Tag Archives: business class

Flight Review: Cathay Dragon Business Class HKG to PEN

My final destination for this trip was Penang, Malaysia, so I connected to Dragonair (now called Cathay Dragon) in Hong Kong.

Plane to Penang

The business class cabin was completely full for this flight, and I think the economy class cabin was almost completely full as well. This was a flight with a regional business class configuration, so nothing fancy, but the seat is pretty comfortable with good legroom. This isn’t a good seat for sleeping, though, since it doesn’t recline that much.

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Seat back entertainment and leg room

Business class cabin

They were serving pre-departure beverages of water, fresh orange juice, or a cocktail of passionfruit and gin. There were already headphones at every seat. Instead of a wet towel, they provided antiseptic packaged towels.

Now, it had been a couple of years since I had last flown Dragonair before this flight, and one of the things that I remembered loving about Dragonair was the canned Hong Kong style milk tea that they had. Unfortunately, they no longer carried the drink.

Menu

Menu

Menu

I had pre-ordered a special VJML (Jain vegetarian meal) for this flight. The starter consisted of cold chickpeas, peas, and kidney beans. They were served plain, which was fine, since I was happy that there was at least some protein in the vegetarian meal.

VJML starter

My seat mate had the typical starter of smoked duck breast, and graciously allowed me to photograph his meal.

Smoked duck breast starter

For the VJML entree, it was a pretty tasty combo of lentil curry, rice, and peas and cauliflower.

VJML entree

My seat mate had the angel hair pasta with mixed seafood in a cream sauce and vegetables, and he seemed to enjoy it.

Mixed seafood and pasta

Overall, I think I’ve had better special meal catering on Dragonair than Cathay Pacific, but the regional business class product is largely identical. I think there are small differences like the fact that Cathay Pacific uses hot towels while Cathay Dragon uses the packaged towel wipes, and you unfortunately can’t add Cathay Dragon on an Alaska award, but otherwise, they’re pretty darn similar products.

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A330-300 KIX to HEL

I’ve flown Finnair before, but this was my first time flying Finnair in business class. Finnair doesn’t fly as much to North America (they used to fly to a number of destinations, but I believe only New York, Miami, and Chicago still have service, with San Francisco coming next year), but they seem to connect many people between Asia and Europe.

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

This A330-300 featured flat-bed seats business class in an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 seating pattern. This seat is very similar to the product I’ve flown on Swiss and Austrian.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I was seated in seat 9L, which is a single window seat closer to the window in the second mini-cabin of business class. In the future, I’d probably try to go for a bulkhead seat, as the foot cutouts are larger for those seats.

My seat

My seat

The IFE screen was also on the smaller side and a bit hard to navigate, but I appreciate that the IFE was started on the ground. I also appreciated that announcements weren’t deafening if you have headphones in. As a trivial aside, there were ads before movies, and even though the movies had swear words dubbed, the ads had audible swear words that were not…

IFE screen and leg room

IFE screen and leg room

At each seat were slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones. I always appreciate slippers, but the slippers were actually pretty small, and I’m not sure if that’s because we were flying out of Japan. The amenity kit was designed by Marimekko, so it was colorful and playful. The contents were basic–ear plugs, eye mask, Clarins lip balm and lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste–and there was a note saying that you could ask for a shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush, and makeup remover wipe.

Marimekko amenity kit

Marimekko amenity kit

The menu offered both Western and Japanese options, but I had pre-ordered a special Asian vegetarian meal (AVML).

Menu

Menu

The AVML started off with raw vegetables. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not know many people who like eating cold raw vegetables, so I do not understand why they serve them. They could at least serve them with hummus or something.

AVML amuse bouche

AVML amuse bouche

For an appetizer, there was a cold spring/egg roll of sorts with some super hard bread, but I managed to snag some much better bread from the bread basket. The roll would have been tastier if it had been served warm, but it was edible.

AVML appetizer

AVML appetizer

The main course had some cauliflower, chickpeas, mushrooms, and rice. It was passable for an AVML, but nothing special.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For dessert, I had some jello-like substance that came with my meal, as well as some tarts from the dessert menu.

