Review: Thai Smile A320 Economy Class Phuket to Hong Kong

This flight was taken in March of 2019, but I never actually got around to writing up the review. The Young Travelers of Hong Kong team strongly discourages non-essential travel at this time. Stay home and stay safe!


In March of 2019, I had the chance to fly with Thai Smile from Phuket to Hong Kong as I returned from a trip. I never got the chance to write up the flight experience. Considering the somewhat copious amount of free time, and the fact that Thai Smile is one of the lesser-reviewed airlines on the internet, I thought I’d write about my experience.

What Is Thai Smile? 

IMG_1133.jpegThai Smile A320 at Phuket Airport

Thai Smile is a regional offshoot of Thai Airways International. The airline operates a fleet of narrowbody Airbus A320 aircraft flies short-haul low yield and leisure routes. Phuket to Hong Kong is an example of a leisure route that Thai Airways mainline spun off to Thai Smile. Flights are staffed by crews that are paid less than their Thai mainline counterparts. While I’ve seen Thai Smile described as a low-cost carrier, the airline’s offering is more similar to that of a full-service airline. This means that checked bags and meals are complimentary. All things considered, I see Thai Smile as a less premium version of Cathay Dragon.

Continue reading Review: Thai Smile A320 Economy Class Phuket to Hong Kong”

Review: British Airways 777 Premium Economy Hong Kong to London

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge London Heathrow
Qantas Lounge London Heathrow
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class London to Hong Kong
British Airways 777 Premium Economy Hong Kong to London


This flight was taken in January 2020 and our team at Young Travelers of Hong Kong does not endorse non-essential travel during this time.

As part of my travel back to London for second term at university, I had to find a way to get back to the UK in January. Award space is never abundant during the Christmas period, I pounced on the ability to fly British Airways’ premium economy (also known as their “World Traveller Plus” cabin) for 45,000 Asia Miles on a date that worked for my schedule. I want to review all three premium economy products between London and Hong Kong, and British Airways premium economy is a very useful product to review for both students and business travelers alike anyway. With that in mind I bid farewell to my parents on January 1st, before heading to the airport at around 9 PM in order to catch my flight.

At the airport I found a long check-in line, as British Airways’ 777 and A380 depart just a few minutes apart out of Hong Kong (I’m not sure why this is, though I’m not complaining, since I’d choose a night flight between Hong Kong and Europe any day). British Airways doesn’t feature a separate check-in line for premium economy passengers, which sets them behind Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic.

Long check-in line in Hong Kong for British Airways passengers

The check-in line took around 20 minutes. British Airways allows two 23 kg bags to be checked in for each premium economy passenger. I underestimated the weight of one of my bags, which weighed 29 kg – there was not much to be done with 6 kg of extra stuff (I was moving for the next few months, after all), so I sorted out the dilemma with an overweight baggage charge of HK$664.

Continue reading Review: British Airways 777 Premium Economy Hong Kong to London”

Review: Cathay Pacific 777 First Class London to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge London Heathrow
Qantas Lounge London Heathrow
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class London to Hong Kong
British Airways 777 Premium Economy Hong Kong to London


This trip was taken in December 2019 and our team at Young Travelers of Hong Kong does not endorse non-essential travel during this time.

In March 2019 my parents had a bit of a dilemma: they had around 95,000 expiring Asia Miles that they didn’t quite know what to do with. Now, I was slated to go to London over summer, but I wasn’t quite sure what my dates were yet. The only certainty I had was when I’d be flying back over the winter holiday, since the dates were the same regardless of which university I’d get into. (This isn’t a problem anymore, since Asia Miles don’t expire anymore with activity.) 95,000 miles was enough to either fly British Airways Club World back to Hong Kong, which would get me insight into all three business class products flying between London and Hong Kong (I’ve flown Cathay Pacific business class from Hong Kong to London a while back, and I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic Upper Class between the two cities as well), or with 5,000 more miles I could fly Cathay Pacific first class to Hong Kong.

As an aviation analyst that tries my best to compare business class products across a variety of airlines, it was a no-brainer to book…Cathay Pacific first class. 😉 In all seriousness, I don’t regret trying Cathay Pacific’s first class product on this route – I figured I might as well have a taste of what first class on my home airline is like, given I knew I wouldn’t always have opportunities like these. I’ve also flown British Airways’ business class in the meantime, so feel free to check out my review of that flight.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Heathrow Airport

Continue reading Review: Cathay Pacific 777 First Class London to Hong Kong”

Review: British Airways A380 Business Class London to Hong Kong

I took this flight because I needed to get home. Our team at Young Travelers of Hong Kong does not endorse non-essential air travel during this period.

