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Spring Break in Australia & Russia (CX F, SQ Suites, QF A380 F, BA F, LH F & OZ F)

Spring Break in Australia & Russia (CX F, SQ Suites, QF A380 F, BA F, LH F & OZ F)

Old Jun 17, 14, 2:45 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
Spring Break in Australia & Russia (CX F, SQ Suites, QF A380 F, BA F, LH 74H F, OZ F)

Trip Report Index (for reference):
Dec 2013: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...z-sq-tg-f.html
Apr 2014: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...lh-f-oz-f.html
May 2014: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...380-first.html

To come:
Aug 2014: Last Minute Wanderlust: Cambodia and Thailand in LX J, JL F
Nov 2014: Playing hooky the FT way: a whirlwind 10-day RTW in TK J, OZ F, NH F
Dec 2014: Dreams can come true: Weihnachtsmarkt, a Safari, Wreck Diving and first Dreamliner ride (OS J, SA J, AC J)
Feb 2015: There's Plenty to be Festive About: Chinese New Year in Hong Kong in SQ Suites
Apr 2015: In search of little critters and turtles: Soulful Sipadan in NH F, TG F and CX F

I finished my first trip report today, detailing my winter break trip in Asia on an Aeroplan mini-RTW. That trip marked a first of many sorts for me - most importantly, it was my first time ever flying First Class internationally and the first trip not in coach in over 5 years.

Previously, I had booked a mini-RTW with Aeroplan that had stopovers in Russia and Australia on TG F and OZ F in anticipation of the devaluation. When I got home though, I decided that I had to try other First products after reading some of the great TRs on here. So I set out to work and pieced together a similar itinerary using a few different programs:

The Planning:

Ticket #1:

American Airlines Business Class Toronto-New York JFK
Cathay Pacific First Class New York JFK to Hong Kong

By some luck, I was able to get CX F award space from SFO-HKG for travel in April in mid-January, and built in a 2-day stopover in SFO before continuing to HKG. Closer in, I kept checking for award space, and numerous changes later, I was able to find space on the non-stop CX 841 service to HKG (the morning flight) in order to maximize my time in HKG.

Total Cost: 67,500 AAdvantage Points + $76.97 CAD Tax + $25 USD Booking Fee

Ticket #2:

Singapore Airlines Suites Hong Kong to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Suites Singapore to Sydney

This ticket initially started off as a Hong Kong to Melbourne ticket for December this year (when I planned to make a second visit to Australia.) Again, with some dumb luck on a boring January afternoon I found availability on a single date that would allow me to have a 3 day stopover in Hong Kong.

Total cost: 63,750 Krisflyer Miles + $1,847.00 HKD Taxes/YQ + $100 HKD change fee

Ticket #3:

Qantas First Class Melbourne to Dubai
Qantas First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to Moscow Domodedovo

I was surprised to find availability wide open on QF F for travel in April back in January. It was seemingly perfect as I wanted to still have my stopover in Russia, that BA has a F product from LHR to DME. It would also allow me to try Emirates' First Class Lounge in Dubai, which I had heard great things about. I was able to book this online.

Total cost: 80,000 AAdvantage Points + $184.90 CAD Taxes/YQ

Ticket #4

Lufthansa Economy Class Berlin Tegel to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seoul Incheon
Asiana Airlines First Class Seoul Incheon to New York JFK
Air Canada Economy Class New York JFK to Toronto

This one I had booked at the last minute (2 days before departure) when I was still in St. Petersburg.

Total cost: (edited for obscurity reasons)

Ticket #5

AirBerlin Economy Class St. Petersburg Pulkovo to Berlin Tegel

My positioning flight to start my journey home, booked the day before departure.

Total cost: 7,500 British Airways Avios + $25.31 CAD.