Dessert

Dessert

One thing that I appreciated about the flight was that the cabin was kept quite cool. Too often, I find myself overheating on non-US carriers. The pillow and blanket were also pretty good for business class. I found the seat to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. I don’t think the seat is truly lie flat to the plane floor, but I don’t mind that since being flat to the plane floor would mean that you’re actually leaning back slightly.

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Partway through the flight, I had a pretty delicious cinnamon roll of sorts. There was a small self-serve snack bar with packaged snacks and other things available.

Delicious pastry

Delicious pastry

Prior to arrival, I again had my AVML. This time, it was some green beans, lentils, and rice pilaf. Again, nothing great, but perfectly passable.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

Overall, I thought this was a solid business class flight. The service was great (all of the flight attendants working the cabin appeared to be Japanese–not sure if that had any bearing on anything), the seat was comfortable, and the food was passable. I would happily fly Finnair again, and I’m big fan of transiting the Helsinki airport.

Flight Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 787 BKK to KIX

Prior to this flight, I used the JAL lounge in Bangkok, which is decent, but you should probably go to the Cathay Pacific lounge instead if it’s open. For this flight, only the JAL lounge was open.

This flight marked the third time I had flown on a Boeing 787, and the third airline’s 787 I had flown (the others being ANA and Qatar).

Plane spotting at BKK

Plane spotting at BKK

In spite of being a relatively new plane, JAL installed a 2x2x2 angled-flat business class product on these 787s. Why angled flat? I have no idea. They also do have 787s that have lie-flat seats, and you can tell if your plane should have lie-flat seats by the presence of a premium economy cabin. That being said, the plane felt very new. The seats looked great, as did the bathrooms, and I love the giant windows on the 787. There were also personal air nozzles on this plane.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Seats in a 2x2x2 configuration

Seats in a 2x2x2 configuration

Business class seat

Business class seat

Seat controls

Seat controls

I sat in the bulkhead, which I would recommend for the extra legroom. There were only 8 passengers in business class for this flight, so the load was quite light.

Lots of space at the bulkhead

Lots of space at the bulkhead

Less space in other seats

Less space in other seats

At my seat, I found a sleep kit (which contained an eye mask, ear plugs, face mask, and eye refresher–more airlines should provide face masks), slippers (one of my favorite airplane amenities), headphones, a pillow, blanket, and meal order sheet. JAL also has helpful guides to the seat, so you can figure out all of the different functionality. They even have a screen with information on the location of the lavatories!

Slippers, headphones, amenities

Slippers, headphones, amenities

Guide to the seat

Guide to the seat

Guide to the bathrooms

Guide to the bathrooms

A flight attendant came around offering a “relaxing wear” top (i.e. pajamas). It was a little thick, and JAL has notoriously warm cabins, so wear it at your own risk. I was also offered a bottle of water and customs and immigration forms, but no hot towel or pre-departure beverage. I’ve read that people have had issues with English proficiency on JAL, but I’ve never had any issues. One thing that I appreciated was the meal order sheet before arrival. Given that the flight was a short red eye, you could specify whether you wanted to be woken up for breakfast or not, as well as what you wanted to eat.

Meal order form

Meal order form

Given that the actual flight time for this flight was less than 5 hours and that it was an overnight flight, the menu was super abbreviated.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

The angled flat seats are not great, and the pillow and blanket were a bit flimsy. I slept for a bit, but I ended up getting woken up by loud and long announcements about 1h 15m prior to landing. On some airlines, they really try to let you sleep for as long as possible and make very few announcements, but that was not the case on this flight.

Given that I was awake, I decided to have some breakfast. JAL posts their in-flight menus on their website, and based on looking at the menu prior to the flight, I thought I’d find something that I’d be okay eating (e.g., “plain omelette”), so I didn’t pre-order a special meal (partly because past special meals on JAL have been terrible). Little did I know that there was lots of meat in the “plain omelette with bechamel mushroom sauce”: the plate was covered in bacon, and there was chicken and shrimp in the bechamel. Also, the orange sauce on the fruit plate was actually a gazpacho.

Breakfast

Breakfast

In addition the overly early announcement, the flight attendant was extremely persistent that I be buckled in starting 30 minutes prior to landing. Like to the point of being rude. I get that it’s for my safety, but I’ve never had a flight attendant want people sitting down so early prior to landing.

