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Old Aug 9, 09, 4:24 am   #1
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
DIY *A and OW RTW 2009 in the top cabins



Planning

The planning of my summer holiday 2009 was somewhat erratic. Back in September 2008 I had booked myself and my wife outbound to Hong Kong on a rather tasty set of BMI redemptions:

LHR-FNC TP Business

FNC-LHR TP Business
LHR-SIN SQ First
STOPOVER
SIN-BKK SQ First
BKK-HKG TG First

HKG-PEK CA Business
STOPOVER
PEK-DME CA Business

DME-LHR BD Business

For some stupid reason, I decided to cancel these tickets and Mrs TEX277 would head off alone. I later jumped at the BA 50% off all redemptions and booked a First Class LHR-LAX ticket with the intention to sort out onward transport to Las Vegas.

In June 2009 I decided that actually I would like to see my wife in Hong Kong during her 5 week stay there. I was surprised to be honest to be able to string together award flights at relatively short notice for travel during the busy summer months. So my final itinerary (as detailed at the top of this post) consisted of four tickets: 2 Bmi issued *A award tickets, 1 BA issued OW award ticket and a purchased United ticket.

Last edited by TEX277; Aug 11, 09 at 3:41 am.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 5:09 am   #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
London Heathrow T1 – San Francisco
United Airlines
UA 955
777-200
First Class
Seat 2A


I arrived at LHR T1 just under two hours before departure and soon located United’s First Class and Global Services check-in area. This was my first time departing T1 with United and I also realised, that despite my former 1K status with UA, this was the first time that I had departed LHR in F with them! The F/UGS check-in is afforded some privacy from the main check-in area by the erection of frosted (IIRC) glass screening. I was greeted by the agent, who quickly issued my BPs, took care of my checked baggage, pointed me in the direction of ‘Fast Track’ security and explained how to get to the Star Alliance lounge. Credit to BAA, it must have taken just a little more than 1 minute from saying farewell to the check-in agent to successfully navigating security.

Once airside I did a little duty-free shopping and then made straight for the Star Alliance lounge. Holding a First Class BP I was entitled to take a guest into the lounge with me. I made a half-hearted attempt to spot any suitable looking solo travellers to guest in but left it at that.

I was greeted at the reception desk and, after having my ID and BP checked, directed to the First Class section of the lounge. The lounge itself was certainly nicely presented. I liked the fact that having some dividing wooden panels avoided the open-plan loss of privacy. I located the Champagne and then headed for the computers. I could not log-on and asked one of the lounge attendants. She went off to check and then came back to inform me that the internet was not working today.


I was browsing the food offering and had just spotted a smoked salmon bagel as the lounge attendant approached and asked if I would like a sausage or bacon roll! My order went in immediately and I returned to my seat eagerly awaiting the arrival of my bacon roll. It arrived and I was a little shocked to note the amount of fat hanging out of the roll. It certainly detracted from the presentation. The sauce (the two small rolls came only with a small cup of red) was inserted before all was devoured.


Around an hour and a quarter after I had entered the lounge, I departed. As mentioned earlier, the lounge is nicely presented. However, I would not really have liked to have had to spend much more time in there.


By the time I had arrived at the gate, most of the passengers were already onboard, meaning that there was no queuing for me. I was straight onto the aircraft and settled straight into seat 2A. I was greeted and offered a glass of Champagne, OJ or water and opted for the latter. I was dismayed to hear the captain thank everybody for turning up not just only time but early which gave them the chance to get away early. With a 4hr 30min connection in SFO, I was hoping for a delay!!! We taxied out to 27L, accelerated down the runway, climbed and then headed for SFO.

Another first for me - I decided that I was not really that hungry on departure (those bacon rolls had certainly filled that hole!) and informed the cabin crew that I would prefer to sleep some more before eating lunch which was to be served soon after departure. The crew were understanding of this and allowed me to sleep whilst they catered for the rest of the cabin. A cabin, it has to be said, that was full to capacity despite the fact that just the day before plenty of availability was still showing.

Anyway, I managed to sleep for two to three hours before waking and asking the crew to prepare my lunch.

