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Feb 2016 – The Long, Long, LONG way from HKG to JFK
I went on another trip this past February – 2 weeks but a ton of flying, mostly because I wanted to use up my AAdvantage miles and try some new airlines/products.
[B]CX F JFK-HKG-CAN[/B]
The JFK T7 BA lounge is really kind of boring, especially around 10pm. I had a drink from the self serve bar and just sat until it was time to board. I’m sort of hoping CX takes over the old UA Club since there are 4 daily flights to HKG as well as a number of other OW departures that isn’t BA. The flight it self was fine – the same old great CX F experience. I did have trouble sleeping though. The Pier lounge was great and I wished I had a longer layover there. The HKG-CAN leg was on a KA A330 with their regional product and just 30 minutes in the air.
[I]Tip: I think that CX regularly oversells economy on their JFK-HKG flights so it’s worth asking about an op-up. Both my friend and my father have been op-upped before, from Y to W. One time, there was a $500 paid option for Y to W but it was ultimately waived because the W seat wasn’t an aisle seat.[/I]
[B]Hyatt Regency HK TST[/B]
After spending 10 days in Guangzhou, I took a train down to Hong Kong to begin my journey home, which started with a night here, booked on points since my flight out of HKG the next morning was early. The room was spacious and comfortable but looked out over the city and not the harbor. I appreciated the free phone in the room but I was all set with T-Mobile. In the morning, I took a cab to the Kowloon Airport Express stop, checked in and took the train to the airport and headed straight to security. I had a bag to check and the agent helped me tag it all the way to LHR, my final destination (sort of)
[B]CX J HKG-SIN[/B]
I made a short stop at The Wing, Business for some food before heading to the gate. Ironically, the gate next to my flight was CX’s morning departure to JFK. The flight to SIN was operated by CX’s long haul A330 with reverse herringbone seats. Service was quick with the meal served on a single tray. I lounged in my seat and watched [I]Shameless[/I] that I had on my laptop and ~3 hours later we landed.
I decided to spend my layover here and and hop around the terminals for fun. I paid S$3 to store my bags for a few hours, cleared immigration and walked around inside the airport, moving between terminals for fun before heading to Terminal 2 check in for my next flight, on Etihad.
[I]Tip: While SIN’s terminals are connected airside, you are required to clear immigration in the terminal your flight arrived in. Not knowing this, I had gone to T2 to store my bag before clearing immigration only to be turned away.
EY’s check in area does check in for Y and J passengers. I headed for the SATS Premier room, where F passengers, including EY F are checked in. I was quickly helped and within minutes, I had my boarding passes all the way to LHR and also confirmed that the bag I checked at HKG had been transferred to EY. After a quick pass thru immigration, I went to get my bag out of storate and for the T2 SATS Premier Lounge. While I appreciated the shower in the lounge, it was CRAMPED. There wasnt a bench to place anything in the shower and almost no room to move around. The food was disappointing and I left the lounge to wander around air side before heading to my gate, cleared security and had a seat in the holding pen.
[B]EY F SIN-AUH-LHR[/B]
I was excited for my next 2 legs for several reasons, all “firsts”: first time on EY, on EY F, and on a 789. EY F on the 789 is very intimate and absolutely beautiful. I think their livery on the 789 is one of the best I’ve seen. I was the only person in F and had a great time. The food was wonderful and I slept extremely well in an adjacent suite. I woke up just in time for the pre-arrival meal. Upon landing we pulled into a remote stand and was bused to the terminal. I cleared transfer security quickly and walked to the T3 Premium Lounge.
The lounge was crowded but I was glad to have a place to store my bags. I had a drink and some food and wandered around. More bathrooms would go a long way – they were always full each time I passed by one. I also walked around the terminal – it really is rush hour in the middle of the night. People were everywhere! Soon enough, it was time to board the A380 to London!
The First Apartment was both bigger and smaller than I imagined, if that makes sense. I also feel like the crew from SIN was more friendly and warm compared to this crew. Service and food was still great though. I didnt sleep as well as I did on the 789 but I’m surprised I slept at all since I dont usually sleep this much. I wanted to shower but when my time came around, I was told that there was a problem and it had to be taken out of service. Is anyone else confused as to why the shower is in the smaller of the two F bathrooms? I had a meal before landing and after clearing immigration, I went toward the Etihad Chauffeur sign and was driven to the hotel.
More to come, trip isnt over yet! 😉
[B]Hilton Conrad St. James[/B]
I booked a paid night here. It wasn’t cheap but compared to other hotels in London, not much more expensive. Overall I thought the hotel was very nice with spacious rooms, complimentary water and wifi. The tube station is conveniently located across the street. Complimentary breakfast with decent, with a buffet of options and made-to-order eggs.
[I]Tip: Ask for a room with a street view – some room have an interior view that face other rooms’ windows. I kept the blinds closed the entire time.
[B]EK F LGW-DXB[/B]
Originally I booked BA F LHR-JFK with AS miles before realizing that for a few miles more, plus less fees, I can fly EK home via DXB so that’s what I did. Fun stuff! I hailed an Uber for the ride from the hotel to the airport, which came out to 65GBP and took over an hour
[I]Tip: I absolutely recommend the Gatwick Express, since it’d be much faster and cheaper. The road to LGW was a mix of highways and local roads with traffic and stops at lights.
Check-in took longer than usual simply because the agent had not had anyone fly to New York via Dubai and needed to consult someone. When it was complete, my bag was checked to Dubai (since would have an overnight layover) and was given boarding passes and a lounge invitation. There wasn’t a wait at all for VAT tax refunds nor was there a wait for Premium Gatwick security. I found my way to the EK lounge, just as lunch service was starting. After a meal, catching up on messages and some TV, I headed to the gate. There was a holding pen of sorts and soon after, the flight began boarding.
[I]Tip: Getting from the lounge to the gate is a really long walk. I’d plan for a good 20 minutes if you have bags and dont want to rush. The long walkway is also a great place to watch planes!
Overall, the flight was excellent and was able to sleep very well. The catering was great, as was the service. I had my first shower in a plane ever and I share the same feelings Lucky had – I could not stop laugh in amazement. Immigration was a breeze upon landing though there was a bit of a wait, even with Fast Track cards. I picked up my bag and headed for the taxi stand to get to my hotel for the night.
[I]Tip: Ben has said this before but it’s best if you get in a cab that isn’t black. They’re much cheaper than black cabs at the airport, regardless of what the ground workers managing the taxi stand tells you.
STILL not the end of the trip 😉