Hi and welcome to the final chapter of American Vacation Story!
The Final Problem: CX J Inbound to HK
This series will cover my annual vacation to the US in summer 2016, which contains 4 journeys in 3 different sets of tickets with 2 alliances. Here is my itinerary:
Chapter 1 - CX890 HKG-EWR, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here] Chapter 2a - AA1615 EWR-CLT, Boeing B737-800 in Y [Here] Chapter 2b - AA5164 CLT-BHM, Bombardier CRJ-200ER in Y [Here] Chapter 3a - DL ATL-ATL, Boeing B767-200 Spirit of Delta [Merge into 3b] Chapter 3b - UA5865 ATL-ORD, Embraer E-175 in Y [Here] Chapter 4a - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Flight cancelled and merged to 4b] Chapter 4b - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [You are here]
This is my 2nd time flying on this route while 1st time in J. This report will cover a walkthrough of BA Terraces Lounge and review of the CX mini J cabin. Besides, there will be travel bonus of Chicago in the end.
Time flied and it was time to clear my annual leaves again (Operation AL Burning). This vacation was planned immediately after my US trip in Jul 2015. At that time I had some Asia Miles going to be expired which were enough for redeeming a RT long-haul J ticket. US would be my preliminary destination which Chicago was mandatory. Initially I planned to redeem it as oneworld multi-carrier award. As a big fan of AA (…livery), I desired to try the AA/JL B77Ws on HKG-DFW/ORD-NRT. But AA, JL and CX seem not to be friends that AA/JL TPAC awards are not available to Asia Miles. Whatever how many times I searched online or called MPC, there were still no availability. Well… think positively taking CX J was not a bad idea^^
CX's HKG-ORD seems not doing well after MU and BR entered the ORD market where searching online it had lots of J seats available. But I preferred an open jaw instead of doing a RT to O'Hare again. In order to maximize the value of AM, I kept an eye on the East Coast. Finding those J awards was a challenge because CX always holds the seats. BOS had no availability while JFK only had 1 F seat opened. I kept monitoring and one day HKG-EWR accidentally released a seat. I promptly called MPC and job done!
For the return ORD-HKG flight, CX uses a 4-class 77H which features a 2-row mini J cabin behind the F cabin. During booking I asked if I could sit in the mini cabin, the MPC agent checked and assigned me to the 12A window seat. Bingo! Being a no-beef person, I pre-ordered the special non-beef meal since I believed it might be better due to its separate preparation.
Chapter 4a: CX807 ORD-HKG (flight cancelled)
The day before departure I visited the Art Institute of Chicago 2nd time with my friend because it had a special exhibition.
It was time to have my OLCI while I was re-appreciating the American Gothic.
When I opened my reservation online, OMG my next day flight back to HK was cancelled…
Because the East Wind had arrived HK!
Just like Edward's wife in New York Movie, we got out to the museum lobby and called the CX North American hotlines respectively. Sadly all hotlines were busy and no rep picked our call.
The painters should have known my feelings. They convinced me that although my situation was in a mess, appreciating their artworks was necessary.
Visiting the museum afterwards my friend and I had dinner nearby. I texted my company that I would take extra 1 day AL and we continued calling CX. This time I contacted the HK office. It was 530 at HK time.
Eventually an agent got my call and I requested rebooking for my cancelled flight. Still hoped to fly on AA/JL I asked if they could rebook me on other oneworld partners. The agent instantly turned me down that rebooking could be made on CX metal only lol Checking my reservation, she said she would try rebooking on the next day flight. She held the line for minutes for checking but later on she cut the line lol What the heck?
I called back several times but failed and finally got to another agent 20 minutes later. The much nicer agent typed my reservation and confirmed the previous agent had successfully rebooked on the next day flight. She asked if I want to choose the seat then and in return I asked if I could get the same seat with the cancelled flight. She worked out and I not only kept my mini cabin seat but also my no beef meal!
Chapter 4b: CX807 ORD-HKG (flight not cancelled)
On the actual day of departure I woke up early and went to buy some famous Chicago chocolates.