While the coronavirus continues to throw its little temper tantrum around the entire world, the best thing we can do to calm it down is stay home. As a student away from family in London, this wasn’t ideal for me. Originally the best idea was to stay put in London, though with an imminent lockdown a college dorm no longer became the safest place for me to live, both for my physical and mental health. With that in mind, my parents flew me home.

They also flew me home at quite a cost. Originally I had myself a roundtrip ticket on British Airways leaving April 2nd and getting back on April 30th,  though talks of an imminent lockdown unsettled my family. I converted this ticket to a future voucher and booked myself a Singapore Airlines one-way in business class, which quickly went out the window after Singapore stopped allowing transit passengers into Changi Airport grounds (Hong Kong has since done the same, as of this morning). So early in the morning of the day before my departure, I booked myself a ticket in British Airways Club World for a hefty £4,500. To put things in perspective, four flights in Qatar Airways’ fabulous QSuite cost just over £2,000. There was no time to complain and only time to pack.

To my reassurance I had done everything I’d needed to in the UK, so the biggest favour I could do for my friends in London was to be one less person for the NHS to worry about. So I took an airport transfer to Heathrow’s eerily empty Terminal 5, where I walked to Aisle H and checked in for my flight.

Heathrow Terminal 5 Check-in

Continue reading Review: British Airways A380 Business Class London to Hong Kong”

Review: Emirates A380 Business Class Dubai to London

Emirates Lounge Hong Kong
Emirates 777 Business Class Hong Kong to Dubai
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse C
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse B
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse A
Emirates A380 Business Class Dubai to London


With all the glamour that Emirates’ A380 has boasted over the past decade, I knew I had to try it out at some point. Emirates introduced their A380 in 2008, and it started the innovation of inflight amenities such as onboard showers and bars that we see on quite a few different airlines today. Over time, though, the actual hard product on Emirates’ A380 became slightly less competitive, especially as it competed with newer revolutionary products such as Qatar Airways’ QSuite, so I was curious how it would fare in the grand scheme of things in 2019.

Now, I need to note that my flight experience was hindered by a purser who accused me of taking photos that were against the rules (he had the rules mixed up, and I’m still trying to sort things out with Emirates to see how this never happens to other airline bloggers out there). I’ll obviously mention it in the report below, though I’m going to strive to make this report as objective as possible, as my experience – prior to my interaction with the purser, of course – was stellar.

Anyway, my Emirates A380 experience began at the boarding gate B17, where boarding started at around 2:10 PM. It’s worth mentioning that as a business class passenger I could board this flight through a separate entrance for premium passengers, right outside the lounge – however, boarding starts a few minutes later for the upper deck, so boarding from the main gate area afforded me a couple of extra minutes to photograph Emirates’ beautiful A380 cabin.

Emirates Airbus A380 Dubai Airport

I was one of the first onboard the Emirates A380, and boarded through the lower deck.

Continue reading Review: Emirates A380 Business Class Dubai to London”

Review: Emirates 777 Business Class Hong Kong to Dubai

Emirates Lounge Hong Kong
Emirates 777 Business Class Hong Kong to Dubai
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse C
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse B
Emirates Business Lounge Dubai Concourse A
Emirates A380 Business Class Dubai to London


I’d originally booked myself onto the Emirates A380 from Hong Kong straight through to London Gatwick, though unfortunately anxiety about upcoming protest situations compelled us to change our flight to an earlier one, since traffic was less likely to be affected at this time of day. This was a pricey switch, and I’ve written about it here. Fortunately, though, I’d once listed Emirates’ 777 business class product as one of the most underwhelming products I’d been dying to try, so I was glad to have the opportunity to do so.

I arrived at gate 32 around 6:45 AM in anticipation of boarding at 7 AM. It was a beautiful day outside, which served as a nice backdrop for the 777 that would be taking us to Dubai.

Emirates Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

The crew were standing around the gate at this time, and they boarded the plane at around 6:55 AM. Unfortunately boarding was delayed a bit beyond that, and it finally started at 7:15 AM, fifteen minutes behind schedule.

