and served cold, with garden fresh salad leaves and roasted ripe cherry tomatoes

Salad
Seasonal salad
crisp fresh garden salad leaves and vegetables, tossed in your preferred dressing

Main Course
Chicken rogan josh
chicken pieces marinated and slow cooked in a delicate curry sauce, served with jeera basmati rice and vegetable makhanwala

Braised lamb leg in rosemary jus
tender pieces of lamb, braised and dressed with an aromatic rosemary jus, served with sautéed courgettes, roast pumpkin and creamy gratin potatoes

Stir-fried three flavor prawns
cooked in a tangy three flavoured sauce served with fried rice and stir-ried vegetables

Rotini with fresh tomato
fresh pasta spirals cooked al dente, served with a diced mixed vegetable sauce and sprinkled with fresh parmesan

Vegetables

Bread basket

Dessert
White chocolate cheese cake
Crisp base with a soft sweet cheese cake filling, served with a fresh strawberry coulis

Cheese
Cheese board
a carefully chosen assortment of the finest boutique cheeses from around the world, served with a selection of crudités, crackers and dried fruits.

Table setting, this time with bread basket all to myself

I started off with the trout/salmon … a solid decision.

I also ordered the lemongrass chicken to see if the following quotation I read on another flyer’s report would hold true a year later …

“The chicken had apparently turned into something with the consistency of leather and I gave up, fearing a loss of a few teeth.”

In the 16 months between our flights, the same holds true. Don’t order the lemongrass chicken!

Chicken rogan josh. Not the same species as the lemongrass chicken, i.e, edible.

Cheese plate

Now, being the only passenger in a First Class cabin has its benefits. For one thing, the space that normally holds 80 passengers down below is all yours. Because of this, I didn’t require closing the suite doors, though the novelty of doing so just for the hell of it crossed my mind a couple of times.

And without other passengers in sight, you tend to act as if you’re in your own house, because the area around you is no longer public space.

And with an extensive IFE, you will definitely find something that interests you in some way or form.

I’ll admit. I’m a shower singer. The weirdness of the onboard shower was gone during my 2nd visit, and so I felt in my element. For some reason, the works of Oasis entered my mind, so I hope my reenactment of some of their songs did not penetrate the shower door and lav door.

During the course of lunch, I found Channel 2147, or the greatest hits from the band Oasis. A list of songs that I jammed out to in the car when I first got my drivers license a while back.

And with some space to move about, a set of noise-cancelling headphones, and a few glasses of Dom Perignon, a list of songs that I was soon jamming out to in an airborne first class suite. And I mean humming melodies, tapping on the large table like a drum, jamming out. The space was all mine after all!

Well, except for the Brazilian flight attendant serving me lunch. The one who, I would later find out, stood in the aisle beside seat 2F for the course of my meal, out of view due to the staggered setup and the high suite door walls.

As I set down an empty glass, he stepped forward, almost out of the blue, in the middle of a rock-out session, to ask if I’d like more champagne. Awkward.

Although, “Some Might Say” that having a flute of Dom poured at your seat while the lyrics “Champagne Supernova in the sky” play just adds to the experience.

Shortly beforehand …

More dates and arabic coffee and Dom.

I took a break from serenading an empty First Class cabin to check out the loo with a view and the bar at the back. Both Business Class and the bar were empty compared to the packed flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok a few weeks before. The flight attendants even insisted they take my picture behind the bar.

Amenities in one of the lavatories

View from the Loo

Then back to the seat for a continued jam session with the doors closed and to polish off the rest of the bottle of Dom.

Satellite wi-fi, though it didn’t work on this short leg.

Methinks those are all the First Class suite consoles …

The amenities underneath the big mirror … odd to see “shower in a tube” when you can literally have a shower in the aluminum tube in which you’re flying

On approach to HKG.

Upon landing, the purser (whom I didn’t see for the duration of the flight since she was likely helping with a full economy class) came by and asked how my flight was, and thanked me for flying Emirates. I disembarked first before the (literally) unwashed masses, only to have to stand in line for 10 minutes at immigration. Unlike SWISS, Emirates didn’t provide a fast-track private immigration.

After 2 short-hauls on the Emirates A380 suite, I can say that the novelty definitely began to wear off as I landed at Hong Kong. If this opportunity were to come up again, I’d probably stick with Business Class (yeah, I know how entitled that sounds, but you have to realize that the prices on this sector are not that much more than Economy). In Business, you still get direct aisle access, pretty much the same menu (minus a choice here or there), and still get access to bar at the back. Still, the experience is definitely amazing, especially just once, and the HKG-BKK sector is well-priced and long enough to get a good hard product experience. The crew can be great, though I found them to be a bit unpolished compared to Singapore and Thai crews.

I hopped on the Hong Kong Airport Express and met up with my relatives for a weekend in the city. Upon entering their flat, they asked me, “Do you want to take a shower before we head out to dinner?”

To which I replied, with a grin: “Already did!”

Worth it.

——

P.S., some eye-candy from the A380:

Guide to the Suite (over 20 pages long!)

Remote control (more analog than the touch-screen console)

Empty First Cabin

Suite Indicators

TV Shelf

Light + Flowers

Stowed Table

Personal Mini-Bar

In-flight tail cam.

Onboard shower.

Water feature at the front of the First Cabin

Big plane, small windows…

Mirror to block out light from other suites.

Looking out …

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  1. Shannon
    January 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    How do I book a flight like this from HK to Bangkok? Any agent or website you would recommend? Thanks.

    • January 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      I booked this through Emirates’ website (after going through TopCashBack for some cash back).

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