Category Archives: Airlines

Flight Review: Aeromexico Boeing 787-8 Business Class MEX to SCL

The only widebodies Aeromexico currently flies are 787s (they retired their 777s earlier this year). They fly both the 787-8 and 787-9, and this is a review of the business class product on their 787-8.

Boeing 787-8 to take me to Santiago

Before flying this 787-8 from MEX to SCL, I flew on one of their 737-800s from JFK to MEX on a red eye. It was very similar to a domestic red eye in that the 737-800s feature recliner seats in business class. Not fun for a ~4.5 hour flight.

Luckily, the business class product on the 787-8 is much better. It’s a lie-flat product in a 2-2-2 configuration. There are 4 rows of business class in the main cabin, and 1.5ish in the rear cabin.

Boarding

The seats are not industry leading, but they do go lie flat, so I won’t complain too much. The bulkhead seats have a larger foot cutout, so I would opt for one of those if available. The seats are on the narrow side and don’t have much storage.

Business class seat

Business class seat

Foot rest and IFE at the bulkhead

Seat and IFE controls

Outlets and small storage area

Waiting at my seat were a water bottle, headphones, a pillow, and blanket. The pillow and blanket were pretty decent and fluffy. Pre-departure beverages of water, juice, or champagne were offered, and then amenity kits were handed out.

Amenity kit

Menu

Menu

Drink menu

The refreshment service was served about 40 minutes after takeoff. The tamale my seatmate had looked pretty good. My vegetable sandwich (a pre-ordered special meal) was decidedly less appetizing. It was bread, refried beans, and vegetables served cold. But I enjoyed the fruit on the side, and I liked that they had coconut water as a beverage option.

VGML refreshment meal

Midway through the flight, they set up a snack trolley between the front and mini business class cabins. This didn’t happen until pretty late in the flight (probably around 4-4.5 hours in), so it’s not just available after the first meal service like snacks are on other carriers. They had apples, pears, potato chips, packaged cookies, Twix bars, sliced vegetable (carrots, jicama, and celery), and mini croissant sandwiches.

One thing to note about the IFE on this flight was that it was censored. I watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and all of the swear words (of which there are many) were dubbed over.

About two hours prior to arrival, they served the main meal service. My special meal was actually pretty tasty: it was a lightly flavored rice dish with some vegetables. I’ve had many much worse special meals on flights.

VGML lunch service

And for good measure, here are the menus (and special meal) from the flight back from SCL to MEX. This flight is a red eye with the main meal service after takeoff and a smaller meal service prior to arrival (although I don’t think many passengers took advantage). My meal wasn’t as good as the one on the flight from MEX to SCL, but it was still fine.

Menu on flight from SCL to MEX

Menu on flight from SCL to MEX

VGML dinner on flight from SCL to MEX

Overall, I’d happily fly Aeromexico again. Their lounges in MEX leave a lot to be desired, and the 737-800s are to be avoided, but the hard product on the 787-8 is perfectly comfortable, and the service was fine as well (it was significantly better on the flight from SCL to MEX). I would recommend trying to get a bulkhead seat (first row of main cabin or mini-cabin) so you have more room for your feet.

Lounge Review: Aeromexico Salon Premier Mexico City Airport (MEX) Terminal 2

I visited this Aeromexico lounge first during my layover since I was flying Aeromexico. When I arrived at 6am on a Friday, the lounge was quite crowded with most seats taken, although it cleared out a bit within 15 minutes.

The lounge is essentially a larger room with a smaller offshoot. It’s honestly tiny given that MEX is a hub for Aeromexico. Similar to US domestic lounges, it honestly doesn’t offer much to passengers.

Bar

Seating

Counter seating (too) close to food

Seating

Seating

Spa

The food options for breakfast were not great. A couple of pastries, fruit, yogurt, and cereals is all you’ll get. I did like that they had papaya, though, as at least it’s better than the sad melon melange you usually find in US lounges.

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

Drinks

Drinks

Drinks

The other thing I liked about the lounge (there honestly wasn’t much) was that they had a whole bunch of coconut water. Perfect after a dehydrating flight. Aeromexico also offers coconut water in flight (and there were ads played on my flight for the brand that they carry).

All in all, not a lounge worth visiting.

 

Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class HKG to SFO

Although I’d flown Cathay Pacific long-haul multiple times, this was actually my first time flying them long-haul in business class.

