First the stop the US Airways check-in counter at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. It was painfully obvious the passenger service agent was unfamiliar with international check-in, as she had to get a supervisor to help her. At this point, I learned that US Airways can only check bags onto 3 flights total, which meant that we would have to pick up the bags in BKK and recheck them.
US Airways Flight #34 3/7/07
319 - N830AW - Gate A6
PHX-LAX Scheduled Departure 7:10pm - On Time
Flight was maybe half full if that. Plane was clean and comfortable, a very enjoyable flight over to LAX, good cabin crew the arrival was on-time allowing more than enough time to walk over to the Tom Bradley Terminal. Once in the TBIT, I again noticed how dumpy the terminal was. Checked-in at China, got our boarding pass, made our way over to the TSA line. My other half got pulled aside, seems something was in her bag, that passed inspection in PHX but not in LAX, (fingernail clippers).
China Airlines #7 03/07/07
Seat 45G Scheduled Departure 11:10pm - Wheels up was at 11:55pm
What a zoo at check-in. Since we were being bused to a remote gate, once they called the flight, suddenly the Asians rushed the gate attempted to get on the bus even though their row wasn't called yet. Finally every one is on board and we taxied all over finally arriving at the south runway and then airborne for a long bumpy ride across the pacific.
This aircraft was one of China's older 744's, had the older interior and did not have the IFE system. The flight was 100% full. Movies offered were Dreamgirls, and Rocky. The main dinner meal was halibut which was half way bad for an airline dinner. I did noticed that there was alot of Vietnamese passengers on the flight. One elderly (81 year old) Vietnamese passenger developed breathing problems about 12 hours into the flight, and the flight attendants requested a physician, my wife responded and got the individual on oxygen which save a diversion to Japan or Korea. The F/A gave her a bag of goodies from the duty free stuff as a thank you. The F/A's reminded me of the movie the Stepford's Wife, everyone looking perfect, always in full uniform.
After a long night we arrived twenty minutes late into Tawain at 6:00am. Made our way over to Terminal 1 was not has nice as Terminal 2. The terminal was very chilly and one could feel the dampness from the rain and fog outside.
China Airlines #693 3/9/07
744 - N168CL
TPE-BKK - Scheduled Departure 9:35am - ontime
This aircraft is the one american registered airframe in the China fleet. The outside was dirty, which made some of Air France's aircraft seemed clean. Inside the aircraft was clean, the flight was approximately half full, which made a comfortable 3 1/2 hour flight to BKK. Again no IFE, movie offered was Night in the Museum. A chicken lunch was offered, no problems at all, and it was a on-time arrival into BKK.
Cleared customs in BKK, reclaimed our bags and rechecked them all within an hour. First time to the new BKK airport , I thought it was very pleasant, although I would describe it was a shopping mall with an airport added.
Thai Airlines #643 3/9/07
333 - HS-TEB
BKK-HKT - Scheduled Departure 3:45pm Actual Departure 4:20pm
Bused to a remote stand. Once on aboard the flight crew announced first a 10 minute delay, then a 30 minute delay. Once the second delay was announced, the flight crew apologize for the delay and started to serve a box snack. Soon we were airborne for the short flight to Phuket. Upon arrival at HKT, I noticed the following international carriers at various gates, 757's of Finnair, Air Finland, a 319 of Silk, and a 332 of My Travel.
The next day were boarded the SPV Star Flyer for a two week cruise. The Star Flyer is a 4 mast sailing vessel design based on the old clipper ships. The ship can accommodate 170 passengers, and for this sailing there was approximately 156 on board. Stops included the Surin, Similan, and Batong Group Islands in Thailand. Malaysia stops included Langkawi, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The water in Thailand was crystal clear which made for great scuba diving, but once into Malaysia the water was dirty and full of junk.
Some side notes the entrance into Singapore harbor looked like the 405 in California. Apparently 400 ship movements a day in the harbor, and Malacca straights its required to have a night watch just to look for pirates. The anti-pirate system on this ship was having the sports team out with fire hoses overnight. In Kuala Lumpur it was national police day, and some clown decided that would be the best day to attempt to become spider man and climb the Twin Towers (88 stories), he was at the 22 floor when I saw him.
Has with all good trips it had to end, and the start back across the Pacific to home.
Thai Airline #630 3/24/07
HKT-BKK - Scheduled Departure 12:45pm -Pushback 1:10pm
Tired looking 333. Once inside the plane was clean, the flight was full. Sitting around us was students attending an international school in Hong Kong that were down in HKT working on a Habiat for Humianity project. Short flight, a snack lunch.
Once we arrived at BKK we must have parked at the furthest north gate there is. A Thai 743 was parked on the ramp a few yards away. This is where I discovered how big BKK is. It was 1.3 miles from our gate to the transfer desk for China Airlines. Do you realize how hard it is to keep one's spouse out of the stores during that trek?
China Airlines #696 3/24/07
BKK-TPE - Scheduled Departure 5:25pm - Pushback 5:45pm.
Very nice aircraft; new seats with the IFE and other goodies, such as the nose camera. First time I was on an aircraft with this device. Was able to watch the entire departure and arrival from your seat. Now add channel 9 and it would be perfect. Flight was 90% full, the meal didn't look all that great so I passed. Nice flight with an late arrival into a rainy (again) TPE. Quick transfer from terminal 1 to 2.
China Airlines #8 3/24/07
744 - B-18211
TPE-LAX - Scheduled Departure 11:25pm - Ontime
744 with the new interior, new seats which were very comfortable even in coach. Again this flight was full. IFE at every seat which offered a number of options to keep one busy during the long flight. This aircraft also has the nose cameras, watching the departure on a rainy night in TPE was interesting Watched Dreamgirls and some other movie which was so good I forgot the name of it. Turned the cameras on again once we passed over the California coast and was able to watch the arrival into LAX. Arrived approximately 20 minutes early. Hit customs during Asian/Mexico rush hour, but was able to clear everything within 45 minutes.
Now over to Terminal 1, where I suffered the wrath of TSA because I took my shoes off. They had this machine where they puffed air on you, if your shoes are off, it fouls up everything. TSA is not my favorite federal agency ranks just above the IRS.
US Airways #36 3/24/07
LAX-PHX - Scheduled Departure 9:45pm Actual Departure 10:50
Last flight of the day, and get the cabin crew from hell. First of all the interior is in bad shape, not a big deal since its only about an hour flight. But the flight attendants, once was brand new and his english was very poor, one was overweight and kept hitting people as she walked the aisle, and then there was Mother Superior who has challenging most of the passengers carry on's. By this time I didn't care about any inflight service I just wanted to get home, the last thing I did remember was that Mother Superior gave the Phoenix time as Mountain Daylight Time. Wonder what rock she has been under the pass 80 years? Phoenix doesn't switch to daylight time. Anyway we made it, took 40 minutes for luggage (we were the only flight arriving at that time), took a cab took.
Remarks about China Air. Personally not to the standards of Singapore, but for the price the service was still better than the american carriers offer.
[Edited 2007-04-11 22:31:58]
[Edited 2007-04-11 22:32:48]