Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL,OZ,KL,JL J)

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL,OZ,KL,JL J)

Reply

Old Oct 11, 15, 6:13 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Dodging Volcanic Ash: A trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL,OZ,KL,JL J)

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL J / OZ J / KL J / JL J)

YVR-LAX (paid)
LAX-ICN-DPS (LifeMiles Award)
DPS-SIN (paid)
SIN-NRT-YVR (AAdvantage Award)




In this report:

Delta Airlines First Class: Vancouver - Los Angeles
Delta SkyClub Terminal 5 - Los Angeles
Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel
Star Alliance Business Class Lounge - Tom Bradley International Terminal, Los Angeles
Asiana Airlines Business Class: Los Angeles - Seoul Incheon
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge: Incheon Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class: Seoul Incheon - Denpasar
Westin Nusa Dua Bali
Bali
Premier Lounge - Denpasar Airport
KLM World Business Class: Denpasar - Singapore
Singapore
Legoland Malaysia
SATS Premier Lounge, Changi Terminal One, Singapore
Japan Airlines Business Class: Singapore - Toyko Narita Two
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge, Narita Terminal Two, Tokyo
Japan Airlines Business Clss: Tokyo Narita Terminal Two - Vancouver


Links to my previous reports:


RTW#3: Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle. (AC/OZ/SQ/AI/TK), May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches, (AC J/Y, QF J) November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” (AS F), August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J). August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F) May 2014
RTW #2 (J) The Khors of Oman - via Japan, Poland, & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH J 787, OZ J, TG J, EY J, TK J, LH J). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, (UA Y) Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
RTW #1 (F): The Time Share Presentation, Spain, China, Thailand, (AC J, OZ F, TG F, LH J, LH F, AC Y) May 2012.
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J, LA Y) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. (MS Y) May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar (MI Y) Sept 2010

Background:

Some back history here: I was born to two sets of first generation Canadians, having immigrated to the United States from Singapore and the United Kingdom. When I was ten years old, I was being taken overseas to visit grandparents and aunts and uncles; travelling from Canada to Singapore. We mostly traveled on Cathay Pacific from Vancouver, through the old Hong Kong Kai Tak airport. My dad was taking me in the other direction, to the United Kingdom and Guernsey in order to visit the other side of the family. I didn’t know it then, but I really enjoyed those trips and it made me into the world traveller and explorer that I am today.

Now that my own son is 11 years old, I wanted to give him a similar experience. Although it’s been challenging, he’s been given the opportunity to travel to Singapore, Thailand, Costa Rica, Maui (Hawaii) and now Bali, Indonesia. MRSWT73, the gracious host, has accompanied me and my son (who is from the previous administration) on all these trips. It won’t be long before we have one of our own.

We picked Bali as a destination as it involved beaches with a little bit of culture that I’m sure an 11 year old would find different than our life at home in Canada. It was also close to the family home in Singapore and we could get in a visit at the same time. I personally enjoy South East Asia as a destination to visit and this trip was no exception.

Unfortunately, about four days before our trip, Mount Ruang in Indonesia decided to erupt and steam over an extended period of time, causing havoc with the flights. It was a slow eruption and steaming over several days that caused hundreds of flight cancellations. BBC News was our best source of international updates:



I considered on several occasions cancelling the whole thing and changing to Thailand. However, when I checked hotels, there was really nothing interesting available with the best properties being fully booked in the height of summer. Eleven year old in hand, travelling on two tickets, we decided to roll the dice it and proceed with the original plan and take our chances.

It was a test of nerves until the point that we actually landed, and then again until we left Bali. Instead of freakishly checking for award space, I was freakishly checking the VAAC Darwin center ash advisory warning that covered the ash cloud pattern warning. How did we fare? Did we make it in and out unblemished? Stay tuned to find out!