Drawing lesson from last year that I nearly missed the same CX flight, I took the CTA to the airport 3.5 hours before departure.
On my way to O'Hare my mobile popped up that my flight would delay a bit to 1550
I arrived ORD around 1330. The CTA middle platform reopened finally!
To get to Terminal 5, the most direct way is walking to Terminal 3 and took the ATS. But I had many time so I walked through the tunnel to Terminal 2.
The T2 Delta baggage claim has an angel question: Will it give your bag in 20 minutes?
I took the escalator up to the departure level. A White F-15 in the T2 airside telling the story of O'Hare
The AC counters in landside
I went outside to recharge myself :P
Once upon a time, the mysterious Terminal 4 was there
Now heading to the ATS station
Unlike last time, I was chill for the train coming
Riding to T5, a VX A320 probably to LAX/SFO
Terminal 5 was closer
Getting off from the train I went upstairs to the departure level.
O'Hare International Airport Terminal 5
The check-in lobby. A long queue at the EI counters to DUB
The FIDS. Our flight was showing a 15:50 departure at Gate M11 on the upper half of the left FIDS.
The CX counters. Only few people here
Same with last time, all the lines were empty but this time it was because the passengers had not shown up yet
Spotting me walked to the J line, the F counter agent welcomed and guided me to his counter. I handed over my passport and we had a short chat during check-in. The agent said I made the right choice of not coming to airport yesterday since the CX counters were closed
Guidelines for the carry-on baggage
The agent checked my bag and handed my boarding pass and lounge invitation (sorry I forgot take the photo of Lounge invitation)
Still had time, I went outside again for the last break
I was ready to the other side
There was a queue for the TSA but it was very smooth where I just waited for less than 5 minutes. During the screening the TSA staff again thought I was taking meth which was the 2nd time happened in T5!!! Nothing I could do on it, I comforted myself I was SSSS and obeyed the staff lol I was ordered to stand aside and pat downed by 2 officers. One of them kept groping my butts and chest, while the other one dumped all my belongings from my backpack and checked…
I was released 20 minutes later. Cleared the security you have to pass the duty-free jungle to the airside.
After the duty free jungle is the food court maze
My Gate 11 is right here once exit the food court maze
It looks like CX must depart at Gate 11 while HU depart at Gate 10
My bird today (B-KQU) which was delivered in Dec 2014
CX agents were preparing at the gate
The Hudson News
I strolled around the airside and did some plane spotting. An AA B772
The East atrium which houses the SK lounge
iPads were placed for use
Walking along the east concourse
An AZ A330
A NH B77W from NRT just landed
Ryan Murphy should consider this for next next season of Feud: Emirates and Qatar (both are B77Ws)
Visiting the T5 toilet which is spacious and clean
I had a brief pray to Harry Caray and wished Cubs wins^^ (they won finally!!!)
It was time to visit the BA Business Lounge which is located between Gate 11 and 12
BA has a separate First class Lounge which is also reserved for CX F passengers
The BA Terraces Lounge is across the concourse from the F Lounge
British Airways Terraces Lounge
A young CX agent at reception desk greeted me. He collected my Lounge invitation and welcomed me to enter the lounge.
The Lounge is located at the inner area of terminal so it neither has windows nor natural light. The sitting area was a bit crowded due to the CX and BA passengers
The computer stations
The dining area
The food offerings. No hot food available (I do not consider the soup as food)
Maybe I kept taking photos too obviously inside the Lounge, the attendants became anxious and skeptical if I was the inspector. One of them came and greeted me and asked if I needed help. I politely declined and said I would help myself.
I grabbed some food and took a bar desk seat. My offerings
Not only the attendants, but the businessman sitting next to me also looked curious and asked if I was the hidden staff. I smiled and joked it was my 1st J flight^^
The Lounge provides password for Wi-Fi access and it was fast. On and off the attendant checked me and asked if I wanted anything else.
The toilet was clean.
