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Three trips in one: the 10-day 60,000 mile RTW challenge with CX J, QR F/J, BA J/Y

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Old Apr 4, 17, 3:13 pm
  #31
 
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Location: Charlottesville, Va. USA
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Terrific report on QR F even though it was a short flight. I just wish they flew F on more routes. Like my route iad/doh/cpt.
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Old Apr 9, 17, 3:19 am
  #32
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Flight 7: BA154 CAI-LHR Club World

After all the repositioning and obsessive CX binging, it was finally time for the main course - my first ever DONE RTW! Yes, why, oh why would someone start it off with BA? Well by the time I bothered to ticket it only BA was selling the ticket so it had to be CAI-LHR instead of the other (I believe more popular) option of CAI-DOH as the first sector.

The first sense of trouble started with the inability to perform OLCI. It took a very long time for my uber to show up to the hotel, and the ETA kept ticking backwards...okay, I told myself, I don't have a checked bag and I should be fine, but only when I looked at the BA app that says counters close at T-70 before departure at CAI...OMG let's say that I used google translate to type 'please help me, I am late' in Arabic to my driver and he just shrugged his shoulders with the terrible Cairo traffic in front of us enroute.

I reached Cairo Airport with two minutes to spare and literally ran into the building. At CAI when you enter there is a security check where you had to show your e-ticket. I left it in my bag and sent it into the scanner already, but the security guy could probably see my desperation and just let me go through.

Fortunately, the BA counters were right in front, and they weren't packing up or closing either. There was no one and the agents were all there ready to welcome me...I'm like...okay...

There was a CW counter where the lady expressed some signs of disbelief when she pulled up my itinerary, but quickly relief again when I asked her only to check me in on the first sector as I would change the rest after arriving at LHR.

Within moments I was done and went through security at a completely deserted Cairo Airport T2. Indeed the airport was sparkling new and I found it quite impressive. Apologies for no pictures as I was huffing and panting and security was around everywhere in the 'landside' areas.

After weathering through some sketchy corridors I arrived at the lounge shared by all carriers. It was again very quiet as I think our BA flight may have been the only departure. Anyway, this was my first time at CAI but I have heard that it is a huge step up from the previous T1 lounge area. Here are some snaps:





Essentially there is a lobby area with the reception desk, workstations, a (not open) duty free store, a buffet bar and some seating; it opened into two sitting rooms with tarmac views, which I was able to see our petite chariot parked at the nearby gate:


As an HKer it is always nostalgic to see a BA plane, if only the union jack was somewhere around too. Anyway, I had a quick dose of sugar and coffee before it was time to head to the gate.

Boarding was a complete mess with extra security and no priority boarding. I was worried that my overhead bin would be taken already but fortunately that wasn't the case. The CSM greeted me at the door and I turned right to see my 'throne' seat of 1A immediately (this pic taken later inflight):


This is a rare species across the BA Club World offerings as it is an ex-BMI plane. Off the shelf it is known as B/E Thompson Vantage which I found to have quite ample storage space but the padding was hard and uncomfortable, could have been the age of the plane as well. I was soon offered newspapers, PDB and the menu by the CC working in J which seemed to be Cairo-based. She did all the service well but lacked any smiles or personality, and there was absolutely no name-calling unlike on CX.





The first officer came on the PA thanking us for boarding efficiently and indeed we pushed ahead of schedule and made our way to the runway, only that it took like forever and we rolled away around 50 minutes past departure time. A pity that it was rather cloudy so there was no chance of more glimpses of the pyramids:



Amenity kits were then distributed along with a drink run with nuts for which I opted for a glass of Buck's Fizz. All of these were...meh



We were hitting a lot of chop for most of the time and the service was done at a painfully slow pace, although I can't blame the crew for that. I didn't use the AVOD too much but screened myself The BFG (without paying much attention) if only for some ambient background noise. Here's what the menu had to offer:




The salmon was rather tasty and the side salad not so much. Also, note the large size of the tray table.

The CSM then brought me the entree of which I chose steak, which was surprisingly edible and with texture if only a bit too spicy/overdoused with sauce. I cannot recall clearly but there may or may not have been drink runs throughout, let's say the presence of the CC were not very high.


Afterwards, it was indeed cheese OR cake so...cake it was. Surprisingly the chocolate and orange flavors mixed together well and I liked it a lot. I was offered coffee to go with it and wrapped up the meal with the hotel chocolat pralines on the tray.



Once we were done with the meal, it was already 2+ hours into the flight and we were about to make landfall in Continental Europe. The size of the screen was rather impressive, by the way. Some pax slept all the way and the rest reclined downwards after they were done with their meals, and bottled water was distributed.



Since the IFE was indeed not impressive, I settled on some more traditional forms of IFE which included stuff like this:



I wasn't really keen on sleeping so here's some more cabin shots, of course, it was very representative of BA especially the third one




I must have dozed a bit or the flight went by fast enough, a simple drink run of juice/water was offered and we soon began our descent into LHR. The crew were chatting in the galley for the entire time except for that and was not intrusive tho not inaudible still from my row 1 seat.



Well this being BA I did not have too much expectations but the crew were really rather meh on this sector, I'm not sure if MF + based crew contributed to that (it indeed did as the WW crew I had on LHR-SFO afterwards were quite nice )

The seat, although badly padded (I was borderline aching when in the flat bed position) offered impressive working space - you can see I was patching on my rerouting sheet to give to the ticketing agent once I hit the ground and all that

We held for a bit and approached LHR from the East which meant the traditional spectacular approach over London, and we landed and arrived at T5 around 15 minutes behind schedule for which the FO profusely apologized.




I then quickly dashed over on the HEX to T3 for the CX ticketing desk to reissue my RTW.
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Old Apr 9, 17, 9:48 am
  #33
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Flight 8: BA824 LHR-DUB Euro Traveller and Dublin/Hilton Dublin Airport

The Cairo flight was scheduled to arrive 1:40pm and my onward flight to DUB wasn't until 9:15pm. The original plan was to get to CX at T3 to do reticketing then meet with my friend in central London for dinner, but CX @ T3 took forever...and ever...and ever... (I do not blame them as it was a huge challenge - they invited me to sit on their side of the counter where I could see how complicated it is to reticket a RTW, and how little I know about ticketing despite being on FT and all that. Guess it must have helped when I said 'I only trust you guys' when they asked why I didn't deal with BA instead at T5... )

It ended up being past 5pm already which meant there was no way I could make it to downtown, so I, typing my millions of apologies to my friends, headed back to T5 again to just sit and wait for my flight and perhaps take a first ever look at the Galleries First lounge.


I took the liberty to check in my bag at the F check in area which the lady was extremely nice and courteous - she was quite curious about my HK origin, British passport and current basis in the US. After the fast track security which seemed like forever, I made my way to the GF feeling very tired and burned out, from a combination of the mess heading to CAI in the morning and the anxiety-ish at the CX ticketing counter, apologising to my friend and all that.

First of all I stopped by at the dining area which was to one side of the somewhat U-shaped lounge. It was busy with a lot of suited businesspeople-type and the office-like (aka tired/uninteresting) decor of the lounge made it feel quite dull compared to my usual enclaves of CX. But I love finger sandwiches so that made up for it right away



To me this was an 'unexpected' visit to the GF (I would be visiting it tomorrow on my layover DUB-LHR-SFO) so I didn't do a lot of snapping and all that, and I was chatting with my friend that I unfortunately had to ditch for dinner along.

I just quickly walked around afterwards and all I can say was it was very busy and also rather worn out here and there:
Entrance area


Seating areas - the bar 'stations' were very well stocked!


The famous terrace, with a nice view



The other 'wing' of the U-shape opened into some more seating, a champagne bar and a media center
The low of all lows

The hour or so went by quickly, and I stuffed myself with some mascarpone pasta that my LHR-based BA elite friend highly recommended. Oh yes it was good and prepared me well for the next flight where I finally descend into the realms of coach.