My initial impressions of the cabin were not great. The cabin did not seem to be adequately cleaned before the flight, and some things seemed to be falling apart. Part of the armrest was coming off (and you could see wood underneath), there was a napkin left at my seat, there were stains, etc. It seemed like the plane needed a little love.

Business class seat

Business class mini cabin

Foot space and IFE screen

Controls and storage

Tape fixes all

I was seated in the mini-cabin right behind first class. This is just two rows of business class, so it feels pretty intimate and private. The bulkhead also has additional foot space since it’s the bulkhead. There was a pillow, blanket, and headphones already at the seat, and the flight attendants came around offering pre-departure beverages.

View into first class

In spite of my quibbles about the cleanliness of the cabin, it’s still an awesome hard product. There’s space to put things under the ottoman, there’s a shoe compartment, storage on the side, counter space, etc. The seat goes lie flat and has good privacy, and it feels plenty wide.

Business class bathroom amenities

This flight was catered as supper, snack on demand, and then breakfast prior to arrival. I’m not sure why they serve breakfast prior to arrival as the flight lands at 8pm. While the more typical lunch and dinner menus often have one vegetarian option, there was very little vegetarian food on this menu, so make sure to order a special meal if you’re a vegetarian on a supper flight.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Business class amenity kit

For my supper meal, I had pre-ordered a Jain vegetarian meal. The VJML supper consisted of a cold, spicy chickpea salad, fruit, rice, lentils, okra, and green beans. Pretty decent for a special meal.

VJML supper

After supper, I slept for about five hours. The seat was super comfortable, and the blanket was large and not too hot.

Breakfast was served prior to arrival. I started out with fruit and bread. One thing I noticed was that the VJML fruit plate was different from the fruit plates that other people were getting–not entirely sure why since fruit is obviously vegan.

Fruit plate

After fruit and bread, people were offered cereals and yogurt.

Granola

For my VJML entree, it was a main of Indian breakfast items. I honestly can’t believe it was meant to be served as I received it, since there was very, very little curry in the container. It looked like the curry had spilled out of the container, but there was nothing to replace it, so it was mostly just white carbs.

VJML breakfast

Overall, I was a little bit disappointed by this flight. While Cathay Pacific has a great hard product and can sometimes have amazing service, the service on this flight wasn’t very good. The service felt cold, I wasn’t welcomed on board, I was never addressed by name, etc. Heck, I’ve been addressed by name flying economy class on Qatar (and on Cathay for that matter).

Review: Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Boeing 777 DPS to HKG

Boarding for this flight was a bit of a mess. The stated boarding time for the flight was 3:25pm, but they didn’t start boarding until around 3:45pm, and there were no announcements about anything being delayed. In addition, the terminal at DPS isn’t super well air conditioned at some of the gates, so some of the passengers were getting pretty testy…

Because of the late boarding, the business class cabin was mobbed quickly. It’s a 2-3-2 configuration for regional business class on this Boeing 777. The seats are perfectly comfortable, but for a flight that can approach 5 hours, it’d be nice to have something lie flat for sleeping.

Business class cabin

Business class seats

IFE screen and foot area

Seat controls and storage

There were pillows and headphones at the seat, and then they came around offering blankets, pre-departure beverages, and hot towels. I’m not really sure who wants hot towels leaving Bali, so I asked for a cold towel, and they offered me a not-hot (but not cold) towel a few minutes later.

The IFE screen for these seats is a little small and blurry. There’s a USB port and electrical outlet for charging devices. There’s limited storage at these seats: there’s not really any underseat storage, but there is a small slim pocket in the center between seats.

Menu

Menu

Menu

After takeoff, they offered drinks and mixed nuts to start. Then came the meal service. For my Jain vegetarian special meal, the starter was some sort of cold bean puree with black eyed peas on top. It reminded me a little bit of hummus, and was a large step up from plain cold vegetables that are usually served as vegetarian special meal appetizers.

VJML appetizer

For my main, I had chickpea curry, rice, spinach, peas, and cabbage. This was pretty delicious.

VJML entree

Finally, I had a fruit plate to finish off the meal.

Fruit plate

Overall, this was a pretty good VJML. The service was not particularly personable, but it was very efficient. There were Jurlique products in the bathroom, but no amenities were offered.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class A330-300 KUL to DPS

At KUL, departing and arriving passengers are mixed together, and there’s security at each gate. For this flight, there was only metal detector going for an entire A330, so we were actually delayed because people were still trying to get through security instead of boarding.

