Snap Trip

Occasionally things come up that need a quick resolution. I’d anticipated having to do this trip for a couple of weeks, and things finally came to a head, requiring me to be in HK within a few days. Checking NRTP (I’m one of those America West throwbacks who doesn’t have full access to the American Airlines employee/retiree Jetnet travel server, so we use NRTP for now), it looked like Wednesday of the coming week (1/21/15), had some openings. Turned out that the flight was going to leave the gate with Redacted-some empties, so I hopped on the early departure out of DEN, and connected to that mostly half full flight out of DFW.

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Though there were no Business or First openings, I ended up in 16A, which has about 10 ft. of legroom, but no window oddly enough.

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The FA’s were quite nice, and we even got into HKG a bit early. Though I was the last off the aircraft (AWA types generally waited for fare paying passengers to disembark first, and it stuck with me), I still breezed down the concourse (got a new backpack that makes things simpler), through Immigration and Customs, bought my ticket on the Airport Express (~$12 USD, but two for $20 this summer with my son), and boarded the waiting train that departed from inside the terminal.

Twenty four minutes later I was in Hong Kong Station on Hong Kong Island. Walking directly across the hallway, I hopped on the hotel bus (the fare is included in the Express ticket), and was dropped directly at my hotel. Jetway to the hotel in 1:18, a new record for me. Ground transportation just gets better every time I go to Hong Kong.

Next morning, I was on the subway down to Hong Kong Station, followed by a short walk. I had expected to spend the whole day with paperwork, but the business efficiency of Hong Kong sliced that to two hours.

All of that way, for just a few hours work. But it was more than made up for by the efficiency of Hong Kong’s work ethic. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is in dealing with very professional entities. In HK this sort of performance is considered the norm. In other countries, not so much.

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Home of the obligatory “Chinese Fire Drill”?

I grabbed a sandwich at the Mall adjoining HK Station, and was returning to the subway, when I walked by the airline check-in facility. Yes, you can check your bags, and check yourself in for your flight at the subway station. It’s great if you’ve checked out of your hotel, and just want to ramble about town before a late flight. Then all one need do is hop the Airport Express directly into the terminal at Lap Kok, and you can pick up your luggage wherever your flight takes you in this world. They are an enlightened lot, those inscrutable Chinese.

What I noticed, was the flight board above the entrance to checkin. AA #138D was running about 18 hours late (they had an unscheduled fuel stop in NRT, that resulted in some crew rest problems). I decided to look into that when I got back to the hotel. Firing up the laptop on my return, the late flight had disappeared from NRTP, as the system is a bit set in its ways. No problem. I called the WEFLYAA number on my cell/wifi phone, and got my Monday departure moved to Saturday morning. I had planned to do the weekend in HK, because the flights were a bit full, but my work was finished, and there were seats to be had in the morning.

I wish I had more time (don’t we all?). As it was, I took a couple of shots “over my shoulder” as I progressed through town on Friday.

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Four Seasons – Hong Kong

While it was really nice in HK in January, it’s still considered winter by their standards. Eating breakfast at the hotel restaurant (which is the same one the typhoon destroyed the roof on a few years ago), I glanced out the window. Being a school day, it was interesting to watch the kids heading off in their uniforms. Of further note, was their parkas, even though it was in the upper 60’s. As my children are an example, by wearing shorts when it’s sub-zero in the Colorado high country, “cold” seems to be a relative thing.

Another observation, was that the visibility wasn’t terribly good. Dare I say smoggy? What you see below, is air pollution blowing in off of Mainland China. By world standards, the Chicoms live in a filthy country. They’ll take a while to clean it up, and it will probably be decades. Economic growth, and a clean environment are two things that usually don’t progress simultaneously. Till then, HK will just learn to live with the byproducts of their master.

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Pretty? Pretty smoggy

Hopping a cab to the airport at 4 AM got me to Lap Kok in 25 minutes (the Express doesn’t run till about 6 AM). It normally takes an hour, but no other fools are on the road at that time, and the trip was quick.

Unfortunately, they don’t let you onto the concourse till an hour before departure, if you’re a non-rev. It rather removes the benefits of an airline club membership, if you can’t actually access it on the other side of security. By the time I cleared Immigration and Security, I had to trot right along, and made it with two minutes to go before they shut the doors.

It was pretty lonely on the flight. Redacted some folks back in Coach, but I had aspirations. Redacted pax in Business, but I was going further forward to First, where there were Redacted other passengers.

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First on the 777-300ER is exceptionally nice, and my seat included three windows.

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You can get quite a lot of work done enroute, with a WIFI connection. Going over Taiwan, I was deep into it, but you couldn’t beat the view from my office window.

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Running up the western coast of Taiwan, on our flight track, the morning sun was at just the right angle to reflect off of thousands of rice paddies.  I’ve been told that Taiwan is not a terribly pretty country, but you couldn’t prove it from my seat.

Taiwan Rice Paddies

Taiwan Rice Paddies

 

I’ll just have to stop in, the next time I’m in the neighborhood.

Food, up in First, is touted as being pretty impressive. Now I can’t say that I’ve had the full treatment, but what I did have was pretty good.

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Breakfast HKG-DFW

 

Looks pretty tasty, doesn’t it? It was. Unfortunately, the FA’s said I was so busy for the rest of the day (and going Eastbound, it was a very short day), they didn’t serve me lunch……

Hmmm…..

P1000866Ok, I know how the game’s played. I’m not a real passenger (not being sarcastic here). We travel as space available wanderers, and if they run short on food, we “share” with the revenue passengers.

This random dietary restriction is not really a bad thing. Quite honestly, if I had eaten every meal on the 16 hour flight, I’d have felt like a porker when I hit the ground in Dallas. As it was, it was nice to just grab a snack at the Admiral’s Club passing through DFW. Don’t worry, I didn’t end up hungry on the flight. If I wanted additional eats, there’s a very respectable buffet back in Business class that would have done very well at topping me off. Besides, it’s pretty too.

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The food in First was nice, and by the time sundown collided with us over the Aleutians, it was time for a nap. No problem with these seats. They go completely flat, so I went to sleep over the Aleutians, and woke up over North Texas.

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The Morning Cuppa

 

This is the way to travel! There is nothing wrong with traveling D2R. It works very nicely, and it’s available. I can now say that I’ve been there, done that, and I’ve got the First Class AA Jammies to prove it. 🙂

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Oh! And I made it back to DEN by noon on Saturday, making it about three days away from home. That’s a quick trip, but I didn’t stop anywhere for long.

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