Tag Archives: a330

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A330-300 KIX to HEL

I’ve flown Finnair before, but this was my first time flying Finnair in business class. Finnair doesn’t fly as much to North America (they used to fly to a number of destinations, but I believe only New York, Miami, and Chicago still have service, with San Francisco coming next year), but they seem to connect many people between Asia and Europe.

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

This A330-300 featured flat-bed seats business class in an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 seating pattern. This seat is very similar to the product I’ve flown on Swiss and Austrian.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I was seated in seat 9L, which is a single window seat closer to the window in the second mini-cabin of business class. In the future, I’d probably try to go for a bulkhead seat, as the foot cutouts are larger for those seats.

My seat

My seat

The IFE screen was also on the smaller side and a bit hard to navigate, but I appreciate that the IFE was started on the ground. I also appreciated that announcements weren’t deafening if you have headphones in. As a trivial aside, there were ads before movies, and even though the movies had swear words dubbed, the ads had audible swear words that were not…

IFE screen and leg room

IFE screen and leg room

At each seat were slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones. I always appreciate slippers, but the slippers were actually pretty small, and I’m not sure if that’s because we were flying out of Japan. The amenity kit was designed by Marimekko, so it was colorful and playful. The contents were basic–ear plugs, eye mask, Clarins lip balm and lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste–and there was a note saying that you could ask for a shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush, and makeup remover wipe.

Marimekko amenity kit

Marimekko amenity kit

The menu offered both Western and Japanese options, but I had pre-ordered a special Asian vegetarian meal (AVML).

Menu

Menu

The AVML started off with raw vegetables. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not know many people who like eating cold raw vegetables, so I do not understand why they serve them. They could at least serve them with hummus or something.

AVML amuse bouche

AVML amuse bouche

For an appetizer, there was a cold spring/egg roll of sorts with some super hard bread, but I managed to snag some much better bread from the bread basket. The roll would have been tastier if it had been served warm, but it was edible.

AVML appetizer

AVML appetizer

The main course had some cauliflower, chickpeas, mushrooms, and rice. It was passable for an AVML, but nothing special.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For dessert, I had some jello-like substance that came with my meal, as well as some tarts from the dessert menu.

Dessert

Dessert

One thing that I appreciated about the flight was that the cabin was kept quite cool. Too often, I find myself overheating on non-US carriers. The pillow and blanket were also pretty good for business class. I found the seat to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. I don’t think the seat is truly lie flat to the plane floor, but I don’t mind that since being flat to the plane floor would mean that you’re actually leaning back slightly.

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Partway through the flight, I had a pretty delicious cinnamon roll of sorts. There was a small self-serve snack bar with packaged snacks and other things available.

Delicious pastry

Delicious pastry

Prior to arrival, I again had my AVML. This time, it was some green beans, lentils, and rice pilaf. Again, nothing great, but perfectly passable.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

Overall, I thought this was a solid business class flight. The service was great (all of the flight attendants working the cabin appeared to be Japanese–not sure if that had any bearing on anything), the seat was comfortable, and the food was passable. I would happily fly Finnair again, and I’m big fan of transiting the Helsinki airport.

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A330-200 Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Doha (DOH)

To get from Central Europe to Thailand, I ended up flying on Qatar Airways. This was also partially to visit the relatively new (at the time) Al Mourjan lounge in Doha (the Al Safwa lounge had not yet opened at the time of this trip).

At Berlin Tegel airport, there was passport control and security at each gate. And then we took a bus to the plane (an A330-200).

Walking up to the plane

Walking up to the plane

Business class on these planes is not great. It’s a 2x2x2 configuration, and the seats aren’t lie flat. They’re angled-flat with 165 degrees of recline. On the upside for this flight, the business class cabin was only about half full, so I had two seats to myself on this segment.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

The in-flight entertainment system (Oryx) had a pretty good selection of movies, but as might be apparent from the picture, it’s a somewhat older hard product, and it had an inelegant user interface. This is mostly just a function of the age of the plane, though, as I’ve flown Qatar’s A350, which has a much nicer interface.

IFE screen

IFE screen

Side storage

Side storage

Seat + IFE controls

Seat + IFE controls

Waiting at each seat was an amenity kit by Armani. Each kit had a giant bottle of aftershave, a small bit of eau de cologne, some lip balm, ear plugs, an eye shade, and socks. I was a bit surprised to not find a toothbrush and toothpaste in the bag, or at least some mouthwash. In the bathrooms, there were Ritual products, which are also featured in the lounge at Doha.

