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5 year anniversary trip - NZ, OZ, SIN, DPS, TYO on F/J/Y

5 year anniversary trip - NZ, OZ, SIN, DPS, TYO on F/J/Y

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Old Apr 4, 17, 12:35 pm
  #1  
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5 year anniversary trip - NZ, OZ, SIN, DPS, TYO on F/J/Y

#introduction

Hey folks,
Here I am with my third TR. This trip was intended to celebrate our 5 year anniversary … or 5th honeymoon as I like to call it.

The research and planning took quite a number of months. At first, we decided we would go back to the Philippines, then hop to Singapore, Frankfurt and home. As the months dragged on, I started to think about other places. Mrs.Injian was not too keen on Philippines since we already went there for our 1 year anniversary. In my continuing effort to practice the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” mantra, I started to look at other places. Fiji was a good place but would have blown my entire budget in one go and based on other TRs, Fiji Airways looked meh.

Looked further down on the map and saw this lovely continent called Australia. Mrs.I always wanted to go to Australia – it was second on her bucket list after the UK. Since New Zealand was nearby, I figured we could do a quick stop. My bucket list has and always will be Asia – I could go there for the rest of my life and could not be bothered about visiting other countries. We have never been to Bali and Singapore together, so that was an easy decision. A last minute recommendation from a fellow FT-er included a stopover in Tokyo for 20 hours. So I pulled the trigger and decided we would go to these 4 locations – the best part of it all … she didn’t know I made the executive decision. As far as she knew, we were still going to Philippines, Singapore and Frankfurt.

The flights were a combination of F, J and Y on various airlines. F and J were booked using Aeroplan, Krisflyer and Alaska Airmiles plus taxes i.e. scamcharges. After much back and forth, humming and hawing, the flight itinerary was booked as follows:

Toronto – Chicago – Air Canada Y
Chicago – Hong Kong – Cathay F
Hong Kong – Auckland – Cathay J
Auckland – Queenstown – Auckland – Air NZ Y
Auckland – Melbourne – Air NZ J
Melbourne – Hamilton Island – Sydney – Virgin Australia Y
Sydney – Singapore – Singapore Airlines F
Singapore – Bali – Singapore – Tokyo – Singapore Airlines J
Tokyo – Chicago – ANA F
Chicago – Toronto – United Y

Our hotel itinerary was booked as follows:
Chicago – Sheraton O’Hare – 1 night
Hong Kong – Novotel Citygate – 1 night
Queenstown – Novotel Lakeside – 2 nights
Melbourne – stayed with family – 2 nights
Hamilton Island – Reef View Hotel – 4 nights
Sydney – Shangri-La – 2 nights
Singapore – Holiday Inn Express Katong – 1 night
Bali – Amankila – 4 nights
Singapore – Westin – 2 nights
Tokyo – Southern Century Tower Shinjuku – 1 night

In addition to adding pics about the flight and hotels, I will also include our excursions.

As the F and J flights were being booked, every effort was made to not send automated emails to my wife’s email account with the ticket confirmation – the locations were being kept a surprise. As much as you try, the robot overlords always manage to win – the confirmation for Singapore Airlines flights were sent to her account. When we came home from work one evening, she showed me the emails on her phone and asked me what the emails were. Before I could say anything, she opened the attachment …

*Wife reads confirmation email*
Wife – “It says Australia ... why does it say Australia?”
*Inside my head – CRAP CRAP CRAP*
*Wife looks at me*
*I give her an innocent smile*
*Wife reads email again*
Wife – “Wait … are we going to … AUSTRALIA?!”
Me – Yes

After 10 minutes of excited jumping and our 2 year old son wondering why his mother was jumping excitedly and deciding to join in, I partially spilled the beans in an attempt to salvage some sort of surprise for the trip. I told her we would be going to Australia, Singapore and Bali but did not mention anything about New Zealand and Tokyo other than the fact that they were surprise locations. The hotels were also left as a surprise along with the excursions. She accepted this answer but in the days and months leading to our departure, she would try to catch me and ask me what those secret locations were. Nice try!

