Greetings Flight Reporters and thank you for stopping by this report.
This trip was a RTW that came about as an excuse to enjoy some quality Lufthansa lounge and airplane time and pop in on the Swiss First Class Lounge on the E gates in Zurich. A recent Aeroplan promo had a bonus for moving Starpoints to Aeroplan. When combined with the bonus Starpoints that SPG provides on airline transfer partners is was not a terrible value.
Some of the reports will be a little light (this one!) but I think with the lounge additions (except this one!) they will be sufficient to interest someone. They did me.
The routing and procurement method were as follows:
Delta Air Lines LAX-MSP 737-900ER First (Cash- No Report) Delta Air Lines MSP-LGA MD-88 Economy Comfort (NRSA - No Report) Lufthansa JFK-FRA B747-8i Business (United Miles - Here) Swiss FRA-ZRH A320 Business and Lufthansa Business Lounge (United Miles - Here) Swiss ZRH-FRA CS100 Business and Swiss First Class Lounge E (Aeroplan - Here) Lufthansa FRA-PVG A380-800 First and LH First Class Lounge and Terminal (Aeroplan - Here) ANA PVG-NRT B787-9 Business and Air China Business Class Lounge (Aeroplan -Here) Delta Air Lines NRT-PVG B767-300ER Business and Delta Sky Club (NRSA - Here) Delta Air Lines PVG-LAX B777-200ER Business (NRSA - This report.)
My apologies as this FR and the previous will be two of the lighter reports in the series. Both of the flights were very last minute options so I was somewhat out of sorts while experiencing them and therefore not as focused on the tasks of a flight reporter.
On your marks, get set, go! Connections at PVG are sub-optimal, to say the least. What I am attempting to do should not be possible. I need to clear immigration and customs and thus enter China. Then I have to go upstairs to departures, check in, wait for a seat assignment, and then clear immigration and leave China. I have about 90 minutes to accomplish this. Mentally I'm making hotel arrangements in Shanghai as I will be spending the night.
We'll pick up on arrival at PVG. Our flight from NRT arrived at a remote stand and the air stairs and buses are waiting. This is a positive development. The way I see it if any step in this sequence is anything but smooth the house of cards will implode. We deplane through door L1. There is no advantage to being among the first to deplane as the bus will only depart to the terminal when it has reached a sufficient capacity. We depart within 5 minutes and the drive to the terminal is very brief, basically just crossing the ramp. Another point in my favor.
As we alight from the bus it's a quick escalator ride up two floors to the arrivals level. To my shock and amazement the immigration line is deserted. All of my previous journeys through this process were accompanied by hundreds of other passengers. Immediately my mindset changes from "no chance" to "this could happen". I breeze through the line for foreigners, briskly walk through the "nothing to declare" customs channel and I'm dumped into the also sparsely populated arrivals hall. Only about 20 minutes have elapsed since the fasten seat belt sign was turned off.
Two more floors up and I'm in queue for check in. The line is only a few parties deep and I'm actually reassured that I am not the last to arrive and that passengers are still checking in normally. I reach the agent and we're about an hour from departure time. She processes my check in and asks me to return in 10 min. to receive a seat assignment. The wait elapses and i return to the counter and am assigned seat 2B. This is definitely looking promising!
I'm not home free yet however as the lines for immigration and security can be horrendous at PVG and I have no margin for error. If I'm not at the gate 30 min. before departure the flight will leave without me. Again, to my relief, the waits did not appear to be as severe as my past experience. I'm rushed and perspiring as I put my belt back on while I walk briskly to the gate. There are still many passengers in queue as I arrive so I know I am not too late. I present my boarding pass and passport at the Sky Priority lane and and welcomed in. I made it! Down the jet way and through a final carry on screening. The smiling flight attendant at the door was a most welcome sight.
My home for the next 11 hours in the forward J cabin on the 777.
It's not the most modern seat and storage space is paltry but I sure was happy to be there. i do find the seat private in bed mode and the length of the bed is good. The seat was provisioned with two pillows and a plush duvet all furnished under the Westin Heavenly Bed branding. There was also a Tumi amenity kit and slippers waiting at the seat. The IFE screen is quite small however and the resolution poor compared to current generation systems. This cabin will receive a new interior in the next 12 - 18 months and It's time.
I enjoyed a chilled sparkling wine before departure.
The view from 2B. This 1st gen herringbone seating arrangements has all seats facing the aisle rather then the window or center line of the aircraft.
