Old May 31, 07, 12:07 am
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Rejuvenated
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 13,144
Battling Fatigue LAX-HKG-TPE-HKG-LAX: CX First Class & Regional Business

Introduction

Being in the sales & marketing profession, it is without question a man or a woman gets treated to many corporate trips involving routine air travel. With that comes the opportunity to enjoy many airlines’ various products and onboard services as well as the rewards of accuring frequent flyer mileages and statuses. For some, he or she perceives them as a mode of transportation required to get the job done far away from the office while for some others like myself, not only view them as a mode of transport from one point to another because my job requires them, but also as part of the rewarding travel experience. As one who happens to be in that very same profession, I have been blessed to incorporate air travel into my routine particularly within the last two years. Without doubt, a very rewarding routine to be presented with.

However despite all these perks and rewards, a human being’s body has been naturally developed with a certain fatigue tolerance level. No matter how great of a service or hardware product an airline is capable of delivering, fatigue is still fatigue and at times is inevitable. Just imagine yourself in an ordinary long haul sector. The number of hours locked inside a flying machine while being deprived of fresh air and the need to cope with time zone differential at the end of the journey. After dealing with this routine after routine, it does take its toll on a human’s body and I for one will not deny it.

Three days prior to the commencement these four flights I am about to report on this piece of composition, I had arrived (along with one colleague) on a 12-hour transpacific crossing onboard QF routing AKL-LAX (Wed May 23) for 12-hours. A recipe for jetlag about to be confirmed afterwards was followed by an orientation meeting in Beverly Hills taking place 3 hours later after flight landing. Hardly any time for respite as I had to quickly put on my working face for full concentration.

Orientation for three full hours and followed by another two hours of dinner meeting took place on the same arrival date of the QF flight (Wed May 23) would then be followed by two full consecutive days (Thu May 24 & Fri May 25) of seminar. An event in which, myself as an attendee, was faced with the grueling task of concentration and keeping myself awake while at the same time, battling severe fatigue and jetlag. A jetlag that saw me sleeping at 7 PM and waking up 2 AM for three consecutive nights and staying awake the rest of the AM hours leading up to the seminar hours. Believe me, going through an eastbound jetlag is a lot more hellish than the opposite direction. Talk about being in a zombie-like state walking into the conference room, yes no kidding………and just when you think relief is on the way, think again.

Here I am (after three days dealing with grueling jetlag and heavy seminars on Wed, Thu, and Fri) on this Saturday and two more crossings across the Pacific were in store for me again, the two transpacific journeys that are the reports of this trip report, beginning on…..yup…..you guessed it…..this very same Saturday. No time for any breaks nor leisure as another schedule has me jetting back to the Far East for a short assignment, but nonetheless, another remote journey. This time a roundtrip transpacific date with Cathay Pacific Airways.

CX885

In preparation for this 1:15 pm Saturday departure, I decided to head over to LAX earlier in anticipation of a heavier passenger volume than normal traveling through the airport at the start of this long Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. No harm to plan early anyways. Regardless despite having braced and prepared for the chaos, I still managed to reach the terminal at a timely 10:30 am. TBIT was at it’s routinely mess as it always has regardless Memorial Day weekend or not. Make no mistake, it was an unsurprisingly unwelcoming scene with bodies scattered all over the place and people waiting impatiently to get things scanned through security whether it be their belongings or themselves. It was like taking part in a refugee assortment assignment. Nonetheless, I shrugged whatever was taking place and just made my way straight to the CX counters located on the second isle from the north of the terminal.

There was hardly a queue developing at the First Class counter when I reached the area and in no time did I reach the podium to have my records processed. However this time around it was a Caucasian lady who handled my check-in. To be honest, this was the first time I have encountered a Caucasian ground staff at the LAX check-in so either she was new, have only worked for a year, or maybe she is now on duty to process the afternoon flight. Frankly, I have no clue and the only other CX Caucasian ground staff I have encountered in the past was one in YVR. Nonetheless she was friendly and processed my documents very quickly. Even though I was flying F on LAX-HKG and connecting to HKG-TPE in J, my bags were tagged with a priority “First Class” red tag as per CX procedure, bags are tagged at the highest class level you are booked in towards your final destination. Afterwards, she handed me two boarding passes for each sectors respectively and instructed me to take my tagged bags for screening.

It was no doubt a PITA to have to take my bags and go all the way to the front of the terminal near the sliding door entrances. Once there I had to wait in a sizable queue mixed together with other passengers traveling on other carriers operating out of the same terminal just to deliver them to security. I mean, why can’t the airport authority just allow the airlines to take the bags immediately and roll them over to the security technology screenings rather than shoulder an extra load on behalf of the passengers? Oh wait a minute, I am flying out of an airport and out of a terminal where if they were described, would fall well below the mediocrity level of a 3rd world airport.