I made my way to gate A6 where there was no US style gate lice, everyone was happily seated and the sole agent was there preparing for boarding. I soon was able to board first - there were very few elites tonight - and got a first glimpse at what it was like to fly in coach in Europe





We pushed back extremely on time and rolled into the night sky. With the implementation of M&S there was 0 service and the next thing I realized was that we were about to touchdown at DUB. The entire flight lasted for just 47 mins ground to ground. To me it's not very surprising - as a US-based flyer our flights of such length have always been a flight with nothing anyway so...




Weather at DUB was every bit as bad as it is perceived to be, and I waited for the hotel shuttle to the Hilton Dublin Airport for what seemed like forever, until a sketchy black van came by and it was completely off schedule from what the hotel publicized. At least I made it to the hotel before midnight!

I was upgraded to a deluxe room which to me I couldn't tell much difference but it was comfortable enough for a shower and a night's sleep. The room was spacious enough and breakfast the following morning was also heartily sufficient. I think it was good value for <100 EUR but the hotel is a bit far from the airport. Anyway, Golds and Diamonds had free shuttle so that was okay.







The next morning I boarded the shuttle that I had pre-booked the night before and it efficiently sent me back to DUB for my one-night SFO expedition.
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Old Apr 9, 17, 10:03 am
  #34
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Flight 9: BA845 DUB-LHR Club Europe

Dublin airport was quite nice and I had a great first impression of it after last night's rather hectic arrival. The check in agent at the BA desk was very friendly and printed my BPs all the way to SFO, and also gave me directions through security to the lounge after asking if it was my first time at DUB.





For a third-party lounge I thought the DUB lounge was quite comfortable and well equipped. The lounge dragon was also friendly enough and again asked if it was my first time, for which she proceeded to quickly give me a brief introduction about the different areas of the lounge. I just settled on a windowside spot (without tarmac views), grabbed myself a tasty smoothie and worked on the TR. Having learnt my lesson from the CAI experience, there was indeed some time to spare now.






I then left the lounge for gate 204 which was quite a distance, and I arrived at the gate to be greeted by...not lice but a mess still! Apparently, we were at a remote stand but it was raining heavily, so the procession was slow and there was no way we would be getting out on time.



I had to brave the slippery stairs with my heavy carry on so no pictures of our 321. I think I lucked out by having the only seat-block in the whole cabin, so I essentially had 1DEF to myself.


Well, we still managed to depart on time and we rolled away from DUB into thick and cloudy skies.



As soon as we finished our initial climb the two gentlemen serving the CE cabin sprung into action, serving us a light breakfast. I was actually addressed by name, how shocking! Anyway, I thought the cold cut plate was quite tasty and this was a very solid offering for a 287-mi flight. In the US, a flight with such distance would still be a nothing flight, even in the 'front'.


The flight today was slightly longer at around 65 minutes, after which I was back at LHR again this time coming in from the West.




It took some time as we had our engines switched off before we were pulled into our arrival gate of A23, after which it took a bit more time even to get the door opened and jetbridge set etc. But sooner or later I was on my way to the flight connections center at LHR T5 for my 3 hour layover before LHR-SFO.
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Old Apr 9, 17, 10:06 am
  #35
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Originally Posted by qsh View Post
Your photos of Africa looks stunning!
I decided to try MR through Africa too. I booked the sub 6k hkd ET J BKK-ADD-DUB-YYZ-ADD-BKK (What people do when they want to fly business, but don't want to pay the full fare ). Hopefully, my ticket won't be cancelled and I could go explore Addis Ababa...
Thanks qsh again. I saw that fare on Facebook but...let's say it wasn't incentivizing enough for me But have fun with that!

Originally Posted by florens View Post
Was nice meeting you G-CIVC onboard QR40!
Thanks florens for stopping by - it was great to meet with you and your girlfriend on QR40 and later at Al Mourjan. Good times and hope you had a great time in Malaysia too!

Originally Posted by jmj9905 View Post
Terrific report on QR F even though it was a short flight. I just wish they flew F on more routes. Like my route iad/doh/cpt.
Thanks jmj9905 again. I promise I'll be posting about my QR J run soon - they were every bit as good as my QR F experiences above!
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Old Apr 12, 17, 11:46 pm
  #36
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Originally Posted by G-CIVC View Post
Thanks qsh again. I saw that fare on Facebook but...let's say it wasn't incentivizing enough for me But have fun with that!
Looking forward to your next installment!
Unfortunately, my ticket got cancelled...
Any tips/advice on how to fly from East Coast to Hong Kong (or reverse) for less than 2000USD in J?
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Old Apr 15, 17, 1:39 am
  #37
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Flight 10: BA287 LHR-SFO Club World

Okay, I really gonna speed up my writing over this relatively free weekend! Last week I made a quick trip back home over the weekend (yes, HKG) and it definitely disrupted my schedule a bit.

Anyway, this was a sector that I actually felt quite excited beforehand. It seems that I have more pictures for this flight than my QR segments later! Yes, BA Club World... don't roll your eyes yet.

My family used to fly (just only) a bit between HKG-LHR ~8-10 years ago and we patronized BA CW from time to time. At that time, it was a competitive product on the 744 UD and we all loved it. In fact, my username is the aircraft that flew me to London in my first ever J class trip when I was 10! Fast forward to my recent years between HKG and the US, I haven't got a chance to fly BA for a long long time so out of everything perhaps I was just curious to see, can a product have fallen down the drain (or have been edged out) by that much, that we see all the eye-rolling and name-calling (like 'best PEY') for this once-revolutionary product? The other one was the psychological expensiveness of this flight to me, as I had to use my own hard-earned AAdv miles plus a YQ tag of ~$300, which I could not get reimbursement from my 'hosting party' at SFO.

Back to the futile attempt of live posting, or at least I tried. After deplaning from the DUB-LHR A321, I went through fast track and recleared security which moved much more quickly compared to last night ex-LHR. I was back in the Galleries South complex in no time and planned on 'officially' exploring Galleries First after my surprise extended visit last night (which I didn't accomplish much).

But before that, I stopped for a bit in the common areas within the lounge complex. Yes, it is so large that there are some 'lobby' areas that lead to different lounges within Galleries South - F lounge, J lounge, CCR and spa/showers. While this seems extremely impersonal, it is quite impressive to me at the same time as it really shows you the tremendous scale of operations that BA has at LHR.



A more serious look at GF. First I grabbed some lunch: the offerings were satisfying to me. Yes it really is not HKG level but as a US-based flyer this is already very solid





At lunch hour today the crowds were less overwhelming than yesterday evening, and this time I was able to get a server and ordered a 'BA Burger' off the a-la-carte menu. While waiting for it I got a glass of Heidsieck from the self-serve bar in the sitting area. I then wrapped up with profiteroles from the buffet. All of these items were passably decent.




The views over the terrace were much more stunning in day time.



An understanding reaffirmed over the past week was that a 3-hour layover is way too short with lounges and all that. Especially at LHR T5 and boarding an A380 today, which means the layover is even shorter, perhaps by a whole hour.

So I quickly headed to Galleries Club upstairs to take a look, another foreign place for me (yes, I flew in the days when they were still at T1...)









Similar to my first impressions of GF the evening before, I found this lounge to be similarly crowded, dull and tired. I once again reminded myself as much as CX calls BA their idol and follows their footsteps, we are still very blessed to have wonderful lounges apart from the consistent personalized service onboard.

As I said, time was ticking down and I went to get a shower at the 'shower complex' which you access from the 'corridors' and not the F/J lounges. A shower suite was available. It was every bit as clinical and unappealing as I expected, but the extra shock was point 2 here along with the lack of a 'lip' between the shower stall and the changing area:

I pondered a while and almost wanted to walk up, but with some clever method I couldn't remember, I eventually hung everything up with much effort and really kept the floor clear. It turns out that it was overkill, ha ha ha.




Like the lounge itself, meh, I succeeded in taking a shower, but this was anything but luxury, even the showers at LAX QF F/OW J which I despise were better. No amenities virtually (dental kits, facial cleansers etc) - again, HKG flyers are so blessed to have items like all-you-can-use Aesop facial products in J lounges.

