Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cathay Pacific "The Pier" First Class Lounge Hong Kong

In June this year, after a period of renovations, Cathay reopened "The Pier" first class lounge at Hong Kong airport. I made a point of checking it out on my recent trip prior to a Cathay Pacific flight to Singapore. I was flying in business class but courtesy of oneworld Emerald status I was invited into the first class lounge. It just so happened my flight was leaving from a gate almost right opposite the lounge too, which made it very convenient.

The lounge is split into various zones. I first visited the restaurant area:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Singapore Airlines New First Class on the Boeing 777-300ER : SQ2 Singapore to Hong Kong

After a pleasant stay in The Private Room at Changi, I headed to the gate for SQ2 to San Francisco via Hong Kong. I was taking only the first leg today, but since this is a long haul flight the latest generation 2013 product is offered on board. Today's flight was operated by Boeing 777-300 ER 9V-SWW, delivered to Singapore Airlines in March 2014 which made her 20 months old at the time of this flight.

9V-SWW at the gate

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

SQ238 Singapore Airlines First Class, Now Available on YouTube

I have just finished putting together the video of SQ238, Boeing 777-300 First Class flight from Melbourne to Singapore, it's available on my Youtube channel, or watch it below. Please subscribe to my youtube at www.youtube.com/c/aussieflyer!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Singapore Airlines : The Private Room at Changi

After arriving from Melbourne on Singapore Airlines in First Class, I had a 2 and a half hour transit at Changi Airport before flying onwards to Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines First Class and Suites passengers have access to the exclusive 'The Private Room'. Upon arrival at the SilverKris lounge and when presenting a First boarding pass you will be personally escorted through the business and first class lounge (available for those flying Star Alliance first class) and into the sanctuary of the Private Room.

Seating Area at The Private Room

Monday, November 23, 2015

Singapore Airlines First Class on the Boeing 777-300 : SQ238 Melbourne to Singapore

Singapore Airlines
Melbourne to Singapore
11.30 (Scheduled) / 11.39 (Actual)
16.10 (Scheduled) / 16.10 (Actual)
7 hrs 11 minutes airborne
Boeing 777-300 9V-SYI (Age 11 years)

It's been quite a while since I flew with Singapore Airlines so it was quite exciting to be flying with them again, especially in First Class. I took this flight as part of a series of flights to get to London from Melbourne on a trip I took recently.

This first sector is the late morning service out of Melbourne, SQ238, operated by the older Boeing 777-300's. It is one of 4 daily flights that Singapore Airlines operate to Melbourne and the aircraft today was 9V-SYI, an 11 year old bird and one of 7 of it's type in the SQ fleet. These aircraft have 8 first class seats which are almost the same as those installed on the B777-300ER fleet, as well as 50 regional angled lie flat business class seats and 226 economy class seats. All up the aircraft seats 284 people.

I arrived at the airport around 9.45am and checked in at the first class counter. Since I was continuing on to Hong Kong I was issued two boarding passes. The economy class lines were fairly busy since the service was fully booked in economy, but things went along quickly for those with priority checkin. I was given an express pass and sent on my way. 

Once through passport control and security I headed into the depths of the airport and found the Krisflyer lounge, I was welcomed into the first class side which is off to the left after reception.

First Class Lounge Food and Drinks

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Etihad Boeing 787-9 First Class Video

I hope most of my blog readers also subscribe to my YouTube channel, but if you don't or maybe you haven't logged onto YouTube lately I thought I would mention I have uploaded a video of the B787-9 First Class experience with Etihad, check it out here:

You can visit my channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/aussieflyer

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Qantaslink Q400 : Sydney to Canberra

Sometimes when I feel like more of an 'adventure' I fly Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra, that way I can ride a B717 or a Q400 instead of a boring B737 or A330. It costs the same amount of Qantas points for an economy redemption whether you go via Canberra or direct (8000 points).

A few months ago I did just that, here is my Q400 preparing for the trip:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Qantas Business Class : Adelaide to Canberra on tbe B737-800 QF706

I've covered most of my long haul premium travel for the year already (more content coming starting next week though when I travel again). So let's have a look at some of the other flights I've taken this year. I probably fly between 50 and 100 sectors a year, most of them don't ever make it to the blog as they are either repeats of flights I've already looked at or boring short haul domestic economy flights.

Anyway, here is a quick look at Qantas flight QF706, the 6.45am service between Adelaide and the nations capital, Canberra. Qantas fly the route just twice a day, a morning and an evening service, focused on business and government travel. I was probably fairly out of place occupying seat 1A and travelling purely for leisure on this Tuesday morning in July.

