Flight time 9:10 hours.
I am running way behind on my TRs. The moment I got back to NL I was caught in the grind. You know how it goes. I will try to catch up, but I will have to sacrifice some detail. Please bear with me.
I left my hotel at January 17th at 10:00am. I had stayed at the Langham in Melbourne. Excellent hotel in an excellent location, although I would prefer something more ‘uptown’ like the Marriott. I was slightly disappointed that the hotel did not notice it was my birthday, but hey: I was leaving anyway.
The Langham hotel room
Langham hotel on the right bank
I left early because my rental car agreement ended at 11am although my CX flight did not leave until 3:35pm. No problem since Melbourne also has a new QF First lounge. 4 hours to relax. Or so I thought.
When I arrived at MEL I noticed that there were no CX desks open at all. I was travelling on a paper ticket so I was unable to OLCI. I asked the QF desk if they could get me a BP. No. They advised me to go upstairs to the CX offices, but they were closed. Sunday. Next I called CX in HKG asking them how to proceed. They told me the counters would not be staffed until 3 hours before the flight. I would have to wait for 95 minutes.
I don’t think so. I want my massage and my food. It was my birthday for crying out loud!
I looked carefully at my paper ticket and it does say boarding pass. The date and flight number were correct (about the only one still the same since the original issue) so I went for it. I took the coupon from the paper ticket and bluffed my way through customs. People looked amazed and bewildered but I basically just smiled and said “must have been a long time since you saw one of those, no?”. They all smiled back and let me through. Probably a bad thing I did, but I was on my way to the QF First lounge.
I passed by the CX lounge on the way, but that was still closed. Also I could not find a CX transit desk. Happy birthday to me and hello to the QF First lounge desk. “Er… how? Why? What?” Clearly my illegal entry airside caused some confusion. At the time of booking I was a mere Silver and it took a while before they had identified me as a BA Gold (OW Emerald) even though I could show them the QF First boarding pass from my last flight identifying me as OW Emerald. Once that was resolved everybody wanted to know how the h*ll I got past security. They all found it both funny and disturbing.
In all the confusion nobody noticed it was my birthday. Not that I expected anything, but from a service perspective not a good thing. The lounge was perfect, much like SYD. Excellent food section (restaurant style) and not too busy. There were a lot of passengers because there were some cancellations and delays, but they departed within 30 minutes of my arrival.
Service was less attentive than SYD. Less interested. Still the food was very eatable and the wine excellent. My hangover did not permit me to fully enjoy it though. Getting a Spa treatment was no problem (I could choose between 6 slots) and if I wanted I probably could have booked two. After securing my treatment (facial) I went to the CX lounge to check in for my flight.
When I arrived there the whole spectacle of surprise and astonishment repeated itself. They actually had to call in the boss to check me in. Maybe I should have lied and said I was in transit. It took about 30 minutes before they could check me in, but I left the (gloomy) lounge with a boarding pass in hand. She even advised the QF First lounge… Nobody noticed my birthday at CX either.
Back in the lounge I decided to take some pictures of the spectacular view you have of the planes below you. Unfortunately the windows are tinted ruining the white balance.
It was time for my Spa treatment. Not a half cocked treatment like you get at Elemis, but a real, shirt off 45 minute treatment. She was extremely nice and provided me with an excellent hangover remedy. Again she did not notice the birthday, but she is forgiven.
How the other half.. er.. lives.
Oddly enough the CX104 was not on the boards in the QF lounge. I was relaxing when one of the staff came for me to tell me the flight had started boarding and they were waiting for me. The gate was only a short walk and I arrived halfway during the boarding process. I already knew we were flying old First so no disappointment there.
I was escorted to my seat and I immediately felt a difference between BA/QF and CX First. More service oriented and less amicable. It has its pro’s and con’s. The flight was full of Chinese and there was just one other ‘foreigner’ in First. The attention of the crew seemed to be focused on an elderly couple in the front row (middle seats). Especially the old lady was pampered like she was the Queen of Sheba.
The old style First seats are still mighty comfortable and I had a pleasant flight. The handed us PJs (they are really nice and even stylish!) but I decided to keep them for later use.
Seat 1A was reserved as a crew rest for the pilot (on such a short flight?) but all other seats were occupied. Could not comment on J and Y but both looked pretty solid.
The food on board was as good as it gets at altitude. We started with the usual caviar and champagne. I will stick out my head and say ‘boring….’
The cannot remember what it was soup
Kung Po chicken
Chocolate thingy and vanilla ice. Too nice and I forgot to take a picture before I attacked.
Good flight, comfortable and great service but again: nobody on board noticed my birthday.
We arrived in HKG more or less on time (21:45) and getting to and through customs was a breeze. I was nr 2 at the customs desk. I had decided to take the airport express train to Kowloon station and from there a taxi to the Langham Place, my hotel.
Taking the train is easy. Strange that you cannot use your credit card to pay for a ticket in the machines. You need HKG dollars. There are but a few ATMs at HKG arrivals.
The train ride was quick and pleasant. Taxi’s at Kowloon station are overly organized. They have boarding gates… (no kidding). I was at my hotel after a 15 minute cab ride. Up to the club level to check in and that was a pleasant surprise. The best club lounge I can remember of any hotel ever. Massage chairs, food, view, exclusive feel…
Langham Club room
The view from my room
And guess what? They DID notice my birthday. Upgrade and birthday cake and all.
As always: I appreciate your comments and hope you enjoyed the read.
[Edited 2009-02-04 14:07:53]
[Edited 2009-02-04 14:15:53]