Archive for the Trip Report Category

Quick meandering around Frankfurt

Posted in Frankfurt, Trip Report with tags , , , , on July 4, 2011 by getgowing

This is the 3rd installment of my second almost-’round-the-world trip for 2011.  Here are some previous introductory posts, trip reports, and live posts during my travels:

June 13, 2011

I had about a 6 hour layover before my next flight to Moscow, so of course I was going to get some view of the city in.  Taking the subway from the airport, it took only about 15 minutes to get to the main train station.  Frankfurt has several trains that service it, but within the city, the underground is called the U-bahn, and the suburban line that is mostly above ground is the S-bahn.  Following Thommy’s (my seatmate on flight ATL-FRA) suggestion, I took a train to the Hauptwache station.  I seemingly was able to ride the train for free because I didn’t go through any turnstiles.  All I could think back to was my time in Amsterdam when I bought roundtrip tickets and never went through any ticket collecting, in either direction…there was an open area so I just ended up walking around them.  What I read just 5 minutes ago, is that the Frankfurt transit system purposefully doesn’t have any turnstiles.  There are plain clothed ticket inspectors that regularly check for tickets.  Good thing I didn’t have to go very far, and it was not during rush hour.

I didn’t have any knowledge of where I was going or what I was doing, which was kinda nice.  Just walk around and meander a bit.  Before I could get to Hauptwache, a transfer was required at Frankfurt Hbf.

Approaching Frankfurt Hbf

At Frankfurt Hbf. I'll be taking one of those high-speed trains soon enough.

Frankfurt Hbf

I picked up a Käsebrezel (cheese pretzel) for a light snack, then continued on to Hauptwache.  (I knew pretzels were of German origin, but I didn’t realize how common it was.  It was EVERYWHERE!)

Close call of the day:

One thing I wasn’t used to, nor had I seen before until Frankfurt, was a button to open the doors of the train.  My stop was coming up, and I was looking at something on my iPod, and was just standing next to the doors distracted waiting for them to open.  After I looked up for a brief second, I saw the blinking button.  About 5 seconds after I left the train, it moved on to the next stop.  Pay Attention!!

PUSH this button!

After arriving, I just picked a direction and started walking, for about 20 minutes away from the station, and didn’t find anything interesting ope.  It was still around 9am, and apparently most businesses don’t open until 10am.

Castle tower in the middle of an intersection

No chocolate chips?

Nice little park

I liked the colors

I got this far and it seemed that it was mostly a residential area, so I turned around and walked back to the station.  Good thing I did.  I ran into the Frankfurt Apple store which was on a mostly pedestrian road, Große Bockenheimer Straße.  In this area was alot of high end shops and restaurants, reminded me of 5th Avenue in New York.  If you’re ever in Frankfurt and into people watching, get a bier und Wurst mit Brötchen (A beer and sausage with a roll) and a table outside.  It won’t disappoint you.

Frankfurt Apple store

Nevermind that it was only around noon. Its already the evening in Japan, and I was just preparing my body for it. 🙂

Around Hauptwache was also the start of one of the world's largest running races, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Frankfurt, with about 70,000 runners.

Departure board in Frankfurt Hbf on my way back to the airport

That was just enough to entice my curiosity.  Over the next several weeks, I will have 2 overnight visits to Frankfurt.  I can’t wait!

If you enjoy these posts, be sure to visit Get Gowing on Facebook and like that page to get all these posts directly to your news feed, as well as MANY MORE pictures of my travels!

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Delta Airlines Atlanta to Frankfurt (ATL-FRA), June 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Airlines, Delta, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2011 by getgowing

This is the 2nd installment of my second almost-’round-the-world trip for 2011.  Here are some previous introductory posts, trip reports, and live posts during my travels:

 
 
Delta Airlines
Flight #14
Atlanta (ATL) – Frankfurt (FRA)
June 14, 2011
Departure: 16:42 (scheduled 16:30)
Arrival:  07:48 (scheduled 07:40)
Duration: 9’06”
Aircraft: Boeing 767-400ER
Aircraft Registration: N833MH
Seat: 18A (Window, Economy Comfort)
Miles flown on this trip including this flight: 5,359

Check-in

Just connecting from EWR, so was already checked in.

