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Burma: RGN Mistake Fare

Burma: RGN Mistake Fare
via Cathay & Korean A380 First Class
November 2012

Lounge hopping at RGN

I arrived back at the airport around 5:15PM and navigated my way to the departures check-in counters. Just to be safe, I checked with the counter agent, showed him my BKK generated BP for the RGN-BKK and asked if I needed to do anything else. Apparently confused by the different (then RGN-issued BPs) color on the BP, he asked me to wait for the manager. Ten minutes later, manager shows up, takes one look and says "no problem".

Passport control was a breeze as there must have been 10 open stations. Everyone I met today was smiling and very friendly. Other countries could learn a lesson. The spacious passport control area from beyond...

First stop was the Royal Jade Business Class Lounge. I wasn't in Business, but flashed my UA *G card which seemed to be sufficient for the agent to allow entrance. This lounge is not Priority Pass lounge as the person entering right after me as denied entry trying to use her PP.

The Royal Jade lounge is by far the nicest of the two lounges here. (There is another Royal Jade lounge near the CIP lounge, but it was closed) Comfortable seating areas and a reasonable selection of drinks, snacks and finger foods. Complimentary Wifi was reasonable fast, much better than I expected from earlier reports.

After half hour here, I decided to check out the CIP lounge. Shops along the way.

At the far end of the corridor is the CIP lounge, although it is actually the MAI lounge. No PP accepted here as well, but a day pass was available for USD$15. I thought is was a little steep for RGN but I paid it anyway, letting the agents select the best of my $20 bills. I got 5 crisp new $1 bills as change.

This lounge is pretty gross. Both seating and food significantly inferior to the Royal Jade.

Nice. LOL.

The Business Centre. LOL2.

I only stayed 15 minutes and then decided to go to the gate and wait.
Apparently missing a press conference for Condor, which is starting service today.

TG 306
November 6, 2012
7:40p-9:45p (sked)
7:40p-9:15p (actual)
30 minute time difference in Myanmar
Seat 33B

I actually don't recall much about this flight as I slept most of the way.
More fun with my BKK-generated BP as none of the RGN GAs had ever seen anything other than RGN issued colors.
Am I the only one to think of getting my return BP in BKK?

Early arrival at BKK but we were banished to the tarmac position. Both 1L and 2L were used so I was the first one off at 2L and got the 1st bus to the terminal. Was in the terminal just before 10PM, nearly two before my scheduled departure. More confusion on the lounges as there are seemingly dozens of CIP lounges at BKK. The one with the KE First sign didn't have showers so I move on the one that did.

Virtually deserted and comfy seating areas on two levels, but pathetic food options on both. Showers worked and it was conveniently located overlooking my gate.

Up Next: Breakfast at midnight

KE 654
November 7, 2012
12:15a-7:05a (sked)
12:15a-7:15a (actual)
Seat 1J

At about T-55, I decided to head down to the gate. In order to access the gate seating areas, you check in at the podium, where an agent scans the BP. When she saw my BP, GA escorted me to the roped-off SKY PRIORITY seating area, right in front of the door to the jetway, kicking out 4 scruffy Y pax who had taken it upon themselves to sit there. While we waited for boarding to commence, an elderly monk (older Dalai Lama type) in a wheelchair was escorted to the SKY PRIORITY area by a younger escort, who knelt and bowed down to him numerous times before taking his leave.

From the good side looking at the unwashed masses.

After the monk and 4 other wheel chair pax were pre-boarded, the two F pax were welcomed to board. KE regional 773 is a very tight 2-2-2. Fortunately, were only 3/6 tonight so each of us, including the monk, had two seats to ourselves. Wouldn't want to be in a full F cabin on this sucker.

Multiple FAs and the purser welcomed me on board and generally doted on all three of us until we went to sleep.
Multiple PD glasses and refills of Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose.

A word about KE FAs. On both of my flights, all FAs were female and under the age of 30. They were all incredibly polite and accommodating, meticulously groomed and dressed. Speaking of which, and this is by no means a bad thing... is it just me or do KE FAs wear skirts one or two sizes too small? Things that make you go hmmm.

In an amazing display of protocol and uniformity, our FAs positioned themselves at the front of each aisle (and cabin presumably) before the safety briefing and on cue, bowed in unison to the cabin.

I had been forewarned about the Breakfast only meal service and so it was...

But our FA recognized that some of us might be hungry and offered the option of "breakfast" immediately after take-off.
Since I had not eaten much this today, I requested an early breakfast.
Fortunately, breakfast was quite substantial and more like supper.

The chicken in pandan leaf with pandan chili sauce was outstanding.
After I gushed about the chicken, our FA brought a double order.