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Dec 4, 15 at 11:43 pm
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 11, 15, 6:21 pm
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161

Delta Airlines
Business Class
YVR-LAX (Vancouver International Airport – Los Angeles Airport)
DL 5683 – Business Class (G)
July 17, 2015
Booked: Embrauer 175
Flown: Embrauer 175


I’m now a free agent. For eight years, I used to be a self funded chaser of Aeroplan Top Tier status. Consequently, I spent a great deal of time, effort and energy accumulating points to achieve Star Alliance Gold through Air Canada. Thanks to devaluations, I’ve given all that up now and just go for availability and discounted fares; taking advantage of all the benefits of status without paying for it. Today’s opportunity was on Delta Airlines at a deeply discounted business class fare at $250 USD that was only $40 above the cost of a similar economy fare on Air Canada. The Air Canada Business fare was more than double the price at $520 when compared to Delta for their less interesting low cost carrier “Air Canada Rouge” product. Ouch. Sorry Air Canada, that decision was made easy and the cheaper Delta Airlines it was. It’s a bit more freeing now that there wasn’t a need to chase status.

We took an Aerocar from the house to the Airport today. We had lots of luggage and we ended up with a Ford Expedition. It was pretty quiet on arrival thanks to our early flight time.



We checked in at Vancouver International at the well marked Delta Airlines Sky Priority check in line. We were assisted through the kiosk check in and had our bags tagged over at the counter. Vancouver US Pre-Clearance requires that all bags get dropped on a conveyor belt, where they are photographed and linked up to a boarding card. We quickly made it through Nexus pre-screening and US Pre-Clearance Global Entry and with only 4-6 people in front of us.







Unfortunately, no lounge was available other than the pay in Plaza Premium Lounge in the Transborder departure concourse, (previously the Alaska Airlines Board Room) so we just opted for the terminal where my son filled up on Tim Horton’s bagels.







Boarding was a bit delayed by 15 minutes thanks to a small maintenance issue. Once on board, we settled into comfortable commuter jet seating in a 1-2 configuration with 4 rows of business class. The load was full today, less two seats.







A pre departure beverage of Dasani water was available, as left on the seat.



There was a nice Delta branded red blanket made available. There was no mistaking that color!



As always, a beautiful climb out of Vancouver airport todays with views over the University of British Columbia and the mountains in the backdrop today.



We were offered juices prior to the breakfast offering. Cranberry juice today.



Breakfast today wasn’t the hot omelette and sausage offering or pancake offering on Air Canada but Cheerios cereal. Delta could up their game a bit here compared to Air Canada by offering hot selections, although I can’t speak for their current Air Canada Rouge offering in Business Class.



Delta, like many others, has removed in flight television monitors from its seats. Instead, entertainment is provided through a tablet app promising hours of free entertainment. My son settled into the Penguins of Madagascar which came across okay on my iPhone.





Before we knew it, we were in for the landing at LAX. It was a quick run down which was more than comfortable for an easy flight. Overall, it was well priced for the price paid and I can’t really complain. I would definitely fly Delta Airlines again if I had the opportunity. I’d just pack a hot breakfast sandwich on board before I did.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Dec 17, 16 at 11:22 am
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 11, 15, 6:28 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Delta Sky Club
Terminal 5
Los Angeles Airport

I had hard that the Delta Sky Club in Los Angeles Terminal 5 had been recently refreshed. I had booked us down to Los Angeles a day early prior to our overseas flight so that MrsWT73 could do a little shopping and that there would be no issues with our connecting flight on two separate tickets. Having arrived, and with no set schedule, we decided we would check out the lounge. Itís located just past the Lemonade restaurant in Los Angeles Terminal 5.



Surprisingly, the club was accessed from the concourse via a freight elevator?? Sinister! It was a pretty grungy entrance for what has been marketed as a massive renovation. No hip and happening escalators here- or an abundance of space. Once inside the lounge, it was not exactly a serene arrival with a crowded reception desk of grumpy customers. Never the less, they were happy to admit us with our arriving transborder business class boarding pass.





