Sunday, June 22, 2014

Double Wedding Holiday: 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.

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.

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.

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.

The 77W taking us to LAX

Monday, June 2, 2014

Austin Ong

Sorry for the lack of updates. It's been a whirlwind couple of months. The biggest update is that we're now proud parents of the cutest baby boy. Austin decided that he didn't want to share a birthday with his uncle and came a few days earlier than the planned C-section on April 25th 2014. He was nice enough to let both his grandmas (who are in Austin to help out) and us a nice dinner out in town before coming out a couple of hours later after getting home.

Austin a couple of minutes old

Our plans to stay in Austin long term didn't pan out so we're heading back to Malaysia and hopefully just for a couple of weeks before taking an offer to move to California.  Due to the unexpected move back to Malaysia, it was a mad rush to get his travel documents in place. We had to drive to Houston to get his US passport rushed in time and fly to DC to get his Malaysian papers in order. Let's just state the obvious that traveling with a 5 week old baby is different than what we're used to and we'll be sure to blog more about it future post.

Dad and Austin in DC

We look forward to finishing up our last trip report (JAL first class) hopefully soon enough and start sharing our travel experience with Austin to DC and back to Penang. *Fingers crossed* that our SWU upgrade on AA clears!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Double Wedding Holiday: Hong Kong to Haneda (Cathay Pacific First Class)


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Double Wedding Holiday: Penang to Hong Kong (Malaysia First Class)


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.

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.

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).

MAS Golden Lounge

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Double Weddings Holiday: 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.

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.