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LIVE: Plane spotting trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand

LIVE: Plane spotting trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand

Old Feb 11, 17, 1:49 pm
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LIVE: Plane spotting trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand

I describe myself as a leisure traveller as I don't do much travelling for work. Ok, a couple of conferences a year and that's it. I am also a huge aviation fan and keen plane spotter. I go from airport to airport, sit by the fence and take photos of any aircraft moving in front of me. I do have my own website if you want to check out my photos: airliners.megazine.net.

Last year I did a trip around South East Asia with my partner. We visited Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. During that trip I didn't have a chance to do much spotting apart from a few shots through the window. Seeing all those interesting aircraft around me it got me thinking - I could go by myself for a few days - why not?! I started looking at tickets, itineraries, airports, got tickets eventually. Then got my plans trashed by a flight cancellation and aircraft swap, but it's all sorted now!

Planning

I've settled on two goals for my trip - plane spotting at a few airports and to fly other interesting airlines and aircraft. As I never travelled by myself around Asia, I opted for destinations I am already familiar with. Having a stash of avios I decided to fly to Hong Kong and jump around from there. Some time in August / September last year I spotted a good price for BA flights to Chengdu, China. There was one offer from Italy which did not allow stopovers longer than 2 days and another one which did. I opted for an itinerary LIN-LHR-CTU-HKG-LHR-MAD-AGP combining those two air fares. I planned a longer stopover in Hong Kong and another one in London before completing my trip in Spain. That worked well for me as I wanted to fly the Airbus A330-300 Aer Lingus operates on flights to/from Malaga. So I had two trips planned in one go!

Having my trip to Hong Kong planned, I started looking at UuA availability to F on BA32 (return leg from HKG) and redemption availiability on CX to/from HKG. Chose my dates so I could try Cathay Pacific First class seat and their new Airbus A350. Then managed to squize in a stop in Phuket and Thai's B744 My trip looked good!

Post booking changes

A few weeks after booking my trip BA decided to cancel direct flights to Chengdu for commercial reasons. I really wanted to try the Boeing 787 in Club World! Another time it seems. I have checked my options and opted for BA39 to PEK connecting to KA901 flight to HKG. BA39 had award space in F, so I wanted to snap an UuA to First :-) Flight times were also close to my original itinerary.

I always wanted to try Cathay Pacific First Class seat. I know service is not the same as on a proper long haul flight, but hey - what avios are for? I booked an afternoon flight to Singapore which got an equipment swap to two-class A330. The only other flight with First was at 8am - not ideal, but decided to stick to F.

Week before the trip I decided to add a day trip to Taipei to fly their A340-300 on the way out and A350-900 on the way back. It should be fun!

Itinerary

Route: LHR ✈ LIN ✈ LHR ✈ PEK ✈ HKG ✈ TPE ✈ HKG ✈ SIN ✈ HKT ✈ BKK ✈ HKG ✈ LHR ✈ MAD ✈ AGP ✈ DUB ✈ LCY
Miles: 20372 (according to gcmap).



15.02, 18:30 LHR ✈ LIN 21:25, BA570, A321, C - PNR1
16.02, 11:20 LIN ✈ LHR 12:30, BA565, A319, C - PNR2
16.02, 16:20 LHR ✈ PEK 10:25, BA39, B77W, F - PNR2
17.02, 12:30 PEK ✈ HKG 16:15, KA901, A333, C - PNR2
19.02, 10:20 HKG ✈ TPE 11:55, CI602, A343, C - PNR3
19.02, 18:30 TPE ✈ HKG 20:35, CI923, A359, C - PNR3
20.02, 08:10 HKG ✈ SIN 11:55, CX691, B77W, F - PNR4
21.02, 20:30 SIN ✈ HKT 21:20, 3K537, A320, Y - PNR5
23.02, 10:55 HKT ✈ BKK 12:25, TG204 ,B744, C - PNR6
25.02, 16:30 BKK ✈ HKG 20:10, CX0712, A359, C - PNR7
26.02, 23:30 HKG ✈ LHR 04:45, BA0039, A388, F - PNR2
01.04, 10:50 LGW ✈ MAD 14:15, IB3715, A320, C - PNR2
01.04, 17:50 MAD ✈ AGP 19:00, IB8810, CRJX, C - PNR2
02.04, 12:20 AGP ✈ DUB 14:30, IE585, A333, Y - PNR8
02.04, 17:15 DUB ✈ LCY 18:50, BA4469, E190, Y - PNR9

