New Year's Resolution: GGL in 2018

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Old Oct 22, 18, 1:46 am
  #376  
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So a flying day today, and at the start of all of this...



It was supposed to bring me just over the line for 2018, but the PHX do and various other flights have put paid to that, and now it's a bit of a valedictory tour. Will be in the CCR tomorrow around noon for lunch and LPGS if anyone is about.
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Old Oct 22, 18, 5:10 am
  #377  
 
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
So a flying day today, and at the start of all of this...



It was supposed to bring me just over the line for 2018, but the PHX do and various other flights have put paid to that, and now it's a bit of a valedictory tour. Will be in the CCR tomorrow around noon for lunch and LPGS if anyone is about.
Congratulations Bisonrav...I will clink glasses tomorrow...enjoy...what a great (and sort of public) chase!
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Old Oct 22, 18, 7:40 am
  #378  
 
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
So a flying day today, and at the start of all of this...



It was supposed to bring me just over the line for 2018, but the PHX do and various other flights have put paid to that, and now it's a bit of a valedictory tour. Will be in the CCR tomorrow around noon for lunch and LPGS if anyone is about.
You're slightly mad, after everything you've done over the last year.

See you in the lounge at JER... I may have booked a spur of the moment TP run to kill a few free hours this afternoon - same flights as you but in Y on the way back.
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Old Oct 22, 18, 8:20 am
  #379  
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In 1D on the outbound so make yourself known
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Old Oct 22, 18, 8:44 am
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Hiding in 2D and (just) behind the curtain on the way back.

Never seen a minibar put in the cupboard before 🤣😂
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Old Oct 22, 18, 2:24 pm
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So first day of the itinerary done and dusted, usual hectic Jersey flight with no time to welcome me to GGL, but generally competent crews and another 80TPs to the scoreboard.

Nice to meet @mtikky, who is aiming for gold with exclusively European travel - quite a challenge. And the mushroom soup in the Jersey lounge is very good.

Tomorrow the CCR. LPGS, and (somewhat incidentally) Munich. And then THE WORLD.
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Old Oct 22, 18, 2:36 pm
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
So first day of the itinerary done and dusted, usual hectic Jersey flight with no time to welcome me to GGL, but generally competent crews and another 80TPs to the scoreboard.

Nice to meet @mtikky, who is aiming for gold with exclusively European travel - quite a challenge. And the mushroom soup in the Jersey lounge is very good.

Tomorrow the CCR. LPGS, and (somewhat incidentally) Munich. And then THE WORLD.
Nice to put a face to the name, and good to talk to you. I hope I can join you one day in the CCR if I ever get the opportunity to!
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Old Oct 22, 18, 3:59 pm
  #383  
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Oh, and just to mention... After a very good run, the lemon scented towels on the outbound were lamentable. Tepid and unevenly damp. Rushed I suspect.
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Old Oct 23, 18, 12:47 pm
  #384  
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It's very odd indeed finding out that your lounge at T5 has now changed. A bit like going up a year at primary school when you're tiny, you don't quite believe it's real (I remember checking the names on the coat pegs in the new classroom when I was 6, same feeling exactly).

No trouble getting in, even without a physical card, and a very quiet time in the Gold Wing. I had decided to go large, so had a swift LPGS on the terrace and started dining at 12 for a 3pm flight. And very good it was too - not my first time in the CCR, I think probably I'm up to 7, but there was a certain magic about having earned it, and the food was pretty good. Mushroom soup with a herby taste, very nice, lovely plate of charcuterie, though small portions, a bowl of crayfish (I think) tortellini, some really great duck confit, all washed down with plentiful LPGS. And then some more charcuterie (it takes a bit of getting used to being able to order anything at any point, the cheeseboard, and a glass of port.

During all of this I was delighted to meet Marco and his other half, en route to the US, and have a brief chat. But it was mostly about the food today.