Lounges

As usual, to take advantage of the current American Express promotion (expiring on June 30, 2011) I did the ATL Delta SkyClub tour.  My previous flight was gated at Terminal A, so my order was the 2 lounges in Terminal A, the 1 lounge in Terminal T, the 2 lounges in Terminal B, the 1 lounge in Terminal C, and finally the 2 lounges in Terminal E.  Since my gate was in Terminal E, I made the lounge closer to the TGI Fridays my home after my lounge run.

When I was approaching the first Terminal E lounge (closest to Fridays) there was a Delta agent standing there directing all incomers to use the other lounge around the corner.  Weird I thought.  After checking in to the farther lounge, the agent just gave me a handful of 300 bonus point certificates (which I previously mentioned here)…which is how I ended up with 13 certificates when there are only 8 lounges in Atlanta.  Sweet.  Free points.  Always good.

This lounge is mostly one large open room, but it has the best view in ATL if you are interested in looking at a wide-body aircraft up close.

The nose of the plane is so close the windows, if they could open, you could almost reach out and touch it.  I stayed here for a little bit, had some more Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale, crackers, and cheese, then went to my gate to make sure I was first in line if they needed any volunteers.  My gate was E4.  The gates are farther apart in the E terminal because this is where most of the international flights board, and so there needs to be more waiting area space for the increased passenger capacities.  From the farther lounge out to gate E4, it must have taken a good 5-6 minutes.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the distance I walked was at least 1/4-1/2 a mile.  I thought I would never get there.  I arrived about 2 hours before the flight was scheduled to take off, and there was nobody working the gate yet.  There were only a few passengers waiting.  After about 10 minutes somebody came to start setting up to “open” the flight to gate control.   Before coming to the airport, I did some research on available inventory for the flight, and it looked promising, though not guaranteed, that they may need volunteers.  She took note and remembered me if she needed anybody.  As there was still an hour before boarding, I made my way back to the lounges to wait in comfort….even if it did require another long round trip walk.

This time, the closer lounge was available, so I made my final check-in for my last 300 point certificate.  Later, I found out from my seatmate on the plane that there was a guy that kinda went a little crazy, or needed some medical assistance, and had to be escorted out.  So I assume that’s why they weren’t letting anybody else in temporarily.  This lounge is a bit smaller that the other E lounge, but it does have showers available.  For about 45 minutes I again enjoyed my last Sweetwater 420 PA for a few months.

Boarding

I left the lounge a little early just in case they needed me and they needed time to process everything.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t oversold enough to need any volunteers.

Our Boeing 767-400ER from the gate waiting area

After the passengers that needed assistance, families, and BusinessElite passengers, I queued up and took my seat.  (For the record books, this flight number, DL 14, is the lowest flight number I’ve taken to date)

Seat

On this flight I would be getting to try out the new Economy Comfort seats that officially rolled out for purchase June 1st.  For a few weeks prior however, they were already installed in some aircraft and able to be used and selected for free by all Medallions.  Now, only Platinum and Diamond Medallions can select them for free.  Golds get them at 50% off, Silvers at 25% off.  And General Members pay full price.  The main perks of Economy Comfort are 4″ of extra leg room, 50% more recline, free spirits (beer and wine are already complimentary), and being able to board earlier and not have to fight for overhead space.

Boeing 767-400ER Standard Economy legroom

Boeing 767-400ER Economy Comfort legroom (not a picture of my actual seat)

The legroom difference might not look like much (if you click on each photo, you’ll get a better view of the difference), but its definitely noticeable enough where I don’t have any worry about my knees when the person in front of me fully reclines.  I didn’t take my laptop out but I would still be watchful if I had my computer on the tray table and the person starts to recline.  The seat may still hit the top of your screen.  I thought I took pictures of the differences in recline, but I either lost them or didn’t take them.  On my flights home, I have Economy Comfort seats again so I’ll be sure to snap pics then.  This plane also had power ports (AC & USB) for every seat in Economy Comfort.  It seems these seats require a little more oomph when trying to recline versus regular seats.  Just don’t be afraid to push a little harder while holding down that silver button.  Of course as a courtesy give the person behind you warning when you are reclining.