Reisefieber

It's not long for my trip to begin. Thinking of it now I should have planned a bit more time in each spot. Now it looks like I'll be jumping from airport to airport. I hope to squeeze some sight seeing - I really want to see the view from Victoria Peak without the fog!

My goal is to live blog from this trip, I will link report posts in the table of contents below. Feel free to ask me any questions or post any suggestions. Any sightseeing or restaurant recommendations are welcome!

Table of contents

Last edited by megaloman; Jun 27, 17 at 7:56 pm Reason: Added LGW2LCY - Day 2 - Málaga to London
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Old Feb 11, 17, 9:46 pm
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Looks great, can't wait to read live.
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Old Feb 11, 17, 11:09 pm
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Looking forward to the trip report...
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Old Feb 12, 17, 9:48 am
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Some flights are waiting
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Old Feb 13, 17, 8:37 am
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Looking forward to this TR!
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Old Feb 15, 17, 6:31 pm
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Day 1 - positioning flight



Flight: BA570 LHR ✈ LIN
Aircraft: Airbus A321 G-EUXG
Gate: B37

I have checked for the flight without issues the night before - a typical one-way flight within Europe. Then in the morning between meetings at work I attempted to check-in for my flights from Linate. I did expect a passport check requirement, similar to what I had during my Weekend trip to Costa Rica. What I did not expect was this:



The fun fact was - I did not enter my passport details and my passport is stored on the Executive Club account... asked BA customer service on twitter, what that message meant only to be told they don't provide advice on visas!

Eventually got to my laptop so I could try to check in on-line, this time message was a bit better worded:



A bit of relief! Expecting issues at the airport, headed there as soon as I could - left the office around 2:30pm taking Jubilee, Bakerloo and Heathrow Express. All went smooth, got to the airport in less than an hour.

As soon as I got to the check in desk and got the boarding pass for my positioning flight (I collect them), I've asked to be checked in for my flights next day - a very friendly agent checked me in without issues and I got all my boarding passes. Yay, I was good to go!




South security Fast Track was a breeze - I was second in the line and no one asked me to scan my boarding pass at the top of the queue

Once in First Class lounge I had a quick late lunch - chicken jalfrezi:




Then I settled in the quiet spot to make another phone call and check some work stuff.

Departures were from 27L, so I could see departing aircraft - they were backlit and quite high, so I just watched them. Unfortunately the way T5 is built does not help taking photos of fast moving aircraft:




It's ok to take photos if they depart from 9R - they're close just in front of the building.

Around 5:00pm I enquired about the departure gate - I was told BA570 would depart from B gates, so decided to move there to check out the B-gates Club lounge! It's been open for ages and despite the fact I flew from T5B a number of times, I actually never had a chance to visit the T5B lounge...

On the way to T5 satellite B I managed to snap a photo of G-ZBKL - what a lovely aircraft!




I found it in much better condition than Galleries lounges at the main terminal building. Also there were a lot less people around which made it feel really nice. Here's some photos:







Food offering was on par with what you can get at main terminal lounges:










At 6:00pm I headed down to the gate B37. There was a long queue formed of priority passengers as the pre-boarding has already started.




When the Club Europe and Gold card holders were called for boarding it turned out most of them were not eligible, so it created a bit of a mess with some people pushing forward while others stayed where they were.

I settled in my seat 1F, noticed that due to rain I won't be able to take photo of aircraft around Heathrow... it was getting dark (expected) and my window was covered in rain drops...




I managed to catch the daily Iberia widebody - today A330:




And a glimpse of Heathrow Terminal 5:




Service started around 20 minutes after departure and due to large Club cabin (up to row 12 I think) it started with meal and then drinks. Cabin was almost full, but cabin crew was very efficient in handling food and drinks (drinks trolley followed the meals trolley).