Continue reading Review: Emirates 777 Business Class Hong Kong to Dubai”

Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Quad Suite Doha to Hong Kong

Introduction: Home QSuite Home
Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha
The Sad State of Transit at Doha Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam
Hilton The Hague Family Suite
The Hotel Brussels Panorama Suite/Superior Twin Room
British Airways Galleries Lounge Brussels Airport
Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Hong Kong


If you’re trying to learn more about the QSuite experience, I’d highly recommend you check out the review of my flight from Hong Kong to Doha, where I gave an extensive evaluation of the hard product. On this flight I assigned my family a quad suite, which is one of the ways Qatar Airways creatively customised their QSuite product. This trip report will mostly focus on that, as well as how the soft product differed of that of the other Qatar Airways flights I took on this trip.

After clearing immigration, I headed towards the E gates, since our flight was leaving from E4. I’d never taken the train at Doha Airport before; while modern, the trains were quite hot, and poorly ventilated (which isn’t exactly a complaint, since I realise Doha doesn’t have the coolest climate). Fortunately the train ride was quite short, and I made my way towards the “other” end of Doha Airport.

Doha Hamad Airport E Gates Area

Continue reading Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Quad Suite Doha to Hong Kong”

Review: Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha

Introduction: Home QSuite Home
Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha
The Sad State of Transit at Doha Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam
Hilton The Hague Family Suite
The Hotel Brussels Panorama Suite/Superior Twin Room
British Airways Galleries Lounge Brussels Airport
Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Hong Kong


While three out of our four Qatar Airways flights were operated by the spectacular QSuite, the segment from Brussels to Doha was operated by Qatar Airways’ older 777 product. I knew going in that the product would be inferior, though I was excited to try out a new product nonetheless. This flight served as a nice juxtaposition between the experiences you get on Qatar Airways’ QSuite-equipped 777s versus these planes, as the QSuite experience was superior in almost every way. This sounds obvious on the surface, though I was surprised by how different some of the soft-product elements were, too – keep on reading.

It also seems like we drew the short end of the stick – I’ve seen reviews of Qatar Airways’ Brussels-Doha route operated by 787s and A350s, which feature Qatar Airways’ newer, reverse herringbone business class product. I’ve flown it before, and find it a very nice product. Occasionally Qatar even swaps out this flight for a QSuite-equipped 777, which would’ve been a nice treat, though that wasn’t the case today. So with that in mind, I made sure to catch one last glimpse of our 777 before boarding through the jetbridge onto the plane.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Brussels Airport

Continue reading Review: Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha”

Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam

Introduction: Home QSuite Home
Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha
The Sad State of Transit at Doha Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam
Hilton The Hague Family Suite
The Hotel Brussels Panorama Suite/Superior Twin Room
British Airways Galleries Lounge Brussels Airport
Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Hong Kong


After a disappointing transit at Doha Airport, we headed over to gate C5, where our flight would be departing. While I have my issues with Doha Airport (mainly the WiFi), it still comes across as almost psychedelically modern on first glance, with high wooden ceilings and the occasional train passing by overhead. The C gates occupy the “center” of Doha Airport (with the A and B gates on one end and the D and E gates on the other), so this part of the airport felt particularly open and airy.

Doha Airport C Gates

The gate agent scanned my boarding pass, and thanked me for choosing Qatar Airways. Doha Airport has “holding pens” where boarding passes are scanned before you enter a dedicated waiting area for your flight, so I waited. Eventually boarding was delayed for 10 minutes (until 7:15 AM), though at 7:15 AM boarding was called by zone, starting with business class passengers and Qatar Airways Privilege Club frequent flyers.

Continue reading Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam”

Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha

Introduction: Home QSuite Home
Plaza Premium First Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha
The Sad State of Transit at Doha Airport
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Amsterdam
Hilton The Hague Family Suite
The Hotel Brussels Panorama Suite/Superior Twin Room
British Airways Galleries Lounge Brussels Airport
Qatar Airways 777 Old Business Class Brussels to Doha
Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Doha to Hong Kong


Boarding was scheduled for 12:30 AM ahead of our 1:20 AM flight. I’d been monitoring our aircraft until it departed out of Doha – an hour late – so I knew it was going to feature QSuites ahead of time. My biggest gripe with booking the QSuites configuration is that you’re not guaranteed it, as many flights get swapped out last minute. Heck, as of writing, this exact same flight has been swapped three times in the past 7 days, which represents a 57% QSuite probability – not too much of a “guarantee”, if you ask me!

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Anyway, we were on a QSuites flight, fortunately (we didn’t have any equipment swaps in all four segments of our booking, which I largely consider to be a blessing). Boarding was called shortly after it was scheduled, at around 12:35 AM; I was the first one in the Qatar Airways QSuite.

This was going to be a fun Friday night (or Saturday morning)!

Continue reading Review: Qatar Airways 777 QSuite Business Class Hong Kong to Doha”