Once we were inside, it was a nice space with tarmac views. There was a high ceiling with rotating in direct color light. The lounge was probably at about 70% occupancy on our visit and we were still able to locate some places to sit. This was better than the regular T5 terminal, which was stuffed full on our walk through the concourse.











The lounge featured some contemporary and traditional art. I especially liked this piece.



The breakfast food offering was dismal and wasnít anything to write home about. It was the usual United Club style preserved bagels, porridge and mini muffins that would require a handful in order to get any substance.





Thankfully, we happened to arrive right at meal changeover at 11 AM. The lunch offering was much better. The food was much more attractive, consisting of celery, vegan vegetarian / tomato bisque soups presented in attractive red Creuset cups and assorted olives, salads and other snacks. Apparently, other people thought so too, since the chicken salad went just like that!





There was also a proper seating area towards the glass that had a substantial amount of natural light. There were also ample plug ins and power ports.











There were also some sponsored magazines available near the food stations.



MrsWT73 and I had a wine from the bar. They were serving Concha Y Toro Frontera as the house wine. Delta was swish enough to have proper stemware type glasses along with upgraded upholstery chairs to lounge in. The only minus was that the wifi was dreadfully slow and the attached bathrooms in the lounge were completely closed during our visit due to a water main pipe bursting. Although the lounge served itís purpose, it wasnít really designed to be a place to stay for a long time.

Ultimately, itís a nicer lounge thatís trying really hard to be an American Express Centurion lounge without the free fancy mixed drinks. It was worth a visit, but it was nothing excellent to write home about. The fact that this place was quite busy, lessened the exclusivity of it as well. The style was neat, but I fear that as more and more lounges get upgraded, this one will fit in as a middle of the pack lounge.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 11, 15, 6:33 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161

Westin Los Angeles Airport
Los Angeles, USA


With our one day stopover, we needed a place to stay for the night that was close to the airport and conveniently located. I chose the Westin Los Angeles Airport as we used a Starwood Preferred Guest Free Weekend Night Award that was issued courtesy of meeting a minimum annual spend on the Canadian Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. It was close to the airport and reasonably conveniently located for our needs of being close to the airport. We initially were going to use the complimentary airport shuttle over to the hotel, but ended up renting a car instead. To get there, we headed out to the ďsereneĒ LAX curbside shuttle bus over to Hertz for our car rental.



From there, thanks in part to Hertz #1 Gold Canopy (among the most excellent ideas ever), it was a short drive over to West Century Blvd, one of the main access streets for the airport. It was about 7 minutes drive from the car rental lot, owing in part due to some road construction.



We received the as booked room on the Starwood Preferred Guest Floor with a high view as an SPG Gold upgrade. The usual $30 parking fee was reduced to $15 as there was quite a large line to check in 6+ in the Gold / Plat lineup. I saw for the first time, in addition to the regular and SPG Gold / Plat line up, a separate line up for flight crew check in.

The property is quite old. Itís probably one of the oldest Westin properties Iíve been in aside from the Westin Seattle and the Westin Bayshore. Having said that, it was just about right for travelling with a family and being close to the airport. Over time, I found the property to grow on me quite a bit. The hotel was constructed with high ceilings which made it appear much more airy and bright than other hotels of this generation. Itís been refreshed to a typical Westin standard with the usual furnishings, flat screen tvís and amenities, although the SPG water was limited to one bottle of Dasani which was unfortunately for the three of us travelling together.





The room was in fair condition and perfectly functional for an overnight stay. I was out parking the car and my son jumped into the bed prior to me getting a room photograph; recovering after our 4 AM wakeups for the Delta flight.









The room was stocked with a mini bar, which would have been handy if we were here late.



The LAX neighbourhood doesnít have any charm or personality to it. We preferred our past stay at the Westin Long Beach the last time we were through Los Angeles (that was also redeemed on a free weekend night certificate). The neighbourhoodís populated with some strip club advertisements mixed with Ethiopian Airlines fifth freedom flights from Los Angeles to Ireland on their B787. A room with a view:



There was a Daily Bar restaurant in the hotel. It seemed like it was more of a steakhouse so we didnít partake. There was lots of convention space on the second floor.