This aircraft has power ports for the entire forward section of economy, not just Economy Comfort.  Both ports are located underneath the seats, in the center (at least for the double seating to the outside of the aisles).

My seatmate's ports were slightly broken when we found it. Mine was the lighted up one on the right.

On this aircraft, economy also has personal entertainment on each seat headrest.  Delta is working on reconfiguring their planes so that all their long haul flights have individual in-flight entertainment in economy.  In the meantime, you may want to avoid flying their Boeing 747-400s to Asia as they still use projector screens for economy.

Service

Service started a little later than expected, since there was some rough wind.  Nothing special, standard service….drinks first, then the choice of meal.  I chose the chicken with some mashed potatoes.  I forget what the other meal was.

There was a small salad in the plastic container. I'll usually never turn down free food....the chicken tasted marginally better than it looks in the picture

As most eastbound flights to Europe are red-eyes, service slowed to allow for sleep soon after dinner.  I would have appreciated a refill on my red wine, but I suppose I should have used the call button if I really wanted it.

When I got to my seat, I struck up a conversation with my seatmate, Thommy.  He was a hairdresser who owned his own salon somewhere in Frankfurt.  Thommy was heading home from Monterrey after giving a clinic to teachers who teach hairdressing.  Pretty cool, I thought.  I inquired some more, and he says he does this all over the world, a few times a year.  The economy has scaled back his traveling, but he still goes out every once in a while.  Much of his travel was because he is a free-lancer/consultant with a major hair product brand.  He also said he’s even competed and won in international hairdressing competitions, like when the World Cup was in Osaka.  I didn’t even know there was a World Cup for hairdressing.  Through our conversation I also learned that there is the World Championships for hairdressing (I don’t know the actual names of these events) and that one of them are really artistic cuts and styles which you would not usually see on the street, and the other is for more “normal” styles.  Anyway, we ended up sharing information and said that when I’m around in Frankfurt he would show me around a bit and get some good German food.  (I know what might be on some of your minds…..he has a wife and an 11 yr old daughter)

I managed to get about a good 5 hrs or so of sleep before breakfast came around.  I don’t know how, but I forgot to take pictures or write down what the choices were, too.  Sorry.  Wasn’t exceedingly good or bad if I don’t remember anything about it.  The one really REALLY annoying thing that does stand out was whenever drinks were being handed out, one of the stewardesses was in charge of the coffee, tea, or water.  She would walk up and down the aisles robotically saying “Coffe tea water!”  (If you’ve ever been to the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ, you know how annoying the recorded message “Watch the tram car please” can get.  This was WAYYY worse, and it wasn’t recorded)

Deplaning

Getting off the plane was fairly quick, though I took my time a bit.  Thommy were still engaged in conversation all the way through from when we woke up all the way to when the jetbridge pulled up.  Even though I took a few extra minutes getting off the plane, he waited just after the jetway for me.  We continued to talk and he gave me suggestions on where I should go in Frankfurt for my 6 hour layover.  Once we got to immigration, we separated into our respective EU / non-EU passport lines.  Similar to Amsterdam, you do not need to fill out a landing card when flying into Frankfurt.  I got my stamp, and was funneled into the baggage claim area.  I went to an agent to make sure my bag was on this flight and not stranded in Atlanta somewhere, then I was off to explore Frankfurt!

Go to Get Gowing on Facebook to see more photos on this segment of my trip.

Delta Airlines Newark to Atlanta (EWR-ATL), June 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Airlines, Delta, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by getgowing

This is my first installment in a multi part series about my summer trip through various cities in Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands.

Delta Airlines
Flight #2343
Newark (EWR) – Atlanta (ATL)
June 14, 2011
Departure: 10:45 (scheduled 10:30)
Arrival:  12:35 (scheduled 12:42)
Duration: 1’50”
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-88
Aircraft Registration: N934DL
Seat: 4D (Window, First Class)
 

Check-in

I have never encountered much of a wait whenever checking in at Newark.  Today was no different.  Plenty of agents and not that many people.

