Hawaiian Holiday - AA & HA First Class SFO-LAX-HNL-OGG-HNL-LAX-ORD

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by DestinationDavid, Aug 7, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I'll freely admit, I've tried to write a trip report previously but I couldn't stick with it and it ended up fading into nothingness here on this forum. BUT! I'm willing to give it another try. These will be initially posted on my blog and I will transfer them over here (hopefully with full pictures, though the MP interface isn't too helpful with adding additional photos) soon after.
    The installments I plan on posting are:
    photo1.jpg

    Hawaii is, hands down, one of my favorite destinations. While some may argue that the experience has gotten too commercial, or that the islands have become much too expensive to be an affordable holiday destination, I’m more than happy to call shenanigans. I’ve been fortunate enough to drop in on the Hawaiian isle twice a year for the past two years and have been able to do so economically and without being trapped at Disney-esque luaus or paying $300/night for a hotel room. I’ll freely admit, doing so wasn’t exactly easy and required me to do a lot of leg work prior to traveling, but I’ve always managed to make the trip affordable and interesting.

    My previous trips allowed me to spend some time exploring Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. I’d had my eye on dropping in on Kauai for quite some time, and I had been casually checking prices on tickets from Chicago (ORD) to Lihue, Kauai (LIH) for several months. It seems that trip would have to wait though.

    In the beginning of February my partner came stumbling in to the house, dark hair flaked with snow, and offered this little tidbit of information – “Hey! Two of my good friends are going to Hawaii and they want to know if we would go with them? Their family owns some condos that we could stay at for free!” Despite not standing in front of a mirror, I can guarantee you that my eyes grew wide like a child on Christmas morning and my head cocked to the side like a golden retriever near a tea kettle. Considering the cost of lodging is the most likely barrier to enjoying some time in Hawaii, I was keen to figure out if joining his friends was a workable option for the two of us.

    I started poking around looking for tickets to Hawaii and was displeased to find nothing that would get us to the airport nearest the condos, Kahului on Maui (OGG), for under $1000. Since I won’t consider flying to Hawaii unless the cost is under $400, we had an issue. Or at least I had an issue. Since Zach doesn’t travel as often as I do, he has much more flexibility when it comes to purchasing airline tickets since he will only take one or two trips per year. Considering I take between 20-30 flights per year, the majority of which are paid, I have considerably less flexibility when it comes to price.

    The offer of free lodging was just too good to pass up though. I decided to strike a compromise…..

    The years of flying with American Airlines (AA) and its oneworld partners have been kind to me. I have managed to amass a small fortune in frequent flier miles which I have used to visit places such as London, Colombo, and Sydney essentially for free. Despite cashing in my miles for a few wonderful trips, I still had quite a stockpile gathering dust in my account. With the financial instability being reported at AA and keeping in line with the frequent flier mantra that miles always lose value over time and almost never gain value, I decided that it was high time that I cashed in the majority of my miles.

    My favorite way to cash in AAdvantage miles is to redeem them for a oneworld explorer award. These awards differ a bit from traditional point-to-point awards where you’d exchange a set number of miles to fly from your hometown to a single destination (Paris! Bali! Cairo!) and back. The oneworld explorer awards are based on the amount of distance you travel. So instead of flying to one location and returning home you are allowed to fly to multiple locations across the globe for a set number of miles depending on how far you travel. The award rules can be fairly intricate when you read the fine print, and I don’t intent to give a primer on booking these types of awards (just yet). Suffice to say that I was able to exchange a hefty portion of my miles (220K) in exchange for the following First and Business class ticket:

    Screen Shot 2012-08-07 at 2.10.28 AM.png

    For those who prefer words over pictures, the ticket would fly me from San Francisco to Honolulu through Los Angeles before returning me home to Chicago for a short hiatus from travel all on AA’s domestic first class. I would then pick my travel itinerary up again and head to Kuala Lumpur through Hong Kong before heading to Boston on Cathay Pacific (CX) and AA. A few months after that trip I would again pick up my ticket and fly from Boston to Tokyo on Japan Airlines’ (JL) new Boeing 787 before connecting to another JL flight to Frankfurt. To get home I’d take two flights on the newest member of the oneworld alliance, AirBerlin (AB), from Frankfurt to Berlin and on to New York City. Again, after a small hiatus from traveling, I’d pick up the ticket for the final leg on Royal Jordanian (RJ) to Amman.

