Friday, June 24, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Emirates First Class - Dubai to Colombo


This was our last Emirates First class flight on this trip. We left the hotel around 5am for our 7.45am flight to Colombo.  We were promptly picked up via the Emirates chauffer drive and dropped off at the premium check-in area.  We spent the next hour or so with a back massage first proceeded by breakfast.

Our breakfast items:

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Review of Novotel Dubai Deira City


We had another ~20+ hour layover in Dubai.  For this layover, we decided to stay in Novotel Deira City since it was within our budget (~$100 USD), close to the airport and just opposite the Deira City Shopping Mall.  It took only about 15 minutes car ride from the airport to the hotel. We spent the next couple of hours in Dubai doing last minute shopping in the mall.
View of the mall from our hotel room.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives:Leaving paradise - Finifenmaa Lounge and Dubai to Male in Emirates First Class


We were initially supposed to be leave Male on the night flight but decided to change last minute to the morning flight as we did not want to have to wait for 6-7 hours in Male (The resort only transfers to Male latest by 4-5 pm which would mean a relatively long wait in Male for midnight flight). We would then have a longer layover in Dubai which would allow us for more shopping time in Dubai.

Emirates Airlines uses a contract lounge in Male.  The lounge has adequate sitting and a basic selection of drinks (although no alcohol) and food. The thing I liked about the lounge was the view of the tarmac. We spent the 45 minutes in the lounge catching up on the real world and email and having a Coke.

View from the lounge

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Visiting paradise again – Eriyadu Resorts, Maldives


We got off the plane and walked along the pavement to the arrival terminal. Just behind the custom clearance, was the luggage collection bay. The airport was pretty small. We stood under an air condition vent while waiting for the luggage, weather was hot and humid. Then the conveyor belt started to move, and to our surprise, our luggage was the first that came out on the conveyor belt (as we were the only 2 first class passenger). We were very impressed, a praise of respect to Emirates for taking care of all the minute details even one such as this. 

We exited the arrival hall to find our guide from the tour agency we booked from waiting for us. We were promptly transferred to a speed boat headed for Eriyadu Resort. The boat ride took approximately 1 hour. Along the way we saw many resort islands, many times mistaking some of them for Eriyadu, in hope of arriving sooner as we could not wait. 
Speedboat to Eriyadu

Arriving to Eriyadu..

First bump...

I got to Portland Airport (PDX) around 8.30am for my 10.23am flight to San Franciso (SFO) connecting to Austin (AUS). While standing in line to get checked-in, I notice there were some what long times in the non-premier lines.  What was even more surprisingly was that there was a United employee serving drinks to those in line.  I was like "hmm.. surprisingly good service for United!".  I later found out that the folks in line for 5 hours! There was a computer downtime United wide causing a ton of flights to be delayed and cancelled. Ouch!

My flight to SFO would be delayed by 2 hours causing me to misconnect to my Austin flight. The computer system had auto-routed me on the same SFO flight but instead of a direct flight to Austin, I would have to fly down to Los Angeles and then only Austin getting in at midnight instead of the original 7pm arrival. This flights are all on regional jets so that much flying on this planes would not be fun.

I headed to the Red Carpet Club (RCC) and inquired if there were better options or if they needed my seat, which I assumed they needed since a bunch of flights were cancelled in the morning. The really friendly and good agent manning the RCC originally put me on the volunteer list for the PDX-SFO flight and routed me on PDX-LAX-AUS getting in an hour earlier. I still wanted a bump and vouchers! Indeed the PDX-LAX flight was expectedly oversold and I asked about putting me on the PDX-IAH(Houston) red-eye but in First Class.

A couple of phone calls later I had a first class seat on PDX-IAH and a 400 voucher for future United flights. I am writing this from the RCC where I have to wait another 12 hours.  The weather sucks and it's raining so I'm not too keen on heading back to town but with the free drinks and internet connection to get some work done, I ain't complaining.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Dubai to Male in Emirates First Class


There was a line when we got the gate. The ground agent indicated to a couple in front of us that there was a plane swap and they needed to have their seats changed.  This is where we hoped for a substitution to a plane with the suites instead of the usual F seats but no dice. 

Things got better however when we got to the aircraft. We were promptly informed that we would be the only ones on the flight in first class. Who needs the suites now?!? The Dom started flowing at this point too.  Right after take-off, Lydia proceeded to head to sleep.  Calvin however, wanted to maximize the experience in the aircraft and just stayed up throughout the 4 hour flight.  I stayed up watching 2 movies while going through my “cocktail” of Dom, coffee and lots of water.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Emirates Dubai First Class Lounge


We headed back to the airport slightly early at midnight for our 3am flight to Male since we wanted to spend some time exploring the Emirates First Class lounge.  We took the same 6 seater van although there was another passenger with us at this time.  We were dropped off at the dedicated Emirates First/Business entrance where there were virtually no lines to check-in our bags to Male.  

We then headed to the Emirates First Class lounge. Our first impressions were that this was a large and spacious lounge but we were not as “wowed” by it if compared to our visit to Lufthansa First Class Terminal. This is also where I think Emirates could do better with dedicated escort or cart service to and from the lounge.

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: Dubai Layover with Le Meridien Hotel Review


As mentioned in the introduction, Emirates was kind enough to book us a layover hotel at the nearby Le Meridien Hotel since we had such long layover (~6am to ~3am).  The hotel stay also included breakfast, lunch and dinner at some of the restaurants at the hotel.  Lunch and dinner consisted of set meals at a choice of the Italian, Thai, Chinese, Irish, European or buffet at the Australian themed restaurant. 

We took the complimentary Emirates limousine transfer to the hotel (with the limousine being just a 6 seater van).  We were promptly checked in at the dedicated Emirates reception and shown to the room.  We slept for the next couple of hours and completely missed the complimentary breakfast. 

Pictures of the room:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Malaysia Airlines to join Oneworld

First time taking a Malaysia Airlines flight in a couple of years.  Pleasantly surprised to find out when surfing during my transit in KLIA that MAS will be joining Oneworld.  MAS needs an alliance period. Personally, I'll be looking to put more travel on MAS and their future Oneworld partners now since it opens up "interesting" redemption possibilities.  First Class on Qantas, Cathay, British Airways and even MAS. Tempting...

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: First time on Emirates First Class; Colombo to Dubai


The check-in counters opened around 3 hours before departure. We were the first first class passangers to check-in.  We were promptly checked in with our bags tagged only to Dubai per our request.  At this point, there were no questions from the check-in agent on our unorthodox routing. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Second Honeymoon in Maldives: First Time in Colombo


We arrived in Colombo around 7.15 am.  We were done with the immigration, customs and luggage collection within 30 minutes.  We exchanged some local currency at the airport and proceeded to the arrival hall where our driver that we rented for the day was waiting for us. Our flight to Dubai would only be at 3am so we had a whole day to explore Colombo.

Our first stop of the day was the Mount Lavinia Hotel.  The hotel is one of the colonial hotels in Colombo with the other being Galle Face Hotel.  It’s located on a cliff right by the beach giving nice views of the beach area in Colombo.  We had a breakfast buffet at the Governor’s Restaurant at the hotel. The food wasn’t terribly good for a 5 star hotel.