Tickets #6, #7, #8

These are cash tickets for my flights for travel within Australia on LCCs, which I booked pretty late:

Virgin Australia Economy Class Sydney to Ballina (Byron Bay) - $144.72 CAD
JetStar Economy Class Gold Coast to Cairns - $177.00 AUD
Tigerair Economy Class Cairns to Melbourne - $176.45 AUD


So as you can see, it was a pretty complicated itinerary, but it all worked together. I got to try my dream F products on Cathay and Singapore Airlines, and got to try a few more airlines in the process. I discovered on my last trip that I do admire the A380 experience, and was excited for the QF flight as well.

This entire itinerary would be finished in under 30 days, with the following times at each destination:

HKG: 3 days
SIN: 22 hours
Australia: 14 days
Russia: 7 days
TXL: 1 day
ICN: 23 hours

The map is as follows (flying 42,859 BIS miles in 30 days can't be healthy!)

map by jurastudent, on Flickr

I am still a backpacker at heart, but I am just on a miles burning binge right now. I still love meeting other people my age, and most of the time, I do feel like I'm out of place in an F cabin. But hey, at least I don't stink as I shower quite often, and I do enjoy the free food and booze (like many around here.) So stay tuned for this TR, and I promise I won't take 5 months to finish it like the last one!

Trip Report Table of Contents:

American Airlines Business Class Toronto to New York JFK and the Admirals Club

Cathay Pacific First Class JFK to Hong Kong: A Much Better Seat 2A (Part 1: Cabin)
Cathay Pacific First Class JFK to Hong Kong: A Much Better Seat 2A (Part 2: F&B and Service)
Cathay Pacific First Class JFK to Hong Kong: A Much Better Seat 2A (Part 3: Snacks and Breakfast)

HKG Airport Express, the SilverKris Lounge and United Club

Singapore Airlines Suites Hong Kong to Singapore (Part 1: Cabin and Service)
Singapore Airlines Suites Hong Kong to Singapore (Part 2: Dinner)

Destination: Singapore and The Private Room, revisited

Singapore Airlines Suites Singapore to Sydney: A Truly Suite(Sweet) Time (Part 1: Boarding, Pre-Departure Service and Takeoff)
Singapore Airlines Suites Singapore to Sydney: A Truly Suite(Sweet) Time (Part 2: Dinner)
Singapore Airlines Suites Singapore to Sydney: A Truly Suite(Sweet) Time (Part 3: Bedtime and Breakfast)

Destination: Sydney and Blue Mountains
Head to Head Comparisons of Aussie LCCs (Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair)
Destination: Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise and Cairns
Destination: Melbourne

Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne (Part 1: Check-In and Dining)
Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne (Part 2: Facilities and Spa)

Qantas First Class Melbourne to Dubai (Part 1: Cabin and Amenities)
Qantas First Class Melbourne to Dubai (Part 2: Tasting Menu)
Qantas First Class Melbourne to Dubai (Part 3: Bedtime and Snacktime)

Emirates First Class Lounge and A380 Terminal Dubai

Qantas First Class Dubai to London Heathrow: Qantas Redeems Itself

British Airways Concorde Room and Concourse B Galleries Lounge London Heathrow

British Airways First Class London Heathrow to Moscow Domodedovo

Destination: Moscow
Destination: St. Petersburg

airberlin Economy Class Pulkovo to Berlin Tegel

Lufthansa Senator Lounge Berlin Tegel and Economy Class to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Revisited

Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seoul: A Queen Reborn (Part 1: Cabin/Amenities)
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seoul: A Queen Reborn (Part 2: Food)
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Seoul: A Queen Reborn (Part 3: Bed and Breakfast)

Destination: A crabby time in Seoul

Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge

Asiana First Class Seoul to JFK: Will the Real Suite Please Stand Up? (Part 1: Cabin)
Asiana First Class Seoul to JFK: Will the Real Suite Please Stand Up? (Part 2: Lunch)
Asiana First Class Seoul to JFK: Will the Real Suite Please Stand Up? (Part 3: Bedtime, Snacktime and Breakfast)

Air Canada Jazz Economy Class JFK to Toronto and the United Club JFK

The Final Word

Last edited by tng11; Aug 23, 14 at 5:23 pm
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 14, 3:10 pm
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: EWR
Posts: 679
nice itinerary...looking forward to your report.
lazard is offline  
Old Jun 17, 14, 8:27 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
American Airlines Business Class Toronto to New York JFK and the Admirals Club

"Pens down, stop writing."

