Third time's the charm- CX F from HKG-YYZ (Lots of detail and pics)
People who have read my other trip reports will know that I do it timeline based. I initially had thought that everyone would fit in one post, but the more and more I wrote, (since I finally stayed up for this flight - see my last report in F if you don't know what I'm talking about) the more I realized there was no way everything would fit. So I've decided that I would treat you all with as much detail as I could for this one sector, and I would post it in parts. Hope you all enjoy! (and don't get tired of reading!)
If memory serves me right, it’s been two and a half years since my last taste of CX F. I was fortunate enough to have been op-uped in January of 09, and ever since, I’ve been determined to be in the front once again. (Sigh, what one taste of premium can do to a person.) This year, I’ve finally managed to save enough miles for an upgrade, and taking advantage of ex-TPE prices in J, I secured CX 401 (the only TPE-HKG flight with service in F), and CX 826. I’ll note now that I’m actually from HKG, so I used this ticket to add a side trip to Taiwan.
September 3, 2011 T-48 and 1 minute
Usually at this time, I would have all the pages loaded for OLCI, ensuring that I get BN 1 to maximize my chances of upgrade. However, I found myself travelling through Taipei’s subway system instead, heading towards Mitsukoshi at City Hall Station for more shopping. Ahh… the joy of flying in F.
September 4, 2011
Since transiting in HKG allows me a maximum of 24 hours in Hong Kong, I used the ticket fly home, pack for Toronto, and then head out to the airport the next day. I was on my Taiwan trip with my mom, so I decided to give her the TPE-HKG leg in F, so no report here.
September 5, 2011 1:00pm
HKIA- this place never ceases to amaze me. The natural light pouring in from all different directions, the check-in counters bustling with activity… I arrived early as my plan was to do some lounge hopping before my flight. Afterall, why have an F ticket and waste it?
1:15 pm I head over to the check in counters, where one agent quickly helps me print out my boarding pass and lounge invite. I was still waiting for some final items to put in my suitcase, so I tell him I’ll be back later. No problem he says, and hands me my ticket.
With my luggage checked in, I say my goodbyes. It’s only a year I tell my mom, as her eyes become watery and her voice chokes up. I hug her one final time before I head through immigration.
Immigration was a breeze, but not so much for those with foreign passports. With all the formalities done, I decide to head to the Wing first.
With all the construction going on with at The Wing, one can’t help but notice how crowded it’s gotten. I took a quick step into the J lounge in attempts to see the new renovations, but I step out just as quickly. Imagine the MTR on a Friday afternoon. Yeah, you get my point.
The F lounge today is just as crowded, with almost all tables in the Haven taken. Luckily, there’s a table left, and I eat a quick lunch. No point in spending so much time in such a noisy and crowded place. Offerings were not that attractive today. I also couldn’t help but notice the servers getting orders wrong three times in a row, twice with the table next to me.
Towards the end of lunch, when most people have cleared out
Although my purpose today was to lounge hop, there is no excuse for one to not have even a smidge of plane spotting at HKIA. So I happily walk along the gates, snapping here and there, and helping myself to a couple of giggles as I walk past a few people with funny sleeping expressions.
Naturally, I was met with the Cabin next. Bravo to the very friendly lounge agent here. With all the noise going on around him, he still manages to give off a genuine smile. Can’t say the same for the two dragons on either side of him… He lets me in without question, but before I do, he pulls me aside and tells me that there’s no point in staying here, and that my best bet would be at the Pier today. Not to worry I tell him, I know what to expect, and I was there to just snap a few shots.
Finally, I could breathe again. The Cabin was filled to the brim, with many passengers unable to find seating. CX needs to solve the lounge overload issues. And FAST. I quickly snap a shot of B-KPM (my bird today) parked at gate 29 before I head to my next destination.
The F lounge at the Pier is much quieter and the pace is much slower. However, this being my first time in the lounge, I have to say I’m not a fan. It’s a little too claustrophobic for my liking, so I decide to leave after walking around and snapping a few shots.
After spending the next 20 minutes pondering why they couldn’t make the People Mover downstairs travel both ways, I arrive back at the Wing, this time with a friend in tow. I spend some time with him and relaxed a bit before heading to the gate.
Ughhh... I hate the mandatory calls that I always have to make before a flight.
“Hello? Ngo fei la."
"Ha lei fei la?"
"Gei si fan ah?"
"Ha leen fan lor."
"Orrr gum lei siu sum di la."
"Ho la gum chi di geen la."
(and for those not as professionally trained in the art of Chinglish - "Hello? I’m flying. Huh? You’re flying already? Yes. So when are you back? Next year… Oh okay then be safe!. Ok. So I’ll see you soon? Ok, bye")
Having a total of 11 aunts and uncles doesn’t help the cause either. I manage to finish my last one (with who? Yup you guessed it, my mom) just as I was stepping on the plane.