After I was done it was around T-70 which I should ideally be heading to the gate. But one last thing was the Elemis spa treatment that I had reserved when I arrived earlier, and this was the only time available. Since I had an 11 hour flight ahead, why not.



It was a 15-minute facial treatment which I found to be quite soothing, and comparable to the Pier F at HKG (of course, not the ambience/warmth). But the latter is also pretty meh per se and since it's complimentary, I thought it was nice here. I was worried that my face and hair would be sticky and all that especially after a shower, but I actually felt relaxed and refreshed ready for my flight. Also got some samples to take home

Afterwards, 'Go To Gate' was glaring on the FIDS so I made a dash to our gate C64. I arrived to see F/J and elites mostly boarded. Grrrrr. With that, I wasn't able to snap too much on the way:


Our bird G-XLEI taking us to SFO. Next to it was another 388 XLEG headed for LAX 10 minutes after us.


I think there was some sort of quick greeting and welcome onboard as I entered the UD CW cabin of this A388. I made getting to my seat a first priority seeing the overhead space filling up quickly.

My seat 59K, which I was able to select for free right after I booked. It's one of the rare ones that you don't need to hop over others to access the aisle:



The padding felt quite comfy surprisingly and especially in comparison with the A321 from Cairo yesterday. Next, CC came around one after one offering newspapers, PDBs, kits and menus, pictured here with some closer looks at the seat features:









More on the menu later. The blanket and the kit was again flimsy and mediocre but not everything was negative. The two side storage bins were enormous and were of wonderful use, fitting my large backpack and actually allowing my folded suit to stand firm. The CC were pretty much what I expected of BA WW crew from what I've read (and memories of the past) - visibly senior which translates to professional-looking, faint smiles but looked convincing enough for someone with very low expectations. The last CC that came around actually addressed me by name confirming my pre-ordered main course (but that was it for name calling!)

Anyway, you can see that it was indeed somewhat awkward with my neighbor with the divider down, but I did not notice another reported issue of this seat being too close to PEY much.

Here's a subtle ad and gratuity to T-Mobile because at this time the Westminster attacks happened, and I was able to let my parents know right away that I move faster than the terrorists do.

Anyway, I do recall a professional and informative PA announcement by the Captain followed by the CSD, and sooner or later we pushed punctually and were on our way. Surprisingly, we didn't pull away full (I thought BA had sky high LFs) yet no additional awards were released nor were POUG/AUPs available close to departure.



Having to depart to the West meant we taxied all the way across LHR and I had some great views out of the window


The baes, together.


More exotic ones.

We rolled away around 35 minutes after our STD. See you in 48 hours, London.




We headed in a Northerly direction, and the belt lights were soon off. My neighbor dashed off so I was able to quickly snap again his seat. I felt rather bad opening and shutting the screen as the entire panel between us moves when I do so, so I figure that it must be quite disturbing for him given how close it is to the head space.

I followed the footsteps of my neighbor and went for the lav expedition. There is a small standard one in the aft cabin section across the aisle, but the killer ones were at the very front, which I found a CC refreshing it before I entered:


I made it back in time for the initial drink and nuts run, for which the bubbly and nuts were both quite palatable. Sadly the nuts were not heated but I like the individual packaging. Oh and about the menu, yes I have no idea what the wines were, because they actually loaded fewer wine lists than menus, for which the CC later profusely apologized when the entree was served.


The IFE was the same as yesterday's on CAI-LHR which meant again it didn't suit my tastes and I stayed with the moving map most of the time. At least on this flight I was able to put my laptop on top of the side bins (and also grab/stow it easily because of that). So how do you burn time on a long haul flight? Of course, here goes...




It took a whopping 55 minutes for the first round of food to show up...but at least the portions were not bad and there was the luxury of a choice! My mojito-cured smoked salmon tasted great. During the endless waiting, I think I ransacked the supplies at a nearby empty seat, fidgeted with my phone and eavesdropped a bit at the CSD having a lengthy chat with my neighbor, perhaps he was a BAEC Gold. Sadly, the CSD didn't show any love for partner emeralds


The pace then resumed to normal and I soon had my entree of seared British(?!) beef fillet delivered which was piping hot and again better in terms of portion, looks and taste than the normal borderline-inedible stuff that CX serves ex-HKG. It was at this moment when I unintentionally embarrassed the friendly CC about the wine list thing, and my neighbor essentially helped me pick a red which I think had Californian origins. It was good and paired well with the beef, thank you sir



The beef was not overcooked nor asked for showers of salt/pepper. I think there were limited refills for drinks and it definitely was not proactive, but after another episode of eternity, the meal service continued. By this time it was 2.5 hours into the flight and some people were already enjoying their 'sleeper seat'. Perhaps because of that, my humble plead for cheese AND (rather than 'or') cheesecake was accepted, and they both tasted great too.


Another CC came by to distribute water bottles while collecting the remnants that anyone had. I like how it seems that the 5 CC serving upper deck CW today kept rotating their roles and you couldn't see any hierarchy out of them...very foreign for me as a CX flyer.


By this time, we were already going to make landfall over Greenland:


So how do you pass the time other than eating? I guess it follows naturally that you stuff yourself and then pass out, so I headed to the lav to change into more comfortable clothes. I couldn't find it on the menu, so I stopped at the galley and asked the CC serving my aisle just now for a cup of hot chocolate. OMG did I step on a mine and commit an offense knowingly as an AA EXP, bothering the crew with a request?????????? Fortunately this was not AA(/US3 etc) and when I got back to my seat it was already there, so I could douse it in together with the pralines served together with the tray just now, just as I do on CX The BA offerings were of comparable quality, surprise surprise. The cup and leftover wrapping etc were discreetly collected when I was asleep, so I was satisfied with the attention to pax that the crew had.


Most of the cabin were dead asleep so it finally was possible to take a cabin shot. Yes, it was extremely awkward earlier as all the backward-facing passengers would look into me directly.


I also like the control panel a lot especially after the cabin lights were dimmed, and despite it being a decade-old design it still looks quite timeless to me.


I then proceeded to set up my 'day bed in the sky'. There were no cleanliness issues unlike yesterday and I felt an extra sense of security being able to tuck my valuables away in the side bins, yet comfortably leave some basic items easily accessible such as my glasses on top of them. Next thing I knew, we were only 80 minutes from SFO and way into the west already (!)




I had a mini heart attack as if you recall from the very first flight in this TR, the last thing I want to happen is to miss a meal because I slept! So as I headed to brace myself and beg the crew in the galley the lavatory I was relieved to see the crew working on setting up for the second service.




After I returned the lights gradually came on and I was handed my tray consisting of the appetizer of sea trout timbale accompanied by the desginated dessert of fresh seasonal fruit. There was another choice of mozzarella salad for starters as you can see. Again I was rather impressed as they were serving at T-60 compared to like T-120/150 on CX for a pre-arrival meal, and they had proper choices for appetizers unlike the universal sole offering of very sad looking fruit as 'appetizer' in CX in both F and J.



The timbale was fresh and tasty. It was now T-45 but the crew were pacing it well. The cart with mains rolled by and this time without pre-order, I couldn't get my first choice of pasta and had to settle for the offering of toasties. The presentation was definitely subpar but the taste again was alright, although I don't find this dish very appropriate for J class catering. Anyway...


Then I realized uh oh, there's no 'dessert' per se then! Well, thinking about how I missed out on Club Kitchen, I swung by and quickly grabbed ice cream before the crew wrapped up on that. It was sweet and satisfying if just a bit melted- luckily I didn't get sick afterwards!


Soon the captain came on the PA again apologizing for an expected delay due to ATC as we banked into the bay area and began our initial descent.


The CC came around for...nope, not a 'thank you for flying with us' but just to collect trash and secure the cabin for landing. Then it was seemingly endless rounds of spinning over the Pacific before we flew past San Jose and turned North to land at SFO around 15 minutes late.