Those were the words of victory after what had been a busy semester and crazy exam period. I spent 12 of the last 24 hours writing 4 exams, and by the third one I just about had enough. Time for a well-deserved spring break vacation.

Similar to my last trip, it was going to be an early start with a 6:20am departure, but with Global Entry, preclearance was no issue and I arrived just shortly past 5 this time to a jam packed T3 departures where I picked up my boarding passes.

2014-04-09 04.43.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-09 05.15.07 by jurastudent, on Flickr

American Airlines Admirals Club Toronto

A sharp right turn after departures was the Admirals Club, which required one to "buzz" themselves in.

2014-04-09 05.32.03 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Very ho-hum especially after reminiscing about my Lufthansa FCT experience.

2014-04-09 05.00.33 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-09 05.24.47 by jurastudent, on Flickr

At least it was empty and the coffee (which tasted like motor oil) and apples were free. It was an okay place to spend about half an hour catching up on e-mails.

2014-04-09 05.31.29 by jurastudent, on Flickr

American Airlines Flight 3517
Toronto (YYZ) to New York John F. Kennedy (JFK)
Bombardier CRJ-700 (CR7)
April 9th, 2014
Scheduled: 06:20-07:55
Actual: -
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
Load: 1/9

Unlike this same flight back in January, the crew was on time and we looked like we were heading out on time.

I was the first to board, as I was the only business class passenger on board as I found out later.

2014-04-09 06.00.05 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The FA had said something to me but I didn't quite get it, all I heard was she told me to stay put (as she was helping a disabled passenger as I found out later.) The people behind me started getting impatient and started barking at me to move forward, with the family behind me pushing my back. I figured we were pretty much in the clear and I squirmed over to Seat 2A, while the passengers in the traffic jam behind me flooded onboard.

2014-04-09 06.12.35 by jurastudent, on Flickr

At this point, the FA took it upon her to yell at me and tell me what a terrible person I was, am I deaf, blah blah blah. In my meek Canadian fashion, I simply told her I was sorry and that I had a rough start to the morning. She then cracked something of a racist comment about the "type of people behind me."

My impression of AA was not good at this point. Despite the fact the FA seemed like a terrible human being at first, we eventually warmed up and when she found out I was flying CX F, she complimented me on my choice. Then she decided to complain to me about some DYKWIAs a few rows behind who were trying to self-upgrade or store their luggage in the J cabin (in her words: "typical AA EXP behaviour".)

Though I can't really understand what the big deal is. The cabin is decrepit and cramped (though it does still beat coach.) The view from 2A:

2014-04-09 06.14.15 by jurastudent, on Flickr

We pushed back on time and joined the morning conga line at YYZ just as the sun was rising, joining the bottleneck of other US departures leaving at around the same time.

2014-04-09 06.32.05 by jurastudent, on Flickr

What a beautiful sunrise. The FA was telling me she never takes sunrises for granted.

2014-04-09 06.39.34 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Through the flight I was offered drinks, even though I just kept asking for glasses of water. It was nice to have the entire cabin to myself, but it just wasn't the same as having an international F cabin all to myself (one of my dreams.) The seats weren't very comfortable at all. No wonder domestic F is such a joke on US airlines. I'd take EVA's coach product on HKG-TPE over this (there's no IFE on here, though having the single seat isn't too bad.)

2014-04-09 07.11.03 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Touchdown into a clear and sunny JFK.

2014-04-09 07.42.25 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-09 07.48.56 by jurastudent, on Flickr

And one of the slowest taxis into Terminal 7, where I spotted multiple longhaul aircraft landing at the same time. One of the things I love about JFK is the sheer diversity of international aircraft one can spot at any given time. As we pulled in, I caught glimpses of the CX 77W that would be taking me to HKG later that morning.

