Old Jun 21, 17, 8:03 am
  #8  
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 192 HKG-LAX, Business Class

Oops, 4 hours is apparently too early and the HKG AA ground agents were taking their break between the DFW and LAX flights.


Fortunately everything was printed out successfully from the kiosk and I was able to process the tax refund which the desk was conveniently located at the same aisle. After everything was done, with my Y+ boarding pass in hand I went through security and went to check out the new Pier J class lounge, and it would be my first 'prolonged' stay there. I was looking forward after all the hype I've heard.


The lounge looks every bit as stylish as its sibling, Pier F, and with my switch from AA EXP to CX sapphire nowadays, I don't feel I will lose much at all.

The first ever HKG lounge lockers!

A 'coffee cart' by the entrance


The bar area

More seating with newly designed 'Solo' chairs

The Bureau, a working area

The noodle bar

The Tea House

I grabbed my glass of Cathay Delight at the bar, and settled on a very comfortable leather armchair by the windows. Then I just charged my devices and contemplated at the 388s and various traffic passing by.


Actually, I was starting to freak out reloading the AA app as the upgrade list tonight was a whopping 56 deep. Fortunately I was #2 even when my ticket was reissued as I made the date change, but the seat map showed a very full J cabin. I did think of ditching the ticket last minute and redeeming an award back on CX J instead, but availability forbade that. With the risk of having to suck it up in the back for the next 12 hours, I walked over to the Pier F to have dinner just in case.


Back here just after 2 days...

I started with Yakitori beef as my starter, along with another glass of Cathay Delight. Even if my upgrade clears, I can't get that onboard

Next up was the Wok-fried duo of clams and that's why the chopsticks were there. Unfortunately the taste was rather bland and there were too many herbs and spices to make up for that, the portion was a bit too large too.


Still, it was less than two hours before departure with no signs of upgrades clearing. So it was better to continue to be safe than sorry later.


The panna cotta made up a bit for the disappointment of the main. In full preparation for having to endure the next 12 hours in pain, I was like whatever by that time and went for a long, hot and relieving shower, again repeating what I did 2 days ago



Once I was done it was back to scrolling on the AA app again. Could have been a lot worse although it did affect my 'enjoyment' of the lounges a bit, at least I was one of the lucky 6 (among 56)


Boarding was through gate 43 tonight, and AA did a decent job at turning around the plane in time with it having came in from DFW not long ago. Unfortunately it was a lot more messier at the gate with lines here and there with passengers having reseating requests, and GAs giving vague instructions for lining up. I was denied a window seat rather rudely (having spoken Cantonese still) as they had processed all upgrades into specific seats. AA uses SATS agents at HKG which are not as professional as CX agents, or at least I'm not that used to them.



There was one single priority line for everyone. But once boarding began religiously at T-50, all hell broke loose, only to be stopped by a second security check on the jetbridge. Now why can't they do it like CX, sealing off some part of the gate area instead? It was stuffy and cramped.

Interestingly, next to us was a DL A330 having just come in from SEA.


American Airlines 192 / Cathay Pacific 7686
Hong Kong (HKG) to Los Angeles (LAX)
November 27th 2016
Estimated departure/arrival: 1935 - 1625
Actual departure/arrival: 1928 - 1629
Flying time: 11h 54m
Equipment: Boeing 777-300ER N720AN
Seat 15G


Weird enough, it was the same plane that flew me over! But the feeling of boarding was less exciting with the messy gate arrangements, sub-optimal seat in the last row, and uh oh, a very tall and stern looking FA standing right at the galley not saying a single word and giving everyone a blank stare as we boarded.


Just like the way out on 193, everything was pre-set at the seat which I appreciated very much. The amenity kit and headsets were different, although they were the same brands:


The only saving grace of the last row may have been a huge storage compartment right behind the seat at shoulder level. I could put most of my stuff there instead and didn't have to reach for the overhead compartment.


As my other upgraded seatmates settled down, it seems that most were couples that split with the gentlemen giving their seats to the ladies I'm sorry if I split one of you guys up!

Soon, the very tall FA came by and continued his blank stares, this time with an additional mutter of the singular word, yeah you guessed it, 'Drink?'


Both the cup and the bubbly were rather nasty, let alone the FA. Another grumpy looking FA rolled his cart with newspapers and PJs so I grabbed another pair again - at least they didn't run out or forget to offer them:


We still had ample time before departure so again that's one good thing about boarding early. We pushed ahead of schedule, and rolled into the night sky of HKG some 20 minutes later, after the safety demonstration was shown.



Some sort of effort was made at cabin lighting as service began after we leveled off. Let's take a look at the menu:







Mr. Grumpy came by again, surprisingly addressing me by last name but still looked very grumpy. He confirmed my main course order of scallops with risotto, while offering me the same sad looking hot towel(lette), a pre meal beverage and nuts as I set up my laptop and connected to the wifi.



