There have been some serious changes at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport during the last few months. Bangkok Airways have recently opened their new international departure lounge and now two new, large Miracle Lounges have just opened their doors. The dated Thai Royal Silk lounges remain open near gate D2 and in each C and E piers and will be hopefully refurbished and refreshed in the near future. The new Miracle Lounges are located near gates D6-D4.
Several airlines which do not have their own lounges at Suvarnabhumi Airport use the new Miracle Lounges. They are open 24 hours and the Business Class Lounge is also available for public use for a fee which offers 2 hours of usage.
I visited the First Class Lounge and it is divided into a food and beverage section and a relaxation area. The food section offers bar-style tables as well as dining tables which are more suitable for eating. They have a fully stocked bar available for self-service and soft drinks and coffee/tea are available as well. The food offering is changed during the day. I visited late morning and a selection of breakfast items, salads, snacks, cakes and ice cream was available. There is also a station with different food savouries and an open kitchen where a chef prepares fresh noodles according to the guest’s wishes.
Shower facilities and restrooms are conveniently located in the lounge. The relaxation section of the lounge was deserted and was a great place to unwind after the airport procedures which can be rather stressful and time consuming at Suvarnabhumi airport. I really enjoyed having a quiet moment for myself before boarding my flight.
The lounge has a beautiful modern decor and is a perfect spot to have a rest and chill out. I really enjoyed my stay and I did not miss the lack of sleep/resting rooms, although the lighting in the lounge was a bit too bright for my preference.
Air KBZ is a privately owned airline based in Yangon. Air Kanbawza, known as Air KBZ, was established in June 2010. The airline is owned by Myanmar’s Kanbawza Bank and operates 4 ATR 72-500 and 5 ATR 72-600 aircraft, seating is 74-78 seats.
I checked in at Yangon’s new domestic airport terminal for an early morning departure to Heho. Baggage check-in and security check were fast and efficient and there was still plenty of time for a coffee at the terminal before boarding 15 min before departure. The flight departed on time and a small snack was served. The cabin was clean and tidy and I enjoyed having a good view from a window seat. Baggage was delivered quickly once all passengers walked to the small terminal building. The return flight went smoothly and departed on time. I enjoyed both flights and I think Air KBZ is a good choice for domestic travel in Myanmar. I have used Myanma Airlines (not existing anymore) and Yangon Airways previously. My preference would clearly be for Air KBZ.
Configuation : 168 seats > 3 fare categories: Best, Smart and Basic
Eurowings is the low cost subsidairy airline of the Lufthansa group. Eurowings operates flights within Germany, intra-Europe and a few long haul flights out of Cologne (long haul flights will be transferred to Düsseldorf airport from Summer 2018).
The Cologne flights are mostly operated by “Germanwings”. Germanwings is now fully integrated into Eurowings and will soon fly in Eurowings colours only.
Eurowings sells 3 ticket categories. “Best” which are seats in the first 3 rows of each aircraft and gives you free drinks and a little snack which you can choose for the buy-on-board menu. “Smart” gives you more flexibility in your ticket and offers you a free drink and a pre-packed snack. “Basic” offers you very low fares, no flexibility and no inflight meal or refreshment service. (not even a glass of water)
My outbound flight was delayed by 2 hours due to weather so the crew offered free drinks and snacks to all passengers. They worked efficiently on this 50 minute flight and it was an ok experience.
On the inbound flight there was a another delay, this time no proper announcement was made and a rather grumpy crew with an unmotivated attitude were on duty. Since Eurowings flights are operated as Star Alliance codeshare flights, with Lufthansa and SWISS, it is difficult for some passengers to understand why different levels of service are offered to various passengers onboard. For example, some passengers were getting served with snacks and drinks whilst others were left out or had to pay for a simple glass of water. (You don’t even get a small bottle or a can for yourself if you buy a drink).
I am not a fan of no-frills airlines and I did not particularly enjoy my experience on Eurowings. (Especially when the flight is sold under full service airlines code-shares). Little information was given about flight delays (except SMS) and passengers were treated more like cattle than human beings. Despite the fact that Cologne Airport has many jet-bridge gates, most Eurowings flights are operated via bus-gates which makes a time consuming and uncomfortable travel experience.
Zurich-Amsterdam, B-737-800 Configuration 20-144 Economy Class
I checked-in online for this flight but due to a electronic glitch mobile boarding passes were not available. However, I passed through airport security with the printed version and was issued another boarding pass at the gate. The flight was booked very light and there was plenty of room for everyone to feel at ease. The airplane was a Boeing 737-800 and looked a bit tired inside. Some seats were a bit dirty and there were many seat pockets which were missing the safety card and/or the Inflight Magazine/Duty Free Shopping List. The flight departed on time and a snack was served, including a choice of coffee and tea. The flight attendants were friendly and pleasant. Verdict: a solid product within the European Market.