    220,000 AAdvantage miles to visit Hawaii, Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany, and the Middle East all in First and Business class and $155 USD in taxes. Now if that isn’t an amazing deal, I don’t know what is.

    So at this point I had secured First class tickets (and then some, but we’ll talk about those other legs in separate trip reports) into Hawaii during the timeframe Zach’s friends were looking to visit, and clearly the lodgings were settled. I simply needed to find a way to get from Chicago to San Francisco to start the trip and a way to get from Honolulu to Maui.

    A quick search of AA.com turned up reasonably priced one way tickets from ORD-SFO at about $130. I quickly booked a seat on an early morning flight to buffer myself against any cancellations or weather delays since ORD and SFO are both notoriously bad airports with regards to weather. I then went about securing roundtrip tickets between HNL and OGG. While there are a few options travelers can look at when trying to fly inter-island in Hawaii, there is no missing the fact that Hawaiian Airlines (HA) has come to absolutely dominate this market. In the end, I booked the short hops with HA and the travel portion of our trip to Maui was settled.

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    The only bit of unfinished business I had was related to lodgings during the trip. While the majority of my time would be spent free of charge in a condo owned by Zach’s friends’ parents, the convoluted routing that was created from buying a ticket ORD-SFO, booking a oneworld explorer award, and connecting on a separate ticket with HA meant that I needed to secure two nights of hotel on my own dime during this trip: an overnight in San Francisco prior to heading to Maui and an overnight in Honolulu prior to heading back to Chicago.

    For my layover in San Francisco, I was able to find a relatively low rate at the Four Points Sheraton property. TripAdvisor reviews for the hotel were rather mixed, but for less than $100/night it looked like a reliable option from a name brand I recognized. I was also recently awarded elite status with the Starwood hotel group, which includes the Four Points brand. This meant some small benefits, like free wi-fi, would lower the overall cost when compared to other properties in the area.

    That left just the layover in Honolulu. Hotel shopping in Honolulu can always be a bit difficult. Even using a bidding website like Priceline or mystery purchasing through Hotwire can be relatively expensive depending on the time of year or day of the week you need lodging. I tried to work my magic on Priceline with the help of BetterBidding.com, yet was unable to find anything. Despite a gallant effort, Hotwire also failed me. It was looking like I’d fail to find a low-cost option in Honolulu for the first time in two years when I noticed that the Hyatt Place in Waikiki was offering a 50% discount for a few days if you pre-payed your rate. Knowing that my travel plans were solid and there was little room for changes between the four of us, I took the plunge and pre-paid the rate.

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    With that payment made, my travel planning effort for our Hawaiian Holiday was complete and I only had to sit back, relax, and count the days till my toes were in the sand and the sun was on my face.
     
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  2. LXJenkins
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    LXJenkins Silver Member

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    Looking forward to following along.
     
  3. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I'm not worthy.
     
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  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    wow. I'm in ...

    (note to self research oneworld explorer award)
     
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  5. Jett Rink
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  6. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    travel map be makin' me dizzy.
     
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  7. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Took me awhile, but that's because I'm putting in extra hours at work prepping for a MKE-ORD-NRT-HKG-BKK-HKG-NRT-ORD trip I'm starting next week that's separate from the above.

    Continuing on with our trip report, let's start off with a hotel review of the Four Points Sheraton SFO.

