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Island Hopper Foiled: ANA Y + UA J MNL-NRT-SEA  
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14198 times:

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Preamble: This is the third and final installment of my Trip Report round-trip from Seattle to Manila. To get the full background details for this journey, please access parts I and II below

Part one can be found here

Part two can be found here

As a disclaimer, I know that I tend to ramble/provide extraneous information surrounding the background details of my trip, which I know can lead to a bit of an overload. For those of you wanting to skip ahead to the actual report and reviews of the trips themselves, I’ve broken this up into sections, and you can scroll down to view the pertinent criteria to each individual leg. However, I might add that the drama and emotion involved (as always seems to be the case with me) is generally worth the read for a good laugh.

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Above: full routing and itinerary


next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14282 times:

It was the definition of disaster


Drama had wreaked havoc on the outbound flights from Seattle to Manila (via NRT). I walked away from the situation relatively unscathed, but my friend, Chicawgo, did not.

The return journey was bound to be just as risky. I had booked myself on 12, yes 12, consecutive legs to return home to Chicago from Manila, by way of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, The US Marshall Islands, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis.

Today, I was flying on United #175: the Island Hopper itinerary that allows one to cross the vast Pacific Ocean in a non-traditional way from Guam to Honolulu, which goes via Truk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Kwajalein and Majuro before going to Hawaii.

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I had waitlisted myself for an upgrade on this flight. This is what the upgrade list was showing. Notice something crude and funny? Ha. Upgrade was confirmed on UA 1593 operating HNL-LAX-SFO-SEA on the 757-300.

Turnaround time in Manila had been quick, but fortunately, long enough to recover from the inbound journey and getting a real feel for the city. I highly recommend visiting Manila; I really enjoyed my stay there. Read more about it here.

That being said, the return to reality was imminent as we pulled up to NAIA Terminal 1: the absolute dog of major world international airports. Literally, that Terminal gets its inspirations from Satan himself.

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Pulling up to the terminal, I shifted into Fight-Or-Flight mode. I was doing body scans every 5 seconds as I stepped out of the cabby, insuring I had close guard over my valuables and possessions as we made our way into the ghetto passenger entrance amidst throngs of locals. It reminded me much of IGIA T2 back in the day.

Nevertheless, NAIA 1 does retain some GRU-esque aspects in hosting a diverse array of carriers jetting off to all corners of the globe at the scheduled departure hour. Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Kuwait, Port Moresby, Dubai, Guam, Doha...it had such high potential to offer beauty in spite of chaos.

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Instead, the departures area greeted us with view of what looked like a cheap casino straight out of a horror film. There was no thought process incorporated into the layout; basically, baggage carts, seats, drifters, security guards, all just kind of meandered around in a centralized area, adding congestion.

We proceeded to the United check-in counters. The lines were very long. Something did not seem right. We headed to the premier check-in line, and that’s when sh*t went down.

A Knife to the Heart.


It’s bad enough to hear about a delay or cancellation from an airline employee/station manager. It’s even worse to hear it from a fellow passenger. I say this because the passenger expresses it with an even deeper sense of hopelessness and frustration than vice versa. At least bear the bad news with some sort of conciliatory message, “we’re working on it,” or an explanation, “we’re very sorry that the plane is broken, etc.”

Of course, much like the rest of the drama on the trip, the perpetrator was United. Again.

Our outbound flight from Manila to Guam had been “delayed until the following morning.” We would subsequently miss the connecting flights in Guam to Honolulu (Chicawgo’s case) and Chuk (my case). Put simply, the Island Hopper wasn’t happening anymore. Just like that, months of planning, preparation and waiting was all for nothing.

The funny thing is, Chicawgo and I were so jaded at this point, our reactions were base. We almost chuckled at our own lack of shock. Sure, we were pissed, the Island Hopper (for me at least) was immediately thrown out the window. I will probably never, ever again get the same opportunity, with the steal fare, to fly on that route again.

It was too good to be true, anyways. I was a fool in believing that it was plausible. A 787 flight on ANA, a Business Class upgrade, and a trip to fly on one of the world’s most bizarre, exotic routes? Never. The travel gods aren’t that doting.

Or, put simply, United Airlines should change its name to “Wildcard Airlines,” because it is not the gift that will keep on giving. Every single screw-up in this journey could be traced back to it, the perpetrator.

We waited painfully for roughly 45 minutes without a single word from the ground staff in MNL. There was no explanation for the cancellation, only simply that it wasn’t going out that night.

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We had the chance to commiserate with a few fellow passengers during the downtime. Surprisingly, a decent number of them were flying all the way to the States, via GUM and HNL. I did not meet anyone that was as crazy as I doing the hopper.

When it became clear that options were fading, I resolved to try my luck on flying another airline, by speaking with another airline.

My mistake, my regret


Here is basically where I bow down to Chicawgo. Far more seasoned than I in not only dealing with chaos, but handling IRROP situations, he is the one I should have trusted before I went haring off to try and get on the Asiana flight to Incheon that was departing at 23:30 PM that night, slightly ahead of the originally scheduled GUM red-eye that we were on.

I told him what I was doing, and he said, “ok...” with hesitation, but stayed put in the United line. I first went to the Asiana ticket counter, and then was directed to go up to the ticket offices to see what could be done.

This required exiting the terminal and re-screening my luggage to get up to the second floor offices. Nightmare. The ticket offices for United and Asiana were adjacent to each other, but I was sent back and forth several times in an effort to get everything squared away.

The twist in the situation was, my ticket was issued on ANA stock. Calls were made and messages were relayed, but no progress really seemed to take place. I frantically would glance down at the departures level on the first floor to see what was going on at the UA counters, and it appeared that they were slowly processing people on re-accommodation.

I, however, had put my stock into this effort, praying that not only would it work out, but also, I could be put on a direct flight from Incheon to Chicago and not have to deal with any more flights.

So, after a painful hour of gut-wrenching waiting, the United agent at the ticket office told me, “sir, we have you listed with Honolulu as your final destination.”

Essentially, I wasted an entire hour to learn that SHARES had messed up my reservation. The entire inquiry was basically all for nothing. By this time, the hour was close to striking 11. The Asiana office had closed, and the flight to Incheon was in the stages of making its final boarding process. I had no other alternative than to make my way back to the United counters.

I had turned off my phone to conserve battery while I was waiting this process out. Another huge mistake. I turned it on, then, I got a horrifying text from Chicawgo, which appeared and said:

“Irish, they got me on. Where are you?”

Of course, everyone has their ticks with their best friends. Mine with him is that he often sends text messages thinking I can read his mind and know exactly what he’s talking about. Clearly, there were some missing details here, but I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.

“What are you talking about?” I wrote back.

“I’m about to board the flight to Seoul. They managed to re-accommodate me at the counter.”

The universe got its revenge: this time, I was the one who got shafted. My friend was peeling off to South Korea, onward to the next adventure.

I wanted to bang my head against the wall


Meanwhile, I was sentenced to NAIA 1. Flightless and friendless. Literally, the worst nightmare came true: I was stranded in a foreign country by myself.

Thankfully, the adrenal glands did not kick-in to incite panic mode, just as they had prior on the outbound journey, but disappointment had given way to frustration which finally converted into anger. I was so enraged. The UA ticket counter agent had overheard my idea before I sprinted off and immediately gotten to work processing Chicawgo after I had fled to frivolously spend my time at the ticket offices. He probably assumed I would get my situation straighted out with as much success as he did.

Turns out, he got the golden ticket, whereas I was allegedly off to Honolulu in SHARES, so my efforts were denied.

Upon realizing this, for the first time in my life, I hated the airline industry with a passion.

Chicawgo instantly felt bad for what had happened, but it wasn’t his fault. Again, it was a balancing act, after all.

Walking back to the UA ticket counters, I felt like a dog with my tail between my legs. Several of the refugees, who had also heard of my plan before I rushed out, looked at me disorientingly, “wait, what are YOU doing here? They grabbed your friend and escorted him away onto another flight, we thought you’d be with him?” I faked a forced laugh and said, “ha, just kidding!” and stared at the ground, red in the face, feeling like an utter fool.

The very nice guy from Phoenix reassured me that everyone was making it out the next morning on an ANA flight to NRT, then on a flight to SEA. People were being taken to a nearby airport hotel which did not sound appetizing.

“Lovely,” I thought. “Just where I need to go.” I was such an ungrateful wretch. Another chance to fly on the 787, lucky me. I had wanted to try something new!

The gate agent reissued my tickets, but then I paused, turned around, and like a lightbulb that had gone off in my head, I pointed out that I had been UPGRADED on my originally scheduled flight to BusinessFirst from HNL to SEA, and was on the waitlist for GUM-HNL (the Island Hopper). Granted, I had used miles, but an upgrade was an upgrade.

It literally bumped me from feeling like 0% to 75% when I received newly-issued boarding passes that showed me in “First” from Narita to Seattle. ANA couldn’t accommodate me in J from MNL to NRT, but I shrugged it off.

I was so disoriented and drained from that whole ordeal, I did not realize, as I looked down at my ticket, that the Tokyo - Seattle segment was actually on United, NOT on the All Nippon 787 flight I had taken on the outbound. So I would be flying on the legacy United 777 route from NRT to SEA. Somehow, that actually cheered me up a bit. I would get to try out my first transoceanic/long-haul flight in the premium cabin of a US carrier. Again, another blow softened.

Finally, I also got to stay at the Diamond hotel, which was slightly nicer. A perk for First passengers on the cancelled MNLGUM flight. I was happy that I had decided to upgrade my flights after all.