The flight was originally scheduled to be a 737, but there was an aircraft swap, which meant fully flat seats on this relatively short flight to DPS. I sat in 1A this time, which is a single seat closer to the aisle. The foot cutout in the bulkhead is enormous compared to the throne seats, so even though the seat feels a little exposed to the aisle and doesn’t have as much counter space, I think I would prefer 1A to any of the throne seats in the future.

Foot space for 1A

Seat controls and storage compartment

Storage compartment

View across cabin

A pre-departure beverage of juice or water was offered, and they distributed cold towels and newspapers. The IFE selection was the same as on my longer flight from PEK, but the headphones were much worse quality on this flight.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

The flight was pretty turbulent after takeoff. I was actually a little worried about the flight attendants because they were trying to serve people drinks at the time, and my drink at my seat spilled a bunch. But eventually, the turbulence stopped and they were able to do a meal service. For this flight, the Asian vegetarian meal was a lentil curry with carbs in two forms. It was definitely better than the Asian vegetarian meal I had on the previous sector.

Asian vegetarian meal

Overall, it was a nice little treat to get to fly on an A330-300 on this flight to Bali instead of a Boeing 737-800, and the food was better on this flight than on the flight from PEK to KUL.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge KUL – Renovated

Malaysia Airlines is currently renovating their main lounges in KUL, and on a recent trip, I had the chance to stop by one of these renovated lounges, namely the Regional Golden Lounge. If you’re departing from KUL and want to stop by this flight, go to the left right after you pass security. There’s an escalator with a sign to the lounge (don’t get on the train yet if you have an international flight).

Escalator up to lounge

Lounge signage

My first impressions of the lounge were very positive. The old Malaysia Airlines lounges in international terminal were large, but they just felt tired and old. This lounge was bright and vibrant in comparison. It was a tad crowded given that this is the main lounge that people are using, but I could still find a seat, and there were lots of servers around to help clean plates and offer drinks.

The lounge is pretty large and spacious. There are seats by the huge windows, counter seating, tables, gender-segregated nap rooms, showers, and a family area.

Seating

Bar

Seating

Seating

Dining area

In terms of drinks, there’s a coffee bar with a barista, an alcohol bar with a bartender, and your typical array of non-alcoholic beverages. People were also proactively going around and asking if people needed drinks.

Drinks

The food options were also pretty good. The buffet had a number of hot and cold food options, and there were also some made-to-order food options with a noodle bar and sandwich bar (the sandwich bar is easy to miss–it’s essentially at the coffee bar).

Food

Condiments

Food

Food

Food

Desserts and sandwiches

Salads

Fruit

Noodle bar menu

Sandwich bar menu

Coffee bar

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the lounge. It’s a huge step up from previous Malaysia Airlines lounges at KUL (although the domestic lounge is also pretty good for a domestic lounge), and I’m excited to see the main lounge reopen.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class A330-300 PEK to KUL

I’ve flown Malaysia Airlines business class in the past, but this was a renovated business class cabin, so it was a huge improvement over the past hard product that I’ve flown.

Malaysia Airlines A330

Instead of angled-flat seats, these are forward-facing fully-flat seats in an alternating 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 configuration. For this flight, I was seated in 6K, which is one of the throne seats on the side. The cabin skips row 3 for some reason, but the throne seats are 1K, 4K, and 6K, while 2A, 5A, and 7A are the single seats that are closer to the window.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

The throne seats have tons of counter space on both sides. There’s are also storage spaces on both sides of the seat. The seat itself is comfortable, but the foot cubby is super small. I probably would select a non-throne seat in the future. One slight novelty is that the seatbelts had shoulder straps. There were also air vents on this plane.

Bulkhead at 1K

My seat, 6K

Seat controls, IFE controls, and some storage

Tight foothole

There was a pillow, blanket, and headphones already at the seat. The headphones were not noise cancelling. IFE was started on the ground, and the selection was pretty decent, but there were ads played before every movie. Before departure, a flight attendant came around offering juice or water, and then hot towels and newspapers were distributed.

After takeoff, packets of unsalted mixed nuts were distributed, and then they came around with a satay cart. I had pre-ordered an Asian Vegetarian meal, and the AVML satay was just vegetable skewers (one uncooked, one grilled). There was no satay sauce to accompany these skewers. The satay service was the only after takeoff meal. Once they were done distributing the satay, that was it.