The egg noodle soup with squid and vegetable was sensational.

And fresh seasonal fruit was a great way to end the meal.

After a couple hours of sleep, a beautiful sunrise above the clouds, prior to an on time arrival at Incheon.

Korean Airlines First Class Lounge at ICN

Easy to find once one re-clears security. Doesn't compare with LH FCL or BA CCR, but more like a good Business Class lounge.

Work stations have multiple 110/220 volt outlets and great views. And fast wifi throughout the lounge.

My office for the next 6 hours...

Food selections are OK but basic. What you'd expect in a Business Class lounge not First.

Up next: Showtime and one of the best flights ever!

KE 17
November 7, 2012
3:10p-9:00a (sked)
3:10p-9:12a (actual)
Departed only 3/12 in First
Seat 2J

At about T-50, I headed out for the short walk to Gate 10 and my first up close look at a KE whale. Not sure about those Korean Air colors though.

At least 8 GAs were scurrying around getting everything ready for boarding at T-30. And at T-30, as is now familiar protocol, all 8 stood facing the pax and bowed in unison. Pretty cool.

Boarding was a little confused even strange, starting with both Y pax at the left of the podium before GA opened the First line to the right of the podium. Don't know when they opened the middle Business line. All of this wouldn't have been a big deal if we could have boarded directly. But no, we all had to endure the ridiculous and useless secondary bag inspection. No priority inspection here... everyone congregates at the bottom of the ramp waiting their turn. Finally, I make the left turn down the F jetway...

First impression of the cabin is a wow! Talk about spacious. Some have commented negatively about the cabin colors and decor. It is certainly different but after absorbing it for a while, I've decided that I really like it. KE is one of the few airlines that has the F cabin on the main level. This means the cabin is substantially bigger and taller than 2nd level cabins like on Bling Air.

I had the cabin to myself for 5 minutes before the other 2 pax arrived, so was able to snap pics freely.

This panoramic video shows the entire cabin, including accidental bonus footage of quite possibly the most stunningly beautiful FA I have ever seen on any flight. And yes, she was working the F cabin. http://youtu.be/z7AoOIKBDAQ

The suites have three storage areas for everything from personal effects.

The curvature of the plane has produced a strange space between the seats and the cabin wall, used as ventilation.

Electronically controlled privacy divider can be raised and lowered at the touch of button on your seat control panel.

At least three FAs and our Purser stopped by to greet me, and made sure that my glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle was never empty.

Boarding was completed on time, and we were ready to push. And with only two other pax in the F cabin, both on the other side in 1A and 2A, I had the entire right side of the plane to myself. 

One of the many great features of the A380 is the three live cameras, than you can "switch channels" and Change View. The tail cam and the forward landing gear cam were my faves. Some of the sequence from taxi to take-off.

Once in the air, my 4th glass of Grand Siecle.

And a quick tour of the forward cabin area including F bar

Stairway to the Business cabin, which is the entire upper level. I'll take the grand tour after dinner.

And basic lav. Only one lav for all 12 F pax. Was not a problem with only two other pax today, but on a full flight it could be.


After drink service, and at the timing of each passenger's choice, a superb two hour 8 course meal.

All in all, a commendable wine list, much better than recent BA in fight offering. Not all the wine in this list were available on our flight, but the ones I tasted were excellent.

Showtime and yet another glass of Grand Siecle. 

The seared scallop and black mushroom with spicy orange sauce was very good.

Our set-up with each item precisely placed on the table.

FA knew enough to proactively suggest the Sauternes with my foie gras.  What a treat, the 2006 Chateau Rieussec was outstanding.

While I enjoy caviar, but I'll take a good foie gras any day. And today's champagne flavored fois-gras terrine with fig compote was positively sensational, especially paired with the Sauternes.

The Korean porridge was a mild and nutty flavored, more like a palate cleanser.

The organic seasonal organic salad was served to order from the cart, and was the best and freshest in flight salad I can remember.  And another glass or two of the Grand Siecle.

For my main, I was torn between the the Je-dong seared rib-eye or the Korean Bibimbap.  Hey, I can get rib-eye any day but Bibimbap, not so much. Our menu came with a Bibimbap instruction sheet.

Minced beef and seasonal vegetables accompanied by sesame oil and Gochijang (Korean hot pepper paste).  Was a little surprised about the tube of Gochijang and the oil packet, instead being served in a little ramekin.

The final product was terrific, and paired well with the excellent 2009 Ghost Block Single Vineyard Napa Cab.

One of the sides was a white fish that was simply orgasmic.

Next up, the cheese and fruit cart...

My turn.

Camembert, chaumes and comte, with a glass of the Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto.

And delicious fresh fruit.

