Thursday, May 23, 2019

PEK-HAK on China Southern, HAK-SYD on Hainan

We queue in the business class line but the people in the economy line crowd forward as well. Still,we’ve learned to persevere in China.

We board a venerable Airbus 321 with only one row of business class seats. They are comfortable and offer lots of foot room.

The young flight attendant is most attentive and even offers to put our slippers on us, as she does for the other two business class passengers.

Seated across the aisle from us are two men who are certainly aware of their status. One talks on his cell phone through the safety briefing and much of the taxi. The flight attendants are clearly too timid to confront him.

Our flight is surprisingly good, and includes an excellent meal with a choice of entrees, duck for Kathy and spicy beef for Brian.

Nibbles and French wine...



Fruit for dessert...

We have personal video players, similar to the ones Alaska Airlines use. All in all, a fine flight.

We land at Haikou Airport at a remote gate about 3 1/2 hours later. There we’re ushered to a special luxury van for business class passengers and driven to the domestic terminal, a ride that takes nearly 10 minutes!

The domestic terminal is basic and has few signs. We eventually walk a kilometer to it, following a young Chinese passenger who speaks some English.

Once there, we realize there was probably a bus transfer, but the walk in the fresh air (and no rain) is enjoyable,

Besides, the international terminal is crowded and we soon realize we’ll have to wait in line for two hours for the Hainan counter to open. Good grief.

Finally, an eternity later, we traverse exit immigration and an unpleasant security line before finally reaching a small but pleasant lounge, where we simply sit and relax.

We again have access to a special business class bus,this one similar in size to a hotel shuttle van.

Very soon, we’re looking up at the Airbus 330 that will take us to Sydney in another nine-hour flight.

The flight is almost empty. Despite our fatigue,we enjoy the service, food, and flatbed seats.

We love Hainan’s personal bread baskets, this one at breakfast.

The Sydney Airport seems deserted when we land. We find our way to the Airport Train and ride into the city.
There’s a glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Circular Quay stop.

Then it’s off at the Town Hall stop and a short walk to the Hilton. There we nap, meet friends in the Executive Lounge for awhile, and then sleep some more.

We made it, but we’re happy we’re not planning a round trip to Frankfurt.
G’day Sydney!

The Beijing Transit Experience

As we make our “final approach,” we’re taken by the sandy colors of greater Beijing.

Before long we’re parked at the gate and climbing down the stairs from the upper deck.

Our situation is as follows. We bought a business class Hainan flight PEK-HAK-SYD. Hainan cancelled our original departing flight and substituted a noon flight that we might miss in the worst of circumstances.

We pressed Hainan and they signed our PEK-HAK leg over to China Southern, a partner. This leaves us with an awkward eight-hour layover, and plenty  of time to pick up boarding passes.

We first take the People Mover, an automated subway that reminds us of Florida airports.

After a couple of wrong turns, we end up in the right immigration line and are through in 10-15 minutes.

We wend our way outside and catch the free airport shuttle bus from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2. Good grief! It’s a 10-15 minute ride.

We disembark at the distinctly more dismal domestic terminal and eventually find our way to the China Southern business check-in area.

This is where things could have gone south, but the diligent young woman finds our reservation and issues us boarding passes.

We then proceed to the domestic security line and undergo the most, ah, thorough search ever (although even FRA screeners were inside our pants).

It takes  us several minutes to replace everything in Brian’s small bag that had been strewn around - headphones, electric toothbrush, cables, etc.

We then trudge onward to find the correct Number 1 China Southern Lounge. That’s another 10-15 minute stroll, and we’re eventually inside.

It’s not the worst Chinese airport lounge we’ve visited, but nobody would confuse it with a Singapore Silver Kris Lounge, for example.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Lufthansa FRA-PEK Dinner

The service was excellent with three or four flight attendants sharing duties upstairs.

Our dinner was tasty, Kathy choosing a veal and asparagus dish, and Brian hitting the jackpot with a spicy shrimp plate.

Brian nibbled at the continental breakfast, and we both managed four hours or so of sleep in the comfortable flatbeds.

We landed around 8:45 AM local time.

FRA Terminal 1 Lufthansa Senator Lounge

It’s our first stop before boarding a Lufthansa 747 for a nine-hour flight  to Beijing.

After a long layover at PEK, we board a four-hour China Southern flight to Haikou (HAK).

We’re not precisely sure that everything has been worked out between Hainan and China Southern, but we have six hours on the ground at PEK and hopefully there will be no major hitches.

There we have another awkward layover before boarding a nine-hour Hainan flight to Sydney, landing around noon local time, about 10,000 miles and 33 hours after taking off from Frankfurt.

At the gate...

The upper deck - our favorite place in the sky...

Unlike United’s 744s, this one has overheads as well as the storage bins under the window. Everything fits.

Lots of room for our feet as well...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Frankfurt Airport Hilton Executive Lounge

Our second visit here within a few days. Many airport Hiltons don’t have an Executive Lounge, and this is a perfectly nice one, and very uncrowded on this particular Monday night.