CHECK-IN I was running late and arrived at the airport by train shortly before noon for my 1325 flight. The check-in counter was in Terminal 2, which meant a 15-minute roundabout walk and two shuttle train rides back to Terminal 1 to get to the Royal Silk lounge and Gate 62 where I would board. Fortunately, the lounge and the gate were not far apart.
THE LOUNGE The facility is accessible through an escalator at the junction before the northwest and southwest concourses, after Gates 35 and 36. Like most of the lounges at Hong Kong airport, this facility has an open design and offers views of the apron through the terminal’s large windows. For entertainment, there is a separate TV corner, a good range of magazines and newspapers in several languages such as English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, as well as six ThinkStations and four other computers of various brands.
BOARDING Boarding started at 1240, and there was only a short queue for the business/first class entrance. I was quickly offered champagne (Laurent – Perrier Brut) and a face towel by the stewardess once seated.
THE SEAT The Royal Silk Class is located on the upper deck between Royal First Class and part of economy class, but it feels like a world of its own because its 60 seats occupy most of the cabin area. It was also very quiet. I toured the all-economy lower deck and it was noticeably noisier because of the amount of passengers (up to 377). The luggage compartments over the middle seats are much larger than those above the window seats and if you have a wheeled trolley, you would have to use one of these.
Royal Silk on the A380s features shell seats that can recline into flat beds. The upholstery sports the airline’s signature deep purple colour. The seat can be easily adjusted through a control panel under the cocktail table, and there are also buttons for upper- and lower-back support levels, as well as a massage function. The table tray that folds up to the back of the shell in front is sturdy and of a good size. There is extra storage space for small items such as mobile handsets and glasses under the armrest.
The seat width (20 inches) felt fine in the upright or even reclined position, but when I lay down flat, the shell felt a little claustrophobic. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) system is equipped with two USB ports and a 15-inch touchscreen, but given the wide seat pitch it’s easier to use the conventional remote control. There was a broad choice of movies, TV shows, music and games, but on the short flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok, I barely had enough time to finish Prometheus.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Each row has four seats, and they are arranged in a staggered layout. E and F are adjoining at the cocktail tables so they are ideal for those travelling in pairs. However, there is still enough distance in between so even if you are seated next to a stranger it’s not awkward. D and G stand alone and offer a high degree of privacy. The cocktail and tray tables of half of the window seats are located on the window side, which mean passengers cannot look out of the window without having to lean over or even stand up. Seats 11D and G face the galley directly, which not only emits noise but also wafts out warm air.
THE FLIGHT We took off at 1350 after 20 minutes of taxiing, and the appetiser of smoked tangini was served at 1440. I chose the roast Norwegian salmon with parsley lemon butter, deep-fried potatoes medley and green peas, and although I would have preferred the fish to be less cooked, the overall dish was flavoursome. Other choices were duck with plum sauce, e-fu noodles with vegetables and Thai-style fried rice with chicken and pineapple, raisins and vegetables. Cheeses, fresh fruits and black and white chocolate mousse cake wrapped things up nicely. I had the dry riesling by Dr Pauly Bergweiler, which had enough fruitiness and bouquet to withstand the in-flight environment.
ARRIVAL The plane landed at 1520 Bangkok time, 10 minutes behind schedule. We were by the gate at 1530, the doors opening five minutes later.
VERDICT I would have liked the seat to be wider, especially if I ever fly long-haul in it. Otherwise, the experience was very pleasant. The service, as always, was warm and efficient.
Departure time: 1325
Flight time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
A return Royal Silk Flexi Plus ticket (that allows date change free of charge) on the A380 on weekdays in mid-April starts from HK$4,920 (US$634.50).