FLIGHT CHECK: THAI AIRWAYS

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Bangkok to Jakarta, Business Class

Check-in: ***** 5/5

Boarding: * 1/5

Inflight Service : *** 3/5

Food and Beverage ***3/5  

Cabin Crew: **** 4/5

Comfort: *** 4/5 

Thai Airways is currently operating 41 aircraft (pre-pandemic approx. 85) after facing severe operating restrictions for almost 2 years. Many of their aircraft are still grounded at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport and it’s kind of a sad sight when taxiing to the runway. Thai Airways is still operating under the bankruptcy law and were recently rated number 46 in the world on Skytrax airline awards.

Check-in was smooth and efficient and the new Fast Track lane near door 1 at Suvarnabhumi Airport works fast and is hassle free. 

Boarding was a bit chaotic as always when travelling on Thai Airways at this airport. Thai Airways does not strictly separate business and economy class passengers at the departure gate area. This confuses passengers and no clear announcements are made. A gate agent tried to pick out the priority passengers holding a paper sign in her hand which is not particularly professional or effective. (Most airlines at Suvarnabhumi airport organise this very well, and I don’t know why Thai Airways has never streamlined passenger boarding since this airport was opened)

The aircraft was a newer Airbus 350-900 but it looked a bit worn and tired. I think dirty carpets and seats are the main problem areas.

Thai Airways does not offer menu cards anymore and the friendly crew tried to improvise and showed the meal choice on private mobile devices to passengers. It was a nice gesture, but I think the airline should handle  this more professionally and put this information for passengers in the airline app, or on their website. This time I have pre-ordered my breakfast choice which worked out well.

The breakfast served onboard was nice and delicious; and disembarkation at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport was smooth. 

I am looking forward to seeing some improvement in Thai Airways’ ground handling and inflight cabin services. I hope they will improve their service offering generally, and climb back up the ladder to where they can be, and should be, as a top-tier, globally competitive, airline carrier.

https://www.thaiairways.com/en_TH/index.page

FLIGHT CHECK: AUSTRIAN AIRLINES

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FLIGHT CHECK: Austrian Airlines

Vienna – Bangkok, Business Class

OS 25 VIE-BKK B772

(Configuration: 38 / 24 / 244)  Aircraft: OE-LPD

Check-in: not applicable (transit from Zurich)

Boarding: *** 3/5*

Inflight Service: Food and Beverage: **** 5/5* 

Cabin Crew: **** 5/5*

Comfort: ****4/5*

Flight Time: 10.02 hrs

On-time performance: STA: 1420 // ATA: 1512  +0.52 minutes

Impressions:

Inflight service was very pleasant with a nice responsive cabin crew and delicious food service (I experience this high standard on all of my Austrian Airlines flights). The amenity kit makes a nice impression first as it is re-usable as a shoe bag but the contains make a cheap impression and are disappointing. The flight was delayed and neither the gate staff nor the flight crew gave an explanation as to why. As everybody knows that flight delays are very common these days I still find it necessary for every flight to at least give a reason why.

Disembarkation and baggage delivery at Bangkok airport was very quick. I was able to leave the airport one hour after landing including all immigration and Thailand Pass checks. Good experience! 

https://www.austrian.com/xx/en/business-class

FLIGHT CHECK: SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES

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Zurich-Vienna, Business Class

LX 1582 ZRH-VIE Airbus A220-300

(Configuration 12-128) Aircraft: HB-JCG

Check-in: ***** 5/5*

Boarding: **** 4/5*

Inflight Service : Food and Beverage ***3/5*  / Cabin Crew: ***** 5/5*

Comfort: *** 3/5*

(European standard business Class layout with middle seat left free)

Flight Time: 01.20 hrs

On-time performance: STA 1910 // ATA 1940 -0.30 min

Verdict: 

My original Austrian Airlines flight got cancelled and I was able to quickly re-book via Chat-bot on the Austrian App. Check-in bags were re-labelled and smoothly transferred to the new flight. No waiting times either at the Check-in counter or at the Security at Zurich Airport. Friendly charming Flight Attendants. Small cold meal with drink service plus refills and warm beverage service available. 

https://www.swiss.com/ch/en/homepage

FLIGHT CHECK: ETIHAD AIRWAYS

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Bangkok-Abu Dhabi-Zurich,  Business Class

EY 407  BKK – AUH  B789 (Configuration: 28-271)  

Aircraft: A6-BLO

Check-in: **** 4/5

Boarding: **** 4/5

Inflight Service:

Food and Beverage **** 4/5,

Cabin Crew *** 3/5

Comfort: **** 4/5

Flight Time: 05:37 hrs

Impressions: 

Smooth check-in with efficient document check, Fast Track Security, Miracle Lounge, pre-boarding for Business Class.