Poor slumber


I had a pretty restless night given that I made it to the Diamond around 1 AM and had a 6 AM wake-up for the return flight to NRT (then SEA). However, the hotel voucher also included a pretty generous meal allowance, so I helped myself to some snacks/room service and looked piteously outside the window as Roxas Boulevard swept nighttime traffic right and left.

The alarm clock stung at 6 before I took a quick shower and raced downstairs to have some breakfast. It was a gorgeous day, and seemed like it would be a calm one.

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Here is a beautiful picture of my hotel room, just as the sun was rising over Manila on a Monday morning. The Diamond hotel offered a delicious breakfast spread that I was able to enjoy before waiting for my arranged transportation back to NAIA.

I was shocked to see two of the United ground staff in the lobby of the hotel. The two of them, both females, appeared to insure that the premium class passengers were awake for their flight. This sight was humbling; clearly, these two women had not slept all night and were up and about still working at the crack of dawn.

Immediately, I felt a wave of sympathy for them, and momentarily felt my anger melt away at the sequence of events from the night prior. I was grateful that I did not cause a scene at MNL. Probably not their fault that UA has dropped the ball in terms of preparing them to handle IRROPs situations, most definitely a trait inherited from pmCO, which makes complete sense given that MNL was an entirely CO station prior to the merger.

Big hug goes out to these employees for being so brave and dedicated, if they ever were to read this TR.



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14231 times:

(Re)-arrival back into NAIA: another misfortune


Now, the fun was about to begin. Manila embraced me with an arrival into NAIA 3, the newly pristine terminal completed late last decade. The only non-filipino carrier that currently flies there is All Nippon, so just as I had entered the Philippines, I was similarly to exit by flying out of this gem.

Despite the novelties of a new terminal, and the fastidious nature of Asian carriers, the check-in line for ANA seemed to indicate something was wrong.

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As it turned out, the system was down, and ANA had to check-in passengers manually. I knew this could not turn out well.

Check-in, even for the Business Class/Star Gold line, took a good 30 minutes. I was one of 4 people in the check-in, and was issued a manually-written boarding pass for the flight. Without question, we were going to be delayed, but the check-in agents seemed nonchalant. What is it about MNL ground staff and dealing with IRROPs? It’s literally the definition of “all hell breaks loose”

With a “hand-written” boarding pass in my possession, I proceeded through immigration and security, without much hassle. I had asked if there was a designated lounge for UnitedClub/Star Gold members, and as it turns out, ANA siphons off a “restaurant” during the early morning hours which provides some basics like free WiFi, full bar service, and a few finger foods for lounge members.

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NAIA T3

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“Lounge” aka restaurant

The whole situation was rather bizarre, but I used it as an opportunity to wind-down, enjoy a bloody mary, catch up on my news (including the imminent superstorm Sandy) and FaceTime with my family, as well as Chicawgo. The runt was relaxing at the glorious Asiana lounge in Incheon at that moment, basking in the moment after taking a luxurious shower. His routing was MNL-ICN-NRT-ORD, so I would briefly see him in Tokyo in between sprints to the gate.

Slowly, the gate area near NH950 to NRT begin to fill up, although it was clear that we would have to each individually re-check at the gate to have our boarding passes re-issued. Fortunately, compared to the check-in process at the counters, the re-issuing of tickets at the gate was much smoother and conducted in an organized fashion.

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We were already an hour delayed, and I was starting to fret about my connection in Narita, as I had not been re-issued my actual boarding pass for the NRT-SEA segment.

Meanwhile, the majority of the passenger makeup on this flight seemed to be USA-bound, and passengers were abuzz at the impending superstorm #Sandy out of fear that most East Coast flights would be cancelled out of NRT. I did not envy them in the slightest.



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14228 times:

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On-board ANA from MNL to NRT



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Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages
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Photo © Bastian Ding



I was relegated to YCL on this segment, and so therefore, had the pleasure of sitting in a middle seat on an old-configured Air Japan 767, right behind a pseudo-empty JCL. As soon as boarding completed, I signaled an FA and moved over to an empty row towards the back of the cabin. Window seat and empty aisle seat next to me, I stared out the window, just soaking in the present moment. I tried playing with the ANA PTV hardware, but just as on the outbound sector, the IFE was outdated and clunky, so I gave up.

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Pushback was delayed about 10-15 minutes due to some luggage that had to be off-loaded. I was biting my nails now, frantic about my connection. The long taxi in MNL, and subsequent delays before we FINALLY lifted off, did little to calm my nerves. Once airborne, I couldn’t sleep, so I busted out my new iPad and threw back some scotches and watched Modern Family to calm my nerves.



The flight itself was pretty uneventful. Just your normal, afternoon ~4 hour ish flight over the sea of Japan, just like flying between Chicago and San Francisco. However, the perk on ANA is the full meal service, which, per usual, hit the spot.

On today’s flight, we received a sumptuous chicken with a tangerine demi-glaze, mash, carrots and bok choy. Side dishes entailed a macaroni and ham salad (surprisingly tasty) and a roast beef, horseradish, lettuce and tomato salad, along with break and spreadable cheese. To finish, a phenomenal lemon tart dessert.

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I spent the last hour or so of the flight fixated on watching the air show, doing the mathematic calculations on scheduled arrival time and basically taking bets on whether or not I was going to miss my connection.

To spice up my anxiety levels, the impacts of superstorm #Sandy were indeed starting to take effect on the North American-bound flights from Narita. Twice, before landing, announcements were made concerning transfers to Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Washington, New York JFK, Newark and Toronto flights, made over the PA system and reported on the TV monitors. The latter three, on Air Canada, United and ANA, were all cancelled.

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As such, lines were expected to be long at Narita. I scolded myself on not having confirmed my seats on the phone with a UA res agent.

Just like before, the descent into Tokyo was beautiful. I lamented the fact that I was arriving on the outbound, just as I had on the inbound, ridden with anxiety over this transfer.








next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14211 times:

The Coup


My frustrations with the situation essentially hit a boiling point when we landed near the JAL terminal and had to taxi for nearly 20 minutes and I got a full, 360-degree tour of Narita airport from seat 26G.

To add insult to injury, we were parked at a remote stand, meaning we were to take a bus to the terminal before proceeding to security.

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Exiting the aircraft, the cabin was basically in pandemonium. I kid you not, this flight was pretty much all packed with North American expats headed for a transoceanic flight back across the pond, and people were frantic about missing their connections.

Riding the bus may have been cool and fun in calmer times, but nobody was in any shape to have a smile on their face. A Canadian woman, who was seated in J, stood next to me on the bus, clutching onto the pole as it swung her to and fro, and her face showed signs of blood curdling.

“Never again, All Nippon!” she said to me, shaking her head and looking ready to explode. “I’ve flown this route 26 times, and this is the FIRST time we’ve ever gone on a taxi route this long, been bussed to a remote stand, and had that kind of system shut-down in Manila!”

I nodded my head and stayed silent. I avoided commiseration because I knew that the instant that bus unloaded at the terminal, it was every man for himself to sprint through that stupid, futile screening. All that I could think of was, “screw you, Narita and this whole situation

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Per my expectations, the security check in Tokyo, in a different part of the terminal this time, managed to piss me off even more on the second occasion. There was a single line processing every passenger, and it was staffed with the most apathetic set of Japanese agents I have ever seen.

Seriously, any perceptions I had about Asian efficiency went completely out the window after these back-to-back first-hand experiences. I swore off Narita as a future transit point, at least with less than ten hours to connect, at minimum.

As I mentioned in my previous TR, on my experience flying Asian airlines, such as ANA and Thai, the SSR situation always seems to have about 8-10 wheelchairs deep on flights. Not that I hold any sort of vendetta, but here we were, standing in a huge queue, and all of the sudden, 10 wheelchaired passengers were being rolled up into a line adjacent to us, and our line was halted as the SSRs were individually processed before each of us.

At this point, there was a “bro” in front of me heading to SFO, who lost his sh*t. He was the obnoxious type that had boarded the a/c in MNL pushing his way through crowds with his headphones on, not following boarding procedures and acting like he was VIP. Super obnoxious.

In front of him was the same Canadian female, and he demanded to see her boarding pass in an effort to jump the line in front of her because he was fearful he would miss his flight. She explained that she was on the same flight, and wouldn’t let him pass. If she was going down, he was going to be brought down with her.

“STOP LYING TO ME!” He screamed in her face.

Again, she was on the same flight as he, and showed him her boarding card. I’m not sure what further proof he needed.

Standing a few passengers behind them, I prepared for a fight to break out. Excitement was escalating and everyone was stressed out and unhappy. People were yelling at the agents. A group of girls behind me were on the verge of tears. The situation was NOT pretty.

A few passengers from the back of the line attempted to cut in front, shouting that they were going to miss their flights. Nobody let them through.

As for me, my SEA flight was 10 minutes from pre-boarding, and I did not have a ticket.

By some sheer act of the gods, the moronic Japanese agents decided that they should open up a second screening line, and we began to flow. 15 minutes later, I was on the other side and sprinting towards the United counter.

I never found out if those SFO-bound passengers made their flight, but considering it left 30 minutes after the MNL flight landed, my guess is N-O.

Relief


I could not believe that the United counter did not have any lines. I basically threw my passport and whatever documentation I could at the agent. It turns out, my upgrade was for United BusinessFirst, not Global First, but I was just happy to be able to be issued a ticket to go home!

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I was informed that the flight was still a few minutes away from general boarding, so I decided to pop into the United lounge at NRT to see what was there, and use the WiFi to connect to e-mail on my iPhone and send a quick note to my family that I was headed back to the good ‘ol US of A.

