Saturday, February 18, 2017

Around the World in 80 Hours Parts 2 and 3: Over an ocean and past the Arctic...

Part 2: We're Off!  
First step- AA Priority Check in at LAX
Welcome to the first mileage run of 2017!  The good news: everyone I’m traveling with cleared their upgrades into business class!! This makes a huge difference, in case you weren’t aware.  In short, it’s the difference between sleeping sitting up in a dining room chair, or tucked into a bed.  You choose.  Really, go on, choose. 
Anyhow, here we are. All happy and headed to Hong Kong.  Which is good, because I just heard we’re in for the full 15 hr flight, so we must not have a fast tailwind tonight.  Still though, only taking 15 hours to cross the Pacific is pretty darn impressive.
Which brings me to an important point – possibly the most important point of the weekend.  This world is small, extremely so.  In the time it’s about to take me to get a good nights’ sleep and have breakfast, I’ll cross an ocean that once took travelers months.  And I’m doing it without much, if any effort, on account of the massive GE turbine engines powering this 777-300. 

Which is all to say, I love this crazy hobby.  I'm even managing to love this extra long taxi time at LAX courtesy of the massive overbooking of flights and gates that the AA/US merger has made us accustomed to.  (But don't even get me started on the painful arrival delays because there's never a gate when you need one) What it also has allowed though, is the passing out of pajamas and the taking of pre-orders for dinner.  This, I’m actually a fan of.  Give that it's now well past 1am here, anything that speeds up the meal service and gets us to sleep faster is good.  

What’s a new experience though, is that we’ve apparently become victim of a rare “wind shift” that’s added an extra 30 minutes of taxi time to our take off while we roll down to the other end of the runway for an eastward departure.  I suppose I should just call myself lucky that we’re getting to experience an over-city takeoff, right?  Right.  

Ground delay aside, this flight is showing promise.  They've stocked mattress pads in business class, and haven't gotten rid of the spicy Asian salad dressing on the first course.  So far, so good!

Wheels up (finally), lets' go!

Part 3: Halfway there....Somewhere over the Pacific.

So, 8 hours in, 7 to go.  I’ve gotten some decent sleep, but a few more hours wouldn’t hurt.  You know you mileage run a lot when you get excited about 3 new episodes of Big Bang Theory on the IFE.  Just so you know, there’s 3 new episodes! 

This is the first time I’ve taken this flight to Hong Kong that leaves around midnight, instead of the afternoon flight.  On the one hand it seems like it should make perfect sense and wipe out jetlag naturally- you leave late at night, and arrive in the morning.  Simple, right?  Well….not quite, as evidenced by the fact that I’m putting together this post smack in the middle of the flightpath.  Somehow…don’t ask me how, my body remembers that it’s actually 9am in Los Angeles.

Mattress pad, blankie, all tucked in for the 'night'.
No one ever said mileage running was easy on the body and mind, and I'm not about to start now.  Tylenol PM, a snack, and let’s see if I can get a nap before landing.  I’ve got to be as human as possible for our layover.  As I’ve hinted at in the past…many times, I love Hong Kong and I’m looking forward to a few hours in the city, as well as some time lounge hopping at the airport before heading down to KUL. 

I suppose I should back up for a minute and report that the international lounge scene at LAX was great as always.  Qantas’ lounge is still the best in town, especially since the Admiral’s Club is currently under renovation and so they lack much space.  Hopefully, if the JFK Flagship Lounge is anything to go by, the pain and crowding may eventually be worth it.

Current offerings at the Flagship Lounge (self-serve)
So anyhow, a good time was had, and it was a great meetup place to collect the mileage running party together.  This weekend we’ve got two of us from LAX, one from DCA, and one from PHX.  Yes, by the way, in this world you’re known by your airport code.  Because I said of right now, 35,000 ft over Mongolia (or something).  

It looks like we've got a great group for this trip.  Some I've 'run with' and some not.  It seems like just about everyone who's anyone in the mileage running community is headed East this weekend or next, getting a jump on 2018's qualification & probably burning some of their last expiring Systemwide Upgrades in style. 
Pork belly salad at the Qantas First lounge.  As I'll talk about later, apparently this month is all about pork at QF.
Back to the Qantas lounge though, I had a new experience this visit- We closed the place down.  I learned they actually have last call, and then 20 minutes later turn the lights up to kick everyone out, club-style.  Rude.  However, we had a midnight flight to catch, so I suppose they're excused.  At least we made the most of the time....and the free food!

Next up: A day in Hong Kong.


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