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16th Time Around (The World) 25,925 miles AC/AY/CX J, AA F

16th Time Around (The World) 25,925 miles AC/AY/CX J, AA F

Old Jun 1, 19, 3:18 pm
  #1  
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16th Time Around (The World) 25,925 miles AC/AY/CX J, AA F

This one kicks off on Tuesday, I suppose I'll update as we go. The full routing is EWR-YYZ-JFK-HEL-CDG-HEL-SIN-HKG-DFW-MEX-DFW-JFK



This one was another beautiful feat of advance planning. A while back there was a deal, something like $1,800 for AA flights ex-HKG to CUN/MEX in J. This nets close to 40k EQM. I booked HKG-DFW-MEX in June, allowing me to finally spend a few days in Mexico City, and CUN-MIA-LAX-HKG in Sept., allowing me a long weekend in Tulum in September before flying to HKG to pick up another ticket to get back to Europe in time for Oktoberfest. After booking, I realized I had more SWUs than I would be able to burn on Y-->J upgrades this year, so I managed to use SWU on the HKG-DFW and LAX-HKG flights, meaning this would now be an F roundtrip for under $2,000. Not bad.

Speaking of that other fare. AGAIN thanks to the premium fare deals forum, I jumped on an ex-YYZ AY J fare and booked YYZ-JFK-HEL-SIN, HKG-HEL-LHR-YYZ. I broke this up in such a way with stopovers, that I would fly the first portion to get to HEL in June, then buy a connecting flight to Paris for a ~2 week stay to oversee the final stages of the renovation on my apartment there. I would then get back to HEL and resume this fare HEL-SIN, visit with friends in Singapore before using Avios to take CX J up to Hong Kong for a weekend with my HKG friends. Next, the front end of the AA fare described above. The HKG-HEL portion of this fare would be used in concert with the back end of the AA fare above to get from Asia to Europe in time for Oktoberfest in September and the final HEL-LHR-YYZ portion and AA connection to JFK would be left for December, when it would be used to get home before Christmas after a NYC-YYZ-BOM award (UA Miles) then a revenue ticket on AI to Kerala, an AA award TRV-DOH-LHR, a stop in London with a 2 day side trip to Venice, and finally a London to Helsinki AY J Avios award to get on the final leg and complete the ticket HEL-LHR-YYZ then pop home on an AA RJ.

As mentioned, the final pieces stitching this itinerary together are: 1. AC J revenue ticket EWR-YYZ early in the AM, to position myself to get back on a YYZ-JFK flight the same day to link up with the TATL flight ex-JFK, 2. AY Y revenue tickets HEL-CDG-HEL to get to/from Paris, 3. CX J Avios award SIN-HKG, 4. AA Y revenue ticket MEX-DFW-JFK, hoping to score upgrades on one or both legs closer to time of flight as an AA EXP.

For those of you interested in the hotels, planning to stay at the Hotel Kamp in Helsinki (twice), as this is my favorite hotel in Scandinavia. I think after these two visits, I will have been there perhaps 10 times? The Ritz-Carlton in Singapore (sadly no Bonvoy earning ), Hotel Madera on Hollywood Road in HKG (mixing it up, trying something new), and the Four Seasons in Mexico City.

If you have any recommendations for these places, please do share, the first installment should be up from YYZ while I wait on the YYZ-JFK leg.

Full list of flights (as of now):
EWR-YYZ AC J
YYZ-JFK AA Y (MONOCLASS)
JFK-HEL AY J
HEL-CDG AY Y
CDG-HEL AY Y
HEL-SIN AY J
SIN-HKG CX J
HKG-DFW AA F
DFW-MEX AA J
MEX-DFW AA Y
DFW-JFK AA Y

Should earn 42,926 EQM with AA which would put me way over EXP qualification for the year (I am around 87k at the moment).

Last edited by GetSetJetSet; Jun 12, 19 at 5:08 pm
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Old Jun 3, 19, 1:39 am
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I tried the Hotel St. George in Helsinki on a recent trip and quite enjoyed it. I also love the Kamp, but since my tastes run more modern, the St. George was right up my alley.

If you are going to over-qualify for AA EXP, maybe consider crediting your AY flights to AY+ (or another OW program). Your four long-haul J flights on AY will earn 64,000 AY tier points—AY+ Gold (OWS) is 80,000 tier points. With OWS, you'd have lounge access on all domestic flights (and being NYC based, Flagship lounge access).