I snapped a few shots of the lounge, and this was as best as I could manage on foot.

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After a quick trip to the loo, I sprinted towards gate 36. As I was passing on the escalators, I saw these security officers.

And, as a nice surprise, I also ran into Chicawgo for a second! The little bastard had spent two hours arguing his way to get a nonstop flight back to ORD from NRT. He had originally booked an open jaw SEA-MNL-SFO. We said farewell and I boarded my flight.



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14194 times:

http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/Cover-1_zpse3abdadd.jpg


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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andy Egloff
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Photo © Yochai Mossi - AirTeamImages



Today, I was flying N798UA, which was delivered to United on February 13, 1998 for its maiden flight.

An old 777


I was flying on an old United 777-200 that was in the non-International Premium Travel Experience (IPTE) configuration. I had braced myself for this. The 49 JCL seats are recliner-style, with a 55” seat pitch, 20.5” seat width, and 14 degree recline. These planes are expected to be updated by June 2013.

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http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r517/Aviation_D/ANETPhoto_zps1cf357a6.jpg

Picture by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Amenity kit was fairly standard. As I have not traveled extensively internationally in many premium cabins in the past, I don’t place a huge emphasis on evaluating these features.

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Whatever the case, I was so drained, I was just appreciative of legroom in front of me. The seat was comfy enough. Just let it be. My seatmate was a gentleman from Mexico City who had been doing business in Beijing, on this UA flight to SEA.

Most of J class had boarded before me. You might remember that I had mentioned my ORD-based friend, Jay, who works for UA and had non-revved to Tokyo that weekend to visit his girlfriend that weekend (Halloween), in a previous TR. He took the UA outbound flight while I flew NH, and both of us had hung out in the lounge together. He coincidentally appeared on this same flight home, and was in shock that I was there too.

That’s when I told him, glumly, that the Island Hopper had fallen through  

The SEA-NRT flight on UA is serviced by a VERY senior crew, based in SEA. There are a few select Japanese speaking crew members onboard, but indeed, this was back to the land of the free.

Without question, the United flight attendants serving J were, indeed, typical legacy United crews that have been with the company for awhile. Nothing to complain about, but nothing to write home about, either.

Pre-departure beverages were offered on the ground. Interestingly, this contrasts Gabriel Chew’s statement who contends that Japanese laws prevent carriers from offering drinks on the ground for premium passengers. I went for some champagne: Pannier Tradition - AOP Brut NV. Meal orders were also taken (more on that later). Here are some snapshots of the menu:

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The PTV system was also a major disappointment. Non-AVOD, swivel-screen that pretty much had 4 functional channels. The F/As chose to turn off channel 9 (for whatever reason).

Entertainment aside, recliner-seat notwithstanding, my goal was to simply wine, dine, relax and get a good night’s sleep.

In-flight


Push-back, taxi and takeoff were uneventful. I settled into my seat and attempted to watch some TV on the POS IFE system, but gave up after a futile try. It was essentially non-functional.

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In hindsight, I think that I am hugely fortunate to NOT have had the opportunity to experience United’s new International BusinessFirst seats up until this point, otherwise, I would have been plain spoiled. Indeed, a recliner seat is not a comparable substitute, but I maintain that sometimes, older-generation style seats tend to have larger, comfier cushioning that conform well to the lumbar region.

That being said, the seat still has its major drawbacks, aside from being non-lie flat. The leg rest and foot rest is an issue, given that it does not “contour” to align properly with the angle of the seat when in recline mode. As mentioned previously, the IFE is basically non-functional, since its entirely first generation. Alas, there is not much purpose to critique this seat any further given that its days are numbered for the matter of what, a few weeks?

The good thing about the 6PM departure time on this flight is that United FA’s pretty much spring into action in getting the meal service ready, allowing passengers ample time to sleep and wind down for the night. I appreciated this immensely as I was in no condition for an overly lavish affair.

Meal service began with a round of drinks. I went for a gin tonic, which the UA FA was happy to serve in double size by planting down two mini bottles of Bombay Sapphire without much afterthought. This was also served along with warm mixed nuts, and FA’s came around with second helpings of the nuts. This was something that isn’t usually done in domestic F on United, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much they were in popular demand by the J class pax.

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FAs then began distributing the next course, which consisted of an nondescript “chilled appetizer” on the menu, which turned out to be some sort of random Japanese dish which I couldn’t really identify beyond being obviously a piece of Maki roll. Either way, I did not particularly love it, but did not hate it, either.

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Served alongside this was a fresh seasonal greens salad. While presentation wasn’t amazing, the garlic dressing was delicious, and was complemented well by a piece of garlic bread we were served (sorry, somehow absent from the photos).

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For the main entree, BusinessFirst passengers were given four options:

  • The American standard, Tenderloin of Beef in red wine sauce, with roasted potatoes, mushrooms and green beans

  • Roasted Breast of Duck, with a balsamic-cherry glaze, egg fried rice and spinach

  • Hawaiian-style fillet of Sea Bass with seafood Jus, shiitake mushroom and leek topping, steamed rice and carrots, OR

  • A Washoku Zen Selection, which consisted of a series of Japanese items too long to list here, so I’ve included a snapshot of the menu for further reference.


Being the poor, inexperienced global travel that I am (heavy sarcasm there) who is often relegated to Economy on long-haul flights, I had never actually had the opportunity to enjoy a USDA prime dish on a flight, so in honor of this occasion, I went for the beef.

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Le steak arrived on my plate, portion size looking SLIGHTLY smaller than I had pictured, but again, this is obviously to avoid overstuffing pax between courses. Presentation was lackluster, as it look like it was all kind of strewn together last minute, but this was overcompensated with taste.

Was it the best steak I’ve ever had? Saying “yes” would have been a stretch, but it was tasty and I consumed every last morsel. The red wine sauce was a nice complement to the beef, which was cooked medium rare. The vegetables were a little bland, and the potatoes slightly unimaginative, but then again, I had arguably sided with the “safest” and “least-adventurous” item on the menu.

At this juncture, we were about two hours outside of Narita. The one functional item on the IFE screen, the moving map display, served as my entertainment for this flight.

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I started feeling nice and buzzed and full, but I saved room for the final courses of the meal. I think the FA either re-filled my G&T, or I was just feeling the libations after all the exertion of the day, but whatever the case, I felt pretty relaxed.
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The next course entailed the International Cheese Selection, which came in threes: a trio of gouda, soft yellow and brie, three red grapes, and three crackers (1 Carr, 1 whole wheat and one Ritz-looking situation), all served with Port. I am a huge cheese lover, and while this assortment was tasty, it was also somewhat bizarre. On the verge of sounding like a total cheese snob, I don’t really see what is “international” about these pairings as they are found on the more inexpensive end at the grocery deli. The Port was also a huge let-down, but I think that has more to do with my liking to the beverage as opposed to the option offered on the actual flight.

Finally, the finale came, which would represent another big “First” for me traveling intercontinental premium on a US airline: the Ice Cream Sundae.

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While I’m not a huge sucker for desserts, this wasn’t something I could pass up, despite feeling stuffed from the previous few courses. Per expectations, these ice cream sundaes were hand-crafted by the F/As on a cart next to your seat. Toppings spanned a wide array of items from various sauces to whipped cream, almonds, fruits, you name it.

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After reading several anetters on this forum feature their very-own to individual delight and delectation, here is my picture of what I chose that day. Another item to cross off the list, and yes, it was indeed superb.

All in all, a pretty satisfactory dinner.

After the trays were cleared, we were still about 7 hours left in flight, and I prepared for a good-night’s rest. I washed off in the lavatories and changed into the comfortable socks in the amenity kit, and placed the eyeshades over my head and threw on a podcast.

Amazingly, without even popping a dramamine, I fell asleep and had 4-5 hours of decent rest, waking up about 90 minutes prior to landing

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Breakfast options were slightly more limited in selection than dinner, but fortunately, there was a more plentiful option between Cereal and Banana and the Herbed omelette. Despite feeling full from the meal service prior, I went for the latter.

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Presentation was slightly improved this time over the previous round, and accompaniments in the form of orange yogurt (Japanese brand), sliced fruit and a slightly dry cinnamon roll were nice and filling. F/As came by with coffee and orange juice. I wouldn’t say the omelet was anything to write home about, but it was tasty and hit the spot.

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And just like that, the flight was about to conclude. It was almost surreal how quickly it flew by (no pun intended) but I would say that my satisfaction levels were reasonably high given that I essentially hopped on board, ate, slept, ate and deplaned. For some people flying in premium class, that’s sometimes as much as they could want, am I correct?

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next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 14169 times:

Arrival into Seattle


Arrival into SEA and deplaning was fairly uneventful, but there was one encounter that involved the United flight crew that I want to draw attention to.

At the time, the escalators leading down to the immigration hall were broken, and so a group of us headed to use the elevators to reach the lower level.

The subsequent wait for the elevators took about 15 minutes, which was painful. However, there was an attractive Japanese-American woman standing near me who was clutching her stomach and did not appear to be ok.

I asked her if she was allright, and she said, “no, I think I am going to be sick.” The elevators were stuck, but I noticed there was a separate corridor that the United flight attendants (who had just serviced our flight) were using to head to the crew arrival area.

I advised the lady to follow them down the hallway and ask for assistance, so that she could be processed quickly and not have to wait in line with the rest of us, given her condition. She nodded, grabbed her things and ran after them.

She was frazzled, and shouted out to them, waving, “excuse me, please, can you help!”

