From one extreme to another. You may recall that in June this year I flew with Singapore’s new budget airline, Scoot (read review here). Just three weeks after returning to Sydney, I was off again – but this time in a bit more style. Thanks to Cain from FlymeFunky, I had bought some US Airways points and booked a Business Class flight to Europe for less than Qantas was charging for the same dates in Economy! See Cain’s article on how to get the points here.

Sydney – Seoul, Asiana OZ602, 18/7/12

So, this was my first ever Business Class international flight. Did it live up to my expectations? The short answer is ‘no’ although to be fair, that was probably due to them being unrealistically high.

It started off really well. I was given a pass for the Express Security lane and offered water, champagne and orange juice as soon as I boarded. A hot towel followed soon after. What bliss.  There were 28 Business Class seats; 11 of which were occupied and four cabin crew to look after the business class cabin. Not a bad ratio. There was a great wine and cocktail selection and I felt very full after three lunch courses. So, where did they go wrong?

My flight was over 10 hours and on such long flights I believe that entertainment is the most important factor to keep me occupied. Unfortunately, Asiana’s entertainment selection was very disappointing which made the flight seem even longer. Not only was the selection sparse, but you could not even pause the films or start them whenever you wanted to, which was frustrating. There were only six films to choose from in English and I had seen the only one I considered to be ‘good’ already (though I did get to watch Adele Live at the Albert Hall twice, which is not a bad thing).

The cabin crew tried to make up for the lack of entertainment options with a 15 minute magic show, I kid you not. It was amusing enough, until half an hour later, when I was bored again. Other good points included the toiletry bag with Biotherm and L’Occitane goodies, 4 hot towels and the fact they hung my jacket up and brought it back to me at the end; but sadly nothing made up for the poor entertainment.

Seoul to Frankfurt, Lufthansa LH713, 19/7/12

The flight was delayed by almost two hours, but this was fine as I was enjoying the best airport in the world (according to Skytrax) as well as the Asiana lounge facilities. Thankfully I had plenty of spare time at Frankfurt to transfer to my connecting flight to Dublin, so I was not worried.

I loved Lufthansa from the start. They showed me to my seat and I quickly discovered that the seat had various massage options. I could not get enough of this. There were two Business Class sections on this flight: one with six rows and one with three, so 54 seats in total in the classic 2 x 3 x 2 configuration. We had 4 staff members in my small section.

Lunch arrived very quickly, with three courses (options for the first two). Phew, not only was the movie selection extensive, but I could start and pause movies whenever I wanted. The crew hung up my jacket and brought it back to me at the end of the flight. I personally found the efficient Lufthansa service to be even better than Asiana’s. Additionally, it felt as if I had even more leg room to stretch out (though that was possibly as I was sitting on the first row of the Business Class cabin). The German Sauv Blanc was surprisingly good and worth a mention.

The only minor bad point was that my headphones came unplugged at one point and the jack was in a hidden compartment, so I found it very hard to get it back in. Eventually I called a cabin crew who managed to plug it in after 10 minutes or so. A second meal was served about two hours before landing and we had the choice out of a cold European dish or hot Korean one. I chose the former option, which was a bit ‘fussy’ for my liking, although I am sure less picky eaters would have loved it. The cabin crew really did go above and beyond. For example, everyone in First Class, and one lucky lady in Business, received a red rose. What a lovely touch.

Frankfurt to Dublin, Lufthansa LH982, 19/7/12
I was the second row from the pilot on this sector, as the flight only had business and economy classes on this short flight. As it was only a two hour flight, the difference between Business and Economy was limited. The main difference really was that there was a table on the middle seat, essentially creating some room between the window and aisle seats.

There were no TVs on this fight, which is a shame as I had not finished watching a movie on my previous flight. They gave us magazines to read instead, but only Newsweek and Time (I was too tired to focus by this point though; not surprising as by the time I got to my friend’s house in Dublin, it was 50 hours since I left mine!). They served us a small meal about half way through, though I was not hungry having had dinner on my previous flight and lots of German goodies in the airport lounge.

London to Bangkok, Thai Airways TG911, 14/8/12
Luckily, I am not majorly superstitious, but I still did not like the flight number. Apart from that it was pretty damn good. The cabin crew escorted me to my seat at the start upon boarding, although they did not offer me the usual drink selection (I noticed the lady sitting next to me already had one).

The seats also had massaging options but unfortunately it was not as good as Lufthansa’s. It was not terribly powerful and I struggled to even feel it sometimes. They made up for this in so many other ways however. Lunch had 5 courses and the entertainment was excellent. My favourite new TV show, Twenty Twelve, even had 3 episodes on there and there were several good films. In fact, there were 15 films in the Latest Hits section alone, and there were many more in Current Hits, Award Winners, Classics and Thai Showcase.

The service was yet again really good. I could not fault any of their airlines on this. The Business Class section had 6 rows with a 3 x 2 configuration. There were several spare seats, so the lady next to me moved and I had an entire row to myself. Heaven. This seat had more storage options than Asiana and Lufthansa, which I liked a lot. There was somewhere for my glasses, lipbalm, bottled water etc.

Another feature I liked was the camera on the plane which everyone can view through the entertainment system and have a ‘window seat’ view. Using the brilliant skymap, I discovered that we flew over Varanasi in India and pretty close to the Himalayas. It would be stunning on a daytime flight. I loved the way the lights gradually came on, just before breakfast. They started orange and got paler until they turned white, much like a mid-flight sunrise.

The only small quibble I had was that they did not offer to hang my jacket up at the start of the flight, though I noticed at the end that other people’s were. For some reason they had asked me if I would like to hang mine on the hook next to my TV.

Bangkok to Sydney, Thai TG475, 17/8/12
As you can imagine, this flight was very similar to the previous Thai Airways flight. The only differences really being that they did offer me a welcome drink this time and I had the front row next to the exit this time; meaning yet more leg room and the TV popped out of my arm rest.

According to the official rankings, Asiana is the second best airline in the world overall, Thai Airways is ninth and Lufthansa number 14. So, which airline did I prefer out of the three? Well, it would be a photo finish between Lufthansa and Thai really (maybe Lufthansa would get the gold if I had to pick, as their massaging seats were amazing) and bronze would go to Asiana. Don’t get me wrong, Asiana was still amazing; all Business Classes are fantastic when comparing to Economy. If they had sorted out the entertainment, I think I would still have given them third place (as it was the only airline without massaging seats), but the race would have been a lot closer. For more details on the top airlines, see:

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