Double Weddings Holiday - AA and BA C, MH, CX and JL in F

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  1. calvinoeh
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    Barely a month after our Maldives adventure, it was time again for a ton of flying. We had to fly back to Malaysia since both my brother and Lydia's brother were getting married. Our flights back to Asia were the return portion of our ex-CMB business class fare that we had purchased to get ourselves back to the US from the Maldives.

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    The flying we would be doing over the holidays

    We were scheduled to leave Austin to Dallas around 4pm to connect to our flight to London. During that morning, we saw reports of ice/snow in Dallas and sure enough a bunch of the morning flights were either cancelled and delayed. I kept an eye on our flight and despite showing a on-time departure earlier during the day, the flight was finally delayed around noon by an hour giving us only 5 minutes to connect to our London flight which would have been impossible. I immediately got on the phone to try to get on something earlier but all flights to Dallas were booked solid. While the agent looked for other options, I mentally calculated that there was still time to make the drive to Dallas instead of flying. The agent was glad to make the changes to our ticket to start in Dallas and refund the ticket and I quickly booked a one way rental from Austin to Dallas.

    The drive itself to Dallas was nerve wrecking as we weren't sure if we were going to make it on time. After picking up the one way rental from Austin airport, the first hour was uneventful. We eventually hit it bad stretch of traffic on I35 and we wasted about thirty minutes before being able to get on the access road and avoid the traffic. We eventually made it to the Hertz car return at DFW about an hour prior to departure and thankfully a kind Hertz employee drove us directly to the terminal in the rental instead of us having to take the shuttle. He earned a nice tip and we thankfully were able to check-in and drop off our luggage.

    After a huge sigh of relief, we had enough time to swing by the Amex Centurion lounge for a much needed pee and shower before a glass of wine to calm the nerves. We would normally just take a later flight and not deal with the stress but we had two weddings to attend and missing his first flight would just be a big mess.

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    Thankfully, there were no other surprises or delays for the rest of the trip. We were happy to be back on board American's brand new 777. We were slightly disgusted to find that the cleaning folks did a bad job when we found empty bottles from probably the previous flight still around in our seats. Yuck!

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    Left over bottle

    I was also pleasantly happy to find out that we were going to have the same excellent crew that we had on our first 77W LHR-DFW flight. Most of the attendants were in the holiday mood by dressing up in Christmas ties and one even had an elf hat on.

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    We were slightly delayed due to having to wait for a couple more passengers but we were still going to arrive on time since the flight time was going to be super short ~8 hours only to London. An hour or so after we were in the air, dinner was served. Dinner was pretty good for business class standards. I enjoyed the moist chicken breast and the potato corn cake that accompanied it was really good as well.

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  2. calvinoeh
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    London Layover

    Despite a ten hour layover, we decided against heading to London proper since there was nothing in London itself that interested us. Instead we opted to visit Windsor Castle which was an easy 45 minute public bus ride directly from Heathrow Terminal 5. Instead of the usual cloudy and gloomy weather, the sun was out and it was not too cold. What a perfect day!

    On arrival at Windsor, we managed to catch up and sneak into a complimentary tour group that just started. The guide was really good and he shared personal stories of how his family has been working for the royal family for generations and how he was lucky enough to be allowed to get married in the church.

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  3. calvinoeh
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    LHR to SIN

    Heathrow was sure busy but we managed to get past security and back air side a relatively quick ten minutes thanks to the premium line. The main British Airways business class lounge was super packed and we had a tough time finding a place to sit. Thankfully Lydia found out from the shower attendant about business class lounge in the satellite building. It was not only quiet and empty but there was also a complimentary 15 fifteen minute chair massage. The chair massage was equally as disappointing as our first experience in the First Class spa.

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    I was not impressed with the British Airways business class cabin. With a 2-4-2 configuration, it was definitely a "J-minus" experience. The seat was "too low" it felt like plopping down every time I got back to my seat. Furthermore, there was little privacy since the passenger next to you could look directly at you during take-off and landing when the privacy partitions were lowered.

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  4. calvinoeh
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    PEN to HKG via KUL

    For our trip back to the US, we decided to fly this multiple stopover route in order to try the MAS A380 and Cathay Pacific First Class which we never flew on before.