Menu

First Course

Appertizers

Moroccan spiced swordfish
Lemon saffron chicken brochette
Chili mint sauce


Soup
Roasted carrot and swede soup


Salad
Fresh seasonal greens with asparagus, cucumbers and sun-blushed tomatoes
Served with your choice of dressing:
Creamy peppercorn Balsamic Vinaigrette


Main Course

Grilled Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce
Twice baked potato with sautéed spinach


Herb marinated seared salmon with Beurre Blanc
White and wild rice medley with mixed vegetables and mushrooms

Indian Curry
Chicken Passanda, rice with cardamom and mustard seed, methi peppers and yogurt lentil potatoes

Mizuna pasta with spinach and cheese
Sautéed vegetables and a tomato cream sauce


Dessert

Ice Cream
With your choice of sundae toppings: hot fudge caramel, summer berry compote, sliced roasted almonds, whipped cream


Cheese Selection
Served with red grapes and crackers

Cashel Blue – similar in style to Roquefort, but softer, more moist and less salty

Coastal Cheddar – extra mature with a surprising crunch from the calcium crystals

Capricorn Goat – soft cheese from Somerset, sweeter than French varieties, slightly nutty


Assorted Fine Chocolates


Tea Service
Your selected entrée will be served with a fresh fruit appertizer, warm scones, clotted cream and fruit preserves

Trio of Tea sandwiches and Apricot Stilton Cheese
Tuna niçoise
Beef pastrami
Chunky hummus and carrot

Cheese Plate with fresh seasonal fruit
Black Stick, Butler’s Secret


Wine List

Champagne
Cuvée Diamant 1998 Champagne

White Wine
Bouchard Les Clous 2006 Meursault (Chardonnay)
Laetitia Chardonnay 2006 Arroyo Grande
Mount Nelson Sauvignon 2007 Marlborough

Red Wine
Bouchard Beaune Avaux 2006 Burgundy (Pinot Noir)
Artesa Winery Meritage 2005 Napa/Sonoma
Oberon Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Napa


The remainder of the flight was filled with either watching the flight info/map or films. I had wanted to see Gran Torino and Taken when they were on at the cinema but never got around to it. However, despite not normally finding anything of interest in the UA First video cassette tray, they were both there!


Unfortunately we landed early, so early that our gate was still occupied. Soon enough I was off the aircraft and heading for US Immigration. I was the fourth person off the plane and probably (considering the time that I had to kill between my connection) around tenth (it was a very short walk to Immigration) to arrive at Immigration. It looked like an Emirates flight had arrived just before us and as usual, I got totally shafted being processed.

Despite being tenth out of over 300 passengers on my flight, despite looking back and seeing the queue snaking out of the queuing system, I was one of the last 5 people get through. They were taking people from the back of the queue and sending them down to the US Citizen desks once they were clear. The two agents for whom I was queuing only ended up processing me from my flight!!! I was not really in a jovial mood and initially this was not really helped by the Officer looking through my passport, seeing all of my US entry stamps and then asking if this was my first time in the US! However, I could not help a bit of a chuckle when he noted that I was going to Vegas, circled the ‘Are you carrying over US$10000’ question and sternly asked me to clarify that I was making the correct declaration. I wish I was carrying over US$10000!

I had spent 30 minutes waiting to get through Immigration, I know I had time to kill but it was still infuriating, and was expecting my priority tagged luggage to be waiting for me at reclaim. I was surprised when I got there and could not see my luggage! It took a further 15 minutes for mine to come out. I’ll be honest and confess to watching my bag go past me for one more lap of the carousel before picking it up and heading to Customs. The customs agent picked up on the circled currency question and asked if I had more than US$10000. I denied it and was sent on my way.

As I was connecting on US, the UA lady would not take my recheck bag and directed me over to US in T1. US took the bag and I headed off to kill some time. The AirTrain around SFO certainly helped with that mission. There are some good views of the airfield and the nearby hills. They looked fantastic as you could see the clouds coming over the top and then descending down the hills.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 5:14 am   #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
San Francisco – Las Vegas
US Airways
US471
A319
First Class
Seat 2F


Reluctantly I headed for security at T1 and was now left with the 2hr 30mins to kill. I figured I’d give the US Club a shot, considering that I was not technically entitled to admission despite being having arrived on a *A flight in F and connecting onto a US flight in F. Uncertainty was soon eradicated when I realised that there was no US Club at SFO anyway!!! I found a quiet area fairly close to my gate which had a view over part of the airfield. There I sat, looking at the planes on approach and my watch alternatively. Finally, time up!