And so onwards to Munich - boarding via steps at the rear which was a novelty, and a slight gold greeting but generally non-descript service. First time in Munich, and a piece of advice should anyone be here is that Ibis Sud is cheap and comfortable, and very easy to get to - two stops on the S8 line, then about 3 stops on the 698, total of 3 euros for two tickets which I bought at the DB counter. The bus stop you need is right next to the Movenpick which might be another option. But now ensconced in a very nice and modern room with airport views and getting ready for some QR action tomorrow morning. .
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Old Oct 25, 18, 12:06 am
  #385  
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A very eventful day. Munich is a large and slightly confusing airport, with the check in areas for Qatar quite a long way from the terminal entrance. In fact so far that I was a bit worried I was going to a departure gate rather than a check in area.

But I needn't have worried about that.

What I should have worried about - and I'd had a clue from the persistent failure to check in online on either QR or Sri Lankan (I was on a UL codeshare) - was that I was going to need to pass a visual credit card check. On a credit card that (a) I no longer had because it was a free BA Amex I'd upgraded to a paid one, and (b) I hadn't the remotest idea of the number of.

The check in agent struggled valiantly with the system, called a supervisor, but no one could find an override. The most stupid ID check in the world, because credit cards are transient and they had my bloody passport in front of them, but they could do nothing at all about it.

Meanwhile I was calling AMEX, increasingly panicked. I eventually got a very helpful agent who was able to give enough hints about the number for me to recreate it. I wrote it down wrong, passed it to the check in agent, it said no again, double checked, and got it right. Bingo, it passed. And then they asked me for a statement to prove I'd paid for the ticket. And the online statements only went back 6 months and I'd bought the ticket in January.

I think at this point they took pity on me. After a quick conference they waived the requirement and let me through, clutching three boarding passes that would get me all the way to Shanghai. Anyone's guess if I'll get back.

But this is certainly worth knowing and planning for. I have some flights next year on Malaysian booked from BKK on the same card and I'll most certainly be taking steps to ensure I have something from Amex to cover the situation. I should think that with the data breach there will be a lot of changed cards, be warned.

So through to security which was fast tracked next to the economy route. I went through and was waiting for the passport check when I felt a tap on my shoulder from the other queue. Turned round to see a hatchet faced American matron who told me in no uncertain terms that the line was behind her, gesturing with a casual thumb. I grunted "fast track" and she folded and groaned. Sometimes just being a DYKWIA is the correct response and I was in no mood for a polite discussion.

Anyway there's a BA lounge tucked away in a decrepit upstairs corner, perfectly pleasant and I had breakfast. Trouble free boarding and onto the QR 777 with qsuites.

And it was lovely. The usual attentive service but I had an Eastern European FA with a welcome hint of sass. The plane was spotless. The food was excellent. Q suites feel a little enclosed with the door shut but it is a really nice way to fly. And in on time. I had a coffee arranged landside with an old friend, so took the business class route out through a rather nice lounge to the dedicated immigration desk, very quick and easy. Note that if you're going airside for a little you still need an address in Doha, so I just said Hilton hotel which they were happy with. Then back through airside after a nice couple of hours chatting, and into the Al Mourjan which was very quiet and no queue for the showers, unusually. So I freshened up and hit the sandwich bar which is excellent - waiter service and very nice sandwiches.

Late incoming flight so about a 45 minute delay onto the Sri Lankan flight to Colombo It's a big comedown from Q suites, 1 2 1 arrangement on an A330 and a little grubby, with a real foot coffin in the seat. And absolutely rammed with I think a fair number of random op ups as economy was full early on according to expertflyer, and business empty, but that changed fairly quickly after the gate opened. I should think this would be a flight that a status holder could consider an op up banker actually.

But I liked Sri Lankan. It's unpretentious, the cabin crew are helpful and pleasant, and the tea is great. Food isn't wonderful, seat is OK - I slept a couple of hours on a 4 and a bit hour flight.