    The day started off a bit …. difficult. You see, I’m not a morning person. Not in the slightest way. On weekends where I don’t have any obligations my normal “rise and shine” time is between noon and 1 PM. Nothing can lure me from bed. Not a ray of sunshine on my face, the smell of crisp bacon and sweet pancakes, or even the not so gentle nudging I often receive from friends and family. I’m dead to the world and am perfectly happy to stay that way. With that in mind, you can imagine what a surly sight I was at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) that fateful morning as I caught my 7 AM positioning flight to San Francisco (SFO). Bleary-eyed and stumbling through the Admiral’s Club, I made an executive decision to sleep the entirety of my flight. Which is why this trip report begins with a hotel review and not a flight description. Having snoozed the entire four hour-ish flight to the California coast, there isn’t much for me to say.

    Though I can probably safely assume that the flight attendants were efficient yet reserved, the cheese omelette was mediocre, the warm biscuit with butter and jam was delicious, and the reruns of 30 Rock were still funny despite having seen them 50 times. Yes, I missing it all, but I’m willing to bet that’s an entirely accurate summary of what I’d have said should I have stayed awake. Even with the service inconsistencies, American Airlines can usually be counted on to provide all of the above.

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    Perked up a bit and feeling refreshed after my nap, I made my way through SFO’s wonderful Terminal 2 (my favorite domestic airport terminal by far) and grabbed my luggage from the carousel (priority tags worked!). I made my way out to the hotel shuttle pick-up gazebo that is fairly standard for most major US airports and waited for the free shuttle to the Four Points Sheraton SFO. And waited. And waited. And waited.

    Now I’m usually a very patient person and since I’m a leisure traveler am almost never in a hurry, but this shuttle took an extraordinarily long amount of time. I started counting the arrival of other hotel shuttles and had 4 stops by the Westin SFO and 3 stops by the Hyatt Regency before the Four Points shuttle finally arrived to ferry me to the hotel. I even called the hotel during this period and confirmed with the receptionist that I didn’t need to notify the hotel that I was waiting for the shuttle. It apparently just takes that long. Overall, not a major issue, but if I were in a hurry I’d certainly not be pleased with the long wait.

    LOCATION

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    The shuttle for the Four Points SFO is shared with other hotels in the same area and is the last stop on the route. The hotel is situated on a small parcel of land between the 101 freeway and Airport Blvd. The location is not ideal for individuals who like to get out of the hotel to exercise or try to find a local eating establishment. Both roads are fairly wide and have heavy traffic, making crossing a bit of a feat. There is a cross walk across Airport Blvd that allows you to access the Houlihan’s or a rather run down looking Chinese buffet, both of which are attached to lower end airport hotel properties.

    It only took approximately 10 minutes from getting picked up outside of Terminal 2 at SFO to our exit off the freeway, and the unloading of passengers at the other two properties was quick and efficient. Overall, this is a rather typical airport hotel locations: isolated, little to see and do, limited food options.

    SERVICE

    Having waited almost 45 minutes for the shuttle and being rather unimpressed with the location of the hotel, I didn’t have high hopes for the service that would be provided at this location.

    How wrong I was!

    The gentleman staffing the desk greeted me with a big smile and welcomed me to the property. I handed over my credit card and ID so he could get to work pulling up my reservation. He quickly handed over a set of room keys to me and explained that he wasn’t able to give me a nicer room per the Starwood elite program standards (I’m currently only a Gold member), but he said he didn’t think I would mind too much since it was only 11 AM and it was the only room available at the moment. I agreed, and thanked him for giving me a place to throw my junk and relax without waiting for a room to become available. Considering the hotel’s location, I doubt that waiting for a “nicer” room would have gotten me anything better than a clearer view of that previously mentioned Chinese buffet.