Anyway, while I enjoy flying 787s, and it’s probably my favorite plane to fly if I’m in economy, I would avoid the angled-flat seats on some of JAL’s 787s. And besides the barking at me for being out of my seat 30 minutes prior to landing, the service was impeccable.

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class Boeing 77W Doha (DOH) to Bangkok (BKK)

My flight from Doha to Bangkok was on a Boeing 77W on Qatar Airways. Qatar now flies an A380 on this route, but it can be hit or miss on whether your flight is actually operated by an A380 (Qatar likes to swap aircraft). On the plus side, in business class, the seats are fully flat, unlike on the A330.

Plane to take me to BKK

Plane to take me to BKK

This was a 2-class plane. The business class cabin was very similar to the A330–still a 2x2x2 configuration–but this time, the seats are fully flat. In general, the plane felt a bit newer than the A330 that I had flown to get to Doha.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

IFE screen

IFE screen

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Hidden beverage compartment

Hidden beverage compartment

Reclined seat

Reclined seat

Waiting at my seat were an amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones. There was also a water bottle hidden in the armrest. I was then offered a choice of pre-departure beverage, a cold or hot towel, and a newspaper. From this first interaction, I could tell that the flight attendant was on her game.

Male amenity kit contents

Male amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Beyond the seats and the in-flight entertainment, the bathrooms also felt nicer than they did on the A330. They had an automatic sensor faucet, which is a small but helpful amenity.

Menu

Menu

On this flight, for some reason, they had catered two special meals for me. Perhaps because I had changed my meal preferences relatively close to departure. But they had both an AVML (usually an Indian meal that’s vegetarian and includes dairy) and a JVML (Jain vegetarian meal which is vegan and doesn’t include items like garlic or onions). The AVML features rice with a curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer. The sauce reminded me of tikka masala, and it was pretty delicious.

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

The Jain vegetarian meal was peas and cauliflower served with rice and a potato curry. Also delicious.

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Below is a picture of how the seats go lie flat. It’s not the best business class seat out there, but it’s fully flat, and I slept pretty well on the flight.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Prior to landing, they handed out immigration cards, but they did not hand out fast track cards.

Overall, it was a good flight. The seat was comfortable, I had plenty of space (partly because the cabin was again only half full), the food was great, and the service was on point.

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A330-200 Berlin Tegel (TXL) to Doha (DOH)

To get from Central Europe to Thailand, I ended up flying on Qatar Airways. This was also partially to visit the relatively new (at the time) Al Mourjan lounge in Doha (the Al Safwa lounge had not yet opened at the time of this trip).

At Berlin Tegel airport, there was passport control and security at each gate. And then we took a bus to the plane (an A330-200).

Walking up to the plane

Walking up to the plane

Business class on these planes is not great. It’s a 2x2x2 configuration, and the seats aren’t lie flat. They’re angled-flat with 165 degrees of recline. On the upside for this flight, the business class cabin was only about half full, so I had two seats to myself on this segment.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

The in-flight entertainment system (Oryx) had a pretty good selection of movies, but as might be apparent from the picture, it’s a somewhat older hard product, and it had an inelegant user interface. This is mostly just a function of the age of the plane, though, as I’ve flown Qatar’s A350, which has a much nicer interface.

IFE screen

IFE screen

Side storage

Side storage

Seat + IFE controls

Seat + IFE controls

Waiting at each seat was an amenity kit by Armani. Each kit had a giant bottle of aftershave, a small bit of eau de cologne, some lip balm, ear plugs, an eye shade, and socks. I was a bit surprised to not find a toothbrush and toothpaste in the bag, or at least some mouthwash. In the bathrooms, there were Ritual products, which are also featured in the lounge at Doha.

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

One perk of Qatar Airways business class that you don’t often find in business class is pajamas. They were unwrapped as they were handed to me. I liked these pajamas better than some of the pajamas I’ve received in first class. The bottoms have pockets (very useful), and the material is relatively soft and lightweight. It’s not my beloved PYE pajamas from Cathay Pacific, but I thought these were solid.

Pajamas

Pajamas

Next are pictures of the menu. I had pre-ordered a VGML, so I ate that for my main meal, and then I had some breakfast off of the normal menu prior to arrival.