Newark check-in

Newark Sky Priority check-in

When I got there, the Sky Priority line had nobody in it (I took the picture after I checked my bags).  Again as I had my backpack checked, I checked the luggage tag since I knew there were several connections (EWR-ATL-FRA-SVO-NRT) the tag could be printed incorrectly and my bag could end up somewhere else.  Not that this would be a problem since I took out that insurance policy, but still, a good practice.  I think with that many connections, the agent needs to manually make a bag tag instead of it being automatic with the computer, not quite sure.  Just took a couple extra minutes then I was on my way to the lounge.

On this flight, because of the debacle that 14 active Army soldiers went through because of Delta (see THIS video) and that I wanted to support our troops (not to mention it was Flag Day), I was going to trade my upgraded First Class seat to anybody I saw in uniform that was on active orders.  I had plenty of time in Atlanta, so I wasn’t in a rush to get to my next flight.  All I had to do was lounge hop to collect my American Express Membership Rewards 300 point bonus certificates which takes about an hour, and I had more than 3 at the airport.  Luckily I did find somebody who was on orders flying on my same flight.  You can see his back at the counter on the Sky Priority picture above.  I was even willing to guest him and his fiance into the lounge with me.  He didn’t want to accept the offer.  Not sure why, but he didn’t seem interested.  I guess he felt uncomfortable?  I mean, I guess its a little weird having a stranger come up to you and offering to trade a first class seat for an economy seat…AND getting into the lounge.  (Though I’m not even sure if he knew what’s inside the lounge).  Oh well.  Maybe he’ll change his mind at the gate.

Lounge

Newark Delta Sky Club.  Its a small lounge, but it has everything I need.  Fast internet, snacks (unfortunately, most Delta SkyClubs don’t stock any hot food choices), nicely stocked bar with a couple beers on tap, plenty of outlets, and out of all my visits I have yet to see the place so packed that I couldn’t find a seat.  It was less than a quarter full when I was there.  Of course I got a 300 point American Express certificate for checking in with my American Express Platinum card.

Entrance is between security and all the Delta gates.

Fairly empty lounge

Tables against the windows

GREAT view of other gates and the runway.

Big fig newtons, mini muffins, bagels, Oatmeal

The bar area

One notable thing happened while in the lounge.  As I was walking in, there were 2 delivery men bringing several cases of Heineken into the lounge.  After checking-in, I end up having a conversation with the older delivery man (probably early 50s) as he was taking a coffee break before his last delivery stop.  We probably had a 10-15 minute conversation about traveling and how one time he got to travel in business class for free to Hawaii because a friend used to work for Continental.  I later tell him that I was going to Japan, and he was amazed.  That he would love to go see Japan one day and that its been a dream of his to go.  It didn’t even phase me when I said “Japan”.  Just 3 years ago, if somebody asked me where I was going and I said some far international destination, inside I felt awesome….special.  Like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit _______ , and I was about to do it.  Now, in just a couple years, a list of far destinations can roll off my tongue like I’m just getting in my car and going down the New Jersey Turnpike.  His conversation brought me back in check with reality.

Boarding

When I got there, they were already boarding Zone 2.  (The order of boarding with Delta is usually passengers that need assistance & those traveling with small children, the premium cabin, then Zones 1 through 4)  I again saw the soldier in queue to board, and gave him the same offer, to change seats when we get on the plane.  He again declined.  Oh well.  I tried.  I walked ahead to the front through the priority boarding lane and got on the plane.

Just after the boarding pass scanners at the top of the jetway, there were two TSA agents waiting and just as I passed, the next girl in line was asked to do a “random screening” prior to boarding.  I haven’t seen this before, especially without any real set up.  Just two agents standing there, no table, no nothing.

The first class cabin was full, and I was the last one to take my seat.  Within 3 minutes, I was greeted by the stewardess and offered a drink.  I chose OJ.  On Delta, there is usually a small bottle of Dasani waiting for you at your seat.  I’m not sure why, but we pushed back a few minutes late.  The captain said he would do what he could to make up the time in the air.

Seat

This was a standard domestic first class seat.  Had no AC or USB power outlets, or personal entertainment systems, but it was only a 2 hour flight.  I could deal without those.  And Delta still provides a mini pillow and a small blanket in First Class.  Though I usually just stick them in the overhead since most of my domestic flights are less than 2.5 hours.