The choice was chicken skewers with couscous salad or cod with vegetables on mashed potatoes bedding. I went for the fish option accompanied by glass of gin and tonic:




Food was hot and very tasty, I wouldn't mind to have another one

I've watched some in-flight entertainment




Looked out through the window as we've passed by Turin on approach to Linate:




1h30 minutes from the departure we've touched down at Milan Linate. It was pretty standard Club Europe flight, with great crew.

On arrival we've been taken by bus to the terminal building - I think that's a standard procedure for BA flights arriving at Linate. We'll compare tomorrow!

I do like going through the airport by bus as usually you can spot some interesting aircraft.




It took me less than 10 minutes from touchdown to exit the terminal building - immigration was a breeze, then short walk to exit.

I've booked myself a room at the hotel nearby the airport. Planned to take the taxi there... but seeing the queue at the taxi rank and looking at google maps which estimated 9 minutes walk... decided on the later. It was dry and refreshing outside. After I've passed by parking lots I could see the big red logo of my hotel in the distance. As google preditect, it took me around 10 minutes to get there. Quick check-in, got to my room which turned out to be extremely small but well equipped and functional. No desk, but should be enough for a night. Here's my view from the bed:




Time to go to sleep!
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Old Feb 15, 17, 8:54 pm
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Great start to the report!
thanks,
T
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Old Feb 16, 17, 7:10 am
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Currently in the Concorde Room waiting for my next flight to Beijing - morning flight from Milan was smooth and quick, I slept through half of it. I'll post a detailed report later today or tomorrow!
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Old Feb 17, 17, 9:33 am
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Day 2 - Flying back to London



Flight: BA565 LIN ✈ LHR
Aircraft: Airbus A319 G-EUOI
Gate: B28

I couldn't get to sleep - the room was too hot, I could not open the window and switching air-condition on is not an option for me Anyhow managed around 6 hours of sleep and woke up just before my alarm went off at 8 am. My flight was departing at 11:20 am, so this should allow me plenty of time to get to the airport without rushing.

Just before leaving for the airport I once again tried to download the boarding pass onto my phone, without luck. That should not be a problem as I already had printed ones.

There was a 20 minutes waiting time for a shuttle, so I decided to walk back to the airport. Weather was nice, bit chilly - a sunny, but refreshing morning.

At the airport went through security check without any issues, found the lounge and settled there for some breakfast and to check my emails etc. Lounge at Linate is branded as British Airways, looks like other Galleries / Terraces lounges - surprised it has not been enhanced away yet. Here's some photos of food offering.

Coffee and pastries:






More food options:



And general overview of the lounge:



I left the lounge when the boarding was called. Boarding by busy - I guess it's a standard procedure here. Priority boarding was strictly enforced for Club Europe and status passengers - nice surprise, but bit pointless when we all end up on the same bus, no?

While others were boarding I poped out of the bus to take a wee photo of KLM's Boeing 737 which parked nearby. While I was composing my frame, our bus driver whispered to me I was not allowed to take photos... so I took down my camera... only to be told by him "take it, take it quickly" here's the said photo:



On the way to the plane and while taxing I took another couple of shots of various aircraft parked around.

Alitalia Embraer 175 in old colour scheme:



Alitalia Airbus A319 in new colour scheme:



Air Berlin Airbus A320 parked next to us:



Meridiana Boeing 737:



Thanks to a very good weather we were treated with nice views on our departure:












11:20 am departure meant the dreadful "brunch" option which in my opinion is unappealing. But I got the bread plate



On approach to London clouds where covering the sky:



But still managed to catch a couple of spots, here London Eye and the Houses of Parliament:



Buckingham Palace and Victoria Station:



Landing at Heathrow is always offers spectacular views of aircraft. Here two Queens of the skies parked near BA's maintenance area:



The Concorde parked remotely where no one has access to it:



ATC tower and Virgin Atlantic aircraft lined up at T3:



The very first Dreamliner delivered to BA parked at the terminal 5 satellite B:



We've arrived at the main terminal building at Terminal 5 with a short walk away from the immigration / transfer. I wasn't sure whether to go through transfer or exit and enter the security through the South channel. Decided to stick to transfer, where there were no queues and I was through in no time. No one harassed me about second bp scan on the top of the queue to the security - maybe because there was almost no one in the queue?
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Old Feb 17, 17, 10:59 am
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Day 2 - London Heathrow to Beijing



Flight: BA39 LHR ✈ PEK
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER G-STBE
Gate: B42

After swift security check I was in the main terminal building near the North entrance. I stopped at Boots for some necessities and headed towards the Concorde Club Room entrance. I've never had a chance to use those doors and never ever been to the CCR myself. My First class boarding pass let me through without issues. I still had a few emails I wanted to catch up with, so headed to the bar first to grab a glass of LPGS, then went to the boardroom. As my plane arrived on time and I didn't manage to secure the cabana, I had almost 4 hours to kill in the lounge...

Didn't realise boardroom used re-used chairs from the Concorde - how awesome is that?



While in the boardroom staff made sure my glass of LPGS never got empty...


When done, I headed to the dining room section to have a meal. I really liked the semi private mini rooms and staff were very friendly and helpful there.


I've ordered a pea soup for starter and a pan fried cod on a risotto, which were very good:


The UFO-style plates looked funny though
For the desert I've ordered the apple tart... ended up having two different deserts though - why not?


Time was flying fast, after my meal I only had a few minutes to sit in the main lounge area and take a few snaps:





I liked there were fireplaces (imitations of) everywhere - it added a bit of a homely feeling.


I also poked at the "outdoor" terrace, but could not see the Samsung stand - is it gone?



I've noticed my flight was departing from gate B42, so - again B-gates. This time decided to take the walk and try out the walkway. It was easy to find and was well signposted:


And it was deserted - much nicer to walk then to be squeezed on the train.


On arrival to satellite B BA has wished me a good flight:

And I also spotted a cheeky Virgin Atlantic advert:


Pre-boarding already started when I arrived at the gate. This time there were almost no priority passengers in the queue. My flight today was operated by Boeing 777-300ER G-STBE - a new addition to the fleet a few years ago. I haven't had a chance to fly it yet in BA's colours so it was the first time for me and quite special as I was flying in seat 1A



Engines of this aircraft are enormous!


Boarding was through door 2L for all pax, my boarding bas was carefully examined by the flight attendant and once spotted I was in F, she handed my boarding pass to her colleague who would look after me throughout the flight. I quickly settled into my seat and accepted yet another glass of LPGS


I quickly realised I won't be able to take too many photos though the window due to the position of it and my seat. Oh well. While we waited for the remaining passengers to board CSD and other crew members, who would be working in F, came over to introduce themselves. That was a nice. I was also given a pyjamas and a washbag. Not the new, collectable one, but I was happy with it.

Once boarding was completed I've noticed there were only three other people in F today. 1F, 2A and 4E were occupied only. This made it a very quiet and enjoyable flight. In 4E there was a lady with an infant which I worried a bit, but I couldn't hear anything through the flight.

On departure I've managed to catch a few snaps of other interesting aircraft - please accept my apologies for a low quality due to the photo un-friendly windows in First class!

Ethiopians new Airbus A350-900:


Another snap of the Concorde:


And the Boeing 747-8i VIP jet:


After departure I got another glass of LPGS - I think by that time I had a bottle or so...


I've asked for the blanket... it sparked a bit of a panic among the crew - they could not find any blankets!

Eventually (after 10 minutes or so) I got it


So I could settle and wait for my dinner while watching movies. I was getting a little bit tired at this time - from eating and drinking so asked for my dinner to be served around 2 hours into the flight. It was definitely less than 2 hours... but it was after my neighbour finished his dinner - so I got sort of "dine anytime" service.

Table was set up for me:


And started was served - as recommended by the crew member, I went for Loch Fyne Kinglas smoked salmon with tartar sauce, watercress panna cotta and Oscietra caviar...

There was not much caviar, as pointed out by the crew member though. Salmon was delicious, so was the panna cotta, my main was a bit more disappointing - it was very dry and a bit tasteless. I think it spent a bit too much time in the oven!


