Welcome to a series of flight reports around, you guessed it, the Asia Pacific. This series will contain reports on 6 segments and cover 2 airlines. The final leg on Delta PVG-LAX I will not report on as I have reported on that flight twice recently.
The carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method were as follows:
I've put up some skimpy reports of late so this one is the exact opposite, with perhaps too much info.
As soon as my Alaska Mileage Plan account balance gets close to 70,000 miles I start the search for CX F or JL F. This time the CX F was the readily available opportunity and I could even get a night and day in Hong Kong . The problem was departing Hong Kong I want access to the F lounges so this means either connecting the same day or before 6am the following day ot a flight in J or connecting to a flight in F. That's not enough time in HKG, if you ask me. I had to find something leaving the next day in F. I usually count on BKK for such flights but there was no F operating to BKK. NRT/HND of course but that was the wrong direction for me to hook up with SQ. That leaves me with MNL or TPE. The MNL times and availability didn't work so it's off to TPE…for two hours.
In TPE and I need to get to CGK to pick up my SQ experience. Avios to the rescue. Back to HKG and down to CGK this time as a J passenger. This would be interesting for me as I have never taken the time to visit the CX J lounges in Hong Kong and I haven't seen the new(ish) TPE lounge either.
Finally the SQ. I had to wait list to get Suites to PVG. The wait list cleared and I sort of dallied on booking the flights and by the time I did the SQ devaluation had happened, by a matter of hours. I asked the phone rep to please allow me the old pricing as the request was made before the devaluation. If you have ever worked withe the Krisflyer phone reps you know they are empowered to do nothing. They might just be contract call center folks. Anyhow the nice woman siad she would have someone call me on this issue and assured me the ticket hold would not expire. I didn't put much hope on receiving a call and planned to call back and just pay the increased rate but low and behold I received a call from Singapore. I explained the situation to the SQ employee and she very kindly changed my story for me. When she read back the sequence of events she said, "So, you were on hold with us at midnight when the "price changes" took place and you're asking if you can be priced under the old scheme, correct?" Me, " Yes, that's it." Her, " No problem, I will process this under the old redemption rates. " With that, I was ticketed. Let's get on to the flying now.
Tom Bradley International Terminal - LAX
In a completely expected turn of events it was a lovely day in Socal. The Uber driver taking me up to LAX was very good in both route and safe, attentive, yet still expedient driving. We pulled up to TBIT in under an hour from the OC even though it was the tail end of the commute hours.
I had checked in for the flight online and printed a boarding pass but I do prefer the glossy ones on the proper stock so when I spotted very little line at the CX counter I stopped for a new set.
They're not as pretty s SQ…
The line for security is always horrendous here. There is a premium line but you have to snake through several turns of the regular line before it branches off. Odd, that.
Having run the gauntlet I am treated with a very beautiful airport terminal and what its probably the best airport lounge in the USA. (I know, low bar). Over the bridge and up the elevator we go.
Qantas First Lounge
To breakfast we advance.
I was greeted by a formal Australian gentleman and admitted to the lounge. The area is basically one long rectangle with the restaurant on one end and the bar on the back wall. There is a variety of seating and it's stylish and all.
There are a few beverage and snack stations setup throughout the space as well, for the convenience of the guests, of course.
I took a seat in the dining room and was greeted by a very friendly young woman server who presented me with the menu. I had not been in for some time so I had in my mind that there was just an all day menu. No, it was breakfast only at this hour. I was starving so I ordered the croque monsieur to have a few bites until the lunch menu was available in about 90 minutes time.
Here is the breakfast menu.
The clean lines of the dining room furnishings.
The sandwich with a class of the Mumm Cuvee. It was fine, but just not what I had planned on. The champagne was well received.
I decided to go on walk about and have a look through the One World J lounge. I can report that it's a very nice space, if a little dark.
There is a great variety of seating and even a fireplace for those frigid Socal nights.
A loooooong buffet that was in the process of being changed form breakfast to lunch so I didn't really get a look at the offerings of either.
More seating around a different circular light feature, this time not a fire place.
A huge kids area.
More seating options on the way around the lounge towards the business area.
I decided to have a walk by the departure gate and have a look at the airplane and such.
It was now approaching 11:30 and lunch service would be on offer so I headed back upstairs to sample a few items from the menu. I would also need to be on board within the hour.
Have a look at the menu in place for the remainder of the operational day at the Qantas First Lounge.
Unfortunately I am a creature of habit and ordered two dishes that I had last time as i have positive memories. The salt and pepper squit and hamachi crudo. The crudo was excellent again, perhaps better than I remember but the squid was not as nice as I remember. I believe the preparation has changed to a heavier batter.
Keen to try another dish I requested the minute steak medium rare. It cam to me more cooked than I would have preferred but the flavored butter and chips were quite tasty. I just wanted a taste with some Shiraz anyhow.
A peek in the kitchen.
Time for a quick espresso before heading to the aircraft.
Quite excited for the flight now, I head downstairs to the gate. I don't have the privilege of flying Cathay Pacific much anymore so this is a highly anticipated experience. Boarding is well under way when I arrive but there is no wait at the premium lane and I walk straight on board through the dedicated (there was staff looking at BP) F jet bridge.
