Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sydney Domestic Qantas Club

A very bumpy flight HND-SYD but the good news is we slept long and hard, probably six to seven hours of the nine-plus hour flight.

Entering Australia was fairly smooth and we found our way to the Qantas Domestic transfer desk. There we moved up to an earlier flight and boarded a bus to the Domestic  terminal.

Right now we're enjoying great coffee and sandwiches in the Qantas Club, thanks to a new reciprocal agreement with Alaska.

Boarding for Melbourne before long.

Dining on NH (ANA) 7 SFO-NRT

The "soft product" matches the "hard product." The service was excellent throughout the flight.

The wine choice was extensive, and Brian tried a glass of their premium wine of the flight (or month) before switching to a Washington State red that he preferred. 

We both chose the international alternative to the Japanese dinner.

It was fine, served in courses first-class style.

We slept for some number of hours (4-5) and chose a delicious and filling noodle soup (called Ramen on the menu) for breakfast.

We noticed with awe that the flight attendants served breakfast over a period of at least two hours - talk about personalized service!

Eventually we approached Tokyo. We land at Narita about 3:20 p.m. local time  and will  find our own way to Haneda Airport via a 90-minute express bus.

There we hang around until departing on our HND-SYD flight at 10:10 p.m., hoping the Haneda Lounge has showers and recliners. We're scheduled to land in Sydney about 9:30 a.m. local time, and still face a short flight and a train ride after that. Here's hoping for some rest between now and then.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Aboard NH (ANA) 7: SFO-NRT

1-2-1 seating on a 777. A great "hard product."

Nice details... looking forward to this flight!

United Lounge in SFO International Terminal

United and Singapore have closed their lounges for renovation. Passengers in Business or First may now access the UA Global First Lounge, redubbed the Departure Lounge. 

We were lucky to arrive in time to find seats - nice quiet seats  off in a corner where we've sat on previous visits. The seats are now full and numbers of people are wandering around looking for an empty spot to sit.

Amazingly, it's still a First Class style self-serve bar with excellent liquor and wine choices, very unlike UA.

Retro United Paint Job at SFO


Fairly quiet around 4:15 a.m. We have this Bill Reid sculpture all to ourselves.

US CBP opens at 4:30 a.m. so we queue.

A quick stop at the Maple Leaf Lounge, where we meet a fellow Flyertalker. Fabian.

And now we're on board our first United plane in some time.

Is it just us, or do planes look more attractive from the vantage point of Row 2? This one is almost brand new (Next Generation Boeing Sky Interior) with lots of legroom in F, making a nice start to nearly 11,000 miles of flying, YVR-SFO-NRT (bus transfer to HND) -SYD.

Early Breakfast at Vancouver Airport Holiday Inn Express

We drove up last night as our first flight of the day to San Francisco (SFO) boards at 5:40 a.m. Yesterday's first IA flight of the day was canceled, possibly due to the Sonoma fires or ??

This hotel is quite nice, newly renovated, with gated parking and a light breakfast out at 3:30 a.m. Reasonable park-and-fly rate too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Home at Last

Apparently our plane had a tire problem in Portland, so the tire had to be changed.

We found out sadly that Alaska can be as guilty of "rolling delays" as any other airline. Our gate was right downstairs from the new Alaska Lounge and we could have retreated there for awhile. No announcements other than "a few minutes late." When the young gate agent let slip at one point that our plane hadn't left Portland yet, we knew we were in for a delay. On the other hand, we had a place to sit so maybe it didn't matter.

In the end, our flight was about an hour late. 

We took off in rain, landed at Bellingham with overcast, and faced a steady rain as a kind neighbor drove us home. It's now shortly after 9:00 p.m. local time. We'll forget what time it is in Dallas, Dubai, and India, but we're going to bed.

It's nice to be home.

Nearly Home and Sleepy in Seattle

We're sitting in the newest Alaska Lounge in the C concourse at SEA, waiting to board our little hop to Bellingham.

Home and our own bed beckon. It will be good to be home.