What we all witnessed at that next moment was mind-blowing.

One female, middle-aged FA who had been serving the J-CL cabin turned around, and screamed back, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

I am not exaggerating on these details. Literally, all three United FAs looked at the poor woman with looks of utmost disgust and exasperation, and one of them had snapped at her. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing with my own eyes. A passenger is in need of help over a situation she cannot control, and just because you’re no longer servicing the flight, you can’t forge an ounce of sympathy or courtesy.

Worst of all, she was still wearing her United uniform and badge. I wouldn’t write these details second-guessing the nature of my reaction had I not noticed that all of the remaining J-Class passengers waiting among me for the elevator were similarly shocked at what had transpired.

Needless to say, at that moment, the elevator doors magically appeared open and we proceeded to immigration.

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The ANA 787 flight had landed near ours, and I just marveled at the sight of the ANA FAs that were lined up in the immigration line. Poised, balanced, beautiful and serene. Huge contrast to the UA FAs without going into further detail.

Honestly, these differences in the world are so gaping, it baffles me as to why airlines like United can’t even attempt to address something so obvious to the customer.

Seattle and onward journey home


The immigration lines went through quickly. This was pre-Global Entry days for me, but I somehow managed to evade extensive grilling about my MNL trip and ended on a high note with the CBP agent who joked with me about NFL teams. Haha.

Now, I had one final dilemma to sort through. My ORD-SEA and SEA-MNL itineraries were on separate reservations. ORD-SEA had been booked on Delta miles flying Alaska nonstop on the outbound, and DL return (via MSP). However, I had booked the Delta itinerary to coincide with the timing of the arrival of my original itinerary, which was 11 PM redeye later that night to Minneapolis, then 7 AM to Chicago.

Due to the island hopper cancellation and subsequent changes, I had now arrived in Seattle 12 hours earlier than originally planned and had no desire to sit in the airport after all that journeying.

I called Delta to see if I could change my award ticket, and, as another data point to how customer unfriendly Delta’s SkyPesos program is, I could not change my itinerary to a flight that left until 5 PM that night, even though there were loads of outbound departures via SLC, DTW and MSP that day.

Oh, might I add that there would be a $150 change fee plus any applicable difference in mileage points.

Beyond frustrating, but I couldn’t even muster up the energy to be angry.

However, I did have an ace up my sleeve.

My buddy, Jay, who works for United and had just flown NRSA in JCL with me from NRT to SEA, was texting me at the time wondering where I was in Sea-Tac airport. I explained my situation to him, and then it clicked!
-
“Well, I am on a 1 PM non-stop to ORD,” he said to me. “I’ll just list you as a Non-Rev Space Available and you can fly back with me to Chicago.”

I leapt for joy. I took three miserable tram rides in SEA to meet Jay in terminal, and he had already listed me on his laptop. Space was looking promising and we caught up in the terminal and just chatted.

Seriously, that kid has saved my life twice now. It was also my first time to fly NRSA since 2009!

Long story short, we both got economy plus and flew nonstop back to Chicago, landing around 7PM local time. Flight was uneventful, 737 pmCO crew. It probably cost me $50 with taxes and fees, which was well worth it over the Delta change option.

So, even though my Delta ticket went to waste, I wasn’t even going to deign them with their absurdly terrible change fee policies. Seriously, that airline commits murder and gets away with it, sometimes I ask why do I even bother having the AMEX Gold Card?

Jay and I took the blue-line back home and I was safely back in good old Chicago. Jay also managed to do some digging and found out that the inbound aircraft from GUM to MNL was showing a medical diversion, even though this was conflicting with earlier versions of a weather-incident related cancellation. Either way, these were the results:





Chicawgo (my friend) beat me home by taking the nonstop NRT-ORD flight and posted on his facebook, “Manila was fun, but the flights were a disaster.”

Amen to that.

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Impressions


Well, first, I hope you enjoyed part three of my novela. Thanks for the continued readership and support. I’ll try to make these TRs less text-heavy moving forward.

Secondly, I have to say that this was the craziest itinerary I had ever attempted, and I know many people who have tried far worse. To me, that says that perhaps I am not designed for these types of insane itineraries haha.

Thirdly, I have to say that for as many times as I felt that I was screwed, I did ultimately find a saving grace. For every con, there seemed like a pro that supplemented for it:

Outbound
Cons > Pros

[-]Lost my travel companion on the 787
[+]Still got to fly the 787 and experience ANA transoceanic

[-]Dealt with the stress of finding my friend in NRT
[+]Got to visit the ANA lounge

[-]Dealt with the stress of Chicawgo’s lost upgrade
[+]Managed to resolve the situation and get us both upgraded without a battle

Overall plus: a great stay in Manila and unparalleled service on ANA

Inbound

Cons

[-]Cancelled Island Hopper (HUGE blow)
[-]Stress of NAIA T1 and reservations offices
[-]Lost my travel companion (again!)
[-]Missed out on the chance to fly Asiana to Korea
[-]Stress of dealing with broken computer situation at ANA counters in NAIA 3 after re-booking
[-]Delayed flight to NRT and tight connection + security disaster
[-]Loss of Delta miles that went unused one-way on an award ticket from SEA to ORD

Pros
[+]Cancelled Island Hopper, while sucky, could have also been exceptionally draining
[+]Re-booked and managed to have the upgrade honored on NRT-SEA
[+]Stayed at the nicer Diamond hotel with two comped meals in IRROPs situation
[+]”Lounge” access in MNL T3 (aka the restaurant with distributable WiFi)
[+]Decent service on NH intra-Asia in Y from MNL to NRT
[+]BusinessFirst on UA was fine and sleep wasn’t evasive
[+]NRSA came through, arrived home at a decent hour



That being said, the journey itself may have had its unpleasant moments, but in the end, it made for a great story, and despite minor scrapes and bruises, we survived.

ANA, despite the logistical mishaps, continues to be a fine airline setting the benchmark for premier travel in Y and J.

United, on the other hand, has its work cut out for it.

Thanks for reading, comments are always appreciated  

Best,

IrishAyes



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 925 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 13780 times:

Hi Rohan.. wow... I think I need a drink just reading this nightmare adventure. Too bad you did not get the island hopper. I would love to do that once in my life. I cannot believe that UA still had those awful seats in JCL on one of the premier routes. I will not even comment on the crews attitude in SEA! As always great TR and pictures. Take care, Will


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 24
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 13409 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Wow, IrishAyes! What a read. I feel for you - what an experience from hell. I bet you were so excited to finally make it home.

Sad to hear the negative experiences you encountered throughout your entire journey. I think sometimes it takes such a level of perseverance to travel long distances like this, especially when everything goes wrong.

United J actually looks better than it has in previous reports, and I'm impressed they've kept many things from CO by the looks of it. Sundaes didn't used to be a UA thing, did they?

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
On the verge of sounding like a total cheese snob, I don’t really see what is “international” about these pairings as they are found on the more inexpensive end at the grocery deli.

Ha! I like this comment. I consider myself to be a "cheese" guy and totally agree. I could have bought those types at the grocery store down the street.

I'm also pretty down on how poor Delta's SkyMiles Award Redemption ability is even when I'm a big flier with them; There are so many fees, and issues that often come up, its so hard to ever be able to use them!

Best,

Matthew (767747)


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1236 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 13386 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Well hello there Irish Ayes.....what a blockbuster you have rolled out here on a.net....the last instalment I was very much looking forward to!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
As a disclaimer, I know that I tend to ramble/provide extraneous information surrounding the background details of my trip, which I know can lead to a bit of an overload.

You aren't the only one lol

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Notice something crude and funny?

Now that you mention it..I do..Naughty!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
The return journey was bound to be just as risky. I had booked myself on 12, yes 12, consecutive legs to return home to Chicago from Manila, by way of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, The US Marshall Islands, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Put simply, the Island Hopper wasn’t happening anymore. Just like that, months of planning, preparation and waiting was all for nothing.
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
That’s when I told him, glumly, that the Island Hopper had fallen through

Are you KIDDING me! After giving you the title of most insane traveller with that itinerary, it didn't take place...Wow that must have been a big blow!! I totally feel your pain....Though I think your trip report heading should have not given it away so easily!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
It was too good to be true, anyways. I was a fool in believing that it was plausible. A 787 flight on ANA, a Business Class upgrade, and a trip to fly on one of the world’s most bizarre, exotic routes? Never. The travel gods aren’t that doting.

I was lucky with the travel Gods recently when I got my upgrade on Etihad to J class!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
SHARES

What is SHARES?

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
My mistake, my regret
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I wanted to bang my head against the wall

Meanwhile, I was sentenced to NAIA 1. Flightless and friendless. Literally, the worst nightmare came true: I was stranded in a foreign country by myself.
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Turns out, he got the golden ticket, whereas I was allegedly off to Honolulu in SHARES, so my efforts were denied.

Absolutely insane, he got left behind on the outbound, and you get left behind on the inbound...hey at least now you both are even lol

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 4):
The Coup

My frustrations with the situation essentially hit a boiling point when we landed near the JAL terminal and had to taxi for nearly 20 minutes and I got a full, 360-degree tour of Narita airport from seat 26G.
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 4):
To add insult to injury, we were parked at a remote stand, meaning we were to take a bus to the terminal before proceeding to security

That must have got you really worked up.....considering you did not even have a ticket and boarding pass in hand...do you seriously enjoy travelling this way...though no fault of yours.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 4):
Seriously, any perceptions I had about Asian efficiency went completely out the window after these back-to-back first-hand experiences. I swore off Narita as a future transit point, at least with less than ten hours to connect, at minimum.