Anyways after waiting 10 minutes in line, my bags were finally taken by the TSA and rolled into the X-rays and into further processing. At the same time I was scheduled to meet with a fellow Flyer Talker whom I just met last night for the first time for dinner during my short visit in town. It was coincidently that he had to shuttle his brother for a return trip to Thailand and had the flight departure on the same date as mines and a departure of around the same hours as well. Despite having to wait a little longer since his brother had issues with the limitation of the luggage and thus needing to accompany him with more time, he managed to make his way out and we were able to chat briefly including the previous night’s encounter and some other stuff. However it was really brief as it was his turn to assist his brother in the queues to get his stuff delivered to the TSA screenings.

Therefore before he made his way to the TSA bag line-up, I waved goodbye to him and made my way upstairs towards the interim lounge. As I made my way up the northern escalators from the check-in area, I caught a glimpse of B-HOW, the aircraft that was to operate my flight for today has already been parked and sitting at Gate 120.

The First Class interim lounge at the TBIT is located in the food court seating area in between the food stalls and restaurants located one level above the check-in areas. Actually where the lounge sits used to also be a seating area for the food court overlooking the western tarmac. To accommodate the lounge they just erected an inner wall and reduced the number of food court seatings.

The lounge itself is really really cramped for a small area to squeeze virtually most airlines regardless of alliance operating out of the terminal but having said that, it is slightly better than the previous airside lounge CX directed their premium passengers to.

Seating Area


Food & Beverage Station

As the name speaks for itself, I didn’t expect anything spectacular in terms of food offerings. They had instant noodle cups, chips, cookies, pastries, cereals, sushi (courtesy of Sushi Boy) as well as normal basic beverages and alcohols. Really basic and nothing fancy at all. At the end I settled for several pieces of Sushi, a pastry, and a cookie along with a can of soda and sat myself in one of the few remaning seats of the crowded facility.

There were also 3-4 computer terminal internet stations located near the entrance and were all occupied when I got there so I didn’t bother.

As said earlier the lounge was crowded and became more crowded as I stayed there as people were trying to escape the mess taking place outside.

At around 11:50 am, I checked my boarding pass and decided to exit the lounge to head over to the boarding gate aware from earlier scenes that it would take time to pass the TSA screenings to the airside area facilities.

Gate 120 is located on the northern wing of the TBIT; however, the lines were ridiculously long on the northern screening stations so after discovery, I headed the opposite direction towards the south screening ones which even though was long, was still much shorter. It did not really matter which of the two TSA screening entrances you should go to because regardless of where you gates are, the northern and southern wing of the terminal are connected airside.

So it was up to me to walk back north towards Gate 120 in a very usurprisingly dirty, poor lit, and hot airside departure area. If you think the landside infrastructure and outlook was depressing, wait until you arrive airside.

The scene around Gate 120 was already packed when I got there. However no boarding announcements were made yet.

While waiting, was able to caught a glimpse of B-HOW nose up being loaded for the upcoming departure.

After another 10 minutes of waiting, boarding was finally announced and I joined the queue of the first & business class passengers who had section of their own and made my way through the airbridge and into the 744.

Cathay Pacific CX 885
First Class, Seat 2K
Sector: Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 (744)
Registration: B-HOW
Departure Gate: 120
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 1:15 pm (May 26, 2007) / 1:25 pm (May 26, 2007)
Arrival Gate: 35
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 6:55 pm (May 27, 2007) / 6:40 pm (May 27, 2007)


Stepping inside the aircraft I was greeted by the black uniform ISM lady and then escorted into the First Class cabin.


Art Gallery at the Nose


Newspaper & Magazine Selections

There a Senior Purser dressed in the typical purple uniform welcomed me aboard and introduced herself as Veena before escorting me to my seat 2K which I had pre-selected at time of booking.

This seat, along with 2A, are my favorite for the current 744 layout when traveling alone. IMO, the open space gap in between 2A and 2K really makes a huge difference for my personal preference. I know some would argue about 1A & 1K but to be honest, I do not like the locations these two because of the proximity in between the two seats as well the feeling that you are stuck well to the front with nowhere else to go. Just a personal taste that’s all.

Anyhow after settling into my seat, I requested a glass of Krug from SP Veena after she made the pre-takeoff drink routine offer and was delivered promptly.


Shanghai Tang Pj’s were also delivered shortly afterwards

Drinking slowly out of my glass of Krug, I waited patiently in my seat as the remaining other passengers were making their way inside the aircraft.

