Sunday, August 18, 2013

TK 941: FRA-BKK (Thai Royal First Class)

Our escort dropped us off at the door to Thai's A380 and bid us adieu. The two flight attendants greeted us with a bow, hands in prayer position and a soft "Sawasdee Ka" (which in Thai is kind of like Aloha - meaning: Hello, Good Bye, Good Morning, Good Evening, etc).  Our hand luggage was taken by the Stews and we were escorted to our seats.  I was assigned to seat 1A and MS was in seat 1E.

Mike taking photos as we get settled in.
Less than flattering photo of me in 1A
I moved from 1A to 1F so we could chat easier

Our new home for our 10 hour flight to BKK
Seat 1A including large screen IFE, duvet and ample storage
As the rest of the plane boards, the Stew asked me if I would like a pre-departure beverage, which of course I asked for champagne. She immediately apologized: "Oh, Mr. Nickerson, I am so sorry. We are only serving a 2003 Dom Perignon while on the ground. Is that Okay?"   Uh, yeah, I think I can slum it with a 2003 Dom...

Pre-departure 2003 Dom...
Another Stew came up and asked if I wanted an "M" or an "L".  This confused me at first, but I looked more closely at what she was talking about - the Thai First Class Pajamas.  "L" please.
Enjoying my pre-departure beverage
After the beverage service was finished we were handed Thai branded noise cancelling headphones.

Headphones
As mentioned earlier, there was a bit of a snow storm in FRA so we were delayed about 30 minutes waiting to be de-iced. Never have I been so excited for a delay.  Our champagne was collected right as we turned onto the runway for take off. Enjoying the drink until the very last minute was perfect.

We had what seemed like a very long and very slow take off roll. The A380 was super quiet and we slowly ascended.  After about 10 minutes the seat belt sign was turned off and our Stews delivered more Dom, an amuse bouche and the full menus. The amuse was two bite size slices of bread one with cheese and the other topped with beef and veg.  Very tasty.

First serving menu
Anytime meal menu
Our tables were then fully set for the dinner service with multiple wine glasses, salt & pepper shakers, water and butter.

Dinner setting
Our Stew, who said her name was too hard to pronounce, asked us to call her Popcorn (that's kind of what her name sounds like, she said). Popcorn delivered us each a bread basket with a couple rolls and a cheesy flat bread cracker.

Individual bread basket.
After bread, we were asked if we wanted to start with the caviar service, which was served from a trolley.  I of course agreed and enjoyed all the standard accompaniments including red onion, cheese and lemon.  The plating was done individually, so if you wanted more onion, all you had to do was ask.  Of course I opted to include the ice cold vodka with this course.




MS Caviar service. Popcorn is the Stew not facing the camera
Rillette of Crab / Grilled Prawns / Salmon Roe
Everything up to this point was really great. For the entree, I selected the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Mike chose the Chicken with Eggplant Green Curry. My beef was flavorful, but very tough and over done - honestly disappointing. Mike's curry was top notch. I am very jealous I did not choose as he did.

Flavorful yet dry beef.
Chicken and Eggplant Curry
The cheese course followed with a nice selection of fruit and cheese - which of course I paired with a nice port (a very tall pour too).


For dessert I had the pineapple cake, which was a bit dry. I'm not a really big dessert person, unless it is chocolate of course.

After meal service (which took about 90 minutes from start to finish), the cabin lights were dimmed and I opted to change in to my Thai pajamas.  When I left the lavatory, Popcorn was standing outside the door with clothes hangers. She took my items, hung them up and placed them in my individual closet at my seat.  When I made it back to my seat, the crew had already converted my seat into a bed.

The PJs were quite comfortable and fit very well.  I ended up using them throughout much of the trip and once winter sets back in in Chicago, I'll probably bring them out again. They're holding up quite well so far.
In PJs getting ready to relax and sleep a bit
I wasn't really sleepy yet, so I decided to watch Argo after dinner.  Interestingly enough, the film finished up right as we were over Iran.  I really enjoyed Argo, it was very well done and if you haven't seen it yet, go watch it...what are you waiting for?
Air show over India.
About 90 minutes out of Bangkok, breakfast was served. We started off with individual pastry baskets and sliced fruit.  The pineapple was quite amazing and who doesn't love a big buttery croissant in the morning...

First course of breakfast
For my full breakfast, I decided to have a crepe with a grilled tomato, asparagus and bacon. This was by far the best airline breakfast I've ever had.  I actually wanted a second full serving of this plate!
Savory breakfast crepe

Tail camera on landing

Tail camera after touchdown.
We had only a 1 hour and 25 minute connection time in BKK and with out delay out of FRA it was not a foregone conclusion that we'd actually make our flight to Hanoi.  Popcorn let us know that we'd have ground services waiting for us to escort us through security and passport control.  As we deplaned, we noticed the flight attendants were blocking the business class passengers from exiting. When one protested, Popcorn said "Sir, I am sorry, First Class passengers are still aboard - once they deplane you will be allowed to leave." Love it.


Our plane post landing in BKK.
I had been looking forward to this flight for nearly a year. I had done a ton of research so I'd know what to expect. This was by far the best flight I have ever been on. The service was top notch, the food (except for my entree selection) was great. The seats and the IFE were near perfect for me. My biggest complaint - other than not wanting the experience to end - was the temperature. It was sweltering when we tried to sleep.  It was so hot that we really couldn't sleep very much.  I did venture to the back of the plane and it was down right freezing back there.  I do wish there was a way to better regulate the temperature.

Would  I take this flight again? In a heartbeat. The ticket (ORD-FRA-BKK-HAN) cost 70K UAL miles and was worth every one of them.  I absolutely loved every aspect of this flight and I cannot wait to try this flight again. The service here also makes me very excited to try the A380 First Class Service on other carriers too (Lufthansa, Air France, British, Emirates, Qantas, etc).

What is the best flight you've ever taken? When going to Southeast Asia, do you choose to go the wrong way around the world just to try a new product or experience fantastic service?


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