Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Business Class over the Pacific

If you are travelling from India to the West Coast of USA over the Pacific, the two best airlines for Busines Class travel are Singapore Airlines and Cathay-Pacific. While both of them have the best-in-class audio-video on-board (on-demand, larger screens, noise-reducing headphones, etc.), these are almost always only available on the US-leg of the travel; the India-leg has older cabins and is not upgraded to the latest equipment.

Singapore Airlines provides 80+ movies with many foriegn language selections (including Hindi and Tamil); gave me an opportunity to watch King and the Clown, a Korean block-buster set during historical times. Must say I liked the movie, but some things did strike me as female lead; gay characters in a mainstream movie, etc.
For sleeping through the flight, I think Cathay has a slight edge...the seat recline and ergonomics are better, though only slightly. The Singapore Girl does make up for any slight edge Cathay's seat may have... and I mean hospitality, of course!

Food on Singapore Business class is great (or as great as airline food can be!). The Indian selection is quite good too; probably the only airline on which I choose Indian food some times (Sanjeev Kapoor is on thier culinary panel). Always choose the Satay chicken for starters; it is awesome!

Since I end up spending hours at the airport (Singapore or Hong Kong) many times the lounges in the airport make a big difference to my travel experience. I have realized that those travelling over the Pacific definitely have an advantage over those that travel over the Atlantic. European airports have a long way to go before they can catch up with the quality of Asian lounges (Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.)

The Business Lounge at Hong Kong airport is all grey granite...stone everywhere. Design looks like a large maze with comfortable sofas and chairs everywhere...partitions of low height provide privacy...shower stalls (better than at Changi/Singapore with each shower stall provided with a suite of shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, toothbrush and shaving sets, etc.). The Noodle Bar serves great noodle soup and dimsums, always hot and fresh from their kitchen. Internet areas and music stations with noise-cancelling headphones.

Singapore/Changi airport has a great lounge too for business class. Great bar and good snack items always available including sandwitces, local decicacies, soups, etc. The best thing here is the Slumberette section which is darkened and has pillows and blankets for a quick nap. Shower rooms here too, but smaller in number and not as well equipped as the one in Hong Kong. Much better shopping choices in this airport for those who want to...

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