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    At this point he noted that I looked a little tired and said that I should consider taking a free bottle of pop from the convenience corner located next to the front desk as a “pick me up”. I asked if this would be considered my choice of a welcome gift (Starwood Gold members get to choose between free internet, a free beverage, or bonus points during each stay) and he laughed and said no, he had already put me down for the bonus points since internet was free at this property. Considering the rather lackluster elite treatment I received during my stay at the Aloft Minneapolis (my first with Starwood elite status), I was very impressed with Four Points Sheraton SFO.
    Check-out in the AM was met with the same friendly service. I headed down at around 4:45 AM and was met with a sea of humanity awaiting the first shuttle to SFO that morning. Despite all the people, I was able to check-out within 5 minutes and was on my way when the shuttle arrived.

    The only negative I would add to the service category was that at times it seemed the hotel was understaffed. Despite the super friendly and thoughtful service while checking in, there was only one agent at the desk and the phone rang multiple times which requiring him to stop interacting with me to put callers on hold. The same could be said for the desk in the AM. There was only one agent to handle the crush of people trying to check out and get on that first shuttle, which meant that person was constantly multi-tasking and trying to keep up with multiple requests coming from all angles. The hotel should really consider staffing two people at the desk.

    ROOM

    The room was almost exactly what I’ve come to expect from a Four Points property. Immediately to your left upon entering the room is the entrance to the bathroom. The right hand side upon entering featured a closet and a small countertop with a coffeemaker and related accessories. Below the shelf was a mini-fridge which I promptly placed my free Diet Coke in to.

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  8. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    The bathroom appeared a bit dated but was well-kept. The vanity was a floating shelf directly under a large mirror with a rather gaudy frame that seemed out-of-place in an airport hotel. The products were Four Points branded and while serviceable made me wish I had packed some shampoo, conditioner, and soap from home. I have been cursed with rather sensitive skin since childhood, so I can be very picky about the types of products I put on my body and in my hair. Despite this I’ve been playing Russian roulette lately when traveling and haven’t brought anything from home in the last year. So far, so good, but I still am rather wary of low quality amenities like the ones at Four Points.

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    The bathing area was a low-lipped tub with a shower nozzle and standard issue white curtain. The towels felt rough to the touch and smelled heavily of bleach. While I’m assured of its cleanliness, it’s not the most pleasant of smells to be greeted with. I also prefer my towels a bit softer but these certainly did the job of getting me clean and dry, so there isn’t much to complain about there.

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    The bed was certainly comfortable and came stacked with two firm and two soft pillows to use. I was happy to see that unlike my stay at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, the sheets on this bed were spotless. Directly across from the bed was a dresser with a flat screen tv mounted on the wall above it. I made the mistake of assuming the tv was moveable since it was wall mounted, and at one point that evening almost ripped it off the wall. Note to self – don’t make assumptions that could potentially cost you hundreds of dollars in hotel room damage.

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  9. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Nestled in the corner of the room near the bed was a sitting area with a small chair and table to place food or a laptop. Opposite of this sitting area was the desk which featured outlets to charge electronics that were easy to reach and ample space to work.

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    Overall, I was happy with the room. Nothing fancy, but at the end of the day as long as the room is clean and I have a comfortable place to rest my body, I’m going to be happy.
    The one thing that could be better? The view:

    [​IMG]

    GUEST SERVICE & IN-ROOM DINING

    As I mentioned above, this property offers free WiFi to all guests. Access was simple, fast, and reliable. What more can you ask?

    The hotel does feature a restaurant in the lobby, however the establishment has limited hours. If I remember correctly, it is only open for breakfast and dinner, so no lunch service. Typically I do not eat at the hotels I stay at because I tend to find the food extremely overpriced and the quality of food mediocre at best. There are some occasions where I do sample what the hotel has to offer, and those occasions tend to be when I’m staying at an airport property. As I noted above, many airport properties are located in isolated areas with limited dining options. At the Four Points Sheraton SFO I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous and was rather uninspired by the Houlihan’s and the Chinese buffet options, so I picked up the phone and placed an order.