The loading factor in the F cabin was a fairly light 4 out of 12. In addition to myself at 2K there was a coupe sitting together in in 3D & 3K (as shown in one of the earlier photos) and a business man in front of me at 1K. Other than those, the other 8 were unoccupied.

As we were getting ready for the departure, the ISM reappeared inside the F cabin. She introduced herself to each passengers and greeted each of the MPO members as well including DM member myself. For today’s flight, we have been informed by our captain that we would enjoy a shorter flight journey into HKG of less than 14 hours compared the scheduled 14:40.

At 1:20 pm, we began withdrawing slowly from Gate 120 for our taxiway departure. Meanwhile the “cartoonish version” of the in-flight safety demo video appeared on our PTV.

We taxied out towards the north of the airport, then a left turn back south passing the entire TBIT stretch then turning left again passing by Terminals 4-8 before making a right U turn towards runway on this busy early afternoon LAX traffic. After a China Eastern Flight took off for PVG ahead of us, we roared down runway 25 and made a powerful but gentle liftoff.


Takoff was directly to the west above towards the ocean


Malibu is somewhere out there buried under the clouds

Not long after takeoff, the crews reappeared into the cabins and began distributing more inflight materials.

Menu


Wine List


Vitorinox Kit

I was offered another drink after takoff and decided to go with one of CX’s exclusive signature – the Delight while order was being taken for the upcoming lunch service.

About an hour or so later, lunch was beginning to be served and the ever familiar salmon caviar trolley appeared on the left of my seat.


Lunch


Caviar, Smoked Salmon and Champage
Caviar and Fine Smoked Salmon
with Krug Grande Cuvee

Starters
Wild Mushroom Soup

Mixed Salad with Scallops and Shrimps
with Olive and Balsamic Dressing

Main Courses
Seared Beef Tenderloin with Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Mixed Beans

*Risotto with Morel Mushrooms

Chinese Favourites
Stir-fried Lobster with Ginger and Spring Onion
Chicken Kung Po
or
Served with Marinated Shredded Bean Curd
Double Boiled Pork with Sea Coconut Soup
Stri-fried Kailan and Mushrooms
Steamed Rice

Cheese and Desert
Cheese Selection
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Vanila Ice Cream
Warm Chocolate Lava Pudding
Red Bean Soup with Lotus Seeds

Tea and Coffee

Pralines and Cookies

*Vegetarian Choice

And it was no other than SP Veena serving from the trolley and gently placing each of the signature appetizer dish item into the plate. As she was serving from the trolley, we had a brief chat regarding the latest on the company’s future plans such as what routes will be the first to be served by the latest aircraft delivery, etc. She also asked if I was going back to HK or something else. I told her that more than 90% of my trips with CX to HKG, HKG would be my final destination as it is the native place of birth for me. However, I told her it was different this time around as I had head over to Taipei briefly to carry out a company assignment. She was also amused when I told her briefly about my normal travel routines and the fact that I would be based in three different geographic locations annually (Toronto, HK, and Auckland). Hearing that Toronto was one of the places, she was interested to hear more of how I lived and what I do there as she has been to the place several times visiting friends. We then laughed and I told her how brutal winter can be in the city and the painful frostbites I would encounter for every single inch of skin left uncovered during a powerful windchill. Anyways the openness and outgoing personality of the crews is definitely one of the many perks of flying CX and the description on this paragraph illustrates that example. Not many crews on other airlines have this type of personality touch.

Caviar & Smoked Salmon

A “Bon Appetit” Card signed by all the crews serving the F cabin was also given out during the Caviar service.


Wild Mushroom Soup


Scallop & Shrimp Salad

My ordered Lobster course which was very tender and delicious and came with a set of soup, vegetables, and a bowl of rice.


Chinese Style Lobster


Cheese Plate

Not many airlines in F offer multiple selections of deserts for one full meal service but CX does and this full-scaled lunch offers four (see menu selections). I ended up with the chocolate pudding.

After the conclusion of the meal service, I received an extra pillow as well as a duvet before reclining my seat to an almost flat position where I took a nap for the next three hours.

Today’s flight path went through a very unseasonable steep northern routing. We were hugging most of the California coast and continued on the steep northwesterly direction climbing to the point of even flying above Alaska before adopting a more westerly pattern.

If I was flying during the northern hemisphere winter schedule, such routing deployed would not surprise me one bit. But hey we are well deep into late spring with summer only a few weeks away and head winds for today’s flight was nowhere fierce. Regardless, it was an interesting path and being no meteorology braniac myself, I have no ideas on the motive.

Not long after the nap, I decided to pursue the snack menu for a bite.

Snacks
Panini with Mozzarella, Grilled Vegetable and Parma Ham

Roast Duck in Noodle Soup

Haagen Daz Ice Cream

At the end, I opted for the roast duck noodle soup which was served with a pack of Lee Kum Kee chili sauce along with a glass of orange juice request.