2014-04-09 07.57.36 by jurastudent, on Flickr

It was surely a strange start to the morning, having a moody FA. The flight by itself probably wasn't that bad, but it definitely spoiled the mood for me and had me only looking out for the negatives. Fortunately, I knew CX wasn't going to be like that!

10 minutes later, I was outside and on the AirTrain bound for T7.
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 14, 8:58 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
Cathay Pacific First Class JFK to Hong Kong: A Much Better Seat 2A

I arrived at T7 just shortly past 8:30. My first stop was the Cathay check-in desks to pick up a proper boarding pass printed on Cathay stock.

2014-04-09 08.35.47 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The line for security was short and quick. Because I refuse to subject myself to the MMS scanners, I opted-out and was attended to quickly unlike my previous experience here back in December. Getting real sick of this security theatre by the TSA.

Once that circus was over, I visited the BA F lounge, which I had previously reviewed. I don't have much to add from last time, other than the fact that the lounge is poorly lit, has tacky looking furniture and feels more like a cheap living room than an F lounge (though I understand the Concorde Room is where BA's F passengers go to, instead of this embarrassment of a lounge.)

I grabbed an espresso. As I sat down, an older German man asked if I would be willing to swap my seat for 2K as his wife was in 1A. I politely declined, as I tend to prefer sitting on the left side (and after wasting so much time calling in and securing the coveted 2A, I wasn't going to give it up that easy.) I figured that his wife could just swap with 1K anyways - but I did feel somewhat guilty afterwards.

2014-04-09 09.18.30 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Shortly after finishing my espresso the boarding call was made 40 minutes before departure.

2014-04-09 09.22.45 by jurastudent, on Flickr

A huge line started to form at the gate, with economy passengers on the left and premium/MPC passengers on the left. The premium line moved slowly as people were sent back to the other line. One DYKWIA who I saw upgrading at the counter, just cut past through the entire line, much to the ire of the ground agent checking ID documents. All he said was "But I'm in First Class" and kept on walking. That DYKWIA was seated in Seat 2D.

2014-04-09 09.23.00-2 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The boarding jetway was getting crowded with what appeared to be federal agents doing random inspections (particularly, asking people if they were carrying $10,000 or more.) IMO, using a single jetway to board a full 77W was a terrible idea (but probably not Cathay's fault.)

Cathay Pacific Flight 841
New York JFK to Hong Kong
Boeing 777-300ER (77W)
April 10, 2014
Scheduled: 10:00-14:00+1
Actual: 10:24-13:21+1
Seat: 2A (First Class)
Load: 6/6

On showing my boarding pass, I was escorted to my seat, 2A. I was on one of the newer 77Ws that were delivered with the refreshed F.

2014-04-09 09.27.52 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-09 09.28.00 by jurastudent, on Flickr

I've never had the chance to fly on the "old" F, but I think that scheme was classier and less sterile than this iteration with the muted grey chairs and black scheme (which looked plasticky.) Still, it looked like a great place to spend 16 hours.

2014-04-09 09.31.40 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The seat was wider than I had imagined. You could easily fit 2 of me into this seat and still have wiggle room.

2014-04-09 09.28.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The not-so-intuitive seat controls:

2014-04-09 09.29.32 by jurastudent, on Flickr

As I was settling down, Sara and Alex had made their round of introductions and offered me a newspaper and a PDB. Strangely enough, they didn't seem to offer champagne as one of the PDBs (saying juice or water instead.) I figured it was too early to start drinking anyways, so I went for a glass of cranberry (or was it raspberry?) juice.

2014-04-09 09.32.29 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Followed by a amuse bouche of avocado with crab salad. It was tasty.

2014-04-09 09.32.22 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Once those were cleared away, Alex brought a bottle of Evian over, as well as pyjamas and an amenity kit.

The pyjamas by PYE were nice and soft. Though the top reminded of something Kim-Jong Un might wear.

2014-04-09 11.15.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The Ermenegildo Zegna amenity kit was just okay (the outer case was nothing special), though I did like the Aesop products inside (I ended up buying some on the ground after trying them here.)