On the flip side, those AY flights are great for EQD, if that matters for you.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 5:53 am
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I tried the Hotel St. George in Helsinki on a recent trip and quite enjoyed it. I also love the Kamp, but since my tastes run more modern, the St. George was right up my alley.

If you are going to over-qualify for AA EXP, maybe consider crediting your AY flights to AY+ (or another OW program). Your four long-haul J flights on AY will earn 64,000 AY tier points—AY+ Gold (OWS) is 80,000 tier points. With OWS, you'd have lounge access on all domestic flights (and being NYC based, Flagship lounge access).

On the flip side, those AY flights are great for EQD, if that matters for you.
it’s an interesting option. If I keep ALL earning on AA, I will likely hit 200k EQM and pick up the extra SWU. Flagship access on domestic flights would be nice, but at the moment, looking at the rest of 2019, the only domestic flights I have scheduled are JFK-MIA-CUN, NYC-ORD-NYC. On this trip, I should have access at DFW on MEX-DFW-JFK since MEX is an exception. Probably makes more sense to bank the extra SWU.

Where is the St. George located? I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to “cheat” on the Kamp since they’ve always been so wonderful, but perhaps i’ll swing by and have a look next week. Thx.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 6:49 am
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Subscribed and looking forward to this one.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 8:14 am
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post


it’s an interesting option. If I keep ALL earning on AA, I will likely hit 200k EQM and pick up the extra SWU. Flagship access on domestic flights would be nice, but at the moment, looking at the rest of 2019, the only domestic flights I have scheduled are JFK-MIA-CUN, NYC-ORD-NYC. On this trip, I should have access at DFW on MEX-DFW-JFK since MEX is an exception. Probably makes more sense to bank the extra SWU.

Where is the St. George located? I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to “cheat” on the Kamp since they’ve always been so wonderful, but perhaps i’ll swing by and have a look next week. Thx.
AY+ is on a 12-month tracking period, not calendar year. So you essentially have 2 years of status if you qualify right away (not to mention soft landings if you don’t requalify).

The St. George is on the eastern side of Old Church (Vanha Kirkko) park, about a 5-min walk from the Kamp. It’s part of the Kamp collection of hotels, but also is affiliated with Marriott as a Design Hotel.
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Old Jun 3, 19, 8:36 am
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post


AY+ is on a 12-month tracking period, not calendar year. So you essentially have 2 years of status if you qualify right away (not to mention soft landings if you don’t requalify).

The St. George is on the eastern side of Old Church (Vanha Kirkko) park, about a 5-min walk from the Kamp. It’s part of the Kamp collection of hotels, but also is affiliated with Marriott as a Design Hotel.
Nice...Bonvoy nights. I will for sure check it out. The Kamp is giving me some pushback on upgrading me as Leaders Club member and someone who has stayed at their hotel 10+ times, so perhaps it's time to see what else is out there. TY.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 9:37 am
  #7  
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AC 7651
EWR-YYZ
Embraer E175
C-FEKH
Seat 2A (J)
Flight #47 of 2019


Aaaaaand we're off. I am writing this gripping first installment from the surprisingly decent AAdmiral's Club at YYZ. I was up before the sun this AM, with a 6:15am alarm to slap the rest of my belongings together, bid a tearful goodbye to my gf who will not be able to join me on this adventure and get moving. The ride out to EWR was traffic and pain free, the same cannot be said of the Maple Leaf Lounge at EWR Terminal A. In my previous trip report, I mentioned the lounge in Algiers being one of the worst lounges anywhere in the world. I don't think I am indulging in hyperbole when I tell you the AC lounge at EWR gives it at least a run for it's money. The lounge is small, cramped, the power ports don't work and while Algiers tries to provide food (that sadly isn't close to edible), the Maple Leaf lounge isn't even getting an A for effort...really not even a C for effort. There were 2-3 sad looking "scones" that bore no more than a passing resemblance to the real thing, and some wilted fruit in the poorly stocked fridge under the coffee counter. Really, really poor effort eh bud?

While the lounge was a complete disaster, the flight was WONDERFUL. It's been a while since i've flown AC on a shorthaul route. As discussed in the original post, I needed to position to YYZ in order to kick off the YYZ-JFK-HEL-SIN, HKG-HEL-LHR-YYZ fare on AY. It was much cheaper to originate in YYZ and thus worth the effort and inconvenience to get up there and make this work. My carrier of choice (AA) no longer operates premium cabins to YYZ from NYC, so this made me a free agent. AC had very reasonable fares, and flights that would get me into YYZ early enough to have substantial wiggle room should there be delays. The last thing I wanted, was to risk not getting to YYZ on time and blowing the whole itin up before it got going. So, pitter patter.

For reasons that have never been clear to me, a phenomenon that is not unique to AC was in serious effect when I got to the boarding gate. A line probably 40 deep of gate lice positioned in the "Group 1 & 2" lane. Why these people wanted to stand there for 20-30 minutes before boarding began, is beyond me. Not only that, but when Group 1 was called, NONE of them moved forwards...WHY line up and stand there with your carry-ons for that long if you're going to be waiting until group 2 or 3 board anyway!? Madness. I slid past the now stagnant line, and was second on board. The cabin services director girl was sweet and welcomed everyone aboard in a cheerful manner. An additional note...the flight was oversold and while the gate agent was asking for anyone willing to take a bump to a later flight, there was no offer of compensation for the VDB...I suppose they were relying on Canadian politeness to carry the day. Unclear if anyone took the bump.

On this E75, the J seats on AC are arrayed in a 1-2 layout, which I absolutely love, because if you are quick with your seat selection you can avoid a seatmate...the dream for a solo traveler. I was quick, and I had self-assigned 2A at time of booking. After a glut of "eurobiz" flights as detailed in my last trip report, it was a VERY welcome change to see a big plush AC recliner waiting for me on this Embraer. The padding and comfort were superior to most AA F domestic seats on much longer routes. Beyond that, there were seatback IFE screens with TV, movies and the flightmap loaded...did I mention there was also WiFi? This AC E75, really exposed how bad most of us US flag FFs have it with our BIG 3 overlords.

In addition to this plush comfort, totally out of character for a regional jet, what you ask was the snack basket like on this 1h10m flight? I couldn't tell you, because despite this being only a 348mi flight, there was a FULL meal service. For breakfast we had no options, but were served a fruit plate, yogurt, roll with butter and a spinach omelette with sausage and potatoes. Truly beyond all expectations for a regional flight.

On our climbout from EWR, I saw MMU out my window and some other landmarks, since I fly quite a bit in this area. I sent a picture to my CFI who chastised me for not being under 1,500 to stay clear of MMU's ILS approach to runway 23. I thought it was amusing, but then again I suppose I like hopelessly lame aviation related jokes. If not here, where else would I repeat them.
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Last edited by GetSetJetSet; Jun 12, 19 at 5:13 pm
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Old Jun 4, 19, 9:46 am
  #8  
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Toronto AAdmirals Club

The AC flight arrived into YYZ T1, not sure I have had to change terminals at YYZ before. It was pretty painless. YYZ has electronic passport kiosks that you scan your passport in, then you feed in the landing card you (theoretically) should have filled out before arriving. Once that's computed, it spits out a slip and you head to a human. Since I was only transiting and my "Days in Canada" field read "0" the guy just verified that I was only in transit, then sent me along. Once you exit the baggage claim hall in T1, you go up a flight on the escalator, down a long hallway and hop on the air train. From there it's one stop to T3. Back down one flight to the departures level, pick up a new BP (AA's app wouldn't let me check-in for some reason...but now I am all set to HEL), and on to security. Sadly, even though my BP said "TSA PRE," YYZ doesn't participate in that, so the laptop still has to come out of the bag, but the shoes can stay on. I was lined up behind a Delta flight crew at security that took a SURPRISINGLY long time getting stuff out of their flightbags, which was surprising to me considering how often they must have to deal with this routine.

After security, bear left for the Global Entry kiosks. On re-entering the US some 1.5 hours after leaving EWR, the guy only asked "checked bags, anything to declare? No? Get out of here" and waived me along. After immigration, the AA Lounge is up an elevator and right next to a Priority Pass Plaza Lounge. Neither are great, but this Admirals Club is usually pretty empty and puts out some edible F&B options. However, since AC just fed me, i'm all set. The only other things worth noting in the section of T3 that AA flights depart from are the Starbucks at the end of the finger if you're fading and need some coffee, and the store in between gates A11 and A9 that sells swag from various Canadian pro-sports franchises and some Canada Hockey gear. In case you like picking up local stuff from places you pass through, I suppose you could do with a Laffs t-shirt.

Oh well...three hours to go (none of the feared delays ex-EWR) then it's YYZ-JFK in AA Y (monoclass), a brief stop in the Flagship Lounge at JFK then JFK-HEL overnight in AY J. Tomorrow Helsinki!
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Old Jun 4, 19, 2:29 pm
  #9  
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AA 3957
YYZ-JFK
Embraer ERJ-140
N817AE
Seat 11A (Y)
Flight #48 of 2019


Well, that AM enthusiasm for RJ travel was beaten out of me pretty quickly. Our flight left from A9, which is the basement gate at YYZ T3. You go down the stairs, walk out of the terminal and onto the plane. This particular RJ was 17+ years old and in poor shape. Right away, I was reminded I dislike the E140, because i'm too tall to stand up straight in the cabin, always nice.

I selected the exit row (11 A) on the single side at time of booking. The all economy lay out is 1-2 throughout the cabin. As far as seats on this plane go, 11A is probably as good as it gets. The seat had also seen better days. When I inched forward, the cushion slid with me and wanted to come off of the seat entirely.

This was only a 1h3m flight though, so really how bad could it be. The single FA made a valiant effort and did a drink service and passed out pretzels. I declined both and opted to close my eyes. It's already been a long day, and I'm now posted up in the JFK Flagship Lounge for the next two hours until boarding for Helsinki. Hopefully AY have loaded some new movies into the IFE system, because on AY 5 from HEL-JFK a mere 9 days ago I had a RILL tough time finding movies worth watching. It is a new month however, and hope springs eternal.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
AA 3957
YYZ-JFK
Embraer ERJ-140
N817AE
Seat 11A (Y)
Flight #48 of 2019


Well, that AM enthusiasm for RJ travel was beaten out of me pretty quickly. Our flight left from A9, which is the basement gate at YYZ T3. You go down the stairs, walk out of the terminal and onto the plane. This particular RJ was 17+ years old and in poor shape. Right away, I was reminded I dislike the E140, because i'm too tall to stand up straight in the cabin, always nice.

I selected the exit row (11 A) on the single side at time of booking. The all economy lay out is 1-2 throughout the cabin. As far as seats on this plane go, 11A is probably as good as it gets. The seat had also seen better days. When I inched forward, the cushion slid with me and wanted to come off of the seat entirely.

This was only a 1h3m flight though, so really how bad could it be. The single FA made a valiant effort and did a drink service and passed out pretzels. I declined both and opted to close my eyes. It's already been a long day, and I'm now posted up in the JFK Flagship Lounge for the next two hours until boarding for Helsinki. Hopefully AY have loaded some new movies into the IFE system, because on AY 5 from HEL-JFK a mere 9 days ago I had a RILL tough time finding movies worth watching. It is a new month however, and hope springs eternal.
I like 1A on the E140/5. The legroom, not to mention the privacy, is great. Then again, I'm not 6'3'' or anything like that, so having the under-seat storage space of 11A maybe makes a difference.
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Old Jun 4, 19, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I like 1A on the E140/5. The legroom, not to mention the privacy, is great. Then again, I'm not 6'3'' or anything like that, so having the under-seat storage space of 11A maybe makes a difference.
Only thing getting stored under the seat was my legs, bags went up top in the bin
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Old Jun 5, 19, 7:18 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
AC 7651
EWR-YYZ
Embraer E175
C-FEKH
Seat 2A (J)
Flight #47 of 2019


Aaaaaand we're off. I am writing this gripping first installment from the surprisingly decent AAdmiral's Club at YYZ. I was up before the sun this AM, with a 6:15am alarm to slap the rest of my belongings together, bid a tearful goodbye to my gf who will not be able to join me on this adventure and get moving. The ride out to EWR was traffic and pain free, the same cannot be said of the Maple Leaf Lounge at EWR Terminal A. In my previous trip report, I mentioned the lounge in Algiers being one of the worst lounges anywhere in the world. I don't think I am indulging in hyperbole when I tell you the AC lounge at EWR gives it at least a run for it's money. The lounge is small, cramped, the power ports don't work and while Algiers tries to provide food (that sadly isn't close to edible), the Maple Leaf lounge isn't even getting an A for effort...really not even a C for effort. There were 2-3 sad looking "scones" that bore no more than a passing resemblance to the real thing, and some wilted fruit in the poorly stocked fridge under the coffee counter. Really, really poor effort eh bud?

While the lounge was a complete disaster, the flight was WONDERFUL. It's been a while since i've flown AC on a shorthaul route. As discussed in the original post, I needed to position to YYZ in order to kick off the YYZ-JFK-HEL-SIN, HKG-HEL-JFK fare on AY. It was much cheaper to originate in YYZ and thus worth the effort and inconvenience to get up there and make this work. My carrier of choice (AA) no longer operates premium cabins to YYZ from NYC, so this made me a free agent. AC had very reasonable fares, and flights that would get me into YYZ early enough to have substantial wiggle room should there be delays. The last thing I wanted, was to risk not getting to YYZ on time and blowing the whole itin up before it got going. So, pitter patter.

For reasons that have never been clear to me, a phenomenon that is not unique to AC was in serious effect when I got to the boarding gate. A line probably 40 deep of gate lice positioned in the "Group 1 & 2" lane. Why these people wanted to stand there for 20-30 minutes before boarding began, is beyond me. Not only that, but when Group 1 was called, NONE of them moved forwards...WHY line up and stand there with your carry-ons for that long if you're going to be waiting until group 2 or 3 board anyway!? Madness. I slid past the now stagnant line, and was second on board. The cabin services director girl was sweet and welcomed everyone aboard in a cheerful manner. An additional note...the flight was oversold and while the gate agent was asking for anyone willing to take a bump to a later flight, there was no offer of compensation for the VDB...I suppose they were relying on Canadian politeness to carry the day. Unclear if anyone took the bump.

On this E75, the J seats on AC are arrayed in a 1-2 layout, which I absolutely love, because if you are quick with your seat selection you can avoid a seatmate...the dream for a solo traveler. I was quick, and I had self-assigned 2A at time of booking. After a glut of "eurobiz" flights as detailed in my last trip report, it was a VERY welcome change to see a big plush AC recliner waiting for me on this Embraer. The padding and comfort were superior to most AA F domestic seats on much longer routes. Beyond that, there were seatback IFE screens with TV, movies and the flightmap loaded...did I mention there was also WiFi? This AC E75, really exposed how bad most of us US flag FFs have it with our BIG 3 overlords.

In addition to this plush comfort, totally out of character for a regional jet, what you ask was the snack basket like on this 1h10m flight? I couldn't tell you, because despite this being only a 348mi flight, there was a FULL meal service. For breakfast we had no options, but were served a fruit plate, yogurt, roll with butter and a spinach omelette with sausage and potatoes. Truly beyond all expectations for a regional flight.

On our climbout from EWR, I saw MMU out my window and some other landmarks, since I fly quite a bit in this area. I sent a picture to my CFI who chastised me for not being under 1,500 to stay clear of MMU's ILS approach to runway 23. I thought it was amusing, but then again I suppose I like hopelessly lame aviation related jokes. If not here, where else would I repeat them.
I really like AC's product on the E-jets. Even the coach seats are surprisingly comfortable and spacious (and also have IFE). I always used to appreciate that product after lots of US domestic.
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Old Jun 5, 19, 9:25 am
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Great start!! Look forward to your write-up on your visit in Helsinki - one of my favourite cities.
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Old Jun 5, 19, 9:56 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Great start!! Look forward to your write-up on your visit in Helsinki - one of my favourite cities.
I should have a bit up tomorrow. I got in, breezed through immigration, then had a difficult time finding the uber pick up, as they are doing construction and have moved the area from where it used to be back in Nov./Dec. The traffic into the center was horrific today, in all my years of visiting Helsinki, I don't ever recall so many tourists! Also, as per the guy next to me at immigration there's some sort of UN conference going on in Espoo, so maybe that added to it. I'm at The Kamp now, while they apologized, they were unable to upgrade me (first time in 10+ years this has been the case!) as the hotel is actually sold out of everything but deluxe rooms. I got in around 12, unpacked, took a 4-5 nap to augment my mediocre plane sleep, hit the Kamp gym/spa and now i'm getting ready to go meet an old hockey buddy for some beers.
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Old Jun 5, 19, 9:57 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
I really like AC's product on the E-jets. Even the coach seats are surprisingly comfortable and spacious (and also have IFE). I always used to appreciate that product after lots of US domestic.
Aside from mediocre lounges, I can't recall EVER having a real problem with AC's onboard product longhaul or shorthaul. I think they're a pretty good airline, but i'm sure most of their FFs disagree (as we all like to complain about our primary carrier )
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