Plenty of knee and leg room, at least for a 2 hour flight.

Service

Even though this flight is under the minimum mileage for serving a meal in First Class, they still do so because their competition (Continental) on this same route offers their First Class passengers meals still.  But Delta only offers it when the flights occur at meal time.  I know that a few flights that leave in the early afternoon only get a snack basket passed around to pick from.  We only had one meal choice, which was a chicken sandwich and a bowl of fresh fruit.

Early lunch with a Bloody Mary

I’ve never had a Bloody Mary before, so I figured why not try one when I don’t have to pay extra for it?  I’m not sure if this was just a bad mix, or because I was 35,000 feet up, but I don’t think I’ll ever get a Bloody Mary again.  It was difficult for me to finish it, but I felt bad sending a full drink back.

After a quick nap, I woke up to our initial approach to Atlanta.

Deplaning

There weren’t any problems when we arrived in ATL.  No long wait for a gate, no wait for a jetway operator.  Since I was in the last row of First Class, my seatmate even held up traffic so I could get my bag and deplane.  How nice of him.  We arrived in Terminal A and I was ready to begin my tour of all 8 Atlanta Skyclubs to rake in the American Express points.

China Southern Airlines Seoul-Incheon (ICN) to Guangzhou (CAN), China Southern Airlines Guangzhou business class lounge, China Southern Airlines Guangzhou (CAN) to Bangkok (BKK), April 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Airlines, China Southern, Miles, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by getgowing

The previous posts of this two and a half week quasi-‘Round the World adventure:

 
China Southern Airlines
Flight #340
Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Guangzhou (CAN)
April 15, 2011
Departure: 09:40 (scheduled 09:40)
Arrival:  12:25 (scheduled 12:40)
Duration: 3’45”
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Window, Business class)
Miles flown including this flight: 15,289

I haven’t had any prior experience with China Southern, and not being very famous, I wasn’t expecting much.  None of my friends nor the main blogs/forums that I read have taken any China Southern flights.  It felt a little like flying into the Bermuda triangle.

Check-in

Bags were already checked through all the way to Bangkok, and I already had this boarding pass in hand from JFK.

Lounge

See my previous post HERE.

Boarding

Curiously, my boarding pass said boarding was to start 08:40, one hour before departure.  Shocked me a little bit, as this wasn’t a large plane.  Nonetheless, it was fairly straightforward boarding, or so I thought.  There was one scanner, one side of it was for general boarding, the other side for priority boarding.  When I got there, there was a line of about 6 people waiting to board.  After I entered the first door, this lead to an escalator down to a large staging area where there was another security checkpoint.  And here was about 50 people all waiting to have their carry-ons inspected.  Luckily there were about 10 stations set up, so the wait was not that long to get on the plane.

There were only 2 cabins, economy and business class, and business only had 2 rows, 8 seats total.  I had 2B all to myself, 2C had a VERY large westerner (European, shockingly not American), and there was a couple sitting in 1C+1D.  Half full cabin, so service would be very attentive.

Small plane, only one jetway

Saw this as we were taxiing. Never heard of them before. But apparently they're big enough to own a B777.

Seat

It was a short haul flight, so I wasn’t expecting much.  It was comparable to a Delta domestic First Class seat.  Though the shared armrest had some more space than Delta’s A320 first class.  On the side, there was a small table that swung out for your beverage.  There was no plug-in power (110V or USB), and their in-flight entertainment was a first for me.

Doesn't look like it, but it reclined enough to still be comfortable for a nap.

Personal in-flight entertainment and free headphones.

As usual, at least with Asian carriers, the complimentary slippers.

Bigger than normal pillows, with a really comfy blanket. Too bad I passed out before I remembered to use them.

I went through the entire personal media player, and anything they had in English was really old, or something obscure I’d never heard of.  The games weren’t too amusing either.  Didn’t really matter….up to now, I just went from Amsterdam – New York – Seoul in about 2.5 days, my body was all screwed up.  And I stayed awake the whole time in the lounge so after about 20 minutes after takeoff, I passed out.