2014-04-09 11.20.47 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The captain announced that our flight time was just going to a smidge over 15 hours, and that we would be heading in an easterly direction to get to HKG today. I guess that makes my trip an RTW now?

We pulled back from the gate on time, but this time, we had to contend with the congestion at JFK. We were on the ground waiting for a solid 30 minutes before we were cleared for takeoff.

(video to follow)

Next part: The F&B and service.
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 14, 9:27 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
Cathay Pacific 841 continued

Once the seatbelt signs were extinguished, the first order of business for the crew was to close the curtain between us and the mini J cabin. I guess that'll make it harder for them to sneak in (a la Elaine Benes?)

The menu today was as follows:

2014-04-10 12.00.11 by jurastudent, on Flickr

When Alex came around to take my meal order, I kindly requested to swap both meals around, which he told me was no problem. He just said I might have to wait a bit longer as they have to move some stuff around. Being Cathay Pacific, I figured the Chinese option would the best - opting for the appetizer of vegetarian duck, double boiled soup and main course of stir fried prawns. Along with those, I also ordered the caviar and Caesar salad with prawns. Finally, I asked for the Krug to accompany this feast.

I changed into my pyjamas and decided to check out the IFE (I'm really behind on my movies.) StudioCX is easily one of the best IFEs I've ever seen - such a wide variety of Western and Chinese movies/TV shows and documentaries. I eventually settled on "12 Years a Slave" and melted into my massive chair.

2014-04-09 11.10.32 by jurastudent, on Flickr

About half an hour later, I noticed from the corner of my eye, the other 5 in the cabin were starting to eat, while I didn't even have a drink yet. It took another 45 minutes before my table was set, well after everyone else had finished eating. I'm not sure if it was intentional (though the timing was perfect, starting lunch at 12 noon NYT), but I would have appreciated being offered some form of beverage for the hour and half lull or being updated on why it was taking so long to start service. Okay, I gotta calm myself down. A few glasses of Krug will do the trick.

2014-04-09 11.57.41 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Oh boy, the famous CX Salmon and Caviar appetizer that I've read about and seen pictures of for the last 10 years. And here it was in front of me. I scarfed it down quickly - but was left with a "meh" feeling. The salmon was not the best I've had, nor was the Caviar particularly memorable.

2014-04-09 11.58.00 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Of course, Krug makes everything taste better.

2014-04-09 12.02.24 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Caesar Salad with marinated prawns. This was excellent.

2014-04-09 12.13.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Chinese double-boiled conch soup. Reminds me of home and my mother's cooking.

2014-04-09 12.22.41 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Vegetarian duck - which is really a bean curd sheet roll with mushrooms/vegetable inside. Not a bad version at all.

2014-04-09 12.22.44 by jurastudent, on Flickr

And the main course, stir fried prawns in chili sauce with freshly steamed rice and pak choy.

2014-04-09 12.37.24 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The portion of prawns was huge, but it was disappointing overall. Not much flavour, the batter on the outside was soggy and the sauce not very interesting. Tasted like something I would get from a self-service Chinese buffet for $5.

2014-04-09 12.37.38 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Same for the pak choy. It was overcooked and mushy.

2014-04-09 12.37.42 by jurastudent, on Flickr

A toast to a semester well-done.

2014-04-09 12.44.25 by jurastudent, on Flickr

And last but not least, dessert, which was a macadamia nut cake served warm with chocolate ice cream and raspberry sauce. It was fine, but not particularly memorable.

2014-04-09 12.55.02 by jurastudent, on Flickr

After all that food and Krug, I guess I had rather comically fell asleep sitting upwards at my chair (probably while drooling from my mouth.) When I woke up about half an hour later, Sara came over immediately and offered to make my seat into a bed, which I gladly accepted.

2014-04-09 19.25.12 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Surely, the bed in CX F has to be amongst the largest in the sky (with the exception of the double bed on SQ's A380.) I got a few solid hours of sleep before waking up in a puddle of sweat. I personally thought that the bedding wasn't that comfortable and the pillow was rather stingy (there weren't any extras.)