As I was slowly enjoying my noodle, the flight path above Alaska gave some spectacular view of the region’s terrain.


Chocolate Pralines

The unseasonable flight path after exiting the Alaska airspace also had us routing through sections of snow covered Siberia.

During this time in-flight, one of the pursers appeared and asked if I would mind in taking part of the survey form with the opportunity to win prizes. And in being a regular customer, it never hurts to speak one’s mind (good or bad) so I took the time in filling the form which came with a complimentary bold point pen.

About two hours prior to landing in HKG, a so-called refreshment “Dinner Service” began.

Dinner

Starters
Fresh Seasonal Fruit

Main Courses
Roast Lamb Rack with Pink Peppercorn Crust and Jus
Parsley Mash Potato, Parsnips and Baby Carrots

Stir-fried Scallops and Prawns
with Egg Fried Rice and Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas

Abalone with Chicken Congee
with Spring Onion Pancake

Desert
Fresh Fruit Flan

Tea and Coffee

Pralines and Cookies

SP Veena once again reappeared and began setting up my table and first item to be rolled out is the fruit plate.


Cup of Cappuccino

As mentioned earlier this was more of refreshment type of dinner, meaning a rather abbreviated meal service so the scallop & prawn dish I had ordered came after the starter fruit plate.

A fruit pie followed afterwards on this all around excellent and filling meal service despite it being an abbreviated one.


Another mini bite pralines after dinner

Shortly after the abbreviated meal service, we were informed by the captain through the PA of our descent into HKIA.


View of Tuen Mun located across north from CLK

We landed safely at 6:40 pm and made our taxiway towards Gate 35 afterwards.


CX464

My connecting flight to TPE on CX464 has been assigned gate 67. Thus given the location of the gate, I decided to head over to the pier as to avoid traveling back and forth extensively within the terminal. Being a Diamond Member as well as performing a same day F to J connection, automatically entitles me to use the first class section of the lounge.



It was a rather quiet scene inside the pier with the bulk of the European flights still another four hours away from departure.



First thing I did upon entrance was head over to the computer terminals to check on emails.

Then on to the shower rooms to refreshen. Not a bad choice after a long transpacific flight.

Having felt refreshed from the brief shower, I headed over to the Haven Buffet restaurant. Even though it is a self serving buffet station, there are waiters taking beverage request, seating you at the tables, and taking additional requests not avaible at the buffet station. Hence it is a restaurant.

There were plenty of hot dishes including lambs, baked fish, etc. At the end I settled for some risotto, sautéed potatoes, lambs, and salmon.

After a light meal, decide to walk around to stretch and get some body circulation from the long flight.



Then exited the lounge for a short walk over to gate 67 for the connecting flight which was about to board soon when I arrived there.

At 8:35 pm, I joined the queue as boarding began for business class passengers, submitted my boarding pass and made my way over to the 773 aircraft.

Cathay Pacific CX 464
Regional Business Class, Seat 16K
Sector: Hong Kong (HKG) – Taipei (TPE)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Registration: B-HJN
Departure Gate: 67
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 9:10 pm (May 27, 2007) / 9:25 pm (May 27, 2007)
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 10:50 pm (May 27, 2007) / 10:50 pm (May 27, 2007)


The lack of PTV and regional business class seating of this aircraft were really nothing to write home about and definitely not one of CX’s strongest aspects. But with this only being a very brief short stop to TPE, it isn’t going be much of a factor from my standpoint.

Pretakeoff glasses of orange juices along with several other beverage options were distributed to all J passengers.


Menus and wine listings for the sector were also distributed

J cabin was about 50% full on this sector and after all passengers have boarded and the crews performing the normal takeoff routine crosscheck, we taxied out deep into the evening hours and climbed out into the dark skies.

A brief light refreshment was served for this short sector.

Refresment

Starters
Fresh Seasonal Fruit

Main Courses
Chilli Prawns with Tomato and Fish Sauce
Steamed Rice and Chinese Mixed Vegetables

Garganelli with Olive, Caper, and Tomato Sauce

Desert
Espresso Truffle Cake with Mascarpone Cream
Served with Raspberry Sauce

Tea and Coffee

Pralines

I opted for the Prawn Rice as oppose to the pasta which was delivered together on the same tray with the starter and desert.

After the brief refreshment service, crews began distributing Taiwan arrival cards and we began our descent into TPE. Landed exactly on time at 10:50 pm local time. Taoyuan airport arrival halls were quiet at the time and I cleared immigration, baggage, and customs in less than 20 minutes and was off to the taxi stand for the ride towards my hotel (Imperial) in town.