That previous line proves to be foreshadowing. We're sitting at the gate and our flight has been delayed until the incoming plane arrives from Portland.

So near and yet so far... and we're so tired at this point.

Treated Well at the Arlington, Texas Hilton

Let us count the ways.

After a pleasant ride in the Emirates-provided car to the hotel, a pleasant clerk found us a junior suite shortly after 10:00 a.m.

She also gave us breakfast certs for two mornings, and we enjoyed a good breakfast before retiring to sleep much of the day.

We wandered down to their small lounge in the evening, and learned they're one of the few US Hilton lounges serving complimentary wine and beer.

To make it even better, they were laying out slices of pizza (good pizza it was) from their restaurant as fast as guests could eat them, not that it was crowded.

After a good night's sleep, we enjoyed another buffet breakfast with added table service for pancakes, etc.

We're organizing ourselves to take a shuttle to the airport at 11:00. If all goes well, we'll be landing in Bellingham about 10 hours later.

A very prudent stopover this was!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Flying Emirates in a New Boeing 777

Our three-hour flight from Mumbai (BOM) to Dubai (DXB) was fine, with a pleasant crew.

We endured a long layover at DXB, arriving at 9:00 p.m. And leaving at 2:50 a.m. local time. The huge lounge was deserted when we arrived. As we emerged from our little lounging area to head toward our flight, we realized the place was so full it would be hard to find two places to sit together. There must be a lot of flights leaving from 3:00 a.m. onward.

Too bad we snoozed, instead of availing ourselves of the extensive food offerings.

We were surprised at BOM that the EK (Emirates) flight boarded an hour early, so we asked the lounge attendants if that was the case at DXB.

Oh no, they replied. They also said, in answer to our question, that there was no additional screening for U.S.-bound flights. Wrong on both counts!

By the time we arrived at the gate, it was listed as "last call."
A small army of baggage screeners was standing around and eager to give us attention. Kathy's female screener didn't want to let Kathy carry on an empty water bottle, so she walked over and dropped it in Brian's bag. His screener didn't mind a bit. Heh-heh...

Once that was over, we boarded what proved to be a quite empty Business Class section. Even better, it was another new (or newish) 777.

We had plenty of space to stow our bags, plenty of time to unpack our Bose headphones and iPhone power cords, and plenty of time for a glass of Veuve-Cliquot.

In other words, boarding as "late" as we did proved to work out very well. You never know.

There's a lot to be impressed by in Emirates. For example, accurate wine lists for both flights were published in advance on the EK website. There  were "only" two red wines, but what wines!

The order of meals on this 8,000-mile 15-hour flight commenced with a "light lunch." There were three choices for every meal. Here's Brian's light lunch, the very lightest option.

Later on, there was breakfast, including the continental option.

Before landing, lunch was served. Brian chose the beef, while Kathy, still suffering from the effects of an Indian breakfast, limited herself to the first-course tomato soup.

We slept about five hours after boarding in reasonably comfortable lie-flat seats, smoothed further with mattress pads supplied by the FAs. Brian managed another couple of hours after breakfast.

The entertainment options are extensive. Along with movies for Kathy and Big Bang Theory reruns for Brian, the "airshow" includes front and downward facing cameras, particularly good fun in takeoff and landings.

Overall it was a great flying experience. If only Kathy had been feeling better, it would have been nearly perfect. With carry-on only, we zipped through Global Entry, despite carrying some "Indian spices."

We have to admit it's particularly ppleasant being back in the U.S.A., especially with no hassles at immigration, and an Emirates-paid chauffeur to transport us to the Arlington Hilton. An available room at 10:00 a.m. and breakfast certs for two mornings were much appreciated. Yes, the Dallas area looked good as we landed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lounges at Mumbai and Dubai

Both were impressive. The Mumbai lounge appeared to be a contract lounge. The service was attentive, especially since Kathy's dealing with an uneasy stomach.

At one point we noticed a woman quietly praying in our area.

The Emirat s lounge is huge. Lots of food and drink but we simply napped and are now boarding our next flight to DFW.