The attached garage is presently 30 $ USD for parking a night.

Of note to families, there was a Denny Diner across the street. The parking lot was packed on our drive by at 9 AM on our day of departure.

During our stopover, MrsWT73 went to town shopping. I managed to sneak in a stop to the LAX In and Out Burger around the corner from the hotel (not a walk able distance - about 7 minutes drive). It was absolute nirvana to be able to sit outside on a patio on the sunny California day and watch the planes land on Runway 14 all the while chomping down on a California classic. It was totally spectacular for an aviation geek and I could have sat there for hours.



Overall, I would stay at the Westin LAX again if I was coming through LAX and needed a quick night by the airport. I wouldnít stay for a honeymoon or visit on our own with the wife but it made for a perfect family stopover hotel that met our needs in an older but comfortable environment.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 12, 15, 11:16 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: London
Programs: Amex Centurion, B.A. Silver, Virgin Atlantic Gold, C.X. Diamond
Posts: 203


I look forward to the rest of this Trip Report, sounds like it is going to a good'un! I'm trying to work out why I presumed it was just you and your son going for a trip

When you said you were a free agent I also inferred that you were working for yourself. Don't know why that happened either... its been a long day.

Anyways have a great and safe trip Team WorldTraveller73!

Kind Regards LL


Last edited by louislitt; Oct 13, 15 at 4:49 am
louislitt is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 12, 15, 11:57 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: BWI
Posts: 1,778
looking forward to reading the rest. One day I might make it back to Bali and I'll even consider taking the kids!
farbster is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 12, 15, 12:04 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Tulsa, OK
Programs: AA EXP, UA Silver, SPG Plat, Marriott Plat
Posts: 1,264
Great report as always. I look forward to the rest.

CRJ900's like DL's and even AA/US don't have ovens so it's not surprising you didn't get a hot meal.
fieldeng is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 12, 15, 3:37 pm
  #8  
Moderator: Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,107
Great start worldtraveller73, especially with the LAX In-N-Out !

Looking forward to your (hopefully volcano trouble-free) Bali adventure too.
DanielW is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 13, 15, 8:20 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 274
Great start. Looking forward to the rest of the report, specifically the Bali and OZ J parts!
benjahman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 13, 15, 9:41 pm
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Great start worldtraveller73, especially with the LAX In-N-Out !

Looking forward to your (hopefully volcano trouble-free) Bali adventure too.
Thanks. The LAX In - N - Out is a special place. I thought FlyerTalker's were slightly crazy until I had the opportunity to visit myself. There's nothing like having planes land almost on top of you while enjoying a burger in the California sun. I'd recommend a visit to anyone.

Travel safe DanielW. This report will seem exceptionally tame compared to your adventures through Mogadishu.

Originally Posted by fieldeng View Post
Great report as always. I look forward to the rest.

CRJ900's like DL's and even AA/US don't have ovens so it's not surprising you didn't get a hot meal.
Fieldeng - you raise a very valid point; one I should have caught myself. It was Embrauer equipment in my case but it was something I hadn't given a second thought to in quite a while.

Originally Posted by farbster View Post
looking forward to reading the rest. One day I might make it back to Bali and I'll even consider taking the kids!
Thanks farbster. Bali and Singapore were a great visit with kids with lots to keep them entertained.

Originally Posted by louislitt View Post


I look forward to the rest of this Trip Report, sounds like it is going to a good'un! I'm trying to work out why I presumed it was just you and your son going for a trip

When you said you were a free agent I also inferred that you were working for yourself. Don't know why that happened either... its been a long day.

Anyways have a great and safe trip Team WorldTraveller73!

Kind Regards LL

Thanks louislitt! It's usually just me and MrsWT73 travelling. However, it's an achievement to be able to do an overseas trip with a young person. It's also a bit different than the usual adventures around here.

