#TBT: Review: Korean Air A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

Throwback Thursday Series!

This is the second in a series of “Throwback Thursday” #TBT posts that I will release.  These will feature flights and other elements of trip reports from the past.  For now, these will all be flights, hotels or cities that I’ve taken, stayed at, or been to over the last few years.   For all of these trips, I took notes and/or wrote a review, took pictures, but never published the entry on my blog… until now.


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Korean Air First Class Lounge – Seoul Incheon

I arrived with two friends at Seoul’s Incheon Airport on an Asiana flight from Bangkok.  We had previously planned on spending some time in the city during our layover in Seoul, but a five-hour delay on Asiana put a spike through the heart of those plans.  Instead of a nine-hour layover, we were left with about four hours until our flight to Los Angeles, so we headed to the Korean First Class Lounge.

But first, some background:

This flight was smack, dab in the middle of a five-day stretch during which I felt as sick as I have in my entire life.  I’d just finished up spending a week in Thailand, where I must have eaten something bad.  Because I was sick.  Let’s just leave it there — really, really sick.

The day prior to this, I was in Myanmar.

Now, of all countries in the world where you don’t want to be in the condition that I was, Myanmar has got to be near the top of the list.  I trudged through two flights from Yangon to Bangkok and then to Seoul – most of which time I spent in the lav (TMI, I know).

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Korean Air First Class Lounge at ICN

So as I arrived in Seoul, I was feeling absolutely awful.  My goal as I entered the Korean First Class Lounge was to shower and to just start feeling better.

Well, I accomplished the first goal with a nice shower.  Unfortunately, goal number two didn’t go as well. I rested a bit, and as a result really didn’t take too many notes on the lounge.  I do specifically remember it being quite unremarkable for a First Class Lounge.  I also remember the rows of blue Korean Air planes lined up in the driving snow.

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A snowy, December day in Seoul with two B777-200s, a B777-300ER and  B747-400

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Review: ANA Suite Lounge – Tokyo-Narita

We arrived at Narita Airport after about an hour and 45 minute bus ride from the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.  Since we were on different flights, my buddy and I split up at check-in and planned to meet up again at the lounge.

I proceeded to the ANA Suite Check-In, and WOW, it was nice.

ANA Suite Check-In at Tokyo-Narita

ANA Suite Check-In at Tokyo-Narita

At Narita, there’s a dedicated room where I was able to check-in with a personal check-in agent.  After that, I proceeded through a private security line, and on into immigration.  This entire process from check-in to immigration took less than three minutes… that’s pretty awesome by any standard.

Once immigration was cleared, I chose to head one of the two ANA Suite Lounges closest to my gate, by gate 47.

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Review: Air China First Class Lounge – Shanghai Pudong

We arrived at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport after a quick, 35-minute commute from the Grand Hyatt Shanghai on the metro and the maglev.  First Class check-in was painless and uneventful, as was the short trek through immigration and security.  We made our way directly to the new Air China lounges, located near gate 71 in Shanghai-Pudong’s Terminal 2.

There is one large desk with a ton of Air China agents to direct you to either the First Class or Business Class lounges.  Since I was booked in first class for our short flight to Tokyo-Narita, we had access to the First Class Lounge.

I really hadn’t read a whole lot about this lounge, so I was anxious to see what it was all about.  I must say, my expectations were quite low for this lounge, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

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Review: ANA First Class Square Tokyo to Washington

After an extremely early morning bus ride from the Hyatt Regency Tokyo out to Narita, I proceeded to the very exclusive feeling ANA Suite Check-in facility.  Here, I was quickly checked in and whisked away to a private security line before I went on to clear immigration.  I relaxed for about an hour in the ANA Suite Lounge (review forthcoming) before making the short trip over to gate 42 to board my flight back home to Washington.  After about five minutes, a slew of gate agents finished swarming about and welcomed aboard First Class passengers.
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Review: Air China Forbidden Pavilion First Class Shanghai to Tokyo

We arrived at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport a couple of hours before our scheduled departure for Toyko-Narita.  Check-in was quick and simple, and I was pointed towards the security line where I was able to skip the line since I was flying First.  I ended up clearing security and immigration only minimally quicker than my friend who was on the flight with me in economy.

After about a half an hour in the Air China First Class Lounge (review forthcoming), we made our way to the gate where we discovered that we would be boarding buses to take us to a remote stand.

Yup, we seriously were going to use a remote stand to board a B747-400.  This was a tad strange to say the least.  I was able to take the private van for first and business class passengers, and after about a ten minute ride, we arrived to our plane — which happened to be the furthest plane away from the terminal.

Boarding our Air China B747-400 from the ramp

Boarding our Air China B747-400 from the ramp

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Review: THAI Royal First Class Munich to Bangkok

We arrived at Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss International Airport over three hours before our flight since we were just ready to relax a little bit before the flight.  There was already a queue formed when we arrived, but we were the first guests in line for Royal First Class.  On this flight was myself and two friends — one of who would be accompanying me in First Class, and the other who was holding down the fort in economy.  Once check-in opened, we were processed first and headed through security and immigration before heading to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.  Unfortunately, Thai First Class passengers are not granted access at Lufthansa’s First Class Lounges, so the Senator Lounge had to do.  It, of course, was fine — as we primarily just used the space to relax with a light meal and a few drinks before our flight to Bangkok.

About 45 minutes prior to departure, we made the short walk to our gate and took a couple pictures of our B747-400 in the unique THAI livery.  As we were called for boarding, we entered the plane at door 1L and was greeted by the Purser.