At 1530 the CX agent at reception walked around and announced that boarding would start in 15 minutes. I left the Lounge and there was a survey kiosk for rating the Lounge. What is your vote?
I returned to my gate. The same check-in agent recognized me and welcomed me again. In O’Hare CX merges the F and J into 1 line
While I was queuing, the guy behind accidentally hit me. He immediately said sorry but it got us started chatting. He was going to BKK for vacation. He was also the victim of the East Wind and was rebooked to this flight.
The Y passengers sat aside and waited. It seemed there would be high load after the typhoon day.
Yet boarding did not begin until 1555 and it started in order. I tried to use the mobile BP but not available lol I desperately took out my BP and witnessed the gate agent ripped my BP into 2! Noooo!!!
The newspaper cart at the entrance. This was an inbound flight so no Oriental Daily (東方日報) available
The used amenities were waiting Uber to the laundry
A purser (aka the golden lady 金姐 who I later found that she is Korean) greeted me at the door and guided me to the left. I felt prestigious when other passengers turned right :P
I found my seat 12A and the chatty guy was my front seatmate
A toilet is behind my seat but it did not distribute me throughout this flight
View of mini cabin. It has 2 rows of total 8 J seats where the 1st row is exclusive for Diamond and ow emerald members. It was full today
A glimpse of the F cabin
The 15-inch touchable IFE screen. Our route today
We had a long way to go
Seat pitch always looks good
An oshibori was offered
The back view of my seat. Y was boarding
The seatback materials with the rebranded safety card
PDB was offered and I took the apple juice
I was addressed by name as the FA offered me the menu even I opted for special menu. Confirmed I kept my special meal option, she told me I could change my mind anytime as they had the leftovers due to the 20% load in J. I was surprised about the low load after the typhoon day. The FA had the same feeling because today PEY and Y were full. Meanwhile I asked the meal time because dinner was served mid-flight on this flight last time. The FA replied today would be normal meal services.
The wines and drinks list
Windows view of my seat
Although it is a young 1.5 years old B77W, you could see the seat scars made by the cart
Boarding was quick. The jet bridge retracted and we pushed back sharply at 1620
The new safety video was played and showing how the 2% of passengers prepare for their departure
Nora Durst’s husband looks like he is flying United lol
Long live the UA Queen!
The Terminal 5 line up
The pilot came on the PA to welcome us aboard. He apologized for the delay due to the late aircraft arrival and introduced that our flight time would be 15 hours and 6 minutes.
A 5X A300-600 was landing
The HU B788 went ahead of us to PEK
Aligning to runway 10L. We were ready…
And took off! A KL Queen to AMS
Bye O’Hare! See you later!
We left Chicago by turning North and towards the Northwest
Once we levelled off, a bottled water and the “new” amenity kit were distributed
The amenity kit is different from my outbound which is taller and slimmer but more practical
The sky was so blue!
It’s yoga time^^
Aperitif service and the Korean purser served my aisle.
I asked for the CX signature drinks. Unfortunately she coldly replied those drinks were not available on this flight. What??? They were shown in your menu! As a result I requested OJ.
The ISM knelt and greeted the seat 11D & G passengers which are probably MPC Diamond members. Their conversations revealed that they are the bosses of a famous fashion brand (not Donatella^^). Both had the same situation with me which were rebooked to this flight! Aha at least half of the mini cabin was rebooked from yesterday^^
Lunch services started when we were over Duluth
The linens were laid.
Same as my HKG-EWR flight I was the first to be served. The salad and starter was brought out and it looked totally not sound appetizing. It was merely vegetables put in 2 plates. They were ice-cold and bland. On the other hand the other passengers had the salmon starter!
Buttonholes in the napkins
The CX metal tableware
The entrée was served which was cod with broccoli and mash potato. Portion size was somewhat smaller than the outbound. The cod was very good and flaky. I asked for Baileys.
The entrée parade. My right seatmate chose the beef. He cut a piece and put into his mouth, suddenly his face turned like King Joffrey (glad that no wedding on this flight lol). He subsequently left the entrée untouched.