CX461

After a quick two nights of hotel stay in Taipei taking care of the company assignment, it was time for me to head transpacific in the opposite direction I had just competed a few days ago for me to resume another 3 days of seminar training in Beverly Hills.

Through the arrangements made by the hotel concierge in Taipei, a taxi was already available at the front of the hotel driveway at around 7:20 am after I had checked out of the hotel and the ride back to the airport took about 50 minutes going against traffic. Thus it was around 8:10 am when I arrived at Terminal 1.

There were 3-4 rows of counters serving CX passengers at TPE and I proceeded to the F check-in area which was relatively empty at the time.

There I was processed by a very friendly female staff who processed my paper works. She weighed my checked-in luggage and tagged it all the way to LAX and proceeded to printing both my TPE-HKG and HKG-LAX boarding passes as well as giving me a copy of the directions to the airside lounge.

Just like the arrival procedure two days ago, the departure immigration areas two levels above the check-in areas through the escalators were also fairly quiet.

I only had to queue behind one person to have my passport to get the departure stamp and then turned left for the walkway towards security in the B Gates concourse. Security post immigration was also fairly quick and I immediately made my way towards the CX Lounge located one floor up from the security platform at the 4th floor.

In order to get to the first class section of the lounge here in TPE, one has to walk pass inside the business class section in order to reach the door leading up to the F section.

The first class section of the lounge was much smaller than the business class section and quite surprisingly there was no one attendant manning the area. Meaning there was nothing to prevent those who were entitled to only use the J section from entering the F. Regardless, it did not matter since most of the amenities such as buffet station (albeit with different selections) seating, newspaper & magazines, and internet stations were also found in the J side. In addition the J side also had a noodle bar. Hence from my impression, the only advantage the F section had over the J section was that it was slightly quieter. Overall really no incentive to use the F over the J section.

F Section Buffet Station


F Section Seating Area




F Section Magazine & Newspaper Rack


F Section Computer Stations

From the F buffet station there were several selections of breakfast sweet dishes and dim sum and I just opted for some light dim sum and a small cup of pudding before sitting myself in the one of the internet sections.

After catching up on some recent emails, I decided to head over to the J section noodle bar to order a bowl due to the limitations of offerings of the buffet desk. Pretty much whatever I ate in the lounge was my breakfast since I didn’t have anything earlier at the hotel in the morning.


I manage to order a typical Taiwanese dish, the “Beef Noodle”

After finishing my noodle, I decided to spend the rest of my lounge time inside the J section since there was more buzz taking place there than there was in the F section.

At approximately 10:25, I decided to leave the lounge area and head straight towards Gate B8 where my 11:20 am flight would be departing. It was quite a hike from the lounge over to B8.

There was a lounge area for the gates at TPE and no exception was made for B8. From the platform where you came walking in from, one has to take a stair or an elevator one level down. There, the waiting area was quite spacious with plenty of seating although the overall infrastructure of Terminal 1 is showing its age.

When I arrived at the gate lounge there were already a substantial number of passengers sitting and waiting but it was not until another 15 minutes did the in-coming aircraft from HKG (operating as CX460) arrived at the gate. The inbound aircraft (B-HOO) from HKG arrived 20 minutes behind schedule and thus had a 5-10 minute affect on the departure time of CX461. An announcement from the podium was made apologizing for the delay.

Nonetheless as I waited in the seating area, one by one, the passengers from the incoming flight made their way out of B-HOO and soon the airport ground workers entered the aircraft to clean and reload for the CX461 back to HKG. Boarding began around 11 am with priority given to families traveling with children and F & J passengers. There are dual air bridges at B8, one connecting to 1L for F & J passengers, and another to 2L for Y.

Cathay Pacific CX 461
First Class, Seat 4G
Sector: Taipei (TPE) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 (74J)
Registration: B-HOO
Departure Gate: B8
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 11:20 am (May 29, 2007) / 11:31 am (May 29, 2007)
Arrival Gate: 61
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 1:00 pm (May 29, 2007) / 12:45 pm (May 29, 2007)


As usual, an ISM (she was Filipino) was there to greet every passenger entering from 1L and I was escorted by a Korean SP named Anes to my seat, 4G. With this being a short F sector, I really didn’t care where I was sitting in the F cabin thus I just randomly selected 4G as oppose to my usually 2A or 2K preference. While I was storing my carryon in the overhead bin above 4K, my pretakoff drink order was taken in which I selected an orange cocktail and was brought back shortly after.

While the other passengers were making their way into the aircraft, a Filipino purser known as Mary Ann came to take my order for the lunch service. Today’s flight also witnessed an even lighter F cabin. Myself and another gentleman seated at 3K were the only two passengers in the F cabin.