For the desert I went for Apple and cranberry crumble which was very average. Or maybe I after all the food I had that day, I was hard to please


At this point we were somewhere over the Baltic sea..

and I started feeling very tired, so I decided to go try to sleep and asked for my bed to be done.

I was asked whether I wanted to have a breakfast or not... I opted for "not" as I need some "awake" time before I can eat... and nodded off. I think I managed to sleep for a few good hours with short interruptions, which was good. It was a bit too hot to my liking, but there was a mother with the child in the cabin so I decided put up with it. I woken up when the pilot announced there were 40 minutes to landing. My neighbour was having a breakfast, I asked just for a coffee which took ages to arrive allegedly due to broken espresso machine...

When I opened the window and looked outside... I think I saw the Great Wall! I quickly snapped a picture:

And it indeed looks like the Great Wall!

Weather was good, again. But it was also hazy from the pollution I guess.



Before landing there was a little confusion - the crew announced that people transferring onto another international ticket don't need to go through landside.. when I asked to confirm I was told it only applied to Hong Kong residents. Once landed I headed to the transfer desk only to be told to follow the international transfer route which was separate from regular arrivals. There was no one in the queue and once my passport was checked and boarding pass stamped, I headed down to the security check.

Security was a nightmare - I was directed to the back of the regular security lines which were just behind immigration officers. There was no space for the amount of people there, security was terrible slow. I took me roughly 30 minutes to get to another agent who took my photo and stamped my boarding pass again... then I was clear to enter the security check. Here I had to take out all the stuff I had in my carefully packed backpack - this annoyed me a little, but I obliged and did what I was asked to do. Then I was back in the departures hall.

Last edited by megaloman; Mar 23, 17 at 7:24 am Reason: Fixed spelling of LPGS
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Old Feb 17, 17, 11:56 am
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Great pictures. I'm looking forward to the next parts.
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Old Feb 17, 17, 4:52 pm
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Excellent pictures! Thanks for sharing!
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Old Feb 18, 17, 4:17 am
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Lovely! Thank you megaloman ^^
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Old Feb 18, 17, 7:20 am
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Awesome review so far. Thanks for your efforts.
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Old Feb 18, 17, 9:44 am
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Day 3 - Beijing to Hong Kong



Airline: Cathy Dragon
Flight: KA901 PEK ✈ HKG
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 B-HYB
Gate: E14

Being back in the departure lounge I felt a little bit relieved - no visa issues, but annoying security check - all was behind me. Now I have around 2 hours to kill inside the Terminal 3 at Beijing airport. My first thought was to connect with people, so I tried to open facebook and... nope.



No matter how I tried, I could not connect. My VPN didn't work either. Other messaging apps worked OK despite Android reporting wifi network unusable. I think it was a middle of the night back home so I did not expect anyone to reply to me - I had better things to do.

Having 2h to the departure meant I had around an hour to take some photos of planes and few minutes to visit a lounge. Checked on the map that the lounge was on the other side of the airport I decided to walk around. Terminal looked impressive, triangle shaped with curved sides and the train station in the middle.







Main concourse was very busy, but other two sides were quite deserted. I liked that PEK has a single glass windows, so reasonably easy to take photos through. If you're not into planes, skip next few photos

LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner parked and waiting for a later departure:


Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i "Fanhansa" - nice catch!


United Boeing 747-400 - soon to be gone


Finnair Airbus A350-900 - cannot wait for the Tallinn mini-Do so I'll get to fly it


Asiana Airbus A321 getting ready for the departure:


Xiamen Air Boeing 787 Dreamliner departing from the other terminal


Asiana Airbus A330 just been pushed back


Air China Boeing 737 with the tower in the background


Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner


Philippines Airbus A320


Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 in new colours just arrived from Hong Kong


Air Macau Airbus A321 parked in the position where I couldn't get a clear shot


Cathay Dragon Airbus A330 still wearing Dragonair colours - one, which would take me to Hong Kong a few minutes later:


As boarding was not starting for another few minutes, I popped into the Cathay Pacific lounge. It's located on the level above departure level, next to the arrivals corridors (but separated) with open roof.




