Old Jun 20, 17, 3:21 pm
  #2  
G-CIVC
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: ORD + HKG
Programs: CX Diamond, AA exExPlat, BAEC Gold, HH Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, Starriott Gold, GE
Posts: 2,811
AA 193 LAX-HKG, Business Class

Long story short, I was denied entry into the QF lounge that I have been anticipating for so long as I was under 21. I even begged the lounge dragon to let me sit in the very first table next to the entrance so she could supervise me, but her reluctance finally set me walking away before security was called in, as I know have happened to certain FFs dealing with their incompetence at lounge access rules since its opening.

Disappointingly, I walked back to the AC/FL at T4 which was already under renovation at that time. There was almost nothing on offer, save for some food and good booze. And of course, tremendously more wonderful AAngels than those at QF F. Anyway, the new TBIT still looks stunning after a few years.





The FL was eerily quiet, but there were a few presumably uninformed flyers on the 193 tonight who chose to be here (they definitely did not look under 21...). The AC was on the other hand a lot more crowded, with the only saving grace being gorgeous views over the tarmac including the battleship tonight going the distance over the Pacific:



I guess the ritual of boarding extremely early would be good for me tonight then, and it did happen punctually. As a CX flyer, I can't believe I would be boarding an AA flight for HKG...



American Airlines 193 / Cathay Pacific 7685
Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG)
November 24th 2016
Estimated departure/arrival: 0035 - 0810+1
Actual departure/arrival: 0034 - 0803+1
Flying time: 14h 50m
Equipment: Boeing 777-300ER N720AN
Seat 8A


Unfortunately, I was not able to snag a seat in the mini cabin, so I picked 8A, three rows from the galley and ahead of the engines. Oh, the familiarity!




Unlike on CX, everything was pre-set at the seat before boarding including bottled water, BOSE headsets, menu, amenity kit, slippers, pillow, duvet and mattress. And that's a very sumptuous array compared to what CX offers, so I was already in a great mood. There were also more plastic wrapping, which although not the most environmentally friendly felt more hygienic.


With all the controls and design being basically the same, I was very content with the seat and settled in much more quickly and comfortably than I did on the previous 787 ride:


As the other 300 passengers took their time to settle in, I perused the menu before PDBs were served in faux glasses by a young cheerful FA.




Wine list:




Another picture of the 'setup' with the PDB there


As the cabin settled down and we prepared to leave, another crew member rolled around a cart with pyjamas and newspapers for those that needed it. I picked a pair of S/M sized PJs which were comfortable and rather stylish.



As if I weren't impressed enough, the safety video actually was bilingual, even on the soundtrack I felt that AA was really trying hard to invade into the HKG market.

Once the safety video finished playing, the IFE was turned on and my obvious choice was my favorite program. I liked the early boarding as we were all settled and ready to go way before departure time, and we soon pushed ahead of schedule. Surprisingly, there were empty seats in the back, although I suspect a considerable amount of F/J pax were non-revs, a concept that I still find baffling as a CX flyer.




As is the norm at LAX, our taxi took over 40 minutes before we finally rolled into the night skies at full power. A 310-laden 77W may have felt heavier than my usual Cathay 275-seaters

While waiting for the service to begin, I took a look at the Cole Haan amenity kit, which both the looks and contents felt superior and sumptuous to what CX had to offer.

Unfortunately, the hot towel was not part of the enhancements on this service, and still looked miserable:

The young female ABC FA came by, set up my table while her counterpart, an older but equally cheerful gentleman offered me PDB and nuts. I chose my regular PDB of Diet Sierra, while continuing watching live BBC. Menu orders were also taken including salad dressing and confirmation of my meal order:



I set up my laptop later and again, another perk over CX that didn't disappoint at all. In fact, I had no problem streaming YouTube later on.



Around 50 minutes after take off, they brought the tray with the salad set up and the canape along with offerings of premium bread. If you have ever flown CX on a late night supper flight, their tray set up is a lot more underwhelming than what AA managed to offer:


The portions for the salad and bread were much more generous, and the taste was very fine for all the items. 15 minutes later, my pre-ordered entree of coffee braised short ribs was delivered after being plated in the galley:

OMG, it was tender and flaky, so much that I consumed everything before taking any more pictures. Drink refills were offered with FAs attending to passengers' needs throughout, I would say the service was proactive and hospitable.

Feeling very adventurous, I asked if it was possible to have a trio of all the desserts on offer. The female FA cheerfully agreed and was enthusiastic to offer what AA had to her passengers, even proactively suggested if I would like port to go with it. Why not!


The service had actually took close to 2 hours versus 1 on CX, but considering the variety and portions of food (while CX offers a one-tray 'quick' supper service), I thought it wasn't too bad. The lights were half dimmed all the time so some passengers just slept through it, or had a bit of food and not everything. It actually would help adjust to jet lag by delaying sleep as much as possible anyway, so I continued binging YouTube before touring the lav and the bar area while getting changed and ready for bedtime.







Unfortunately, the bar area was not set up with the fancy snacks and light bites as were available on some other flights. The FAs actually initiated conversation in a really friendly way and even encouraged me to write to AA when I mentioned this!

Anyway, it was approaching 4am in LA and with the whole cabin asleep, I set up my bed in the sky with the additional mattress pad provided. This along with a plush, thick pillow meant I felt I slept better than I did on CX. The air vents did the trick too.


I may have awoken slightly when some of the pax started waking up and ordering midflight snacks, but I was able to score a solid 7 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, when I woke up, the wagyu beef sliders were gone to which the FA apologetically offered me the antipasti plate followed with another slice of chocolate cake and Hong Kong style milk tea. The taste and presentation were all truly beyond expectations!


There was no sign of geoblock either as we ventured into Chinese airspace:



I think the IFE selections were very good with plentiful options, but with (blazing fast) wifi, that was generally rather moot for me on this flight. I continued to just lazily lounge around fidgeting with my laptop, when some time later the sun was beginning to rise, and the cabin crew were back into action. What's better than having breakfast in bed at 35,000 ft, watching live TV?



Contrary to how it works on CX, breakfast was a relatively low key affair compared to the first meal with everything served on one tray. Still, everything was there except for cereals but again portions and quality were very impressive. The pain au chocolat was crisp and hot...I honestly wish I could get something like that again soon but it seems like not even on QR

The sun was rising through the horizon. What a wonderful view.

I continued to lounge around watching TV as we neared HKG.

One last shot of the goodies that have accompanied me through the long night:


The captain soon came on the PA to announce our on time arrival and iminent descent. It wasn't until then that the cabin crew started to wrap up and collect headsets, so I'd say they paced it well. We were allowed to keep using our IFE and I resorted back to my favorite program with a fantastic 'view' as we began our approach:


We touched down at HKG and taxied swiftly to our gate, arriving a few minutes ahead of schedule at gate 15 which is just next to immigration. What a great flight it was but it also felt good seeing the CX beauties lined up next door




As a CX flyer my first time AA J experience was mind blowing as you could tell. The amenities and F&B were significantly better in many extents, let alone other extras like wi-fi. The timing of this flight was great too as it arrives into HKG a bit later than most TPAC red-eyes. Of course, the icing on the cake was the crew which although not very personalized did offer efficient and effortful service, which I appreciated a lot. This would turn out to be a differentiating factor as the return sector would show. But for now, I was so impressed and in a good mood to connect to Narita on a rather dull morning at HKG
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