Sunday, November 17, 2013

4th July Getaway: Taipei to Austin


It did take us a while to locate Eva's lounges since it was our first time flying through Taipei. Eva operates a number a number of business class lounges in Taipei and we opted for the Infinity Lounge despite Ben's somewhat negative comments' on this recent visit. I guess it is a matter of personal preference but we actually liked the retro/cool look of the lounge.

First up on priorities was a how shower before a transpacific flight. The shower was stocked with pretty good amenities and more importantly a toilet (which some showers like the Krisflyer lounge does not have). I managed to squeeze in a couple of espressos paired with delicious Movenpick ice-cream after the shower to make sure I stayed a wake for the next couple of hours into the flight. It was already midnight by now mind you. There was also an extensive selection of local snacks.

Boarding was already underway when we got to the departure gate and thankfully there was no line in the priority lane to board the plane. Once we got settled in, the flight attendants come around with pre-departure drinks. I obviously went with the champagne knowing it was Dom. I guess it's business class when the attendants don't come around with the bottle and pour the champagne in front of you.

4th July Getaway: Macau to Taipei


You can get to most of the attractions in Macau using the free bus rides and heading to the airport from the Conrad wasn’t an exception. We had a wait a little in the lobby for the shuttle to show up but A short ride later we were at the airport with no lines at all at the Eva counters. It did take a while for the check-in agent to properly issue our boarding passes and tagged our bags all the way to Austin. I’m guessing she’s never tagged luggage on a four segment trip?

Eva uses the only contract lounge in Macau which was overall pretty crappy and left like it came from the 80s. The carpet was old and the furnishing was dated. There was a selection of questionable hot food which I just skipped. 

I was initially disappointed that we couldn’t get award seats on the Airbus A330 flight that was supposed to leave an hour or so earlier since we would have more time to explore the lounges in Taipei and I’d pick a widebody aircraft over a narrow body MD90 any day.. This turned out to be another blessing in surprise when that flight was delayed and our flight left even earlier. 

There were only 3 passengers in business class on this flight with Lydia and I taking the right side of the aircraft and the other passenger the left side. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

4th July Getaway: Conrad Macau


Prior to arrival, the Conrad Macau had reached out and confirmed an update and my perks at the hotel as a Diamond member. The same Guest Relations Manager was present during our arrival and assisted with the check-in process. She also personally escorted us to the room and showed us the many features of the room before leaving us with her name card and reminding us to just call if we needed anything during our stay.  She did keep her part of the offer when she made sure we got both types of the Conrad Macau rubber ducky in spite of several hiccups that Lydia was determined to collect. Major kudos!

The suite we were upgraded to was definitely one of the nicest rooms we’ve stayed in before. It was HUGE and very nicely furnished. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

When we got back to the room that night, there was a turndown service with bottle water provided bedside and a gift of a teddy bear.

One of my initial disappointments was finding out that there was not an executive lounge in the hotel. This in fact turned out to be a blessing in disguise since I actually preferred the perks that replaced the lounge was in fact better. This included free breakfast either in the main restaurant or room service. Despite the large selection of food available in the main restaurant, nothing beats breakfast brought up to your room after you’ve just worked out in the gym.

Dim Sum

Main Restaurant

Room Service
We were also provided tea during the afternoons which included a large selection of pastries. Despite the large selections, the pastries itself were just bleh that we didn’t go for it during the second day we were day. 

4th July Getaway: Penang to Macau (via Hong Kong)


A friend was kind enough to drop us at the airport even with the super early morning Penang to Kuala Lumpur flight. With Malaysia Airlines just recently joining Oneworld and thanks to my British Airways Silver Status (complimentary of the demise of BMI), check in was a breeze. The Malaysia Airlines lounge in Penang (which we’ve visited before) was closed for renovations and we were instead provided invitations to the Plaza Premium Lounge that was only recently opened after the Penang airport upgrade.

I was having a really bad wisdom tooth infection at this point of the trip so I sadly skipped the nasi lemak and instead had some decent porridge for breakfast. The lounge itself was nothing spectacular but met all the requirements of a decent lounge. It had adequate seating, decent food, free Wifi and even a shower. 

The 45 minute hop down to Kuala Lumpur was nothing too interesting with the flight attendants doing a round of drinks. In transit in Kuala Lumpur, we were caught up in a line trying to go through immigration formalities. Similar to my last experience ages ago flying through Kuala Lumpur on trips back to college at USC. It was frustrating that there were no automated passport check gates for Malaysian passport holders to speed things up.

Colorful 737 seats
We did have time to quickly swing by the Malaysia Airlines Business Class Lounge in the Satellite terminal. Overall, we were overly impressed with the lounge considering the lounge was supposed to be Malaysia Airline’s flagship lounge. The lounge was huge with plenty of seating but it was still hard to find a place to sit. There was a bar but it wasn’t staffed in the morning we were there so I’m not sure what alcohol was available. There was a reasonable selection of food for breakfast but I personally preferred the food down south in Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Lounge.

I was pretty excited to try out Malaysia Airline’s Airbus A380 albeit in economy class. I had prebooked us on the bulkhead seats on the upper deck. The leg room was great but I did felt kinda squished with the door protruding outwards. This was not a big deal on the three plus hour flight to Hong Kong but would have sucked if I was stuck in this seat on a long haul flight to say London.

Brunch was served shortly after take-off and the food was rather good for coach. There was even ice-cream for dessert!