But it wouldn't be CX lounge without... noddle bar!


There was also a good dumplings selection:


And hot drinks / instant soups station:


I knew I would need to leave the lounge in any minute, so I opted for some dumplings:


I've arrived at the gate exactly when boarding commenced, the priority boarding queue was quite long but well policed and some people were asked to move to the regular queue. Interesting that line for First / Emerald status was next to economy pax line, while business class / Sapphire / Ruby priority were on other side of the gate. It was a bit confusing and as I was already in the business line, so I just stayed there. Boarding was very efficient though and I was quickly on board in my seat.

As soon as I boarded I was offered a welcome drink - on offer were water, orange juice and tropical cocktail, which sounded interesting so I opted for one:



On the departure I managed to take a few more photos of planes

Air China Airbus A330 in special colours parked nearby:


Air China Boeing 747-8i - didn't know they had them!


Hainan Airbus A330's parked on the other terminal:


China Eastern Boeing 777-300 with China Southern Airbus A380 in the background:


Soon after departure we flew into the clouds and there was nothing to see through the window... so I checked out the IFE.


It's basically same as IFE on Cathay Pacific and it's called Studio KA instead Studio CX. I'd say better responsiveness and picture quality while in menus than on BA in First class :-P Though movie was as blurry as on BA. I watched a whole movie and finished just after the service finished. It was nice that every time cabin crew spoke to me, they called me by name. I know they had a little printout with pax names, but they made it look natural and in the way that I didn't notice it at first (or I was tried).

Service started with a starter:


For main I chose prawns linguine:


And finished with an ice cream and a coffe:


Yes, that's a service on a regional band 3/4 flight - British Airways should learn from them! I wonder how quickly Mr Cruz would enhanced all those items away

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon both operate PEK-HKG route, while all Cathay Dragon A330's have three classes (First, regional Business, economy); Cathay Pacific ones usually have two (international business, economy). Add to that frequent equipment swaps and no one knows which aircraft they'll end up on. I booked Cathay Dragon operated flight as I never flown with them before and I wanted to try. Regional business class seat is good enough for 3h flight from PEK to HKG.

Regional Business class seats on Cathay Dragon Airbus A330 in 2-2-2 layout:


One thing which annoyed me a bit was a number of people sick around me - basically half of the cabin was at different stages of colds/flues or other infections. If I didn't catch anything, I should consider myself lucky!

Anyway, I nodded of for the remaining time of the flight (around an hour or so) and woken up by the seatbelt sign being turned on. When I opened the window blind I spotted a bridge in the middle of the sea. That was the Macau - Hong Kong bridge not yet finished:


Lots of haze in the picture, but you should be able to see the Hong Kong airport far in the distance!

Few seconds later I spotted the Macau Airport:


We've circled around Hong Kong Island, so I could see the whole Hong Kong / Kowloon at a glance:


And a close up on what's left from the old airport:


Almost landing, now looking at Kowloon:


And a few shots of planes from HKG airport while we taxied to the gate:


Garuda Indonesia A330 passing by:


Cathay Boeing 777-300 in new colours:


Cathay Airbus A350-900 - hope I'll fly one of them from Bangkok to Hong Kong!


Immigration was quick, I got a ticket and hopped on the train. It takes 24 minutes only to the Hong Kong Island and as a bonus there's a free shuttle to the airport included.

Waiting for the shuttle...


Few minutes later I got to the Holiday Inn SoHo hotel. I've stayed there before - it's not the best one, but I like it's location and the view

I got a room at the floor 36, so almost at the top of the building, view was amazing:


All rooms in this hotel are same size (not very big), thankfully they feature a small desk:


Oh and I got a welcome gift (but no upgrade to the harbour view room) - some sugary drinks to help me fight the jetlag:


My plan was to refresh myself and go to the Victoria Peak for some night photos - but my body disagreed with me. I wasn't feeling great and decided to fight the jet lag at the hotel. I fought with myself and finished Day 2 write ups, then went to sleep.

Last edited by megaloman; Feb 18, 17 at 10:33 am
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