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    Penang International Airport

    We flew from Penang to KL before we boarded the A380 to HK. In Penang, we got to use the MAS lounge at the domestic wing because the Golden Lounge at the International side was still under construction. The lounge had the standard nasi lemak food and some sandwiches. After a cup of coffee, it was time to head to the departure gate.

    My brother and his new wife had spent the week with us in Penang and was on the same Penang to Kuala Lumpur as us before flying back to Perth. We insisted to switch seats with them on the short hop so they could enjoy the business class service. Even though it was just a 45 minute flight, a light breakfast/snack was served.

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    We arrived in KL with an hour layover which gave us enough time to relax at the Golden Lounge. Unfortunately their First class lounge was not due to open until later that month, so we were shown to a cordoned off area in the Business class lounge. It was a small area along the windows of the lounge. The space was just separated with plush sofa but food and drinks were the one offered for all at the Business class area. There was nothing which interested me so I just had a cup of coffee and an ice cream (the same ice cream which would later be served on the plane).

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    MAS Golden Lounge

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  5. calvinoeh
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    HKG to HND

    I was personally super excited about our three hour layover in Hong Kong since this would be our first time trying out the famous Cathay lounges in their home base of Hong Kong. It was a bit of a walk from our arrival gate to the security re-screen but thankfully the lines were short. Since we were around gate 23, we first stopped by "The Cabin" lounge which is one of the newer Cathay lounges even though it did not have a first class section.

    The lounge was relatively good for a business class lounge. We didn't spend too much time in it and just did a walk about and grabbed some of the healthy juices on offer.

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    The Cabin

    Next up was "The Wing" lounge which was a pretty good walk away from where we were. Kinda wish they were trains to zip us from one end of the terminal to the other. The First Class section of the Wing was renovated about a year ago and it still felt new. The furnishings were similar to the Cabin but there was definitely less people and much easier to find a place to sit. Since we were still full from our flight from Hong Kong, I caught up on some work while enjoying a glass of champagne of course.

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    The Wing

    Even though we really didn't need the food, we had to make a visit to "the Haven" which is the first class dining area that's catered by the Peninsula hotel. They had a buffet in addition to several ala carte options. The food was pretty good and I rank it on par with the food in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Singapore Airlines Private Room and Thai's First Class Lounge. The service however was somewhat lackluster as it we were having a hard time flagging the server down for more orders and top up of our drinks.

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    Our last stop was the cabana for a much needed relaxing dip in the tub and shower. The cabana was top notch and a great way to relax or freshen up between flights.

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    With all the fun we were having in The Wing, the couple of hours just flew by and it was time to get on the 747 to Haneda. I was again particularly excited about this flight as this was our first time flying first on Cathay and probably the last time on the 747 since Cathay has started retiring the 747.

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  6. kencer

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    @calvinoeh - its a great experience behind with you... its our venture to know more about different terminal flyingover... Let keep giving out...
     
  7. calvinoeh
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    Tokyo to Los Angeles (JAL First Class)

    My brother and my "new" sister in law was kind enough to pick us up from Haneda airport and arranged for a cozy hotel room for our short stay in Tokyo nearby his place in Yokohama. Even though we were still full from the whole day of eating, my brother insisted we made a stop at a ramen shop before calling it a night. It was one of the best decisions of the trip. We split two bowls of ramen between us and they were one of the best ramen I've had! We had a bowl of pork based soup ramen that was just packed of flavor and a clear, salt based soup that had an addition of orange peel to the broth that added such unique taste to the broth.

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    We killed the next couple of hours the next morning at a nearby mall just doing window shopping and trying as much food as possible before my brother dropped us off for the an hour and half bus ride to Narita airport. As usual, first class check-in was quick and efficient with the agent profusely apologizing that there were no more "couple seats" left which was not a big deal for us anyway. Since we had a ton of time to kill, we made a quick round through the landside shops and a stop for some duty free cosmetics before heading to the JAL first class lounge.

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    First stop in the lounge was the buffet for some lunch. The food itself was pretty ordinary for a first class lounge but I definitely enjoyed the Japanese curry. The drinks selection however was definitely first class with several decent wine and Japanese whiskeys.

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    After lunch, there was just the right amount of time for the complimentary fifteen minute massage and a shower to freshen up before the 12 hour flight to LAX. The massage itself was rather mediocre and I would not make an effort to have one in the future.

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    The 77W taking us to LAX


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