The apron at Adelaide on a winter morning

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The New Qantas A330 Business Class : QF36 Singapore to Melbourne

Over the course of this year Qantas have been progressively refitting the A330 fleet. The new business class seats they have chosen are lie flat pods in a staggered 1-2-1 arrangement, all seats having aisle access. Herringbone and staggered arrangements are the new world standard in business class and both have their advantages. This new seat whilst being an off the rack product, has been modified and 'Qantas styled' by their designer Marc Newson. To see what it looks like in its original form, you can see it at the Thompson website here.

Earlier this year I happened to be flying on QF36, the overnight flight from Singapore to Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to try the new product. Close to half the fleet are now reconfigured as at the time of writing (September 2015).

Upon boarding I was immediately quite impressed with the 'look and feel' of the cabin...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sri Lankan Airlines Airbus A321 Business Class : Colombo to Singapore UL308

Today I am finally getting around to writing a report on this regional hop with Sri Lankan Airlines. This was my first time ever flying with Sri Lankan, a recent recruit to oneworld alliance. This means I can earn Qantas points and status credits when flying with them, and makes for seamless connections with Qantas and other oneworld carriers.

With a 12.05pm departure I caught a cab to the airport from nearby Negombo Beach where I had been staying at about 9.30am. It's a pretty short ride to the airport and as we approached the terminal area the driver asked which airline we were flying and which class of service. When I mentioned Sri Lankan business he took a turn to a separate, private entrance area. We were greeted at the car by Sri Lankan airlines staff who grabbed our luggage and took it into a private check-in zone. I didn't even know it existed and I was very impressed. The staff were lovely and checked our bags through to Melbourne as well as issuing our onward Singapore to Melbourne boarding pass (on Qantas).

With check in complete it was up to passport control and onwards to the Serendib lounge:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Etihad Airbus A320 Business Class : Abu Dhabi to Colombo EY264

 As a follow up to my earlier post about EY265, here is how the return sector to Colombo looked.

Once again, this flight was being operated by an A320 in the regional Etihad configuration. This aircraft was a little older, it did not feature the wing sharklets that I had on the flight into Abu Dhabi. The cabin however was basically identical, with large comfortable recliners with leather head rests in a fairly neutral colour scheme:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Etihad B777-200LR Business Class : Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi EY170

Etihad Airways
Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi
4.55PM (Scheduled)
8.00PM (Scheduled) / 8.30PM (Actual)
16 hours 30 min approx
Boeing 777-200LR A6-LRC

Welcome to this report on the worlds 3rd longest flight by distance: flight EY170. Etihad's daily Boeing 777-200LR non stop service between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. At 13,502 kilometres in distance only two other flights are longer, being the Qantas flight between Sydney and Dallas, and the Delta flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg. On this flight I was flying in the business class cabin on the B777-200LR, an ultra long range variant of the B777 which was acquired by Etihad from Air India with this route in mind.

Friday, July 10, 2015

American Airlines Airbus A321 Transcontinental Business Class : New York to Los Angeles AA19

I have been watching with interest since American Airlines introduced their 'A321T' fleet at the beginning of 2014. These aircraft have now replaced the aging Boeing 767-200 fleet on the flagship domestic routes between New York JFK and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The aircraft are equipped with 3 classes with 10 First Class, 20 Business Class and 72 Economy Class seats. Both First and Business offer flat beds with business being in a 2x2 configuration. Audio video on demand is available to all passengers. This is a very generous configuration, with most airlines seating double this amount of passengers on the A321. So, on a Sunday in May this year I finally found myself booked on the A321 Transcontinental, here is my report:

American Airlines
New York JFK to Los Angeles
11.00AM (Scheduled) / 10.52AM (Actual)
2.08PM (Scheduled) / 1.30PM (Actual)
5 hours 18 minutes airborne
Airbus A321 Transcontinental

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Etihad B787-9 Business Studio : Abu Dhabi to Washington EY131

Etihad Airways
Abu Dhabi to Washington Dulles
5.25 PM
14 hours 30 min
Boeing 787-9 (A6-BLA)

There has been a lot of hype from Etihad about their new Business Studio seat so earlier in the year I decided I had to try it! I was heading to New York but since the business studios only feature on the A380 and B787-9 Dreamliner, I decided to fly via Washington. Washington is the first long haul destination Etihad served with B787 equipment and is the only USA destination not served with Etihad B777's currently.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Etihad Airbus A320 Business Class : Colombo to Abu Dhabi EY265

I've only ever flown Etihad the one time before this trip, and that was in first class from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne last year. On my recent trip to the USA I decided to take advantage of a triple miles offer and fly Etihad business class. The first leg of the Etihad ticket started in Colombo. Flight EY265 is one of two daily A320 flights to Abu Dhabi. Competitor Emirates run a B777-300ER on their flight to Dubai, a significantly larger aircraft with a much bigger seat. However, since the flight is only around 4 hours I was fine to be on one of Etihad's 'regional' birds.