On this flight, there weren’t any amenity kits, no pajamas, and there were no menus. They also gave no indication that the satay service was the only meal service after takeoff. They also didn’t turn off the cabin lights even though everyone was sleeping. It was a bit strange.

Vegetable satay

I’m not a large person, but I did feel like the seat was pretty narrow. Just lying down on my back, my arms touched the sides of the seat. I think the throne seats may feel slightly narrower because they are enclosed on both sides.

I was woken up for breakfast two hours prior to landing, even though I wasn’t asked if I wanted to be woken up. For the pre-arrival AVML, I had a fruit plate and pastry to start (the thing in the corner is some sort of jello dessert). The fruit plate was pretty good.

Asian Vegetarian meal

The entree for the Asian Vegetarian meal was some sort of croquette with marinara sauce and paneer and pepper skewers. This was fine.

Asian vegetarian meal

Overall, the hard product on this flight was vastly improved from MH’s previous business class on the A330, but the soft product left a lot to be desired. Like I don’t understand why there weren’t menus, I wish flight attendants had asked if you wanted to be woken up for breakfast, I wish the flight attendants made it easier to sleep (e.g., by turning off the cabin lights), etc.

Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 737-800 NRT to PEK

Regional business class on Japan Airlines usually isn’t too exciting. There were three rows of business class in a 2-2 configuration of large recliner seats. The seats were comfortable with plenty of pitch. The seats themselves looked newly reupholstered, but the rest of the plane seemed a little old. (Apologies for the poor quality photos in this post, but my camera went kaput on this trip)

Business class seat

Plenty of leg room

Seat controls

The IFE system was in the center console, with a tray table in the other armrest. There were slippers, headphones, immigration forms for China, menus, and a blanket at the seat already. The headphones were not great, and the blanket was thin and similar to what you’d get on a domestic US flight. There were also air vents on the plane, which was nice.

IFE screen

Food menu

Drink menu

After takeoff, the flight attendants handed out some packaged snacks and drinks prior to the meals service. Natto can be an… acquired taste, but I found the dry natto snack to be pretty tasty!

Drink and packaged snacks

For my meal, I had pre-ordered a special VJML meal (vegetarian Jain meal). This was not very good. There were some cold vegetables and mushrooms as an appetizer and then rice, cauliflower, and eggplant as a main. It’s particularly disappointing since I think JAL’s typical catering is usually quite good, but their special meal catering seems to be pretty subpar.

VJML

After the meal service, I napped for about 1.5 hours. The recline on these seats is actually quite generous, although I probably wouldn’t want to do a red-eye in them.

Overall, JAL regional business class isn’t too exciting. It’s maybe a step up from domestic US business class.

Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 777-300ER LAX to NRT

I’d flown on JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER a couple of times in first class, but this was my first time flying this plane in business class. Overall, it’s a great product hard product for business class.

My connecting flight to this flight was delayed, so my 1h 40m layover turned into a 40m layover, and I needed to get from Terminal 6 to TBIT at LAX. I was ready to sprint off the plane at LAX, but when I get off the jet bridge, there was a JAL representative waiting for me. We ran together from Terminal 6 to Terminal 5 underground, and then we got a buggy to take us from Terminal 5 to Terminal 4, and then we ran through Terminal 4 to get to the TBIT airside connector, at which point we walked to the gate, all in time for boarding to start. I felt bad for the JAL representative who had to run so far with me.

Business class is in a 2-3-2 configuration, which sounds like it should be a tight squeeze, but the seats are awesome. There’s a ton of privacy for the window seats (and middle seats in the center) once the privacy partitions go up, and you get three windows at the window seats. I also love the fact that your feet/legs aren’t constrained at all, like they are on many forward-facing business class seats (and some reverse herringbone seats).

Business class cabin

Business class seat (headphones and slippers on seat already)

Aisle seat

View across cabin

IFE screen and ottoman

One thing that I appreciate about JAL is their seat guides. They’re helpful in figuring out all of the hidden features of the seat. There isn’t a ton of storage for these seats except under the ottoman, which is probably my only fault of these seats (and, well, maybe the lack of air vents).