    The phone rang for a while before being picked up, and the person on the other end seemed to have quite a bit of difficulty understanding what I was requesting. Eventually I was able to communicate what I was interested in having that evening – an appetizer of chicken wings to start, followed by chicken alfredo, accompanied by some hot green tea. I was told the food would be up in approximately 30 minutes, and sure enough, it arrived right on time.

    The gentleman delivering the food was very friendly and seemed to have a much better time communicating with me in person than on the phone. He dropped off all the food and wished me well with my dining experience.

    I started with the chicken wings and have to say they were enjoyable. Nothing amazing, exactly what you would expect to be served at an airport hotel. The sauces that accompanied the wings were bleu cheese or a sweet and sour sauce (not pictured, it was on the tray for some reason and I didn’t see it till after I photographed). I had polished off the six wings in no time and was just about to dig into my chicken alfredo when I heard a knock at the door. When I opened the door I saw the gentleman who had brought my food up to me. He began profusely apologized for having forgotten to bring part of my order. In his hands was a small plate of garlic bread which apparently was supposed to be included with the pasta dish. I thanked him for his diligence and sat down to enjoy the rest of my meal.

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  10. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    The pasta dish was, sadly, sad. The noodles seemed overcooked and the sauce was rather greasy. The combination of mushy noodles and greasy sauce didn’t sit well with me and I only ended up eating a few bites before calling it quits and stacking the dish away. The green tea was nice, coming with a large carafe of water and lemons on the side. I was able to squeeze out three glasses before I also threw that back onto the tray and placed it in the hallway for pick-up.

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    OVERALL

    Given the choice, I would return to the Four Points Sheraton SFO. While the food didn’t impress, the friendly staff and their willingness to help elite guests really stood out to me as someone who is rather new to the Starwood brand. The rooms were middle of the road offerings and exactly what you would expect from a lower cost airport hotel, but the staff seems to do a good job of keeping everything clean.

    I stayed at the Hyatt Regency SFO last year for about twice the amount I paid for the Four Points Sheraton SFO. While the Hyatt Regency certainly is much more up to date, elegant, and refined, the Four Points provides an excellent option for someone traveling on a budget or simply looking for good value.

    Grade: B-
     
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  11. merice107

    merice107 Silver Member

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    When we getting some more details on this??? And how awesome of travel mates you had:)
     
  12. DestinationDavid
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    Do you want me to post photos of you snorkeling with Zach while your lovely wife and I sunbathe? :p
     
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  13. DestinationDavid
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    Sorry for the loooonnng delay folks, I got bogged down with work and of course, more travel. Let's pick this back up!
     
  14. DestinationDavid
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    After a good stay with the Four Points Sheraton SFO, it was finally time for me to commence my trip and head off to Hawaii with American Airlines (AA) in their First class cabin.

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    As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m hardly a morning person, so you can only imagine my attitude when I sauntered in to Terminal 2 of San Francisco International Airport while yawning and slightly dazed. I suppose it’s was a good thing that there was absolutely no line in the Priority AAccess lane at the AA check-in desks. I scooted down the inviting red carpet and had my boarding pass in hand in less than a minute. Service was provided with a smile and was very friendly, even going so far as to check the status of my other flights and letting me know that everything looked like it was set to go.

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    The agent checking me in asked me if I was an “island boy” heading home, which gave me a bit of a chuckle. Being mixed-raced, I’m very used to people struggling with figuring out my racial heritage. I am often mistaken for Latino or southern European (Italian, Greek, etc.). Since Hawaii has many hapas (a slang term for those who are half-Asian), the AA agent was one of the few to correctly guess my background. Sadly I informed her that I was not an islander, but simply a vacationer. She smiled and wished me a nice visit.
    The security line was fairly quick, contrary to what the woman in front of me insisted on shouting multiple times – “Oh for Christ’s sake, what is taking everyone so long? !?” In less than 5 minutes I had my shoes back on my feet, my Macbook back in my backpack, and I was free to roam around SFO’s relatively new T2.