The FA came through with the cheese and fruit cart.
I went for both.
I had the same dessert with normal meal.
It was green tea tiramisu which was tasty
The purser passed the pralines box. I picked one and saved it for later
Lunch wrapped up with another oshibori.
Another FA came and took my after lunch drinks order. I asked for the HK style milk tea. But it was disrupted by reasonably heavy turbulence so the FA said she would give it after seat belt sign was off
The turbulence lasted for a while and I went into food coma. When I sobered up, the milk tea was waiting for me. It was powdered milk tea thus personally its taste was not truly in HK style
The galley curtain was closed after the lunch
Browsing the IFE. Decent entertainment selections as usual
Time to visit my seat back toilet. It was clean and tidy as usual
Changing diaper is a woman job on this B77W
The hand lotion was cut wef Jul 2017
I took out my Surface and continued my UA Queen flight report writing. But I was dishearten when describing how the rude UA FA shamed on me in front of the Y passengers lol I stopped and got some sleep.
I changed my clothes before sleep but the J toilets were all full at that time. So I used my blanket to create a mini changing room at my seat. Oh no the blanket was dirty inside!
The beautiful sky outside
I made my bedding. Too bad my seat did not work properly which could not be fully flat lol
Luckily the issue was not serious and I still slept well
2 hours later I was awoken by the sudden noise when we were flying over Alaska. The 12G passenger did not wear his earphone while turned the volume in the loudest. All passengers in the mini cabin were awoken. The front bosses were extreme annoyed and complained to the purser. The Korean purser then transformed herself into a United crew and walked to that passenger and seriously warned him not to disturb the others. That passenger obeyed immediately, might be he did not want to be another doctor…
I want to go back to sleep… Sound and color…
However I could not sleep anymore at this moment. I turned on my Surface and continued watching the super hit Stranger Things! 11!
I felt hungry and time to have snacks. A bit nervous regarding the notorious O’Hare food, I hit the call button and asked for the cup noodles (the safest option imo). The FA was stunned and asked why not trying the J rice vermicelli. I simply replied I really wanted the cup noodles.
Several minutes later, the cup noodles was here. It was served with a bowl instead of the usual paper cup as in Y. I was surprised and asked why not served in paper cup. The FA seemed lost and not known how to response. She went away but 90 seconds later the purser came and explained it is their services stand which the company thought paper cup is not visually appealing in J @@ BTW the cup noodles tasted good deservedly
Ain't life just awful strange? Sound and color…
Next I ordered the chocolate Haagen-Dazs ice cream which was delivered in a minute. As expected, another brick.
Flipping through the CX Discovery magazine featuring the new Pier J Lounge which I had visited in Chapter 1
There is a miles chart showing that you will earn 7 more miles when flying to JFK rather than EWR
The purser came to check me and asked if I want some drinks. I went for chamomile tea.
I went to the accessible toilet between the 2 J cabins. It was as clean as the first one.
I then grabbed some galley snacks
I dozed off again and later interrupted by another turbulence over the Shikoku. The purser saw me awake and gave me another chamomile tea.
You wish you never gave it all away… Sound and color… No more to see the setting of the sun… Sound and color…
Soon the dinner commenced 2.5 hours prior to arrival
Mood lighting was on
Oshibori was offered
Linens was laid. A fruit plate (same with outbound breakfast) and a bread were served. I requested OJ for drinks.
Following was the entrée which was the chicken rice in Hindu style. The chicken was super dry which I could neither cut nor bite it. I only finished the rice and the vegetables.
During dinner my right seatmate seemed forgotten to buy something in ORD, he called the FA and made the duty-free order.
The FA wheeled out the dessert cart.
It was blueberry cheesecake and again tasted very good
In summary, the J catering on this flight was mediocre (except the desserts) and worse than my HKG-EWR flight.