Meanwhile captain Warren Dean welcomed us onboard and despite our late departure, our already short scheduled flying time will be even shorter of only 1 hr and 11 minutes. Meaning despite the late departure, we should expect an early arrival into HKG of 15 minutes ahead of the schedule. Push back began at around 11:27 am and with relatively light traffic operating out of TPE, we took off at 11:31 am and well on our way back towards HKG. The lunch meal service began shortly after takeoff to facilitate the short flying time involved.

Lunch

Starters
Lobster with Dill Salmon Salad

Main Courses
Braised Pork Knuckle
Egg Fried Rice with Spring Onion and Braised Mushroom

Fillet of Sea Perch in Leek Cream Sauce
Boiled Potatoes, Peppers and Zucchini

Desert
Orange Cheese Tart Served with Raspberry Sauce

Tea and Coffee

Pralines

A Lobster Salmon Appetizer kicked of the meal service


Followed by my ordered Sea Perch


Orange Cheese Tart for Desert


Pralines to Conclude the Brief Meal Service


View of B-HOO from Seat 4G

We began our descent into HKG as the crews were cleaning away our tables and landed into HKIA at 12:45 pm and parked at Gate 61. Even though it was only a brief 1 hr 11 min sector to be in F, I could not have asked for a better service from the crews. Korean SP Anes who wished me a pleasant journey to LAX along with Filipino Purser Mary Ann, and the Filipino ISM (who BTW had a very humorous personality) were all a pleasant to be served by.

CX882

Due to the scheduled layover of 3 hours and 15 minutes in between flights at HKIA, I decided a while back that I was not going to spend the entire time airside and instead, scheduled to meet with my girlfriend (who has decided to be based back home in HK for the entire summer since the beginning of this month as oppose to being based in our Toronto home) landside. And with an early 12:45 pm plus no need for me to retrieve any checked luggages, it could not have been more perfect situation to spend some quality time with her.

As a HK resident, hardly any time was wasted queuing in the residents’ line and I was out of the baggage claim area into the arrival greeting point in no time where my GF had already been waiting for me. We headed up to the departure levels to have a cup of drink at the Pacific Coffee Company and chatted on personal stuff for slightly over an hour or so. Always nice when traveling by yourself to break in between and meet up with someone you love and care about.

At around 2 pm as my GF had to go back to town to take care of some errands, I bid farewell to her and headed back into the airside departure levels. After a quick pass through the departure immigration (HK residents’ line once again) and through security, I made an immediate left turn towards the First Class entrance of the Wing.

Upon reaching the reception desk, I pulled out my MPO Diamond Card along with my F boarding pass and was immediately welcomed to enjoy the lounge facility.




As I was making my way inside, my mobile phone rang and it turned out to be the secretary from my company’s HK office in Tsim Tsa Tsui. She needed clarification on my behalf about some vendor contract clause as no one else in the office could provide her with the answer. With that in mind I decided to head over to the Library room to write down the details of the information while listening to her request over the phone.

I eventually told her that I will send her the links to the information later in the afternoon from the lounge internet computers. After getting off the line from the conversation, I headed over to the Haven Buffet Restaurant to have a quick meal.

Upon entrance I was greeted by one of the waitresses and sat onto one of the empty tables. At the same time my drink order was taken before I picking out my selections from the station. Plenty of dim sum, smoked salmon, assorted sushi, fried noodles, selections of deserts, etc were available. Ended with some the dim sum, noodles, and satays.

After a quick meal, I decided to head over to the Cabanas to shower and refreshen. However I was told by one of the housekeeping staff that presently all the Cabana rooms were occupied at the present time so I ended up using one of the regular shower rooms.

The regular shower rooms were also stacked with the necessary kits such as lotions, shower caps, toothbrush/paste, etc in addition to the soap and shampoo at the shower station.

After a quick shower and having redressed myself, I headed out of the shower room to see if any of the Cabana rooms have been vacated down the isle. To my luck, I spotted one with its door opened and immediately headed inside.








For about 15 minutes I laid down in the sleeping area facing the water pond

As stated earlier, I had to email some contract information to my secretary so after a quick lay down I head out of the cabana and into the computer station areas to do the work.

Approximately 3:40 pm, I headed out of the F lounge through the J lounge before going down to the boarding area in level 6 and headed over to Gate 4 where CX882 is scheduled to depart from.


View of B-HOR at Gate 4

By the time I reached the areas surrounding Gate 4, there was a huge crowd already lining up. Not to my surprise, they had already commenced boarding for the flight.