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

One perk of Qatar Airways business class that you don’t often find in business class is pajamas. They were unwrapped as they were handed to me. I liked these pajamas better than some of the pajamas I’ve received in first class. The bottoms have pockets (very useful), and the material is relatively soft and lightweight. It’s not my beloved PYE pajamas from Cathay Pacific, but I thought these were solid.

Pajamas

Pajamas

Next are pictures of the menu. I had pre-ordered a VGML, so I ate that for my main meal, and then I had some breakfast off of the normal menu prior to arrival.

A la carte menu

A la carte menu

Pre-arrival menu

Pre-arrival menu

Beverage menu

Beverage menu

Champagne menu

Champagne menu

Up first was an amuse bouche of what seemed like make-your-own bruschetta. The topping in the cup was pretty tasty, but the bread could have been a bit better. I am non-ashamedly drinking non-alcoholic champagne in this picture.

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

For an appetizer, I had the arabic mezze off of the normal menu. I enjoyed the hummus, and the tabouleh was decent. This was served with two kinds of pita.

Arabic mezze platter

Arabic mezze platter

My pre-ordered VGML was something resembling falafel served on top of rice with a vegetable tomato sauce. On the side (upper right), there was a cup of curried cauliflower and chickpeas which were the best part of the meal.

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

After the meal service, I got some sleep. My strategy for sleeping in angled-flat seats is to not actually recline the seat the entire way. I find that if I recline all the way, I slide down the seat, so I recline partway between “flat” and recline, and then I can sleep on my side and not slide down the seat. I will say that if you’re on this configuration, you should aim for a bulkhead seat, as that way your feet don’t have to go underneath a seat in front of you, so it feels a lot more spacious. This isn’t true for Qatar’s Boeing 77Ws, as all of the seats in business class are “lie flat”.

Prior to arrival, I wasn’t super hungry, but I had some bircher muesli with a smoothie. The bircher muesli was very creamy and pretty tasty. And immediately prior to landing, they handed out Valrhona chocolate bars.

Bircher museli

Bircher museli

Flight Review: Cathay Pacific Economy Class A330 BKK to HKG

I’ve flown Cathay Pacific’s A330 within Asia in business class multiple times (including on the reverse direction of this route), but this time I was in Cathay Pacific’s economy class on the A330.

Boarding was a bit of a zoo. They put on the boarding passes that you should get to the gate 40 minutes prior to departure, but boarding didn’t actually start until 20 minutes prior to departure. At BKK, you do scan your boarding pass upon entering the gate area, though, so you don’t need to scan your boarding pass again to board the plane.

I unfortunately don’t have many pictures of the cabin because boarding was the aforementioned zoo and the cabin was quite full. After getting comfortable, the service manager on the flight came up to me to welcome me and give me a bottle of water, which I thought was a nice touch. I believe she greeted all oneworld Emeralds on the flight.

Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment system (Studio CX) has a great selection, but they do play ads before movies. At least you can fast forward through them. There was also a power outlet at every seat.

Personal IFE

Personal IFE

I had pre-ordered a vegetarian special meal, and the VGML was fine. It was vegetables, some tomato-y sauce, and polenta. It was served with fruit, soy milk (yum!), bread, and juice.

VGML

VGML

Even though this was only economy class, I felt like I received great service. I was referred to by my last name by multiple different flight attendants (e.g. when I went to the bathroom and when my tray was cleared), and the flight attendants were gracious, attentive, and seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs. It probably helped that I had oneworld Emerald status on this flight, but flying on Cathay is such a stark departure from flying on American carriers. The service in economy class on this flight was better than the majority of my domestic business class flights in the US. A great product in the air and awesome lounges in Hong Kong (even for business class passengers or oneworld Sapphire members) make Cathay Pacific one of my favorite airlines to fly.

Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 HKG to NRT

I had the pleasure of flying Cathay Pacific’s A330-300 from Hong Kong to Tokyo. This was three-class configuration (business class, premium economy, economy) with lie-flat seats in business class.

The seats are reverse herringbone, and they’re almost identical to the seats in Dragonair’s first class cabin on the A330. This plane felt a little bit older, and there’s more leather in the finishings. For flying from Hong Kong to Tokyo on Cathay, there are a lot of choices in terms of planes and configs, but this is the nicest in business class–for first class, you have to fly to Haneda instead of Narita.