Originally Posted by benjahman View Post
Great start. Looking forward to the rest of the report, specifically the Bali and OZ J parts!
Thank you benjahman - the Asiana A380 business class and the Tom Bradley International Experience is coming right up!
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 13, 15, 9:49 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Star Alliance Business Lounge
Tom Bradley International Terminal
Los Angeles, USA.


The next grey and wet morning, we returned our rental car and headed for the Tom Bradley International Terminal. We checked in at the Asiana counters. They were open as of 08:00 AM per the Asian website from the Asiana Magazine that we had picked up from an earlier flight. This was great for us as our flight had a 12:40 PM departure and we were able to drop our bags a good 3 3/4 hours before our departure time.







There was absolutely no line when we arrived. Our Life Miles ticket was validated and accepted without any issues and we were checked in. I was a bit worried about having to call San Salvador Ticketing Office to get it straightened out (our LifeMiles ticket was issued by email out of a San Salvador ticket office that probably couldn't be found on Google Maps ). Asiana paid particular attention to the fact that we did not have a return booked with them and I was kindly asked to show proof of onward travel, which I happened to have printed on a separate reservation. We were given a map for the lounge, which was handy as you probably wouldnít locate it unless you searched out for it and knew where to look.











To keep my son entertained on the long journey, I made up our own Amazing Race featuring a team of one. It was similar to turning the whole trip into a scavenger hunt. He got a clue envelope complete with Route Info descriptors, Roadblocks and Fast Forwards, whenever he was able to find the appropriate airline / gate or by completing a challenge. It kept him quite entertained at the travel process. I pre-downloaded off the internet some of the information from the in flight magazines or airport layouts where I could, and made him search through the magazines or areas to find information that I knew existed.



We headed through the new security on the second floor (where the food court used to be). The security screening area is now a much larger facility and it was a bit quicker than it was in the past.



The New Tom Bradley International Terminal is miles ahead of the old TBIT terminal. Its easily now among the nicest airports in the United States. Itís not quite up to the great airports of the world like Singapore Changi or Hong Kong but itís a massive improvement over the old space and a pleasant gateway fitting of a world class city like Los Angeles.















The terminal made great use of television displays for advertising and other effects to make the concourse more interesting.





We took some shopping in on the ground floor. The airport space is so much nicer with natural light and I was really in awe of it. My son was particularly struck by the time tower. Itís a LED TV display thatís set to clocks, travel and other time themed presentations. It also cleverly houses the lounge elevators inside it.





After MrsWT73 did a brief check in with the duty free selections, we headed up the time tower elevator to the 6th floor. The Star Alliance Business Class Lounge is guarded at the door with a man at a small podium. The check in is outside the lounge at this podium unlike the typical busy counters that grace so many lounges around the world.







Continuing on with the improvement themes, the lounge space is a major improvement over the old Star Alliance Business lounge. The lounge was recently awarded the 2015 "Best Alliance Lounge in the World" by Skytrax consumer ratings. The lounge offers space both indoor, terraced and outdoor seating. At the time of our visit, the place was almost deserted. Looking back, it wasnít almost deserted, it WAS completely deserted. Itís fair to say that the lounge offers lots of seating space.















There was an indoor terrace that offered views of the concourse below. It was linked to the inside at each end. The terrace shared a double sided bar that allowed bartenders to move back and forth between the inside and outside seating areas. The outside bar was unmanned during the time of our visit.













There was also an outside area that offered views of Terminal 3. It was a slightly boring space but a nice feature. The patio was advertised as non smoking. Thanks to the rain this morning, it was completely deserted. Unfortunately, with the design of the new terminal, the lounge has a view of a boring domestic commuter terminal (think Southwest B737 instead of Qantas A380).







The lounge featured several quotes spread about the lounge instead of art work hung on the walls. The quotes were related to Los Angeles and California. Some of them were entertaining, although many were not famous or recognizable.







We opted for a spot on the terrace where we had a nice view of the retail area of the TBIT concourse. It also provided lots of entertainment for the back of the Time Tower which my son really enjoyed watching during our stay.