Boarding was called for those requiring additional assistance as well as First Class passengers. I waited a few seconds to give way to those with special needs but didn’t see anybody make a move, so I headed to the gate agent and was first onboard.

I stowed my bags above my seat and waited as the planed filled up to see if I would have a seat mate or a spare seat beside me. When the door closed, there were only 6 of us in the 12 seat First cabin. I had a spare seat beside me! I had a pre-departure drink on Bacardi and Coke and settle in for the ride to Las Vegas. The flight itself was rather uneventful. The FA offered me another Bacardi and Coke (which I took). The choice of snacks from the snack basket was comical, but I took a packet of crisp type thingies and a granola bar. A third offering of Bacardi and Coke was politely declined – well my body clock was telling me that it was now 03:30am and I was beginning to feel a bit lightheaded.

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Old Aug 9, 09, 5:40 am   #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Las Vegas

For my first night in Vegas, I am booked into Excalibur hotel. I knew the reputation of the place but all I needed was a place to sleep before my Sterling Brunch at Bally’s the following morning. At $86 for a view room on a Saturday night I couldn’t complain. I was ready for the taxi driver to long-haul me (which they invariably do with me being a foreigner – they seem to think that this is your first time – this trip is my 24th to Vegas since 2002!) but was actually surprised to see him heading for Swenson!

Check-in was handled well with a lovely lady not only confirmed my ‘view room’ but also stated that I had a ‘courtesy upgrade’. I headed for Tower II noticing, it has to be admitted, a couple of well toned but poorly concealed go-go dancers on a stage right beside one of the blackjack pits. I found my room in the 12th floor but noticed a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door! I thought that there had been a mix up and I was given the key for an occupied room. I looked for a house phone to call reception but I couldn’t find one. Rather than carting all of bags back downstairs and through the casino to reception, I’d give the door a knock. Nobody responded. I knocked again but louder this time and again, no response. I inserted my key and opened the door half expecting to find a couple ‘at it’ on the bed. This was not the case and room was empty. Quite what a ‘Do not disturb’ sign was doing on the door, I’ll never know!!!








After settling into the room, I decided it was too early to go bed (9pm local time – 5am body clock time) and that there must be a spot on a blackjack table for me. I took US$100 and headed for the casino. After a quick walk around I noticed an empty table right beside the go-go dancers. Rather than stand and stare, I figured I’d get comfy and play some blackjack at the same time! A wise choice and I was soon colouring up my US$200 worth of chips (I had been tipping rather liberally too!) and walking back to my room with a free t-shirt that I had won as a prize for one of my many blackjacks being suited.

I still can’t believe what happened on the first full day in Vegas! As I was in Vegas on a Sunday morning, I figured that I just had to have the Sterling Brunch at Bally’s (US$91 after tax).




Once that I was finished there, I walked over to Bellagio and found a seat at a blackjack table. That was at 11am. It was not until 3am that I left and headed to the MGM Grand to check-in for my stay there!

Instead of a strip view room, I had a great view of McCarran!






After drinking nonstop from 09:30am to 03:00am, the next day was a bit of a write-off as I recovered. In fact after that session, I did not touch a drop of alcohol for close to 60 hours!!!



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Old Aug 9, 09, 6:21 am   #5
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546

Joël Robuchon

I had attempted to secure a reservation at this 3 Michelin starred restaurant through online reservations but, for the date that I desired, it stated that it was not possible to book. I visited the restaurant itself and had no problems gaining a table for the date and time that I preferred. I had thought that perhaps the reason for the problem of reserving a table online was that the restaurant was going to be busy but this was clearly not the case.

I was greeted upon arrival and led to my table close to the fireplace. The fireplace, it has to be said that, was for visual impact only as I did not detect any heat coming through the glass screen. I was the first person to be seated and kicked off with a glass of Champagne. Gosset I believe. As I still had the place to myself I asked whether it would be ok to take a few photos before the other diners arrived. My request was granted without hesitation and I began snapping.






The menu arrived and I slowly deliberated over the various prix fixe options. There was a choice of five options costing $89, $115, $148, $195 and one for over $300. I originally had planned to take the $115 option but ultimately ordered the $148.

Four Course Menu $148/Person

L’Amuse-bouche

Une Entrée
Appetizer

Une Soupe
Soup

Un Poisson ou une Viande
Seafood or Meat

Dessert
Dessert

Moka ou Thé
escorté de mignardises
Coffee or tea served with mignardises

The wine list arrived and I opened it up fearing the excessively high mark-up that I had read about in reviews online. However, I never made it past the Champagne section at the front. There was quite a choice of Champagne with several around the $100 mark. I was thinking about ordering the Veuve Cliquot at $110 but it was recommended that I go for the apparently more refined Mumm de Cramant at $135.