Very surprised as usually Japanese are the world's example for efficiency!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 4):
At this point, there was a “bro” in front of me heading to SFO, who lost his sh*t. He was the obnoxious type that had boarded the a/c in MNL pushing his way through crowds with his headphones on, not following boarding procedures and acting like he was VIP. Super obnoxious.

In front of him was the same Canadian female, and he demanded to see her boarding pass in an effort to jump the line in front of her because he was fearful he would miss his flight. She explained that she was on the same flight, and wouldn’t let him pass. If she was going down, he was going to be brought down with her.

“STOP LYING TO ME!” He screamed in her face.

Again, she was on the same flight as he, and showed him her boarding card. I’m not sure what further proof he needed.

Why did she even bother to show her boarding pass....really

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
I was just appreciative of legroom in front of me. The seat was comfy enough. Just let it be.

Your behind must have been overjoyed to finally sit in that seat, after all the fiasco you had to undergo before you got there lol

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
In-flight
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):
Finally, the finale came, which would represent another big “First” for me traveling intercontinental premium on a US airline: the Ice Cream Sundae.

Hmmm. I practically have to give up eating desserts so I don't have to work out, but I thinking eating ice cream on a plane in that way in J must be so heavenly.....had ice cream in Y which usually has to sit for a long time before it can thaw!!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
Arrival into Seattle
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
What we all witnessed at that next moment was mind-blowing.

One female, middle-aged FA who had been serving the J-CL cabin turned around, and screamed back, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
The ANA 787 flight had landed near ours, and I just marveled at the sight of the ANA FAs that were lined up in the immigration line. Poised, balanced, beautiful and serene. Huge contrast to the UA FAs without going into further detail.

What a contrast in not just carriers but cultures too.....Japanese always known to be so polite and these Japanese FAs are the finest example out there

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
Seattle and onward journey home
Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
Now, I had one final dilemma to sort through. My ORD-SEA and SEA-MNL itineraries were on separate reservations. ORD-SEA had been booked on Delta miles flying Alaska nonstop on the outbound, and DL return (via MSP). However, I had booked the Delta itinerary to coincide with the timing of the arrival of my original itinerary, which was 11 PM redeye later that night to Minneapolis, then 7 AM to Chicago.

Due to the island hopper cancellation and subsequent changes, I had now arrived in Seattle 12 hours earlier than originally planned and had no desire to sit in the airport after all that journeying.

I called Delta to see if I could change my award ticket, and, as another data point to how customer unfriendly Delta’s SkyPesos program is, I could not change my itinerary to a flight that left until 5 PM that night, even though there were loads of outbound departures via SLC, DTW and MSP that day.

Oh, might I add that there would be a $150 change fee plus any applicable difference in mileage points.

Beyond frustrating, but I couldn’t even muster up the energy to be angry.

Wow so this whole trip was not just booked with one alliance? Just how many tickets did you have?

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
Long story short, we both got economy plus and flew nonstop back to Chicago, landing around 7PM local time. Flight was uneventful, 737 pmCO crew. It probably cost me $50 with taxes and fees, which was well worth it over the Delta change option.

So, even though my Delta ticket went to waste, I wasn’t even going to deign them with their absurdly terrible change fee policies. Seriously, that airline commits murder and gets away with it, sometimes I ask why do I even bother having the AMEX Gold Card?

Glad you finally go on the flight......Yes makes you wonder about points with these cards....I'm saving my Aeroplan points to plan a J class trip in a few years, maybe for a milestone birthday....will wait and see!!


User currently offlineCdnCactus From Canada, joined Mar 2013, 159 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 13378 times:

Aww, too bad the island hopper didn't happen...the route was so insane that I was really eager to read your report.

(...not to make you feel any worse about it being cancelled, of course   )

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
I am not exaggerating on these details. Literally, all three United FAs looked at the poor woman with looks of utmost disgust and exasperation, and one of them had snapped at her.

I bet some passengers would think twice to fly on United again. I certainly would've.

Thank you for the report (I enjoyed the novella!), and never say never about making the island hopper happen in the future.


User currently offlineN809FR From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 182 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 13075 times:

I will personally never fly United again, I was flying into KIX on March 2nd, and we had a nice five hour delay which cost stupid amounts of money on beer at SFO. ANA on the way back however was a sheer pleasure. I love Air Japan crews, and the ANA crews on the 777 were phenomenal as well.

User currently offlineAA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5727 posts, RR: 11
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 12823 times:

I was SO looking forward to reading an Island Hopper trip report, having followed you through your literary journey up to this point!
Sorry you had such a bad experience. For what it's worth, I continue to have average experiences with both CO and UA halves of newUA. Crews can be brutal, though. On both sides.


User currently offlineplaniac787 From India, joined May 2012, 240 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 12757 times:

Great report as usual man!

Bravo to you for attempting such an extreme itinerary but I guess only a true enthusiast would do so. So a big cheers for that  

Unfortunate you missed out on the island hopper and also it was sad to see United had sent in the old 772...
The seats dont look very exciting at all. The G&T must have hit the spot after such a chaotic experience...
Shame on the United crew man..I had a completely different experience with them when I flew them one year back.
If you remember that was my first trip report and United's ultra long haul product had impressed me a lot.

I would actually think twice now before trying them again. Looks like its time to find a new carrier as I have traveled too much on BA, Lh and United did not impress me either.

Hopefully TK flies into atlanta soon.
That will solve my dilemma!

Thanks for sharing and hope you dont have to go through such "adventurous" trips again!

Cheers

Pradat



Be the change you want to see in the world- M.K.Gandhi
User currently offlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 12633 times:

Wow....just wow...

What an epic trip report! Thank you for sharing! I was totally invested as I kept reading groaning with each twist and turn...

In the end you made it there and back safe and sound so in that regards it was a "good" trip....


User currently offlinechicawgo From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 83 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 12323 times:

As usual you've once again helped relive the horror... and I enjoyed every minute of it.

BTW, regardless of what you say... I would not say it was an enjoyable stay in the lounge at ICN. While you were sleeping in a bed in MNL I was running on no sleep and nowhere to sleep. And, for the record, I showered in NRT... not ICN. Luckily C was wide open and I got upgraded.... UA does CPU's on most intra-Asia flights. It was only 2 hours... but still enjoyable in the new 777 lie-flat biz seat.


User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 12321 times:

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 7):
Hi Rohan.. wow... I think I need a drink just reading this nightmare adventure. Too bad you did not get the island hopper. I would love to do that once in my life.

I know, right? I am disappointed as well. I was really looking forward to writing that TR. This one noticeably took longer to produce because of the explanations and discouragement involved.

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 7):
I cannot believe that UA still had those awful seats in JCL on one of the premier routes.

The funny thing is, I often wonder, IS it a premier route? It seems to me like UA doesn't really care about it if they chose to deploy one of their shoddier products on this flight. Questionable.

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 7):
I will not even comment on the crews attitude in SEA! As always great TR and pictures. Take care, Will

Yeah. It's so beneath them, yet so unsurprising. Best response I can provide is shake my head.

Thanks for the comments, Will! Appreciate the read  
Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
Wow, IrishAyes! What a read. I feel for you - what an experience from hell. I bet you were so excited to finally make it home.

Ahh, Matthew! Good to see you on here. Thanks for the comments and for stopping by! And yes, experience from hell indeed.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
Sad to hear the negative experiences you encountered throughout your entire journey. I think sometimes it takes such a level of perseverance to travel long distances like this, especially when everything goes wrong.

It does. Sometimes, I wonder if my body is capable of handling it, other times, I question if I'm going to die at a young age. Good thing, however, is that I don't do this kind of traveling very often.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
United J actually looks better than it has in previous reports, and I'm impressed they've kept many things from CO by the looks of it. Sundaes didn't used to be a UA thing, did they?

You're absolutely correct. Although I do not have any basis of comparison, I do believe that the catering on United now is less of a UA/CO hybrid and more just CO elements incorporated into the mix. You will notice that the dishware, cloth, and other items are more sCO flavored rather than sUA, per my personal observations.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
Ha! I like this comment. I consider myself to be a "cheese" guy and totally agree. I could have bought those types at the grocery store down the street.

Honestly, I could give up alcohol and desserts for months. Cheese, I could barely last even a week. It is my vice.

And yes, the "international cheese selection" was basically cheap.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 8):
I'm also pretty down on how poor Delta's SkyMiles Award Redemption ability is even when I'm a big flier with them; There are so many fees, and issues that often come up, its so hard to ever be able to use them!

It's kind of sad, isn't it? But, on the flip side, Delta is profitable. They're reliable. And, they're making big investments in their product.

One could argue that despite United's liberal frequent flier program, the product is shoddy, the airline is unprofitable and unreliable, and overall, its a much less user-friendly business to fly with.

It really is a "pick your poison" situation.

I'm also once-bitten, twice shy about committing to AA with the impending merger after all I've dealt with sticking by United's side. I do find that AA has really tried to reinvent itself.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Well hello there Irish Ayes.....what a blockbuster you have rolled out here on a.net....the last instalment I was very much looking forward to!!

Hey there bud! Glad to see you stopped by!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Are you KIDDING me! After giving you the title of most insane traveller with that itinerary, it didn't take place...Wow that must have been a big blow!! I totally feel your pain....Though I think your trip report heading should have not given it away so easily!!

LOL true, but the news had to come about in some way. It would be torturous to say, "Island Hopper" that entailed a UA 777 transoceanic crossing....don't think that the little airstrip on the Majuro Atolls could handle that frame!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
I was lucky with the travel Gods recently when I got my upgrade on Etihad to J class!!