Despite hearing rumours that Colombo airport wasn't too great I found it quite hassle free, Etihad has a dedicated counter for those travelling in business:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Thai Airways Business Class : Bangkok to Colombo A330-300 TG307

My recent trip saw me taking advantage of some good business class airfares out of Colombo, Sri Lanka. To get there I flew Melbourne to Bangkok then on to Colombo with Thai Airways. The Bangkok to Colombo sector operates daily as flight TG307, with the Airbus A330-300. Unless there is a last minute equipment swap this 3 hour sector operates with the angled lie flat business class seat, as shown below (from a previous report):

Friday, June 5, 2015

Thai Airways Business Class : TG466 B777-200ER Melbourne to Bangkok

Yes, I have yet another review of Thai Business Class. I'm not sure why I keep bothering really, as nothing has changed much in the past 7 years with Thai and it's business class operations to Melbourne. We did see the B777-300ER for a while, but for now we are back on the -200 and -200ER, with the very occasional substitute. So here is another quick look at TG466, the 2.15pm service from Melbourne to Bangkok.

First, the very tired and aging Air New Zealand lounge in the dungeons of the terminal (basement). This lounge is still ok but it really needs a refurb like it's Sydney counterpart is currently undergoing.

Air NZ Lounge

Monday, June 1, 2015

Just home from New York City

I just got back a few days ago from New York, had a great trip and lots more content to add to the blog soon. So, coming up I have more reports on Thai Business, plus my first ever content on Etihad business class including the fabulous new B787 business studio seat. Also, the American A321 transcontinental business class, Sri Lankan A321 business and a look at the new Qantas A330 business suites. I have so much to do but so little time. Bear with me as I get it uploaded and write it up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Jetstar B787 Dreamliner Melbourne to Bali and Return - Economy Class (JQ35/JQ44)

I recently flew to Bali and back and took advantage of a super cheap airfare Jetstar offered last year when Indonesia Air Asia X announced plans to fly direct to Melbourne from Bali. Here is a quick report of my experience on the flight.

For Melbourne to Bali (Denpasar) I was booked on JQ35, departs at 5.15pm, arriving Denpasar 6 hours later at 9.15pm. The flight today was operated by VH-VKB, it was 18 months old at the time of the flight. Check-in was available at the automated kiosks with automated 'do it yourself' baggage tags and baggage check-in. With that done I headed off to the Qantas first class lounge for a while, and then to the gate at about 4.45pm where boarding was just getting under way.

I had selected a window seat towards the back hoping for a vacant middle seat. Unfortunately thing's didn't go to plan when a woman with a baby was occupying the middle seat next to me. However as the flight was not full the crew found her somewhere more comfortable to sit  which gave me a lot more room, thank goodness.

Mood lighting on board

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Australian Short Haul Domestic Business Comparison : Part 3 - Virgin Australia (Sydney to Melbourne)

After arriving from Brisbane I headed to the Virgin Australia lounge which is conveniently located airside within the terminal. I stayed in the downstairs section. It was around 6pm so people were having dinner. I ended up with some fairly tasty nachos and a glass of white wine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Australian Short Haul Domestic Business Comparison : Part 3 - Virgin Australia (Brisbane to Sydney)

Following on from my first two articles detailing Qantas' short haul domestic business class offering, let's have a look now at what the competition is doing. Virgin Australia only went 'premium' a few years ago and I was yet to try their offering in business class on short haul. With that in mind I booked an award ticket Brisbane to Melbourne (via Sydney). This article covers the first sector, flight VA960, the 3.30pm service from Brisbane to Sydney on a Boeing 737-800.

I arrived at the airport a little after 2pm and headed to the kiosk to print my boarding pass, I had pre-selected seat 1F, a bulkhead window in the first row. Virgin Australia only offer 8 business seats on the B737, 2 rows of 4. This compares to Qantas who offer 3 rows of 4 totaling 12 seats.  Both Qantas and Virgin seats are quite similar in terms of width and pitch, however Virgin do not offer a foot/leg rest. We will look at the seat later but for now it was off through security and to the Virgin lounge.