I placed my orders and waited patiently for the meal to start and, as the restaurant remained relatively empty throughout my stay (only four couples in there with me), I was able to take photos discreetly of the dishes served.

Menu

L’Amuse-bouche



LES ENTREES/APPETIZERS

Epinard
petites feuilles en salade, émulsion aux graines de sésame
Salad of baby spinach with sesame seed vinaigrette

Oursin, poulpe et crevette
dans une infusion en gelée vinaigrée aux algues
Sea Urchin, octopus and Tiger prawn in a seaweed gelée

Maquereau
mi-fumé mariné à la moutarde à l’ancienne et agrémenté de primeurs au yuzu
Lightly smoked mackerel marinated in old fashion mustard, baby vegetables with yuzu

Noix de Saint-Jacques
à la plancha, condiment au kumquat et au caviar
Sea scallop a la plancha with a sauce of kumquat and caviar



LES SOUPES/SOUPS

Le Soja
germes en cappuccino sur une royale tremblotante de shimeji
Cappuccino of soy bean on a shimeji royal

La Laitue
en fin velouté à la noix de muscade sur une fleurette d’oignon doux
Lettuce velouté with nutmeg and sweet onion foam



LES POISSONS ET CRUSTACES/SEAFOOD

Saumon
en aiguillette au miel de soja, mangue, pomme verte et curcuma
Thinly sliced salmon, mango, green apple and curcuma

Langouste
dans un court-bouillon de sake, petits navets et pousses de shiso
Spiny lobster in a sake broth, turnip and shiso sprouts


Crevette Royale
en macaron de shitakes, nage de daïkon au gingembre
Shitake mushroom stuffed with a tiger prawn mousse, ginger and shrimp broth

Bar
et poulpe au jus de citronnelle, jeunes poireaux et artichaut
Seabass filet, octopus with lemon, baby leek


LES VIANDES/MEATS

Poulet
laqué Teriyaki en brochette Maryland
Teriyaki chicken kebab Maryland

Joue de Veau
confite, jus Thaï épicé et légumes croquants
Braised veal cheeks with Thai herbs and green curry

Bœuf
noix d’entrecôte émincée, épinards au wasabi et poivrons arlequins
Beef ribeye, spiced spinach and crispy vegetables

Canard
et foie gras à l’aigre doux de cerises et amandes fraîches
Duck and seared foie gras in a cherry sauce and fresh almonds


LES DESSERTS/DESSERTS

La Cerise
clafoutis tiède accompagné de son sorbet
Warm Bing cherry clafoutis and cherry sorbet

La Framboise
perle de chou, crème Madame à la vanille de Tahiti
A perle of chou, Tahitian vanilla cream with fresh raspberry

La Fraise
au Champagne rosé, granité de mangue, croustillant de fruits rouge
Strawberries and Champagne rosé over fresh mango granité, crunchy red fruits

Le Chocolat
chaud Grand Cru, rafraîchi de menthe
Melting Araguani chocolate refreshed with a hint of peppermint


As a treat



Moka ou Thé
escorté de mignardises
Coffee or tea served with mignardises



At the end of the meal, as a nice touch, diners were given a small gift bag to take away with them.


The bill ultimately came to $400 including tip and I have to say that it was very much worth every penny. I promised myself that if I ever get my wife back to Vegas with me, I shall bring her to this restaurant for a very special treat!
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Old Aug 9, 09, 6:29 am   #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Las Vegas – San Francisco
United Airlines
UA993
A320
Economy Plus
Seat 2F


This ticket was purchased with the idea of getting me to SFO to start my Cathay/Dragonair itinerary. This flight was due to arrive at SFO nearly 4 hours before my Cathay flight departed. However, when I arrived at the self check-in machine at LAS I noticed that it stated that the flight may be delayed due to possible ATC/weather restriction at SFO. I paid $50 to check-in my new Samsonite suitcases, received my BPs and then approached the lady on the bag drop desk fearing that my bags would be over the 23kg limit with my all of my Las Vegas shopping. If they were, she didn’t say anything and pointed me in the direction of security.