Inflight service a bit slow, seems that Etihad cut back on Flight Attendants as I remember a more efficient service from earlier experiences.

Abu Dhabi airport was busy but the Etihad Business Class Lounge is large enough to provide seating for everyone

previous Review: 

https://swisstravelmanager.com/2018/10/30/etihad-airways-business-class-lounge-abu-dhabi-uae/ 

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EY 73 AUH – ZRH B789 (Configuration: 28-271)

Aircraft: A6-BLW

Check-in: not applicable

Boarding: **** 4/5

Inflight Service:

Food and Beverage **** 4/5,

Cabin Crew **** 4/5

Comfort: **** 4/5

Flight Time: 06.01 hrs

Impressions: 

A long walk in Abu Dhabi to the old Terminal 1 departure gate but it was a nice vintage experience to see the old Terminal again. Boarding went smoothly. Friendly welcoming Cabin Crew, most people slept right away and focused on breakfast service before landing as this was a 0315 departure. The pillows on EY are very comfortable but unfortunately there is only 1 pillow per seat/pax loaded. Could not get a second one. Good flight.

https://www.etihad.com

LUFTHANSA

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Lufthansa Business Class, Frankfurt-Ibiza, Airbus A321

Lufthansa has unveiled its new short and medium-haul business class menus which it says have been “inspired by German metropolises”.

The tasting “heimat menus” (heimat translating as “home” or “homeland”) was launched on September 1, and promised not only to change weekly, but also on the outward and return flights”.

According to Lufthansa, the menus have been inspired by the cities of Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf and Leipzig; and feature “German classics with unusual components”.

The carrier said that the dishes were created by “young star chefs” Julia Komp and Dennis Puchert, alongside the Gategroup culinary team.

Highlighting the menu’s sustainable attributes, Lufthansa said that the ingredients come predominantly from the regions around Frankfurt and Munich, adding that the dishes would be offered without the use of disposable plastics.

Earlier this year the carrier unveiled its new buy-on-board menu for short and medium-haul economy passengers.

The Aircraft was an A321-100 with a configuration of 36-150. European-style Business– Class means a standard economy seat with the adjacent seat (middle) blocked to offer additional personal space and located in the front section of the aircraft (most European Carriers use these curtain-type variable versions). I booked seat 11A which is probably the best seat in the “house” as there is plenty of space to stretch the legs and it’s convenient to get in and out of the seat without disturbing anyone. 

Boarding started a little late but the crew managed to catch up some time and we landed at Ibiza on-time. The meal comprised a cold fillet of salmon with egg salad and bread roll (one-round of bread and one-round of drinks plus coffee/tea). Flight time was about 1 hr 55 mins. An apple was served before landing as a special treat of the new “Heimat” meal concept. I found the meal and the crew ok, but nothing to write home about.

Lufthansa offers a solid, consistent and reliable product with a comfortable in-flight experience.

https://www.lufthansa.com/ch/en/homepage

THAI AIRWAYS ROYAL ORCHID LOUNGE + SPA, BANGKOK, THAILAND

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Royal Orchid Lounge, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, open since November 2019:

ROYAL ORCHID LOUNGE:

Thai Airways offers their First and Business Class passengers a separate check-in located at gate Door 1 on Departure Level 4 at Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport. Porters are available and separate areas for First and Business Class passengers are provided for check-in, security screening and Fast Track immigration.

After passing through immigration, an escalator takes passengers down to the lounge level near gate D1. The First Class lounge, and the former Business Class lounge (now used for Star-Alliance partner airline’s passengers), are located in the west zone on the left and the new Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge is located in the east zone on the right and is used exclusively for Thai Airways Royal Silk Class passengers. 

The lounge was opened in October 2019 and is approx. 2000 sqm. The lounge offers various seating options (restaurant-style seating near the buffets) and lounge areas as well as rooms for child-care and showers.

There are two bars and a main buffet area plus 2 small corners with a more limited food selection. Comparing this new lounge to the “old” one, the food and drinks options are much more generous and more delicious items are available. Frequent visitors of the old lounge remember the triangle sandwiches and the hot dog sausages that were served for decades. 

A fresher look and a wider choice of food offering is now available. This was urgently needed as there are plenty of excellent alternative lounges available at this airport.

