Tried & Tested

Emirates B777-300 business class

24 Aug 2009 by Mark Caswell

BACKGROUND Emirates flies daily from Bangkok to Hong Kong. The flight leaves Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 1345 local time and arrives 2 hours and 55 minutes later at Hong Kong International Airport at 1740 Hong Kong time. Hong Kong is one hour ahead of Thailand. 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. For a second time, I had been allocated seat 8A and the business class cabin was full so no chance to alter the choice. I made my way to Suvarnabhumi in plenty of time, traffic was light and I arrived in plenty of time for the early afternoon flight. I dropped off my bag at the Emirates’ counter was given my boarding pass, lounge invitation and a Fast Track card. This is a real boon. Immigration queues at Suvarnabhumi can be a headache but the card allows you to use the CIP queues, which the Emirates counter staff pointed out to me.

LOUNGE I was given clear directions to the lounge and found it without much difficulty. I was glad I arrived early. The lounge can hold 100 passengers and is divided into distinct areas incorporating sitting and relaxation areas, a separate dining room with a gourmet hot and cold buffet selection and bar, plus a fully-equipped business centre and wifi connectivity.

The choice of food was fantastic. Having skipped lunch to get to the airport I grabbed some excellent chicken with lemongrass skewers and some sushi. There is pretty much a full bar here, including champagne and malt whiskies, as well as staff on hand to assist. You can also order sandwiches with a variety of fillings to be made up on request. The flight was called 30 minutes before departure time and lounge staff rounded up the strays.

BOARDING I headed straight for the gate and passed the final security check. Boarding was already 80 percent finished by the time I got on board. I was welcomed by name and offered a choice of champagne, fruit juice or water. A win on points for Moët et Chandon.

THE SEAT 8A is a 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. This is a lie-flat seat but I used it only for moderate recline on this trip. Emirates inflight entertainment system is excellent but I wasn’t interested in watching movies so I decided to listen to some opera classics and world music albums while finishing my book. 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 Aside from Champagne, red wines included a French Chateau Cantemerle Haut Medoc and a New Zealand Pinot Noir from Marlborough, for whites there was a choice of another Marlborough, this time a Sauvignon Blanc, and Margaret River Chardonnay. I ordered a smoked duck with peach and currant salsa for the cold starter rather than the marinated snowfish and then picked the lamb masala with basmati rice. The other choices were chicken piccata or stir-fried prawns. I opted for the cheese selection rather than the coconut mousse. Landing cards were handed out but they appeared to have run out of health check cards.

ARRIVAL Arrival into a lovely clear and very hot Hong Kong was bang on time. We disembarked by class and I headed through the health checks and immigration to grab my bag and take the Airport Express.

VERDICT Absolutely excellent onboard service with a great business class product. The lounge facilities in Bangkok were also of the highest calibre.

PRICE Emirates is currently offering a business class return ticket online for 24,215 Thai baht (US$711)

CONTACT emirates.com

Kenny Coyle

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