Cathay Pacific A330-300

Cathay Pacific A330-300

The business class cabin was pretty full. I was offered a pre-departure beverage and a blanket that was unwrapped in front of me. They also passed out hot towels, as opposed to the wet towelettes that you get on Dragonair.

As other examples of small things that can make service great, I asked for a pen from one of the flight attendants who happened to be filling out paperwork. She literally just gave me the pen that she was using. The in-flight service manager also came around to greet me and thank me for flying Cathay.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

Seat controls

Seat controls

IFE screen and foot space

IFE screen and foot space

Shoe storage

Shoe storage

Fair amount of privacy

Fair amount of privacy

When the beverage cart was going through the aisles, I noticed that the flight attendant had a cheat sheet attached to the cart with passenger last names, special meal orders, and indication if the passenger was a oneworld emerald. For my beverage, I asked for a chilled Hong Kong style milk tea, which is not on the menu, but they produced a good beverage for me. Not as good as the canned stuff on Dragonair, but I appreciated the effort.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Chilled Hong Kong style milk tea

Chilled Hong Kong style milk tea

For my meal, I pre-ordered an AVML or Asian vegetarian meal. First up was spiced chickpeas on something that was cold and green and mushy. It was perhaps made of smashed peas. The roll was served nice and warm, but the silverware was bone-chillingly cold.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For my main course, I was served some rice with lentils, okra, and green beans. It was tasty, spicy, and cooked well. I was very happy with this dish.

AVML main course

AVML main course

For dessert, they first offered fruit and cheese from a cart. Then it was Haagen Dazs ice cream with coffee and tea. And then pralines. The meal service was pretty lengthy, as it took them about two hours to finish up on a flight that’s less than 4 hours of flight time.

Cathay is definitely one of my favorite airlines. The service is great, the hard product is great, and the food can be great.

Review: Dragonair Business Class A330-300 PEN to HKG

This flight was served by a three-class plane (i.e. with first class, business class, and economy class cabins), but it was sold as a two-class flight. I was able to select seats in the “first class” cabin, presumably because of my oneworld emerald status. There was only one other passenger seated in the first class cabin with me, even though business class was quite full.

The first class cabin has reverse herringbone seats. These are super comfortable seats and are roughly the same product as US Airways Envoy class (aka American Airlines A330s now) and American Airlines business class on their 777-300ERs. It’s also essentially the same product that Cathay Pacific has in business class on many of their planes. On this flight, the business class cabin has a regional business class configuration that’s essentially the same as the business class product that I flew from HKG to DPS.

First class seat

First class seat

View of the first class cabin

View of the first class cabin

Seat controls

Seat controls

IFE screen and foot area

IFE screen and foot area

Storage space for shoes

Storage space for shoes

Side storage

Side storage

These seats are great. They’re large and spacious. The cabin is only 8 seats on these planes, so it  feels extra private. The foot areas are slightly larger on the window seats than the center seats. There’s plenty of storage with overhead bins, under the footrest storage, side compartments, and shoe storage. The armrest is also adjustable to give you extra width when you’re lying flat.

When I boarded the plane, I was escorted to my seat in 1K. The flight crew was on their game and made sure to take care of the little things like unwrapping my blanket for me rather than just giving it to me in plastic. I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water or juices, but I definitely heard a champagne bottle pop, so other passengers were partaking in more festive drinks. Again, no hot towels on this flight, but they instead used packaged moist towelettes.

I was offered a newspaper from a cart, and I asked for a copy of the International New York Times, even though I didn’t see it on the cart. Magically, though, they produced a copy.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

On this flight, I decided to pre-order a vegetarian Jain meal (VJML). This is similar to an AVML, but there’s no dairy, root or bulbous vegetables, or mushrooms. The first course of fruit was super tasty with nicely ripe fruit. The main course was similarly delicious with flavorful and spicy vegetables served with some bread. It was small portion, but it was a great and tasty meal.

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit

Jain meal (VJML)

Jain meal (VJML)

Given how much I enjoyed the chilled Hong Kong style milk tea on my previous Dragonair flight, I had to have another on this flight. Seriously, order it! It’s delicious.