On arrival there is a separate business class bus that takes you into the immigration area. I had booked the transit hotel (6 hours for $65 US), and this is actually right next to the lounge, up in one of two not particularly well signposted lifts. And I was very pleased with the transit hotel. It is clean, good aircon, and big rooms, I think there are probably only three or four in total. So I grabbed four hours sleep, had a shower and change of clothes and into the business class lounge, which is where everyone else slept, looking at the sofas and quiet sections of floor. Not in any great hurry to sample the rather dubious looking buffet contents so will wait for the flight in a couple of hours to eat.

280 TPs earned yesterday to add to the 120 for the positioning flights, and the run is stacking up nicely. I have a dinner date with another friend in Shanghai to come, and a light residual nervousness about another credit card check. Less confident about arguing my way through in China than in Germany.








Last edited by bisonrav; Oct 25, 18 at 12:52 am
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Old Oct 25, 18, 1:23 am
  #386  
 
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
...
On arrival there is a separate business class bus that takes you into the immigration area. I had booked the transit hotel (6 hours for $65 US), and this is actually right next to the lounge, up in one of two not particularly well signposted lifts. And I was very pleased with the transit hotel. It is clean, good aircon, and big rooms, I think there are probably only three or four in total. So I grabbed four hours sleep, had a shower and change of clothes and into the business class lounge, which is where everyone else slept, looking at the sofas and quiet sections of floor. Not in any great hurry to sample the rather dubious looking buffet contents so will wait for the flight in a couple of hours to eat.
...
Good to read you made it on to the flight after the credit card checks. In case you are still there at CMB, note that the lounge you found next to the transit hotel is for OWE status passengers travelling in economy. As a OWE travelling in business on UL you can access the main "Serendib" lounge, which is on the concourse level towards the other side of the immigration counters from the transit hotel access lifts. It can be a bit tricky to find as the door is quite well camouflaged. No guarantees though that the buffet there is any less dodgy!
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Old Oct 25, 18, 10:11 am
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Yes I found that eventually. Same buffet though.



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Old Oct 26, 18, 2:27 am
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
What I should have worried about - and I'd had a clue from the persistent failure to check in online on either QR or Sri Lankan (I was on a UL codeshare) - was that I was going to need to pass a visual credit card check. On a credit card that (a) I no longer had because it was a free BA Amex I'd upgraded to a paid one, and (b) I hadn't the remotest idea of the number of.

The check in agent struggled valiantly with the system, called a supervisor, but no one could find an override. The most stupid ID check in the world, because credit cards are transient and they had my bloody passport in front of them, but they could do nothing at all about it.

Meanwhile I was calling AMEX, increasingly panicked. I eventually got a very helpful agent who was able to give enough hints about the number for me to recreate it. I wrote it down wrong, passed it to the check in agent, it said no again, double checked, and got it right. Bingo, it passed. And then they asked me for a statement to prove I'd paid for the ticket. And the online statements only went back 6 months and I'd bought the ticket in January.

I think at this point they took pity on me. After a quick conference they waived the requirement and let me through, clutching three boarding passes that would get me all the way to Shanghai. Anyone's guess if I'll get back.

But this is certainly worth knowing and planning for. I have some flights next year on Malaysian booked from BKK on the same card and I'll most certainly be taking steps to ensure I have something from Amex to cover the situation. I should think that with the data breach there will be a lot of changed cards, be warned.


I did a QR-UL-UL itinerary from Munich earlier this year where I boarded in MUC fine, with all my boarding passes for the 3 flights, but then had a credit card check on boarding in CMB. Luckily because I'd paid in Euros I'd not used one of my ever changing Amex cards so it wasn't a problem.
Only previous similar experience was on TAP in LIS, when luckily I had brought the cancelled card with me just in case.

Last edited by omk298; Oct 26, 18 at 2:28 am Reason: Trim quote
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Old Oct 27, 18, 3:45 am
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Less of an eventful day today, and more of a day overshadowed by an event, viz a not altogether unexpected credit card verification check.