The fairly attrative Brisbane Domestic Terminal Entry

Monday, April 13, 2015

Australian Short Haul Domestic Business Comparison : Part 2 - Qantas (Sydney to Gold Coast)

After arriving in Sydney from Melbourne I headed to the Business Class / Platinum Lounge upstairs in T3. I flashed my boarding pass for the next sector QF864 to the Gold Coast and found a nice window seat. There is a reasonable view of the Qantas domestic ramp and when runway 16R is in use you can see aircraft landing. I went to the bar and ordered a cappuccino and checked out the buffet. There was a staff member making fresh chicken rolls so I grabbed a couple, and they were pretty tasty!

Afternoon tea - chicken bread rolls with lettuce and mayonaise
 I was watching the gate whilst I ate and noticed the aircraft operating my service arrive from it's previous sector:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Australian Short Haul Domestic Business Comparison : Part 1 - Qantas (Melbourne to Sydney)

Recently over a period of a couple of days had the opportunity to try 2 short haul Qantas business class flights, followed by 2 short haul Virgin Australia business class flights.  I thought I  would do a bit of a comparison  series of articles on both products.

First up I flew on Qantas from Melbourne to Sydney and then on to the Gold Coast. Flight QF438 from Melbourne to Sydney is the 2pm departure and currently an A330-200 service on most days of the week.

I arrived at the terminal and proceeded straight through security, making use of the Qantas business class dedicated priority security queue. Once through there I had lunch in the Business/Platinum lounge with good views of the tarmac. I grabbed my boarding pass at the customer service desk and headed in. A hot beef pie was on offer along with various salads, soups, sandwiches etc, I took the pie and I had a white wine with it (yes, I know it's not a good match!).

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Jetstar Business Class : JQ7 Melbourne to Singapore on the A330

Melbourne to Singapore
12.00 (Scheduled) / 12.32 (Actual)
16.45 (Scheduled) / 17.31 (Actual)
7 hours 30 minutes airborne
Airbus A330-200 (8 years old)
I recently needed a fairly last minute flight out of Melbourne to S.E Asia and as it was the beginning of Easter school holidays in Melbourne, the flights were quite heavily booked. However Jetstar still had a reasonable offer of $399 one way in economy class on their Singapore route which I decided to purchase. I normally try to avoid LCC's in economy on flights more than about 4 hours but on this occasion I was fairly price conscious and using points for business class on a major carrier was not an option either. 

Fortunately 7 days before the flight came an email offering an upgrade for $180 to business class, or for $230 to business max (which includes Qantas frequent flyer points and status credits, plus lounge access if you don't have that already). I snapped it up pretty quickly and my partner and I ended up in 4J and 4K at the front of the bus, instead of up the back. I was excited to try Jetstar business class as I had read online that despite the poor seat the service had been significantly upgraded since I last flew on this product when it was called 'Starclass'.

With a noon departure scheduled I arrived at the airport at 10am and was checked  in quickly at the priority counter by a woman who whilst not really rude, was fairly nonchalant. Unfortunately no priority security/customs pass was provided, but luckily I have a supply of them in my passport wallet so I used an old Qantas one and managed to avoid the queues. By 10.25am I was in the luxurious surrounds of the Qantas First Class Lounge  - a perk that Qantas frequent flyers get to enjoy when flying with Jetstar, the LCC subsidiary of Qantas.

The wonderful Qantas First lounge at Melbourne

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 8 : Thai Airways Business Class - Bangkok to Melbourne (Boeing 777-200ER)

I've reviewed this flight so many times before so here is a quick rundown and mostly pictorial report of my most recent trip on flight TG465, on board a Thai Boeing 777-200ER. This flight leaves Bangkok at 00.05 AM every night, arriving into Melbourne at  1.05pm, scheduled 9 hours. This flight offers a late night supper (basically a complete dinner service) and full breakfast before landing. It was my last flight on my series of flights around Asia late last year.

After freshening up with a shower in the lounge and complimentary 30 minute foot massage in the Thai Airways spa it was off to get C5 for the secondary screening Australia bound flights are subjected to.

Secondary bag check

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Boeing 747-400 'VH-OJA' Arrives in Wollongong

Following up from my recent post about the pre flight briefing for this flight, here is how I experienced it on the day.

On Sunday 5 March after staying the night in a local motel my fellow #avgeek friend and I headed over to the local BMX skate park parking area just south of the airport. From this slightly elevated location we had a good view down the runway and would be able to see the aircraft approach as it headed towards us.