2014-04-09 19.25.21 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Next part: the midflight snacks and breakfast

Last edited by tng11; Jul 1, 14 at 10:08 am
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 14, 9:52 pm
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Posts: 1,655
Cathay Pacific 841 continued

In true on-demand fashion, I ordered one of the desserts from the lunch menu (the berries and cream), along with the famous hotpot rice (which I was warned would take 20+ minutes to make.)

Berries and cream. The berries were great - but I don't think it should have been plated like this? (Previous TRs has shown this dessert on CX white china.)

2014-04-09 17.41.57 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Tablecloths were laid out and the hotpot rice and chicken broth were brought over by Sara.

2014-04-09 18.23.36 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The hotpot rice with chicken and preserved meats. It was good, but not quite like other claypots I've had. I'm a big fan of the crusty, burnt rice that builds at the bottom and this one didn't have any. Oh well, it's a limitation of what can be served on a plane I guess.

2014-04-09 18.23.24 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Chicken broth. Nothing special about this one.

2014-04-09 18.23.28 by jurastudent, on Flickr

To finish, I asked for some Ti Guan Yin tea and chocolates from the lunch service.

2014-04-09 18.50.32 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The tea was very good, but the chocolates were out of this world! A rich dark chocolate truffle, dark chocolate covered almonds and a candied orange peel embedded in dark chocolate. Mmm. Did I mention that I love dark chocolate? Sara saw how quickly I had scarfed these down, and brought me a second plate, which I was happy to make disappear too.

2014-04-09 18.50.18 by jurastudent, on Flickr

A few more hours of games on the iPad and some silly HK documentaries/game shows, it was time for breakfast (or lunch for the rest of the cabin) about 2 hours out of HKG. Things got off to a good start with a glass of fresh orange juice and a fresh fruit plate (which actually tasted fresh.) Shame I was still pretty full from the last meal, though I forced myself to have this meal just for the sake of this TR.

2014-04-10 11.26.42 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-10 11.26.37 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Some muesli and yogurt. I was told that it was apricot, but it ended up being blueberry. Oh well.

2014-04-10 11.37.39 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Freshly scrambled eggs with sausage, bacon, spinach, mushrooms and potatoes. Arrrgh, I thought I had asked earlier for just the eggs and nothing else (this was way back at the first meal order.) I knew I would feel guilty for wasting Alex's effort in preparing this dish, so I tried my best to finish it (and just not need to eat for the rest of the day, or even the next day at the rate I was going.)

2014-04-10 11.45.08 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Eventually, I finished the eggs only. I couldn't bring myself to eat more than a sliver of the bacon as it was the fattiest piece of meat I've seen in a while (yes, I know bacon is supposed to be fatty, but in a piece like that, it was like eating pure blocks of pork fat.)

2014-04-10 11.47.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Once I was done, we were just about 45 minutes out of HKG, during which I had changed out of my pyjamas and into street clothes. I ordered another glass or two of Krug, having seen how a new bottle was just popped during the lunch service and not wanting to see that bottle go to waste.

We touched down into HKG on time, about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

2014-04-10 13.38.19 by jurastudent, on Flickr

It was a short walk from Gate 4 to immigration, which was a nice touch given that I was on the verge of having to be rolled off the plane by both Sara and Alex after the amount of food I had ingested in that 15 hours. Normally, HKG baggage claim is really fast, but it was painfully slow today. It was a good 15 minutes before the first bags had appeared on the belt.

Worst of all, my bag was almost dead last to appear almost 40 minutes in. Someone on the ground appeared to have torn off the AA Priority tag I received in Toronto, and there was no Cathay Priority tag added.

Next stop was the Arrival and a quick shower before heading to my grandparent's place.

2014-04-10 14.28.43 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Overall, I'm not sure if it was because I had set too high expectations for Cathay's First Class, but I wasn't quite as "wowed" as I had expected to be. The seat was wide, and 2A was a great seat (though there was more crew traffic than the other row as others have noted before), but the catering and the bed comfort were less than I had expected. The service was hit and miss at times, but both Sara and Alex still did a great job overall. They were both personable and introduced the little extra touches that make a good flight great.