I was greeted at the door by the Customer Service Manager (I can't remember what CX calls the head flight attendant…but that sound familiar). She was quite upbeat and handed me off to Roi, on of the two FAs working the front today, to be escorted to my seat. Roi and I both had that funny look at each other like we had seen each other before. She mentioned it first and I agreed that I had been on one of her flights before but not sure when it was. After i got home I looked through some of my CX pictures and in fact the last time I flew CX, HKG-LAX in April of 2016, both Roi and Calvin were the FAs in front. Those two were the FAs today. Small world.
After some getting settled Roi offered a beverage. I was looking forward to the Krug so this is what i requested. It was nicely presented, along with my request for a glass of water, with some nuts. No more amuse bouche.
Carefully poured and bottle presented for photo.
An oshibori also delivered.
The cabin today would be 4 /6 with 3 of us on one side of the airplane and 1 on the other two seat side. The cabin is well documented so I won't go into too much detail. I feel like the product has worn well and still looks and feels special to me.
No orchid. Further cost cutting or an over site or operational/provisioning error?
The cornucopia of amenities was delivered.
Champagne was topped up for boarding and left to enjoy through much of taxi. I enjoyed the sipping while admiring the traffic at the world's busiest o&d airport.
An assertive roll down 24L and we were up.
Clear skies and smooth air led to a turning off the seat belt sign rather promptly after accent to 10,00 feet. Roi was timely with refreshments and menu for today.
The menu including wine promotion from Australia.
Roi asked if I like to enjoy lunch. I opted to wait another hour to enjoy the Krug and ambiance before dining. She took my order to reserve the items.
A look at the larger of the two F lavatories. Both are in front by the cockpit door. There is also a work area for the CSM.
Very promptly, one hour later, Calvin appeared and asked if he may set the table and start with the caviar. Oh please do. I linger on the caviar wishing to savor the experience. It's also the only course that is consumed in its entirety.
A look at the cutlery, china, and caviar source.
A crunchy riff on the Caesar salad is up next. It's an accurate representation. I also ask to switch to the Australian Riesling with the salad.
The Truffle cauliflower soup with a chablis.
I know I should order the Chinese menu on one of these flights but I'm always so tempted by the western plates and the wine pairing that I can understand. Today was no different. It was quite perfectly cooked for 37,000ft.
We're going all the way here. I'm trying hard to only have a few bitesof each course to make it to the end. Who knew over-eating required so much discipline. :)
The cheese and port are lovely and I probably linger here too long.
The warm pear tart is not going to eat itself. I'm least impressed with dessert so only manage a bite or two. I rather like the presentation, though.
The meal was very well done all the way through. Nothing blew me away but also there were no stinkers. I can't say enough about the pacing and service. Good show.
Here's Johnny. Of course with more sweets!
I'm not ready to turn in yet but perhaps Roi is so she asks if she can make a bed for me in an open seat and that way I can retire when I'm ready. Fantastic idea! I also slip on the pajamas and get my proper lounge going.
The entire cabin appears to be sleeping but it's only around 4pm local time so i simply enjoyed watching the IFE and soaking up one of the best first class experiences around.
After a movie or two I decided to request some items from the snack menu. Not out of hunger, mind you, but curiosity and experiential benefits. I started with the shrimp quesadilla based on reading something favorable on another FR. It was quite tasty!
I'm sure Calvin was quite confused when he cleared my hardly eaten quesadilla and I request the duck noodle soup. Confused only because I told him that the quesadilla was excellent when he inquired as to my liking. The duck noodle was also really solid. The duck was very tender with a lovely hint of 5 spice. Broth and noodle were OK.
Finally, nearer to sleep time at home, i was able to retire to the bed. I slept until about an 90 minutes before arrival. Upon waking I was offed a beverage and requested a cappuccino.
Would I like to enjoy dinner before arrival? You bet, I'm game. The table is set and I am offered some fruits to start.
Not inspired by any of the options I selected the pasta. It was a pea and ricotta ravioli. It didn't really connect with me. The Bordeaux I selected was enjoyable.
Finally the yuzu creme brulee and coffee were perfectly good.
Changed into street clothes adn shoes back on i settled into the window to watch our cloudy sunset approach into Chek Lap Kok Airport.
We took a parking spot next to an A330 in the new paint.
I was the first one off the airplane and hit the ground running for my one night in Hong Kong. Thanks for reading and please come back for the next installment.
Qantas First Class Lounge - TBIT
Los Angeles - LAX
Hong Kong - HKG
The Ground Service: There is none on offer and it's too bad. The security screening situation in LAX is sub-optimal for everyone.
The Lounge: The Qantas First Lounge is quite good by US standards. The service in the dining room was exceptional and the food and beverage on offer are of good quality. I look forward to any chance to visit.
The Cabin: It's gone a while without a major refresh but still holds up. The width of the bed, especially at the shoulder area, is exceptional and the sleep is as good or better than any F product I have tried.
The Crew: Roi and Calvin were very good. Professional and polished service is a hallmark of Cathay Pacific, in my experience. Perhaps more aloof than the service I am accustomed to on Singapore Airlines.
The Food and Beverage: It seems like the menu on these flights, at least the Western portion, doesn't really change that much. It is a very traditional approach. The quality is there, the freshness is there, and the presentation is there so what to change? I was pleased with everything I tasted. The Krug is always welcome and the wine promotion concept adds a nice flair to the wine list.
Overall: I delighted in the time i spent enjoying the lounges, the terminal itself, and of course the service on board. A nice dose of luxury and style with familiar, high quality food and drink. I'm still amazed that this is how some people travel.
Thank you for coming along and please check back for future installments.
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