I found the new lounge to be pleasant, even though it was a very busy night. This is not the most luxurious lounge that I have experienced but it serves the purpose well. 

ROYAL ORCHID SPA:

Thai Airways offers a unique facility to its premium passengers which is the Royal Orchid Spa. This spa offers separate treatments for First Class passengers (full body massages in separate luxury rooms) Herbal Spa or Steam rooms and short neck/shoulder or foot massages are available for Business Class guests. There is a resting area where relaxing Thai music is played and healthy beverages are served. The relaxation and rejuvenation treatments offered a wonderful way to get in the mood before a long flight. I find this a fantastic place to visit, especially in the evening before long night flights.

The Thai Airways Royal Orchid Spa is consistently voted number one airline spa by Skytrax and I find it a true heaven in the busy airport world. I always enjoy this special THAI experience.

AIR BALTIC

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Air Baltic is the flag carrier of Latvia with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport. Its hub is Riga, with further bases in Tallin Airport and Vilnius Airport. The airline was established as a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)  and the Government of Latvia. In January 2009, SAS sold its entire stake in the company.

Air Baltic operates 12 Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft with 76 seats, 4 Boeing 737-300 aircraft with 142 seats and 22 newer Airbus A220 aircraft with 145 seats. 

I took a morning flight from Zurich to Riga and checked-in online. As gate seat changes cost extra (12 Euro) I waited to board last and then took an emergency exit seat which offered a fantastic legroom. The aircraft was a 20 year  old Boeing 737-300 and Air Baltic offers BOB (buy on board) menu offering food and drinks for purchase.

The crew conducted a manual safety demo and a special “overwing” exit briefing which I found to be very professional.

Most passengers did not buy anything from the options so the flight was very relaxed. 

Air Baltic offers low fares and I found the service in a good price/performance ratio representing good value for money.

They will start nonstop flights between Zurich and Vilnius and Tallin this Spring (2020) and I hope I can soon try the newer A220.

https://www.airbaltic.com

AIR DOLOMITI, ITALY

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Air Dolomiti is a 100% owned subsidiary of Lufthansa with its base in Munich, Germany. The airline’s name derives from a section of the Alps known as the Dolomites. It started operations in January 1991 and mostly operates flights between Munich and Italy as well as some other destinations which allow operations with Embraer aircrafts.

I flew from Zurich to Munich and I found the aircraft appearance to be clean and comfortable. However the seating was on the narrower side. The configuration is 2-2 where in Business Class always 1 seat per seat-pair will be kept unoccupied for privacy reasons. This procedure is well known by carriers such as Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian.

Service consisted of a pre-departure bottle of water, a refreshing towel and a pack of sweets. During the flight a cold tray was served with a full range of beverages including coffee and tea. The flight was half empty and I expected a friendly service, but the crew seemed to be annoyed working and made a rather depressed impression. What I really liked is that there was free wifi available on board. This is a nice feature, even though most of their flights are an hour or less flight time.

The Flight operated on time and arrived in Munich at an outside tarmac position. There was no separate bus for Business Class passengers available. I took Air Dolomiti on the same route back to Zurich, it was a similar experience.

https://www.airdolomiti.eu/

ALASKA AIRLINES

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ALASKA AIRLINES, FIRST CLASS, LAX-LAS, LAS-SFO

LOUNGE AT LOS ANGELES AIRPORT:

 

755978E0-B414-42B3-9CF6-C2B0C3E26304

AIRCRAFT A320 CONFIGURATION 8 – 138

 

I flew Alaska Airlines First Class from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to San Francisco. Both flights were on aircraft of the former Virgin America Airlines which was taken over by Alaska last year (2018).

Check-in at Terminal 6 was a breeze and Alaska sports a nice small premium-lounge which offers a bar, a few breakfast items (including their own branded pancake making machine). The lounge was very busy this early morning but offered plenty of seating, a nice tarmac view and super-clean rest rooms.

Both flights were very short so the food and beverage offering was limited. The was a pre-departure drink, a drink inflight and a snack basket. Flight Attendants were professional and charming and made it a pleasant experience. Early booking rates for First Class are very competitive, and were only US$ 40 more than tickets in the main cabin. (Bear in mind that you have to pay extra for each check-in bag on US-domestic flights). The flights departed on time and Alaska Airlines has a 20min baggage delivery promise.

I really liked the fact that First Class had only 2 rows and really comfortable recliner seats which makes even a short flight very comfy.

Alaska Airlines Logo

https://www.alaskaair.com