Flight attendants my rounds with a cart of newspapers and then a cart with pajamas (Delta calls it lounge wear) in various sizes.
In yet another stroke of good fortune there were no shenanigans with the Chinese ATC this evening and we were dispatched for a slightly early departure. A brief taxi and then a raucous cacophony from the massive GEs and we were up into the night sky.
Again, please forgive my lack of pictures. I was presented a menu whilst on the ground and meal orders were taken. There was a Chinese path with assorted cold and warm dishes and the a Western path with the normal appetizer, salad, soup, main, cheese, and dessert. I opted for the Western meal and the service started promptly. A bar service is performed along with the first course. I opted for the Delta Sky Breeze cocktail (Bombay Sapphire gin, cranberry juice, and a splash of ginger ale) and a glass of the San Pellegrino water.
The shrimps were of good quality and freshness and the lightly pickled vegetables were crisp with a subtle briny flavor. The sauce could have been presented better…
Next up was a tomato bisque and salad with apple. The soup and croutons were lovely as they as often are at altitude. The salad greens had seen better days. Pretzel bread is always welcome, this time in the form of an actual pretzel twist.
Not excited by any of the animal proteins on the menu I opted for the vegetarian offering in the form of a ravioli. Despite the cooked on sauce around the rim of the bowl marring the appearance of the dish it was perfectly enjoyable. Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano added a nice salty bite. I paired the dish with a full bodied Argentinian Malbec.
The service moved at a very nice pace perhaps in part due to the cabin being at less than capacity. Finished dishes were cleared promptly. Soon after dinner was cleared the dessert cart was presented. I cannot pass on cheese even if it is the pre-cut institutional variety. I oped for only the cheese and plain ice cream. The packaged crackers are… My glass of Malbec was kept topped up at all times. A port and also a slightly effervescent dessert wine was on offer but I stayed with the big flavorful red.
After dinner I turned in for a nap. I slept well into the middle of the Pacific. I made it a point to not sleep the whole way so that I may sleep at the local time in Los Angeles that evening. Once awake I was approached by the flight attendant and offered a choice of mid flight snack. My curiosity led me to accept a serving of dim sum. She offered my choice of beverage and I chose a Tsingtao.
The snack was served hot and on a tray with fruit and a chocolate truffle. I was surprised this was part of the service in addition to the snack displays setup around the galleys. I enjoyed a bite or so of each item.
I remained awake for the remainder of the flight enjoying the IFE. I must say the "overnight" service from the flight attendants was very good. They were in the aisles frequently. My beer was topped up constantly and snacks and drinks were offered to those who were awake. Empty water bottles were constantly being removed and replaced with full so the passenger would awake to a fresh bottle. There was no real "gap" in the service as is common in overnight flights, it just a rolled on. I was impressed by this level of care.
The flight took a direct mid-pac routing today. Apparently the jet stream has dipped down.
About 90 minutes before arrival there is yet another meal service. There is a choice between a hot savory dish, a hot egg dish, and a cold cereal dish. I opted for the hot egg dish. I was presented with fruit and warm breads were offered form the basket. I chose a croissant, which turned out to be the best thing on the tray.
A smooth approach and landing ensued. The taxi to TBIT was quick and I was through Global Entry and into and Uber in 20 min.
Thank you very much for coming along with me on this adventure. I look forward to sharing the next one as well.
Delta Air Lines
Shanghai - PVG
Los Angeles - LAX
There was a great amount of satisfaction to making it home on the scheduled day albeit with a detour. Truth be told I actually very much enjoy the "thrill" of the uncertainty and the preparations of redundant scenarios that are necessary to travel in this manner.
The Ground Service: N/A other than to say the efficiency of the Chinese immigration and security screening was much appreciated.
The Lounge: N/A. There was not time but there are a variety of comical Priority Pass lounges I could have called on at PVG.
The Cabin: Flat bed and direct aisle access are great. The seat is a first generation example of such seating so it has passed due for upgrade. The orientation of the seat towards the aisle and the lack of storage are resolved in newer designs.
The Crew: Great crew this evening. Service was kind and efficient. The amount of service provided between meal periods was quite remarkable.
The Food and Beverage: Some hits and some misses. Nothing terrible memorable was served but I don't know if that's a reasonable expectation anyhow.
Overall: A great flight in J that was enhanced because I honestly thought the odds of my being on board were remote. It was a win.
Thank you very much for reading and happy flying.
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