Then when I think about it, considering what I paid for this ticket, it was a steal. First reality check on this trip!
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 12:27 am
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Programs: QF, EK, VA, Hyatt
Posts: 47
Great report so far, looking forward the next instalments.
JMNMEL is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 12:47 am
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Europe
Programs: M&M, Finnair, FlyingBlue, HH and some more
Posts: 275
Waiting for the rest
AhogZ is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 1:30 am
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: India
Programs: Shangri-La Jade, Best Western Diamond, Hilton Gold
Posts: 878
Your itinerary is really exciting, bookmarking this. Good job !
deovrat is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 2:06 am
Join Date: Oct 2012
Programs: CX,SQ,PR,QR
Posts: 577
Nice report, thanks!
bluegreentravel is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 2:36 am
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: BAEC GGL, IHG Spire Elite, HHonors Diamond
Posts: 5,832
Brings back memories of the same flight back in December.
I prefer the right hand side of the cabin as you get the views of Manhattan after take-off.

Thought they had stopped doing the salmon with the caviar?
xenole is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 3:06 am
Join Date: May 2010
Programs: QFF, Krisflyer
Posts: 448
Nice report. Looks forward to reading more.
spizzy is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 8:36 am
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: AR
Programs: A bit of this and a bit of that
Posts: 682
Excellent Report so far!! can't wait to read more! Thanks for sharing it with us
tuchop is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 9:18 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
HKG Airport Express, the SilverKris Lounge and United Club

After 3 days in Hong Kong, and some great homecooked meals (nothing really fancy this time around), I was truly excited for the next 2 flights in the coveted Singapore Airlines Suites even though today's flight was only going to be a short hop over to Hong Kong.

I remember way back in 2007 when SQ introduced their A380 to much fanfare and "A Class Beyond First" with its Suites product which was truly one of a kind of a time. It was on my list of purchases if I had won the lottery, but otherwise was unattainable for a mere mortal like me.

The day before departure, SQ cleared my waitlist for SQ865 leaving a day earlier, allowing me a 22 hour layover in Singapore, as opposed to a direct connection from SQ861 to SQ221. The only consequence was that I was the last person to select a seat in the cabin, and all I was able to get was 4A, reputed by many to be the "worst" seat in the Suites cabin.

Hong Kong Station In-Town Check-In

This was my first time using the in-town check-in facility in Hong Kong, as I generally either take the bus or catch a taxi to the airport. Where I was staying this time was close to Hong Kong Station, so I got there just around 9 to check-in. My bag was checked through to SYD, and I had both boarding passes in hand.

2014-04-13 08.50.55 by jurastudent, on Flickr

There was still time for a few more family visits and afternoon tea at Kowloon Station.

2014-04-13 15.14.03 by jurastudent, on Flickr

And at 5pm, it was time to catch the Airport Express from Kowloon Station.

2014-04-13 16.42.28 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-13 16.44.20 by jurastudent, on Flickr

At the Airport in under 20 minutes. Hooray for HKG efficiency! I made a quick stop at the check-in counter to pick up a new boarding pass. The ones given out at the HKG AEL check-in felt cheap and were all yellowed (presumably because very few Suites passengers will use the in-town check-in facilities) Yes I'm obsessive like that.

2014-04-13 17.06.31 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge

Today's SQ865 was leaving from Gate 62. SQ's Krisflyer lounge (slated to be closed from the end of June) is located by Gate 15, where a lot of the SQ departure tend to be clustered around. Today however, there was a Qantas A380 parked there, so it was the 60s for us today.

2014-04-13 17.36.02 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Entrance to the lounge

2014-04-13 17.21.15 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The layout somewhat reminds me of the lounges in Singapore. The food selection wasn't any good, and worst of all, there were no toilets/showers here (the latter of which I was in desperate need of.) I left after 5 minutes for the United Club.

2014-04-13 17.27.17 by jurastudent, on Flickr

I don't like the lack of windows in an airport lounge.