A la carte menu

A la carte menu

Pre-arrival menu

Pre-arrival menu

Beverage menu

Beverage menu

Champagne menu

Champagne menu

Up first was an amuse bouche of what seemed like make-your-own bruschetta. The topping in the cup was pretty tasty, but the bread could have been a bit better. I am non-ashamedly drinking non-alcoholic champagne in this picture.

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

Non-alcoholic champagne and make-your-own bruschetta

For an appetizer, I had the arabic mezze off of the normal menu. I enjoyed the hummus, and the tabouleh was decent. This was served with two kinds of pita.

Arabic mezze platter

Arabic mezze platter

My pre-ordered VGML was something resembling falafel served on top of rice with a vegetable tomato sauce. On the side (upper right), there was a cup of curried cauliflower and chickpeas which were the best part of the meal.

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

VGML–something like falafel on top of rice with a tomato vegetable sauce and a side of curried cauliflower and chickpeas

After the meal service, I got some sleep. My strategy for sleeping in angled-flat seats is to not actually recline the seat the entire way. I find that if I recline all the way, I slide down the seat, so I recline partway between “flat” and recline, and then I can sleep on my side and not slide down the seat. I will say that if you’re on this configuration, you should aim for a bulkhead seat, as that way your feet don’t have to go underneath a seat in front of you, so it feels a lot more spacious. This isn’t true for Qatar’s Boeing 77Ws, as all of the seats in business class are “lie flat”.

Prior to arrival, I wasn’t super hungry, but I had some bircher muesli with a smoothie. The bircher muesli was very creamy and pretty tasty. And immediately prior to landing, they handed out Valrhona chocolate bars.

Bircher museli

Bircher museli

Lounge Review: Emirates Business Class Lounge Dubai (DXB) Concourse A

On this trip, I also decided to check out the business class lounge at Dubai. The quick summary is that the business class lounge is like a slightly-less nice version of the first class lounge. It offers nearly identical amenities, but just a little less nice.

Entrance to the business class lounge

Entrance to the business class lounge

Spa next to the business class lounge

Spa next to the business class lounge

The layout of the business class lounge is very similar to the first class lounge, perhaps because they’re on top of each other. The lounge is also essentially mirrored on each side so you don’t have to walk across the entire lounge to find a shower, for example (although I wonder whether people naturally head left or right once they enter?)

Map of half of the business class lounge

Map of half of the business class lounge

Directions in the business class lounge

Directions in the business class lounge

Hallway

Hallway

The business center has cubicles in it, instead of being open air like the first class lounge. I imagine that the cubicles are helpful for some privacy since the business class lounge was considerably busier than the first class lounge.

Business center

Business center

Area next to the bar

Area next to the bar

The business class lounge buffet has slightly fewer food options than the first class lounge, but it’s still quite extensive, and many of the food choices are the same. There’s unfortunately no made-to-order menu, though.

Salads

Salads

Pastries and fruits

Pastries and fruits

Alcohol selection

Alcohol selection

Hot items at buffet

Hot items at buffet

Hot dogs?

Hot dogs?

There’s also a kids room in the business class lounge. One example of being slightly less nice is that the kids room in the business class lounge had a PS3 to play, while the kids room in the first class lounge had a PS4 (I didn’t even realize this was a thing, which shows you how behind the times I am).

Kids room

Kids room

Video games

Video games

More kids room

More kids room

There’s no dedicated relaxation room in the business class lounge, but there are reclining chairs scattered throughout the lounge with blankets on them.

Relaxation chairs

Relaxation chairs

One thing that I appreciated about the business class lounge were that there seemed to be lots of hidden seating areas. So you might be able to find a small, cozier section to have to yourself.

Seating areas

Seating areas

Business class lounge decor

Business class lounge decor

Gluten free pastries

Gluten free pastries

Semi-private relaxation chairs

Semi-private relaxation chairs

Lots of seating

Lots of seating

If you go to the far ends of the lounges, you can go downstairs to the “quiet lounge” areas where there are donuts. I don’t think that many people make it that far as the lounge attendant working in that area seemed quite surprised to see me there.