As I joined the queue for dedicated for F & J passengers, there were several ground staff conducting boarding pass and passport checks before reaching the podium where the actual boarding passes are submitted. Dual aerobridges as always at HKIA – F & J bridges to 1L and Y bridges to 2L. Lines moved very slowly for the Y queue but was quick to move on the premium lines where I was standing.

Cathay Pacific CX 882
First Class, Seat 2K
Sector: Hong Kong (HKG) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 (74J)
Registration: B-HOR
Departure Gate: 4
Scheduled/Actual Departure Time: 4:15 pm (May 29, 2007) / 4:27 pm (May 29, 2007)
Scheduled/Actual Arrival Time: 2:20 pm (May 29, 2007) / 1:46 pm (May 29, 2007)


Making my way into B-HOR, I was immediately escorted at 1L into the First Cabin by a Thai Senior Purser named Minnie.

Where of course I was shown to my favorite 2K seat that I had selected ahead of time.





A pre-takeoff drink order was taken and delivered as always. Knowing that I had to drive upon arrival in LA, I decided to skip any alcohol selections and went with the signature Cathay Delight.

The Vitorinox Kit was also delivered and consisted of toothpaste, tooth brush, peppermint, body lotion, ear plugs, combs. Really no major upgrades from the previous Elemis ones.

Amenity kit is definitely one area CX should improve in. On SQ’s Bvlgari F kit for example, one gets better stuff such as Cologne.

Shortly at around the same time, Shanghai Tang Pjs and slippers were also distributed.


Hot towels were also distributed


Never a shortage of my need for HK media materials when traveling on CX.


Safety Demo Card for B747-400


May 2007 F & J Studio CX Guide

Menu & Wine lists were distributed as the remaining passengers were making their way inside.

Like the previous TPE-HKG sector, the F load was exactly the same of 2 out of 12. Only difference, I was seated in my regular 2K while the only other passenger in the F cabin was a gentlemen seated in 1K. Today our pilot has projected an early arrival into LAX due to favorable winds but did forewarn that we will be passing by quite a few turbulence zones across the pacific and advise everyone to keep the seatbelts fasten whenever seated.

Push back from Gate 4 began at around 4:20 pm and we slowly taxied over towards runway 25L and took off into the west first before making a counter clockwise turn to pursue the easterly direction.

Shortly after takeoff the ever boring and uninspiring exercise video lit our screens with the man stretching against the tree. Gosh what am I suppose to do? Use the lavatory door and treat it as the tree and the green carpet as the grass?

It’s about time they get rid of this demonstration or at least create another better version.

Anyhow more drinks were offered along with some peanuts and I simply just requested for a glass of soda.


Clouds across the Pacific

Today with the load of 2 passengers, we were served by a Thai Senior Purser named Minnie and a Japanese Purser known as Yoko. Two wonderful caring and attentive ladies that you could not have asked for more. About 1 hour 45 minutes after takeoff, they began setting up my tables for the dinner service.


Dinner


Caviar, Smoked Salmon and Champage
Caviar and Balik Salmon “Tsar Nicolaj”
with Krug Grande Cuvee

Starters
Crab Bisque

Marinated Scallops with Orange, Cherry Tomato and Kalamata Olive Salad
with Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

Main Courses
Pan-fried Cod Fillet with White Wine Cream Sauce
Roasted Fennel, Yellow Mushroom and Capsicums

English spinach and ricotta cannelloni with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato

Chinese Favourites
Sautéed Beef with Assorted Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce
or
Braised Spare Ribs Wu Xi Style
Served with
Deep-fried Sea Bass with Sweeten Vinegar Dressing
Pork with Lotus Root and Octopus Soup
Steamed Rice

Cheese and Desert
Cheese Selection
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Chocolate Ice Cream with Vanilla Sauce and Waffle
Black Seasame Soup Desert
Calamansi Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

Tea and Coffee

Pralines and Cookies

Shortly afterwards while settling comfortably at 2K, the sound of carts rolling down the isle began echoing inside my ears. Ah yes the ever present Caviar trolley.

SP Minnie asked if I wanted every piece displayed on trolley and I told her anything would do that would make a satisfying Salmon Caviar tasting. She eventually gave me a little of everything and a generous spoonful caviar portion.


Crab Bisque Soup followed the Caviar service


Followed by the scallop salad


Cod Fillet Main Course

Chocolate Ice Cream with waffles. The chosen one I made among the 4 desert menu selections.

After desert, I was quite full enough that I decided to skip the cheese plate offering as I wanted to get to sleep as soon as possible and purser Yoko has decided to offer me instead the pralines and a glass of water.

As dinner service has concluded, we continued to pursue a northeasterly direction above the Japanese airspace.