Finally, I wanted to give a shout out to the following FT-ers for helping making this trip possible. Without them, I would have massively struggled:
@SFO777 and @Short hair Francis – for helping to design the routing based on our points and then choose/book the F/J flights.
@DavidO and his team – for helping to book Amankila, Reef View and Shangri-La.

Credit is also due to the wealth of information on the Asia/Australia/New Zealand forums as it helped me to decide what to see and do.

That’s it for my introduction. Hope you like the TR!

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Old Apr 4, 17, 1:27 pm
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#pearsonairportsucks, #thesheratongavemeafreebeer, #welovejalapenomcchicken

I decided to start our trip by overnighting in Chicago. I did not know what the weather would be like in March and didn’t want to risk any delays when flying out on the same day as our Cathay flight.

Our flight from YYZ to ORD was at 8:50pm. We reached the airport at 7pm as we knew that checking in for US flights would be a gong show. Terminal 1 is an absolute mess now which is completely dominated by Air Canada and Star Alliance. All flights for the US had to be checked in at the far left end of the check-in hall. The line for bag drop was long but moved quickly. After the bag drop line came the security line which was RIDICULOUSLY long. THANK YOU Amex Platinum card for the line bypass and we got through in 10 minutes. As we finished security, I overheard one of the security personnel saying that there was a gentleman behind me who required secondary screening – ouch. Passed through customs which took another 10 minutes and we were finally airside. Headed over to the Plaza Premium lounge which we have already been to before – nothing has changed.

After having a small meal, we got bored and left to walk to our gate. Flight was not full and began on time. Next to us was a Rouge plane bound for some beachy destination and beyond that was an AC jet with the new livery – I have to admit that seeing it in person was nice compared to seeing it on an advertisement. The design may be boring but it’s clean and crisp.






























We landed in Chicago without issues and taxi-ed to a very quiet Terminal 2. Bags came out pretty quickly and we followed the signs to the free hotel shuttle stand. Waited around 10 minutes for the Sheraton O’Hare shuttle and another 10 minutes after that to get to the hotel. Had to wait 10 minutes for check in as there were 3 gentlemen ahead of me who were being helped and the agent was having a difficult time understanding them. Another agent came out and quickly helped me – I was asked if I wanted 250 points or a free beverage – beer me please! 

Got into our room, snapped pics and then walked over to the Mickey D’s across the steet. Can I tell you how good the Jalapeno McChicken was? DAMN GOOD – I wanted moar jalapenos. We hit the sack around midnight – wanted to be well rested for the 1st First class flight the next day.




Looking down right outside our room door.






















Woke up the next morning to this view from our room!


Some nifty cargo jets loading and unloading.


I have to admit that this was a really nice room for an airport hotel. Compare it to the upcoming pictures of the hotel near the Hong Kong and it’s a massive difference.

Next up - Cathay Pacific First Class ORD to HKG!
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Old Apr 4, 17, 2:40 pm
  #3  
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Congratulations on 5 years - happy anniversary! Looking forward to your TR
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Old Apr 4, 17, 3:47 pm
  #4  
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#ilikekrugandicannotlie, #shecouldnotcontainherexcitement, #wedinedtogetherat35000ft

Our flight to HKG was at 2pm, so we checked out at 11.30am to catch the shuttle back to the airport. The driver dropped domestic travellers first, then went around to arrivals to see if there were any pickups and then headed to Terminal 5 for our drop off. By the time we reached the front door, it was 12pm – good thing, we left at 11.30.




We walked up to the First Class check in where the agent gave us a quizzical look and asked us where we were going. I indicated Hong Kong and handed over our passports – once she ran it through the system and saw were really in First, her face brightened up and she welcomed us.


Agent – “Travelling to Auckland?”
Me – “No, just Hong Kong as we are overnighting.”
Agent – “No problem, I will check the bags to Hong Kong only.”
I looked over at Mrs.Injian and she looked at me with a quizzical look.

Me – “What’s wrong?”
Mrs – “Why are we going to Oakland?”
Me – “Not Oakland …. *in a low voice* … Auckland.”
*She grabs my arm with a vice grip*
Mrs - *in a low voice* … “NEW ZEALAND!”
Me – *in a low voice* … “Surprise!”