Edelweiss Air, Palma De Mallorca – Zurich, A320
Edelweiss Air is a subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines whose route network is mainly focussed on holiday destinations in Europe. The airline also operates some long-haul flights to “smaller” ports around the world. I took this flight from Palma de Mallorca to Zurich on a Tuesday night in December. The flight was fully booked with a mix of business and leisure travellers. The flight was operated by an A320 aircraft with 20 C and 142 Y seating configuration.
Pre-departure water bottles and refreshment towels were ready on the seats upon boarding. A handful of magazines were also available. Inflight service consisted of a cold meal platter with drinks, followed by a coffee service with the famous Appenzeller Biberli which is a small Swiss cookie-type sweet dish containing marzipan. The crew was friendly and cheerful and took care of the passengers well who were concerned about missing their evening connections in Zurich (the delay was only 25 min, so that should not pose a problem to anyone)
A pleasant flight despite the short delay and a friendly young crew who made a good impression.
Oman Air, B788, Configuration: 18/249 ZRH-MCT-DXB, Business Class
Business Class Lounge, Muscat Airport:
There was only 1 counter available for Business Class check-in and the waiting time was rather long as the check-in staff were serving economy class passengers who were carrying excess check-in bags and did not want to pay for excess baggage. So the discussions seemed endless until they finally found a solution and I could check-in.
Boarding started almost 1 hour before take-off (Ground staff explained that the captain wanted to depart 15 min ahead of schedule) but at the end the airport slot was not available and we departed on time. The Business Class section is very small with only 18 seats and each seat offers plenty of space and privacy. The booking on this flight was very light with only about 6 passengers in the front section. The crew was efficient but not charming or friendly. Service was done quickly as this was a 10pm departure and passengers wanted to sleep. I did the same and opted for a breakfast rather than a dinner which was served 2 hours before landing. (A bit too early for my preference as the flight time was only 5.30 h)
Arrival at Muscat was a tedious experience. We landed on time but the stairs were not available for 15 min for disembarkation. After the stairs finally docked on the plane there was a further 5 min delay for the special business class bus. Meanwhile, all economy passengers had already disembarked via the rear stairs and all 3 passenger buses arrived at the terminal building at the same time. Most passengers had connecting flights and went upstairs where a small security checkpoint was located and worked very efficiently.
On departure from Muscat airport, I visited the lounge in the rather old airport terminal and was pleasantly surprised. It was a large stylish lounge. There was a bar area as well as a self-service area are where drinks and food was presented. Friendly staff were available everywhere. Food choice was good, warm and cold breakfast items were available as well as fruit and other snacks. I did not see any alcoholic beverages, but I expect they were available in the bar section.
Boarding took place again via buses and the small cramped waiting area was packed with people and many were standing in line for the wrong flights. It was a bit chaotic and there were no dedicated gates or doors for business class passengers. After all buses finally arrived at the aircraft at the same time there was another short delay as the cabin cleaning seemed not to be finished.
The crew at the boarding door was very friendly and efficient and boarding was quick. There was a small breakfast service on this flight which was only about 50 minutes long. Aircraft was an Airbus 330-200. Configuration: 20/196
Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur,
Business Class, B737-800, Confirguration : 16/144
Check-in at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was disgraceful. There was a separate check-in area for premium customers but there were only 2 counters open and they were dealing with passengers having oversized baggage and other complicated matters. There was no line for quick bag drop so the only choice was to wait. After check-in, I quickly proceeded through security.
I was informed that the Golden Lounge was under renovation and that a temporary lounge had been set up. This was located at a regular boarding gate waiting area and some plants had been put to give it a little privacy. There was a minimal choice of drinks and a few food snacks such as cakes and cup noodle soups were available. Boarding passes were checked at the entrance of the “Lounge” but staff members could not provide accurate information about flight departures. We were sent to the gate about 20 min before scheduled flight departure time, only to discover that the aircraft had not even landed. Boarding took place about 45 min later. The airline provided no proper information about the delay. No reason or explanation was given.
The flight was a pleasant experience. Business Class consisted of a 2-2 configuration with 16 seats whilst Economy Class had 144 seats in 3-3 configuration. The flight attendants were friendly and offered a choice of chicken sandwich or a local hot dish on this flight. This seemed reasonable, given the relatively short flight time of 50 minutes.
Baggage delivery at Langkawi airport was extremely fast as we were the only aircraft on the ground. The passenger terminal was accessed via a short walk from the aircraft as there are no aerobridges available at this small regional airport.
Verdict: Like many other airlines, Malaysian Airlines seems to struggle with their ground services while their inflight product and crews are pleasant.