I sat at the gate whilst chatting through Facebook with my wife in Hong Kong. Announcements were made about the delay and rather than departing at 08:33, it was not until 10:40 that we got airborne. I had paid the extra $24 to sit in Economy Plus and had seat 2F allocated. The plane was around 50% of capacity and I was glad to have an empty seat beside me. Service onboard consisted solely of one pass of the drinks cart.

The flight would take 1hr 12mins getting us into SFO around 11:50. This was only 1hr 45mins before the departure of the Cathay flight which was on a separate ticket. It was not until we were around 30mins from SFO that it dawned on me that I should have asked UA to interline my bags onto CX, therefore avoiding the need to waste time waiting to collect them before making a dash for the international terminal.

We made an exit from the runway and very quickly parked at our gate. As we were 2hrs late, an announcement was made asking SFO terminating passengers to hold back to allow those with tight connections to get on their way. Sat in row 2, I was able to make a quick exit. However, I had to stand around watching the time tick past at the baggage carousel. I was joined by quite a few other passengers before the bags started to arrive. I just knew that my bags were going to be the last off! However, I was happy to see them come in the first batch. I had my trolley loaded and headed quickly for the international terminal.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 6:58 am   #7
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Programs: AA Plat, 1MM, Delta Gold, HH Platinum
Posts: 183
Tex,

Looks like a great restaurant. I look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.

Thanks,
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Old Aug 9, 09, 7:07 am   #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
San Francisco – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific
CX879
747-400
B-HUI
First Class
Seat 3A


I found the Cathay check-in area around 1hr 10mins before departure! I had made it! I presented myself and asked about the second flight on this itinerary. I had a missed call from BA (who issued the award ticket) at 3am one night in Vegas advising me that my Dragonair flight to Shanghai had been cancelled. I looked up the reservation on checkmytrip and noted that they had put me onto a Cathay flight instead which only had business and economy onboard. As I had wanted to sample The Wing at HKG again, I was not happy with this and wanted to be put on a Dragonair flight that left a couple of hours after my original flight. The check-in agent took care of that for me and confirmed me on my desired flight.

He issued my BP and lounge invite before pointing me to security. The security line was huge. I had a quick look for a priority line but could not find one. I joined the back of the queue and was impressed with how quickly it was moving. Having cleared the security, I made straight for the BA lounge not being too bothered about the lack of time that I’d get in there.


I was greeted at the desk and led into the First Class section of the lounge. This was a small rectangular room that brought back memories of the First Class lounge at Tel Aviv. I sat at the bar and had a glass of Champagne (Pommery) and enjoyed the view of our 747-400 waiting outside.




Twenty minutes later we were called for boarding which is done directly from the lounge. I very much liked the look of the cabin and realised how much of a good job Cathay had done in creating privacy without the useof a sliding door. I was offered, and took, a glass of Krug. I thought that I had read of Flyertalk about the withdrawal of this on US flights! Anyway, I was delighted to see it although it must be noted that it was not advertised on the wine list! Shanghai Tang PJs and Bally amenity kits were distributed along with the wine list and menu.












Lunch Menu

Caviar, Smoked Salmon & Champagne
Caviar and fine smoked salmon with Amour de Deutz, Blanc de blanc 99



Starters
Mushroom cream soup


Heart of romaine with crispy prosciutto and Caesar dressing


Main Courses
Braised lamb shank with fava beans and garlic mashed red skin potatoes


Spinach ricotta ravioli with balsamic tomato ragout and arugula


Chinese Favourites

Double boiled Chinese ginseng and lean pork soup

Cold plate – marinated bean curd with long bean and mushrooms

Sea bass with enoki mushroom roll and black bean sauce
Or
Braised chicken and abalone with oyster sauce

Served with steamed rice and vegetables


Cheese and Dessert

Cambozola, Yellow Cheddar, Munster, Herb Goat Cheese


Fresh seasonal berries with sweet rose water

Crème caramel

Devil’s food cake with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis


Red bean soup with lotus seeds


Tea and Coffee


Pralines and Cookies



Dinner Menu

Starter
Fresh seasonal fruit


Main Courses
Chicken breast with puy lentils and ricotta, wax and green beans, steamed parsley potatoes

Abalone and black mushroom congee with spring onion pancake


Chinese Favourites
Stir-fried prawns and scallop with tangerine peel, steamed jasmine rice, kalian and carrots