I know! I saw, I read, I enjoyed!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
What is SHARES?

SHARES is an HP platform used by pmCO to handle passenger reservations systems. When United and Continental officially "merged" their websites and passenger services systems in March 2012, they migrated to SHARES as the single platform to handle both airlines' merged operations.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Absolutely insane, he got left behind on the outbound, and you get left behind on the inbound...hey at least now you both are even lol

Right, tit for tat.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
That must have got you really worked up.....considering you did not even have a ticket and boarding pass in hand...do you seriously enjoy travelling this way...though no fault of yours.

It totally did. I was beyond livid.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Very surprised as usually Japanese are the world's example for efficiency!!

Not in my book. Sigh.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Why did she even bother to show her boarding pass....really

I think she was just overwhelmed and traumatized by the whole situation. Wasn't her fault, but she also was thrown off-guard by the bro.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Hmmm. I practically have to give up eating desserts so I don't have to work out, but I thinking eating ice cream on a plane in that way in J must be so heavenly.....had ice cream in Y which usually has to sit for a long time before it can thaw!!

LOL, I don't think that's the best philosophy, you should work out for other reasons (energy, mood, etc) other than to just have a reason to avoid junk food. Plus, if you work out often enough, you're allowed to treat yourself to a "cheat' meal every once in awhile, just as I do   everything in moderation!

But yes, it was indeed delicious. I'm not a huge desserts person, but I felt like, hey, when in Rome...so I indulged.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Wow so this whole trip was not just booked with one alliance? Just how many tickets did you have?

No, the SEA-MNL portions were booked on UA/Star. Since I live in Chicago, I had to book a separate flight to SEA, which is where I used DL miles. Had I not gone this route, I would have missed the 787!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 9):
Glad you finally go on the flight......Yes makes you wonder about points with these cards....I'm saving my Aeroplan points to plan a J class trip in a few years, maybe for a milestone birthday....will wait and see!!

Thanks again for the readership! Let me know where you decide to go!



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineLHRBFSTrident From UK - Northern Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 655 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 11930 times:

What an epic report - thanks for taking all the time to compose it!

Terrible luck not to get the island hopper - and your story of attempting to get re-booked by going up to the ticketing office sounds exactly like what I would do - a little knowledge of the system can be a bad thing when it back-fires like that...

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 16):
I often wonder, IS it a premier route? It seems to me like UA doesn't really care about it if they chose to deploy one of their shoddier products on this flight.

As far as I could tell, NRT-SEA and vv was still getting the non-IPTE product right up until the last of those a/c is reconfigured - I consider it a bit of an orphan route for UA. They might do better to leave SEA to NH and deploy that 777 elsewhere (LAX-AKL please!)

I just witnessed a similar UA crew NRT-BKK and it wasn't pretty: it's amazing - no matter how confident, experienced and independent one is as a traveller, the wrong crew can really put a cloud over the proceedings  



Next up: LAX-LHR NZ002 Y SkyCouch! LHR-LAX NZ001 Y
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 18, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 11846 times:

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 10):
Aww, too bad the island hopper didn't happen...the route was so insane that I was really eager to read your report.

(...not to make you feel any worse about it being cancelled, of course   )

I know   I've had over 6 months to come to terms with it though, haha.

Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 10):
I bet some passengers would think twice to fly on United again. I certainly would've.

Thank you for the report (I enjoyed the novella!), and never say never about making the island hopper happen in the future.

The funny thing is, it was around this time of year LAST YEAR that Chicawgo and I started planning this trip, and the Island Hopper was a big selling point.

On that note, another aviation fan texted me tonight saying that he is booking tickets to do this in October. I *may* try again.

Thank you for reading and the comments!

Quoting N809FR (Reply 11):
I will personally never fly United again, I was flying into KIX on March 2nd, and we had a nice five hour delay which cost stupid amounts of money on beer at SFO. ANA on the way back however was a sheer pleasure. I love Air Japan crews, and the ANA crews on the 777 were phenomenal as well.

Ugh. Sorry you had such a negative experience. Unfortunately, such sentiments are becoming all-too common these days at United and something has to be done. Preferably, removing the people in charge who seem to think things are going to change naturally without actually DOING something.

ANA is remarkable. Despite the check-in mishap, everything they did was flawless on this journey.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 12):
I was SO looking forward to reading an Island Hopper trip report, having followed you through your literary journey up to this point!

Right?! I feel like I stirred up so much excitement and hope only to let everyone down! What a shame. But, at least there was an explanation ultimately and I did not leave y'all hanging  
Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 12):
Sorry you had such a bad experience. For what it's worth, I continue to have average experiences with both CO and UA halves of newUA. Crews can be brutal, though. On both sides.

Agreed. They do not work well together and they are suffering from that. I don't know what the future holds in store for that airline, honestly.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
Great report as usual man!

Bravo to you for attempting such an extreme itinerary but I guess only a true enthusiast would do so. So a big cheers for that  

Thanks, Pradat! Always good to have you stop by here.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
Unfortunate you missed out on the island hopper and also it was sad to see United had sent in the old 772...
The seats dont look very exciting at all. The G&T must have hit the spot after such a chaotic experience...

The G&T was a MAJOR compensation to help me enjoy this flight. I cannot imagine being relegated to Y and being charged for booze, or having to subject myself to their complimentary "boxed wine" that they only serve on TPAC routes thanks to their inconsistent policies.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
Shame on the United crew man..I had a completely different experience with them when I flew them one year back.

You flew with a legacy CO crew. Those ones can also be a mixed bag.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
If you remember that was my first trip report and United's ultra long haul product had impressed me a lot.

I do remember! That's how we became friends. It really isn't a bad flight in Y for a few reasons though. One, I think mental preparation helps. Two, I think the catering in Y on the EWRDEL flight is halfway decent. Three, as long as the IFE is good, the flight passes by quickly. Four, I also think the flight timings help (late EWR departure, early evening DEL arrival).

Whereas, coming off the experience I had, a ride home in Y on this would have really sucked. ESPECIALLY on those planes with the antiquated PTVs. I'm telling you, I arrived into SEA feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to roll, but coming in from Y would have made me keel over probably. Again, so grateful I used miles to upgrade.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
I would actually think twice now before trying them again. Looks like its time to find a new carrier as I have traveled too much on BA, Lh and United did not impress me either.

Ya. I think living in ATL, you should switch to SkyTeam. I LOVE Air France-KLM. And, flying between DEL and ATL, you might have the chance to fly the MD-11 on KL sometime in there.

Quoting planiac787 (Reply 13):
Hopefully TK flies into atlanta soon.
That will solve my dilemma!

Thanks for sharing and hope you dont have to go through such "adventurous" trips again!

TK also looks great and I want to try them as well  

Thanks for reading!

Quoting Burj (Reply 14):
Wow....just wow...

What an epic trip report! Thank you for sharing! I was totally invested as I kept reading groaning with each twist and turn...

In the end you made it there and back safe and sound so in that regards it was a "good" trip....

Hahahahah! Thanks, Mister! Good to see you on hear and an honor to get your feedback. Truly, a dramatic sequence of events! And, as you mentioned, the important thing was that everything worked out OK in the end, even despite the fact that things did not work out the way that I wanted them to.

Quoting chicawgo (Reply 15):
As usual you've once again helped relive the horror... and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thanks. Agreed. One of us has to do it. The other can continue to say he'll do it eventually.

Quoting chicawgo (Reply 15):
BTW, regardless of what you say... I would not say it was an enjoyable stay in the lounge at ICN. While you were sleeping in a bed in MNL I was running on no sleep and nowhere to sleep.

Five hours of marginal sleep wondering how the frack I was going to make it back Stateside, and still in shock/awe at the course of events from that night. Wasn't marginally better than your situation. You got to try out a new airline and airport. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Quoting chicawgo (Reply 15):
And, for the record, I showered in NRT... not ICN. Luckily C was wide open and I got upgraded.... UA does CPU's on most intra-Asia flights. It was only 2 hours... but still enjoyable in the new 777 lie-flat biz seat.

Well, you raved about the lounge in ICN IIRC. And you got a lie-flat for two hours to make up for your lost sleep.

Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 17):
What an epic report - thanks for taking all the time to compose it!

Anytime! Only took me six months lol. The fact that you're reading and commenting, however, makes it ALL worthwhile  
Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 17):
Terrible luck not to get the island hopper - and your story of attempting to get re-booked by going up to the ticketing office sounds exactly like what I would do - a little knowledge of the system can be a bad thing when it back-fires like that...

You hit the nail on the head.

Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 17):
As far as I could tell, NRT-SEA and vv was still getting the non-IPTE product right up until the last of those a/c is reconfigured - I consider it a bit of an orphan route for UA. They might do better to leave SEA to NH and deploy that 777 elsewhere (LAX-AKL please!)

Ahh, good to have some insider information. Again, I keep getting mixed signals as to WHY United holds onto this route.

Apparently, handing it over to ANA wouldn't be the best case scenario given all the 787 drama that has elapsed retroactively. Too soon?

Quoting LHRBFSTrident (Reply 17):
I just witnessed a similar UA crew NRT-BKK and it wasn't pretty: it's amazing - no matter how confident, experienced and independent one is as a traveller, the wrong crew can really put a cloud over the proceedings  

Ugh. Sounds all too familiar. Sorry to hear about your experience.

Thanks for stopping by!

IrishAyes



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently offlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5191 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 11788 times:

Thanks so much for taking us on this epic journey!