The flight between Colombo and Shanghai had been nice, if unremarkable. Another lovely crew, good service, a very tasty pre-ordered Lamb biryani, not overspiced but it hit the spot beautifully. In 20 minutes early and into a very quiet Pudong, through immigration very fast and into the Dazhong hotel. This is in the centre of the walkways that link Terminals 1 and 2, with a lift shaft in the central chamber.

I would say very good value too. I paid about 50, for which I got a large room, good shower, and breakfast thrown on (not a very good breakfast though). Rooms a bit warm but the windows open, and I settled down at around midnight for a good sleep.

I woke at 6am, reached over to my phone to check into the return flight, and discovered a message telling me that I would need to do another card verification check. Now while I was quite comfortable blagging my way through this on the outbound at Munich, where the worst case outcome was going home with a refund, I was a lot less confident in Shanghai, where there was likely to be more of a language barrier and less latitude from the contract desk agents, and the worst case involved a probably quite expensive flight home arranged ad hoc. I also knew that I would have just three hours pre-flight to deal with anything that came up at the desk.

What was also difficult was that all the information I had available was in a gmail account, and that was also the place anything would be sent. And I had only my work phone with me, locked to EE and with some ludicrously expensive corporate tariff for China so not really something I could spend hours on hold with.

So I ran through my options.I confess I find a perverse pleasure in dealing with situations like these where you have constrained options under pressure. Would I say I enjoyed it? Well maybe not, but it's an interesting process, gathering what you have together and playing the hand you've been dealt the best you can.

First job was to contact Sri Lankan - fortunately they are on Skype and the hotel wifi was good enough for a call. I got a brilliant agent, explained the situation to him, he agreed to mark the booking as verified by him and he would also look at sorting things out in the background. Then I dug out from Amex the statements covering the period the card number changed, and went to the business centre to print them out (at 1 a page) because I knew it would be difficult to access the airport wifi if need be. And I had my wife monitor my gmail with instructions to send anything that appeared relevant. Plus asking flyertalk, though no magic bullets came from that.

About half way through the day I got an email saying I had successfully checked in. But I was still nervous and got to the airport much earlier than reasonable. Terminal 1 landside is horrible, very difficult to find somewhere to sit, poor wifi, and very few food outlets that take credit cards (and the ATMs didn't like my cards). So by the time the desks started stirring, I was tired, stressed and in the mood to kill someone.

I had occupied the prime position next to the Business class lane, walked briskly to the first available agent, handed over my passport with a prepared speech in clearly enunciated English on the tip of my tongue, sheaves of printout available in my rucksack front pocket, and.... was handed three boarding passes plus a lounge invitation and had my bag checked through no sweat at all.

Anticlimax of the century basically

Endorphins now freely flowing, I skipped and floated through passport control and security, walked round the terminal a couple of times in the hunt for the elusive China Eastern lounge, found it, and was very impressed indeed. I've been in the contract lounges in T2 that BA use, but this is way better. A big dining area with a noodle station and some other bits and bobs - I had a great meal there, it's better than CX T3 - and then an upstairs rather regimented lounge area with showers. Or at least a shower waiting list which I plonked myself on the end of rather more in hope than expectation, but it came good, and for the first time all day I was feeling neither terrified nor a sweaty lump.

On time departure for Colombo, same cabin crew as the outbound and I was welcomed like an old friend. I'm increasingly charmed by Sri Lankan. Not polished, not glossy, but honest and authentically nice. And great tea. Very fast off the plane, quick left to the elevators to the transit hotel, where I slept a good 8 hours (relaxed layover today) and full of renewed energy for the hop to Doha and Qsuites back to Munich and the world of BA.

For those doing a CGK run on Sri Lankan, I would say set your expectations - this is not Qatar or Cathay. But it is pleasant and charming, and I have to say I've really enjoyed myself.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 8:03 am
  #390  
 
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I still think you are mad, travelling the way you do, but I am addicted to your write ups!
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