Lately I've been doing "around-the-world" itineraries with increase frequency and this is the first of this kind for this year. A few months earlier I received a promotion from TK that gave me 4x the amt of status miles for flying J or 2x in Y. I decided to take advantage of this offer and get my qualifications for TK Gold Elite out of the way. Originally I was planning to go to BKK via OSL on TK and when I learned that ET flew LAX-DUB I wanted to fit that into SFO-OSL somehow. Eventually this proved to be too risky and I decided to use CAI as a base since there were many cheap J fares out of there. I then modified my trip to go from SFO-LHR, then use AA miles LHR-CAI on RJ, CAI-BKK on TK and BKK-SFO on JL. I looked at the schedule and it seemed too ambitious to do LHR, CAI and BKK in one week so I scratched that and started again.
Looking at TK J fares I saw one from CAI-JFK for USD 757 (about EUR 676.80) total. I grabbed that and redeemed an AA award on EY in J from SIN-CAI. I then purchased a UA one way SFO-SIN for USD 550 (about EUR 491.70) as a positioning flight and used a USD 100 credit for the JFK-SFO leg which ended up costing me USD 62 9 (EUR 55.40) via IAD which will give me the chance to visit TK's new lounge and also LH. Everything was set now and in the end this new itinerary was shorter than the OSL/BKK would have been. There was one thing though that was bugging me. I began to regret using my miles for EY and wanted to change it to QR instead. I figured that QR would give me a better experience compared to EY. For example, access to QR's Al Safwa F lounge was a big motivator plus the fact that QR gives pajamas on the SIN-DOH leg. In addition I have read about EY's cost cutting moves and that turned me off.
I kept calling AA asking for J inventory from SIN-CAI for weeks to no avail. Finally in one of these calls the agent told me that there was seat SIN-DOH in J but nothing from DOH-CAI. I remember that QR treated some short ME flights as 2 cabin F & Y and asked the agent if DOH-CAI had F available and she said yes, then I told her that technically I could be booked in F since J was not offered. She tried to change it and told me that the amount of miles was still the same - 40,000 miles. Bingo! All this time when I was inquiring and was told that no j seat was available I wonder if most of the agents were aware that DOH-CAI on QR was sold as F instead of J. Aaargh!
The first segment of this schedule will be the hardest with a duration of 16:25 with my butt firmly planted in Y. To make matters worse, the flight appeared to be full. When I checked in online, a question appeared asking if I am willing to take an alternate flight for USD 400. I don't think so.
So the day arrives and my sister drops me off by 21:10. I completely forget that it is the weekend of Memorial Day - a busy traveling weekend. The entrance to the airport is congested with heavy traffic and I start to get nervous. I finally make it to the terminal by 21:30 and go to UA Premier desk to check in. I stand in line and an agent pulls me off and prints my boarding pass at the kiosk. he has a very friendly demeanor and makes small conversation with me about my trip to SIN. After he handed me the boarding pass I thanked him and he wishes me a good trip.
Thank God I have TSA Pre Check. There are a few people waiting in line but it moves quickly. In less than 10 min. i am on the other side. There's no time to visit the lounges so I walk straight to gate G98. I notice my plane parked next to SQ.
Speaking of lounges, I was at the SQ lounge the other day and asked the receptionist when they will close it to make room for UA Polaris since it getting to be mid 2017. She told me that at first they were told in August but in the most recent briefing, they might not even close it and SQ might keep the lounge. This is just a rumor but nevertheless an interesting one. A lot of *A Gold flying in Y would revolt to the idea of not being able to use UA Polaris and be sent to an inferior UA Club.
Since the original boarding pass is a flimsy one I decided to ask the gate agent if she could print a new one for me. She cheerfully did it with a smile which is so unexpected. So far the customer service of the UA airport staff is winning me over. ;)
The gate looks crowded but I have not heard of any offers for volunteering seats. Perhaps the flight might not be as overbooked as originally though.
Boarding is carried out in an orderly fashion with priorities respected. In join Group 2 and upon entering the plane a FA welcomes me aboard. Another one position towards the back of the plane also greets me with a smile.
Getting to my seat I find out that the last 3 rows of Y (39-41) do not have overhead storage. To make matters worse the ones on the right side are full of headphones for J cabin. Yikes!!!
The seat pitch however is pretty decent and it feels comfortable at 32" or 81,28 cm.
Most controls for the seat like reading light and FA call button are interactive.
Another complaint that I have about this particular plane is the amount of WC's. There are only 4 for the entire Y cabin which seem low in my opinion. Four WC's for 204 people? Let's hope that a food poisoning outbreak never occurs aboard.
Speaking of WC's, seating on 41F one can hear every time the WC next to it flushes. Why then did I choose this seat? I was hoping that the middle one would remain open since it is such an undesirable row and secondly I cannot sleep on the plane and noises don't really bother me.
After take off the meal starts and I ordered my Hindu special meal. However, I only do this when I fly UA.
I am one of the first ones to be served and the meal looks and tastes as expected.
I finish my meal and then was offered a regular meal - chicken or noodles. Chicken it is and it looks like a rendition of sweet and sour chicken.
For dessert there is salted caramel gelato and FA's also distribute a bottle of water.
I try to watch a couple of films but do not actually pay too much attention. In between breaks I go to the galley where bottles of water and snack mix packages are offered from a bin.
There is a midflight snack service. The special meal one consists of pita bread with lettuce and pieces of chicken stuffed inside with a package of chocolate chip cookie. Regular pax get a turkey and cheese sandwich and M&M's. There are also snacks for sale if you don't like the free one.
Special meal snack.
Turkey and cheese sandwich.
Soon we prepare to land and the breakfast is served about 1:30 hr before.
I was given a Hindu breakfast that was not Hindu at all. It consisted of boiled rice with pieces of fruit. Maybe a vegetarian one but the piece of paper had my name and Hindu special meal written as the code. Good thing I did not order a diabetic meal. :P
Cabin with mood lighting getting ready for breakfast.
I was also offered the omelet with roasted potatoes and sausage link.
We landed a bit early by 05:59.
San Francisco - SFO
Singapore - SIN
I was dreading this flight because of its length and I was confined in the last row. Surprisingly this turned out to be a tolerable experience. The seat pitch of 32" is generous compared to the 747 or 777 in UA's fleet. The attitude of the staff from ground agents to FA's was refreshingly pleasant and a big contrast from the negative publicity that UA has received lately. The situation with the number of WC's and lack of overhead storage for the last couple of rows is discouraging and annoying.
Catering for the most part decent with the exception of my breakfast Hindu meal which seems to be designed by someone whose enemy is diabetic. The tray sizes might be small but having ice cream for dessert is a treat, especially compared to what the U.S. competition offers in Y. I personally think that of the big 3 US carriers, AA has the worst catering for Y and UA the best.
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