The agent finishes checking us, hands our passports and boarding passes along with the lounge invitations. She asks if we would like to be escorted to the lounge. I asked if they could help us bypass security and she said no, they couldn’t. I declined the escort and she also indicated that security was light today and we would pass through in no time.



We made our way to the security line which took around 10 minutes – not too bad. Once through, we headed to the British Airways lounge. The lounge is pretty small but it was not full at all. We grabbed seats near the back of the lounge and I snapped away while Mrs. I went to see what food and drinks were available.


















Air India bound for home:


Qatar and Lufthy just landed and taxi-ing to their respective gates:




20 minutes to departure, we left the lounge and headed to the gate. We walked right up to the agent who scanned us through but then lined up in the tube. The flight attendant greeted us at the door and requested us to turn left. We were in 1A and 2A respectively and Mrs.I could not believe her eyes when she saw her seat.

While I was settling in my seat, my wife was still looking around not believing where she was – gotta love it when you see that look of utter amazement for the first time. The purser approached my wife and asked if she would like some champagne to drink and she quickly accepted. While she was being served, a male flight attendant came over and introduced himself and asked if I would like anything to drink and I requested champagne as well.

While I was waiting, I quickly snapped pics of the cabin and menu.

I've seen so many pictures of CX F and now its my turn to post my own! No matter how many pics I saw, it really felt like I was experiencing this for the first time and I was definitely soaking it in.








Mrs.I being a poser. :P


























At this point, the plane was fully boarded and ready for push back. We were pretty much on time and taxi-ed to the runway for take off.



ORD is United's turf ...




Lining up for take off!


Bye bye ORD! See you in 3 weeks.









At this point, the seat belt sign was turned off and Mrs.I went to the change into PJ's. Shortly thereafter, I changed into mine. We were asked what we would like for lunch - I went with Chinese favs while Mrs.I went with the International option.

I asked the flight attendant to set us up to dine together and she was happy to oblige. While they set up at Mrs.I's seat, she was sitting with me and she was telling me about how she could not get over the fact that she was in Cathay First class. She asked me how this flight was booked and I explained to her the finer details about Alaska Airmiles and points collecting. The conversation somehow steered into the topic of how the cabin crew knows who is a paying passenger and who is on points. Mrs.I rationalized that we paid for those points by using our credit cards and therefore we were legimiate paying passengers. To which I said technically we did not buy tickets but she would not have any of it and insisted we were paying passengers. Note to self - dont argue with your wife who also happens to be a lawyer - point, set, match. I also mentioned that this is a contentious topic amongst FT-ers.

By this time, our table for 2 was set up and this is when Mrs.I saw the set up for the first time. Surprise! Needless to say, she was impressed at my ninja romance skills. I will let you fine people figure out which dishes we ate. Suffice to say that every single dish was excellent. Forgiveness please for the picture of Mrs.I's braised veal cheek - we ate at different paces and I just remembered to catch a pic of the dish before she gobbled it up.







First time for the both of us having caviar and it was amazing. I could definitely get used to this.










OMG, the chicken curry was lip smackingly good. I growled when Mrs.I tried to taste. LOL. In retrospect, I should have ordered another chicken curry for my mid flight snack.






When we were done, we were given chocolates plus a hot towel





Requested the cabin crew to make up my bed so that I could sleep right away and adjust to the time in Hong Kong.


All warm and snuggly under the covers. This would come to bite me in the ....


Noooo, the time is going by so fast.


Wonderful views as we flew by







Halfway through the flight, I decided to have a meal. I hit the call button and counted five seconds till the flight attendant appeared. I ordered the burger and noodles along with Johnny Walker Blue. The flight attendant really topped up the glass LOL.


Both were exceptionally good although I could have done without the onion confit on the burger. Too sweet for my liking.


Went back to bed and I was in and out due to the temperature in the cabin. As I am not used to sleeping in PJ's, I had to constantly adjust the covers to either not boil and sweat or shiver from the AC. #firstworldproblems.

With an hour and a half left to go in the flight, I woke up for breakfast ... or rather dinner as it was shown on the menu. Went with the chicken option for my main.

Healthy stuff.


Chicken was a bit tough but passable.


The pie was meh - cold hard crust which I ate around. Filling was decent.


