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DO RUN: Five or six (or more?) DOs in 2 weeks & SQ F, TG F, UA F, TG C, and more!

DO RUN: Five or six (or more?) DOs in 2 weeks & SQ F, TG F, UA F, TG C, and more!

Old Feb 27, 07, 11:53 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
Thumbs up DO RUN: Five or six (or more?) DOs in 2 weeks & SQ F, TG F, UA F, TG C, and more!

Who’s ready for a DO run?

Here was the plan as originally posted and planned:

Two weeks. Five airlines. Twenty three flights. Six nights in hotels. Two nights in intl. F. Two nights in NYC (up all night). And five or six (or more) DOs.

And here is how it turned out...

Last edited by alliance; Apr 11, 07 at 11:06 pm
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:54 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
Schedule of planned DOs/gatherings:

1) Friday, March 2 - LAS - Friday Night Thai

2) Saturday, March 3 - SFO - HOLA! DO II

3) Friday, March 9 - NYC - Farewell to Cite!

4) Sunday, March 11 - NRT - Late night drinks at the Grand Hyatt or nearby (or Monday morning) - Still need to find someone to meet up with for this one to be a success

5) Tuesday, March 13 - BKK - FTers in BKK: Dinner & Drinks

6) Thursday or Friday, March 15 or 16 - SIN - FTers in SIN: Crab and Drinks (or just drinks)

Schedule of Where I Will Be:
(actually in the place, not just flying through)

PM me if you will be around one of these days so that we may try and meet up

NYC: Evening of March 9

NRT/Tokyo: Evening of March 11 and morning of March 12

BKK: March 12, 13, 14, & 15 (arrive very late on the 12th, leave on 15th at noon)

SIN: March 15, 16, & 17 (arrive afternoon and leave afternoon)

NYC: Evening of March 18

Schedule of Lounge Visits / Layovers

PM me if you will be around any of these times and/or if you need help getting in. Note the usual disclaimer with schedules like this: subject to change b/c of reroutes, bumps, delays, irrops, etc.

Fri - 3/2 - PHX US Clubs - sometime before 3pm (not sure yet)
Fri - 3/2 - LAX US Club - 22:45-23:30 (can guest 2)
Sat - 3/3 - DEN RCC (near US gates) - 05:00-05:30 - may avoid DEN, not sure yet
Sat - 3/3 - PHX RCC - 05:00-??:?? (can guest 2 - trying to standby on a 6am flight instead of 5:30pm flight, but may not get there until 10am if go through DEN...)
Sat - 3/3 - SFO RCC - after the SFO HOLA! DO ~ 10pm w/ lucky9876coins (can guest 1 more)
Sun - 3/4 - IAD RCC - 07:30-08:10 (can guest 1)
Sun - 3/4 - IAD RCC - 11:30-12:10 (can guest 2)
Sun - 3/4 - SFO RCC - 15:15-15:30 (can guest 4)
Sun - 3/4 - LAX RCC - 17:30-18:00 (can guest 4)
Fri - 3/9 - PHX RCC - 05:00-06:00 (can guest 2)
Fri - 3/9 - DEN RCC - 07:45-08:30 (can guest 2)
Fri - 3/9 - LGA RCC - 14:45-15:00 (can guest 2)
Sat - 3/10 - JFK RCC IFL - 05:00-06:30 (can guest 1)
Sat - 3/10 - LAX RCC IFL - 10:15-11:15 (can guest 1)
Sat - 3/10 - TBIT F Lounge - 12:00-12:30
Mon - 3/12 - NRT RCC IFL & ANA F & and ?) - 14:00-16:30 (can guest 1)
Thu - 3/15 - BKK TG F - 09:00-11:00 (can guest 1)
Sat - 3/17 - SIN SKL F - 12:30-14:00 (can guest 1)
Sat - 3/17 - BKK TG F or C - 15:45-23:00 (can guest 1)
Sun - 3/18 - ICN (all *A F/C and NW lounges) - 07:00-14:30 (can guest 1 or 2 depending on lounge)
Sun - 3/18 - SFO RCC - 12:00-13:00 (can guest 1 or maybe 2 - might try and go to SFO IFL instead)
Mon - 3/19 - LGA RCC - 05:00-05:20 (can guest 2)
Mon - 3/19 - DEN RCC - 08:20-08:30 (running to make my connection, but if on-time should be able to guest 2 on my way to my tight connection)
(technically these three don't count as they are outside of the two weeks... but whatever ):
Fri - 3/23 - PHX RCC - 05:00-05:30 (can guest 2)
Fri - 3/23 - LAX RCC - 07:20-07:22 (can guest 2)
Sun - 3/25 - SFO RCC - 19:20-19:30 (can guest 4)

Last edited by alliance; Feb 28, 07 at 6:16 pm
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:55 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
Friday March 2, 2007 –

DO #1 – Friday Night Thai in LAS with the local LAS FTers (and visitors)

Sunnyhere posted the announcement on Feb 26 about this dinner. After triple checking the calendar to make sure that the 2nd was the Friday before the HOLA! DO II and that I wasn’t scheduled for anything critical… I started the search for airfare.

Finding last minute fares to LAS can be a challenge as most LAS flights sell out and there is so much demand that cheapies are the exception to the rule. I was seeing lots of $250+ fares. It wasn’t looking good for adding this DO to the start of my DO RUN... but thankfully after an hour of searching, I found a $98 fare PHX-LAS-DEN-PHX on US for Friday.

Of course, it got in to LAS at 9pm and got me in to DEN at 2:30am with a several hour layover before heading to PHX (which I need to get to tomorrow to catch my flights up to SFO for the HOLA! DO II). But the $98 fare was too good to turn down and so I took it and knew I would have to standby to get to LAS.

My original plan was to get to PHX around 5am and do US Airways’ confirmed standby for the ~2pm flight, which had space available when I went to bed last night. So I set the alarm for 4:30am. Woke up at 8am. That didn’t work.

So I get on ExpertFlyer and check the loads. Everything is zeroed out. Now to anyone other than a FTer, this might incite a panic of not making it to LAS in time for the dinner. However, I am a FTer. By being zeroed out, it meant I wouldn’t have to pay US’ $25 confirmed standby and could standby for free.

After a quick stop at the ATM to get some cash, I head to PHX. As plans for tomorrow are still not certain, I parked in my regular T2 parking and took the Gecko bus to T4. A quick elevator ride up to the departure level and I’m at security. WOW! What a zoo! I’m spoiled flying out of T2 most of the time. This place is packed. The line for security went through all of the cow-catchers and out towards the escalator.

An older gentlemen at the back of the line starts yelling for a US representative. One comes over and he says that he is going to miss his flight if she doesn’t let him use the first class line. She says, there’s nothing she can do and that if he wants to use the first class line he can buy a first class ticket.

A TSA agent is yelling at people that they can’t bring peanut butter or jelly unless it is in a 3.4 oz or smaller container. And then follows up with, “which means most peanut butter and jelly containers can’t be brought through the checkpoint.” He was not smiling or joking. Now were stopping peanut butter and jelly? Good grief.

I walk past the long line and show my boarding pass to the contract agent who is protecting the first class / *Gold line. While I’m waiting for two US captains in front of me having their ID badges checked, I see another TSA agent bring over a supervisor to see if a NIH (National Institute of Health) ID card is a valid form of ID. The supervisor says, “well, I’m pretty sure the NIH is a government agency, so let her use it this time.”

I head to the nearest US club in PHX to get an agent to put me on the standby list for the flight. She says that she can confirm me on the 2pm flight for $25 or put me on standby for the 10:10 flight. 10:10 please. She says it’s oversold by 4 and that I should head down to the gate right away.

After navigating through the utter and complete chaos of the US side of T4, I get to gate A10. I check with the gate agent to make sure I’m on the list and ask where I stand. He said there are still 6 people who have not checked in and that I’m #1 on the standby list (total of 5 on the list) thanks to my *G status. It’s nice to see that US honors *G for standby priority.

The gate agent calls me up a few minutes later and gives me a boarding pass for the flight. A window seat in row 4 (bulkhead). You can’t ask for much more than that standing by on a full flight.

US offered pre-boarding of F and special needs passengers and then waited a good minute or two before starting to board by zone. With my zone 1 BP, I was one of the first to board and quickly stowed my backpack and jacket and took my seat. The legroom in the bulkhead was decent. I was able to cross my legs without a problem. This row certainly is more comfortable than the right side of row 1 on most UA planes.

There was a little scene during boarding when an eager low-level elite whose upgrade did not clear kept going up to the flight attendants to see if he could take the open seat next to his wife in row 3 of F (her upgrade did clear). They kept telling him to go back and sit down. Then the wife got up and told the FAs that the GA said that only he can process the upgrade. The FA tells the wife that the GA will upgrade any open seats after boarding is done and it will be based on status level. Boarding finishes and the lucky jerk got upgraded at the last minute.

As we pulled out of the gate I spotted the US Nevada flag livery plane. There was a long line waiting for takeoff… but we still took-off on-time. There was a NW 757 with winglets that we drove by on the wait to position and hold. During take-off, I got a nice view of the new PHX tower. It was a smooth climb and we got nice views of downtown Phoenix and of the Phoenix sprawl.

Typical of US flights that I have been on, the F flight attendant started drink service for the people in the first few rows of Y. I got a nice full plastic cup of Diet Coke.

It was a short and uneventful flight. I read a bit and enjoyed the views of the Grand Canyon. We started our approach and after a bumpy descent we landed in LAS ahead of schedule. A walk through the yucky old B terminal of LAS and I made my way to the US lounge. This lounge is nothing special, but it is quiet and there is a friendly agent who for $25 confirmed me on the 11:59pm non-stop LAS-PHX tonight (to save me the overnight in DEN and give me options to standby for early flights out of PHX tomorrow).

I got on the free wifi in the club and responded to some PMs and posts on FT before starting some work that I need to finish before heading out on the town. I may get a ride to the dinner by Sunnyhere - who graciously offered a free ride from wherever - or I may take a cab or find my own way to the dinner at 7pm tonight.

(added since first update)

So I worked for a couple hours in the US club. I then decided to head down to the strip for a few hours to try my luck a bit and visit some of my favorite spots.

There’s nothing like an entertaining cab ride in LAS. This was no exception, and I knew this was going to be a great LAS visit as soon as I got in my cab:

Cab driver: Where to?
Cab driver (screaming): I’m not taking you to f***ing MGM.
Me: Umm… why?
Cab driver: My last fare was to MGM and the meter was 9.70 and she gave me $10 and asked for a receipt. So I grabbed a ratty napkin and wrote her this receipt (he sticks it in my face).
Me (laughing): Mind if I take a picture of that?
Cab driver: Ok, you’re cool, I’ll take you to MGM.
Me: Thanks.

The cab driver then spent the rest of the trip complaining about he hates driving a cab since the traffic got so bad and since his vision has gone downhill and he can’t drive at night. Fare ended up at 9.00 and I gave him lucky 13. Probably too much for how much he was griping about bad tips - but he was funny and didn't us pulled over like the cab driver on my last LAS trip did.

I walked around the south end of the strip for awhile, and ended up at Luxor to check out my favorite pyramid in vegas. I called Sunnyhere and he graciously offered to pick me up at the Luxor on his way to the DO. I waited at a lame lobby bar at Luxor for a few minutes before FourWheels called to say that she and Sunnyhere were a block away.

They picked me up and after some expert driving to avoid some cops that were on our tail, Sunnyhere took us to an organic supermarket similar to Trader Joes where we grabbed some snacks.

We were the first to arrive to the DO, and the overly hospitable restaurant hosts kept trying to seat us even though we were waiting for their other staff members to setup a big table for our group. Our FT Thai experts started ordering appetizers and gave out recommendations to the Thai challenged in our group. Some of the food was great and some was okay. A few of the dishes seemed more like Chinese fusion than Thai… I left full and satisfied.

Here are some pics of the DO.

The LAS FTers were outstanding hosts (FourWheels too! – although with how long she has been in LAS [a week] she might be considered one too ). We spent several hours talking about living in Las Vegas, where to get good sushi, UA vs. US vs. NW/CO, mileage earning strategies, award travel, and living the FT life.

was awesome and gave me a ride back to the airport (but I think just about everyone else did too – so you all rock!). I tried to talk my way on the 11pm flight instead of the 11:59pm flight, but there was no budging with out spending another $25. I passed on the offer and checked my e-mail in the club for an hour and then headed to the gate.

We took off and landed on-time and after a 15 min wait for the bus to take me from T4 to T2 to get to my car, I was on my way home to take a shower and take an hour nap before heading back to T2 to start my trip to DO #2.

Last edited by alliance; Mar 5, 07 at 9:45 pm
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:55 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
DO #2 - HOLA! DO II in SFO - 3/3 - 3/4

After getting home from LAS around 2:30am, I decided that going to sleep was pointless as I needed to be back at PHX around 4:30 to standby on the earlier flights. You see, I was ticketed on a 5pm flight PHX-LAX-SFO and obviously needed to get to SFO earlier to make it to the HOLA! DO II. I worry that I will oversleep the flight, and so decide to sit up in the living room with my computer and just do a couple 5-10 min mini naps and make sure I don’t fall asleep.

At 4:15 I take a shower and then head to the airport. I park in the convenient T2 long term parking around 4:35 and walk to the check in counter to start negotiations on my standby plan.

As I enter the terminal, my PHX UA RCC angel crosses paths with me as she is walking to the club and says, “Good morning Mr. alliance, are you flying this morning?” “Yes I am, how are you doing?” “Great, I hope I will see you in the club?” “You bet, I just have to get some standby stuff sorted out first and I will be there.” I love having an angel. It personalizes the airport/air travel experience in a way that you just don’t get these days.

Negotiations took about 20 min at the ticket counter to get a departure management card for the 6am PHX-DEN flight. As it was taking longer than it should have, I decided I would get some divine help getting the rest of the standby itinerary set up. The T2 regular security line was about 40 people deep, but I was the only person in the elite line so I got through in less than 5 minutes and made my way to the RCC.

As I enter the RCC I am again greeted by name before presenting my card, “Good morning again Mr. alliance, it took you awhile to check in. Is everything okay with your flights this morning?.” So I let her know what I’m trying to do – I want to get on the international configured 777 DEN-SFO with lucky9876coins so that we can have dinner together with some friends in SFO. She works her magic for me and I call lucky9876coins to let him know we will be meeting in DEN.

PHX-DEN is a Ted flight. Ted wants you to have fun. But Ted doesn’t want you to poach your seat. Unfortunately, during boarding someone in 16C sat down in 11A. I was surprised that he kept holding his blue boarding pass during most of the boarding process.

In the middle of boarding, the purser made the Ted doesn’t like poachers speech, and then came running down the aisle to yell at someone who tried to move from row 13 to row 8 about 30 seconds after her announcement.

Mr. my seat is 11A showed up towards the end of boarding and he was a 1K according to his boarding pass. He asked the poacher what the deal was and the poacher said that it was crazy that UA was charging people for leg room. Mr. 11A tells the poacher that he will take 11C but that he is telling on the poacher if Mr. 11C shows up. Poacher makes another comment about UA charging for it. Mr. 11C says that if they can make money off it why not? (and then mentions that he flew 100k miles last year to be able to sit here).
There was no Mr. 11C, so poacher stayed in 11A.

I was asleep before we were handed off to ABQ Center and was woken up by the wheels of our A320 hitting the cold ground in DEN.

My arrival gate at DEN was right next to lucky9876coins. I beat him to DEN by about 10 mins, so I chatted up the lonely looking GA who was actually in a very happy mood. He was happy that the weather had settled down in DEN. He likes Ted because he doesn’t have to deal with upgrades on Ted but doesn’t like listening to people complain about no upgrades. He also said he doesn’t like when Ted is full and he has to issue so many seat assignments because of the large E+ section.

Lucky9876coins arrived and was one of the first off of the plane. As we rushed to the far opposite end of the DEN terminal, my seat poacher story was overshadowed by his crazy story of an attempted mutiny by TPA poachers that got the captain involved on his flight to DEN.

Boarding of the 777 had already begun when we got to the gate, but the C cabin was less than half full when we got settled in (it later filled up). While lucky9876coins discussed the upcoming meal disaster with the FAs, my seat mate graciously agreed to move up to the best C seat on the plane so that lucky9876coins could join me in the back of the cabin. The seats have lots of legroom and we had great views on takeoff and landing.

This was a breakfast flight and boy does the UA midcon breakfast disappoint. Just look at the presentation and the sandwich and fruit that you get. If you are confirmed in advance, you need to order a special meal on midcon breakfast flights. Yuck!

While I enjoyed the seat and lucky9876coins and I had fun making laughing at the food, this flight disappointed. The crew was the most junior on a 777 that I have experienced and it seemed like they didn’t know their way around as it took an hour just to get drink service. We didn’t get food until over an hour an 15 minutes into the flight.

The highlight of the flight was the landing. An ANA 777 was landing on the parallel runway to us at SFO. The captain announced on the PA that the ANA plane was to our left and all was in order. I grabbed a pic and a video of the ANA plane flying along and landing next to us. What a treat to have two widebodies land simultaneously next to each other.

As this was an international 777, we taxied to the SFO international terminal where the plane would get ready for its upcoming international flight. Lucky9876coins and I were planning on dropping in the international RCC, but this crazy line at 10am scared us off. Instead, we walked down the hallway and poked our heads in the SQ lounge and then made our way to the domestic terminal.

We met up with Mrs. Alliance at the temporary elite check-in area and we met up with a FTer that lucky9876coins had called when we landed. Mrs. Alliance, lucky9876coins and I then headed to the domestic RCC to guest lucky9876coins in for his flight to PDX and so that we could relax a bit and figure out the plans for the rest of the day.

Lucky9876coins asked for advice on making some changes to an Asia award tix that he has been having problems with. His change got me thinking to check on some alternative routings for my big trip. I logged on to ANA and what do you know… SQ opened up 1 C seat on their new 77W business class product SIN-ICN on the day that I was scheduled to fly SQ F SIN-BKK and then TG C BKK-ICN.

After a good 10 seconds of inner turmoil over giving up the SIN SQ F lounge in exchange for the new SQ C experience – I was on the phone to show lucky9876coins how easy making changes is if you are alliance (who had been on hold for 15 minutes while his agent was talking to the rate desk – or maybe just taking a break ). <5 minutes I’m confirmed on the new flight and after a recalculation of taxes I’m good to go with the SQ 77W C to look forward to (in addition to everything else). I ask Mrs. Alliance to remind me to PM jswong that I won’t be able to join him on SIN-BKK anymore because of my new routing.

After a few more minutes of lounge time, Mrs. Alliance and I say farewell to lucky9876coins. He is flying to PDX and we are driving to Berkeley for lunch at our favorite bewpub. I grab a nap after lunch and wake up to Mrs. Alliance saying that we need to get going to make it on time to the HOLA! DO II.

We leave her place at 5:00. It normally takes 30-40 min to get to Burlingame/SFO from Berkeley on a Saturday. It took us 30 min to get to the freeway. It took another 15 min to get to the bay bridge sign that said we had another 32 min to SFO – it took 90. The traffic was bad. Once on the bay bridge, traffic sped up and we got a great view of downtown SFO. We ended up at HOLA! fashionably late a couple minutes before 7pm. I guess the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown was the cause of all the traffic.

We were warmly received by the SFO and visiting FTers who had saved two seats for us. We said hi to new and old friends and settled in for several hours of great conversation. Some highlights included debates with diamedic, discussing business and award trips with turing and Ocn Vw 1K and his wife. I also had several other great discussions with others and it was a great time all around. I sat pretty close to VPescado, but unfortunately we weren’t able to have much of a chat. Next time.

Here are some pics of the DO:


Without Jet2K around to pick up the tab, we had to do a major cash collection and it looked like we were going to end up short for awhile. I know Mrs. Alliance and I chipped in a bit extra, and Ocn Vw 1K was even more generous with a large supplemental payment. Thanks to anyone else who helped out that I didn’t see and :TD: to anyone who didn’t cover their full cost.

The food was a good price but the drinks were a little higher than some may have been expecting. I know its standard for drink prices to not be listed in the US – but come on… people will still order too many even if the price is next to them. We were allowed to leave – so I’m guessing the bill got taken care of.

Mrs. Alliance’s expert driving got me to SFO before djerikd and lucky9876coins. We said our goodbyes and she headed home while I went through security to wait for the two slowpokes.

As we get to the RCC, djerikd tries to convince lucky9876coins to fly with him to BOS instead of with me to IAD. This evolves in a 10 minute graduate-level lesson on advanced UA mileage run tactics for lucky9876coins taught by professors djerikd and myself. We had two computers and a bunch of papers spread out over the RCC agent counter (as the agents were just working at the front desk). Djerikd and I formulate several mileage maximizing routes for lucky9876coins to switch to, but he chickens out at the last minute and so we all decide to keep our original plans.

Last drinks are called and djerikd graciously buys me a drink with the drink chit that I mailed to him a week earlier as a thank you for his kindness. I didn’t have any cash and kinda also ended up dumped him with leaving a tip – next time I’ve got it djerikd. Why can’t UA RCCs be self-serve? I hopefully won’t have this problem on the rest of this trip.

A suspended FTer met us in the lounge and we found out that he was on mine and lucky9876coins flight SFO-IAD. He pulled an unlucky seat assignment and ended up behind a baby – but he said he slept okay.

Lucky9876coins and I fared much better. After convincing the GA that two 1Ks really didn’t want to upgrade to F and we were willing to take E- to get full empty rows of 3 seats to sleep in, I got moved to an empty E+ row and lucky9876coins got an empty row in E-. The flight was near empty in F and about 60% in Y with just about all middles open but very few people getting full rows. I put on my Mr. Pillows persona (no milk though) and was able to set up a comfortable arrangement and got several solid hours of sleep on the ~4.5 hour flight.

An atypical RCC agent at IAD gave us detailed load information about our flights and bump chances – which was not good. We chatted for a bit and then I headed over to the UX gates. There was a confused couple who was trying to get to baggage claim and were on the moonbuggy to the infield UX terminal and so I pointed them the right way. I didn’t have time to stop by the NWA lounge, as boarding started a few minutes later.

The Mesa operated RJ was acceptable. I had the exit row and there was adequate legroom. After a good takeoff, I feel asleep and didn’t get any reading done.

I woke up on touchdown in PHL. We taxied to the UA gates and I saw that there were no other RJs there so this plane must be my turn plane. You see, I had been a little worried because I had to book this run as two one-ways because the turn in PHL was an illegal connection so I couldn’t book it as a round trip. I thought this would be a turn and I would be fine but I wasn’t sure (and didn’t have time to confirm).

As soon as I got off the plane, I bought a bottle of overpriced water as this was a typical “due to the short duration…” Mesa flight – meaning I had no drink service to look forward to on the return and I was thirsty.

In my never-ending quest for bumps, I walk over to the gate and ask the agent if the flight is oversold. It had been bouncing around between Y1 and Y0 the prior two days. She says – nope, we are booked at capacity and a couple did not check-in.

So I meander over towards the boarding area to wait. About 5 min before boarding it to start, to my pleasant surprise, the captain – who is wearing a frown – opens up the jetway door and starts walking to the podium. I’m grinning and dash over to the podium. As I expected, he tells her that they are weight restricted and they need to offload 4 passengers. The gate agent gets on the microphone and makes the announcement that they are looking for volunteers and starts explaining the free ticket voucher. \

Here! Right here! I want to volunteer! She says outstanding, thank you, please go to the agent at the main gate counter and she will process it for you.

So I rush over to the counter and am first in a line of 6. Confusion sets in as the gate agent pulls up my PHL-IAD-SFO-LAX-PHX itinerary. So you are going to IAD? No, wait, your going to SFO? No, wait, your going to LAX? Wait? Phoenix? How did you end up with such a bad routing? HEHEHE!! I explain that I need to get to PHX but that Mrs. Alliance is flying SFO-LAX-PHX and I wanted to fly with her. The gate agent responds: whatever floats your boat – that’s a long way to fly just to fly two short flights with your wife. (I’m thinking shouldn’t you be processing the VDBs so the flight can get out instead of the social commentary – however, I do understand this is not a typical flight plan).

So she looks up routings and says that she can’t get me to SFO in time for that flight but I can go through ORD or DEN and make it to LAX in time to meet up with Mrs. Alliance for that flight. Outstanding. She doesn’t protect me, but adds me to the VDB list and gives me a VDB info card and says wait a couple mins to make sure we need you. I’m not worried, I’m the only status passenger trying to bump.

The next two guys refuse the VDB when they realize they will be getting home many hours later and/or have a long layover in ORD. Luckily for UA the other 3 are together and there is a re-route that works for them. The agent closing out the flight confirms that they will still need 4 and that they are not going to offload luggage and so the agent asks me if I mind waiting while she processes the other 3. Sure – no problem, I’m flexible, as long as I can get TCVs.

Whoops – she didn’t like that comment. “We only do free tickets.” “If you don’t want a free ticket get on the plane now and we will find someone else or IDB someone.” Sigh. I know I’m going to be getting in the same time as before, so that’s a $200 TCV – arguably a free tix has equal or more value, so would not be the end of the world. Okay, time to back peddle. “Don’t worry – we will work something out – I can be happy with whatever we work out.”

So I walk away from the counter while she works on the group of three and head over to the podium where the boarding passes are collected. The agent there asks if I worked something out. I told her that the other agent is doing the three other people first and then will get to me. She tells me that she will help me once she closes out the flight. We do some idle chit-chat while she waits for the computer to update some things.

She closes out the flight and asks me where I’m going. I tell her I need to get to LAX before Mrs. Alliance. She is having trouble finding the flights and asks me to come help her find it on the computer. She is scrolling through flight options and I see it… F5 Y0 PHX-DEN F1 Y2 DEN-LAX. I say – “book me in F on those two and print me some travel credits and I should be set.”

“Travel credits? Why would you want travel credits?” So I explain that as an elite, I want to be earning EQMs and RDMs on flights that I fly, I don’t want to be stuck in Y on long flights where the free ticket would make value sense, and I prefer to discount international tickets. Her response: “Wow, that makes a lot of sense.” Your welcome – who do I send the training bill to?

I expressed my frustration how many agents don’t like to offer them up. She said personally she just never thought they were a good deal for people but that she wasn’t aware of any policy that she couldn’t or should avoid issuing them. She even showed me exactly where on the screen the choice is made so I can point it out to others in the future.

So I now have an hour or so in PHL and head over to the RCC. I get the agent to add me to the VDB list for my new flight and then sit down to report to sithlord, lucky9876coins and some others about my bump victory.

I head over to the gate for flight #2 about 10 min before boarding is to start. I position myself close enough to the gate to follow what is going on. All the 1Ks and 1Ps were already in F. They opup all 2Ps on the flight – “Mrs. 2P, would you mind a free upgrade to F today?” Everyone answers in the affirmative. It’s a good time to be a UA elite in PHL. After calling 3 2Ps, a Y fare customer is opuped.

I ask if they are going to need any VDBs. They say, at least one – not sure if more. I tell them that I should already be on the list. The supervisor pulls up the list and tells the other agent to go ahead and process me right away. DOUBLE BUMP BABY!!!! :TU:

She pulls up my itinerary and asks, “did you VDB an earlier flight?” I respond, “yeah – I guess it must be a Sunday.” The three agents all laugh and agree. One says – at your rate, you could just fly around all day making money on bumps. Little did she know she wasn’t that far from the truth on this trip as I’ve now over doubled the cost of the round trip (and tripled the one-way) in TCVs.

My options for great routings has dwindled if I want to meet up with Mrs. Alliance in PHX when she lands. In a silly move, I’m the only one with car keys for the car parked at PHX, so I decide I should take the PHL-ORD-PHX option that gets me in an hour before Mrs. Alliance. I wanted to do PHL-ORD-IAD-PHX and stay off of Ted and in F, but I couldn’t justify it with row 11 was available.

So I tell her to do it. Oh, and travel credits please. Thankfully travel credits are not a problem. But it couldn’t be problem free. I see that it is F1 Y7. I ask very nicely if she would book me in that F seat, as I was in F on this flight. She said that she can’t put me in F1 because there are 16 people on the upgrade list and it wouldn’t be fair to them. I don’t want to make a scene so I ask nicely one more time and she says sorry, the best I can get is an E+ aisle. Give it to me… oh and can you add me to the upgrade list? “Of course,” she says. She hands me the DM card. I ask her where I am on the list. #1 of 17 she says.

As you can imagine… 1K+Y meant an hour later I got to hear, “Mr. alliance, would you please see the agent…” So I walk up… “You got the last F seat…” Odd that he didn’t ask for my old boarding pass. Oh well… “Ladies and gentlemen, F has checked in full.” (Part of me would like to ask for the 2 e-500s back as I was in F all the way before this second reroute – however I knew what I was agreeing to so I shouldn’t get them back and so don’t think I will ask for them.)

This flight to ORD was on a crappy 737 ex-shuttle, and I’m in 1D. I guess this is my bad karma for griping about the 757s being pulled from SFO-LAX in favor of more 737s. While the bulkhead lacks acceptable foot stretching room – for this length of flight when the flight is completely full I will still take this seat over being shoulder to shoulder with someone in E+.

It was drink and premium snack packets only on this flight. At least I got 4 diet pepsi cans during the 2hr flight. I got five nice pictures looking out the window during this flight. I read for awhile and enjoyed listening to channel 9 on the approach to ORD. We had to wait a little while at the gate in ORD and while waiting we blocked a RJ from being able to get to its gate. I was also able to snap a quick picture of a 777 and 747.

I had 40 min to make it from opposite ends of the UA gates at ORD… so I did the power walk in the tunnel and all the way over to the Ted gates. I had a little excitement with the gate agent working the PHX flight, but otherwise it was an uneventful boarding and flight until I landed.

As I walked off of the plane in PHX, who did I run into but my PHX angel! She was working the flight. She smiles at me and says, “Welcome home to PHX Mr. alliance – how was your dinner last night?” This is what I’m talking about. I fill her in on the dinner, find out her upcoming schedule, and head to Mrs. Alliance’s gate to meet her.

Mrs. Alliance arrives on time and we head out to the car and make the quick drive home.

Two DOs down, three or four to go! (not looking good for NRT).

It’s Thursday morning now… that means the adventure continues tomorrow morning. My upgrade cleared at the 1K window for my flight to NYC on Friday. Catman and gang – I’m on my way.


Last edited by alliance; Mar 8, 07 at 5:19 am
alliance is offline  
Old Feb 27, 07, 11:56 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
DO #3 – Farewell to Cite.

I almost missed this DO. But I didn’t – and the reason why is the reason PHX is a great airport to fly UA from.

Since the HOLA! DO II, I was back in PHX and so I had to get from PHX to NYC. I booked the first Ted flight of the day to DEN and then was connecting on a UA 757 DEN-LGA.

That first PHX-DEN flight was scheduled to depart PHX at 6:00am. According to the boarding pass, boarding was to start at 5:30am.

Always looking for bump opportunities, I called UA the night before and found out that the flight was oversold by somewhere between 5 and 10. Horrible chances as even if it were over by 9, many people miss the first flight of the day. All the rest of the flights to DEN were Y0, so if I was going to get a bump I was going to have to route through SFO on a flight without great seats available to be able to make it to NYC in time for dinner.

So even though I figured the odds of the bump were low and the reroute options were bad, I planned on leaving my house at 4:30 and getting to the gate or RCC by 5:00am to get on the VDB list. So I set the alarm for 4:00am and get to bed around 2:00am.

Yeah…. so that plan pretty much backfired when Mrs. Alliance wakes me up by a phone call at 5:11am. What a sweetie – getting up at 4am SFO time to make sure I didn’t sleep in (you rock baby!).

So it’s 5:11am – boarding is scheduled to start in 21 minutes. But as any PHX UA flyer will tell you, it’s quite common for the first flights of the day to board early.
5:12am – get off the phone with Mrs. Alliance and jump in the shower.

5:16am – get out of shower and get dressed

5:20am – run around the house trying to figure out what I forgot that I didn’t get to the night before (items that were left, fyi: flashlight, USB microphone/headset for softphone, and my money belt)

5:22am – grab my bags and head for the car

5:30am – parked at PHX T2 (boarding should have started now – although I suspect it already did a few mins ago)

5:32am – enter the security line - ~40 people in the general boarding line – just me in the elite line

5:33am – at the WTMD (where I’m being yelled at (I’m the only person at this WTMD at the moment) to hold on to my boarding pass – which is IN MY HAND).

5:34am – stupid TSA thinks they see a banned item in my 22” rollerboard and so “bag check”

5:36am – after waiting for the TSA agent to put on gloves after my insisting on it (read: put on gloves - not: put on a fresh pair) the search begins for the imaginary banned item

5:40am - I stop the apologetic TSA agent from wasting more time trying to repack my bag the wrong way

5:42am – I walk up to the gate and overhear the GA’s talking about clearing some standbys from the 6:45am flight – so I feel better that I didn’t lose out on a VDB by sleeping in

5:43am – I wait at the gate for 3 people in front of me in line to have their BPs scanned and there are a couple of people behind me – I was one of the last 10 people to board.

5:55am – pull back from gate and on our way to DEN
32 minutes from waking up until I am on the plane, with a shower, last minute packing, and a TSA SNAFU slowing me down. I love PHX T2.

The only major plan that was foiled by my failure to wake up was I had to drive to the airport instead of taking a cab. I’m now going to get hit with a ~$80 parking fee vs. spending $40 on cabs ($20 each way)…. Not the end of the world. I should ask if they have a monthly parking rate at T2. Is it bad that I’m going to now be spending more cash on parking at the airport than my Asia F tickets?

I get to my exit row aisle seat and there is a guy in the middle seat who is giving off the vibe that he doesn’t belong there. My guess is a poacher from E-. A FA senses the same thing and asks the guy for his boarding pass. The guy says he doesn’t have it. He claims that the GA took his entire BP and told him what seat to sit in and it was a seat in row 11. The guy didn’t sound convincing to me. The FA didn’t buy it either – but he did the right thing. “Okay, give me a minute to go check with the GA about what your seat assignment is… what is your name?” While the FA is gone, an HP/US pilot gives the guy an odd look and sits in the open window seat in row 11. The FA returns and says that this presumed poacher actually had the window seat and the HP/US pilot had the middle. They both agreed to stay where they were.

I slept through the PHX-DEN flight.

With an on-time arrival in DEN, I made my way to the West RCC. Thankfully it was not busy and I had lots of space to myself. I had to resort to reaching over the bar and grabbing the soda gun to pour myself a diet Pepsi as the bartenders did not make an appearance the 45 min that I was in the club.

My upgrade cleared at the 1K window for DEN-LGA. I was auto-assigned seat 3B. I changed to row 6. The F cabin was 2/3 full – with rows 1, 5 and 6 having one person per side of the plane. The guy in the row in front of me took the window and so I was a happy flyer. Contrast my legroom and personal space with the poor Mr. 6C. After about 30 min, Mr. 6C wised up and became Mr. 6D.

There was a plane clothes border patrol officer who checked-in with the captain because he was carrying. They chatted for awhile in the cockpit and then he took his seat in E-. The purser chatted with one of the other FAs and they decided to go ask the captain if he would mind them upgrading the border patrol guy. He said to ask the GA. They asked the GA. She said no. He rode in the back.

Channel 9 was off on this flight – which meant I was resigned to listening to my MP3 player and leaving me guessing where we were and what sorts of bumps were in our future.

The cabin was dirty – much too common on UA and many other carriers. For example, a plastic fork from some earlier flight was on the ground in the aisle from when I boarded until 30 min before landing when a FA finally picked it up. Ohh well.. at least the crew was friendly and drink refills were frequent enough. They started in LGA in the morning and did a turn in DEN and were going home for the day on this flight.

Breakfast was a choice of the frittata or the fruit plate. The purser did the jumping around the cabin taking orders by status. I was first. Most people went for the frittata. Because of the light load, everyone got what they ordered.

The frittata was edible, but not great. The fruit was weak. The croissant was nicely shaped, in stark contrast to the croissant I got on my ps flight the next day.

The highlight of the flight was the approach into LGA up the Hudson with excellent visibility while we cruised at 4000’ along Manhattan. I was on the wrong side of the plane, so I didn’t take any pictures – but the view was still amazing.

LGA is a dump. This was my first time using it and I’m not looking forward to returning. There is not much space at the gates. It looks like they redeveloped the food courts outside of security somewhat recently, but otherwise -

I had studied the great NY forum wiki on the different ways to get to midtown from the airport and couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to go cheap and do the bus->subway or just take a cab. I found the cabs before I found the bus – and so the cabs won. It took about 25 min and cost ~$30 after tips. That’s about 10 times the bus-subway option. I’ve navigated the NYC subway before, so I wasn’t too worried about it. But sometimes you just want to be taken to where you need to be.

In this case, where I needed to be was the Sheraton NYC Hotel and Tower. My original plan called for me to stay up all night in NYC and save the money on a hotel. After pulling 2-3hrs of sleep a night for the last three days (a likely factor in sleeping through the alarm), I decided I needed a place to sleep so that I would better enjoy the upcoming flights.

Despite being on a priceline rate less than a third of the going rate for a Friday night, it was not a problem checking in at that the SPG desk. This saved me a good 10 minutes. The room was a standard – but more than acceptable. The bathroom was small and cramped, but the main room had a huge desk and enough space and style to not feel like I wasted my money. Room service was delivered in 20 minutes.

I worked for a couple hours in the room – you know how it goes, trying to get business wrapped up before going on holiday and what not. It was getting about time to find Cite and start the Farewell to Cite DO. On my way I walked past the radio city music hall – which looks fantastic lit up at night.

I arrived a little early as Cite ended up being closer than I thought. I made my way into the main entrance, grabbed a drink at the bar, and quickly See Ya’s +1 showed up. He was none other than our mystery FT guest from the HOLA! DO II’s SFO-IAD transcon.

The restaurant fumbled our seating needs at first. Lets just say that the 9 or 10 of us didn’t fit in the space of 7. I think they were even expecting Xyzzy and I to share plates. Thankfully the group at the table next to us left a few minutes after our arrival and so we readjusted our seating and everyone’s personal space was restored.

There were some service issues with Cite – it took Franny several requests to get some more bubbly. The place seemed a bit frantic and busy. But things settled into a groove and it turned out to be a most excellent evening. The wine became free flowing, my huge rib steak was outstanding in both quality and quantity. I enjoyed great conversations on topics from Mexican wines to law school experiences to pickled meat preparation techniques for dinner parties of 40 to the real estate business and more. A great group of FTers.

We were essentially the last group to leave Cite. They practically had to kick us out of the place. I guess you could say that we didn’t want to leave.

We said our goodbyes… and each went our separate ways. I made my way back to the Sheraton, set the alarm, called for a wake up call, and went to sleep.

Here are some pics from the DO:

Cite pic 1
Cite pic 2
Cite pic 3
Cite pic 4
Cite pic 5
Cite pic 6
Cite pic 7
Cite pic 8
Cite pic 9
Cite pic 10

Last edited by alliance; Mar 19, 07 at 7:42 pm
alliance is offline  
Old Feb 27, 07, 11:56 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,333
LAX-JFK ps First Class – LAX-NRT Singapore First Class – Tokyo

I walked back to the Sheraton Hotel & Towers after Cite. By the time I was done doing e-mail and checking FlyerTalk it was around 1:30am. I had to leave the hotel around 4:30 as my ps First flight left for LAX at 7am. I could have missed this flight and caught the next one and still made my Singapore connection – but I wasn’t going to chance it (and lose out on the lounge time)… so I get the alarm clock set for 4am and order a wake up call from the front desk.

The phone rings at 3:59 – at least according to the alarm clock, which started beeping a minute later. I jump out of bed, not wanting to fall back asleep, and take a quick shower.

I check out at 4:31am and I am in a cab by 4:33am. Tell the cab driver “Kennedy,” and off we go. The nice thing about leaving NYC at 4:33am on a Saturday is there is no traffic. While the cab driver violated the cab driver laws by talking on his cell phone for half the trip, we got to Kennedy just a tad past 5:00am.

The line for United check-in was out the door. I walk to the front of the line and ask where the first class check-in is, as this was the economy/non-elite line. She told me to go around to the other side. This is the first time I’ve had to check-in in-person at JFK, so I wasn’t familiar with the elite area.

So I go to the First/Global Services line, which was empty, but there is no agent working those terminals. However, there are two agents chatting behind the e-check-in machines (chickens). I decide to stand at the clearly marked First/Global Service line for 5 minutes to see if anyone comes to help me. That didn’t work.

After five minutes, I walk over to the chickens and swipe my RCC card. The chicken finds my reservation but then gets the bird flu and tells me I must see an agent to complete the check-in. So I interrupt the agents conversation to tell him that I need him to check me in. The guy next to me has the same problem. The agent tells me to wait as there is someone in the First class line that is a higher priority than me. I mention I had been waiting and am also flying first but I’m ignored as he has mostly walked away. I now regret not being more vocal. Another 5 minutes goes by and the agent comes back. He chastises me and the other guy for not using the chickens - “that’s what they are there for.” I tell him “this chicken doesn’t like me.” He doesn’t think I’m funny. He prints my BPs and I’m off to security.

Luckily the line out the door was still out the door and not waiting for security. There is an elite line at UA JFK, but it doesn’t look like it opens until later. The line was only 3 people deep, which meant that I was through in a few minutes. No problem with my bags this time. The person behind me did have a 2L bottle of water in their backpack – the TSA didn’t appreciate that.

I made my way up the escalators to the lounge level. After being tortured by the outstanding views of the BA lounges that you are forced to see on the way to the RCC, I entered the RCC and was pointed to the IFL (International First Class Lounge) because of my F ticket. As I entered the IFL, the agent at the desk inside asked me for my name. She had a list of all F passengers and as soon as I gave my name she responded back, “Welcome Mr. alliance. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.” Friendly enough.

There was one customer in the IFL when I entered. At one point, there were four of us. The IFL looks similar to the JFK RCC.

The notable differences are the wide selection of sodas and food. Other food pics here and here and here. I have yet to be at the JFK RCC in the morning where the bartender was at the bar – so I’ve always had to reach across and grab the soda gun to get a Diet Pepsi. Having bottles in the IFL is an improvement. The bathrooms in the IFL, while not grand, are much better than the RCC bathrooms – which are probably the worst in the RCC system.

There is a TV room in the IFL and some work stations. Otherwise, it is just one square room with a few seating sections separated by dividers and seats. If it were crowded it would not be great, but this morning it proved a comfortable place to recover from the wine of Cite and to get ready for the ps flight to LAX.

While I was in the IFL, two other UA agents came to the door and had a brief chat with the agent at the desk. One of them was talking about another agent who was complaining about not being able to get a certain day off. They all agreed that it was a very bad idea to complain about having to work to management because “we are overstaffed and with all of the JFK service cutbacks we best not do anything to put our jobs at risk.”

Nice. How classy to have that conversation in your International First Class Lounge. And if you are really overstaffed, why don’t you get more people to actually work in the areas where you need people – like the check-in counters and the customer service desk air-side? I found it amusing at the time. Now I think it bothers me.

While the IFL agent said she was going to announce boarding, I decided to head down 5 minutes early so that I could better observe the boarding. The gate lice were out in force, but I was able to make my way through. The first boarding group was First and Global Services. Quickly after (as in, I was able to still hear it while walking onto the jet bridge), Business and 1K. I’m going to assume the boarding groups numbers followed.

I was disappointed to see that the jet bridge was connected to door 1 instead of door 2. When this happens on UA 757s, typically it means a very reduced pre-departure service for F passengers because of waiting for the entire plane to shuffle through the F cabin.

But the purser on this flight was determined to make this the best UA flight I’ve had in a long time. He quickly greeted every F passenger and took pre-departure drink orders before the C passengers had boarded. He then continued to greet every passenger that boarded the plane with a “hello” or “hi” and a “thanks for flying with United today” or “welcome aboard.”

After boarding had finished, he came around to every F passenger and reading their names off of the meal order sheet introduced himself and insisted that he was here to provide each of us with outstanding personalized service and informed us that he will be working the F cabin and that if we need anything when he is not in the cabin to ring the call button “because that’s what it is there for.”

My greeting involved him saying, “Should I call you alliance (the first name I had introduced myself as during boarding) or do you prefer Mr. Alliance.” “alliance is preferred, thanks.” “Thank you alliance for being a 100K flyer alliance and for choosing to fly up front with us today. I and United really appreciate your loyalty and business.”

This guy was amazing. He was so good that I think he spoiled me a bit for my virgin SQ F flight that came next. But more on that in a bit.

Here is a fuzzy pic of the PS F seats - the same as the SQ Skybeds. Lots of legroom and another legroom pic. Menus were waiting at our seats.

Just as the door to the aircraft was closed, the purser comes up to me apologizing and saying that there had been some sort of error and my special meal was not loaded. “Special meal,” I ask?

He shows me the meal order sheet that shows: Mr. Alliance – 100K FLYER – SPECIAL MEAL. I’m thinking… I’m quite certain I didn’t order a special meal – I usually special order a low fat meal on ps red-eye’s to get the chicken instead of the cheese, but I don’t have it in my profile.

The purser then shows me another print out that he says they use to verify with catering that the appropriate meals are loaded before boarding starts. On that print out, I was not listed as having a special meal. He then asks me what my special meal request was and says that he is sorry but that he will try his best to put something special together for me between the F and C meal options. For a moment I consider playing along in an effort to get a skykit – but I decide to take the high road. I tell him that I’m pretty sure I didn’t make a special request, explain that I sometimes do one for red eyes, and suggest that perhaps my SQ meal requests got in the PNR somehow and messed up UA’s system (I have no idea if that is possible – maybe it was just the check-in guy trying to dump me with a bad meal). In any case… I told him that I’d me more than happy with the pancakes. “Certainly alliance, one order of pancakes coming up after take-off.”

Meal orders were taken front to back with him skipping the NRSA in 1F until last. She wanted the pancakes but got the frittata as there were only 3 pancakes loaded and they were already all reserved.

Drink service was over the top. At least every 5-8 minutes, the entire flight, the purser walked through the cabin and provided refills to everyone’s drink. I got through 8 or 9 Diet Pepsi’s during the flight.

The pancakes were not bad – not great, and not a huge quantity (2) – but better than another darn frittata. It came with fruit, which looked better than the DEN-LGA fruit.

I got up and talked with the purser for about 15 minutes during the flight. I wanted to compliment him on being one of United’s best. He said that he had recently spend a few months on revenue tickets on other airlines and it was a wakeup call to him on how bad things have become and how little things like smiling and keeping drinks refilled made a big difference. During our 15 minute chat, he excused himself twice to walk through the cabin. That’s what I’m talking about!

He agreed with me that one of the biggest problems with United is the inconsistent product. He talked about how his hands are often tied because things are not loaded and when loads are high he can’t move people around when people have seat problems. It was a fun and interesting chat. This is an employee who was doing the right things. If only all of UA’s employees were as great as he was.

It was time for the two guys up front to be fed, so I took my seat and watched The Departed on the DVD player that was handed out. More Diet Pepsi refills occurred.

Channel 9 was turned off on this flight – so I listened to my mp3 player and enjoyed the F seat. While I think the C seat is more comfortable for sitting… for lounging around the F seat is preferable.

About an hour before arrival, the purser came around and asked if I wanted a pre-arrival snack. I asked what it was and he joked that it was more United cheese (in reference to my comment earlier during boarding about choosing low fat special meals to avoid cheese). The other option was meat and cheese. I went for the meat and cheese and it was not bad. The presentation was nice, things were the correct temperature, and I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for my upcoming Lobster Thermidor on Singapore so the portion satisfied me. It came with a cookie.

When the purser came around again to ask if I wanted more Diet Pepsi, I decided to change it up and asked for a Kir Royal – a drink that you can’t get on normal United flights. The Purser happily went to work in the galley to make my drink. You could tell that there was a problem after he opens every galley cart and then walks back to the business class galley.

A few minutes later he comes up and says, “Alliance, I’m very sorry to tell you that the caterers didn’t load Crème de Cassis – this is exactly the kind of inconsistency problems we were talking about and I’m sorry. Can I bring you a Bellini or something else?”

I say, “A Bellini will work and if you wouldn’t mind I’d appreciate a skykit.”


So a minute later I’ve got my Bellini and the purser is filling out the skykit. For those of you unfamiliar, a skykit is a form that is handed out in-flight on United for service deficiencies. The purser fills out the top and you fill out the bottom and mail it in and either get miles or customer service discount certs. Always choose the certs. The amount of the certs is based on your status and class of service traveled. I typically get a $200 discount cert.

The purser hands me that skykit and asks if I would like another Bellini. I switch back to Diet Pepsi and finish off one more before we land at LAX.

I thank the purser for the best UA flight I’ve had in a long time and make my way to the United International First Class Lounge (IFL).

The IFL is located upstairs in the middle of terminal 7 at LAX. As I open the door, an older UA agent gets up out of her desks and greets me. She asks me if I have a boarding pass. I hand her my SQ 11 boarding pass that was printed at JFK. It is on UA stock. It takes her a moment to recognize that it is SQ as she was just looking for class and destination at first (Narita). She welcomes me to the club and reminds me that I have to get over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal for my SQ flight and that I should give myself at least 45 minutes to walk over and clear security. She asks me if I need any help with directions to get to TBIT. I decline, thank her, and go find a seat.

The IFL lounge has a decent spread of food and drinks. Here are several pics:

IFL pic 1
IFL pic 2
IFL pic 3
IFL pic 4
IFL pic 5
IFL pic 6
IFL pic 7
IFL pic 8
IFL pic 9

I get on the Internet (tmobile), browse FlyerTalk for a bit and check my e-mail. After about two hours I decide that I best be heading over to TBIT so that I can make it through security, check out the temporary shared F lounge, and make sure I’m available to board as early as possible for my SQ flight so that I can maximize the experience.

As I get up and start heading to the door of the IFL, the agent gets out of her seat, walks over to me, and thanks me for visiting and wishes me a safe and enjoyable trip. She asks one more time if I need any help finding the TBIT. Thanks… but I’ll be okay.

Being the good FTer that I am, I decide that I will make a quick stop by the RCC to grab two drink chits before leaving terminal 7 for TBIT. The Red Carpet Club admission rules state that if you are traveling on a star alliance transoceanic international flight in First Class, Business Class, or are a Star Gold and you are at your departure city for the transoceanic segment that you are entitled to two free drink chits. Clearly, departing LAX on an F ticket on SQ as a 1K meets these requirements.

So I walk in to the RCC. I hand my SQ F boarding pass to the agent. The first thing the agent says before scanning or entering my BP is, “You are in the wrong terminal.”
Me: “I know where I am, I wanted to stop in and go to the bathroom and get some drink chits.”
Agent: “We are out of drink chits – they haven’t been delivered yet today. And even if we did have them, you have to be departing on the United operated non-stop to Tokyo to get drink chits.”
Me: “Actually, LAX is my departure city for my star alliance transoceanic segment on Singapore airlines which entitles me to two drink chits here.”
Agent: “Even if we had drink chits, which we don’t, you are not entitled to them and would not get them.”
Me: “If I didn’t have a plane to catch right now I would stay here and have you write me an IOU on ticket stock, but as you don’t want to follow the rules please just give me my boarding pass back – I don’t want you to get any money from Singapore Airlines if you aren’t going to give me drink chits.”
Agent: “Okay, but then you are not getting in here.”
Me: “Here is my RCC card – swipe it instead.”

The agent swipes my RCC card and lets me in with a glare. I glance at the bar to see if my favorite LAX bartender is there but he is not so I just go to the bathroom and leave.

I don’t understand what this obsession with not giving drink chits at the RCCs is. It’s almost like their pay scale is inversely related to the number of drink chits they give out.

I leave terminal 7 via terminal 6 and make my way over to TBIT. Two guys trying to solicit donations approach me and ask me if I need help finding my airline. I just ignore them and keep walking. They seem surprised that I didn’t stop and ask for help. Then, as I pass them, the taller guy says to the shorter guy, “see his tags, he’s crew.” That’s the first time I’m aware of that anyone has ever spotted my FT luggage tag.

I grabbed a new money belt at the Hudson’s News in the check-in hall for a few dollars as I had forgotten mine back at home in the rush to leave for NYC.

The Singapore check-in area did not have long lines – probably because most people had already checked-in. I walked over to the F check-in area to get my UA stock boarding pass reprinted on SQ’s fancy F stock. There was one person talking to the F check-in agent and the C line had three people in line.

The person in the F check-in line was not an F passenger but a J passenger – I could tell from the BP that the agent was holding. He was being refused his boarding pass because his passport expired in 5 months. Singapore has a strict rule that you must have 6 months left on your passport to enter their country. The F check-in agent had to bring over a supervisor who was yelled at for several minutes. The supervisor assured the person that they would honor his ticket and rebook him on the next available flight once he got a new passport issued.

By the time they got rid of that guy, the J line had just cleared up – so both the J and F agents asked me to see them at the same time. I picked the F guy. He confirmed that I had not checked any bags through and told me he thought it was easier to not check bags and that I was smart. Whatever – idle chit-chat I suppose. With my new F boarding pass and lounge invitation, the agent pointed me in the direction of the lounge and advised me on what time I should start heading to the gate.

The lounges at LAX TBIT are being rebuilt so that each alliance has its own lounge. Until that work is complete, all F passengers have a shared lounge behind the food court on the upper level outside of security. It is small. It is cramped. It has a poor food selection. It has okay non-alcoholic drinks, but it is a sham to call this an F lounge. It does have free wifi – and after getting on to say goodbye to Mrs. Alliance one last time I left. I was happy to leave. The food court would have been more relaxing. It was too loud and too crowded.

There was no line for security – and they didn’t detect any phantom items like in PHX so I was through in a minute or two at most. I made my way through the bowels of TBIT and found the SQ gate all the way at the end. At least we didn’t have to use a remote terminal.

The boarding area was packed. It was hot. The air conditioning wasn’t really working. I guess the crappy F lounge didn’t look so bad anymore. The duty free sales people were busy yelling peoples names trying to get them to pick up their stuff.

I worked through the people to get up towards the front to wait the 10 minutes until boarding was supposed to start.

The agents called up three people from UA flights to advise them that their checked bags had been received and were going to make the flight. Then they called up someone and told them that they had not yet received their bag but that there was still time for it to make it.

About 5 minutes from boarding I hear, “Mr. Alliance, would you please see the agent up front at the gate.” Uhh… I’m thinking – are they going to ask me if I checked a bag or something. I was wrong.

“Mr. Alliance, are you traveling alone today?”
“Would you mind switching from 2F to 1B so that we can place a couple together.”

Eeeek… didn’t see that coming. I’ve got to think fast… I had actually wanted 3F, but it had been taken so I took 2F on the recommendations in the SQ forum. 1B is a solo seat at the nose of the plane in the middle of the cabin with closets on both sides. Some people like it for privacy of not having anyone nearby and others hate it because of the closets, the lack of windows and not being able to see the rest of the cabin.

I really wanted to be able to see some of the other people being served so that I could better observe the SQ F experience and I also wanted a window. I also kind of thought that it was only rows 3 and 4 that had two seats next to each other and that the aisles in row 2 are separated a bit from the one center seat.

I say that I was hoping to have a window seat. The agent, patiently waiting for my response, says that it is a window seat like my current one. I respond saying that I didn’t think it was. Whoops. That causes her to say, “let me go check for you before you decide.” So she runs off down the jet bridge and a minute later comes back and says that I probably don’t want 1B because it is in the middle and not next to any of the windows. She says that it is okay and not to worry. So I don’t.

They were so nice about it, I almost wanted to do it to not come off as a jerk – but at the same time, I’m not sure I like being asked to move around. I picked that seat. If I didn’t care what my seat was I would not have picked ahead of time and presumably this other couple could have. I suspect most people under the pressure of being asked instantly agree to change. I didn’t, but I’m not sure I did the right thing. I think if it happened again I would change – but there is no doubt I would not have been able to observe the cabin from 1B.

A minute later boarding starts and I’m heading down the jet bridge. There is a group of flight attendants waiting inside the door and once I show my BP they take it and show me to my seat. I’m asked if I would like help stowing my carryons. I ask if I can keep my backpack at my seat and they say “of course, Mr. Alliance.” They open one of the overhead bins for me and I place my 21” roller in the bin and close it myself.

I take off my jacket and before I can set it down there is another FA with a hanger saying, “May I hang up your jacket Mr. Alliance.”

At this point, I am feeling like this is going to be the best flight ever. I worried quite a bit the two weeks leading up to this flight that I was going to have my expectations set so high that it would be impossible to have a good experience. SQ is held in such high regard on FT and I’ve read several trip reports and heard other people talk about the amazing F service on SQ. I kept telling myself before the flight that I needed to tone down the expectations to make sure I had a good time. Well… the way things were starting my fears were quickly going away.

About 30 seconds after I sat down in my suite, a FA asks me if I would like some champagne or something else to drink before we take off. Dom please. It’s nice to get pre-departure drinks in glassware.

While I’m drinking the Dom, I’m given the menu, my pajamas, amenity kit, newspapers, and magazines. The menu consists of two parts – one with the meal information and the other with the drinks. I was brought a pair of XL pajamas – which is the correct size for me. They seemed to bring the smallest and biggest people the correct size and everyone else they brought out all sizes for them to pick from. Works for me. The newspapers were a collection of local LA and US national papers and papers from Singapore.

The magazine handout process was quite interesting. The SQ girl goes back for each customer and gets as big of a selection of magazines that she can carry that she thinks you will be interested in. She really tried to push the golf magazines on me. I took a The Economist and left it at that. Most people in the cabin took more than I did.

I finished my glass of Dom and a SQ girl was at my side within a minute asking if I would like another glass before takeoff. There is only one right answer to that question. She brought the bottle and filled my glass up.

I was surprised that I was not given any nuts pre-departure, as one of the FAs working the other side of F had asked her side if they wanted nuts and which type of nuts. I don’t know enough about how their policies work if I was supposed to ask for them pre-departure and/or if it was to be expected… so I just sat back and enjoyed the champagne and continued to get myself acquainted with the suite. But still… I would have liked to have had some warm macadamia nuts pre-departure. Strike one SQ.

Takeoff was smooth with some decent views of the beach as we made our turn after liftoff. Our route was up the California coast before heading out over the ocean.

The flight attendants were quick to bring me another glass of champagne before we had passed Malibu. By the time we got next to Point Mugu and Ventura County the seat belt sign was off.

I started playing with Kris World – their audio-visual on-demand system. I reclined my seat and decided that a quick listen to Glamorous by Fergi would be an appropriate song to start the trip.

Within a few minutes the famous satay is brought out. It was outstanding.

Then my table was set. Unfortunately, my table cloth had a couple stains. They were more than just wet spots like I thought they were at first. Not exactly what I was expecting. Strike two SQ. I realize these things happen and it wasn’t a big deal as the plates quickly covered it.

When they came with more Dom, I asked to switch to Krug and so the SQ girl went to the galley and I could hear a “POP” and then she presented the Krug bottle to me and then poured me a glass. From that point on in the trip either both Dom and Krug bottles were brought out for me to choose from or they asked me which one I wanted.

At some point prior to this point in flight (it was before the satay and might have been right before take off – I don’t remember exactly) I was asked about my meal choice. This was the low point of the flight and SQ experience for me. The FA asked me to confirm that I had booked the salmon. SALMON!?!?!?! I very politely replied, “I booked the lobster thermidor – which I reconfirmed with reservations two days ago.” At this point, she says that there must me some mistake and that she will go check on it.

Several minutes later she comes back and says that there has been a catering problem and seven people booked the lobster thermidor but only three were loaded. No lobster thermidor for me. Strike three SQ – you’re out. I felt like SQ had let me down after this.

I was then brought a business class menu and told that I may pick any meal on the F or J menu. I went for the Sea Bass from the F menu. She told me I made a good choice. That’s not what I wanted to hear. The lobster thermidor was a good choice – the choice I had made several months ago and had confirmed two days prior. This was not the perfect experience I was expecting. I didn’t (and don’t) know how SQ’s compensation system works – or if they even have one – but I was thinking that this would be a skykit on United.

I started thinking about how great of a UA flight I had. Wait a second… was I really telling myself that I preferred the UA F ps flight over this. I couldn’t be. Could I? I think I did for awhile. Especially after it took 15-20 minutes to get a refill of Krug (I think the crew was busy prepping food). I started telling myself that I need to recover from this problem and have a great time.

I reasoned out that catering mistakes happen all the time. I don’t know if that is actually true or not with SQ – but it happens enough with UA.

I’m telling myself… I flew ~200 segments on many different airlines last year… I can’t judge SQ on just one segment. I also was less assertive than I might normally be up until this point as I was just living the experience and having the SQ girls and guys serve up the experience. I think I had expected from reading about SQ that they would just offer me everything – like nuts, drinks, and anything else that they may provide. What I found was that they would ask some things but not other things. Once they identify you as going down a certain path of beverage choice or meal choice – like a choose your own adventure book – it seemed the choices being offered narrowed. Maybe this is what people mean by robotic service.

After the satay and the table was set, it was on to the Caviar. As an example of what I was just talking about, right before they brought out the caviar, I was asked if I would like some Vodka to accompany the caviar. Of course I would. The caviar had a nice presentation and I got a good sized serving. It was a little saltier than I was expecting, but it was good. The vodka was quite chilled.

My attitude was turning around and I was staying positive.

After the caviar the meal service was pretty much non-stop.

Next came the soup and bread.

Then the salad.

Finally the sea bass came. While watching 2A enjoy the lobster thermidor, I took the first bite of the sea bass. WOW! It actually was delicious. It was super moist, had good flavor and texture, and was a large size serving. Unquestionably this was the best in-flight fish I’ve had.

Towards the end of the meal we had some constant moderate chop and occasional turbulence.

When the FA asked if she could take the plate, she asked me if I liked it. I replied honestly, “It was good, but it was no lobster thermidor.” She frowned and said she would see what she could do. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that.

Next came dessert – which I was asked if I wanted before being served. It was a delicious ice cream and cake with nice presentation.

A few minutes after my dessert dish was cleared the SQ girl who has told me she would see what she could do came up and asked me if I was going to be flying SQ again in the near future. I told her I had two more SQ flights in the next week. She lit up and asked me if I would mind writing down the flight information for her. Outstanding, I think to myself. I’m going to get some sort of compensation or something to make this catering problem right.

So I write out my details for my upcoming BKK-SIN in F and SIN-ICN in C flights and give the paper to the SQ girl the next time she walks by. About twenty minutes later she comes back to me and tells me, “I’ve phoned ahead to Narita and briefed them on the problem you experienced and they are working on it.” Great! I think to myself... even the best United FA would never do something like this to resolve a problem. SQ is different.

I watch a movie on KrisWorld and spend some time reflecting on how before discovering FlyerTalk I would have never imagined I would be flying to Asia, yet alone in F on SQ, for a week long vacation.

Having figured out that I just need to ask for what I want instead of waiting to be asked, I press the FA call button and a SQ girl is there in seconds. “Could I please have some nuts.” She responds, “What kind of nuts, Mr. Alliance.” “How about a mix of macadamia and cashews.” “Certainly Mr. Alliance.” For the next 4 hours my ramekin of warm nuts was bottomless – refill after refill after refill.

I was now feeling better about SQ – I justified the problems I had earlier as both not understanding the SQ system and a catering mistake out of their control. The non-stop refills of Krug and nuts. The fact that they have Krug and Dom, macadamia nuts, good wines, and tasty food. The instant response to all requests. Calling in my problem. Every FA addressing me as Mr. Alliance during every interaction. This is why SQ is the best. I understand now. I agree.

About two hours before landing the second meal service began. They re-set my table and brought another glass of water (asking if I preferred sparkling like last time or if I wanted to switch to still).

The appetizer was a caesers salad and a crab-cake type thing that was a little to mayonnaise-ish for my tastes. I nibbled on it, but didn’t like it.

There was no catering mistake for my second meal choice. I had ordered the beef sukiyaki and that’s what I got. While it didn’t look great – it tasted good and was a good second-meal choice. It seemed like most people had picked a filet or other western meat choice for their second-meal. The FA asked me if I liked the beef sukiyaki and said that she had never tried it herself. I told her that I enjoyed it.

The second dessert had excellent presentation and tasted great. By the time I had finished, we were almost at NRT. I didn't want this flight to end. Even though it started out no so great, it was an outstanding flight and I am looking forward to my next two SQ segments and hope that the little problems I had here are not typical. I want that lobster.

Landing was smooth – typical of 747s in my experience – however the reverse thrust kicked in pretty hard and bounced us around a bit.

I was the last F passenger to exit, and I was thanked by the F FAs on the way out. There was an ANA agent holding a sign with my name written in Japanese and English in the middle of the jet bridge.

When I approached her she apologized for the catering problem and told me that she had been assigned the task of researching the problem and finding a solution. She said that it was a catering problem in LAX and that she tried to assign me lobster thermidor on one of my upcoming SQ flights but that there is no book the cook ex-BKK and lobster thermidor was not available on my flight ex-SIN. She had printed out a list of all the available book the cook items and told me that I should look it over and decide what I wanted and call reservations a day before the flight.

She again said that she was sorry that she couldn’t solve my problem and that she would let the SQ staff on the plane know that she was unable to find a solution. She asked me if I had any checked bags. I told her no. She said that if I had had checked bags that she would meet me outside of customs to let me know what SQ said after she talked to them (as she could not talk to them until boarding had finished), but that because I did not have checked bags she didn’t want to delay me any more. So I thanked her, put the paper in my backpack and made my way to immigration. I was hoping for a duty free voucher or being told that they had upgraded me to F from J on SIN-ICN. One can dream, right?

Immigration was a breeze – no questions – the agent just printed out a 90 day visitor visa sticker and said “Welcome to Japan.” As I had no checked bags, I headed straight to customs. The customs officer asked, “You are visiting on business?” I replied, “No, just transiting.” “Welcome to Japan, enjoy your stay.” So friendly. I approve.

After leaving customs, I found my way to the ticket counter for the Friendly Airport Limo Bus. They asked where I was staying and after handing over 3,000 yen I had myself a ticket to the Grand Hyatt Tokyo via the Friendly limo bus. I had to wait about 20 min for the next bus, and they had a very organized system for queuing and boarding.

Once on the bus, I tried to stay awake but considering I had been awake since JFK, I crashed and slept through most of the bus ride. It was dark anyway so I don’t think I missed much.

The Grand Hyatt Tokyo is an outstanding hotel. The moment the bus pulled up, there were 4 bellmen waiting to take everyone’s bags. The bellman who took my bag escorted me to the front desk and introduced me to the front desk person by name (I saw him glance at my luggage tag when he grabbed it from the bus driver – which is where he must have gotten my name from as I never gave it to him).

Check-in was easy. The front desk person told me that I was wise to take advantage of the faster free nights special. I was asked which paper I would like to receive in the morning and then after a quick check of my passport and credit card, the bellman escorted me to my room to give me a tour. He asked me where I had come from and told me that traveling all the way from JFK was a long way to travel in one day. I agreed but told him I had a great time.

The room I had was the most basic room – and it was grand. Here is a video walk through of the room. And here are a bunch of pictures:

GH pic 1
GH pic 2
GH pic 3
GH pic 4
GH pic 5
GH pic 6
GH pic 7
GH pic 8
GH pic 9
GH pic 10
GH pic 11
GH pic 12

On the bed was a card to hang outside the room indicating which free room service beverage I would like complimentary in the morning for being a member of Hyatt Gold Passport (I’m just a general member). I checked coffee and sure enough the next morning at the desired time a full pot of coffee and my pre-selected paper was delivered to the room. The room had free high-speed Internet and complimentary bottles of water.

In the morning, I had some breakfast in the restaurant at the hotel before taking some pictures of the hotel:

Hotel Lobby 1
Hotel Lobby 2
Hotel Lobby 3
Hotel Hallway
Hotel Elevator Lobby
Mall attached to Grand Hyatt
Outside Hotel
Outside Hotel 2

After walking around the neighborhood for a couple hours, I went back to the hotel to pack up and take the bus back to NRT.

The next report will include… the bus ride back to NRT, NRT lounges and the airport in general, NRT-BKK on TG F, the BKK DO and dinners and SQ F BKK-SIN and the new BKK F lounge. I’m not playing catch-up from being gone anymore, so hopefully the next update will come quicker than this one.

Last edited by alliance; Apr 2, 07 at 8:08 pm Reason: Thanks for waiting and I hope it has been worth it.
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:57 pm
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reserved for DO #5
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:57 pm
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reserved for DO #6
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:58 pm
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Old Feb 27, 07, 11:59 pm
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Old Feb 28, 07, 1:00 am
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This brings back memories (big do dos).
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Old Feb 28, 07, 5:47 pm
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Talk about jetsetting.... I look forward to your report which should be phenomenal.
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Old Feb 28, 07, 5:53 pm
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Looking forward to this, as well as seeing you again on Saturday!^
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Old Feb 28, 07, 9:24 pm
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Just figured out the link. Idiot newcomers!

Will be in SFO 3/3. Where/when is the HOLA II DO?

Last edited by Shipleywins; Feb 28, 07 at 9:27 pm Reason: Duh!!
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Old Feb 28, 07, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Shipleywins View Post
Will be in SFO 3/3. Where/when is the HOLA II DO?
Here is the link:

I hope you are able to join us!
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