SFO being not a OW hub is an airport that I'm rather unfamiliar with. It took some extra time as we had to power off and get towed into the gate, but soon I breezed through with GE and was on the curbside waiting for my Uber.




Overall, perhaps the takeaway is - just have zero expectations and you will be blown away...well I wasn't 'blown away' but it turns out that I found this flight quite enjoyable and I was well fed and well rested, I guess I can't ask for too much personalized service on an airline 'of the West' and with 97 J seats on this plane. BA Club World was not an 'aspirational experience' but it certainly wasn't bad value on this itinerary for around 50ish k AA miles. Bbbbbbuttttt the lack of service/elite recognition means if it was head-to-head I'd probably still pick CX or AA...

P.S. As a sidenote, I found it rather interesting that on every single BA sector of mine, I never got asked to put on the yellow hand baggage tag although my bags were clearly oversized...some sort of elite benefit?

P.P.S. I kept getting canceled on by drivers for some unknown reason so it took some time before I got on one...perhaps driving to downtown SF is not appealing enough from the airport?
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Old Apr 15, 17, 3:15 am
  #38
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SFO/GH SFO, Flight 11: BA286 SFO-LHR World Traveler and Afternoon Tea at FS London

Okay, okay, how can an FTer stay at a chain hotel without status??

Well there were a few reasons that I stayed at the GH even as a Hyatt nobody. Most importantly, the event I had to attend the next day was just around the corner so I could leave my stuff at the hotel and grab them before I leave for the airport; I had confidence in the consistency/quality of Hyatt while if I stayed with Hilton...well the variance of Hilton properties are similar with the variety of brands and properties they have to offer, so...

...all this BS aside, most importantly I was able to snag a room at the GH using my Chase UR and a small co-pay for which I found reasonable, while every single other property nearby (Hilton/SPG etc) were charging celestial rates (as my friends say, this is SF!). In the end I think I got a great value for almost 3.5cpm.

Anyway, not much to write, I arrived and checked in, caught up on a bit of work and soon winded down and went to bed. The room was very comfortable, well appointed and very amply sized.







Anyway, a lot of amenities were available but had to be requested. After seeing how this works, I think I understand why some people say airlines going for dine-on-demand actually do it to reduce costs. The only let down may have been the limited options and availability for room service as it was not 24/7, I couldn't get any food at midnight.


The next morning I woke up to a rather gorgeous view...I think I can be touristy for a bit!


A lobby shot just before I left:


So fast forward to the afternoon the next day, I was done with what I had to do and this time, I don't want the close call at Cairo to happen again, so I got a rideshare to SFO way way way in advance, basically once I was done.

As I have expressed my concern initially when this RTW craze kicked off, this sector would be the true 'highlight', a long haul flight in Y. WHY...well again this SF detour was reliant on the award gods and they were not merciful tonight. Nothing opened in J/W nor were POUG/AUPs available, in fact they were both zeroed out this being a Thursday night and over spring break.



Is it fate's intention that asks me to stick with CX? Despite my efforts to avoid snafus, I got hit with a terrible, terrible headache suddenly in the car on the way to SFO. Luckily I was still in my suit so at least the friendly check-in agent at the F check-in counter for BA probably just thought I was an overworked proletariat......I was legitimately worried that I would pass out or get offloaded etc and even started thinking freaking about all the back-to-back QR segments thereafter that I would get into big trouble if I missed...



Anyway, the agent advised that I could head either the BA or CX lounge(!) and stamped my BP with clearance for priority security. It still took long (and I may have scared the elderly lady flying in F in front by losing grip and slamming my bag on the floor multiple times) but anyway, I was soon on my way to the lounge.








The last three pictures basically encompasses the entirety of the BA F lounge at SFO. Yep it was that sad, a rather claustrophobic room overlooking the tarmac on one side and surrounded by very tall walls on all other sides. Snack offerings were only marginally better than the epic dump known as the ORD BA F lounge...

I munched on the sandwiches and light bites and had a soda to pump in sugar but nope, it didn't help, I was still spinning all around inside..I may have thought that it would be too scary for the other occupants in the F lounge to closely witness the scenario of me passing out so I ventured out to the larger area outside, or the J lounge it is known. What a scene, every single seat was taken. I felt like I was walking through a movie set as everyone was seated and I must have looked clueless walking along the corridor.

The lounge attendants were helpful enough to usher me to a seat that became available, but I was still feeling terrible, so I decided to head to the familiar HKG-like settings of the CX lounge in a last attempt to revive myself before the horrors struck.

You'll see this at the entrance of the 'corridor of lounges' at this wing of the airport and that's where the CX lounge is located. Interesting enough JAL chose a guy to be the signpost...

Ah...the...familiarity...! If only I was on my regular 11A in CX J tonight


As if my trauma wasn't enough, the agent wanted to card me. Oh puhhhleeaseee, just let me in...I must have mumbled something as I was let through and ended up at a shower room. The SFO CX lounge really carries the Foster & Partners theme which was what CX adopted before they switched to studioilse, and today the NRT, CDG and FRA lounges still carry the similar theme present here (and of course, The Wing at HKG).



Anyway, I only wanted to sleep onboard so I thought it was a bad idea to have my hair wet, so I ended up only changing and passed on the shower. I think I must have regained enough consciousness, so here are some shots of the CX SFO lounge:







Just a bit before boarding time, I traded in my voucher given at the reception for a bowl of dan dan figuring that it may as well as be better than everything they serve onboard. Sadly, this was a disaster...one does NOT have dan dan with cilantro, on top of my despise of it!!!! Still, I must have been hungry and the peanut broth was still on point so I finished it as a boarding announcement was made for our BA286 flight to LHR tonight, interestingly enough.


I wonder how BA allocates its pax to use its own lounge and CX's, but it can quite easily be told that the BA lounge cannot hold all BA pax/elites. Heck, as I saw them walking to the gate from the lounge, they were nothing but a never-ending procession.

Thanks to my status I was able to pick the emergency exit seat of 80A but being at the end of the plane, most pax had already boarded! I prayed that there would still be overhead space and made a dash to board through the priority line. The gate area was sunken, overcrowded and a mad mess in general, so no pics here

First impressions, the seat was better padded than I thought, and of course the leg room was well delivered. Width was definitely lacking but fortunately my seat mate was not too bulky. Sadly, there's no side bins available for the bulkhead seats so I ended up placing my suit side-by-side on the gap between it and my seat, thankfully the FA didn't make me store it elsewhere as overhead bin space were tight and at a premium.





We once again pushed very much on time. The headrest was rather comfortable which mean I did pass out (hopefully in a conscious way) but the next moment I realized, it was around 90 minutes into the flight and we were getting served a pre-dinner beverage. Just a drink and that's it, no nuts



I must have dozed off again but around an hour later, dinner was served. Welcome back to reality I told myself, no menus no nothing, I think it was a choice between cheese lasagne (more like penne) and chicken curry, I chose the former.





I kid you not, I found the taste of the pasta to be quite good and again well heated. Either BA hasn't fallen off the cliff yet with long haul catering, or I must have had exceptional luck given my infrequent travel patterns with them compared to regular travel with CX. (I'm quite sure no CX Y meal ex-outport/ex-HKG were comparable to what I got served. It doesn't say a lot about the quality of this BA main, but go figure how bad CX catering is.)

After the meal, I declined coffee/tea and tried to sleep by putting my carry on in front as a makeshift legrest, as I used to do when I flew CX PEY.

Anyway, in a very similar fashion to my outbound LHR-SFO flight, but only in a much poorer form practically, I woke up to see this:


By this time I felt quite better, so perhaps it was a combination of lack of sleep and hunger. I just hope it doesn't happen again for the rest of the trip.

At around T-60, so just a few moments, later, the CC came by and offered hot breakfast of which I chose to have an omelette:

I think the other choice was also eggs (English breakfast I recall) so it felt a bit weird with how similar the two offerings were. But at least there was a choice...