Soon after I finished my meal, we prepared for landing. I headed to the washroom to freshen up and change into my regular clothes. Before the cabin crew took their seats, the purser came by to my wife and I respectively and thanked us for flying Cathay Pacific and asked us how everything was. I told her it was excellent and thanked her for looking after the both of us during the flight.

Could not get a proper pic due to the darkness. Was very cloudy and did not see the ground till we were very close to the runway.


Sleepy evening at HKG.




First off the plane and raced to immigration. We were through in about 10 minutes from gate to passing through immigration. The bags came out 5 minutes after waiting at the belt.





Thoughts on the flight - the flight was excellent because of the service provided by the cabin crew. When the purser saw me taking pictures, she asked if we would like a picture together. She was struggling to get a proper picture of us when the male flight attendant came behind her, gave her the "Please allow me, girlfriend" look and took command of the picture taking LOL. Now that was amazing and definitely made our flight memorable. The cabin crew were very attentive and engaging and this made the flight more enjoyable.

Next up - Novotel Citygate and a few hours in Hong Kong.
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Old Apr 4, 17, 6:31 pm
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Awesome itinerary and great start!! Look forward to the rest
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Old Apr 4, 17, 7:45 pm
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Awesome itinerary. Did you have to find the 2nd CX F seat closer in? How about the flights on ANA? I believe the latter is easier if you can book almost a year out.

Looking forward to the next post
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Old Apr 4, 17, 9:17 pm
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Great start to this report. Happy to help make this trip memorable for you and Mrs. I.
Would have love to have seen her reaction when she heard Oakland.

Originally Posted by injian View Post
Mrs – “Why are we going to Oakland?
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Old Apr 4, 17, 9:41 pm
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surprise! awesome.

hope amankila was amazing!
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Old Apr 5, 17, 6:33 am
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OMG, what a great loungeReally fascinating they dare to write First-Lounge on it.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 10:21 am
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#afewhoursinthecity #PYEgaveusadiscount #timhowanisdelicious

We took the free shuttle bus over to the Novotel Citygate and got there in 10 minutes. Check-in was smooth and we were headed up to our room in no time. Snapped pics right away before freshening up. The room was a good size compared to the Sheraton in Kowloon that we stayed at in 2013. Woke up early next morning and decided to check out, check-in for our flight to Auckland and head into town.


























View from the room in the morning:











Checking in for our Auckland flight - waited a minute before we were helped. We were connecting the same day into Queenstown and unfortunately Cathay indicated that all bags has to be collected for customs and could not be checked all the way through. Bummer!



First Class check in:


Some day, I will have the opportunity to check in there:


After the check in, we took the Airport Express over to Hong Kong Station:


Where we would catch the H1 bus to Pacific Place where the PYE store was located:





We parted with some nice T-shirts after using our free gift coupon from Cathay.


We then headed back to Hong Kong station to hit up Tim Ho Wan. I knew the line was going to be ridiculously long for sit down. We could have come here at 9am but asking the wife to get up early is tantamount to murder.


Ended getting take out which took 15 minutes. Forgot to take pics but you can see the bill and figure out what we ordered.


Took the Airport Express back to get some relaxing time in at the lounge. Pic of the Novotel from the outside:


Next up - Lounging at the airport and our flight from HKG to AKL.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 11:49 am
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Congratulations on your Fifth Honeymoon.

Loving the TR so far, looking forward to the rest.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 12:02 pm
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Wow, what an epic itinerary. Enjoy Amankila, curious to see what your feedback is. Very keen to hear about Hamilton Island, which is on my list.
Enjoy and congrats!
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Old Apr 5, 17, 12:23 pm
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#weloungedatthepier, #wealmostmissedourflight, #amanshowedmehisfeet

#weloungedatthepier, #wealmostmissedourflight, #amanshowedmehisfeet

Back in the comfort of HKG. Proceeded straight through customs and security and got through in 10 minutes. Made the long trek over to gate 65 where the Pier lounge was located. We mistakenly walked into the first class lounge and the agent indicated to walk one gate over to the business lounge. We would not be allowed in even though we came off a F flight the previous night.





As we walked, I detoured to take some pics of planes.