Self thought: Oh. Did the captain take my seat? Great, now where am I getting placed. I hope not 2D…
“My apologies Miss b-kpf, let me move that for you. Welcome aboard. Can I take your jacket and hang it for you?”
“Sure. Thank you.”
“No Problem. “
I took a look around to see whom I would be travelling with today, something I always like to do before a flight. However, a question immediately popped into my head. “Where is everyone else?” Then a million more. “Wait I didn't check the loads, but can it be?” “No it can’t be, can it?” “But this is the busiest time of the year in terms of loads!!??” “We’re not done boarding yet right?”…. ……….
“Ground crew, please leave the aircraft as we are about to close the cabin doors”. It’s come true. What one desires most on an intl F flight. I had the cabin to myself! I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s mine. ALL MINE *cue evil music*
Bye bye HK!
On a side note: you can see why CX desperately needs to scrap F on this route. With all the students and families traveling at the end of the summer, I had predicted this to be a 100% loaded flight. However, with 1/6 in F and half of J looking like it was op-uped students, I can’t see how keeping F on this route would be financially viable for the company. Have to say that as much as I hate it, they made the right choice to introduce Y+ on this route, and as a result, scrap F.
Along with my ginger ale, Y (pseudonym), one of the two flight attendants that served me throughout the flight, presented me with my kit and pajamas. “Did you want to change into your pajamas or did you want to wait until later?” I tell her I’ll change in a bit. “Certainly,” she replies, as she heads off to tend to the rest of her business. Having nothing to do, I pulled out my camera and snapped a few shots from my seat.
We’re approaching the end of the taxiway for 07R. At this point, I decided that I would change my seat from 2A to 2K in hopes of catching a glimpse of the HK skyline as we exit HK airspace. As I walked past Y who was now buckled into her seat, she gave me a curious look, but once she knew of my plans, she smiled and nodded. As I would later find out, the views weren’t great due to all the smog, but I made a good decision.
Passing over Disneyland
The Hong Kong Smogline
A little better
Takeoff was uneventful, and shortly after, B (my other flight attendant for today), came over to my seat, presented to me the menus for today. “Feel free to have a look at the menu, Miss b-kpf. Did you have an idea of when you would like dinner?”
I tell him that I didn’t want to eat till a bit later, around 8 oclock, so he proceeds to tell me that he’ll take my order later, and I can just relax for now.
I didn’t know what to do with myself! I had all this space, all this time, and two flight attendants at my beck and call (gee, how spoiled do I sound?). I decided that I’d take out my camera, and just snap like a mad woman… That was until B and Y decided to peek through the curtain to see what I was doing, and found me standing on top of the ottoman in 1K to take a picture of the cabin. Oops. I tried my best to convince them that I was actually a normal person by commenting how nice the cloudscapes were outside . That didn’t really work out.
The last shot until I was discovered
So after a few more shots of the clouds (I had to continue my act of being normal You'll get to see the pictures later as well), I decided to head back to 2A to see what studio CX had to offer. At this time, B came over to take my order. After that was done, I settled in to watch Pirates of the Caribbean (I had no time to watch it when it came out in theatres, but was glad that I didn’t as I hardly have anything positive to say about the movie).
Feeling somewhat bored of the movie already, I wanted to get up to do something else, but the first bump came, and another, and another, and then the seatbelt sign goes on. Darn. Oh well, time for more photos.
With the seatbelt sign off, I decided check on a good friend that was also travelling today, but in 12A. I was going to rub it in a little, and tell him that I was in an empty cabin (yes, I’m not the kindest person you’ll meet ). However, I thought of how MISERABLE he must in J and decided to sneak a glass of Krug for him to numb the pain.
After thoroughly interrupting my friend’s dinner, B peeked through the curtain and told me that my dinner was ready. He proceeded to set the table as I settled into my seat.
Tonight’s dinner consisted of the traditional Balik Salmon Appetizer (no caviar for me... yuck.), followed by a butternut squash soup with crayfish, and my main course of duck. The best part of the meal was the appetizer, as you can see from the thickness of the pieces of salmon. I was quite disappointed in the quality of the main , especially since it’s catered in HKG. The duck was dry and the veggies were overcooked, so I decided only to finish half of it.
At this point, B found a very strategic way of ensuring that he would be there the moment I put my fork down when I was done. He decided that he would start a movie over at 1K, and proceed to watch the movie and turn his head my way every 10 seconds or so to see how I was doing. Smart, indeed, but I really couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at the fact that someone is watching me eat…
Getting a little tired, I decided to change into my snuggly Shanghai Tang jammies. While I was in the washroom, Y had helped me turn my seat into a bed (so thoughtful, I didn’t even need to ask). Upon my return, I had a nice chat with Y, and found out that she had a daughter who was looking to study overseas. As I had a similar upbringing, I told her some of my experiences and offered some advice. It felt great to be able to connect to the crew on such a personal level, and it felt like I was talking to a close friend. THIS is why I keep on flying on CX and not that so-called airline they like to call Air Canada.