Service

The one good thing about a smaller plane is that the only two galleys are at the front or back of the plane.  So even though we had a dedicated flight attendant, even the ones in economy would make sure all our needs were met.  For my preflight beverage, I chose OJ.  It was awful.  It was closer to orange drink (think Tang-like) than orange juice.  This paled in comparison to the OJ that Korean Air offers.  (I’m really picky with OJ.  As close to fresh squeezed as possible.  I LOVE it with pulp.)  I still drank it because I hate wasting food though.  A hot towel accompanied it.

……aaaaand two hours later, I wake up in a jet lagged haze.  Immediately, the stewardess asks if I would like to eat.  There was a choice of beef or something else, but I don’t remember what the other one was.  Still half asleep, I say yes to the beef.  I almost never say no to food!  I check the time, and realize there’s only about 30 minutes left in the flight.  A couple years ago, I used to be a waiter.  I know what it feels like when customers walk in 20 minutes before closing time.  IT SUCKS.  And now, I was that customer.

What time is it again? Lunch? Breakfast? Brunch? Either way, it was delicious even though I scarfed it down quickly.

I’m assuming if I didn’t sleep through when the normal meal service was, everything wouldn’t have been crammed onto the tray.  The pilot announced we were on final approach as I finished up the fruit and dessert.

Deplaning

I didn’t know this at the time, but Guangzhou is one of the most air polluted cities in the world.  There was a thick yellow-orange haze hovering over the land as we flew into it.  Gross.  After exiting the plane we were herded to immigration.  Its a fairly small area (at least compared to what I see in the US) with about 15 booths for immigration.  Travel Tip:

If you are only connecting in Guangzhou (CAN) and continuing your travel, you need to visit the transit desk along the left wall.

I didn’t have a boarding pass yet for the Guangzhou (CAN) – Bangkok (BKK) leg, and this was the only place I could go to get it.  After a couple minutes of typing away at the computer, the agent at the China Southern desk handed me my next boarding pass and lounge invitation card.  Another Travel Tip:

When flying internationally, if you know/think you should have lounge access, always ask for an invitation card to the lounge when checking in.  The worst they can say is you don’t need it, or you’re not eligible.  Keep up with the benefits of your airline if you fly enough to have status.  Its an awful experience when you walk up to the lounge, and can’t get in because you don’t have the invitation card that you can only get pre-security.

I got to wait in a much shorter line than everybody else because I was on transiting there.  After I showed immigration all my documents, I thought I would be on my way.  For some reason, they needed to hold on to my passport and boarding pass.  They just told me to wait off by the side until they came to me.  There were about 25-30 other people waiting in the area around me.  I had no idea what they needed to do.  AND, just in case, I still had a valid multiple entry Chinese Visa.  The thought did cross my mind that I was about to be stuck in China forever, and become a slave or something.  Thankfully 10 minutes later, an immigration officer came by with a stack of passports returning them to the passengers around me.  Whew.

Now to find the China Southern lounge…..

View from the hall just outside the lounge.

Here it is!

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport China Southern lounge
April 15, 2011

The lounge is situated in the center of the building, so there are no windows, no views.  😦  But it has three medium-sized rooms all interconnected.  The outer two rooms each had entrances like above.  The furnishings were kinda old, and it looks like the rooms haven’t been updated in 25 years, but there was a TON of food selections.  Oh Happy Day!  Each of the three rooms had their own food & beverage selection, and surprisingly they were all mostly different.  Even though it felt like I’ve been eating for 14 hours straight, I’m not going to turn down the opportunity to eat Chinese food in China.

There was wireless internet available, but I couldn’t get it to connect on my computer.  I tried using the computers at the terminals, and it seemed like identity theft central.  So many popups, and sketchy sign in screens.  Oh well, internet will have to wait.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.  Sorry for the abundance of food pictures.  I’m not sure if you can tell yet, but I really like eating.

Food in Room 3

 

Food in Room 3

Food in Room 3

Room 3. Loose leaf teas, though I didn't partake. Definitely in China now.

Room 3, entrance to the right

Room 2, from the side closer to Room 3

Food in Room 2

Food in Room 2

Food in Room 2

Drinks in Room 2

There were 2 massage chairs, located between Room 2 and Room 1

Room 2, from the side closer to Room 1 and the massage chairs

Room 1

Room 1's spread

Make your own cappuccino, and more crappy OJ.

