- United Business Class Denver to Chicago & United First Class to Toronto
- Hyatt Regency Toronto
- Air Canada Executive First Toronto to Tokyo, & Delta Business Tokyo to Seoul
- Park Hyatt Seoul
- Tour of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)
- Thai Business Class, Seoul to Hong Kong
- Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong to Tokyo/Haneda
- Grand Hyatt Tokyo
- Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Swiss First Class, Tokyo to Zurich, Swiss EU Business, Zurich to London/Heathrow
- Andaz Liverpool Street
- Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill
- Lufthansa Business Class London/Heathrow to Frankfurt
- Lufthansa First Class Terminal & LH First Class, Frankfurt to Denver
Just a little over an hour later, the Airport Limo Bus dropped me off outside of the Thai check-in counters. Although the wifi on the bus did not work (or at least I couldn't read the Korean text on the sign-in page!), I managed to catch up on a book that I've been reading on my iPad, and also planned out the rest of my trip. I was really looking forward to visiting Hong Kong, especially since I learned that a couple good friends would be there. Additionally, there was going to be a FlyerTalk DO the afternoon I arrived, so I was excited to meet some new FlyerTalkers.
Once inside the airport, a large display board listed the check-in counter assignments for the various airlines. The Thai counter was just a short walk from the display board, which I appreciated, as I had two heavy backpacks, along with my TravelPro Crew 7 20" rollerboard.
As expected, the economy line was packed with people heading to Hong Kong and Bangkok. Fortunately, the Business Class/Star Gold line was empty, and I was able to see an agent in less than thirty seconds.
Once the agent confirmed that I was only flying one-way, she printed my boarding pass, handed me a lounge invitation, and pointed me in the direction of security and passport control.
Unlike the Toilet Safety Administration in the United States, security at Seoul-Incheon was very efficient, as well as professional. For starters, there were no power-tripping clerks yelling at passengers to take out liquids or remove shoes. Instead, the agents would calmly walk over to passengers to see if they had any questions. You don't see that in the US! The best part of security was the fact that they did not use full body scanners. (Score!).
After passing through security, there was only a short walk to the Asiana Business Class lounge. Once inside, the agents gave me a brief description of the lounge, and mentioned that flights were not announced inside. There is a First Class section in the lounge, although I was not able to get a glimpse inside. (too bad Star Alliance does not follow oneworld emerald international lounge access rules!)
The Asiana agents at the front were welcoming, and asked for my boarding pass, along with the lounge invitation that I had received at check-in. They offered me directions to my gate, and mentioned that I should head down to the departure lounge about fifteen minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin.
Inside the business class lounge, I was surprised to see that there were so few people. I suppose not too many people were traveling on New Years Eve, which only made the lounge more comfortable for me.
The lounge had free wireless internet, and it was quite fast, so I was able to upload some pictures to my photo gallery, and do a bit of work. Had I been there for a longer period of time, I would have attempted to download another movie or two for my iPad, but I figured that I would not hog all of the lounge bandwidth!
The food selection in the lounge was fairly basic, but it was enough to fill me up before the flight to Hong Kong. I was in the lounge at 8:00am, so I am not sure if there is a true breakfast selection. (who has salad for breakfast?)
These mini-sausages were pretty tasty, despite their look and the grease around them.
Deviled eggs were warm, although they seemed a bit old. As you can see from above, the tray was almost empty, so it is possible that the lounge staff was waiting for the supply to deplete, before refilling.
I'm not a porridge fan, although this did smell suspiciously similar to the Hyatt Place oatmeal! Hmm.
In addition to the drinks above, the lounge had Coke products (coke, ginger ale ^^^, etc), various juices, one or two bottles of wine, and then a couple varieties of beer.
I consdiered taking a nap before my flight, but I was worried about over-sleeping. Oh well, I'll sleep when I'm back in Denver!! ;-)
After another thirty minutes of work, I decided to head over to my gate, where I noticed eight gate agents for our flight. Similar to the other Asian airlines I've experienced, four of the agents had laminated signs with the various boarding groups, and began to organize the passengers according to their zone.
As a Business class/Star Gold passenger, one of the agents escorted me to the front of the line, which made me first to board the flight.
Thai Airways 629
Seoul – Hong Kong
Saturday, December 31th
Scheduled Departure: 10:50AM
Actual Departure: 10:55AM
Scheduled Arrival: 1:50PM
Actual Arrival: 1:30PM
Duration: 3hrs 30minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 12F-Royal Silk Class
Unlike domestic flights, the boarding process was extremely organized.
As I was the first to board, I got a chance to take some photos of the seat, as well as the rest of the cabin. From first glance, this looks like a comfortable seat, but at 6' 1", I was not able to fit when it was in the slanted lie-flat mode.
Only twenty minutes after boarding began, our 777 was fully boarded, and the door was shut. Try that in the US! :rolleyes: ;-)
The safety demostration took less than five minutes, as we taxiied out to the runway for departure. Although I was in the middle seat, I could still see a bit of the Seoul airport as we took-off. I do wish that I had been in a window, as arrived after dark, so I did not get any photos of the terrain, etc.
Ten minutes after take-off, the entire business class crew jumped out of their seats to begin the service. This was the first of several hot towels.
Laurent - Perrier Brut Champagne
Pale Gold Colour with a steady flow of fine and persistent bubbles. Blending of 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes. It is delicate, fresh and well-balanced with hints of citrus and white fruits.
I am not an almond fan (prefer cashews), so I decided to skip eating them. The bag is likely still in my rollerboard, though..
The moving map worked fairly well, and even let me zoom in on any part of the world I wanted. Pretty fun to zoom in on Lawrence, and pretend we were landing there ;-)
On my Delta flight from NRT-ICN, they served fresh garlic bread, which I absolutely loved. The garlic bread on this flight was good, although it was a bit crispy.
I love Kimchi!
Stir-fried Chicken with Onion, Red and Green Pepper and Cashew Nut Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Asparagus
Grilled Promfret with Champagne Mushroom Sauce Duchesse Potatoes, Carrot, Baby Zuchini
Grilled Prawn with Bulgogi Sauce. Steamed Rice, Pak-Choy, Carrot
Stir-Fried Pork Loin in Red Sauce. Steamed Rice, Chateau Zucchini, Carrot
I went with the chicken, which was pretty tasty. The rice was well cooked, and fairly moist. The only downside was the chicken, which was just a bit dry. Other than that, the meal was enough to fill me up for the afternoon.
Blueberry Walnut Cake with Oolong Tea
My final hot towel ;-)
Halfway through the flight, I decided to walk back to Economy for a mid-flight stretch. After seeing the tight conditions, let's just say that I was glad that I decided to use the extra miles to fly in Business class! The legroom in Economy looked horrible!
There were thirty seats in the Business class cabin, although only 20 of them were taken. And while I did not get a window seat, the seat next to me was empty, so I was able to use it as my storage area, and also set the moving map, while watching TV on my screen.
Similar to Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, and SWISS, Thai has commercials that play before the IFE, which was extremely annoying. I can understand showing the commercials if you are in Y, but if somebody is in a premium cabin, they should not have to deal with tacky commercials.
An hour later, the flight attendants distributed our landing forms, and prepared the cabin for landing. Despite the long walk to customs, and the lines for passport control, I was at the ticket counter for the Hong Kong Airport Express train within thirty minutes of landing. For only $12, I got a one-way ticket to Central, which is less than two minutes car-ride to the Grand Hyatt.