After the dinner I was asked to fill a CX survey attached with an inflight voucher and a CX pen as token. The FA whispered to me that as instructed by the ISM, she really wished me to complete and return the form. The survey covers my travel pattern and rating the CX services. There is one question at the end asking if I would consider CX for next trip. Sorry I had no say on my next trip thus I immediately ticked “NO”… (cough)
The pilot announced that we would expect arrive at 20:54
Connecting information was screened
The F curtain reopened for landing
Almost there now
Life in Sound and color… Love in Sound and color…
Our plane touched down on the North runway 30 minutes behind scheduled arrival
Eventually we arrived at Gate 50 which is the end of Southwest Concourse, one of the farthest Gate to the immigration
Passing the F cabin
The FA gave goodbyes at the door and I stepped on one of the longest jet bridges in HKG
A long walk to the immigration
The first priority task after a 15-hour flight was recharging myself!
Cleared the immigration within minute, I headed to the baggage claim. It was very slow as my baggage carousel handled 5 arrived flights tonight. I waited nearly half an hour for my baggage despite being a J passenger
Retrieving my bag, I took the Airport Express to back home. All good things came to an end. I returned to my working hell…
Since I had brought my travel insurance, I sent an email to CX requesting the delay certificate next day and about 3 weeks later I received the letter for my claim.
Sound and color… Sound and color… And this concludes my American Vacation Story
Bonus: The Windy City
Visiting the Delta Headquarters before, why not go to the United? Oscar is at the 11th floor of the Sears Tower^^
No I went to Skydeck Chicago actually;)
Beautiful night view of Chicago
If you look carefully, you can also see the Boeing Headquarters. Could you find it?
Food tasting in the town
American Horror Story: fried Sarah Paulson (Lana!)
Cubs’ Centennial Celebration at Wrigley Field in the Union Station
The new Chinatown library
The Dark Knight v. the Transformers: Chitown at night
The Theatre District
This is the end of my flight series in 2016 and thanks for your reading. Good Goodbye!
How to rate this flight? Um… a standard but unimpressive TPAC experience with CX. As a 5* and my hometown airline, I expect CX would have consistent products and services for both legs. This flight has a noticeable contrast compared with my outbound J where the latter is far better, but overall it is still a comfortable flight. Catering is a problem. BTW now this route has changed to dine on demand and hope the food has improved. I am happy that the CX CS can rebook me the same flight next day with the same seat and menu options albeit it is somewhat difficult to contact them. As a redeemed flight, I could not complain much.
Cabin comfort: Good. The mini cabin is full but quiet mostly. My seat has a toilet behind but intrusion is minimal. Privacy in this cabin is very good. Toilets are clean throughout the flight. My seat has technical issue which cannot be fully flat but it is still cozy and does not border my sleep too much. No slippers provided.
Cabin Crew: Good. A Korean purser served my aisle. Despite having the language barrier thus being less engaging and personal, she is attention to details and able to solve the problem (noisy passenger). The rest of the crews were efficient and nice, but also less enthusiastic compared with my outbound.
Entertainment: Good. Newspapers are available on the jet bridge (still no Oriental Daily). Standard seatback literature. The touchable IFE is fast and responsive. It has a variety of programs (more local side). The frequent pop-up ads in StudioCX is annoying. I mostly entertained by my own device so it does not bother me too much.
Meal and catering: Not so good. Standard catering procedures are followed. Why no CX signature drinks again??? This is an ex-ORD flight (UA kitchen lol). The lunch starter is very meh while the cod is very good. The entrée of dinner is very United. With the same special meal option chosen, the portion size on this flight is smaller than outbound. IME the NH Y food is even better than this J. Galley snacks are mostly the same as Y and are available throughout the flight.
The BA Terraces Lounge is satisfactory. It is small and windowless. Toilet is clean. Still it has adequate beverages and food selection. The staff are nice and helpful. In general it is not as good as the Plaza Premium Lounge in HKG, but better than the United Clubs in US.
For ORD, waiting for the security in Terminal 5 is fast. The terminal is new and less crowded than the others. For HKG, the arrivals procedure is efficient as always expect the baggage claim.
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