Another seating section

Another seating section

Coffee and ice cream

Coffee and ice cream

Other buffet items

Other buffet items

Such a large lounge

Such a large lounge

Overall, the business class lounge is just like a slightly less nice version of the first class lounge. The lounge offers all of the amenities you might expect from a business class lounge, and there’s plenty of space and seating, even though there are more passengers. If you’re looking for a quiet place, I’d say try going to the far ends of the lounge, since the lounge is so big that most people probably don’t explore the whole thing.

Lounge Review: Emirates Lounge San Francisco Airport (SFO)

This next trip from the depths of my photo archives occurred in February 2015. I had a wedding to go to in Jakarta, so I decided to make a pit stop in Singapore–one of my favorite food cities in the world–on the way there. To get to Singapore, I flew Emirates first class, booked with 100k Alaska miles (this award would now be 180k miles).

When you fly Emirates in business class or first class cabin, you get a complimentary chauffeur service to the airport–that is, if you’re booked through Emirates or Qantas ticket stock. It was just a couple of weeks before my flight that Emirates announced that tickets issued through partners would not be eligible for the complimentary chauffeur service, but I was lucky in that my pre-booked chauffeur service was not retroactively canceled on me. This was what I had waiting outside of my office for me on the day of departure.

Chauffeur drive pick up

Chauffeur drive pick up

It was a relatively quick drive to the airport, and then I was off to the Emirates Lounge at SFO. The lounge is located a level down from the main concourse in Terminal A, and first and business class passengers share this lounge.

Entrance to the lounge

Entrance to the lounge

I was honestly very pleasantly surprised by this lounge, and I think it’s the best lounge I’ve been to at SFO (other lounges I’ve visited at SFO: the Cathay Pacific lounge, Amex Centurion lounge, United Club, and American Admirals Club). It’s perhaps not as stylish as the Amex Centurion lounge, but it’s much less crowded and has more extensive food options.

Upon entering the lounge, I was happy to see large windows overlooking the apron and lots of seating. There’s a business center and showers to the left of the entrance, but most of the seating and the food is to the right.

View of the apron

View of the apron

Business center

Business center

Shower

Accessible shower

Shower room

Shower room

View of the lounge

View of the lounge

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

Magazines

Magazines

This sounds silly, but one thing I was impressed by was all of the plants everywhere. There were just so many plants scattered throughout the lounge. And given that Emirates only has one flight a day (granted, it’s an A380, but it’s still only one flight), it’s even more impressive (excessive?) that they have such a nice lounge with all of these plants.

There are a variety of self-serve drinks on offer, including Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Tea

Tea

Liquor and snacks

Liquor and snacks

Wines

Wines

Beverages

Beverages

The food options in this lounge are also extremely extensive. When I visited, here’s a sample of the foods on offer: green pea panna cotta, chocolate creme brulee, grilled tuna, king prawns and squid, strawberry tarts, Arabic mezze, cheeses, palak paneer, Indian curry, penne pasta, potato gruyere gratin, chicken in tomato sauce, grilled beef filets, poached pacific salmon, lobster and potato cakes, green beans, and zucchini soup. The food isn’t award-winning, but I was more than happy to eat it. I also appreciated the variety of vegetarian options (assuming you like Indian food), and the creme brulee was delicious.

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

Soup

Soup

Buffet

Buffet

Dining room

Dining room

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

Buffet

My minor quibbles with the lounge were the relatively slow wifi (I was only getting 1 Mbps down), and there didn’t seem to be enough power outlets. But as I said before, I think this is my favorite lounge at SFO. The lounge never got too crowded, it’s a pleasant space to relax in, and the food options are both good and extensive. Overall, I was extremely impressed with this lounge.

Lounge Review: Cathay Pacific’s RENOVATED The Pier Business Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)

I’m currently transiting through Hong Kong airport, and I have the good fortune to be transiting just a week after Cathay Pacific reopened their Pier Business Class Lounge. I’ve reviewed the renovated Pier First Class Lounge before, which is one of my favorite airport lounges in the world.

I’ll just go ahead and say that I think the Pier Business Class Lounge might be my favorite business class lounge in the world. It’s a GORGEOUS lounge with everything that you might want in a lounge. People often rave about Turkish Airlines’ business class lounge in Istanbul airport, but I think the Pier is way better.