We soon began our descent and circled a bit Northwest of London before landing 15 minutes ahead of schedule, arriving at our stand at T5c almost to the dot again.



The HKG e-Channel can learn a thing or two from the UK border - as a citizen, I completed the formalities at the border that took around five or ten seconds at most.

I then popped onto the Tube where I was able to reach my destination of FS Park Lane to meet up with my friend to have afternoon tea together after unfortunately having to ditch last-minute as a result of the RTW reticketing that took forever at CX LHR.











The property is located at a very quiet and upscale location (adjacent to the IC). The afternoon tea was...well, meh. The setting is not formal enough for such a price point and the service was also spotty, it was hard to get a waiter and they forgot some of the orders, like the scones, but we were already very stuffed from two plates of sandwiches we just let it go... I remember I had a great time many years ago at Brown's, but I fail to see the appeal of London afternoon teas as they are so overpriced - this was around $125 and that was already with champagne on the house. You can get afternoon tea for half the price in HK and the quality is superb and comparable much - there are a few that I really love going to again and again with the family. But most importantly, I had a great afternoon chatting and catching up with a good friend of mine.

I left the FS again around 2 hours and 15 minutes before my flight, as I thought an hour to the airport and an hour there would be alright. Little did I know the trouble that lay ahead.........before I could begin my QR extravaganza.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 3:22 am
  #39
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Originally Posted by qsh View Post
Looking forward to your next installment!
Unfortunately, my ticket got cancelled...
Any tips/advice on how to fly from East Coast to Hong Kong (or reverse) for less than 2000USD in J?
Thanks for following through again!

Yeah I read about the ET fare not being honored. Shucks but you can't expect much out of non-OW airlines...

Do you care about status? If you don't, last week I flew home on CX and tagged a connecting flight to NRT a few days later using AS miles. It cost like $1100 all in. Points bought and tickets issued within the same phone call, 5 days before departure

CX J was really increasingly MEH but well can't complain for a price as cheap as that. I feel really bad for being a culprit in trashing its yields but this time it was too cheap to resist...anyway, also look into SPG I think theyre selling miles at like 1.96cpm right now.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 1:19 am
  #40
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Join Date: Apr 2016
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I need to accrue 50k before February to renew BR Gold, so I guess I will give up on status.

Thanks for the advice!!! I will definitely look into AS and SPG.
I don't feel guilty trashing CX's yield, because I know if I don't book it some randomAM member will snatch it away

Maybe I should try the 2600USD YYZ-LHR-HEL-HKG ticket next time, so I could experience the BA CW product (and AY A359) that you like and get AA status.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 5:31 pm
  #41
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Flight 12: QR2 LHR-DOH Business Class on the A350

I'll try to stay away from hyperbole but here's what's happened:

I left the FS London and thought an hour would be ample time to get to LHR T4. When I got to the tube station, horror struck as I saw there were no trains for LHR, let alone LHR T4 for the next 20 minutes...sheez...and there was no network reception at the platform! So what could I do?

I couldn't even google 'QR check in cut off' and it's not like leaving the station again to get on a cab/Uber would get me in time given the traffic in London...so I just jumped on the next approaching train as I remembered from the way into town we would soon resurface and hopefully I could get connected.

So that's what I did and I hopped off at Acton Town, just before the train headed for the other way, calling an Uber and plopping myself in as I exited from the station. Fortunately that was not very difficult, and kudos to London Tube supporting Apple Pay which was smooth and convenient.

It was now T-~95 but fortunately during the car ride, to deviate my anxieties looking at the estimated arrival time fluctuating like a stock ticker, I was able to see anecdotes of J class check in cut off being T-45 actually. But since the QR app said T-60 and my RTW itinerary was so complex (and back to back), I didn't know if that would be enough time.

With the driver wishing me good luck I literally jumped off once he pulled onto the curbside at T-60. People must be thinking I was running through the terminal as if I was chasing for Pokemon Go or something

Fortunately, there was a ton of people at the QR check in so hopefully they wouldn't count me as 'late'. Indeed there was also an F check in line so I was quite relieved by this time. The very friendly French gentleman at the desk checked me in all the way for LHR-DOH, DOH-CDG and CDG-DOH, and asked if I was doing this for the miles I said I wanted to see how good QR was as well...haha. And yes, I ended up going for a turnaround at Paris instead of Madrid as originally booked since QR inventory management was showing no love for D class. That's only a loss of <1,000 miles, and I actually get a fancier (imo) A388 rather than 788, and that's probably also why it was easier to get a seat to/from Paris.

What happened was after at this time a whole week of flying my fingers were suffering from so much dehydration, and in the madness just now I somehow cut my left thumb nail and now I had blood all over the counter and my sweater. While there was no first aid box at the counter, the check in agent tried his best by asking if I was okay and offered some tissues. He also said I might be 'bothered' by security as I had three pieces of hand carry luggage and said if that happened I could come back to him and he would walk me through...

By this time the flight was already about to board. Thankfully LHR T4 is small and there was only minimal waiting at Fast Track security, and nor was I inconvenienced about my hand luggage.

The apparently fascinating QR LHR lounge was to the left down a rather hidden corridor, but as I entered the agent said I would have to go to the gate as the flight was boarding (rather sternly ) I asked if I could quickly visit the bathroom, to which she obliged and actually offered to let me leave all my stuff with her at the entrance counter.

Apologies for no pics as I had to deal with more important issues such as my bleeding finger and the time ticking down.

So, rather disappointed, I took my stuff and walked out. I actually wasn't very blown away with the quick peek I had, as the ceilings were low and the lighting was rather retro...anyway, surprise surprise, another agent asked me if I was Mr. G-CIVC as I exited and took all my bags and escorted me onto a buggy. Off we went to the gate with me being an involuntary DYKWIA for a few minutes

Indeed boarding was already wrapping up but as my buggy taxied in the other GAs made sure all the other pax (presumably in Y) stepped aside, and once again I basically walked onto the jetbridge as some other agents assisted me with my documents and bags getting off the buggy. Wonderful.

A bit disappointingly as I was panting and sweating (and neither did the gate give me any opportunity to contemplate at our new age Airbus), I boarded through door L2, greeted by two FAs who escorted me to my seat 8A. I was the last J pax to board but there were still a few Y pax coming on later.

First impressions, WOW, this is one hell of a cabin indeed!


Removing overhead bins in the center aisles, along with creating an open 'foyer' rather than galleys at Door 2 really was visually impressive and also made the cabin feel very airy and quiet. The mood lighting could only have helped.

The FA serving my area, a young South Asian lady, came to distribute menus and kits and greeted me, asking if I wanted PJs, PDBs and hot/cold towel. I said yes to PJs, and absolutely in need to calm down, asked for the signature QR lime-flavored mocktail and a cold towel. As I started to settle into the comfortable pod of mine the lead purser, a Qatari gentleman (i think) came to greet me in a very sincere way. Sadly the service wasn't overly attentive throughout the flight so I cannot recall what their names were!







After countless trips over these years in the Cirrus J seat with CX, this was my first time in the 'competitor' seat, the B/E Super Diamond. It absolutely met my expectations - very spacious, a lot of head and hip/lap space, as well as ample table and storage areas. It is true that the tradeoff of less privacy exists as you are not as secluded as in a Cirrus J seat. But I think the other aspects of this seat beat Cirrus and of course the finishes and padding that QR had were of top-notch quality, a huge contrast from the weary cabin conditions of BA that I came off from.

Let's take a closer look:









Indeed since there was so much storage (for like water, headsets and shoes) I didn't have to 'leave all my stuff on the table' as I sometimes have to in Cirrus (CX) J. The BRICS amenity kit was well stocked but a bit too rigid and larger in shape for my liking.

After fidgeting around for a while, the hilarious safety video was screened as we pushed ahead of schedule and rolled away into amazing night views of London without too much delay or wait. The A350 was not as quiet (but almost there) as the A380 but the tail camera definitely made the ones on 777s feel like ancient. The windows however were of killer size





The flight time to DOH is actually very short (6h 40m) so the FAs wasted no time in springing into action once we leveled a bit off although it was still quite bumpy.

