Thai Airways Introduces Yet Another Business Class Product

Thai Airways currently has more different business class products than any other airline. Their A330s, 747s, and select 777s feature angled flat seats (two unique types, actually), their newer 777s, A380s and A350s feature Solstys-style staggered business class seats, some of their 787s feature forward-facing fully flat business class seats, their other 787s feature reverse herringbone seats, and they still have an active 737 with recliner seats in business class.

Since Thai doesn’t operate any 787s to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong to Bangkok route is served exclusively with their planes with angled flat seats and Solstys-style staggered business class seats. I’ve had the chance to fly their A330 and 747 with angled flat seats, though haven’t tried their Solstys-style staggered business class configuration (I’ve flown a similar configuration on Hong Kong Airlines, who has a virtually identical seat apart from the finishes).

Thai Airways Boeing 747 Business Class Seat

Well, apparently someone went to Thai Airways’ CEO and said “you know what, Charamporn, I don’t think six unique business class configurations are enough for our airline. I think passengers would like less consistency, and more variety. Let’s introduce a seventh business class seat configuration, just to mix things up.”

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There’s A Pet In The Business Class Cabin!

I’ve flown countless flights over the past few years, but this is a first for me.

I’m slated to fly Korean Air’s new 747 business class in the coming weeks. It’s not the first time I booked myself on a Korean Air 747-8, but last time our flight was swapped out for an older 747, so naturally I’ve been on my toes this time hoping that something similar doesn’t happen.

So today I found myself checking the seatmap, only to see something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Hong Kong Airport

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Emirates Reduces Flights Out Of Dubai For Runway Upgrade

Emirates operates out of one of the world’s largest hubs, Dubai International Airport. While I’ve never been, I know for a fact that it’s one of the world’s busiest airports. It’s also one of the most hectic, as the airport’s been around for a while, and the airline has had exponential growth throughout the past decade.

Emirates operates a hub-and-spoke model, which means that they focus on serving one-stop flights between a wide variety of destinations at high capacities (they have, by far, the most A380s in operation out of any airline, and have 6.75 times more A380s on order than the next biggest operator, Singapore Airlines), which further adds to how busy their Dubai hub is. They seem to be doing quite well – from Hong Kong alone Emirates offers three daily A380 flights (the most of any airline out of Hong Kong), one of which routes through Bangkok, and an additional 777 flight, and they’ve done so for many years. They also have quite a good reputation in Hong Kong, as many more have heard of Emirates compared to their Middle Eastern counterparts, Etihad and Qatar Airways (both of which also fly to Hong Kong).

img_2580Emirates Airbus A380 Taipei Taoyuan Airport

That’s why they were impacted pretty severely when Dubai Airport announced they’d be upgrading a runway, restricting capacity out of Dubai Airport. For that reason, next year Emirates will be cutting hundreds of frequencies per week out of Dubai Airport, which I thought was worth writing about.

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Shenzhen Airlines Will Launch Flights Between Shenzhen and London

I’m a frequenter between Hong Kong and London, and plan to find the best premium economy product between Hong Kong and London. When I created that goal, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d fly Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class anytime soon, but now that I have, I’m also keen to fly British Airways’ business class product, so I can compare and contrast the business class products flying between Hong Kong and London as well.

One city that I’m also fine with originating from is Shenzhen. It is quite aways from Hong Kong – it’s a 90-minute, HK$100 bus ride from Sheung Wan, nowhere as convenient as the 25-minute Airport Express to Hong Kong Airport – and customs isn’t the most pleasant (they’re much more thorough with checking your belongings, e.g. if your portable charger doesn’t clearly list its capacity, you won’t be allowed to take it onboard). However, the airport experience is quite pleasant, and the terminal is absolutely stunning – and most importantly, the prices out of Shenzhen are usually cheaper, as it’s less of a premium market compared to Hong Kong.

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Austrian Will Stop Flying To Hong Kong

In 2016, Austrian launched a direct, five-times-weekly flight from Hong Kong to Vienna. This was the fourth route flown between Hong Kong and Europe by the Lufthansa Group, adding to Lufthansa’s daily flight each between Hong Kong to Munich and Frankfurt, and Swiss’ daily flight between Hong Kong and Zurich. Austrian’s actually the only of the three airlines I haven’t flown, though I’ve heard that they have a great product, with a decent hard product and superb catering.

