LX183 SIN-BKK 02/MAY A340-300, 2K, First

I had been on this very flight in F once before in 2004, and back then, it was the lowlight of my trip. I was hoping for a change this time around, but unfortunately was disappointed again. Boarding was through one jetway only and people were queuing in front of the airplane door. Once I stepped aboard and showed my boarding pass, I was given directions to my seat, but nobody escorted me. I must admit that the F Class cabin, lit in indirect Xenon light, looked very modern and fresh, one could even say “cool”. The little bar area at the bulkhead was lit by a warm spotlight and added some charm to the setting. An amenity kit and slippers were waiting at my seat (they used to be given out only at BKK for the sector to ZRH), and I quickly bagged them before someone would notice that I only went to Thailand. A male flight attendant eventually bothered to notice me in my seat (he was busy talking to the sole other F Class passenger before) and asked me for my choice of drink. I requested a glass of champagne and was relieved to see that it still was the tasty 1996 Nicolas Feuilatte Blanc de Blancs. The F/A poured my glass in sight at the bar, using the bottle sitting there in a silver bucket. Classy. His female colleague then went on to distribute the menu and wine list, and while the design was very nice, I hardly believed my eyes when I saw what was (or, more accurately, wasn’t) on offer for this sector. See for yourself:

Menu cover Menu Wines Drinks

There you have it. In what is supposed to be International First Class, Swiss offered a salad, “mystery fish” or picata, and a no-name dessert. Compare this to the same route on Cathay Pacific or, for that matter, the very same Swiss flight a year earlier. Looking at how hard LX tries to drive all their premium pax on this route to the competition (hello, SQ!), I can but believe in the rumors that this flight (at least the BKK-SIN part) is soon to go.

I will spare you the details on the food (in fact, I have tried very hard to forget about it), suffice to say that what was served was appropriate for short-haul Business Class at the most, both in quantity and quality. My mystery fish will remain just that forever, I think. It tasted like nothing. The only thing that set it apart from a transatlantic coach meal was the presentation on the still very nice, simplistic First Class china. I have no memory whatsoever of the “sweet favorites” dessert (and if you have read the report so far, you’ll know that I am not somebody to forget about sweets!), but remember having to ask for the traditional Sprüngli chocolates.

They fail to correct the disastrous impression that LX made on me here, but to be fair, I should also add the few positive things I noticed. First of all, both the champagne and the Cotes du Rhône white that accompanied my meal were nice, and the Calem port was as delicious as ever. I had two full glasses of it with the non-existent cheese course. Secondly, Swiss has added an impressive selection of high quality teas to their F drinks menu, and I very much appreciated a cup of Chinese Gunpowder after the meal (although I was tempted to ask for Chamomile to make my point on the food). And lastly, the inflight entertainment system worked fine and without any hick-ups throughout the two hours in the air. Also, the seat was as comfy as ever, but the lovely, huge table was not put into good use here for sure.

Finally, some words on the cabin service. It was, to be polite, very informal. Not outright bad, but somehow detached and not forthcoming. I think the two F/As in the front cabin must have mistaken me for a non-rev passenger given my age (the son of the captain, perhaps?), yet a look at the manifest would have quickly corrected that impression. As stated above, I had to explicitly ask for the chocolates as well as for a newspaper, and when I enquired about their new tea selection with clear anticipation, they forfeited this opportunity to provide good customer service by saying something like “yeah, I think we’ve got this stuff now, but I know nothing about it and don’t care either”. It was not with much joy then that I learned that the same crew would also be on my flight BKK-ZRH two days later. I comforted myself with the thought that even in steerage, it probably wouldn’t get much worse than that.

I was the first passenger off the plane once we reached BKK, distinctively unimpressed. Right now, I am set to be on the same sector again in March 2006, and shall duly report on the continuing deterioration of service. Maybe they could switch to a cold snack only, “due to customer demand”?

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