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Life of Luxury…again

The Life of Luxury…again

South Africa was an amazing place, full of wonderful things to do and some fantastic sights, flavors and experiences.  Part of the reason that I was willing to travel so far in such a short amount of time was because I booked business class and first class seats for my trip.  While this didn’t quite work out on the way there due to my missed flight (middle seat in economy does not equal business class) I was just happy to finally get to South Africa.  On the way home, however, I was really looking forward to experiencing South African Airways and Thai Air business class as well as Thai first class.  While the experience was fantastic, it was not without a few hiccups, including the fact that 28 hours of travel is still 28 hours, even if it is in premier classes.  Today I will review my experiences in Business Class, with the next installment talking about the over the top experience I had in Thai First Class.

Picture courtesy of flickr user Darren Olivier (CC License)

South African Business Class
Johannesburg to Mumbai (~8 hours)

This was my favorite flight of the day, perhaps because it was the first one, but mostly because of the attentive but respectful service.  The leg room was fantastic, complemented by a seat that reclined into a lay flat bed.  My feet did touch the seat in front of me, but just barely.  I was very happy with the pillow quality and the fact we were given a duvet instead of a thin blanket like I am used to in coach.  Taking advantage of the space and the fact I was exhausted I got a few hours of sleep in between some fantastic meals.  The main meal was lunch which featured meals prepared by South African celebrity chef Reuben Riffell.  I had eaten in his restaurant the day before and had a fantastic meal.  Without hesitation I chose the selections on the menu that he had created, starting off with a fish appetizer, followed by the main course of lamb.  Both were great, but did not quite match the dining experience in his restaurant.  These courses were paired with great South African wines and finished off with a raspberry desert and glass of Amarula, a South African liquor that tastes similar to Baileys.  A very delicious meal, especially during a flight.  The space of the seat and the length of flight meant that in addition to getting a good meal and a very restful nap, I was also able to get some reading and work done.  This, represents the biggest difference between business class and economy.  Instead of just trying to survive a long flight in economy, it was actually similar to a normal, restful day.  I had space, I was able to nap, I had decent food and I got to do some things that I had hoped to get done on the trip.  The flight was smooth and we arrived a bit early into Mumbai.  This turned out to be a good thing as I had an ordeal getting my boarding pass for my next two flights.

Thai Business Class
Mumbai to Bangkok (~4 hours)

This flight is a blur as it left at 2:30 in the morning and arrived around 8:00a into Bangkok. It did not start off on a good note as there was an issue getting my boarding pass in Mumbai, causing me to spend most of my layover in the transfer hallway.  Not a very comfortable place to wait.  This was followed by 5 minutes in the lounge which was pretty worn and finally a bus trip to the plane, the worst possible way to get to a flight.  Once on board, things did not really improve all that much as the plane was older and the legroom was not all that great.  Not to complain too much about business class, but this was not that much different from coach.  While I did order a meal, it was pretty unmemorable and bland.  After a gin and tonic I took advantage of the early morning departure and got a bit more sleep.  I was very happy to finish this flight and arrive in Bangkok where I was greeted with a Thai Airways agent holding a sign with my name on it and a car to whisk me off to security and the First Class Lounge.

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