I'm with Burj:

Quoting Burj (Reply 14):
What an epic trip report! Thank you for sharing! I was totally invested as I kept reading groaning with each twist and turn...

I was invested as well! I was so stressed for your just reading it... at one point (when you got your G+T) I decided a drink was in order for me to I was so wrapped up in it!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 18):
I *may* try again

Sounds good, hopefully better luck this time!

Regards,
Alex



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 20, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 11576 times:

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
I had booked myself on 12, yes 12, consecutive legs to return home to Chicago from Manila, by way of Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, The US Marshall Islands, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Minneapolis.


You my friend are hardcore! The island hopper sounds so cool. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until I read a TR here about a year ago. I’m very sorry you guys missed the opportunity to experience it. Your entire trip was plagued with problems. Like you said however at least you’ll have a lot of stories to remember and things to laugh about looking back.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
Notice something crude and funny? Ha.

Oh my!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
The funny thing is, Chicawgo and I were so jaded at this point, our reactions were base. We almost chuckled at our own lack of shock.

I guess that was the best reaction you could have had. It would have made no difference had you become angry. There was no chance in hell I would have remained calm though… It’s also good there were two of you so you could keep each other in check. I would have thrown a fit (but then again I’m Balkan and that’s what we do best).

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
threw back some scotches

They do seem to do the trick more often than not…

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
By some sheer act of the gods, the moronic Japanese agents decided that they should open up a second screening line, and we began to flow. 15 minutes later, I was on the other side and sprinting towards the United counter.

I would have never expected that from the Japanese. I have never experienced anything of the sort during the time I spent there. How bizarre.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 1):
ended on a high note with the CBP agent who joked with me about NFL teams. Haha.

Did the jokes involve the Dallas Cowboys by any chance?

What a great report, even if it did not involve any island hopper flights. It did end up being “epic” though, but unfortunately not in the way you guys had envisioned. Do you guys think you’ll give it another chance in the future?

Widebodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1118 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 11328 times:
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Hi Rohan,

First of all very nice conclusion to your trip with some nice pictures!
Second of all I feel very sorry for you! What looked like a fantastic trip from the beginning became a trip to hell (for the most part then).
I certainly didn't mind all the text as it made me feel I was right there with you!
I was very much looking forward to reading about the island hopper, something I would just LOVE to try out some time. Out of curiosity, how much did it cost and where did you book it?
To top it all off you got 2 very old interiors with both ANA and UA   The transfer in NRT sure sound like a transfer from hell with all those stressed out people!
ANA looks quite good (as usual) and UA... well as you say it correctly they have a long way to go! Good to hear they are renovating the interior on those old 777s, it is much needed I must say..

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Put simply, the Island Hopper wasn’t happening anymore. Just like that, months of planning, preparation and waiting was all for nothing.

Man, I kind of know the feeling missing out on some very special flights during my crazy trip last January.. To top it all off you lost your travel companion as well, argh

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I was shocked to see two of the United ground staff in the lobby of the hotel. The two of them, both females, appeared to insure that the premium class passengers were awake for their flight. This sight was humbling; clearly, these two women had not slept all night and were up and about still working at the crack of dawn.

If only all ground staff were like that  
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
As it turned out, the system was down, and ANA had to check-in passengers manually. I knew this could not turn out well.

Practically everything had to go wrong for you didn't it?..  
Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Secondly, I have to say that this was the craziest itinerary I had ever attempted, and I know many people who have tried far worse. To me, that says that perhaps I am not designed for these types of insane itineraries haha.

Haha, yeah I love flying crazy itineraries!

Thanks once again for sharing and looking forward to your next report  

cheers,

Brendan


User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5075 posts, RR: 55
Reply 22, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 10872 times:

Fascinating. You really do have dramatic luck with airlines - even highly regarded ones. While I am not surprised about customer service of United, and MNL, your experience with NH and NRT is a far departure from what I continue to experience. Too bad.

Sorry about the bad experience, and thanks for documenting. You must do the Island Hopper. I hear it is being reviewed and you want to do it before it ends. I did it once back when it was Continental Mike.

Thanks for sharing.

Saludos,
Alex



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineAvianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5922 posts, RR: 40
Reply 23, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 10862 times:

great report!

what a shame you did not made it on the island hopper, I made it myself back in February, and it was absolutly stunning.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 22):
I hear it is being reviewed and you want to do it before it ends

what? really? I still have to do the hopper flight eastound!

cheers
Avianca



Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
User currently offlinenewbief1yer From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 175 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 10623 times:

what a fantastic trip report. Thanks IrishAyes for letting me know that such a fantastic route to the US even exists.!

But truly gutted for you mate..!

I had a similar experience, although mine is nothing compared to your itinerary.. truly gutted mate, and hopefully you get to do this route in the future.

Best wishes.!


User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 25, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 9866 times:

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 19):
Thanks so much for taking us on this epic journey!

Anytime! Thanks for stopping by!

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 19):
I'm with Burj:

Quoting Burj (Reply 14):
What an epic trip report! Thank you for sharing! I was totally invested as I kept reading groaning with each twist and turn...

I was invested as well! I was so stressed for your just reading it... at one point (when you got your G+T) I decided a drink was in order for me to I was so wrapped up in it!

I know, which was what made it so devastatingly sad to write and publish   I felt like I had such a huge fan base prepared for the story.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 19):
Sounds good, hopefully better luck this time!

Regards,
Alex

Thanks, Alex. Again, there are rumblings of re-attempt this fall. Stay tuned...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
You my friend are hardcore! The island hopper sounds so cool. I wasn’t even aware of its existence until I read a TR here about a year ago. I’m very sorry you guys missed the opportunity to experience it. Your entire trip was plagued with problems. Like you said however at least you’ll have a lot of stories to remember and things to laugh about looking back.

I know. The situation was absolutely absurd. Somehow, I don't know how I survived...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
I guess that was the best reaction you could have had. It would have made no difference had you become angry. There was no chance in hell I would have remained calm though… It’s also good there were two of you so you could keep each other in check. I would have thrown a fit (but then again I’m Balkan and that’s what we do best).

Haha, I think most people who have the rug pulled out from them like that under those circumstances, indeed, would lose their hat.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
They do seem to do the trick more often than not…

Totally agree  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
I would have never expected that from the Japanese. I have never experienced anything of the sort during the time I spent there. How bizarre.

I know. It has left me very jaded.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
Did the jokes involve the Dallas Cowboys by any chance?

And the Chicago Bears     

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
What a great report, even if it did not involve any island hopper flights. It did end up being “epic” though, but unfortunately not in the way you guys had envisioned. Do you guys think you’ll give it another chance in the future?

It's in the works. But, taken with a LOT more caution this time.

Thanks for reading my friend!

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
Hi Rohan,

First of all very nice conclusion to your trip with some nice pictures!
Second of all I feel very sorry for you! What looked like a fantastic trip from the beginning became a trip to hell (for the most part then).

Hi Brendan!

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the sympathy. I wouldn't say the trip was hell, it was still fun and worthwhile, just had its drama-filled moments.

However, the upgrades often compensated for a lot of it.  
Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
I certainly didn't mind all the text as it made me feel I was right there with you!
I was very much looking forward to reading about the island hopper, something I would just LOVE to try out some time. Out of curiosity, how much did it cost and where did you book it?

Well thank you! Nice to hear that my work is worthy of your time haha.

It was altogether less than $800 r/t, including insurance. Booked on Expedia.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
To top it all off you got 2 very old interiors with both ANA and UA   The transfer in NRT sure sound like a transfer from hell with all those stressed out people!

This is true, although even with old interiors, they were nice flights.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
ANA looks quite good (as usual) and UA... well as you say it correctly they have a long way to go! Good to hear they are renovating the interior on those old 777s, it is much needed I must say..

Very much so. Another reason as to why I do not understand the NRTSEA route.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
Man, I kind of know the feeling missing out on some very special flights during my crazy trip last January.. To top it all off you lost your travel companion as well, argh

Birds of a feather, flock together haha.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
If only all ground staff were like that  

Agree 100%. I do feel that although these girls were working hard though, they did not have adequate preparation to handle IRROPs which is problematic in the airline industry.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
Practically everything had to go wrong for you didn't it?..  

More or less lol. Except for my outbound flight from CHI to SEA on Alaska!

Of all my flights, I made three of them. Out of 15. I also only had ONE with Chicawgo.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 21):
Haha, yeah I love flying crazy itineraries!

Thanks once again for sharing and looking forward to your next report  

cheers,

Brendan

Crazy itineraries are good but also can lead to a lot of potential disaster if you're complacent haha. Thanks for reading!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 22):

Fascinating. You really do have dramatic luck with airlines - even highly regarded ones. While I am not surprised about customer service of United, and MNL, your experience with NH and NRT is a far departure from what I continue to experience. Too bad.

Too bad. What more can I say?

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 22):
Sorry about the bad experience, and thanks for documenting. You must do the Island Hopper. I hear it is being reviewed and you want to do it before it ends. I did it once back when it was Continental Mike.

Thanks for reading, and commenting. I am hoping to do this with another mutual friend who was visiting last week, and stayed with me.

Quoting Avianca (Reply 23):
what a shame you did not made it on the island hopper, I made it myself back in February, and it was absolutly stunning.

Was it?! You should have documented it for me!

Quoting Avianca (Reply 23):

what? really? I still have to do the hopper flight eastound!

Ahh, so you did it from GUM to HNL?

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 24):
what a fantastic trip report. Thanks IrishAyes for letting me know that such a fantastic route to the US even exists.!

Thank you! Hopefully, I'll be able to show even MORE next time!