As Yoko was still in the vicinity, I requested a blanket to be brought to my seat as I headed towards the lavatories to refreshen. She acknowledged my request and upon returning to my seat the blanket was already there folded up. All that was needed for me to do was recline the seat into my favorable lie down position and snooze – which was what I did for the next 6 hours.

We were about 3 hours away from landing when I woke up and looking out the windows, the sun has already brightened the sky. Was quite hungry at the time so I requested a Hot Pot Rice “Pou Chai Fan” for snack.

It was generously portioned and came along with Dry Scallop (Yiu Chue) & Fish Maw Soup.

Flight time continued to wind down as the flight continued its progress towards the east.


And we continued to inch closer to the Californian coast

As requested earlier to SP Minnie, I would like to have my breakfast served 90 minutes prior to landing and the timing was indeed perfect.

Refreshment

Starters
Orange, Apple or Grapefruit Juice

Mango and Passionfruit Smoothie

Fresh Seasonal Fruit

Natural or Low Fat Fruit Yoghurt

Assorted Cereals

Main Courses
Eggs ~ Freshly Scrambled, Fried or Boiled

Dim Sum Selection

Omelette with Ham and Mixed Peppers

Trimmings
Grilled Chicken Breast and Pan-fried Numberger Sausage,
Fried Potatoes with Bread Crumbs and Parsley,
Roasted Vine Ripen Tomato and Sautéed Button Mushroom

Bread Basket
Assorted Bread, Fresh Toast and Breakfast Pastries
Served with Preserves, Honey and Butter

Tea and Coffee

Pralines and Cookies

Breakfast as always starts with a plate of fresh fruit


Corn Flakes Cereal


One of my all time favorite CX breakfast – Dim Sum


Trimmings

After breakfast, our captain came on the air to direct us of our descent into LAX about 30 minutes prior to landing. On the final phases of the descent, we flew inland into California and through the LA inner Eastern suburbs before turning right for an East-West landing into the airport’s northern runway. There was no gate available allocated for our flight that the aircraft ended up having to park at a remote stand west of the terminal. Even worse, there was an announcement from the ground crews that we had to wait an additional 10 minutes inside the cabin after the aircraft has parked because the TBIT arrival hall has exceeded it’s normal capacity volume.

At the time many of the passengers including myself have already left our seat with our carryon towards door 2L only to return shortly afterwards. Caring and aware of the situation both SP Minnie and purser Yoko offered me to sit back in the F cabin and wait until the official signal was given to disembark. As we finally disembark while I bid farewell to them, they wished me good luck and hope they would be able to soon see me again onboard – a sign they really enjoyed their jobs and most of all enjoy serving people. IMO they are really a true asset to CX’s wonderful team of cabin crews. ^ ^

After disembarking, we boarded a bus towards TBIT and the immigration & baggage area as usual was chaotic. Even though there were signs indicating which booth were for U.S. Citizens or Foreigners, there really were no lines separating the two. Everyone unknowingly just queued wherever they please with little guidance from the staff. Basically the officers would just yell out “U.S Citizens” or “Non-Residents” and if you happen to be one of those that fit the criteria of the one being shouted but the person in front of you did not, you basically had to butt your way over him.

Baggage claim was even a bigger mess. Our flight has been assigned carousel 7 & 8 with 7 assigned for First, Business, and MPO members while 8 has been assigned for economy. Nonetheless when I arrived at claim 7, there were tons of bags laying on the floor out of the spinning carousel already. Suspecting that my bags were among the first to hit the claims since I was only one of the two F passengers of the flight, I began searching for the ones already sitting on the carpet and right on the money, mines was indeed among the ones already sitting out. A real extreme going from the Glamour of the CX F cabin to the hell hole TBIT.

Conclusion

Though at times I have been critical of them, there is no question from my perspective that CX F is an outstanding product and easily ranks among the best of all first class products offered in the airline industry and this trip without a doubt confirms it. For the sectors of this journey other than the lackluster Vitorinox Kit, poor regional J seat and lack of PTV onboard the HKG-TPE sector, the catering quality and most importantly the professionalism, caringness, and sincere service straight from the heart delivered by the cabin crews were superb on all four sectors. I was not in the best physical state during this whole trip in terms of energy due to the lack of rest and recovery period prior to this trip; however, CX did a remarkable job in brightening the situation especially the wonderful crews. Certainly would rank among the best trips I have ever had and definitely makes me a proud MPO member and customer.

I will resume to attend the Beverly Hills Seminar that I had left off from prior to this trip within the next three days before continuing on another business trip to Amsterdam. That trip will be onboard BA club world via LHR. Though looking forward to that trip, I highly doubt the experience will be as spectacular or glamorous as the trip I just had with CX. Cathay Pacific – Now you are really flying.

Last edited by Rejuvenated; Jun 24, 07 at 11:36 pm
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