BACKGROUND Emirates flies daily to Bangkok from Hong Kong. The flight leaves Hong Kong at 2235 local time and arrives 2 hours and 40 minutes later at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 0005 next day. Thailand is one hour behind Hong Kong. This is a major regional route with a large number of competitive carriers and code shares. Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Orient Thai, American Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Kenyan Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, SriLankan, Royal Jordanian and Pakistan Airlines all operate services on this route with varying frequencies. Emirates normally uses a three-class configuration B777-300 for this service, with a 2-2-2 business class set-up.
CHECK IN I checked in online. I had already been allocated seat 8A, which I was happy with. I made my way to Hong Kong Central Station and boarded the Airport Express service. At the airport, I dropped off my bag at the Emirates’ counter at Aisle G and was given my boarding pass and lounge invitation.
LOUNGE I hadn’t visited the Emirates lounge before so, although slightly pressed for time, I headed for it near Gate 60 on Level 7. The lounge has soft and alcoholic drinks, a fine selection of snacks and fresh fruit as well as workstations and showers. I had little time to enjoy them as barely five minutes later the flight was called. Lounge staff approached each person individually to alert them to the boarding call.
BOARDING I headed straight to Gate 66 nearby and after a final passport check was shown on board. I was offered a choice of champagne or water. No contest.
THE SEAT 8A is window seat and is the first in the business class’ second section so there is no one in front of you. However, it is close to the galley and the toilet. It is a lie-flat seat but I used it in a moderate recline position on this trip. Emirates has a well established reputation for a good comprehensive inflight entertainment system. I soon found something I wanted to watch, the hilariously miscast Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. The privacy dividers are perfect for avoiding disturbance from talkative neighbours. See the seat plan here.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The business class segment is cut in two, with rows 6 and 7 in front of the galley next to the first class cabin and the remaining four rows behind the galley. Had I the chance, I would have gone for a window seat in row 7.
THE FLIGHT The pilot warned us of a bumpy ride due to a typhoon in the area. Drinks service was started about 25 minutes into the flight. Aside from Champagne, wines included a Haut Medoc and a New Zealand Pinot Noir for reds and a Sauvignon Blanc and a Western Australian Chardonnay as a choice of whites. I ordered a Nonya duck for the appetiser rather than the lobster medallions and chose an Oriental lamb curry with biryani rice over the salmon fillet and stir-fried chicken. The bread basket comes not only with a choice of bread rolls but also some Middle Eastern pitta bread. I skipped the Red Bean Cake dessert and took a coffee but declined the offer of a vintage Quinta do Noval port. Landing cards were handed out as was a Fast Track card to speed immigration formalities.
ARRIVAL Arrival was pretty much on time despite the typhoon. We disembarked by class and, clutching my Fast Track card, I cleared immigration in record time. The Fast Track is near concourse D.
VERDICT The meal service seemed poorly synchronised but the quality more than overcame that. Flight attendants seemed busy throughout the flight but didn’t lose their poise. Considering the many options available on this route Emirates has some stiff competition but the high level of its product offering along with the special fares it is promoting are enticing.
PRICE Emirates is currently offering a business class return ticket for HK$4,572 (US$490) online.