The good thing about a business trip is that it’s totally appropriate to travel business class. Having never been to an international conference, this was my first business class experience.
The advantages of traveling business class don’t start when you’re ushered to your seat at the front of the plane, they start long before that. There’s the express lane to avoid all that nasty queuing at baggage check-in, entry to the private lounge and express lanes through customs.
But our good fortune started even before that because can you believe, a few weeks before our departure, international company, Blacklane contacted me and asked if I would like to trial their limousine service the next time I needed to hire a car.
And I just knew when that would be! I booked our travel from home to the airport through their website. It wasn’t going to be a straightforward trip because we were leaving on the morning of a 10km fun run that Alfie was participating in. When you book through Blacklane, there’s a box where you can give instructions to the driver. I asked if it would be okay if on our way we had a slight detour so I could walk the little guy to the start of the race, give him a hug and a squeeze and wish him all the best. The driver confirmed that would be okay.
So at 6.10am our driver arrived in a 7-seater Mercedes Viano and we packed it full of our luggage, the runner, Arabella and her cripple sticks, Archie who had just arrived home from work and hadn’t had any sleep, and one little Rosie who sat on my lap and didn’t dribble or shed in the car. And looking at us, the driver didn’t even wince.
Chauffeur Jack drove us to the closest position to the start of the race and we all got out and asked him to wait while we took Alfie down to the starting position. After hugs and kisses and best wishes, we ran back to the car.
The car was spotlessly clean with no odour; not even over-powering aftershave which is always a relief. There were complimentary bottles of water as well as free wi-fi. Our driver was clean, well-spoken and didn’t require directions. We had a very pleasant trip that was smooth sailing and absolutely effortless from the booking to the arrival at the airport. I can definitely recommend Blacklane to anyone needing a competent driver.
When we arrived at the airport we were ushered to the express lane to check our baggage so there was no horrendous zig-zagging of queuing. We were given tickets to Sky Lounge, a recently opened lounge at Kingsford-Smith.
The lounge was pleasant in that it had some tables near the windows where you could sit in the sun so that was nice. There was an adequate buffet however I wasn’t enormously hungry so just chose a mineral water and a few cheeses with crackers. There is a TV room if you need to watch a show and also a room where you can recline in a massage chair. Overall however, I did think the lounge was a little soulless with a cafeteria feel to it.
Again with business class, you have express boarding so once again, no horrendous queuing. It was straight onto the plane where we were greeted with big smiles and offered a welcome drink along with a warm towel. Being handed a hot towel and a glass of champagne did remind me of travel 25 years ago where even in economy, both were standard offerings.
I was given a window seat (yeah), with plenty of leg room and for once, one third of Drew wasn’t in my space. There was a welcome toiletry pack with L’occitane products and I just love L’occitane. I do find flights very drying so it was lovely to find a body lotion and lip balm and cooling eau de toilette.
The stewards were mostly female and each dressed in matching outfits in slightly different rainbow shades. They were all very attractive and whisper quiet as they went about their duties being very welcoming and attentive.
The plane took off on time and I reclined in my seat and watched Jersey Boys. A true story that’s definitely worth telling and how good are the songs!
Drinks were offered and I stuck with my Billecart Salmon Brut Rose. I cannot resist a glass of pink sparkles. It came with a warm little tart filled with antipasto ingredients. The pastry was light and the antipasto very tasty.
Lunch was served during the flight. You could choose between either a set menu of a degustation of Indonesian cuisine or the Modern European Edge menu. Drew chose the Indonesian and I chose to be modern.
The lunch arrived with pressed linen placemats and napkins and real china, glassware and cutlery, all so much better than the picnicware handed out in economy.
Wines were available and we thought we’d try a wine not known to us. We chose the 2013 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay which obviously was from France. It was a light and slightly fruity chardonnay that was very pleasant.
Drew’s meal started with a Padang style vegetable and potato salad with a butter potato sauce. The vegetables were crunchy adding very good texture to the salad that had some lovely spices. If you wanted additional heat, there was a dish of very (as in extremely) hot chilli sauce.
My entree was an asparagus cream soup with asparagus spears. The spears arrived in the bottom of a heated bowl and the soup was poured over the top. The soup was amazing and my favourite dish of the meal. The asparagus spears had been lightly cooked so they still were vibrantly green and full of crunch. The soup was creamy and smooth and full of asparagus flavour.
Drew’s next course was Indonesian clear chicken soup with sliced chicken breast and chilli paste. The chewable ingredients arrived at the bottom of the bowl and the soup was poured over the top. Drew really enjoyed this light soup that was full of spices and given an additional kick with a little of the chilli paste.
There were three main course options in the European menu and I chose the Chargrilled Victorian beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce and a capsicum tartlet. The steak was more cooked than I would have liked however, it was extremely tender and not dry so with the generous serving of sauce, was very enjoyable. I really liked the capsicum tartlete and the vegetables were well seasoned and not overcooked.
Drew’s next course was marinated and grilled king prawns with jasmine rice, sautéed vegetables in gulai sauce and sambal. The prawns were juicy and tender and Drew loved the spicy heat.
For dessert I had a warm butterscotch and apple pudding with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream. I loved the vanilla beans in the ice cream and the pudding was light and moist with lots of pieces of apple.
Drew’s dessert was a pandan panna cotta with blueberry coulis and coconut ice cream. No complaints from Drew with this dessert. He loved the pandan flavour and thought the coconut ice cream complimented it beautifully.
I also had a cheese plate with King Island double brie and a South Cape smoked cheddar. We shared it and enjoyed the cheeses with the crackers and dried fruit.
Then we were full! And we reclined our chairs to stretch our stomachs and enjoy another movie from the excellent selection.
But then they offered us snacks. And we didn’t need another thing but there’s not a lot else to do when you’re strapped in your seat watching movies so Drew ordered the fruit platter and I ordered the nachos with chilli and cheese. Both were just fine.
Business class is quiet. With fewer people and almost no children, it’s comparatively, a peaceful, spacious and serene flying experience.
The flight from Sydney to Denpasar is around six and a half hours. We flew on an A330 airbus that is part of a new fleet of planes recently added to the Garuda fleet. Compared with flying economy, this was a peaceful, serene experience with constant and consistent service from the cabin crew, spacious seats that fold down to a bed, a good selection of in-flight entertainment and a wonderful dining experience. I would be happy to fly with Garuda Indonesia again.
Hotly Spiced and crew traveled from home to Sydney Airport compliments of Blacklane.