I will be seeing you very soom Mrs.Whalejet:






Spotted our bird that would be taking us to AKL. First time flying the A350-900 and was excited.


God, we are still walking:


After an eternity, we made it:




Comfy business centre:










Plunked ourselves in the comfy chairs by the windows:




The lounge is pretty long and divided into 5 sections - 1 main buffet dining area, bar, noodle bar, tea bar, spa


















Pretty good planespotting:




Decided to get some food after our drinks. Tasty stuff.


I am a pig:


Ah-murrican departing for home:


BA pulled in next door:


Oh yea, you're a dirty girl. You like it when your windows are dirty.


30 minutes to departure, we left the lounge and made our way to gate 15 where our bird would be departing from. As we passed a monitor, I noticed that the status said Final Call. .... We ran to our gate and by the time we got there, we had a good sweat going. This would be the 1st of 3 mad dashes during our adventure.

Initially, we selected the last 2 seats in the main cabin. During check in, the agent put us into the mini cabin which was only 2 rows. Sweet!

Nothing unusual about this seat. Have been in it twice before and knew what to expect.








Forward cabin.


PE and Y class beyond:






So this goof and his wife were annoying. They were playing home vidoes on their phone for the entire cabin to hear and was pissing the crap out of me. Luckily, a flight attendant came by and requested to turn down the volume and switch to airplane mode. The man asked when they could turn wifi on and the flight attendant said once we take off and there would be a charge. He did not expect the last statement and became quiet. I know a certain FT-er who loves people who display their feet in F or J class ... no names but it rhymes with 787. :P


Forgot to take a picture of my glass but here is a pic of the bottle. Worst. Champange. Ever! Turrible!


Time for the menu pics.

















We pushed back on time and started the long taxi to the runway. Pics of birds as we passed by:




AC just landing:


And we are off!


Bye bye HKG! See you ... sometime soon?


Pic of the amenity kit:





Warm nuts and an apple juice to start:


Lunch service started with the apps. Really tasty salmon:


Yummy garlic bread:


I liked the cart service that Cathay has for J class. I went with the Lamb Korma.


Tasted better than it looked.


Followed by a barely palatable chocolate mousse. I dont understand why its called mousse when its just cream filling.


Went to bed right after and conked out. Woke up to see where we here on the map which was about 2 hours out. The breakfast service was about to begin.


Flipped through to see what was on. The clarity of the screen is excellent:




Quick shot of the main cabin:


Behind my seat:


Breakfast is served ... almost ...


Yummy dim sum:


Totally forgot that the A350 had a nice tail cam and turned it on. Wonderful to watch the landing:


Cabin crew, please be seated.


Gloom and doom in Auckland.


The flight was not overly spectacular. The crew were efficient in the service but was generally lacking compared to Cathay First. I would assume that it was due to the number of J class passengers and it was full for the flight. Then again, the upcoming Singapore J class flight was equally full and the cabin crew were amazing. I find that the level of Cathay J service has gone down over the years. Also, maybe it was just me but I noticed that the plane rattled a lot during take off. I’ve read TR’s indicating how quiet the cabin was during take off – maybe I was the exception. 
Overall, it was a good flight and we arrived safe and sound.

Next up - connecting flight to Queenstown and our stay for 2 nights.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 1:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Congratulations on 5 years - happy anniversary! Looking forward to your TR
Thank you Madone59.

Originally Posted by chongl View Post
Awesome itinerary. Did you have to find the 2nd CX F seat closer in? How about the flights on ANA? I believe the latter is easier if you can book almost a year out.

Looking forward to the next post
Hey chongl, we were booked on two separate flights - myself on the 1st day, my wife on the 2nd. 10 days out to departure, a seat opened on my flight and she was moved over. For ANA, 2 seats were opened approx 6 months out.



Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
OMG, what a great loungeReally fascinating they dare to write First-Lounge on it.
LOL .. i dont know which was worse ... this lounge or the AC lounge at Pearson.
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Old Apr 5, 17, 3:14 pm
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Great report so far. Can't saint to read the rest of it. My woman and I took a RTW trip on points and miles last year and visited many of the same destinations, it was a great trip.
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