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    SFO T2 is my favorite terminal in the United States, and ranks pretty high on my international list as well. It’s airy and open, with plenty of space for people to wander up and down the hallways without really needing to worry about bumping into one another. The shops are interesting and useful (I often stock up on skincare products at the Kiehl’s), and the food offered isn’t fantastic but is at least a step up from the Sbarro’s or Manchu Wok you’d find in many other airports. A decent bowl of Japanese udon with shrimp tempura and a Pinkberry frozen yogurt kicker trumps a greasy slice of pizza any day for me.
     
  15. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I didn’t spend much time in the terminal on this trip though. I was looking for a quick nibble to settle my stomach and a cup of coffee to chase away the last few traces of sleep from my eye, so I hopped into AA’s recently refurbished Admirals Club. While I never had the opportunity to experience the space prior to the remodel, I have it on good authority that the new space is a vast improvement over the previous offering. I have to admit, it actually was a pretty nice space. When you first enter the lounge, you are met with the standard monolithic desk with AAgents waiting to welcome you and check your credentials for access. Directly behind them was a fireplace built directly into the wall giving off waves of welcoming heat. An atrium-type area with small trees were placed in a circle and the entire back wall was glass looking out over SFO’s apron. To the left was ample seating and some magazine racks with reading material and newspapers. To the right was an area with various non-alcoholic beverages on offer. Behind this area was additional seating as well as a rather large bar offering liquor and food for purchase.

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    For a lounge in the United States from a US-based airline, it’s not a bad space at all.

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  16. DestinationDavid
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    I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down against the far right-hand wall, slowly trying to convince my body that it was an appropriate time to be awake while watching a Virgin America plane receive catering for a flight to JFK. At this early hour of the morning the SFO AC wasn’t too busy, I’d estimate it was about 30% full. Despite all the space this rather empty lounge was providing, one gentleman decided he was going to join me along the far wall. Not a big deal at first, and he sat far enough away that I didn’t feel like he was needlessly close to me. I finished my cup of coffee and decided it was time for another, so I hopped up from my seat to make it. On my way back, a surprise was waiting for me….

    The wall I was seated against had a rather large mirror across it. As I sauntered back to my seat, imagine my surprise when I see the computer screen of the gentleman who had recently joined me reflected in the mirror playing some rather adult entertainment. I have to admit, I was quite shocked. I promptly gasped, threw my handkerchief in the air, and collapsed on my fainting couch.

    Kidding.

    I simply did what I assume most people would do in that situation – giggle like a school girl and pretend I didn’t see anything. The poor guy clearly didn’t realize he was broadcasting his movie to half of the Admirals Club. I guess everyone has their own way of waking up in the morning. I choose coffee, others choose porn.
    Sufficienty perked up now, I glanced at my iPhone and realized it was about time to board my flight to Los Angeles. I dashed out of the AC with a friendly “Have a nice flight” from the AAngels at the front desk to the gate where I discovered that boarding had already started.

    AA1929, San Francisco (SFO) – Los Angeles (LAX), Dep – 6:45 AM, Arr – 8:05 AM, First Class

    I was one of the last passengers to load and, predictably, the First class cabin was completely full. I was assigned the window seat in the last row. When I arrived at my row I politely asked my aisle seatmate if he’d mined allowing me to jump into my seat. He turned out to be one of those people who makes a giant, fussy production about having to move. He folded up his newspaper with a huff and didn’t even bother to stand up for a quick second, choosing instead to swing his legs to the side while I shimmied my way past him into my seat. Lovely.

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    My luck improved a few seconds later when a friendly flight attendant swung by to ask me if I’d like a pre-departure beverage. I decided on an orange juice and less than a minute later it was in my hand while I gazed out the window watching a sleepy SFO airport come to life. We pushed back on time and after a relatively short taxi we were airborn and headed down the gorgeous California coastline.

