- Australia Trip Report: Introduction
- United 777 First Class: San Francisco – Honolulu
- Review: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach
- United Club Lounge + United Global First 747 Honolulu – Tokyo
- Thai Airways First Class A380 Tokyo – Bangkok
- Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge & Spa Bangkok
- Thai Airways First Class 747 Bangkok to Sydney
- Christmas Eve on Darling Harbour
- Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Sydney Opera King Room
- Park Hyatt Sydney: Room Service and Breakfast at The Dining Room
- Sydney Opera House and Manly Beach
- Hotel Review: Hilton Sydney
- Air New Zealand Lounge + United 747 First Class: Sydney – San Francisco
- 6 Observations about Sydney
As much as I loved the Thai Airways A380 experience, this segment definitely topped it. First, the crew was much more experienced and confident. The First Class crew consisted of one female FA and two males. The female FA spoke English very well, and while her colleagues didn’t, it made no difference. They were all exceptionally hospitable and just generally pleasant throughout the flight. Besides, if speaking English was a requirement for excellent service, US carriers would be topping the world’s best airlines lists (which they’re not).
I was one of the last people to board the First Class cabin, which was completely full. The seat onboard the 747 wasn’t walled off and private like on the A380, but it was very comfortable. Perhaps because of where I was sitting, the seat still felt private despite the fact that I had an aisle seat and nothing more than an arm rest separating me from from my neighbor.
The cabin had a somewhat staggered layout and because of this, there was no seat to my left – just a curtain separating First Class from the lowly Business Class passengers (I kid, I kid!).
To my right was a woman who was traveling with her husband and son. The boy was probably around 7 years old and the crew could not have been more sweet to him, constantly checking on him, bringing him a coloring book, and telling him to look outside when the sights got especially interesting. He was one lucky kid.
You could tell it was the family’s first time traveling in First Class, as they took pictures and asked the FA’s lots of questions about everything. The FA’s were always gracious and super nice about it.
I was served water before take-off and offered a pair of pajamas which were huge despite being a small size. The FA came around and gave me a brief overview of where the controls and IFE were, explaining she’d pull it up just as soon as we were airborne.
There was also a sought-after Rimowa amenity kit tucked away in one of the compartments, which I stupidly left behind; It was the pretty silver one! I know, life has lost all meaning…
Once we were airborne, we were served peanuts and drinks. The FA’s also took our meal orders, but confirmed that I had pre-ordered my meal and asked if I was still happy with my choice.
Then the starter came, which consisted of fried rice crackers with pork dipping. Since my meal was pre-ordered, I didn’t bother looking at the menu and just assumed this was curry, so I ended up eating it. When did I find out it was pork? About two months later when I looked up the menu to write this report. Anyway, the crackers were actually pretty well cooked and not at all soggy.
Next came the bread basket with butter. The bread was warm and a bit too crispy for my taste. That was followed by caviar. The FA suggested I try some of everything and she’d make a second round and let me pick whatever I liked best. I’m glad I followed her advice, as everything was good, though there was no need for seconds.
The fresh seafood salad followed. No cheese or heavy ranch here. It tasted fresh and was probably healthier too.
The next course reinforces my newfound belief in reading menus, or simply paying attention when the FA tells you what’s being served. It was a green soup with an odd taste. I ate two spoonfuls and then decided it was just too awful. It turns out it was mushroom cream soup with snail and truffle oil. When remembering the strange taste, texture, and green color, I like to pretend that perhaps I’m both colorblind and that my tastebuds are dead. Not that I ate spoonfuls of pureed snails. Here’s an instance where the “always clear your plate” principle my dad taught me was best ignored.
Finally, the lobster thermidor was served. It was totally worth the wait and I was really glad I chose to pre-order my meal. Not that the other entrees looked bad, but this was amazingly good. Not “airplane food” good, not “I just ate snail soup and this looks better in comparison” good, but just plain damn delicious. The vegetables were perfectly steamed and the mashed potatoes were fluffy with the perfect amount of salt.
After this, dessert was served, which consisted of three items: Strawberry mille-feuille, noughat glace with chocolate stick and praline sauce, and rice pudding with coconut cream and mango pearl. I was also served a cappuccino. As much coffee as I drink, I don’t actually enjoy it. It’s merely for the caffeine/sugar boost. Does this ring true for anyone else?
After dinner I continued watching Life of Pie, which was boring but visually stunning, and left me confused at the end. Afterwards, I stood up, grabbed my pajamas, and before I could head to the bathroom, the FA came back and asked if I’d like turndown service. Perfect timing. By the time I came back from the claustrophobia-inducing bathroom in my oversized pajamas, my bed was made.
A couple of hours later, breakfast was served. This consisted of a plate of fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereal. I skipped the yogurt and cereal – along with the bread basket that was served. The fruit really did taste fresh, along with the orange juice.
For the main course, I had a choice of omelette with ham, cheese, bacon, and sauce (none of which met my dietary restrictions) or sweet vanilla pancakes with yogurt, maple syrup, grilled chicken sausage, baked cherry tomato. Who can say no to “sweet vanilla pancakes?” Though to be honest, I didn’t taste even a hint of vanilla. I still enjoyed the pancakes. There was a third option of cold cuts, but who orders cold cuts when there are omelettes and pancakes being served?!
Service throughout the flight was proactive, especially during the meal service. Plates were promptly cleared, I was asked how I liked the food, and my glass was constantly refilled. All three of the FA’s were kind and made me feel more like a guest than a passenger. Huge thumbs up for the crew on this segment – the service was the best part of the flight, and who cares that the seat didn’t have a 10 foot wall surrounding it?
About an hour after breakfast, the cabin was prepped for landing and immigration forms were distributed. All the compartment doors were closed and I remember putting the amenity kit back in it’s compartment, thinking “I’ll retrieve it when we land.” Well, we landed and I simply grabbed my laptop, purse, and took off. I kick myself every time I look at that photo…
Getting through immigration was a breeze. There were perhaps two people in front of me and the line moved super fast. Despite the fact that I didn’t have an address and no clue which suburb I was staying in, the friendly agent gave me no trouble and I was through in less than a minute
After this, it was off to baggage claim and then another security checkpoint with a priority lane for first class passengers. After wandering around a bit, I finally spotted my dad, uncle, and cousins. We headed out to the parking lot and I was taken aback by the insane heat that hit me as I walked out. Sure, it was December, but in this part of the world, summer was in full swing.
I really enjoyed this flight and highly recommend the route to anyone traveling to Sydney. Finding award availability to Sydney is a huge hassle pretty much year round. Flying through Bangkok may lengthen the journey, but it makes for a more pleasant experience. I’m glad none of those direct flights on United opened up as I kept watch over the award calendar. This award is going to be a hassle to book now that US Airways is leaving Star Alliance and United has devalued it’s premium partner award chart significantly, so I’m glad I got to experience it while it was still fairly reasonable.
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