The FA asked for my drink of choice and other food orders. I opted for a glass of So Jennie, QR's non-alcoholic bubbly which was served with delicious heated mixed nuts in a generous portion. The gentleman in front of me walked away so I very quickly took an 'aerial' shot of how the suite looks like too, before I made the pilgrimage to the lav myself to change:







The screen is enormous but there was only one Hong Kong TV show so CX still wins in this aspect for me To be fair to QR, the selections for movies and American TV were still mind-blowingly plentiful, so don't worry about that.

Next, showtime (or so I thought). But before that, the menu and wine list read as follows:








You can see that the table is enormous, and much more sturdy that the Cirrus table, presumably because quite a bit of the table is fixed in this seat design.


The bread basket was again well heated and all variants were incredibly tasty and fresh. The FA then brought me the amuse bouche of salmon with a hint of caviar accompanied by potato salad. Oops, the entire thing slipped to the floor as she delivered it. That was close. I forgot if she did apologize but soon she came back with another one and I was happy again:



The butternut squash soup that followed was again very generous in portion and also flavorful to a borderline un-airplane-like extent. Great. After I was done with that, the FA brought me my order of smoked salmon with pea and potato salad (so similar to the amuse!) which I had with a glass of Billecart.



Here's when things turned slightly. First, I didn't know that the portions would be so enormous, and also another problem surfaced with how they designed the A350 cabin. The FA had to walk to the front of the cabin as the only galleys were there. I didn't visit but I presume space would be rather tight for 6 FAs and so many dine-on-demand requests to be processed at once, so it took quite long for the service to be done. We were already past 90 minutes airborne, so in order to be well rested, I asked the FA to just skip my main course order and proceed to desserts. She looked very disappointed presumably because she thought I didn't like the food but offered to keep it for me if I changed my mind later. Wonderful

My drinks were topped up proactively and soon I was indulging in the dessert, lime and coconut panna cotta. Again, it was sublime.



I grabbed an extra pillow and blanket from a nearby empty seat and soon dozed off.



It was at this time when I realized that the window shades were electronically controllable from the handset, which was really cool (and they were 'real' ones unlike on the 787.) When it came to sleep, as I said the padding is very good on the QR seats so despite the lack of a mattress I slept comfortably. The oversized pillows couldn't hurt either. In fact I really wish I could take those pillows home, they were that comfy.

With all these time zone changes, I somehow woke up naturally around 2 hours before arrival, but in reality it was 80 minutes (at that time) as we were scheduled to arrive early. The sun was beginning to rise outside, perhaps inside as well. You can also see how the foyer area looks like in night mode, and yes it was that bright which may have made me sleep not that well as the open plan layout and big screens meant it was quite bright at times.




I knew I had a tight connection (1h 5m) to make so I wanted to quickly grab a bite before we arrived, now that I woke up. So here's what the menu had to offer (in addition from just now):


I ordered the banana and coconut smoothie along with birchermuesli, as I knew they would come quickly without having to heat. Sure they did, and I added in the Godiva pralines distributed as part of turndown earlier inflight:


Once again, the taste was again phenomenal and I really have nothing to complain about QR catering, except for the slow service earlier.

Some more cabin shots - you can see that quite a number of pax were awake, keeping the crew busy throughout the flight:




For the 'foyer' area, they left bottles of water on it but that was pretty much it I think. There may or may not have been champagne, but it wasn't anything like the A380 bars you can imagine. Still, the appointments were elegant and tasteful.

The captain then came on the PA as we approached Qatar. Apparently there was a huge storm overnight which caused a lot of IRROPS and DOH was not handling the weather that well understandably......we would now be holding for 30 minutes?!?!?!?! I asked myself, how many more snafus can I take for the rest of this trip? Why oh why??


Anyway, you can see that the map could also be displayed on the handset which was a handy function, although I never got to fully understand all the controls and interface for the IFE. Anyway, after really what seemt like endless holding and spinning, we approached DOH over Doha and did a 'crab' landing which was extremely forceful but I have no objections as I was now 40 minutes away from my next departure time.






Taxi to the gate felt like forever but in reality it was not. Still, once we arrived, I again ran off the plane like a madman as I was at LHR T4 and thankfully both doors were used for deplaning. Once again kudos to global data roaming so I knew exactly what gate my flight for Paris was departing from, but the QR app didn't post any delay statuses

-

Overall, it was a great experience on my first medium/long-haul QR J flight, and I absolutely loved the B/E Super Diamond seat. There were a few service kinks and the flight time was really too short for an overnight flight but this didn't impact my ultimate perception of QR J as it would have shone through in the next few segments that I flew.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 10:45 pm
  #42
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Flight 13: QR 39 DOH-CDG Business Class on the QR A380

I had expected my incoming London flight to be pre-cleared and I could exit straight into the departures area. Thankfully it was, or else I couldn't imagine the consequence. Just like my DXB to CAI connection, I was waved ahead but that was it. It was up to myself to figure what next.

HIA in the morning was a completely different scene, bustling with people and felt a bit like a refugee camp at some spots (i.e. where there were massive congregation to look at the FIDS, which for some reason cannot display all flights at once ). I did see that the onward flight to CDG was posting a 45-minute delay, but I stayed vigilant and knew I should probably still be at the gate on time.

Once again I couldn't manage to take any photos as I was again running against the crowd as hectic as if I were in a TV ad or something. I arrived huffing and panting with like a minute or two to spare from the original cut off time, but the agent at the F/J gate area was surprised and asked me not to hurry at all.

This is the part where I think QR (or is it ME3 in general?) can learn. If this happened on CX, someone would be at the gate to escort me through a tight connection, and in best cases the crew onboard the incoming flight would help give information too. What happened here at DOH, I felt was unsatisfactory for a premium pax, but at least not having to reclear security made up for it.

Back on topic, yes the gate was as massive as you can imagine with separate areas for F/J and Y pax.

I was welcomed onboard by the J class Cabin Senior Ms J and made my way to 19A, the frontmost window that I could find when I rebooked everything at LHR a few days ago.

J came by shortly again to welcome me onboard personally with her iPad, and explained that we were waiting for other connecting pax so would remain on ground for a while. The wonderful FA in charge of my section (left aft) today, Miss M from Korea, came by to say hi and offered the standard kits, menus and PDB, the latter which I chose the lime-honey drink again which was soon served with a cold towel.



After the ordeal, she then came back again apologetically to inform me of a further delay. We won't be pushing back until 9 a.m. for our STD of 0715. First thoughts, I don't mind as finally I got over all the craziness before and now I can properly 'experience' QR J, but it again started to haunt me that this would severely cut short my turnaround time of 2:45 at CDG. Chaos just seems to go on forever...

Most of the cabin was settled but there indeed were a few connecting pax coming on during the time. With that, I stored and settled my stuff and walked around to take pictures of the cabin (this time in bright daylight)

QR3 next to us which would be going to London Heathrow.



Fittingly, a portrait of Paris in the back of the cabin

The overhead bins were tiny on the side like the BA A380, but the ones in the center were standard size. The side bins once again worked wonders, but my seat had one deactivated, so avoid 19A if that matters to you.







The good stuff was behind the curtains at the back. If you think the A350 foyer was stunning, wait until you see the A380 onboard bar. And this was just when it was not yet stocked.






Two rather compact lavs were between the cabin and the bar/lounge area.



Since we really were grounded for the moment, the cabin crew went ahead and offered drinks and warmed nuts for everyone. I had OJ which was freshly squeezed and the nuts were good too.


Here's a closer look at what's in the amenity kit, same one as LHR-DOH, by BRICS:

The personal care items by Monte Vibiano were of very high quality and I really liked the lip balm.

Finally, it was around 8:45am when we shut the doors and pushed. Most of the seats behind me remained empty but they were supposed to be filled, so I guess they couldn't make everyone happy this time. The hilarious safety vid played once again, and we taxied at a painfully slow speed to the other side of the airport.