2014-04-13 17.29.32 by jurastudent, on Flickr

United Club Hong Kong (First Class Section)

The United Club in Hong Kong is located rather conveniently near Gate 60, up a set of escalators.

2014-04-13 17.47.23 by jurastudent, on Flickr

First order of business was to take a shower (which were small and poorly ventilated.) First impressions of the lounge are good. I was one of only 2 people in the entire place at the time.

2014-04-13 17.57.10 by jurastudent, on Flickr

2014-04-13 17.58.29 by jurastudent, on Flickr

A rather dismal food selection:

2014-04-13 17.56.36 by jurastudent, on Flickr

I liked the balcony which overlooked the 60s gates. It was a great sight to see 2 Emirates A380s, the Singapore A380 and Lufthansa 74H all lined up beside each other for their evening departures.

2014-04-13 18.01.57 by jurastudent, on Flickr

As sad as it is, I was in disbelief that United actually did have something up on Singapore this time around.
tng11 is offline  
Old Jun 18, 14, 9:39 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
Singapore Airlines Flight 865
Hong Kong to Singapore
Airbus A380-800
April 13, 2014
Scheduled: 18:50-22:50
Actual: 19:33-22:54
Seat: 4A (Suites)
Load: 10/12

Ahh, the beautiful whale that'll be taking me to Singapore today.

2014-04-13 18.07.13 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Thankfully, I had a golden ticket. I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

2014-04-13 18.00.00 by jurastudent, on Flickr

I wanted to be first on the plane this time too. And after all preboards were done (and a few profuse apologies from the gate agents), I frolicked down the jetway to my suite.

2014-04-13 18.07.43 by jurastudent, on Flickr

After only seeing the Suites in pictures, my dream had finally come true. And it was better than expected. The chair was massive (though as many have said, it looks and feels like a dentist chair )

IMG_5362 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Look at all that room! (Too bad the seat is actually quite far away from the window.)

2014-04-13 18.17.06 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The jetbridge was covering my windows. I guess 4A is truly where the "sun don't shine. (2A and 3A were empty - I had tried to get them at the check-in earlier, but was told they were blocked as the tables were broken.)

IMG_5366 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Yes, I would like some Krug. (The "Krug or Dom?" question brought a grin to my face.)

IMG_5360 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Can't imagine walking down this hallway in a Krug-induced stupor.

IMG_5367 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The seat controls and TV.

2014-04-13 18.51.13 by jurastudent, on Flickr

IMG_5359 by jurastudent, on Flickr

All I was taking pictures like a kid in Disneyland (this beats Disneyland hands down), I was offered multiple rounds of Krug and Dom, newspapers and magazines. I loved how everyone was addressing me by name, and the leading stewardess took her time explaining to me the features of the Suite as I proudly proclaimed I was a Suites virgin.

I also took the opportunity to taste both Krug and the DP 2004 on the ground (I was offered the chance by the IFS.) I liked the former better, and decided to stick with it for the rest of the flight. Even before we had taken off, I had already lost count of how many glasses I had. I knew this flight was gonna be dope.

I was presented with the menu as follows:

2014-04-13 19.48.47 by jurastudent, on Flickr

The leading stewardess confirmed my BTC order of Lobster Thermidor as she gave me the menu. On seeing the Chinese menu (apparently similar to a kaiseki menu), I requested a change to that, as well as the Balik salmon appetizer from the Western menu. After taking everyone else's order, she okayed my order for the appetizer, and I was happy.

Our flight time to Singapore was just going to be a smidge over 3 hours and 15 minutes. Heavy traffic in HKG though meant that we were going to be on the ground for a while. Oh the horror.

video of takeoff to be uploaded

Suite 4A was honestly not all that bad. I could barely hear the galley noise during the meal service (likely as I was a little buzzed), and it was one of the only Suites where the middle rows couldn't see into your Suite.

IMG_5375 by jurastudent, on Flickr

IMG_5369 by jurastudent, on Flickr

Once airborne, the crew wasted no time in getting the beverages rolling.

Next part: Dinner

Last edited by tng11; Jun 18, 14 at 8:48 pm
tng11 is offline  

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