We opted for breakfast in the lounge consisted of quiches, burrito mini egg/cheese wraps, yoghurt, smoothies, cereal and bacon, hash browns. There was also a Vietnamese Pho station in the back which was a plus. Most of the customers in the lounge at this hour were Asian, since the first two flights were Asianaís Seoul and Tokyo (ANA). It seemed that the most popular items being served were congee or pho for breakfast.











The lounge was a super comfortable place to be. The only minor downside was that the wines were pretty bargain basement. On our visit, Stonebridge Cellars and Mumm Napa Sparking or ďmethod champenoiseĒ were on offer. At least they were presently nicely in their own station.









While we were in the lounge, I spent some time checking the volcanic ash advisory. The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, run by the competent Australian Government, covered Mt Raung in Indonesia and published comprehensive reports that were updated several times a day. Since the Bali Airport website wasnít really providing any useful information, and the flight arrivals and departure information displays on their website were not working properly, I located FlightAware and Planefinder.net which also provided as real time information as you could get.







Seems as though the ash cloud floats different ways depending on who you look at. Planefinder had the trouble zone to the south of DPS. At least there was some information on the web, which was more than the Bali Airport Authorities or the airlines themselves were providing.



Either way, it would make for an interesting upcoming 24 hours.

Getting back to the lounge, overall the new Star Alliance Business Class Lounge was an awesome space. We came early and we didnít really regret it. Itís a nice lounge on par with the Amex Centurion Lounges without the fancy wine or bartenders mixing deluxe drinks. What this place doesnít have in food and beverage, it makes up for in space and design. For me, that said a lot compared to how grungy some of the lounge facilities have gotten in the past few years. Itís easily now the nicest Star Alliance Lounge in the United States and easily worth a visit when you are through the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 15, 15, 10:55 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Asiana Airlines
Business Class
LAX-ICN (Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal – Seoul Incheon Airport)
OZ 201 – Business Class (I)
July 18, 2015
Booked: Airbus 380-800
Flown: Airbus 380-800


In September of 2014, Avianca’s LifeMiles Frequent Flier program ran a 2 for 1 purchase promotion (100% bonus on purchased miles). Myself and MrsWT73 stocked up on enough miles for a one way ticket to Asia (or enough for two tickets for myself). It cost around $1,000 USD per person (one way) or 65,000 LifeMiles (now 78,000 LifeMiles). Searching on the United Airlines website, we easily found three business class reward seats on Asiana on their Airbus 380 Los Angeles – Seoul Incheon service with a connection to Denpasar, Indonesia. I was able to replicate the United reward search on the LifeMiles website and we snapped up those three seats as soon as the purchased miles turned up in our account about nine months in advance of the date of summer season travel. There were no fuel surcharges and the taxes and fees on the ticket were only $14.95 USD each. At the time of booking, we could have departed from Seattle on their Airbus 330 equipment (now a Boeing 777-200). However, this involved older angle flat seating and we wanted to experience an upper cabin on the beautiful Airbus 380. As a side note, we flew this exact route and flight in 2012 when it was serviced by a Boeing 747 in Asiana First Class.

We headed down to the gate at T-45. They hadn’t announced boarding in the lounge as they said that they woud but I wanted to get some aircraft photos. The plane is super impressive parked at the gate and there are some great photo opportunities to get with the people in the background.







There was some confusion and there was a delay of boarding until right at departure time. Unfortunately, the TBIT gates aren’t large enough to physically accommodate 495 passengers in the holding area and line management was a bit of a mess. All economy passengers were segregated to the main boarding area, and two lines were queued up “via the shouting method” for First and Business, and Asiana Platinum and Star Gold priority boarders. They boarded first and business first after the disabled assistance annoucement. MrsWT73 collected her duty free immediately after the boarding document check in the secure gate area. Collecting the duty free, we boarded and headed up the escalators for upper deck boarding.









Our initial impressions on board as we settled in: My son announced “Wow – I could get used to this!”. He promptly started playing around with his seat. You know you’ve impressed your own off spring when they start taking an iPod video of the whole experience, complete with self narrative, describing all the features of the cabin.