    Prior to the flight I had thought about my seat selection and had choosen a seat I figured would give me a fantastic view of the coast as we headed down to LAX, and I had chosen correctly. Golden rays of sunlight bathed the mountains, beaches, and waves with occasional sections of dense cloud coverage for the entire short flight. The aircraft operating our flight today was a standard issue domestic First class cabin without any in-flight entertainment, but who needs reruns of NBC shows when you’ve got this outside your window:

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    Service on this flight was simply your choice of beverage and a package of Biscoff cookies. Since I was still fighting the urge to cocoon myself in AA’s famously flimsy red blankets and hibernate like some kind of woodland creature, I asked for a coffee with cream and sugar. The Biscoff cookies are always delicious, but I do wish on shorter flights like this AA followed United’s lead and offered a snack basket with various choices (chips, cookies, granola bars, fresh fruit, etc) from which passengers could select a snack.

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    The seat itself is a bit worn out and weathered, but overall a solid offering for a domestic First class seat. The recline on these seats is more than sufficient to alleviate any aches my back might develop on this short flight, and the leg room for someone of my height (5’7″) is way more than adequate. While many frequent travelers try to be the first person on the plane in order to get storage space for their carry-on baggage, my height means that I can board last, slide my backpack under the seat in front of me, and still have ample room to stretch my legs.

    [​IMG]

    Before I knew it the captain was thanking us for choosing AA and asking our flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing. My coffee cup was scooped up, my seat back was brought to the upright position, and soon enough we were on the ground and I was let out into the madhouse that is LAX.

    While SFO’s T2 might be my favorite in the US, the AA terminal at LAX ranks somewhere near the bottom. The concessions on offer are rather “blah”, it’s always just a little bit too crowded, and the single hallway design means everyone is always in your way no matter where you’re trying to go. I had approximately two hours to kill while awaiting my connecting flight, and I spent half of it at the Chili’s enjoying a mediocre pancake breakfast combo, and the other half at the LAX Admirals Club (which I will review on another occasion).
     
  17. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    AA283, Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL), Dep – 10:30 AM, Arr – 1:20 PM, First Class

    The last time I flew in First class to Hawaii with AA, I was fortunate enough to be on a 763 which features the angled lie-flat business class seats often found on AA’s international routes. While the flight from LAX isn’t too long compared to some international routes, it’s always nice to have a fancy seat when you’re on the plane. Unfortunately on this trip I would be riding in AA’s 757 First class cabin with the much less glamourous domestic seat.

    [​IMG]

    I boarded relatively late for this flight as well, so the First class cabin was already full when I arrived at my seat. This time around my seat mate was an off-duty AA flight attendant who was very gracious when I asked to take my spot by the window. An on-duty flight attendant made her way down the aisle and offered to grab me a pre-departure beverage, and I requested a water. She headed off with my order and sadly the water never materialized, which was a bit disappointing. It’s one thing to not be offered anything at all, but to have it offered and then fail to bring it? But… I’m in a First class seat to Honolulu that I paid absolutely no money for. It rolled off my back quite easily.

    [​IMG]

    We departed from the gate on time and again, with little fanfare, we were jetting away from the California coast out into the Pacific Ocean.

    AA’s flights to Hawaii always are a bit more fancy than some of your standard domestic First class flights. A menu for the journey was presented to each passenger, quickly followed by a beverage of your choice and one of my favorite airline snacks – hot tropical mixed nuts. I can’t put my finger on it. There isn’t anything particularly unique or amazing about this deviation from AA’s standard mixed nuts, but for some reason every time I’m on a flight to Hawaii with AA I become giddy with excitement immediately after take off in anticipation of the tiny ramekin full of almonds, cashews, coconut flakes, and candied pineapple. The FA dropped this off at my seat along with the Japanese green tea (another perk on Hawaii flights, the domestic First service usually only has standard tea bags) I had requested.