An interesting foreign face at QR-land.


The tail cam was alright but not as sharp/multidimensional as the one on the A350. And the headsets were functional and noise-canceling, I found them to be better than CX/BA offerings.



Having eaten little on the incoming flight, skipped the lounge and held on ground for long, I was starving at this moment, so I was determined to let the good times roll and told Miss M I would be having breakfast right away as she came by to take orders shortly after takeoff.




In addition to the whopping 15 menu items which you can order as many as you like, full bar was available for the entire flight. The wine list was the same as that on LHR-DOH. I launched my party with a duo of strawberry banana smoothie and carrot and ginger healthy energiser. I really like the shot glass-size of the energiser as that was totally enough unlike some other airlines which serve you a whole glass, that's a bit too much for each drink.


Miss M then set my table along with a bread basket of breakfast breads.




A variety of jams, honey and preserves were offered as well as a choice of still or sparkling water. I felt like I was in a restaurant in the sky, while most other airlines with their trolleys and trays resembled more of assembly lines.

The next element was the fruit plate which really lived up to its description of being 'seasonal' and 'fresh'. On CX, you'd be lucky to have 4-5 pieces but...wow.


Next was balik salmon and rillettes, to up the game I ordered a glass of Billecart. OMG, balik salmon, and it was so legit. Nothing as enjoyable as a champagne breakfast overlooking the sky, the IFE was not needed



Next was the greek yogurt with strawberry compote, toasted granola and nuts. I had actually wanted this before the salmon but it could very well be my fault again not clarifying it with the crew. Anyway, both the presentation and the taste were phenomenal.


Next came the gigantic main, Emmental cheese omelette with chicken sausage, lyonnaise potatoes, roasted tomato and chestnut mushrooms.



The portions of food were very generous and I ended up not being able to finish this. The omelette was stuffed with cheese but it was a bit dry. The accompanying items were all nicely prepared, however. A plate of various condiments such as mustard and ketchup were offered too, and the entire mini-bottle would be yours to keep if you wanted them.

I tried connecting to the wifi for which the first 10MB were free, and I think I purchased another 50mb for maybe $5. Unfortunately it was slow and spotty so I eventually gave up. I did manage to send a few pictures to my brother however. I also explored a bit around the IFE, and as a Pixar fan I was very very impressed with the 'Pixar Collection' that they had in their movie library:


With stuff getting cleared I must have been rather fatigued so off I went to sleep. No PJs were on offer on this day flight so I just wore my pair from the previous flight, and in similar fashion grabbed extra pillows and blankets from nearby empty seats.

I woke up around two hours later feeling a lot better, but it wasn't deep sleep because some passengers kept the windows open. Luckily the effect wasn't as bad as on the A350 because of a much larger cabin on the A380.

To my delight, Miss M was in charge of manning the bar and was happily attending a few other passengers. She immediately greeted me with a smile and asked if I wanted anything. I took the opportunity to snap a few more pictures of the bar, this time in full action (I think I have even more on the return to Doha )






They also had the very elegant electronic window blinds at the lounge area (but not in the cabin ). I then had a brief nice chat with Miss M and complimented her on the wonderful attentive service and her cheerful, engaging approach with passengers. She also had the confidence that you sometimes see in Korean ladies. Sadly, she wasn't a former CX crew when I asked if she worked elsewhere before as I was almost certain she was, by how she kept saying 'Certainly' which is a common phrase that CX crew are trained to use. (and of course because of her hospitality too). She also expressed concern if I had enough rest as I slept little etc. Some time later the seat belt sign must have got on and I went back to my enclave with a tasty ramekin of crouton-ish snacks.


More snaps of my 'day bed in the sky', QR version:



We were about to enter Germany at this point so I wanted to eat something before we arrived. Both 'light options' on the menu were not very appealing so I ventured to the bar again. This time it was manned by an Indian FA which was not as friendly or engaging as Miss M.

There were a few trays of both savory and sweet snacks in glasses placed in trays of quartets. I asked if I could take an entire tray of savory snacks back in case they would run out. The bartender FA happily obliged and cheekily said they never run out of stuff

Miss M must have caught me somehow so the linens were set as I did my walk of shame proudly made the way back to my seat with the tray in hand.


The snacks were some sort of salad, couscous, prawn and beef salad. They were all excellent and looked gorgeous too. I rounded up with ordering the 'selection of indulgent individual desserts' from the menu and a cappuccino. The desserts were an eclair and some sort of chocolate orange cake. Apparently this is an 'enhancement' as it used to be Laduree desserts in the past, but I was still blown away. So in short, the food was good from the beginning til the very end. (and so was the cappuccino)



Around twenty minutes later, the captain came on the PA which means it is bad news when you are enjoying your flight - it's about to come to an end! Indeed we landed half an hour after that at CDG, around 75 minutes late. Before landing, Miss M came back to say thanks once again and chitchatted a bit with me about her love for Europe and was fascinated to hear that I was having a vacation - perhaps a lot of pax were not. She was also very worried when she saw me trying to wipe off the blood stains I got myself @ LHR as she thought I spilled something, but I assured her that everything was fine.

After landing, we taxied to the gate at T1 with some exotic sights en route. I wish I could see Paris having not been for 10+ years, but I told myself at least I could spend some time in the lounge, knowing that the turnaround return flight to DOH had been delayed in advance from the onboard wifi.





Didn't mean to spoil the TR, but this was the best QR flight out of the bunch that I had. It tells you how much service matters. This flight with Miss M's hospitality felt like CX on steroids, and on top of that the crazy flowing food, drinks and a wonderful ambience given the equipment of A380 and the comfortable Super Diamond seats means that it easily topped every score chart in my heart possible.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 12:27 am
  #43
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: ORD + HKG
Programs: CX GO, AA EXP (til 2.2019 thats it), HH Gold, SPG Gold, Marriott Gold, IHG Plat, GE
Posts: 2,111
Flight 14: QR 40 CDG-DOH Business Class on the QR A380

After getting off the plane at one of the T1 satellites of CDG, passengers had to walk through a somewhat retro-futuristic looking tunnel back to the main terminal area. Interestingly enough I could just walk to the lounge, presumably because I was already past passport control and security was done at the satellite. It was a short walk away:



I had heard great reviews about the newly opened QR CDG lounge and was really looking forward to check it out, after missing the one at London. The agent let me in after my request to move to the first row which was somewhat lost in translation, but later she assured me that I would get a new BP at the gate.

I was really in need of a shower and change of clothes having done a full day of activities at SFO, flying overnight to London and spending an afternoon there, and all the craze at LHR and DOH along with two QR flights posted above. Yes, basically didn't have a proper break at all...

When I approached the shower suite the attendant asked that I wait while it was serviced (I think - as she spoke no English at all). But it was more than that, the lounge dragon just now then came running and said I wouldn't have enough time for a shower.

?!?!?!?! It turns out that no, they are not delaying the return flight. Color me impressed that they can turn around an A380 in just 75 minutes? But of course I was quite annoyed at the same time. Some more 'lost in translation' as she then suggested I could go ahead but just keep ample time to board and reclear security. I was confused so I didn't partake, but of course can't pass on the opportunity to shoot a few pictures:




The shower suite was luxuriously appointed and very much resembled the DXB lounge offering. Pity I didn't partake but I imagine that it would be good. In fact the same can be said for the rest of the lounge, it just felt like a much expanded and well equipped version of the DXB lounge I reviewed upthread.

Now 'warned' of not having a lot of time to spend here, I just quickly walked around and explored:

The dining area is near the showers, way into the lounge (the entrance is to one side). Ah, here's the layout of the lounge:


Like the DXB lounge it has a hot buffet to the side, as well as a circular bar with very luxurious finishings. The tables look like it's a table service setting, but it's a hybrid between buffet (half help yourself, half they help you). Weird but the food quality looked convincing enough.