Y excused herself at this point since B was back and she was about to go on break. I let her leave, and told B to wake me up at around 2:30 since I wanted to start adjusting to Toronto’s time zone. I decided to settle in my bed and checked out a little more of what StudioCX had to offer before dozing off.
Just like an alarm clock, B came around to wake me at the exact time I asked. Now, at a more than half-asleep state (due to it being 2:30am in Hong Kong), I tried my best to force myself awake. I knew that my only chance was food. I found B in the galley, and asked him to prepare the hot pot rice for me. He informed me that it would take 30 min to heat up, so I decided to take a stroll around the plane.
My tour was less than productive, since both the J and Y cabins had their lights switched off already. However, I did amuse myself by engaging in a game of “trying to avoid tripping in the Y cabin by stepping over all the blankets and legs”. I stopped by quickly to chat with my friend before heading back to my seat.
B came by with my rice (very good, as it had lots of “fan jiu” (crispy rice at the bottom)) and a glass of oriental breeze. I asked him to open some of the shades for me so I could get some light in, which he was more than happy to do.
After 30 mins, I had finished what I could of the huge pot of rice, and decided to watch some TV on the IFE system. I asked B for a glass of ginger ale, which he was more than happy to bring to me. The last thing I remember was drinking half the glass…
I found myself waking up from my comfy seat with half a glass of ginger ale left and a little dish of chocolate beside me. Darn, I fell asleep. At this moment, B comes by and says “Miss b-kpf are you really tired because you keep on dozing off! I guess your plan of adjusting didn’t really work out?” WOW. Talk about embarrassment. So I guess B was doing the “watch a movie and keep an eye on my passenger” trick again. Oh boy… the creepiness of having someone watch me sleep…
Side note: this little dish of chocolates have been some of the best I've had in a while, especially the two little ones in the front! They're chocolatey and crunchy in the middle. Does anyone know where they're from???
I told B that I was going to sleep a little again because I was really tired but that I still wanted breakfast. He told me to tell him my order (which consisted of fruit, a western breakfast and a dessert [that I missed from the dinner service]), and determined that he would wake me around 6:00 so I would have enough time to finish. Gosh, I’m going to be so spoilt by the end of this flight.
Y wakes me up this time and tells me that my breakfast will be ready in about 5 minutes. I lift my seat up as Y puts down my tablecloth and breakfast smoothie. It takes me about an hour and 15 minutes to finish everything. Feeling stuffed, I decided to relax and just snap a couple more pictures of the view outside and around the cabin.
The captain announces that we are about 30 minutes from our destination, and asks the cabin crew to prepare for landing. I get up to freshen up as I start thinking about how amazing this flight has been. I felt sad that it was about to come to an end.
By the time I return to my seat it has already been changed back into the position it was when I first boarded, and all the moments of lounging and relaxing are now nothing but memories. I packed up all my belongings and get strapped in, just as Y comes back into the cabin to check that I’m okay. I exchange a few more words with her and eventually with the captain’s prompt, she heads back to her seat.
After making some detours in the sky, we make a smooth touchdown onto runway 23 and taxi over to the furthest gate possible from immigration- C35. Anyone that has landed with CX at YYZ will know this is the most ridiculous gate ever, taking 10 minutes to quick walk from the gate to immigration.
I manage to snap a quick photo with the crew right before I disembark. This crew was definitely one of the best crews I’ve had on all my flights, and if any of them ever reads this, thank you for such a pleasant experience.
I was met with a nightmarish scene at immigration, with at least 4 international flights all waiting in that small area. What made it worse was that I chose - I found out eventually- the slower line, and spent, in the end, more than an hour just to pass passport control. 1-Toronto airport, 0-Me.
Once through, I spent yet another 15 minutes wondering at the luggage belt how my suitcases could possibly not be out yet until I saw a whole group of cases just sitting beside the belt itself. 2- Toronto airport, 0- Me.
I finally step out into the arrivals hall of the airport, and was met with a chilly evening in Toronto. Even though my trip ended on a sour note, thank you CX, for such a great time. See you again in June.
Programs: BAEC SILVER HURRAH, BA Amex Prem Plus, Hilton Honours. BMI Diamond Tesco BA Airmiles Qantas Bronze
Yes, awaiting with baited breath for the next episode, got so engrossed in the photos of the lounge, was expecting it to carry on, and low and behold you had stopped, please hurry up with the next stage of your journey