Saturday, May 18, 2019

The 24 Hour Flight to Hong Kong

Well I pulled off some more fancy free flight magic this time. We blew our Alaska miles on a business class Cathay Pacific flight from DC to Bali with a layover in Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific, flag carrier of Hong Kong, allows long stopovers so we nested a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia inside. We then returned to Hong Kong and did the rest of flight to Bali, bounced to Taiwan to take another business class flight from Taipei to LAX.

The Cathay to Bali flight in business class would have cost us $7,600 each if we had paid cash. Nah g.

I was especially proud of this score because not only was it a nice flight on a quality airline, but it was LONG. Wikipedia thinks it's the 20th longest commercial flight in the world, weighing in at 8,167 miles. To put that in perspective earth is 24,901 miles around. Not too shabby.

Warning: proceed only if you want to see about fifty pictures of me drinking and eating inside airports and planes.

St. Louis airport doesn't have a lounge that we can get into for free, but it does have a Priority Pass restaurant, which means you can just buy $50 food and drinks on them.

Airport Pasta House ain't fine dining, but can't beat the price.

I got some cheesy garlic bread and they made it just like your Italian grandmother used to, burnt on the bottom and unmelted cheese on the top. Mmmm.

The power at Lambert airport kept ominously going out. It flickered right when TSA was inspecting my documents, and apparently the metal detector computers take a long time to boot up. I took the opportunity to chat with the TSA lady a bit. She’s been patting down weiners for 7 years. She did say that she signed up for a program where she gets sent to places that need seasonal help, which often means popular vacation destinations. Not too shabby.

Later on in a hallway I overheard a police officer say that “TSA is freaking out” due to the power outages. Lovely. The electricity was out for one stretch that was long enough that I asked an employee if the planes would still fly if the airport had no power. They looked at me kind of like that was a stupid question and assured me that they would. Ok.

We obviously don't live in DC so we enlisted the services of Southwest Airlines. We got a real good pass over of some Washington DC landmarks. Got a little peek at my boy's Lincoln Memorial.

Got some Washington Monument and some Jefferson Memorial a bit later. It was quite the tour.

Well Southwest being Southwest, they took us to some second tier airport. I had never heard of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport before. Apparently it's a real place right next to the Pentagon. Anyway needed to Uber to Dulles pronto.

A woman was wearing these weird sparkly hightops ahead of me on the escalator. East coast elites.

Once at Dulles we commenced with the important work of terrorizing the local airport lounges.

Thinkin 'bout you's working up my appetite
Lookin' forward to a little free Turkish Delight

They had Efes, a Turkish beer but also had beer from Myanmar. Why? Nobody knows.

When we're at big airports and have time to kill we like to bounce between lounges. It's sort of like Epcot Center with all of the little foreign worlds under one roof.

I luckily had time to catch up on my odd magazine advertisements.

I got straight to luxuriating on our Cathay flight. I just don't really feel welcome unless I'm having a welcome champagne, you know? Champagne geek out time? Yes, let's.

"Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut

The Cuvee brut is the oldest of the Heidsieck Champagne houses. It shows off aromas of almond and hazelnut, with fresh pear, apple, and hints of citrus for a harmonious vivacity and a light palate."

The hot towels were the hottest.

The menu came in a kind of fun newspaper format that included the actual menu along with some articles about food. I thought it was a creative move.

I can't help but think how much faster we could get to our destination if we weren't always waiting for the proletariat to shuffle their bodies to the back of the plane. Oh well, more champagne sipping time I suppose. They had us fill out our breakfast choices on a sheet of paper which was a nice use of our time.

Amenity kits were fine but there were no pajamas or anything. A pair of socks was included.

Around this time the delays began to pile up. The de-icing valve on engine two was stuck open which meant we had to return to the gate. Fine.

The captain then started the dumb dance that captains like to do: string you along so you don't freak out. At one point the lying captain told us that it would be 2-3 minutes longer to get deicer fixed. I joked “I bet he meant to say 2-3 hours.” It turned out to take them more like 5 hours to fix whatever the problem was. 

By the time we left it was light out.  While I was asleep they announced that since we had been sitting on the plane for so long that by law they were required to let us deboard if we wished, but they discouraged us from doing so by telling us that if we left the plane that they couldn't guarantee we would be able to get back on. Lame.

Well luckily since we were stuck on this rustbucket the food was delicious. If I could give a tiny criticism I do wish it was a little bit weirder. I look forward to trying the best of local food on upper class flights. This menu was just sort of general cosmopolitan with a hint of Hong Kong on top. I wondered if they were trying to show themselves as an international city. The menu said nothing about Hong Kong and instead referred to “a new style of business dining”.

While the food was good, the cocktails were a little bit weak. There were only two choices and one was nonalcoholic, which is the pink one on the left with the flowers in it.

"Oriental Breeze

A sour-plum tea and cranberry juice based non-alcoholic drink with honey and fresh lemon juice and a hint of rose water".

The other choice was essentially a pretty boring mojito. Oh well. 

Egg noodles with roasted duck in chicken broth.

Watched Glass.

Watched Bohemian Rhapsody.

At some point the pilot breaks some more entertainingly bad news. The earlier plane repair debacle took so long that our crew isn't allowed to stay on the plane all the way to Hong Kong. So we have to stop in Osaka, Japan to get a fresh crew. More eating and drinking and watching movies then I guess!

Watched Ready Player One.

Of course we weren't put on any fast track in Osaka. This wasn't a planned flight for them for the day so we sat some more waiting for a spot on the runway. 

By the time breakfast arrived I'd forgotten what I ordered. There was a Western breakfast and a Chinese Breakfast. You know deep in your heart which one I chose.

"Chinese Breakfast

Seasonal fresh fruit
Seafood congee and stir fried rice vermicelli"

Congee is rice porridge. I've had it a few times now and I just can't really develop a taste for it. It just doesn't have much of a flavor.

I was listening to some of Green Day's classic album Dookie when we finally landed in Hong Kong. We had been on this plane a solid 24 hours. Dookie indeed.

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