- 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
Security at Narita was slower and more painstaking than any TSA checkpoint in the US I’ve experienced. On the plus side, there was no nude-o-scope or invasive pat-down, and the agents were courteous. About 25 minutes later, I was on my way. I passed the United lounge, which was far more sleek than it’s Honolulu counterpart. The agent informed me my gate was quite a distance away and that I should head to the ANA Lounge instead, which would be right above the it.
This was solid advice because the gate was still a very long walk from that point. At the ANA lounge, the agent looked at my ticket, looked up at me in panic, and said boarding had already begun. She advised me to head to the gate and called over another agent nearby, who took my ticket and escorted me out in a rush. At the gate, she somewhat rudely pushed some economy passengers out of the way and gestured for me to come along. When we made it to the door, she wished me a good flight and took off.
An FA greeted me warmly and walked me to my seat. The cabin felt a bit on the small side compared to the United 777, but nonetheless, the ceilings were high and even though the cabin was full, it didn’t feel cramped. The First and Business Class cabin were both located on the second level of the A380. Shortly after I sat down, the purser, wearing a bright pink blazer and matching lipstick, greeted me cheerfully and asked if I had been offered a drink. She took my order and delivered my water shortly after.
I found the contrast between the FA’s and purser interesting – the FA’s were much more subdued and quiet, while the purser was energetic and upbeat. Everyone was friendly and hospitable. I noticed during the entire flight, any time the FA’s walked through the cabin, they crouched, I guess this was an effort to be less intrusive. However, it always caught my attention and was far more conspicuous than if they had just walked normally. Any time they approached my seat, they crouched down even lower and steadied themselves on the armrest.
The seat was very spacious and even though I had an aisle seat, it still felt private.
A Rimowa amenity kit along with noise canceling headphones were tucked into a compartment to my right. The amenity kit was packed with essentials. Usually I find these items to be useless and low quality – these, however, were L’Occitane and came in cute, miniature packages.
To my left, there was tons of storage space, several outlets for my laptop, a USB port, and something I later learned was a mood light – which was odd, considering the entire cabin had mood lighting. Plus, if I remember correctly, the FA pushed it down and out of sight before take-off.
The FA returned with two menus (one for drinks and one for meals), which were wrapped in pretty pink and purple silk fabric. These are definitely not the ones you can walk off the plane with. The passenger sitting next to me had fallen asleep, so the FA raised the privacy shield before leaving. After giving me some time, she came back and took my order.
Shortly after, a male FA came over, introduced himself and said to let him know if I needed anything during the flight. He was the third person within a 10 minute time span to introduce himself. The purser returned and explained the controls on the seat, how to turn the seat into a bed, etc.
Right under the IFE were a pair of slippers and to the right was a storage space for magazines. Yet, the FA returned and offered me additional reading material. I grabbed a copy of The Economist and she very sweetly suggested I also take a ComsoGirl, featuring the ever classy and subtle Miley Cyrus. I took it in order to be polite, thinking it would just sit on the table under the IFE for the entire flight, but it ended up coming in handy, since I finished The Economist by the time we were airborne and needed more reading material. When I tweeted about this incident, I got a few responses about the “cultural” aspect of the FA’s response. I don’t want to read too much into it and take this as an insult or a chance to provide over-analyzed social commentary. It was just a nice gesture from one chick to another.
No flight on an A380 is complete without a trip to the bathroom – and not for obvious reasons. With so many bloggers and Flyertalkers raving about it, who am I to skip it? Plus, I wanted to check out what a non-claustraphobia inducing airplane bathroom looks like. This one was quite spacious. When you walk in, there is a vanity and seating area straight ahead. There is also a shelf with a toothbrush kit and more hand towels than you could stuff into your carry-on. There were tons of Orchids everywhere. I don’t know what it is about Orchids, but Emirates also decorates it’s first class seats with them.
The bathroom was stocked with Bvlgari amenities, including lotion and perfume. As you can see, there was no shortage of towels and enough Orchids to decorate a small wedding.
Outside of the bathroom, there was a lounge area with magazines. If you ask me, it was way too dark to read there. It was a good place to wait for the bathroom to free up, and during my wait, the purser noticed me and offered me a drink, which I declined. It would have been nice to maybe place a tv across from the seats, rather than just an awkward wall to stare at.
I also visited the second bathroom, which was in between the First and Business class cabin. It was your average airplane bathroom, but clean and slightly more dressed up. Just like the larger bathroom, it was stocked with Bvlgari amenities and toothbrush kits.
Shortly after I returned to my seat, the meal service began. First came the Chicken Yakitori with Curry Puffs. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what the curry puffs tasted like. However, the chicken was so good that if they had just served me a plate full of that and nothing else, I would have been happy.
Next came the duck liver mousse, lobster tail, mesclun and balsamic sauce. The liver mousse wasn’t bad, though the lobster tail tasted like the fake kind served at Sushi restaurants. At the same time, I was offered a bread basket with butter. Most of the bread was hard and resembled pretzels more than bread, so the basket remained largely untouched.
The White Bean Soup with Chanterelle Mushroom and Truffle Oil followed, and it was easily one of the best soups I’ve ever had. I can imagine, though, that for some folks it might be a bit rich.
For my main course, I ordered the turbot fish fillet with dieppoise sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The fish was a bit on the dry side, but the sauce made up for it. Everything else was perfectly cooked, though by the time this course was served, I was stuffed and unable to finish it all.
The next course consisted of a fruit plate. I was offered cheese, but I don’t really do the cheese plate thing, so I passed on that.
Dessert was a unique choice: Crepes suzette with vanilla ice cream and orange sauce. No chocolate molten cake or sundaes here. I actually enjoyed it, as it was a nice, light reprieve from the previous 5-course onslaught.
After the meal, I tried to connect to wifi, but got a message that it was unavailable on this flight. Bummer. If United can pull off wifi on it’s 747, there is no excuse not to have it on the A380 – especially since this flight seemed to be carrying a lot of business travelers.
I watched Meet the Millers, which had it’s funny moments and wasn’t as terrible as I expected, though Jennifer Aniston remains one of the most overpaid and overrated actresses in Hollywood – anyone could have played that part just as well (if not better) at a fraction of the salary.
The IFE had dozens of great movie options, but I eventually decided to catch some sleep. The lie-flat seat, combined with the fluffy pillow and comforter, made for a great nap. I slept for about three hours, then woke up, freshened up, and got my seat ready for landing. This was a relatively short 7-hour flight and unfortunately it went by incredibly fast.
The two FA’s and the purser came by, knelt in front of every passenger’s seat, and thanked them for flying with Thai Airways. Every passenger was then presented with an Orchid (of course!) with an aluminum-wrapped stem. This was a memorable flight and one I hope I don’t take for granted down the line. I redeemed 135,000 US Airways miles (taking into account a 5,000 mile discount from the US Airways Mastercard) for this trip and if it hadn’t been for the Thai Airways segments I flew, I would have felt seriously ripped off.
I walked off the plane and noticed a few Thai Airways buggies and reps hanging around. I later learned these buggies were meant to transport First Class passengers to their connecting gates and/or immigration. This would have been good to know, since it ended up being quite a walk. For some reason (perhaps the length of the layover) I had to pick up my bag in Bangkok, even though I was continuing to Sydney. Baggage claim was right behind immigration, so I had to get around it. I figured getting back home after having yet another “drug trafficking” country’s stamp on my passport would be a hassle, but it ended up not being an issue at all. I made my way through immigration, picked up my bag, rolled out of there, and waited until it was time to check in for the last segment…
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