The aircraft was due in at 7.47am and after a pit stop at McDonald's for breakfast we arrived at about 6.20am, and there was already more than 100 people at this viewing spot, with thousands of others gathering at other locations closer to the runway and on the other side of the airport.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

QF7474 : The final flight of VH-OJA, Qantas' first B747-400

Back in August 1989 Qantas took delivery of it's first Boeing 747-400, 'VH-OJA'. It was to be the first of 31  of the -400 series jumbo jets that Qantas would operate. But this was no ordinary delivery flight, it was a world record attempt, the first flight ever to fly London to Sydney non stop, and the longest ever flight on record. A record that still stands today. Now, 25 years later and after 13833 career flights, VH-OJA ' City of Canberra ' is making it's final journey, and probably the shortest flight it has ever made  too. Sydney to Illawarra Regional Airport (Wollongong), where it will be put on permanent display at HARS. It's all happening this Sunday the 8th of March and I'm going to head down there to see it.

Some memorabilia from that day in 1989

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 7 : Thai Airways Business Class - Hong Kong to Bangkok (Airbus A330-300)

Thai Airways International
Hong Kong to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
18.55 (Scheduled) / 19.10 (Actual)
20.40 (Scheduled) / 21.04 (Actual)
2 hours 23 minutes airborne
Airbus A330-300 HS-TEU (5 years old)

We are on the home stretch now on this series of reports detailing a recent adventure around Asia. I was heading back home to Melbourne from Hong Kong and unfortunately was unable to secure award seats with Singapore Airlines so I had to settle for Thai Airways instead. Perfectly acceptable really, even though they were only offering angled lie flats for both sectors at the time.

This article is about flight TG639, the 6.55pm flight to Bangkok, the second last of the day for Thai Airways on this route and one of five daily flights. The flight was scheduled to be operated by one of Thai's newer A330's with angled flat seats, the older ones having recliners are mostly used on domestic and less premium routes now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 6 : EVA Air 'Hello Kitty' Premium Laurel Class - Taipei to Hong Kong (Airbus A330-200)

Taipei Taoyuan to Hong Kong
18.10 (Scheduled) / 18.54 (Actual)
20.00 (Scheduled) / 20.58 (Actual)
1 hour 32 minutes airborne
Airbus A330-200 B-16309 ‘Speed Puff Jet’

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 5 : EVA Air 'Royal Laurel Class' - Osaka Kansai to Taipei on the Boeing 777-300ER

Osaka Kansai to Taipei Taoyuan
15.00 (Scheduled) / 15.18 (Actual)
17.10 (Scheduled) / 17.35 (Actual)
2 hours 55 minutes airborne
Boeing 777-300ER (B-16709)

New Instagram Account

These days everybody seems to be on Instagram, so I thought I would join the party and create an account for my blog. I've been quite enjoying posting live updates whilst I travel this week, it seems more fun and interactive than Facebook. So if you would like to follow me then my account name is "aussie.flyer" (without the quotes). Or you can follow this LINK . Would love to see you there!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 4 : Tokyo Haneda to Osaka Itami on Japan Airlines 'Class J'

Japan Airlines
Tokyo Haneda to Osaka Itami
10.30 (Scheduled) / 10.29 (Actual)
11.40 (Scheduled) / 11.35 (Actual)
44 mins airborne
Boeing 767-300 JA8975

After a short and enjoyable stay in Tokyo I headed to Shinjuku station to take the airport limousine bus. Around 40 minutes later I was dropped off at Haneda terminal 1. The terminal can be a little confusing, it is separated into different wings depending on where you are going within Japan. I was perhaps looking a little bewildered when a very polite JAL staff member approached me and asked if I needed any assistance. After I told her I was flying to Osaka she pointed me in the direction of the other wing.

I found the premium counters for check-in and met another polite and friendly JAL employee. I inquired as to the availability of a 'Class J' upgrade as I was only booked in economy. She told me she was able to offer me a seat for 1000 Yen. It's a bargain in my opinion and I snapped it up immediately. I paid by credit card and my bags were checked with priority tags and a boarding pass for seat 2K offered. The whole process was so simple and handled just perfectly, it never ceases to amaze me how efficient and polite Japanese customer service staff are.

Terminal 1 Dropoff Area

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Quick Trip Around Asia Part 3 : Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Tokyo Haneda Boeing 747-400

Having recently arrived from Sydney I found myself in the wonderful surrounds of the Thai Airways First Class lounge at Bangkok's Survanabhumi airport. One of the ground services available to First Class passengers is the spa facility. On this occasion I decided not to have the full body massage and instead I had a 30 minute foot massage which was very enjoyable. Once that was over I headed back to the lounge for some food and beverage:

Cocktail in the lounge