Dessert
Mandarin Orange mousse cake with berry compote


Tea and Coffee

Pralines and Cookies


Wine List

Champagne
Champagne Amour De Deutz, Blanc de blanc 1999

White wines
Cavaison Estate Selection Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros 2004
Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Les Clous 2005

Red Wines
Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004
Felipe Rutini Reserve Malbec 2006
Château Lynch Bages 2001

Port
Ramos Pinto Qunita da Evramoira 10 year old Tawny Port

I again decided to delay my meal, I’d take the caviar and smoked salmon immediately though, go sleep and then have my lunch later on. The FA made my bed while I changed in the lavatory. I jumped in bed and set about catching up on some much needed sleep after staying up all night in Vegas.

I awoke 4 hours later and asked for the FA to prepare my lunch.

I thought that the Cathay First seat was very private and offered plenty of length and width. I prefer to sleep face down and was able to do this without my feet touching the end of the bed (a pet hate of mine). I was able to sleep well. It has to be said though, that the second time that I tried to sleep I couldn’t as there seemed to be a part of the seat running across the width protruding and digging into my ribs. Perhaps the first time, I was so tired that I just did not notice it.

When dinner was served, I was not feeling particularly hungry. I took the fruit salad but informed the FA that I did not feel like a full meal. She returned after the main course service, waving the dessert under my nose (metaphorically speaking) saying that I may want to take a look at the dessert before turning it away. She was right - it did look good. To be fair, it also tasted good!!!

The flight seemed the quickest ‘long’ flight of my life. I enjoyed it so much that I was genuinely disappointed to have to disembark.

Having a couple of hours free time until I was to meet up with my wife at the hotel, I decided to freshen up and check out the Cathay Pacific/Dragonair arrivals lounge 'The Arrival'.


It was smaller than I was expecting at the home base of two carriers but nonetheless certainly did the job. There was a general seating area, a mixture of PCs and Apple computers, shower facilities and a dining area.






Last edited by TEX277; Aug 10, 09 at 2:33 am.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 7:22 am   #9
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Hong Kong

I didn’t really do much of the tourist thing whilst in Hong Kong as the purpose of my Hong Kong stopover was to see my wife who was spending the UK school summer holiday teaching English as a foreign language for the British Council.

The only thing of ‘touristy’ note was a visit to the J. W. Marriott for their Sunday Bruch! For HK$610 (or HK$510 – without champagne), you had a fantastic array of food including caviar, lobster, foie gras to choice from. The champagne served was Piper Heidseick. The caviar was served by a member of staff and the protocol was to give two blinis and to top each with a modest serving of caviar. It looked like it would take a while to get some true value from this buffet! However, I soon discovered that a request for ‘one of each’ of the four types of caviar was always granted.











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Old Aug 9, 09, 9:33 am   #10
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Hong Kong – Shanghai
Dragonair
KA876
A330-300
B-HYQ
First Class
Seat 1A


I rang BA Hong Kong the day before departure to ensure that I was all set for this flight after the cancellation and subsequent change of flight. The agent said that he needed to check with Cathay, took my contact details and rang back a few minutes later to confirm that all was taken care of.

I arrived at the Dragonair check-in desk around two hours before departure. The agent manning the First counter welcomed me and set about calling up my reservation. After several minutes of tapping away at her keyboard, she eventually became satisfied that all was in order and asked if I preferred a window or aisle seat. I asked for an window. The BP was spat out and she handed it to me. I saw the seat allocation and asked whether 2D was really a window seat. She said it wasn’t and reissued the BP but with 1A showing this time. That’s more like it!

I endured a relatively lengthy queue for security and then immigration (I am surprised that there is not a priority queue at HKG), bought some duty free and then headed back up the escalators to The Wing. It was a lot more busy than on my only previous visit to this Cathay/Dragonair First Class lounge so much so that I headed straight through to The Long Bar. Once I had seen the sign stating that the bar did not open until 11:30am, I thought I’d try to get a table at the restaurant.

I only had to wait about a minute before I was seated. I indulged in both Chinese and Western breakfast items before trying my luck at the cabanas. I was led straight in and given a quick tour of the facility. It was only my intention to have a shower but after seeing the bath and the relaxation area I changed my plans.




I soaked and relaxed but all too soon it was time to board. I headed for the gate and was amazed at just how few passengers there were in the gate area considering that boarding was imminent. At a guess I would say that they could not have been more than 50 in and around that gate area. It certainly made me understand the reasoning for the cancellation of my original flight!