The Pier Business Class Lounge is located near Gate 65. It’s just one gate further past the entrance to the Pier First Class Lounge. It’s true that this gate might be a little inconvenient depending on your departure gate, and the people mover in the airport only goes one way, but it’s really not that far of a walk to walk from the Pier to the Wing (maybe 15 minutes if you walk briskly).

Entrance to the Pier Business Class lounge near Gate 65

Entrance to the Pier Business Class lounge near Gate 65

I was immediately impressed by this lounge. I love the decor and feel of the renovated Pier lounges. They use much darker and richer colors than they use in the Wing, and the Pier Business Class lounge just seems to keep going on and on.

Entrance hall the lounge

Entrance hall the lounge

Directing you to some of the many rooms of this lounge

Directing you to some of the many rooms of this lounge

One thing that’s a nice feature is that they offer luggage lockers if you want to store your bags for a while. Helpful if you don’t feel like leaving your bags unattended in the lounge.

Luggage lockers

Luggage lockers

As you enter the lounge, there’s an office room of sorts on the right hand side if you want to get some work done. There are computers available for use, as well as comfortable semi-private chairs. And there are tons of outlets everywhere, which is great.

Bureau/office area of the lounge for working

Bureau/office area of the lounge for working

Looking from one end of the lounge down to the other

Looking from one end of the lounge down to the other

As you walk left from the entrance, you first come across the Food Hall. This seems to be an area for western options. For breakfast, there was everything you might expect for a western breakfast (e.g. eggs, hash browns, baked beans, sausage, muesli, pastries). They also have paninis, which is somewhat novel.

Food Hall

Food Hall

There’s a coffee bar staffed with a barista in this area as well.

Coffee bar

Coffee bar

Seating in the Food Hall

Seating in the Food Hall

Salads and such

Salads and such

Cheeses and meats

Cheeses and meats

Western hot breakfast items

Western hot breakfast items

Muffins

Muffins and sweet breads

Pastries

Pastries

Paninis

Paninis and rolls

Drink fridge

Drink fridge

Past the Food Hall is the Bar area. Lots of comfortable seating and a very large bar.

Bar area

Bar area

Bar

Bar

Seating in the bar

Seating in the bar

One of the things that’s incredible about this lounge is the size and variety of seating options. There’s countertop seating, two-person tables, communal tables, lots of sofas, etc. And everything that I sat in was super comfortable. The seating along the windows also features great views.

Seating along the windows

Seating along the windows

Apron views

Apron views

Lots and lots of seating

Lots and lots of seating

Past the bar is the Noodle Bar. This is a staple of many Cathay Pacific lounges around the world. The Noodle Bar features Asian food items (e.g. they had fried rice, stir fried vegetables, congee, and assorted dumplings available for breakfast), as well as a noodle bar where you can order made-to-order noodles (e.g. dan dan noodles). The Noodle Bar opens at 7:00am while the lounge opens at 5:30am.

Seating in the noodle bar

Seating in the noodle bar

Dim sum in the noodle bar

Dim sum in the noodle bar

Noodle bar

Noodle bar

Past the Noodle Bar is the Tea House. The Tea House had teas (obvi), but also a number of Asian and western sweets (e.g. glutinous rice balls, apple cake, earl grey tea cookies) and some tasty-looking juices.

Seating in the tea house

Seating in the tea house

Sweets at the tea house

Sweets at the tea house

Juices in the lounge

Juices in the lounge

Tea menu

Tea menu

Past the Tea House, there’s a desk where you can request a shower, and then at the far end of the lounge is their relaxation area. There are a number of comfortable loungers where you can rest and perhaps take a nap. It’s not super private, but it’s significantly better than what most lounges offer.

Chairs in the relaxation room

Chairs in the relaxation room

Overall, Cathay Pacific did an INCREDIBLE job with this renovation. The lounge is beautiful and functional and an awesome place to spend some time before your flight. Lots of delicious food options, tons of seating, outlets everywhere, decent wifi, showers, areas to take a nap and relax, etc. What more could you ask for?

