The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.
The average flight time is 14 hours and 33 minutes.More information
There's a saying in life that goes like this, "Sometimes, it's not what you know. It's who you know." This concept offends my sensibilities as I want to cling to a naïve world view where achievements are based on merit, effort, etc. This series of flights confronts my naivety as it would not have come to fruition if I didn't have the pleasure of knowing the esteemed Flight Report contributor Reward Flying . Not only does Mark contribute detailed, critical, and interesting reports on this site and on his Rewardflying.com blog but he is also an expert in virtually all worthwhile frequent flyer programs.
Readers who are points nerds like me know that opportunities to book Swiss First Class with Star Alliance partner points are very rare, to say the least. In 2017 Swiss F inventory was released by Aeroplan (and others), ticketed by mileage redeemers, and summarily cancelled with the explanation that it shouldn't have been released at all. This made the email I received from Mark in the Fall of 2018 all the more intriguing. He had located Swiss F inventory by way of Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines) and it appeared bookable. Specifically BOM-ZRH-ORD was coming up in Swiss F on the Singapore Airlines website. With some more tinkering and application of his expertise Mark determined if you add the segment of SIN-BOM in SQ F the redemption price goes down as it is priced on SQ's chart rather than Star Alliance partner chart. So this is what he had done. He was ticketed for travel in July of 2019 flying SQ F SIN-BOM and LX F BOM-ZRH-ORD. Mark was contacting me not to gloat but to point out other dates that this routing was still available, should I wish to book one. Yes, I wish to. The only problem is that I didn't have 140,000 points to afford such a redemption. Mark, in a most generous way, offered to keep this information to himself until I was able to scrounge together the points. Wow.
Suffice it to say that I did accumulate the points, went all in on Krisflyer and booked the redemption. Now the fun challenge of filling in the gaps. I turned to Cathay Pacific first as I had the required amount of Alaska Miles (70k) to redeem for First. There was no availability on the day I wanted, from any gateway. More searching and I found it, from my home airport no less, a couple of days before I wanted to depart. Oh well, I'll make this a longer trip. I booked LAX-HKG-SIN. I'm not excited about staying in Singapore that long so I added a side trip to Kuching, Malaysia, somewhere that Anthony Bourdain made me excited for many years ago. To get back home from Chicago I bought a reasonable AA F ticket form ORD to SNA. So thanks to Jedi Award Master Mark, I'm off!
I travel on miles quite a bit. As such the trips are usually last minute affairs and the time I have to ruminate and pace about with excitement is limited. This trip, contrary to the norm, was signed, sealed and booked abut 300 days out. I had to wait better part of a year for some highly anticipated flying!
I arrived at LAX just before the counters opened by chance. I was checked in online and in possession of a digital boarding pass. Since check in opening was imminent I stopped by to see if I could move to seat 2A, my favorite. Not to be today, 1A is a nice consolation prize.
The TSA pre-check line at TBIT was fast and I was on my way upstairs to the Qantas Lounge.
I waited for breakfast so I went straight for the dining section. It's a quiet time to visit.
Polo, a lovely guy who has been working at the lounge seemingly since the inception, was on duty and came quickly with a menu and beverage offer.
A glass of the Pommery and some water please.
The egg white omelet and a side of bacon for breakfast hit the spot.
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I virtually had the place to myself but left anyway for my ritual of walking about the terminal and spotting airplanes.
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The Tahitians getting ready to depart for Paris.
BB3 was preparing to depart for Narita. Some day I will catch her.
JAL inbound form Narita.
I strolled long enough for the lunch menu to be on offer back at the lounge so I went back upstairs for another bite or two. The "Crimson Muse" (bourbon, pomegranate, and lime) intrigued me.
For a snack I opted for the "Summer tomato soup with thyme ricotta" and it was a nice example of the dish.
After snacking I retired to a comfortable chair with a glass of the Nicolas Feuillatte Rose and eagerly anticipated the adventure(s) before me.
As boarding time approached and espresso and cookie interlude occurred.
The gate assignment revealed that we were departing from a remote stand so I didn't bother heading down right as boarding was beginning, knowing the perk of priority boarding was gone. An announcement is made in the lounge and I meandered down eventually.
It's not very "First Class" but I do enjoy being on the tarmac with the airplanes.