The seats are comfortable and private. The seating configurations are 1-2-1 with the center seats staggered. Some are together, where as others are apart. Seating wise, I had stuck us together in the center seats (others rows were staggered and apart). I did this so I could monitor my son. Since there were three of us travelling as a group, I put MrsWT73 on the outside aisle so we could chat as needed. Unfortunately, it was not great for a conversation as the aircraft noise across the aisle was too loud to carry on much discussion.





















MrsWT73’s seat across the aisle, with the seat staggered closer to the aisle (as opposed to the window).







Flight departure timing wise, it wasn’t Asiana’s best performance today. First, there was a fuelling delay and then a wait for paperwork. We waited on the ground on board for about an hour. Finally at T + 75 we headed to taxi. We had a pre-departure beverage of orange juice or water (Asiana doesn’t open any of the good stuff on the ground in the USA). Dinner menus were presented with orders taken on the ground.











With the exception of First Class, the wine lists on Asiana aren’t too over the top. Fortunately, on the long haul flights, there is quite a bit of choice. On the medium and short haul flights, they often only cater one white and one red wine. On the medium or short haul flights, it’s a take it or leave it situation. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case on today’s flight. The wine list included Piper Heindsieck Champagne, 2 white wines, 3 red wines, and two dessert wines of port and Canadian Ice Wine.













An amenity kit was left in the pod. It was an Occitaine branded kit. Aside from the small and tiny hand lotion, there wasn’t much Occitaine about it. It wasn’t too useful. It was something at least, as Asiana didn’t offer another kit on our intra Asia flight.





You can catch up on what is happening with the nose camera, it’s a great addition. We were held up more by Allegiant Air as we headed for Runway 14 R.



It happened to be MrsWT73’s birthday while we were flying today. I offered a bit of a thank you “shout out” to her for accommodating the flying on her birthday thanks to some patchy reward availability. As a thank you, I brought along some streamers and happy birthday decorations and a card. I brought it up to the purser during boarding and had the crew sign it. I brought some small presents along on board for her. After the seatbelt sign was switched off, I self decorated the cabin. Needless to say, it was a memorable birthday for her that she probably wouldn’t forget (bottomless champagne anyone?). The Asiana Staff presented the card with a birthday cake (which was a regular desert menu item) prior to the meal and pre meal beverage service. I have to thank the awesome performance on the part of Asiana crew for accommodating!! Hey – the crew even wrote in the card that I was the “best man ever” (laughing). Err, okay!







After those festivities, the lunch service started. Here's today’s amuse bouche paired with Piper Heindsieck Champagne.



Today's starter of grilled tuna and mixed vegetables.





Soup today. Why not? It's clam chowder - a strange choice when heated up on a plane thanks to the potential for strange fish odours.



I opted for western today instead of the Korean food. I went with the beef tenderloin paired with the Wente Vineyards Reliz Pinot Noir. It was nicely cooked but a little dry.



I finished off with Sawmill Creek Ice Wine with a small serving of Cheese.



I had pre-ordered a kids meal by telephone through the Asiana Los Angeles ticket office My son didn’t care much for the starters but found the main okay. Dinner service concluded around 5 PM Pacific Standard Time, which was quite late for a lunch service for a flight that was supposed to start at 12:40 PM (T + 4.5 hrs).



After dinner, we all went for a walk around on board. We ended up in the bare bones lounge towards the nose end of the business class cabin. It was completely dark with the lights off when we arrived. The crew flipped on the lights when they saw us there. It’s a pretty austere place without any real personality. We, well we as in “the adults”, had a few gin tonics here and they brought us some nuts to go along with it. My son had a Coke. It was much easier to talk here instead of across aisle and was nice to occupy all the benches as a family and spend some time together having a unique experience. My son got into his Nitendo DS, which was a must bring for a trip of this length. He also said "Daaaaadd. Enough photographs."