Guide explaing the seat

I also appreciate that they give out slippers. Slippers are one of my favorite airplane amenities. The headphones could be more comfortable, but they were at least nominally noise-canceling. The pillow and blanket were decidedly mediocre, though. One design feature that I appreciate is that the dining tray swivels so you can get in and out of your seat during meal service without having to clean everything up.

Amenity kit, slippers, headphones

The IFE screen is quite large at 23 inches and had good picture quality. If you’re disappointed by the selection of American films, I might recommend checking out the subtitled Japanese films and TV shows. I love the show, “Why did you come to Japan”, which I essentially only ever watch when flying JAL.

IFE controller

Menu

Menu

Menu

I had pre-ordered a VJML or a Jain vegetarian meal. The amuse bouche was hummus and vegetables, which was pretty tasty! So much better than just plain cold vegetables.

Hummus and vegetables

The VJML appetizer was a salad of fennel, cucumber, peppers stuffed with mushroom, and asparagus. This was okay if you like these things.

Fennel, cucumber, pepper stuffed with mushroom, asparagus

The main was lentils, okra, and rice. This was spicy, but otherwise had little flavor. I think that JAL generally has some of the best food in the sky, but their special meals aren’t very good.

Lentils, okra, rice

After dinner, I put the seat in bed mode. If the seat were a bit wider and had better bedding, it would be like a first class seat.

Seat in lie-flat position

During the flight, the flight attendants set up some Japanese snacks, chocolates, and wine in the galley.

Snack display

There’s no set second meal service. Everything is on demand, and you can usually order things through the handheld IFE controller. First up, I had the ramen. This was really delicious. Probably the best vegetarian ramen I’ve ever had. Super flavorful, tasty mushrooms, and the noodles weren’t overcooked (impressive on a plane!).

JAL Original Healthy Ramen Noodles from Kyusyu “Kyushu Jangara”

I also had the vegetable curry. This was mostly chickpeas and onions. Also very tasty, but it’s unclear to me if this is actually vegetarian, even though it was described as a vegetable curry.

JAL Original Vegetable Curry

Finally, I had my catered special meal. There was both a snack in the form of a sandwich of cucumber, tomato, and basil, as well as a hot meal of chickpeas, okra, and rice. The ramen and curry were much tastier than this special meal.

More chickpeas, okra, and rice, as well as sandwich of cucumber, tomato, and basil

Overall, this was a good flight. It’s a great hard product, and I think JAL has some of the tastiest food in the sky (albeit the special meals are not great). English proficiency wasn’t great on this flight, but there weren’t any faults to the service.

Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD)

I recently transited through ORD on my way back from Asia, and–to my surprise–I was handed an invitation to the Flagship lounge when I went to the Admirals Club. I am clearly a bad travel blogger for 1) not keeping up with AA’s Flagship lounge renovations and 2) not knowing what the access rules are (international first and business class on oneworld gets access; JFK-LAX/SFO transcon business and first class gets access; AA Platinum and up get access on international itineraries on oneworld airlines; oneworld Sapphire and Emerald and Concierge Key get access on oneworld itineraries).

In general, lounges in the US aren’t great. Particularly lounges run by US airlines. So I wasn’t expecting much when I entered. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The lounge was spacious, had plenty of seating, had lots of power outlets, had nice shower rooms, and had extensive food and beverage options.

Seating

Seating

Seating

Recliners

Seating

Seating and views of apron

Shower room

Snacks

Non-alcoholic beverages

Bloody Mary station

I’m not a big drinker, but the alcohol selection in this lounge was pretty extensive. Even though it was only 10am when I arrived, I was tempted to crack open a beer.

Wine

Wine

Beer selection

Liquor selection

The food selection was also quite impressive for a US lounge. There were lots of hot food options for breakfast, including an omelet station, eggs, bacon, potatoes, a lot of different baked goods, and steel-cut oatmeal. Although I hate on dragon fruit, I am shocked that they had dragon fruit given how expensive it is in the US (and it was actually pretty decent as far as white dragon fruit goes!). I believe they have sushi because of Japan Airlines, but the sushi was not very good, although the rest of the food I tried was reasonably good for airport lounge food.

Breakfast eggs and potatoes

Bacon

Baked goods

Baked goods

Cheese and meats

Salads

Sushi and fruit

Desserts

Bagels, English muffins, croissants for breakfast

Condiments–the individual-serving jars of ketchup, mustard, and mayo seem a little wasteful, though

Dining area

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by this lounge, and I’m looking forward to AA opening more of these lounges!