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Review: United Global First Class Chicago to Munich

I started out my around the world trip with a Transatlantic flight from Chicago to Munich in United Global First Class.  After a longer than usual flight from Washington-DCA to Chicago, I arrived at O’ Hare and met up with my good friend, who would be joining me for the entire trip to Europe and Asia.  IMG_8624We spent an hour or so at the United Global First Class Lounge in O’Hare, primarily finishing up some last-minute bill paying and calling loved ones before we departed.  Finally, it was time for boarding, so we ventured to the gate where boarding had just commenced.

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First Look: ANA First Class Tokyo to Washington

Last week, I finished up my around the World trip by flying from Tokyo-Narita to Washington-Dulles in ANA First Class in its new ANA First Square product.

How would I describe the experience in a word?

Spectacular.

The 12+ hour flight on this new, ANA B777-300ER will surely serve as the benchmark to which I compare any future flight.  The whole experience was outstanding, from start to finish.

The new First Square product provided a TON of very private space.  Though there was not a door, the dividers of the square were high, and I could not see into any other suite at any time.  The seat was very comfortable, with a huge LCD screen with a decent amount of entertainment selections.  It laid down into a bed where I would sleep soundly for about eight hours. Continue Reading →

First Look: Air China Forbidden Pavilion First Class Shanghai to Tokyo

Earlier this week, I got to experience a relatively quick flight in Air China’s Forbidden Pavilion First Class on a flight between Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.   This 2.5 hour flight was booked as part of my around the world trip using US Airways miles.

Compared to my flight in THAI Royal First Class and ANA First Class, I was extremely underwhelmed with my experience with Air China.  I’d even prefer United’s GlobalFirst Class over this, simply because the hard product (the seat) just doesn’t compare.   Don’t get me wrong — any flight in an international first class cabin is a privilege, but I’m just comparing apples to apples here.

Boarding our Air China B747-400 from the ramp

Boarding our Air China B747-400 from the ramp

On this flight, we flew an aged B747-400 aircraft, and I was seated in seat 2A, as the only passenger in first class.
Interestingly enough, the first class cabin on this plane was not located in the nose of the 747, but instead was between the first and second sets of doors in an area typically designated for business class.  This first class cabin was incredibly dated, but it did feature a full lie-flat bed, and is very similar in design to the old first class seats on American’s international fleet.  Air China is eventually phasing these 747s out of their fleet, and that was pretty obvious, as the interior of this plane clearly hadn’t been refreshed in quite some time.

Air China Forbidden Pavilion First Class - Seat 2A on a B747-400

Air China Forbidden Pavilion First Class – Seat 2A on a B747-400

Though this was a short flight, I was offered a full, multi-course lunch service.  The food was actually pretty decent, and the entrée — though more of a business class-style meal — was actually quite good.  I ordered the steak and received a petite tenderloin that was cooked to a perfect medium — always a nice surprise onboard any flight.

Lunch in Air China First Class -- Beef Tenderloin, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Lunch in Air China First Class — Beef Tenderloin, mashed potatoes and vegetables

The in flight entertainment consisted of an old, flip-out screen, with very little programming.  It certainly wouldn’t be adequate for a longer flight, but on this short flight I kept the in-flight map up the whole time.  I passed time after the meal by snoozing and looking out the window as we flew parallel to the eastern coast of Japan on our approach to Narita.

I’ll post a full review of the flight later, but I did want to post my initial impressions of the flight.  Though I realize Air China is offering a newer product on its newest airplanes on routes to North America, this short sample of its Forbidden Pavilion First Class certainly did not leave me anxious to experience it on a longer, Trans-Pacific flight!

First Look: THAI Royal First Class Munich to Bangkok

Good Evening from THAI’s Royal First Class lounge in Bangkok.  I’m about to hop a redeye flight to Shanghai, but wanted to share a few initial impressions from my flight last night from Munich to Bangkok in THAI Royal First Class.

Overall, I was quite impressed.  With everything… and I’m not even including the THAI ground services in Bangkok, which are possibly the best in the industry.

We flew a B747-400 in seats 1A and 1K at the very front of the aircraft.  The seats featured the new THAI Royal First Class product, and were extremely comfortable and spacious.  Though they did not feature doors, these seats felt more like suites, as they were very private.  The product features plenty of room and I slept wonderfully in the lie-flat bed.

Seat 1A on the THAI B747-400

Seat 1A on the THAI B747-400

The catering.  Ohhh, the catering was outstanding.

The first course was the caviar, and it was presented beautifully.   I was given a huge serving along with all of the garnishes from an impressive tray of caviar.  I’m not usually a caviar person, but when offered onboard a plane?  Why not?

Caviar to start!

Caviar to start!

The appetizers were also good, but the entrée stole the show.  The beef curry was just delicious!  Easily one of the best entrees I’ve ever had onboard.  The meal ended with cheese, fruit and a desert — all of which were top quality.

Breakfast included eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, yogurt, and an assortment of breads.

Each and every course was presented with care and was set beautifully on the large table top by the absurdly attentive flight crew. The first class cabin was booked to 7 of 9 seats, and the service was impeccable.  During the dinner service, there were up to five flight crew servicing the cabin at one time.  The service was outstanding in all regards during the entirety of this 11-hour flight.

I’ll post a full review of the flight later, but I did want to post my initial impressions of the flight.  The THAI experience easily out-classed my United flight last week, but we’ll see how it compares to Air China and ANA First Class in the next week!