And finally, Chocolate brownie cake and ice cream. Tasted as good as it looked.

OMG. What a terrific meal. Certainly ranks up there with the best inflight meals of the year.

IFE is not the same league as CX let alone SQ. I guess i's OK if you don't watch a lot of movies in the theatre. We do so there was nothing of interest that I haven't seen. Tail cam is still the best show on KE IFE, IMO.

Time to explore this puppy, starting with the FC Bar on the right side of the forward entry just back of 1R. Sounds like a great idea if you are traveling in a group, but not sure how much use it gets, since FAs will bring you anything anytime anyway. One of the FAs insisted that I try some of the candies. Good suggestion.

SFO777Jr and Short hair Francis will be happy to see the JW Blue.

Time to head upstairs and see how Business Class is doing.

Nice lounge area at the forward part of the cabin.

The entire upper deck is Business Class... maybe 30% load today. But what's with the lighting? Similar problem downstairs in F. How about using the dimmer to tone down the lighting just a tad and add a little more atmosphere, maybe something a little less than sun tan booth??

There is also a aft Business Lounge with bar and a few seats. Not nearly as nice as the Bling Air lounge.
Sorry, no pic. There were too many pax there and no obvious way to take an undetected pic.

Back at my seat, all the travel, food and booze is starting to wear my down and I passed out for 4 or so hours not even bothering with proper duvet and bedding. Unlike CX or SQ, there is no real time "Time to Destination" feature on the IFE remote, so when I woke up, I wasn't quite sure how long to go. And I couldn't remember whether I had changed my watch to LA time. Turns out we had about 3 and a half hours to go. Decided to freshen up and change out of my PJ's

Breakfast service began about two hours ago. I've had long haul breakfast on a lot of airlines and this was probably the best yet.

Each course was served by two FAs from the cart, allowing you to see your options. Yogurt with toppings was excellent.

This was the best inflight egg dish I have ever tasted. Freshly scrambled eggs on potato apple roesti with crispy bacon and cherry tomatoes. Simply amazing flavor and seasoning.

Just before we began our descent, I was offered a sweet Korean tea, complete with heart shaped fruit. OK, I'm hooked.

Great tail cam shots of our approach and landing on a foggy morning.

And our arrival at the end of the TBIT terminal.

Sadly, my wonderful 11 hour journey was over. KE needs to improve their ground game at ICN but once on board, they rank with the best airlines in the world. The cabin crews I met were second to none.

I was searching for a way to describe Korean FAs and concorde02 pretty much summarized my take... "beautiful, young, in-shape, dressed so nice, and friendly and polite at the same time". How very true. Of nearly 15 FAs I saw on my two flights, they were all female, young, attractive, slender, meticulously dressed, with perfect hair and make-up. Each was polite, caring and professional, yet still personable and able to laugh, smile and interact perfectly. Each of them genuinely appeared to love their jobs. What an absolute pleasure to share time with them.

Before landing, each of the First FA's and the Purser stopped by to personally thank me for flying KE. Thank me? Thank you all!
Warm thank you and good-byes from more of the crew as we waited to disembark at 2L, where FA's blocked Y cabin until the three F pax had left.

Only one other international flight at LAX this morning so TBIT arrivals was quiet. But I still used Global Entry to bypass the queues and questions. Less than 10 minutes after we pulled up to the gate, I was at T-4 Priority Pre-Check security. Since my connecting AA flight was on a separate PNR, Pre-Check gave me the green light for the shoes on, keep your laptop and liquids in your bag security check.

A few minutes later I was in the AC and a refreshing shower, before heading off Gate 44 (the bus gate) at T-50.

AA 3673
November 7, 2012
Seat 2A

LAX-DEN is usually an easy upgrade and my complimentary EXP upgrade cleared at T-100. Extra miles today as the bus shuttles us to the Eagle terminal in what would otherwise be T-9.

Not quite the same league as the 380.

OK, time for culture shock... guess I'm back in the US. Choice of shrimp salad or potato soup with "some type of thing with um, you know, um, like a ham, cheese, meat kind of thing. Not really sure but it's usually pretty good." In spite of the menu description, excellent service by our ORD-based FAs, although the Y FA was a little anal admonishing me for having my empty Bose NCH case in the seat back pocket for landing.

On time landing back in DEN a gorgeous +26C, 79F fall day and I was home 50 minutes later.

Thanks to everyone that has followed and commented on this fun trip. I really enjoy writing these reports. I've found that it is the absolute best way to memorialize these great experiences. The positive feedback from everyone is greatly appreciated and keeps me trying to improve.

Hope you all come back at the end of December for our first Swiss First flights (LAX-ZRH-ORD) and New Year's in Israel.