    [​IMG]

    For my meal I selected the hibachi style chicken on spaghetti squash. While I wasn’t expected much from this dish, I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful I found it. The spaghetti squash was moist and not over-cooked, and the chicken was seasoned well and not overpowered by the sauce that accompanied the dish. Overall, it was definitely in the “Top 5″ meals I’ve ever had on AA. Yet another unique feature of AA’s Hawaii meal service is the availability of King’s Hawaiian bread in addition to the traditional white and wheat bread offerings. As a kid growing up in Hawaii, I fondly remember my mother putting these rolls out on the table, so whenever I have the opportunity I always select this offering.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    [​IMG]

    Dessert was an ice cream sundae with your choice of toppings. Unfortunately I am, occasionally, a very picky eater when it comes to certain foods, and none of the toppings were appealing to me (chocolate, strawberry, pineapple). I declined the dessert but the FA did swing by after the service and handed me a chocolate sundae, “just in case.” It was nice of her, but unfortunately I have a mild allergy to chocolate and I didn’t feel like risking a case of hives while 35,000 feet above the Pacific.

    [​IMG]

    During my meal I was able to speak with the off-duty FA who was seated next to me, which was a good way to pass some of the time on the way to HNL. She was half-Japanese, just like me, and was born in Hawaii. Her first name was the same as my sister’s middle name (a Hawaiian name), and she was very excited to learn that someone else also had her name, as she said it was rare for someone not living in Hawaii. I told her about how we had lived in Hawaii for many years and how my sister was born there, hence the Hawaiian middle name. We wandered into AA as a company and the recent financial and labor issues, why I’d been loyal to the airline over the last few years, and why she’d stayed on as an employee in these troubled times. She was a fantastic seat mate and really helped pass the time on the flight.

    [​IMG]

    Service from the on-duty FAs was serviceable but nothing spectacular. I counted the FAs out in the aisle twice on the approximately 5 hour flight to HNL, both times picking up stray glasses and offering refills. Service was provided with a smile, though it was at times forgetful and a little sloppy (my missing pre-departure beverage and spilled tea on a few refills being handed to me).

    With my new FA friend chatting way with me, it wasn’t too long before the captain was on the microphone announcing our arrival into HNL in a matter of minutes. The FAs made their rounds to pick up the last tidbits laying around the cabin and soon enough we were on the ground in HNL. My FA friend wished me a wonderful stay in the islands and as we were exiting the aircraft she offered some tips on things to do at my final destination – Maui.

    I thanked her for her advice and parted ways. While the day seemed like it had been going on for long enough, I still had one more flight to take before I was finally at my destination. I looked up for directions and found signs directing me toward the Inter-island terminal where I would pick up my final leg to Maui on Hawaiian Airlines in First class.
     
  19. pcarol

    pcarol Silver Member

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    Wow! Looking forward to following along!
     
  20. LIH Prem
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    LIH Prem Gold Member

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    I can't believe you stayed at the 4 points SFO.

    It doesn't deserve to be a 4 points or even a 3 points. That hotel is a dump.

    -David
     
  21. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    I stayed there during the US Open a few months ago. Why do you say its a dump? I thought it was okay
     
  22. LIH Prem
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    LIH Prem Gold Member

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    It's been a while for me, and when I stayed there it was an absolute dump. It's a property I will never stay at again.

    -David
     
  23. DestinationDavid
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    I thought it was passable, nothing fancy but it was clean and the staff was certainly nice. Given the choice of a low cost airport hotel in SFO, I'd stay there again, but if I wanted something nicer I'd certainly look elsewhere.

    I just finished a stay at the Four Points Boston Logan last night and I have the same opinion of that establishment that you have of the Four Points SFO. It's a complete dump and I will never return.
     
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  24. JNB280

    JNB280 Silver Member

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    David remember how you started this report and then stopped just before you got to the good part?.....
     
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  25. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Yeah, that's just about every time, isn't it? ;)

    Sorry, I've had a route few months and it's hard to keep up. Here's a new installment though, which I lovely title "Throwing Away $100 For A Trip Report":
     
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