Flight Review: American Airlines Business Class on A321T Transcontinental JFK to SFO

As I’m preparing to embark on a trip to Southeast Asia that I’m super excited about, I went through some past photos and realized that I have several trips that I never wrote up. This one is from the end of 2014. I took a quick trip to Boston and flew back to SFO through JFK. Luckily for me, I got an upgrade to business class on one of American’s 3-class A320s that they use for transcontinental service for JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO.

I found the business class seat to be extremely comfortable. There was good cushioning, and the seat goes lie flat. The cabin itself felt spacious, and it feels relatively intimate because there just aren’t that many seats total on these flights (I feel like even economy class on these planes is more bearable because the cabin is so small).

Business class seat in 2x2 seating arrangement

Business class seat in 2×2 seating arrangement

I’m a big fan of the blanket and pillow that American has on their business class flights. The pillow is large and fluffy, and the blanket doesn’t make me run too hot or get staticky. There were also noise-canceling headphones and a bottle of water at the seat, and I was offered a pre-departure beverage.

Foothole cubby and IFE screen

Foothole cubby and IFE screen

AA’s in-flight entertainment on updated planes is quite good for a domestic carrier. Or perhaps I’m just used to the old US Airways planes that have no IFE to speak of. The screen was a good size, there was a touch screen controller, and I found the selection of movies to be good. It’s essentially the same selection they have on international flights (although again, AA actually still flies some old US Airways flights across the Atlantic that have no built-in IFE…). One thing that I didn’t like was that there were ads before movies.

Seat controls

Seat controls

Power ports

Power ports

View of business class cabin

View of business class cabin

For the meal service, there were three options, and I went with the gnocchi. The salad was fine; I didn’t eat the starter since I don’t usually eat meat. There was a choice of white bread and cheese bread to accompany the meal.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Business class starter

Business class starter

The gnocchi was fine. Given that this flight happened in November, I felt that the entree was appropriately fall tasting, if that makes sense. I skipped the sundae and cheese, which I know is blasphemous in some circles.

Gnocchi entree

Gnocchi entree

After the meal service, I tried to get some sleep. These seats go lie flat, which is great. They might feel a little narrow, but you can lower the arm rest to get more space. Length wise, there was plenty of space for me (I’m 5’9″). I also like that you can adjust it so it’s not completely lie-flat so you don’t feel like you’re sloping backward when you’re lying down.

My main complaint about the flight (which has been well documented elsewhere) is that the cabin got extremely warm. I’m not sure what it is about the design of these planes, but I woke up sweating.

Overall, these are a huge planes are a huge improvement over the old 767s that AA used to fly on these routes, and it’s a solid product for a transcontinental flight.

Lounge Review: British Airways Terraces Lounge Manchester Airport (MAN)

Let me first say that transferring from an international to a domestic flight in Manchester is confusing. Possibly because it’s relatively uncommon to do so. For most airline transfers at Manchester, you don’t go through the normal immigration process, but you instead have to head to the transfer point, which in this case was a bus gate. You then wait for a bus (that doesn’t come as often as it says it does), then get dropped off at a transfer security gate, and then you get spit out somewhere in the terminal. I found myself in a deserted gate area and had no idea where I was going, so I wandered around until I found some police officers with extremely large guns who told me where there were shops and such.

Anyway, my first stop after transferring was the British Airways Terraces Lounge. This is a large nearly circular lounge with plenty of natural light and a view down to the concourse below. It wasn’t particularly crowded when I was there given the schedule of flights BA has.

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

Work areas

Work areas

Looking down on unwashed masses

Looking down on unwashed masses

Since I had come off a red-eye flight, my first order of business was to take a shower. The shower had both overhead, side, and nozzle sprays. The shower didn’t drain very well, but there was a depression in the floor right under the shower, so the bathroom didn’t flood, but it seemed a bit strange.

Shower room

Shower room

Shower

Shower

For food options, there were pretty typical continental breakfast type options: pastries, breads, fruit, yogurt, cereals, oatmeal, and chips. There was also a self-service full bar.

Food area

Food area

Coffee

Coffee

Pastries and crisps

Pastries and crisps

Fruit and yogurt

Fruit and yogurt

Drinks

Drinks

Overall, this was a pretty pleasant domestic business class lounge. Definitely a step up from domestic lounges in the US, so no complaints from me!