Quoting newbief1yer (Reply 24):
But truly gutted for you mate..!

I had a similar experience, although mine is nothing compared to your itinerary.. truly gutted mate, and hopefully you get to do this route in the future.

Thanks man, great to hear from you.



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently onlineEddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7561 posts, RR: 43
Reply 26, posted (1 year 2 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 9425 times:

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Notice something crude and funny? Ha.

LOL.   

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
we pulled up to NAIA Terminal 1: the absolute dog of major world international airports. Literally, that Terminal gets its inspirations from Satan himself.

Haha, the picture does not convey the horror you invoke, but I will believe you. Let's see what you think of MEX when you visit.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
It was too good to be true, anyways. I was a fool in believing that it was plausible. A 787 flight on ANA, a Business Class upgrade, and a trip to fly on one of the world%u2019s most bizarre, exotic routes? Never. The travel gods aren%u2019t that doting.

Or, put simply, United Airlines should change its name to %u201CWildcard Airlines,%u201D because it is not the gift that will keep on giving. Every single screw-up in this journey could be traced back to it, the perpetrator.

Man, I am very sorry.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Meanwhile, I was sentenced to NAIA 1. Flightless and friendless. Literally, the worst nightmare came true: I was stranded in a foreign country by myself.

Thankfully, the adrenal glands did not kick-in to incite panic mode, just as they had prior on the outbound journey, but disappointment had given way to frustration which finally converted into anger. I was so enraged.

Few trip reporters get a great description of their feelings across. You are one of them.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I would get to try out my first transoceanic/long-haul flight in the premium cabin of a US carrier.

That's nice, especially now that they are upping the ante... or not.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
not their fault that UA has dropped the ball in terms of preparing them to handle IRROPs situations, most definitely a trait inherited from pmCO, which makes complete sense given that MNL was an entirely CO station prior to the merger.

I would have thought CO staff were the best in the domestic industry!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
The runt was relaxing at the glorious Asiana lounge in Incheon at that moment, basking in the moment after taking a luxurious shower.

Hehe. He had had a very hard time until then, he deserved it.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I busted out my new iPad and threw back some scotches and watched Modern Family to calm my nerves.

Why were you so nervous? You were going home!

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Washington, New York JFK, Newark and Toronto flights, made over the PA system and reported on the TV monitors. The latter three, on Air Canada, United and ANA, were all cancelled.

I wonder why IAD was not...

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
Per my expectations, the security check in Tokyo, in a different part of the terminal this time, managed to piss me off even more on the second occasion. There was a single line processing every passenger, and it was staffed with the most apathetic set of Japanese agents I have ever seen.

Seriously, any perceptions I had about Asian efficiency went completely out the window after these back-to-back first-hand experiences. I swore off Narita as a future transit point, at least with less than ten hours to connect, at minimum.

My experience back in May of 2012 was not too bad. The security check was relatively quick and I was having a lot of fun admiring the AM 762ER and other SkyTeam birds. I did not have a long connection either, but I had at least the chance to visit the KE lounge and stay for a bit.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
a trio of gouda, soft yellow and brie, three red grapes, and three crackers (1 Carr, 1 whole wheat and one Ritz-looking situation), all served with Port. I am a huge cheese lover, and while this assortment was tasty, it was also somewhat bizarre. On the verge of sounding like a total cheese snob, I don%u2019t really see what is %u201Cinternational%u201D about these pairings as they are found on the more inexpensive end at the grocery deli.

Wow! Blunt and forceful. I suppose they could have offered cambozola, gruyere, chevre and maybe manchego, instead of the soft yellow.

Quoting IrishAyes (Thread starter):
I%u2019ll try to make these TRs less text-heavy moving forward.

No!

Quoting chicawgo (Reply 15):
As usual you've once again helped relive the horror... and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Wow. Masochistic.

Quoting chicawgo (Reply 15):
Luckily C was wide open and I got upgraded.... UA does CPU's on most intra-Asia flights. It was only 2 hours... but still enjoyable in the new 777 lie-flat biz seat.

Haha. Rubbing it in Irish' nose. :p No, seriously, it must have been nice! Glad you got the upgrade.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
You my friend are hardcore!

Hey man! Yes, I could not have said it better myself.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 25):
there are rumblings of re-attempt this fall.

Wow! Hardcore indeed. I will be standing by to find out all about it... pre- and post-.
  



Next flights: MEX-GRU (AM 77E), GRU-GIG (JJ A320), SDU-CGH (G3 73H), GRU-MEX (JJ A332).
User currently offlineIrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 27, posted (1 year 1 week 3 days ago) and read 7568 times:

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Haha, the picture does not convey the horror you invoke, but I will believe you. Let's see what you think of MEX when you visit.

Hey! I like MEX! I've been multiple times, not since 2002 though. It was a disaster when I was there though.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Few trip reporters get a great description of their feelings across. You are one of them.

Aaw. Danke

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
That's nice, especially now that they are upping the ante... or not.

Debatable..

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
I would have thought CO staff were the best in the domestic industry!

Turns out not so much. I think the pmCO just set mediocre standards and as long as they delivered on them, they "exceeded expectations," but its not saying much. Lots of griping about the infamous pmCO policies on IRROPs and their extreme lack of generosity.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Hehe. He had had a very hard time until then, he deserved it.

Yeah, but did not deserve to whine to the degree that he did.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Why were you so nervous? You were going home!

Oh, I'm always nervous. Bring xanax for me when we travel together sometime.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
I wonder why IAD was not...

Maybe it was? I cannot remember. Probably. In fact yes, I think it was. Add IAD to the list!

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
My experience back in May of 2012 was not too bad. The security check was relatively quick and I was having a lot of fun admiring the AM 762ER and other SkyTeam birds. I did not have a long connection either, but I had at least the chance to visit the KE lounge and stay for a bit.

I've heard that transferring between SkyTeam and OneWorld carriers at NRT is not nearly as painful as it is in the STAR terminal.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Wow! Blunt and forceful. I suppose they could have offered cambozola, gruyere, chevre and maybe manchego, instead of the soft yellow.

Or even Mexican cheese! But seriously, this was pretty pitiful. Shame on UA.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
No!

Lol. Ok.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Haha. Rubbing it in Irish' nose. :p No, seriously, it must have been nice! Glad you got the upgrade.

And he loved every minute of it.

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Hey man! Yes, I could not have said it better myself.

Thanks, guys. When is our next hang-out?

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 26):
Wow! Hardcore indeed. I will be standing by to find out all about it... pre- and post-.
  

WHERE IS YOUR TR? IT'S BEEN MONTHS NOW!



next flights: msp-phx-slc, msp-mdw, ord-sju, sju-dfw-ord, msp-dfw, dfw-phl, phl-msp, jfk-icn, icn-hkg-bkk-cdg
User currently onlineEddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7561 posts, RR: 43
Reply 28, posted (1 year 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 7138 times:

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 27):
When is our next hang-out?

I think I am up for one anytime during August-November? MSP, ORD, MEX, elsewhere?

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 27):
WHERE IS YOUR TR? IT'S BEEN MONTHS NOW!

Ugh, I know! I am so, so sorry! Work has left me with no time for anything since I returned to Mexico City from Chicago. Luckily, all these deals are coming to an end soon, so I will have time to resume my report. I am done with the MEX-MFE and IAH-PHL stories. Have made progress on the PHL-CDG segment too. The piece de resistance though is ORY-EWR, and I have not even started.  



Next flights: MEX-GRU (AM 77E), GRU-GIG (JJ A320), SDU-CGH (G3 73H), GRU-MEX (JJ A332).
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3203 posts, RR: 12
Reply 29, posted (1 year 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 6798 times:

Great report - shame the trip didn't go to plan. Still, you had a nice holiday in Manila!

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 4):
To add insult to injury, we were parked at a remote stand, meaning we were to take a bus to the terminal before proceeding to security.

Agh, it's always the way...when you have a short connection, you get delayed, then a bus gate.

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 5):

Pre-departure beverages were offered on the ground. Interestingly, this contrasts Gabriel Chew’s statement who contends that Japanese laws prevent carriers from offering drinks on the ground for premium passengers

Hmm, I think I meant Japanese airlines aren't allowed to serve drinks on the ground??

Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 6):
One female, middle-aged FA who had been serving the J-CL cabin turned around, and screamed back, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

Awful...typifies what many non-US flyers feel.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-GVA-LHR-TXL-LHR-VE-PRN,SPU-OSL-LHR, LGW-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR
User currently offlineaznmadsci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3658 posts, RR: 5
Reply 30, posted (1 year 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 6458 times:

Hey Rohan:

All I can say is WOW! Wow!

Colin   



The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 24
Reply 31, posted (1 year 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6180 times:
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Quoting IrishAyes (Reply 16):
It's kind of sad, isn't it? But, on the flip side, Delta is profitable. They're reliable. And, they're making big investments in their product.

One could argue that despite United's liberal frequent flier program, the product is shoddy, the airline is unprofitable and unreliable, and overall, its a much less user-friendly business to fly with.

It really is a "pick your poison" situation.

I'm also once-bitten, twice shy about committing to AA with the impending merger after all I've dealt with sticking by United's side. I do find that AA has really tried to reinvent itself.

Great point here, IrishAyes! I totally agree. I have been flying United a ton this year, and will almost qualify as Silver because Delta is often so hard to get on the flights you want, and the redemption charges seem overly excessive. While I think I'd rather splurge and get into Business Elite on DL than Business First on UA, I'll take what I can get, and it seems like United is a bit more reasonable.

Matthew


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