The dining area opened up to one of the two terraces, something that wouldn't be possible at HKG:


Ample seating along the corridor between the dining 'wing' and entrance/foyer 'wing', with varying levels of privacy and well equipped with plugs and ports:






The business center however was a bit bland looking:


Looking at the other terrace from this one attached to the 'entrance wing':


And of course, the dazzling entrance/foyer part of the lounge, which was much more spacious and inviting than the limited space at the DXB lounge.




At this point, another uniformed QR agent came by, and seeing me walking around, told me to enjoy a bit more at the lounge as boarding would be slightly delayed, and a boarding call would be made.

That contradicted the urgency the first agent had. I was confused and it was about time. Indeed some pax were still enjoying themselves but some had left. To play safe and at this point feeling very fed up of snafus already, I headed back to the gate area, which involved walking through the fancy tunnel again and clearing security.



Overall I thought the QR CDG lounge was like the DXB one, very visually impressive and stunning. However, it must have been something about the decor (like the Arabian-themed drapes which ate into the head space/ceiling height) or the blue-ish color tones, I didn't find it the most relaxing place. To me, HKG The Pier is still the benchmark for a killer-level lounge. I'd happily spend hours there, but not sure if I would do so here. Of course the allure of shops and their prices outside at CDG is a factor, pity I couldn't stop by this time

Indeed, they wanted to get the flight out on time. So I grabbed my BP at a QR-staffed counter, interestingly not at the gate, then proceeded towards the very long F/J line which moved at a snail's pace.



I was welcomed onboard by the cabin lead and settled in my newly assigned seat of 10A, influenced by my experience sitting at the back on the A350 sector. I wanted to be up front this time. Being the first row, the seat felt more open than the other seats, with extra storage in front and a good view of the giant engines. My side bins were not blocked this time






The FA in charge of my section, Miss A from Romania, came by and greeted me. By this time I was able to expect what she would do, which was with no surprises, a showering of menus, kits and orders for PDBs. I asked for a glass of So Jennie with hot towel.




I have reviewed the seat but in short it was again very comfortable and relaxing, I had the mood to look forward to a great flight. Cabin senior, Ms J from presumably Southeast Asia came by and wished me a pleasant flight too.

They were indeed very determined to leave on time and so we did. 15 minutes later we were airborne, as motionlessly as possible with the quiet engines and slow pace of the superjumbo.



This would be a shorter flight than coming in, just like LHR-DOH. Along with the many hours eclipsed since my epic breakfast on the flight in, I told Miss A I would eat right away.

Unfortunately, the menu turned out to be exactly the same as what was offered on QR2 from Heathrow, just without breakfast but light snacks in addition. Well well well... and the menu was obviously recycled


Unsurprisingly, the wine list was also the same.
Still, I could care less as long as they taste good. With that, showtime again, starting with another glass of So Jennie:


I loved the nuts which had pistachios in it too. Next, Miss A brought me the exact same amuse bouche I had out of London, and once again it was of amazing quality.



And so were the bread basket (now this was a bit different from ex-LHR and was more heavenly here ) followed by the comfortable realms of butternut squash soup, once again generously portioned and heated well:



I struggled hard but with the positive impression I had on QR 2 last night, I went for the smoked salmon with pea and potato salad again over the Mezze...

Similarly, I had a glass of Billecart to go with it and put up Moana on the screen. The video and sound quality were both excellent and superior to other airlines.


We were passing through the Alps at this time, and I had my eyes glued to the window, pictures can't do justice of how it looked like so close from above, coupled with the feeling of tranquility and the ambience onboard at that time, what a wonderful time I was having:




It's really these moments that make me feel lucky and happy about what I'm doing, while my friends get wasted in Cancun and all that (and have to suck it up in coach/group 239402834 boarding etc). Oops, it turns out that Miss A didn't want to interrupt me and was standing next to my seat waiting for me to continue dictating what I wanted from her...so to make up for last night's loss, I got myself the grilled fillet of beef. Uh oh, the presentation looked mind-blowing again but the taste not so much.



The beef was quite rubbery and hard to cut through, and it wasn't very tasty itself. Luckily the sauce and again condiments presented in a classy way made up for it:


Still, the humongous portions meant I was rather stuffed even not having finished the steak. I asked Miss A to come back to me later, which she punctually did after 20 minutes and offered me cheese which once again was plated in an over-the-top style:


I carried the Bordeaux (Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux 2012) through from the main to the cheese course and it was excellent and paired well. I continued sipping away, munching the Godiva praline as well after I was done with the cheese.

The lav is immediately in front of the seat but is not intrusive as it doesn't open directly into the cabin area. It was a bit more spacious than those in the aft and was well appointed and stocked:



We were cruising over Greece already, around two hours into the flight.


I did my routine stretch-walking around the cabin, and found myself unable to know how to operate the divider across a middle pair of seats:



Someone then approached me and I initially thought something happened but it turns out that the question was if I was on FT, by another FTer Mr. florens who happened to be on the flight too. We ended up having a great conversation in the bar area later inflight. I must have continued with the film a bit or just lazily dozed off, but quite some time later I found myself at the bar.

Ms J, the cabin senior was manning the bar, and warmly welcomed my request of shooting a few pictures once again of the beautifully appointed and well stocked bar/lounge area, this time in 'night time mode'










I was so impressed with the capabilities that the bar lounge area had to offer; I was able to get a cappuccino too, which was served with biscotti. Ms J was an interesting FA to chat to and she was very happy to learn about my satisfaction of QR J and my appreciations of the cabin furnishings and the 350, for which she was curious as she wasn't trained on it yet herself. Together with florens we had wonderful conversations and honestly it was an unparalleled way to pass the time on a flight. I can only wish there were more onboard bar/lounges as I love chatting with the FAs (and of course FTers when there's the chance ). I indeed learned a lot about flying in Europe from florens and also about his exciting onward travels



With an overnight layover at Al Mourjan ahead, and knowing that the lounge is not particularly well known for its catering, I again wanted a quick bite before we arrived. Unfortunately, Miss A notified me the terrifying news that they were out of mezze and offered the brioche roll beef sandwich instead. She was kind enough to let me take a quick look of how it looks in the galley before heating it up. And of course it had to be So Jennie to go with it



It was of better quality than the main course beef fillet earlier but wasn't particularly mind-blowing. We soon landed at DOH uneventfully, this time without ATC holds. Well, it wasn't like I had to run this time with a 7 hour layover ahead of the 'grand finale' DOH-LAX flight back to the US




While Miss A did a wonderful job and was also cheerful, energetic and proactive, she lacked the humanistic/CX-like factor that Miss M had on the outbound DOH-CDG. I think prior to arrival there was only a short acknowledgement or perhaps nothing. So although I had a great time and enjoyed the flight a lot, I would still rank this sector just a bit lower than the outbound DOH-CDG
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Old Apr 17, 17, 12:30 am
  #44
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: ORD + HKG
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Originally Posted by qsh View Post
Maybe I should try the 2600USD YYZ-LHR-HEL-HKG ticket next time, so I could experience the BA CW product (and AY A359) that you like and get AA status.

Hahahah...thanks again...but I would never fork out so much cash for BA J tho I think I just lucked out and given that it was A380 which the cabin was better. Good thing about AA status is that with the status challenge you can pay like $500(i think) and get PLT (Sapphire) right away.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 2:11 am
  #45
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: YTO HKG
Programs: BR*G CXGR
Posts: 145
BA flies 787 for YYZ. Guess I should take your advice and hunt for award tickets rather than AY/BA revenue ticket then.
I live in *A country (how come no competition law for CP/AC merger...), so I don't need OW status urgently. Though the OW status would come very handy if I move back to Asia (fingers crossed for finding a job).

After reading your comments on QR, I think I feel the same for BR. Great product and service, but FA lack the "humanistic/CX-like factor". I had to write a suggestion letter to get a more personal service on my return flight.
I flew with AC once on the Super Diamond seats, somehow your QR seats seem to have much more storage than AC and the AC seats do not turn into a complete 180˚ bed...
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