Chilled Hong Kong milk tea–my new favorite airplane drink

Chilled Hong Kong milk tea–my new favorite airplane drink

And even though it was completely unnecessary on this relatively short flight, I did try using the seat in lie-flat mode. Not only can you lower the armrest, but there’s also an additional flap that comes up to give you even more surface area to lie on.

Seat in lie-flat position

Seat in lie-flat position

Foot area while lie-flat

Foot area while lie-flat

Overall, I was super impressed by Dragonair. Great service, great food, and great hard product. What more could you ask for?

Review: Dragonair A330 Business Class HKG to DPS

From Hong Kong, I made my way to Bali flying Dragonair, the regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific. This flight was operated by an A330 with a regional business class configuration.

A330 to Bali!

A330 to Bali!

Because this was a regional configuration, the seats were not lie-flat, but the cabin looked great, and it was perfectly comfortable for the 4.5 hour flight from HKG to DPS. Given that this is largely a leisure route, I wasn’t surprised that the load was pretty light in business class. There were only 13 seats taken (out of 42).

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Regional business class seat

Regional business class seat

Seat-back IFE

Seat-back IFE

Seat controls and side storage

Seat controls and side storage

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Seat guide

Seat guide

They didn’t offer any amenity kits on this flight, but they did go around offering a pre-departure beverage of water, juice, or a guava cocktail. They also handed out wet towels, but they were essentially packaged towelettes and not hot towels.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Given that I was pretty stuffed from eating in the awesome Cathay Pacific lounges during my layover, I asked that they hold my meal for a bit. The IFE selection was identical to the selection on my long-haul flight from the US.

One thing that I haven’t heard many people talking about is the canned Hong Kong style milk tea available on Dragonair. As far as I know, it’s only offered on Dragonair and not on Cathay Pacific, and HOLY MOLY is this stuff good. It was soooo delicious, but also super caloric and sugary and probably terrible for your health. But it’s something that I’ll look forward to whenever I fly Dragonair.

Ridiculously delicious canned milk tea

Ridiculously delicious canned milk tea

When I eventually did get my meal, it was a VGML, as requested. Up first was a pretty gross appetizer of cold mushrooms and vegetables.

VGML appetizer

VGML appetizer

The main course was pretty good. Just some basic vegetables with tomato sauce and rice, but perfectly edible.

VGML entree

VGML entree

One thing that I found a bit odd was that there appeared to be only one bathroom for business class. I can’t imagine that this would be very pleasant with a full business class cabin on a 4.5 hour flight.

Overall, this was an enjoyable flight, and Dragonair has a solid, reliable experience, just like Cathay Pacific. For regional flights, I might actually choose Dragonair over Cathay in the future just for the canned milk tea…

Trip Report: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 KUL to HKG

CX 724
KUL to HKG (Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong)
Depart: 5:40pm
Arrive: 9:35pm
Duration: 3h 55m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 15K

The boarding time was stated as 4:40pm, but that’s just when the gate opens and you can start going through the additional security check at the gate. Boarding didn’t actually start until 5:20pm.

A333 to take me to HKG

A333 to take me to HKG

Business class was a 2-2-2 configuration on this plane for a total of 42 seats. The cabin was relatively full with only 6 empty seats. I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water, champagne, orange juice, or guava juice.

My seat, 15K

My seat, 15K

2-2-2 business class seating

2-2-2 business class seating

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

IFE screen

IFE screen and leg room

I’m a big fan of Cathay Pacific. The seats looked new and stylish, although they’re just basic recliners, so they probably wouldn’t be too comfortable on a long flight. But for a 3.5 hour flight, the seats are fine.

They served dinner on this flight, and I had pre-ordered an AVML.

Business class menu

Business class menu

Menu continued

Menu continued

Drink menu

Drink menu

For my AVML starter, I received a plate of chickpeas, beans, peas, raisins, and onions mixed together with a small side of asparagus. It was a bit odd, but it was reasonably tasty and healthy.

AVML starter

AVML starter

My entree consisted of rice, dal, and paneer. Like most Indian food on planes, it was decently flavorful and spicy.

AVML main course

AVML main course

Ice cream for dessert

Ice cream for dessert

The seats don’t recline that much, and the leg rest doesn’t have a foot rest, but again, for a non-longhaul flight, I think these seats are perfectly fine. The IFE is the same as it is on longhaul flights, so there’s a great selection, and the screen was quick and responsive.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Cathay Pacific is known as one of the best carriers in the world and for good reason: they offer a great, consistent product. Even on a regional business class flight, you know you’re going to get a good, solid experience with great service, and this flight was no different.

