Flight Review: Emirates Airline Airbus A380-800, Hong Kong – Bangkok Business Class

Emirates Airline is one of several airlines plying the Hong Kong – Bangkok route. Its Business Class offers more than a more comfortable experience in the air. There is also a pre-departure business class lounge and a pass that will speed you through customs on arrival.

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I live in Hong Kong, where it is hot and humid most of the year. But near universal air-conditioning makes the climate bearable as long as you are indoors.

The weather can, however, get very chilly for a few weeks in winter. Since flats in Hong Kong don’t usually have central heating, there is no respite from the cold.

It can seem much colder than it would in places where central heating is provided.

For this reason, I usually try to schedule a trip to a nearby travel destination in Southeast Asia such as Bali, Thailand, Singapore, or Vietnam to escape winter in Hong Kong.

The main issue is, simply, which one should I go to? I like them all, but for different reasons.

My decision was made easier this year because Emirates Airline was offering steeply discounted tickets on Business Class, and Bangkok was the only nearby destination I could fly to from Hong Kong.

The Plane …

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The Airbus A380-800 is a double-decker four-engine jetliner manufactured by European planemaker Airbus. Emirates was the second airline in the world to operate the Airbus A380-800 aircraft.

The aircraft has 40% more usable floor space than a Boeing 747, the original Jumbo Jet, which is quickly going the way of the dodo bird.

Airlines have been abandoning the once state-of-the-art jetliner because of its fuel inefficiency in relation to newer types of aircraft.

The Airbus A380-800 can accommodate up to 525 passengers in a three-class configuration and as many as 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.

Emirates operates three versions of the A380 with slightly different configurations. The version I flew on has more Business Class and fewer Economy Class seats than than the other two versions.

First Class has individual suites with sliding doors. There is also a shower for First Class passengers.

Business Class is in a staggered pattern with most seats having direct access to the aisle and a pair of seats down the centre. Economy Class is located entirely on the main deck of the aircraft.

Every seat is equipped with in-flight power and individual entertainment.

  • First Class -14 closed suites with 86 inch pitch, 78-inch bed length, and 23-inch width in a 1-2-1 seat configuration.
  • Business Class -76 flat-bed seats with 48-inch pitch, 70- to 79-inch bed length, and 18.5-inch width in a 1-2-1 seat configuration.
  • Economy Class – 399 standard seats with 32- to 34-inch pitch and 18-inch width in a 3-4-3 seat configuration.

The Stats …

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  • Flight Number: EK 385
  • Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
  • Scheduled Departure: 21.15 (9.15 pm)
  • Actual Departure: 21.44 (9.44  pm)
  • Actual Takeoff: 21.52 (9.52)
  • Scheduled Arrival: 23.15 (11.15 pm)
  • Actual Arrival: 23.20 (11.20 pm)
  • Scheduled Flight Time: 3 hours
  • Actual Flight Time: 3 hours and 5 minutes
  • Cruising Altitude: 40,000 feet
  • Distance: 1,649 kilometres (1,049 miles)

The Pre-flight Experience …

I’ve written an in-depth account of checking in and hanging out in the Business Class Lounge before departure – with LOTS of pix! You can check it out HERE.

The Seat …

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My seat had a 48-inch pitch, a 79-inch bed length, and an 18.5-inch width. There was a console next to my seat with a small counter topped with a tablet and an open-face cabinet stocked with cans of Pepsi and 7-Up and bottles of Perrier, mango juice, and Evian water.

In an upright or a reclined position, I could extend my feet straight out without reaching the end the space.

I did find, however, that there was not enough elbow room on the left side when I was eating.

The entertainment screen was quite large. What I particularly liked was that Emirates is one of only a handful of airlines that has cameras so you can watch takeoffs and landings on your screen.

The Food …

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We were offered seasonal fruit as an appetiser, a choice entrees, and raspberry gateau for dessert.

With the exception of the orange slices, I thought the fruit was underripe. But this seems the way fruit is served across Asia with the notable exception of Japan. Perhaps that’s how people in this part of the world like fruit.

The fruit bowl included orange, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and kiwi slices and a strawberry.

For our main course, there were three choices:

  • Stir-fried Prawns – with ginger, lemongrass, and vegetables.
  • Braised Beef Tenderloin – with black bean sauce, egg fried rice, and steamed vegetables.
  • Chicken with Wild Mushroom Jus – served with steamed broccoli, pumpkin, and mashed potatoes with garlic.

I opted for the beef. It was good, but it wasn’t great. It was definitely better than what I would expect in economy, and the serving was generous.

BTW, if you look carefully, you will see my feet fully stretched all the way out. Talk about leg room!

The Beverage …

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We were served Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage 2009 before takeoff. I had to wait until dinner was served before being offered another beverage.

Dinner was accompanied by four wines, two reds and two whites:

  • Down to Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – Wratonbully, South Australia
  • Chateau de Chamirey Mercury Blanc 2015  Burgundy, France
  • Chateau de Fonbel 2010 – Bordeaux, France
  • Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2014 – Barossa Valley, Australia.

For dessert, we were offered …

  • Dow’s Coheita Port 1992 – Douro Valley, Portugal

What I Loved …

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If I had to name one thing that I absolutely LOVED about this flight, it would have to be the very personable flight attendants.

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that flight attendants tend to be friendly and helpful. That’s why they make this career choice.

I’ve often wandered to the back of the plane after food and beverage have been served things have been cleaned up. And I’ve sometimes had very pleasant interactions with them.

The thing is that the passenger to staff ratio in economy is such that the flight attendants can’t really interact with passengers they way they might wish. They simply could not get everything done that needs to be done if they did.

The nice thing about flying Business Class is that the passenger to staff radio is much more favourable. So there is more of an opportunity for them to chat with you.

The second thing I LOVED was the bar at the rear of the cabin. When I wandered back to take some photos with the flight attendants (they seemed genuinely excited when I asked permission to do so), I not only got to chat with a few of the flight attendants on a more personal level, I also got to practise my very rusty Portuguese: one of them was from Brazil!

I also got to meet two lovely fellow passengers, one from the UK and the other from New Zealand.

I continued my conversation with the fellow from New Zealand on our way off the plane, through customs, and then to baggage claim.

He was in no rush because he had several hours to waste before catching a connecting flight to his home in another part of the country.

He took me under his wing and showed me how to avoid the lengthy queue for a taxi at arrivals, probably saving me a 60-minute wait to catch a taxi to my hotel.

And he interacted with the taxi driver for me to make sure I was taken to my destination and didn’t get ripped off.

What I Hated …

There wasn’t really anything to hate about this flight except, maybe, the temperature in the cabin. It really was uncomfortably hot in the cabin before takeoff, and it only improved slightly after takeoff.

I was, however, a bit disappointed that I had to wait so long following takeoff to be served something to drink.

And I was expecting dinner to be served course by course rather than all at once on a tray.

The Verdict …

I used to say I’d never fly economy class on a long distance once I reached a certain age, which I reached quite a few years ago.

Now I might extend that to shorter flights, as well. I really feel like my “vacation” began at the airport and continued through to my arrival in Bangkok because I was issued a pass that allowed me to bypass those horrible lines at customs!

It was like adding two days to the beginning of my trip. First, the Business Class Lounge and the flight itself were fun – rather than being an ordeal.

Second, I was totally relaxed upon arrival so I didn’t after to spend a day recovering from my ideal.

Will I have the same experience on my return flight to Hong Kong in four weeks?

Disclaimer: while this flight was entirely self-funded, it DOES contain affiliate links.

 

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