We checked out the stairs at both ends. The lounge end is roped off that leads down to first, and the back stairs are also roped off that lead from economy section to economy section. Regretfully, you can’t do laps around on the plane if you wanted to.







After the lounge, we went back to seat and crashed out. The cabin was dark by this point. My son lasted about two minutes before he fell asleep, tired from the exciting new experiences and the early 4 AM wake up for the Delta flight down from Vancouver the day earlier.



Before I went man down, I played with the in flight entertainment system. Asiana isn’t known for fabulous in flight entertainment, and today options, while decent, were pretty much one flight’s worth of movies. If you were regularily travelling on their equipment, you’d get pretty tired of the limited options.









In terms of sleeping, I found the seat to be a bit narrow in the bottom half for my liking. As a side sleeper, the cavity for the seats were quite narrow and my knees kept bumping against the seat of the pod in front of me. The cabin was also quite warm and no air vents above the seats on the A380. The ANA Square Business Staggered on their B787 seemed a bit more roomy in terms of comparison for a similar staggered product.

I woke up with the lights coming on over Tokyo, about 1:50 minutes prior to landing. The second service was delivered promptly after a towel service.







My son enjoyed his snacks and drink offering. He was such a good sport to be travelling such a long way with his dad. The decision to have him close to me in the center seats was the right one as it made it much easier to take care of him.



I started with the proscuitto appetizer with some tired frissee that didn’t travel well. It seemed to sag a little bit.



The main was chicken thigh, which was boneless along with the usual Asiana sauces. Spice condiments were brought around on the tray as well.



My son shovelled kids meal spaghetti, with an assortment of plain vegetables, into his tummy.

The second serving was concluded with dessert and a coffee to wake up.



As we got ready to descend, the seat gobbled up one of my socks. I had placed it on the ground and when I went to bed, the frame of the recliner dragged it underneath the seat. Unfortunately due to the design of the seat, it was gone forever. I attempted to get it back, but only came up with old crumbs and used ear plugs. I had the rest of the flights today with only one sock! (The horrors!) A bit funny to share this, but those that are travelling on this equipment type beware ! (I could have used the brown ones from the amenity kit but didn’t).

We arrived to gate and were let off promptly with three door disembarking. We were off and into Incheon without any issue but with kind thank you’s abound from the Asiana staff.





Asiana’s A380 service was a terrific experience. The highlight of Asiana are the terrific crews that are always pleasant and accommodating. Sure, there are a few language problems and things that are lost in translation, but they spend lots of effort training them (it’s very apparent) that it’s a pleasure to fly with them.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 16, 15, 6:35 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Programs: BAEC Gold
Posts: 315
Seems like a fun trip. Looking forward to more.
avneeshj is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 16, 15, 11:50 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 274
Thanks for sharing this. I was booked in OZ J from JFK-ICN-HKG until yesterday when I noticed two F seats available, so burned through some UA miles and ended up with OZ F JFK-ICN. As I could fly in the F cabin, with J service from ICN-HKG, I have opted to sit in the J cabin from ICN-HKG to test the seat out. Thanks for the details! Will keep an eye on my socks!
benjahman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Oct 18, 15, 6:38 pm
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Originally Posted by avneeshj View Post
Seems like a fun trip. Looking forward to more.
Thanks avneeshj. It is a pretty fun experience sharing world travel with your kids.

Originally Posted by benjahman View Post
Thanks for sharing this. I was booked in OZ J from JFK-ICN-HKG until yesterday when I noticed two F seats available, so burned through some UA miles and ended up with OZ F JFK-ICN. As I could fly in the F cabin, with J service from ICN-HKG, I have opted to sit in the J cabin from ICN-HKG to test the seat out. Thanks for the details! Will keep an eye on my socks!
Definitely grab the First Class Seats if you can benjahan. As you may have heard, Asiana is removing First Class from it's 747 planes. I believe that it's 380 routes will be one of the few that remain. It certainly won't be an experience that you'll quickly forget.
worldtraveller73 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread