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Being top tier flyer on a non-alliance carrier Ė EVA Air to BKK (Y+ and J)

Being top tier flyer on a non-alliance carrier Ė EVA Air to BKK (Y+ and J)

Old Jun 18, 09, 9:20 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Beaverton OR
Programs: GE, AA PLT/2.6MM, BR Gld, Royal Carib. DM+, Celebrity Elite, NCL PLT, Princess Elite
Posts: 1,643
Being top tier flyer on a non-alliance carrier Ė EVA Air to BKK (Y+ and J)

As I mentioned in my last trip report a couple of weeks ago http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...umm-fd-ox.html I would report on one of my more normal itineraries. This trip is just a ďsimpleĒ round trip from PDX to BKK.

I booked this trip the day after I got home from my previous Asia excursion. This company will only pay for premium economy, so using EVA was a no-brainer for me. I do have to give a little history here. Towards the latter part of 2007, J fares to Asia on my preferred carrier, CX, were sky rocketing. My usual trips to Asia were on CX 95% of the time and JL the other 5%, and always were in J class. Because of that travel pattern, I was an Executive Platinum member of AAís AAdvantage program and had already accumulated over two million lifetime miles in the program giving me Platinum for life. I could see the writing on the wall, and started to look at who was offering lower J fares to Asia. Of the carriers that I found, (and more importantly that I was willing to fly on) EVA Air (BR) seemed to have the best rates.

So at the end of 2007, I faxed in a request to EVA for a status match, not really expecting anything to come out of it. I had flown on EVA a few times previously, and liked the carrier, so I was willing to give them a chance. In February of 2008, after some back and forth, they matched me to Silver status which is the lowest of their Elite levels, and my first flight as a Silver member was in March. By July, I had flown three round trips in J and had moved up go Gold in their program. It was just about the time that I had made Gold, that the U.S, economy started to really slide downwards and my J travel turned into premium economy travel. I had my lounge access, and BRís Elite or Deluxe class as their premium economy is known (depending on the aircraft Ė more on this later in the report) was decent, and I was still traveling to Asia just as often if not more frequently and before I knew it, in February of this year I crossed the threshold into BRís top tier, Diamond status. Each status is good for two years; in the case of Diamond, I have two years to get 200K miles to renew, otherwise, Iíll drop back to Gold.

Being a Diamond member gives you access to BRís Diamond lounge in TPE as well as F lounge access at other locations (LAX for example) or a special area of their normal Evergreen lounges (SFO as another example). You also get four systemwide upgrades to use as well. The upgrades are for one category so from economy to premium economy or premium economy to business which BR calls Premium Laurel class. The usual upgrade from economy to premium economy on BR is usually only a couple of hundred dollars give or take, so it really behooves you to use the upgrades from premium economy to business. Diamond (and Gold members to a lesser extent) also have access to blocked seats, and in an undocumented feature of the program, Diamonds get enhanced on board service if not flying in J class.

Since the upcharge from economy to premium economy is so minimal for long haul flights, Elite/Deluxe class usually fills up before the rest of the aircraft and on some dates can be hard to find. I knew the dates that I needed for this trip, so I checked all of BRís west coast gateways, SEA/SFO/LAX/YVR for availability. Since SEA is so close, that is usually my first choice, but BR does not serve SEA daily, so itís rare that I can use that gateway. Thatís the same issue with YVR, so my choices for this trip were going to be SFO or the hell that we know as LAX. When I first checked, both SFO and LAX (and both of them had two flights that evening) were both full in Elite class, but when I looked a couple of hours later, a seat had opened up out of SFO on the earlier of the two flights.

For the last year, BR has only been using aircraft that have the new premium economy seating known as Elite class. The 777-300ER (77W) aircraft from the U.S. to TPE has 38 inches of pitch, 2-4-2 seating and AVOD. BR has also added Elite class to three 744 aircraft with the same specifications. However there are still four of the older mixed passenger/cargo 74E aircraft around that have the older product known as Evergreen Deluxe. Those aircraft have more premium economy seats and seating starts in the nose of the aircraft and works back to doors 2L and 2R. In the nose, itís 2-2 seating and starting back from doors 1L and 1R itís 2-4-2. The pitch is still 38 inches, but the seat has a lot more recline. What is missing from those seats though is AVOD; you have very old in-seat video screens that still feature programming on a loop.

The reason I mention the older aircraft, is that during the current summer schedule, BR has that plane running from SFO two nights a week at 1AM in addition to the daily 140AM flight. And thatís the flight that I booked myself on. When I did the booking, the seats showing on the seat map for all four flights were horrid, so I called EVA as soon as I finished booking. I had already used two of my systemwide upgrades; I will only use them on the long haul flights to TPE, I wonít waste them on the shorter flights, and I wonít use them on long haul 74E aircraft. Why? Besides the older style Deluxe class, that aircraft also features the older Super Business product instead of Premium Laurel. Super Business has the old recliner style seats and 44 inches of pitch; not enough of a difference in my opinion to use the upgrades on.

I called EVA to redo my seats and got a great agent. There were Diamond/Gold seats blocked on all four legs which I was able to get my preferred window seats, and once she finished with the seats, I asked about upgrading the TPE-SFO flight as that one is with a 77W aircraft. The agent checked, and said that at the moment, it wasnít available, and she would put me on a priority wait list. Iíve head about the priority wait lists, and I knew that EVA was pretty good about working those. The previous times that I attempted to use my upgrades; the seats were available at the time of booking, so this would be my first experience being on the ďlist.Ē

Seating taken care of, I then booked my AS flights (which were actually on Horizon Air) to and from SFO to match up to the BR flights. Since I would be on two tickets I wanted at least three hours at SFO to connect to BR, and I had two choices, a 750PM that would get in at 940PM or an earlier 525PM that gets in at 710PM. Usually I take the earlier flight and have dinner at SFO or meet up with friends, this time though, I decided to take the later flight and spend more time in the office before I left.

The next day, I checked my BR booking online and saw that my upgrade had cleared the wait list. That was quick, so I called and changed the seat they assigned me to my preferred bulkhead, seat 6A. This is a seat that is held for Diamond members.
The morning of the flight arrives and Iím up early as I have a 7AM meeting every Friday. The first thing I do is go on to BRís web site and check-in. I always look to see what other seats have opened up for check-in and Iím surprised this time that I get a message saying that there were no other seats available. I looked at Expert Flyer and the seat map was indeed full and Deluxe class was showing sold out on my flight to TPE as well as Elite class on my connecting flight to BKK. At around 10AM, I watch the weather at SFO and see that itís showing low clouds, so I immediately check the FAA ATC status web site (http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp) and see that SFO is showing 45 minute delays to inbound aircraft. After lunch, I check again and itís now showing an hour and 20 minute delays. My game plan was to leave for the airport at 5PM, but if ATC issues are going to be a problem, Iíll revise that. I check again at 3PM and the delays have been lifted, so we leave for the airport right at 5PM. Usually on Fridays we have horrendous traffic getting to the airport, but today it wasnít bad, and I got to the airport a couple of minutes before 6PM.
12Jun09 AS 2525 Y PDX-SFO CR7 N613QX seat 2A
There was no line at all for First Class/MVP check in, so I opt to see an agent instead of using one of the kiosks. She hands me my boarding pass, but verifies that it is a window seat that I want, and Iím off to security quickly. Unfortunately, the TSA only had two lines working when I got there, and things were starting to back up. Luckily, after a couple of minutes, they actually opened a third line, and I got though in much less time that I thought. It was then off to Alaskaís Boardroom to wait for my flight. I hadnít had any dinner yet, and I knew that the soup of the evening was tomato bisque (my wife says that if I know what the soup of the day is at the Boardroom, I fly waaay to much), so I grabbed a cup after I got situated. I worked e-mail for a while and then headed out to gate at 7PM. We were at A-12 tonight, which is a little hike, and when I got to the gate, there was a sign out asking if anyoneís plans were flexible. I did see one passenger inquire about the offer and then the agent took down the sign. In the end, we had one empty seat and a couple of non-revs even made it on board.
Boarding was announced at 730PM, and the agent looked at my roll-on bag for a gate check bag which was on there already. She then said to me, wait, since you are an MVP Gold member; Iím going to add this one as well. Itís so you get your bag back first at SFO, and she placed an off white blank tag on there as well. Thatís the first Iíve heard about this program, until I was on board and read a blurb in Horizonís in flight magazine about it. We were all buttoned up and left the gate just about on time and was soon taking off on PDXís runway 10R.
On board a full can of Jones diet cola was handed to me as well as a snack mix and itís about that time that the captain comes on the p.a. system and says that things look good and we should be about 10 minutes early tonight. About 15 minutes before landing though, we start to circle. The captain again comes on the p.a. and says that we are in a holding pattern due to low clouds and we hope to be released sooner than the 940PM time that ATC has given him. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, we are released from that hold and we head further south, overlying San Francisco which has some overcast. And then instead of making our usual 180 at the end of the bay to line up for the runway, we keep heading south and start circling again, somewhere southwest of SJC. We finally get out of that hold and land on runway 28R at 959PM, after an hour and 53 minutes of flying.
We exit the plane and start lining up in the jetway to await our gate checked bags, and sure enough, just as the agent at PDX promised, mine was the first off. Wow, I like this enhancement! I take my bag and head over to the international terminal to check in with EVA.
13Jun09 BR 7 W SFO-TPE 74E B-16403 seat 27H

Another perk of Diamond status is Diamond check-in. There was no one in that line (and Iíve never seen anyone in the Diamond line actually), so I was helped immediately. Since I would be arriving into BKK on a Sunday, and my roll on bag was heavy, I decided to check it with BR and then time the difference it would normally take me to leave the BKK airport with a checked bag compared to just carrying it on. When the agent asked if I had a bag to check, I actually said yes. She then taps on her keyboard for a bit and says, I see you have a window seat, but I do have an exit row aisle that I can assign to you. I ask if she means row 27 and she responds in the affirmative. I actually hem and haw at this for a second since I really like my window (EVA frequent flyers would be slapping me silly for even thinking about this) before the agent adds, and Iíll block the window seat next to you as well. In that case, sold! Here is the deal about row 27, on the two seat side. On the 74E, itís right at door 1 with no seat in front of you for a few feet except for the flight attendantís jump seat. The window seat next to you though has the slide for door 1, so there really is not much leg room for that one. It was perfect for me so I could still have the window when I want it, and I could really stretch out and sleep. The agent issues me boarding passes for both flights and lounge invites for both SFO and TPE, and again I head off to security. This time there isnít much of a wait at all even though there is only one line in operation, and I soon find myself in EVAís Evergreen lounge. There is a separate room for Diamond members, and Iím the only one in there for some time; there are snacks and drinks available, although I didnít see any Diet Coke, so I went out to the main lounge to get one. Again I worked my e-mail, made some calls and read before the lounge started to get really full with two flights, and the noise level went way up, so I packed up my things and left the lounge a little early and headed out to the gate.

We were at gate 98 tonight, and the gate area did not look like this was a full flight. Super Business Class, Diamond and Gold members were soon invited to board, and I soon ensconced in my Deluxe class seat. As I was settling in, the Chief Purser came over to say hello and welcome me on board and to make sure that if I needed anything to let her know. A few minutes later, the Deputy Purser came over and asked me what my preference was for dinner. This is one of the unpublished benefits of being a Diamond member are, first choice for meal selection. My choices were beef meat balls with pasta or fish with rice. I chose the meat balls and was then asked for my beverage choice and I took a club soda since I wanted to sleep after eating. Then she asked me for my breakfast choice, either an omelet or shrimp congee; I took the omelet and a Coke Light as my choices.

The cabin started to fill, but as the doors closed I noticed that very few of the middles of the 2-4-2 were occupied and both of the row 27 window seats were empty/blocked. The Chief Purser came back to me before take off to let me know that flying time tonight would be 13 hours, longer than usual for this time of year (block time for the flight was 13:10), so I knew that we would more than likely be a few minutes late. Both jetways were pulled back, but we didnít move for a few minutes, and when we finally pushed back, we had to wait for the Singapore Airlines flight to HKG to taxi out first. After a very slow taxi, we were finally airborne at 143AM from runway 28L. The clouds had lifted and we had a beautiful view of San Francisco as we headed out. As soon as we passed 10,000 feet, the flight attendants sprung into action. My seat being an exit row had no video screen, the flight attendant actually has to go get the screen and set it up for you. That was done quickly and a few minutes later, special meals were being handed out. Again, an unpublished benefit of being a Diamond member rears its head. Since the Deputy Purser already took my meal order, my supper came out with the special meals and even had a special meal label (which read Meatballs, not LFML or CHML, etc).

The meal was really spaghetti and meatballs with veggies as my main course. There was also a side of Cole slaw as well as fresh fruit, a warm soft roll and a package of Walkerís white chocolate and raspberry cookies. I was also given the can of club soda along with a cup of ice. I was about halfway though my meal when the carts came out and everybody else was served. For a Y meal (thatís what it really is), it was pretty tasty Ė better than it looked actually. When I finished, it wasnít long before my tray was picked up. I was wiped out, I had been up early that day, and right now, I just wanted to sleep. And with all the leg room that I had, I really did sleep. I got up once mid-flight to use the lav, but I basically was out until right before breakfast was served; two and a half hours before landing.

The breakfast was handled just like the supper service, I got my meal the same time as the specials came out along with a full can of Diet Coke. Breakfast turned out to be a cheese omelet with sausage and hash browns served with potato salad with a fish of some sort, more fruit, a strawberry yogurt, and again a warm soft roll. This breakfast was very good and very filling; I didnít even touch the yogurt although I was tempted. I finished eating before the cabin was even completely served and started to lift my tray up to go to the lav, when a flight attendant came by and took the tray of out my hand and took it back to the galley. When I got back to my seat, I read and dozed until landing on runway 24 at TPE at 544AM, 13 hours and one minute after take off. We came into gate C4 which is fairly close to transfer security. I was one of the first off the plane, and was the first through security which took no time at all. I then took the escalator upstairs to the departure area.

14Jun09 BR 67 W TPE-BKK 77W B-16703 seat 22K

It was just about 6AM when I got to the Evergreen lounges. I knew the Diamond lounge didnít open until 630AM, and besides I really wanted a shower, so I headed into the Evergreen lounge and was pointed into the F section. I immediately went to the restroom instead where the one shower in that lounge is, and just as I was coming in, there was a person vacating the shower. A BR staff member quickly cleaned the shower, and was able to get a dayís worth of travel grime off of me before heading into the lounge proper. It still wasnít 630AM when I was out, so I just hung out in the F lounge, again making calls and checking e-mail while having a Coke Light.

Before the troubles that Thailand has been having lately, EVA used to have a daily 830AM non stop and also a six times weekly 900AM non stop that continues to LHR. These days, the 830AM flight is only operated three days a week, so I was booked on the 900AM flight. I thought this flight would be full, and before I left the lounge, I checked to see whether or not the bulkhead window seats in row 20 were available, and I was told they were taken, I left the lounge, and got to the gate right around 8AM. I noticed that this aircraft was one of the first of BRís 77Ws that was delivered. Its paint job includes the large 777-300ER lettering next to the EVA titles. Boarding started a couple of minutes late, and doors closed right at 900AM. I saw only one empty seat in Elite class. As we were taxiing out, one of the flight attendantís greeted all of the Gold members on board, but didnít stop at my seat at all. A couple of minutes later the Deputy Purser came by, said hello and asked me for my lunch order (the 830AM flight serves breakfast and the 900AM lunch). The choices offered to me were pork with potatoes or a Chinese style chicken and rice, I took the chicken and when she asked about my beverage choice, I took a Coke Light as usual.

We were airborne from runway 6 (the winds had changed) at 922AM and it looked like we had a slight tail wind, landing in BKK might be a couple minutes ahead of schedule. Again the service started as soon as had gotten though 10,000 feet and my lunch tray was brought out almost immediately with a glass of Coke Light. Lunch was really a ginger chicken with rice which was quite tasty. It was served with cheese and crackers, as well as fruit and another warm soft roll. Dessert was a pink cake, flavor undetermined. All in all, it was a good Y meal. As soon as I finished lunch, the Chief Purser came by to welcome me on board and handed me a pair of Business Class slippers. I appreciated the gesture, but I already have a nice collection of these. Iím starting to give some away to friends, family members, basically anyone that mentions the need for slippers. Drink runs by the flight attendants were frequent throughout the flight with the last one just 10 minutes before landing. We did land a few minutes ahead of schedule on runway 19R after three hours and four minutes of flying. Our scheduled arrival time was 1135AM and we were at the gate a couple of minutes before that. I was off the plane fairly quickly, and began the trek to Thai immigration, stopping to drop off the new health questionnaire before getting in line at immigration. Now, I know this is low season for tourism to Thailand, but we must have arrived at just the right time, there were only two people in line ahead of me, and I lucked out with the immigration agent who processed me extremely quickly. I stopped to change money and run to the bathroom. Normally, if I just have my carry on bags, I would be leaving the arrivals area at this point, so I checked my watch and it was 1147AM. I walked over to the baggage carousel and as I got there, the first bag was just coming out. Priority tags worked, and I had my bag in hand at 1150AM. OK, three minutes in additional time to check a bag is definitely within reason, so I might rethink my bag checking strategies in the future. Or I just got extremely lucky.

17Jun09 BR 212 W BKK-TPE 77W B-16703 seat 20K

The day before my flight, I checked in on-line, and checked out the seat map for the BKK-TPE leg and it did not show any of the Elite Class bulkhead seats available. I knew from previous experience that sometimes those seats are released for on-line check in, and sometimes they arenít. My departure from BKK was scheduled at 1215PM, so my game plan was to be at the airport by about 915AM to try and snag a bulkhead window.

Unlike my taxi driver that I had leaving the BKK airport who drove exceedingly slowly all the way to town, my driver this morning was trying to set a new land speed record, and I ended up at the airport at 850AM. Check in opened up promptly at 915AM and as usual, there was no one in the line for Diamond members. I asked the agent about seat 20K which is my first choice flying BKK-TPE, and it was available and soon enough I had my boarding passes for both my BKK-TPE flight and my TPE-SFO flight as well as lounge invites for both BKK and TPE. I know that baggage handling on arrival at SFO is much different than Asian destinations, so I opted to just carry on both my back pack and rolling bag this time around.

There was only one person ahead of me at outbound immigration so I got through fairly quickly, and then I was off to the Evergreen lounge. This lounge is always bright and cheery with plenty of seats, and there were also plenty of decent nibbles at this time of day. I had lots of e-mails to catch up on as well as a couple of calls to make, so the time went by really quickly and I was headed to our gate which was E-2 today. There was absolutely no wait at security so I was at the gate within a couple of minutes after leaving the lounge. The flight looked pretty open when I checked Expert Flyer, and the gate area was not over filled. This flight had the same aircraft as my previous flight into BKK. Boarding was soon called and I headed to my seat. As departure time drew closer it was obvious that this was the least filled of any of my flights on this trip so far, Elite Class ended up being 70% full, Premium Laurel Class was less than 50% and standard economy was about 70% full as well.

On taxi out, the Deputy Purser came by and greeted me and again offered me first dibs on lunch. The choices today were either chicken with rice or fish with potatoes. I opted for the chicken and a Coke Light, and next thing I knew, we were at the departure end of runway 19R. There was really no wait for takeoff and we were airborne at 1226PM. It took a while to get up to 10,000 feet today, but once we did the Captain let the flight attendants get to work. The cart was soon rolled out, and since I was in the bulkhead and would have been served first anyway, the flight attendant just handed me my tray at that point instead of coming out early, which was fine with me. I was offered the can of Coke Light and accepted and started to tuck into my lunch. This meal was a sautťed chicken with fried rice and veggies. It was accompanied by a warm soft roll (notice that so far I have yet to have had a hard dried out piece of bread on these flights), a cold bean salad, fruit and a piece of cheesecake with some sort of filling that Iím still to trying to figure out. Overall the lunch was good, and as soon as I finished (since this flight was AVOD equipped) I tuned on a movie which I watched all the way until about 10 minutes before landing. Drink runs were not as frequent on this flight; there was only one after lunch, and that was about 30 minutes prior to landing. We made good time today and landed on TPEís runway 06 at 431PM after three hours and five minutes of flying. We were at gate C-7 by 440PM which put us in 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

So far on my three flights I have yet to see a flight attendant wear any masks as compared to a good number of the CX flight attendants were wearing masks a few weeks ago. There have been some ground staff though who had donned masks and a smattering of passengers wearing them as well.

17Jun09 BR 18 J TPE-SFO 77W B-16703 Seat 6A

Transfer security was again a breeze, all of two people ahead of me and no taking off shoes or taking laptops out of your bag, so I was through within seconds. It was then off to EVAís Diamond lounge. This lounge is located directly across from the Evergreen lounge and is actually open to the airport itself. The food is much better in this lounge; a noodle bar is available as well as many hot dishes to choose from. There is also a full bar with bartender and not just a help yourself section.

I didnít have as much e-mail to catch up as I did earlier, so I mostly spent my time reading before heading out to our gate, C-7 where I had arrived couple of hours before. So for the third time on this trip I was greeted by 777-300ER B-16703. Before entering the gate there is a passport check, and then we head downstairs to await boarding.

When boarding was called, each business class passenger was escorted to their seat. I did not look beyond the curtain, but J was maybe 60% full. Originally I had a seat mate, but one of the pursers moved him to an empty pair of seats further back. Now about that seatÖWhen EVA developed their Premium Laurel class, it was meant to be a First and Business class hybrid. The seat is a sloping flat seat which takes some getting used to. I have flown it enough now to know that there are a couple of positions that work well for how I sleep. I was greeted by the Chief Purser within a minute of sitting down and offered a glass of water (which I took) or orange juice by a flight attendant a minute after that. Amenity kits were then offered as well as magazines and newspapers.

The door closed on time and we started a taxi out to runway 05 which is on the opposite side of the airport from EVAís gates, so the taxi out took a few minutes. We took off at 807PM and as soon as we hit 10,000 feet our service began. Flight attendants distributed menus and then came by to take orders. EVA has their own version of ďbook the cookĒ that you can order your meal online; you can choose one of the standard offerings or on some flights they have additional dishes. I choose one of the standard meals for both dinner and breakfast, and the Deputy Purser came over to verify my order for both meals and again asked me for a beverage choice for each meal at the same time. A snack mix was served with a beverage (I took Club Soda since I wanted to sleep right after dinner) first and then a few minutes later the rest of the meal started. Here are the choices for tonight:

Hors Díoeuvre: Seafood jelly and liver mousse duck terrine with mesclun (sic).

Seasonal Salad

Main Courses
Pan fried beef fillet with grainy mustard sauce, buttered mixed vegetables, roasted chunky red skin potato (my choice)

Wok fried prawn with Asian spices, glazed scallop with egg yolk, mixed vegetables, steamed rice

Braised sea cucumber and abalone with scallop in superior sauce, braised giant mushroom with scallion, egg fried rice, ruby rice, and steamed rice with mustard green

Cheese/Fresh fruit/Pastry

I just picked at my appetizer, but enjoyed my salad. The beef dish was very good and not overcooked which doesnít seem to happen very often on any carrier. When I finished with dinner, another tray was brought out with a small cheese plate with crackers, fresh fruit and two small pastries; one was a mocha cake and the other a strawberry cake. I was pretty full by this point even with only taking a taste of each cake when another flight attendant came by with ice cream and cookies which I turned down. I was getting tired, so I wanted to get some sleep, but not too much since I want to try to have a normal day at work on Thursday; so I was hoping for five to six hours of sleep. The Deputy Purser came by with back support pillows which really enhance my sleeping ability in these seats, and I fell asleep really quickly. I woke up a little over five hours later which was already just after noon Pacific time. I stretched, went to the lav, and checked out what was being offered for mid flight snacks which were mostly chips, nuts, or cookies. One of the flight attendants came over to me while I was checking out the goodies and offered me a drink, and she brought by a Coke Light to my seat a few minutes later. I turned on a movie and watched all the way until breakfast time, which was about two and a half hours before landing.

Breakfast choices for today:

Chinese Style Ė selection of tea, fresh fruit, Congee served with traditional hot and cold delicatessens

Western Style Ė coffee, tea, fresh fruit, choice of bread, cereal and yogurt, chicken with mushroom ragout in vol-au-vent (sic), sautťed spinach leaf, cherry tomato (my choice)

Premium Laurel Special - selection of tea, fresh fruit, double boiled beef broth Formosa style, preserved vegetable, green soya bean and stewed bean curd, braised beef tendon and shank Shanghainese noodle, pak choy.

The service started with a hot towel and then juices were offered. The breakfast tray was brought out and I finished the fruit fairly quickly, and before I knew it, my entrťe was brought out. I have had the chicken ragout previously and like before it was very good, but very filling. I didnít bother with the cereal and yogurt. As people finished their breakfasts, trays were cleared quickly. I just read until our arrival. We didnít get the tail winds that were expected, and landed on SFOís runway 28L at 419PM after 11 hours and 12 minutes of flying. It was about another 10 minutes of taxi time over to our gate, which was G-99 instead of the usual G-101 today, and I was one of the first off of the plane. U.S. Immigration was just finishing up an inbound United flight so there was only one person in front of me, so I was through quickly, and since I carried everything on, getting through customs was also very quick. I was out of the customs area at 437PM and headed over to Alaskaís check-in area.

17Jun AS 2518 Y SFO-PDX CR7 N614QX seat 2E

When I got to the check in area, I inquired if there was any earlier flight via Seattle that I could take, but the earlier SEA flight was running late, so I stuck with my non-stop and proceeded though security which has a five minute or so wait. For some reason when I went through the metal detector the screener wanted me to submit for a quick pat down. I think they were pulling every X person in line, and it was a very superficial check. I headed over to the Boardroom. Alaskaís lounge in SFO is small, but has a great staff. There were some drinks and munchies out, but that was about it. Since I was off line for 12 hours I had to make a bunch of calls and work e-mail simultaneously and by the time I was done with that, it was just about time to head out to the gate.

I was starting to get hungry, so I went over to the Maxís Deli and got a sandwich to eat during the flight. I had just walked up to gate 20 when MVP Gold boarding was called and I was soon on the aircraft. We left the gate two minutes early and made our way out to runway 28R. We were airborne at 758PM, and as soon as we reached a level flight, I took out my corned beef sandwich and started my self-serve dinner. One of the flight attendants came over to me saying that she thought she smelled real food. I ate half of the sandwich, and waited for the drink service which soon came. I had a Jones diet cola with my other half of the sandwich and a snack mix was served as well.