Austrian Boeing 777

On the route, Austrian flew a decent staggered business class seat (similar to the one I’d experienced on Swiss), a premium economy seat similar to Lufthansa’s, as well as an economy cabin featuring a 3-4-3 configuration. When booking connecting flights to secondary cities in Europe, Austrian’s prices were usually (but not always) lower than what Lufthansa and Swiss offered. I actually listed their business class product as one of the ones I wanted to try most, due to the good things I’ve heard about their catering in business class.

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Korean Air’s Interesting Premium Arrivals Service

As competition for premium air travel continues to get stiffer, airlines are trying to tailor the ground experience as much as they can for first and business class passengers, from departure to arrival. One way they’ve done this is by opening arrival lounges, so people can grab a coffee, have some a-la-carte breakfast items, and catch up on work. I’ve visited (and reviewed) the arrivals lounges at the hubs of Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, and Swiss. That said, not every airport has the luxury of space to accommodate an arrivals lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow

I was doing a bit of research yesterday and came across an interesting service offered by Korean Air. Although Korean Air operates most of the flights departing from Incheon’s brand new Terminal 2 (ever since they moved their operations there), they haven’t opened an arrivals lounge, which I get, since airlines don’t normally have the luxury of space at airports (plus, their lounge game prior to Terminal 2’s opening was pretty crappy).

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Cathay Pacific Resumes In-Town Check-In For US Flights; Introduces New Powder Restrictions

Late last year, Cathay Pacific suspended in-town check-in services for travellers heading to the United States in order to comply with new security directives implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all flights. As part of the new directives, passengers would be subject to a security interview at check-in and another one immediately prior to boarding. The new directive also meant that passengers were required to arrive earlier at the airport to complete the interview.

As of June 29 (last Friday), passengers will once again be able to use in-town check-in services when travelling to the United States. This comes as the result of a new set of DHS directives which allows all passengers to be interviewed at the boarding gate. Despite this, all passengers travelling to the United States (except on flight CX888) will be required to undergo a secondary security check at the boarding gate.

IMG_4798.jpgCathay Pacific Business Class Check-In Hong Kong Airport 

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WAIT: Qatar Airways’ Bangkok Lounge Is Closed Already?

This one shocked me when I got a few messages in caps from Jason this morning (I’d probably still be in bed otherwise).

Just this February Qatar Airways opened a brand new lounge in Bangkok. This was a business decision that made sense as Qatar Airways flies six (!) daily flights between Bangkok and Doha – an A380, three 777s, a 787 and an A340 (one of the 777s continues to Hanoi). While the 777s feature an inferior product (none of them feature Qatar Airways’ new QSuites), Qatar Airways features one of the world’s best business class products, and their outstation lounges have been known to be particularly luxurious as well.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Doha Airport

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Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room
Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class London to Hong Kong

This trip report will be a short one, as it essentially consisted of university hopping around London for a couple of days (in a slightly more luxurious fashion but you’d expect, but…).

(And no, if you’ve stumbled upon this travel blog for the first time, this isn’t a “young traveler gets laid in obscure country” story. I’ll justify the naming of the report in the next installment.)

As longtime readers will know I’m not far away from my university applications, and while I’m still deciding between universities, I’m pretty much dead set on the UK. So this year I decided to make the trip to London to explore a few of these universities, and my dad decided to join me. (For non-longtime readers, my dad loves to fly direct, and both of us had meetings we had to attend on both sides that required us to fly direct, so…).

One of the universities I’m looking at is UCL, which I visited on this trip

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Three Reasons To Pick An Exit Row Bulkhead Seat In Economy

I’ve been involved in a ton of premium travel lately, so it’s always somewhat of a hit when faced with a longhaul in economy. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that economy class is where a bulk of people travel, since even premium economy prices can be exorbitant at times. Today I flew from London to Hong Kong in Virgin Atlantic economy class, and assigned myself an exit row bulkhead seat for HK$870 (~US$110).

I’m always a very large advocate of customising your travels as rigorously as you can to make sure that you optimise the experience for the price you paid. This includes researching and selecting your seat, purchasing any affordable add-ons, etc.. Prior to this flight I was quite skeptical if an exit row seat was worth it (over an extra-legroom seat, which on Virgin Atlantic’s case came with priority boarding), since there was no floor storage, my seat would have a misaligned window, etc..

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Economy Class (not the exit row, taken on a previous flight)

However, after spending 12 hours in an exit row economy seat, I’m convinced that HK$870 is absolutely worth spending money on, despite all the caveats. Here’s why.

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