I changed my mind as I didn't want to 'waste' the BOSE headsets and IFE, which to be frank was excellent in terms of variety and breadth. There may have been more than 250 movie titles, and again there was some effort to please HKG based passengers.




Mr. Grumpy came back again with the starter plate of grilled halloumi. Yuck, it was way too salty. I'm glad I stocked up at the Pier F. The portions weren't great either. However, the bread and salad were of similar excellent quality like it was on the outbound.


Next, it was time for Mr. Grumpy to strike. He carried over a plate of rather disgusting looking green curry, to which I said we just confirmed my order of the risotto. Oops...I saw his expressions worsen and he started barking that no, I was wrong, but I will kindly check if we have spares. Alrighty. I'm sorry if I took your meal bro...

Thankfully there was one left but the plating left much to be desired.


The scallops were a bit too overcooked and the taste was bland overall. I wanted to say I can't blame AA as they use CX catering out of HKG which is...just bad, but JL and SQ also do and there does not seem to be problems over there.

I didn't want to challenge Mr Grumpy further, so I was more conservative this time when he asked if I wanted dessert. Luckily the sundae didn't disappoint and was hand made rather than pre-made on the outbound. Yaaaaasss. My request for Chinese Tea (as i was feeling a bit stuffed already) didn't disappoint either, the cup was cute looking and the taste rather herbal.


We were 2.5 hours out and about to make landfall over Japan as the meal service wrapped up, so the pace was not bad and similar to CX flights, albeit with a bit less substance (cheese was a part of dessert here rather than separate on CX).


With my bed set up in its full glory, I tried to catch a bit of shut eye. I guess the only good thing seated towards the back is it felt less bumpy some how, so I did manage to sleep quite well for a while.


5 hours later, I woke to see ourselves having made considerable progress across the Pacific. It was actually still early in HK but was good for adjusting back to LA/US time.


Knowing that a call bell would probably set Mr Grumpy into volcanic mode, I made my way to the galley where another less grumpy lady FA told me that unfortunately they had run out of the heated mid-flight dim sum snack. Well I wasn't completely hungry so I took her suggestion for cheesecake from the (again sparsely stocked only) buffet bar.



Another surprise, they stocked Valrhona chocolates, a luxury item that QR had cost-cut earlier ago. It was rather cool that glasses and opened bottles of wine etc were readily available, perhaps a cultural difference from Asian airlines.


More wi-fi time


Soon in the pitch darkness, glasses of mango-avocado smoothies were handed out by hand discreetly. The taste was wonderful. I wish I asked for the brand!


As the commotion started stirring from the galley I diligently moved my stuff aside. We were around 750 miles out of LA as you can see, I guess that's a good time to start serving 'brunch'.


My one-tray breakfast was handed over as we made landfall over Northern California. The set-up was largely similar to the outbound which I don't mind as breakfasts served this way minimized disruption to pax that were still asleep, and was more efficient. Portions were again generous although it was bland.


Mr Grumpy was less grumpy but his taller colleague had influenced him into monosyllabicism by his question of 'black' as I asked for coffee as my beverage. I noticed a young Taiwanese FA serving the aisle that smiled a lot more and were more polite to the pax across the aisle, although they were much slower it seemt. I think he may have also done the Mandarin PAs but they were extremely amateur and poorly translated (presumably on the spot). Perhaps AA can learn a thing or two from CX as they have very rigorously updated and thorough PA books

A CBP video was screened after the captain's pre descent announcement. It was patronizing if not condescending...you get it.


As I went to the lav to freshen up, I assume that Mr Grumpy took the liberty to unplug my headsets and collect them...anyway, at least we were arriving 40 minutes ahead of schedule, although descent and approach was extremely rollicking. As I had no window nor outside camera, I had to resort to this to see where we were:


We landed in bright daylight at LAX only to be LAX'd, i.e. arriving extremely early but still managing to pull into the gate somewhat behind schedule. It also took very long for them to open the door and usher us into T4 CBP. Well, only to have us be greeted with malfunctioning GE/APC/everything, and two incompetent agents dealing with 300 incoming passengers. I just shrugged my shoulders and walked on towards TBIT CBP, where I cleared GE and recleared security through the hidden connector spot in a breeze (PRE was also offered).

All in all, I was not that 'wowed' compared to the outbound perhaps as a mixture of the last minute upgrade tensions, and a back-to-normal set of AA crew. But at least they did everything they were supposed to do action-wise, and the flight was still a very comfortable ride across the Pacific with both hardware and many aspects of the software comparable if not competitive with what CX had to offer.
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