After a fairly smooth flight, we touched down on PDXís runway 28L at 922PM after an hour and 24 minute flight and taxied over to the A gates where we disembarked a few minutes early. My gate checked bag arrived within a couple of minutes and I was done with this excursion to Asia. And yes, I already have my next trans-pacific trip booked.
ak333 is offline  
Old Jun 19, 09, 5:00 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Sydney, Australia
Programs: DL Gold, QF, VA, CI
Posts: 99
Great report! It's not that often that we see a BR trip report from the perspective of a Diamond member.
someone0000 is offline  
Old Jun 19, 09, 5:11 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: TSV, Australia
Posts: 2,373
Thanks for very detailed trip report.
camsean is offline  
Old Jun 19, 09, 7:35 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Hong Kong
Programs: No longer Diamond and missing the good old days of CX
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Thank you ak333, you are greatly missed over at the CX forum. I still remember your "handle" when CT was around .

I find it strange that BR's enhanced inflight service and undocumented benefits for elites seem to be strikingly similar to that offered to DM/GOs on CX...
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Old Jun 19, 09, 8:08 pm
  #5  
 
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thanks. I really enjoyed this thorough report.
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Old Jun 19, 09, 10:48 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by kchika View Post
I find it strange that BR's enhanced inflight service and undocumented benefits for elites seem to be strikingly similar to that offered to DM/GOs on CX...
Yeah, as my Thai friends would say, same same but different.
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Old Jun 20, 09, 1:16 am
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by ak333 View Post
Yeah, as my Thai friends would say, same same but different.
Hahaha, I can just imagine them saying that.

Great report with so much detail!
Only thing missing was a few pics but fantastic report nonetheless.
Thanks! ^
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Old Jun 20, 09, 2:52 am
  #8  
 
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Question

Originally Posted by ak333 View Post
....I take my bag and head over to the international terminal to check in with EVA.
.......
Why do you have to take your luggage yourself and check it in with EVA?
Doesn't Alaska airline have a interline agreement with EVA for luggage routing?
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Old Jun 20, 09, 9:14 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by GPS123 View Post
Why do you have to take your luggage yourself and check it in with EVA?
Doesn't Alaska airline have a interline agreement with EVA for luggage routing?
Yes, BR and AS have an interline agreement, however in this instance I was flying on Horizon, and my bag was gate checked. I have had numerous bags misconnect when interlining, so when I have the time, I prefer to short check/re-check my bags.
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Old Aug 19, 09, 12:18 pm
  #10  
 
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Smile question about baggage handling

Originally Posted by ak333 View Post
I know that baggage handling on arrival at SFO is much different than Asian destinations, so I opted to just carry on both my back pack and rolling bag this time around.
ak333

I am not sure about your quote and wondered if you would explain. I am working on setting up a R/T from SFO to BKK and would like to understand a little better what I should expect since I will be flying NWA for the domestic portion of my flight and I believe I only have about 2 hours to make that connection and I fly with a checked golf travel bag.

TG
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Old Aug 19, 09, 7:03 pm
  #11  
 
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What a fantastic thoroughly detailed trip report! Thanks for writing about your experience!
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Old Aug 19, 09, 10:22 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by TravelGuy_2007 View Post
ak333

I am not sure about your quote and wondered if you would explain. I am working on setting up a R/T from SFO to BKK and would like to understand a little better what I should expect since I will be flying NWA for the domestic portion of my flight and I believe I only have about 2 hours to make that connection and I fly with a checked golf travel bag.

TG
TG, what I mean was that in most Asian destinations, your checked baggage comes very, very quickly. At SFO, especially the international terminal, I wait for a good 20 minutes plus for my bags sometimes. The worst was half an hour and that was for a priority bag! The good thing is that there is an interline bag drop off right after you leave the customs area at SFO.
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Old Sep 13, 09, 6:45 pm
  #13  
 
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Megadittoes

Really enjoyed your report.
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