October 24, 2016

Review: Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport

After visiting the First Class "wing" of the Wing, I decided to check out the Business Class side of the lounge.

The last time I visited this lounge, the departures level was still being renovated and the balcony level still sported the "old" look. It was interesting to see the differences in the lounge between that visit and this one -- and, again, you can check out that post of my previous visit in this lounge here.

Anyway, the shared main entrance to the lounge is located closer to gates 3 and 4...

When you have to take the elevator or take the stairs to get to the First Class side of the lounge, you can start on this level for the Business Class side -- starting with a big seating area that had a food and drink spread on one end...

October 21, 2016

Review: Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge - Hong Kong International Airport

Aside from my First Class flights, this was one of the things I was looking forward to most on this trip -- Cathay Pacific's First Class lounges in HKIA.

We start off with The Wing First Class Lounge as it is right off immigration...

Not knowing whether The Cabanas get full and at what time, I decided to head there first...

Ummm.....no words...

October 20, 2016

Shangri-La Hotels Partners Up With Singapore Airlines For Infinite Journeys

Shangri-La Hotels (which, unfortunately, is still not in the US, after 3 failed attempts), one of Asia's leading luxury hotel brands, is teaming up with Singapore Airlines in a program called Infinite Journeys -- a partnership between the hotel brand's Golden Circle loyalty program and the airline's KrisFlyer program...

Image from Shangri-La Hotels/Singapore Airlines
...that will offer new and enhanced benefits to members of both programs:

Image from Shangri-La Hotels/Singapore Airlines
 Status Match...

Image from Shangri-La Hotels/Singapore Airlines
This, by itself, is an amazing benefit of the program. If you are a Golden Circle Jade (20 nights or 10 stays) or Diamond (50 nights or 25 stays) member, you automatically qualify for KrisFlyer Elite Silver membership -- which gives you 25% bonus KrisFlyer miles on actual miles flown, waived or reduced fees, and priority waitlist and standby. You will also get an accelerated upgrade to KrisFlyer Elite Gold status when you complete three (for Jade) or one (for Diamond) eligible flight/s on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir within four months of registration -- which gives you lounge access when you fly Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or any Star Alliance airline, extra check-in baggage allowance, and priority boarding/check-in/baggage handling.

For KrisFlyer Elite Gold members, you can fast track to Golden Circle Jade after one qualifying night at any Shangri-La hotel brand. Benefits of a Golden Circle Jade membership include: 25% bonus GC award points, priority check-in/out. 11am early check-in/4pm late check-out, guaranteed room availability if reservation made 72 hours prior to stay, a choice of three welcome amenities, and complimentary breakfast for you and one other person staying in the same room, priority upgrade, free local calls, and a few others.

The status match is good only for one year and you would have to requalify based on each programs' rules.

Earn both Golden Circle Award points and KrisFlyer miles on stays...

Image from Shangri-La Hotels/Singapore Airlines
On top of earning the standard Golden Circle Award points, you automatically earn 500 KrisFlyer miles on every eligible stay. 

 Convert between Golden Circle Award points and KrisFlyer miles...

Image from Shangri-La Hotels/Singapore Airlines
1 Golden Circle Award point = 1.25 KrisFlyer miles (25% more than their standard conversion); minimum of 2,500 points required for each conversion

12 KrisFlyer miles = 1 Golden Circle Award point; a minimum of 20,000 miles is required for each conversion and a maximum of 180,000 miles per year.

I am not sure if either one is the best use of each program's currency but, at least, you have this option.

That's it. All you have to do is link your accounts and you're good to go. You can read more about the program and the instructions on how to link your accounts here.

Although the benefits of the program skew more towards the elite members of each program, earning an extra 500 KrisFlyer miles on a Shangri-La hotel stay that you will be going on anyway is not a bad deal.

I love both Shangri-La Hotels (and I hope they finally are able to open a property in the US) and Singapore Airlines and think that this is a great partnership between two leading brands in Asia.

October 19, 2016

Review: Novotel Hong Kong Nathan Road Kowloon

I was going to be in Hong Kong for less than 24 hours and wasn't really looking at staying anywhere fancy (read: expensive) -- since I will be spending most of my time exploring the city. It was a good thing that I had a few thousand points left in my Le Club Accorhotel account that I was able to book the Novotel on Nathan Rd. for free.

I decided to take the Airport Express to Kowloon station and then the complimentary shuttle bus from there -- which will then drop me off near the hotel. The shuttle bus covering the location of the hotel is K1...