First Class on this Dragonair A330-300 consisted of 12 seats (two rows in a 2-2-2 configuration) and was well presented. I opted for a pre-departure glass of champagne. The only other passenger in First on this flight was a female who seemed to be a Cathay/Dragonair employee that was known by both pilots, as they both popped over to chat with her before we pushed back.






The night before departure, it had been windy and raining quite heavily - T1 apparently. T1 signs were still showing as I arrived at the airport and, although the weather was not too bad when we boarded, it began to close in again as we approached the runway for take-off.




I was handed a menu that basically had two meal options; Chinese or Western. Call me boring if you like, but I went for the latter.

Menu

Chinese Menu

Appertizer
Red Scallop with Red Beancurd Sauce

Soup
Seafood Soup in Winter Melon

Main Courses
Sautéed Fresh Prawn with Mayonnaise
And
Chicken Roll with Chinese Meat Sauce
Steamed Rice

Dessert
Double Boiled Sago and White Fungus and Dried Logan

Coffee and Tea


Western Menu

Appertizer
Prawn Salad with “Aurora” Liqueur Cocktail Sauce



Main Course
Rolled Beef with Fontina Cheese and Spinach
Herbs Mashed Potatoes



Dessert
Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream



Bread Basket

Coffee and Tea


Wine List

Champagne
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

White Wines
Murrieta’s Well Meritage 2005 California
Divinus De Château Bonnet 2006 France

Red Wines
La Chapelle de Saint Dominique, Languedoc Roussillon, France 2003
Murrita’s Well Meritage 2005 California


I had been asked whether I’d mind completing an onboard survey and put up no resistance (it did get me a free Dragonair pen!). The flight and service was pleasant enough. I barely touched my main course and when the FA came around and saw my plate, she immediately asked if I would like the vegetarian option instead.

We arrived at Shanghai on schedule. 1L was opened first and both of us First passengers were allowed to disembark before the curtain separating First from Business was pulled back and the handful of Business Class passengers were set loose.

The health checkpoint as well as Customs and Immigration were both easily navigated and, having no bags to collect (I had left them in Hong Kong), I was quickly in the arrivals hall and following the signs for the Maglev train.

Last edited by TEX277; Aug 10, 09 at 2:44 am.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 9:55 am   #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Shanghai

I purchased my Maglev ticket (RMB 80 for the return ticket in 'economic' class), excitedly boarded and had my camera at the ready as we sped into Shanghai at 431kph!! It was unbelievable to think that in the 8 minute journey we had covered 19 miles!






The taxi driver was not quite as speedy or efficient. I should have realised I was in for one of them trips when he spent 2 minutes reading the sheet that I gave to him that stated the name of the hotel I wanted to get to. It was not a small hotel (The Sofitel Shanghai Hyland) that I was staying at but this guy had clearly never heard of it. To be honest, it was only when I realised he didn’t have a clue that I said ‘Nanjing Road’ and began driving. To be fair to the guy, he did get us the People’s Square before he had to park (in the second lane on some roundabout!) to make a call to find out where the hotel was. Only a minute or two later, we arrived at the hotel.

I was quite impressed with the quality of the hotel. It looked much better than I was expecting for a £60 stay. Check-in was performed by some new recruit who apologised for his slowness and then it was straight up to the room to catch up on some sleep.




First off, I headed out of the hotel and turned left heading west down Nanjing Road. The rain was light but persistent. At People’s Square, I turned around and headed back to the hotel. What I found quite amazing was that people with umbrellas were walking in the 2 metre wide area alongside each building that was covered from the rain and just would not move out!


On my second sortie onto the streets of Shanghai, I headed east towards The Bund. The clouds were low, restricting the view of the Oriental Pearl Tower but I managed get a few pictures anyway.




I then paid my RMB 50 for a return ticket on the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. I shared a small capsule with a couple and a young lady who evidently worked at the tunnel who was on her way home. She was nice and said hello and ‘Welcome to Shanghai’.

Once on the other side of the river I headed for the Oriental Pearl Tower following all of the other tourists getting off of their buses. I paid my RMB 100 and headed up the tower. Low clouds really spoilt what was, I am sure, a fantastic view of the city!