Trip Report: Malaysia Airlines Business Class A330-300 SYD to KUL

MH 140
SYD to KUL
Depart: 9:40pm
Arrive: 4:30am
Duration: 8h 50m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 2A

To get from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, I chose to fly Malaysia Airlines. This was my first time flying Malaysia Airlines, and I’m saddened that they’ve had so many unfortunate incidents and are going through hard times as I think they’re a solid carrier that I would happily fly again (and have since this first flight).

This aircraft featured a typical regional business class seat and configuration for Asia, so it was 2-2-2 seating with angled-flat seats. The cabin looked pretty new, and the seats didn’t feel worn or tired. When I arrived at my seat, I thought there were two blankets and a pillow, but one of the “blankets” was actually supposed to be used as a seat cover. No actual mattress for the seat, but it’s something.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Seats 2A and 2C

Seats 2A and 2C

Looking forward

Looking forward

I was offered a pre-departure beverage of juice or water. Rather than just orange juice, they also had apple juice and mango juice on offer. As boarding finished, one thing that I noticed was that almost half of the business class passengers were female. It’s pretty rare to have near gender parity in a business class cabin (e.g. I’m currently writing this on an AA flight in first class where there are 3 women out of 16 passengers). In total, the cabin was 28 out of 36 full. Amenity kits and headphones were handed out after takeoff. They didn’t offer slippers proactively, but you could request them, although they were pretty flimsy.

Catering on this flight was a supper service and refreshments before landing. I pre-ordered a VGML.

Supper menu

Supper menu

Refreshments menu

Refreshments menu

Wine list

Wine list

First up was the satay. Malaysia Airlines is supposed to be famous for their satay, so I had to try it. The satay sauce was pretty delicious, but the beef was not as it was tough and dry. The chicken was a bit better. The VGML came with vegetarian skewers, but to be honest, I’ve never had vegetable skewers that were delicious. They’re usually edible, but also underwhelming. The tofu from the vegetarian skewers dipped in the satay sauce was delicious, though.

Satay course

Satay course

VGML satay replacement

VGML satay replacement

After satay came an appetizer of cold vegetables. I wish airlines would stop serving cold vegetables as part of vegetarian special meals. There are so many other cold vegetarian dishes that could be served like hummus or other bean dip or salad or spring rolls or anything else really. The fruit was tasty, though.

VGML appetizer and fruit

VGML appetizer and fruit

My main course was some sort of mushy rice (?) cake served in a tomato-y sauce. It wasn’t the worst VGML I’ve eaten (I still think Thai First Class holds that dubious honor), but it wasn’t great. Bland and mushy aren’t a great combo.

VGML entree

VGML entree

For dessert, I had some of the chocolate cake, which was pretty good.

Chocolate cake for dessert

Chocolate cake for dessert

Two annoying things about the in-flight entertainment: 1) the screen was awkwardly low and couldn’t be adjusted, so it wasn’t very easy to watch unless your seat was at least partially reclined; and 2) they played 3 minutes of ads before each movie.

Screen is somewhat awkwardly positioned

Screen is somewhat awkwardly positioned

After dinner, I put the seat into the sleeping position. The seat was firm and slanty. I slept fine for 5 hours, but it wasn’t very comfortable for side sleeping, and my back was not happy when I woke up (does this mean I’m getting old?). The blanket was nice, but I wish the seat cover had more padding and the pillow were bigger.

They prepared the cabin pretty early for arrival. There were some movies about Malaysia and the arrivals process. My favorite part was the “celebrating 1Malaysia” song with lyrics like, “Truly Asia, the best place to be”. So catchy.

This flight is somewhat awkwardly timed in that it gets into KUL at 4:30am. To me, it would make so much more sense if they pushed back departure two hours so that it departs at 11:40pm and arrives at 6:30am, but i believe there are airport curfew restrictions at SYD that prevent a later takeoff. But it’s over 8 hours of flying time, so you theoretically could get a decent amount of sleep.

Overall, it was a good flight on MH. The cabin manager was great and addressed me by name at all interactions. And he used a more accurate version of my last name rather than how it’s typically pronounced in English. Yes, the seats could be better, but I see no reason to avoid flying Malaysia Airlines.