One jet bridge…
I was greeted by a very friendly IFSM named Maybel and handed off to another FA to be shown to 1A. Maybel noted my first name and told me she named her son Christian, with a K. I mentioned that I have a niece name Maybel so we have a connection right away.
The refreshed interior is present on this ship, with the higher resolution monitor and touch screen handset.
The handset in 1A wasn't functioning properly but a seat reset solved the issue.
Wifi on this aircraft.
Lani and Ko were the flight attendants looking after the cabin this afternoon. Lani asked about a beverage before departing and I opted for my usual. The Tattinger Comtes De Champagne 2007, superb. Water with ice rides with the Champagne.
The pajamas and amenity kit are distributed. As I often do I attempted to swap the male kit for a female kit and was simply treated to an additional kit. A generous gesture.
The menu for CX885. This is my preferred CX departure time from LAX. It's not necessary to wake before dawn and there's plenty of time to enjoy the QF lounge. The meals on board are Lunch / Dinner and not Supper / Breakfast. There is also plenty of flying time to enjoy it all.
Captain Mark, from Australia, announced a 13:25 flying time to HKG. We were off the stand an taxing to 24L for departure.
Some traffic on taxi.
Shortly after crossing the 10,000' threshold Captain Mark turned off the seatbelt sign. I opted to change at this time.
Back to the Comtes for the aperitif.
I opted to take my lunch after takeoff and the table was set. As was Mark's experience recently there were no orchids placed at the seat initially but on this flight they were brought out and positioned during the meal at some point.
Champagne and caviar, a perfect match and a distinct signal that I am flying in first class.
Tracking the flight on the handset.
Switched over to a lovely Chardonnay with excellent minerality. I was thinking of the lobster but it was perfectly suited to the mushroom soup as well.
Unctuous and velvety soup.
The "salad" with a generous portion of Maine lobster.
I take the beef dish to have a nibble with the excellent wine. It's perfectly fine and not overcooked.
The port is lovely however the CX cheese offering is uninspired. Lani and Ko were extremely deft at making a wonderful flow to the service. They made it seem as if I was the only passenger when in fact here were 5 of us.
This was going to be one of those trips where I would have to sleep opportunistically if I wanted to do and see everything on my list. So, I took the opportunity to sleep in one of the best beds in the sky.
A mid-Pacific routing today rather than flying north and skirting Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.
After some satisfying sleep I decided to ask for the bed to be stowed. With perhaps about 3 hours remaining in the flight I opted to have dinner. I asked Lani if it was possible to enjoy the caviar service again, she approved and began to setup the table. Round two with some Comtes to quaff.
For a main dish I opted for stir fried beef, chive flower and oyster sauce, choy sum and steamed jasmine rice. The Lynch Bages made another appearance as well.
I had fond memories of this dish having just enjoyed it on JFK-YVR. The ex. JFK dish was superior.
After dinner the cabin was awake with lights on so I took an opportunity to gaze out the window.
Cloud gazing and Cognac a brilliant experience.
Our decent into HKG began in the late evening sky.
Thankfully the window shades can be up and not interfere with other passengers.
The remnants of the day are obscured by clouds as we approach the air field.
Lined up for 7L.
Aircraft movements as we taxi to our gate. Shanghai Airlines is one of my favorite liveries.
The Ground Service: The check in agent was polite. CX joining Pre-Check is fantastic.
The Lounge: I'm a fan of the Qantas LAX First Lounge. Polo is a great host and I enjoyed my time there. The made to order dining is good and at the times of my visit the facility was not very crowded. I know the evening push with QF, BA, and CX can get very busy.
The Cabin: This ship featured the refreshed interior and wifi. I appreciate the higher resolution IFE screen and touch screen handset. The seat and bed are excellent and don't require any changes in my book.
The Crew: Lani and Ko were lovely and efficient. The service was delivered in friendly and gracious manner making a very enjoyable experience.
The Food and Beverage: The wine list overshadows the meals, for me. It's really quite special. Meal stand outs are the caviar, salad and soup.
Overall: An absolutely delightful and decadent way to cross the Pacific and start off a great adventure with new airlines and new destinations. Thank you for stopping by and a sincere thank you to Mark (Rewardflying) for making this trip a reality.