Not really wanting to either walk back to the hotel or go through the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel again, I thought I’d prepare myself for the trip back to the airport with my initiation of the Shanghai Metro system. The ticket machines had an English option and purchasing a ticket was relatively straight forward. Signs were also in English and soon enough I was back at the hotel.

Last edited by TEX277; Aug 16, 09 at 3:05 pm.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 9:58 am   #12
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Love the meal reports especially as a nice component of the overall trip report!

And really do appreciate all reports on CX F, as I'm anticipating my first CX new F myself

I do want to explore one thing further, if I might?
Quote:
Originally Posted by TEX277 View Post
I looked up the reservation on checkmytrip and noted that they had put me onto a Cathay flight instead which only had business and economy onboard. As I had wanted to sample The Wing at HKG again, I was not happy with this and wanted to be put on a Dragonair flight that left a couple of hours after my original flight.
I've been told elsewhere on FT that CX will permit arriving F pax to the a first class lounge @ HKG, even if departing in J.

For my upcoming trip I'm scheduling to arrive into HKG in F and depart in J myself, so I emailed CX and they seemed to confirm this.

Have you had a different experience?

Thanks!
Gary
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Old Aug 9, 09, 10:25 am   #13
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Shanghai – Hong Kong
Shanghai Airlines
FM809
767-300
B-2566
Business Class
Seat 2A


Another early departure and not really wanting to get out of bed, I left it as late as I felt comfortable with. Check out was swift and I was soon back out on Nanjing Road. I paused briefly to capture the scene at 7am on the street before heading off to the nearby Metro station.


I caught the metro to the Maglev station and then waited patiently for the train. There are not many times when I have been 20 miles away from the airport with only 1hr 15mins until departure and felt quite as at ease.


Business Class check-in was quick and I was soon through Immigration and security and heading for the Gate 77 lounge. This lounge is run by Shanghai Airlines and serves as the Star Alliance Lounge at T2. The Business Class section is spacious enough with various seating areas. Food and drink (no wine or champagne) offerings are little more than satisfactory.














Soon enough it was time for boarding. The aircraft (a 767-300) was waiting at Gate 86.


I went through the priority lane again and straight onto the aircraft. I was welcomed onboard and pointed towards my seat. The Business Class section of this aircraft had 28 seats in a 2-2-2 layout with five rows (the centre column only had 4 rows). The pre-departure drink was a choice of water or juice. I took the juice.








It was announced around 10 minutes before scheduled departure that the flight was going to be delayed by 1hr due to weather at Hong Kong. The cabin crew took the opportunity of the delay to offer us (only two other passengers with me in Business and one of those was an employee) our breakfast at the gate and the Hong Kong arrival card. There was no menu, just a choice of Chinese or Western. Again I was boring and chose a have a beer with my meal. The beer, a Carlsberg Chill (rather ironically) was served at room temperature!




After only serving half of our delay, we pushed back and headed for the runway. We waited for an Asiana A320 to land and then commenced our take-off roll. As we headed towards our cruising altitude the cabin crew made an improvised curtain to separate the Business cabin from the galley with a piece of cord and a blanket.


Other than a passing of the duty free trolley, there was no service by the crew for the entire 2 hour flight.

Last edited by TEX277; Aug 10, 09 at 2:45 am.
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Old Aug 9, 09, 10:32 am   #14
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 21
thx for the report! I've never seen dragonair's F before
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Old Aug 9, 09, 10:34 am   #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Posts: 2,546
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenwichgolf View Post
Tex,

Looks like a great restaurant. I look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.

Thanks,
It really was a fantastic restaurant in which to dine. Like I say in the report, it really was worth every single penny. I do hope you enjoy the rest of the report!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gleff View Post
Love the meal reports especially as a nice component of the overall trip report!

And really do appreciate all reports on CX F, as I'm anticipating my first CX new F myself

I do want to explore one thing further, if I might?


I've been told elsewhere on FT that CX will permit arriving F pax to the a first class lounge @ HKG, even if departing in J.

For my upcoming trip I'm scheduling to arrive into HKG in F and depart in J myself, so I emailed CX and they seemed to confirm this.

Have you had a different experience?

Thanks!
Gary
The meals did become a bit of a feature of the trip - so I figured I'd include them here.

To be honest, I never contacted CX to confirm my lounge eligibility when moved from KA F to CX J. I really wanted to travel in First and sample Dragonair for the first time so the question of whether I'd be permitted to enter the F lounge with a J BP never really came into the equation.
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