The bus leaves at a scheduled interval so it was a little weird that we still left even if I was the only one in that big bus...

I wonder how much carbon footprint that generated :-)

Anyway, the bus ride takes around 30 minutes as it follows a route of different hotels and Novotel is one of the last stops on the route. Good thing I was in no rush then :-)


Check-in was quick and uneventful -- which is always good. I was then given two welcome drink stubs, which I thought was a nice gesture...

The Room

The room was on the smaller size, which is typical of the more affordable hotels in Hong Kong...

It has all (and a bit more) the standard amenities of a hotel room, though, and the modern and streamlined design works for the size of the room...

October 18, 2016

In Memory Of Cathay Pacific's 747...

A little late to the party but I thought that it was still worth posting.

So Cathay Pacific flew their last 747 flight from Haneda to Hong Kong last October 1, 2016 -- almost four decades after first flying the aircraft.

For those who follow this blog, you may remember me mentioning a few times in the past that my very first flight ever was on a Cathay Pacific 747 back in 1993. It was my family's first international trip together and we were headed to Hong Kong. Anyway, as if flying for the first time wasn't enough, it was on the 747, we were upgraded to Business Class, and we flew into Kai Tak airport.

I wish I had photos of the aircraft, the seat, and even the airport upon our descent but all I have to remember that part of the trip by is this boarding pass...

Note the boarding pass above and how there are boxes on the top portion that indicates which part of the cabin your seat is at -- including the upper deck.

It is sad to see the 747 retired one by one. I think for the rest of the 90's until the early 2000's, most of my international flights were on a 747 (and a few fortunate times, on the upper deck) -- and then the 777 became the popular choice.

I am just grateful that my first flying experience was how it was and have Cathay Pacific and the 747 to thank for that.

You can read more about the airline's 747 retirement in their Press Releases page here.

October 17, 2016

Review: MNL-HKG on Cathay Pacific First Class

How and where do I start this post?

Since I started obsessing about flying First Class back in 2010, Cathay Pacific has always been on my radar. All of the blogs that I started following then have raved about their experience flying this product and most other reviews have also been good.

But my relationship with Cathay has been more of a love-hate relationship. It was the very first airline I flew in my life, which was very memorable on its own -- we were upgraded to Business, flew on a 747, and landed at Kai Tak. I also flew Cathay a lot regionally after that and have been mostly satisfied with them. Then I had a bad experience with the airline that left a bad taste in my mouth - and I vowed to never fly them again (if I could help it). So I didn't.

And then the American Airlines AAdvantage devaluation happened.... and it would almost be impossible for me to try this product after the devaluation. So I decided to retire my self-imposed boycott of the airline and booked my flight back to Chicago with them.

I was fortunate to have found a schedule that will let me able to try the First Class product on both legs (for the same amount of miles) of my flight home and allow me to also spend a short overnight layover in Hong Kong.

To start this review, let me just mention that I didn't have any window seats reserved on either leg and the check-in agent in Manila was able to secure me seat 1A on this flight and 2A on the flight to Chicago. Also, upon checking-in, the agent told me that I could've checked in three bags on this flight. It sucks because I had to leave a lot of stuff that didn't fit in my two checked bags. I should've called and confirmed with the local Cathay office as their website clearly states the maximum of 2 checked bags even for First Class passengers.

Anyway, we finally meet...

Flight#/Route: CX906  /MNL-HKG
Date: April 4, 2016
Depart: 10:50am
Arrive: 1:15pm
Duration: 02h 25m
Seat: 1A
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300

October 12, 2016

Review: Cathay Pacific Lounge - NAIA Airport Manila Terminal 3

It was finally time to go back to Chicago. It was bittersweet as my vacation with my family was coming to an end, but then, the most anticipated part of my trip was about to start -- beginning with finally getting to try Cathay Pacific's new lounge in Manila.

Here are a couple of photos of Manila's Terminal 3...

...and Cathay's (unmarked) check-in desks...

I posted about the opening of this new lounge last year along with the opening of Singapore Airlines' new lounge a couple of weeks after because I was so happy that Manila finally have some world-class airline lounges. I am over the moon that I got to try both lounges during this trip and you can read about my earlier review of Singapore Airlines' SilverKris lounge here.

Here's a photo of the entrances of the side-by-side lounges...

Cathay Pacific's new lounge is designed by London-based Studiolise (the same group behind the new The Pier lounge in HKIA) and follows the airline's new lounge design concept...

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