Pumpkin soup

Some beef stew type dish and rice. It was pretty tasty.

More stews. The chocolate balls were decent, though there was a weird taste in them that I couldn't place.

LOL. I am Man.

China Southern Airlines
Flight #363
Guangzhou (CAN) – Bangkok (BKK)
April 15, 2011
Departure: 16:30 (scheduled 16:00)
Arrival:  15:59 (scheduled 15:55)
Duration: 2’29”
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Window, Business class)
Miles flown including this flight: 16,348
 

Lounge

See Above.

Boarding

Nothing noteworthy.  There was again, a westerner in seat 2C, though this time, he was from Salt Lake City, and much more healthily proportioned.  Though the larger guy seemed nice when I asked him to take this picture of me.  Only 5 out of 8 seats taken in business class.

Seat

Same seat as prior flight.

Service

Again great service.  I couldn’t exactly tell, but this time, I was awake with excitement as I was finally getting to my next destination.

Page 1

Page 2

Some chardonnay, nuts, and a wet towelette to start

Various breads. I chose pieces of 2 garlic bread.

The meal. Chose the fish, I think. Unfortunately, for the most part, tasted as good as it looks. 😦 And gelatinous thing with the orange specs was not good. At all.

I had a linen with a hole like this on the Korean Air flight too. I just then realized that its supposed to go on your collar button to hold it up as you eat. Geniuses.

Dessert

The Chardonnay

After I finished eating my meal, the stewardess would hawk my wine glass to see if I needed a refill.  I think after my fourth refill, I was thinking I should probably stop.  Then she came by and asked, “Would you like some more, sir?”  Ah what the hell.  I’m on vacation.  Of course I’ll have another.  (In my defense, those wine glasses were maybe 1/3 the size of a normal wine glass.  I probably only went through 2 or 3 normal glasses of wine)

They asked the other American what he wanted to drink, and he asked for vodka.  Then they gave him a weird look, as if they didn’t know what it was.  “Do you know, whiskey?  It is like clear whiskey……can you just bring the bottles of what you have, and I will see….”

After the stewardess went to look, I replied,”I’d laugh if they bring you back a glass of tequila.”

I can’t remember the guy’s name, but we ended up talking for a good bit for the last 20 minutes of the flight, and in the airport after getting off the plane.  For ease of writing about him for the rest of this post, I will refer to him as “John.”

Deplaning

Flying in to Bangkok, Thailand

More livery I don't usually see

The remainder of the flight went off without a hitch.  The lines for immigration looked long, and on our way there, it seems a few large planes arrived at the same time.  The scene made me think of the mad rush at an electronics store opening on Black Friday.  John’s been to Bangkok several times, and we talked about where I should go, what I should see, etc.  Eventually, we both get through immigration, and its time for me to find my contact in Thailand, Junt.

Now usually when I am meeting somebody in a strange place, I will try and do as much research as I can online to find a good meeting point.  I had done none of this.  I just assumed it was like any other major international airport arrival areas where arriving passengers spill out into either a large room, or walk by long railings with people behind them holding signs with names on them.  When I finally walk out into the non-security, real world area for the first time in 30 hours I don’t see Junt.  We unloaded at the end of the terminal, so we walk to the right down the long hallway.  About 30 yards down, there is another arrivals area.  Great, he’s probably here.  NOPE.  Again we walk to the right and there is a sign that says “Meeting Point.”  Well duh.  Of course he’s there.  Another 40 yards later, and we’re at the meeting point, except no Junt.  This is now the other end of the terminal.

At this point, I’m starting to worry a little bit.  Good thing John said he would wait with me until I find my friend.  I decide to walk again to the other end, and you can guess what didn’t happen.  Still no Junt.  I’m now freaking out on the inside, since I had no phone, no nearby internet access, and I hadn’t done much research of Bangkok since I knew I would be picked up and I could just ask Junt.  I had no idea of what public transportation is like, no idea how the city is laid out, NO idea how to say anything in Thai.  One of the first times I was scared.  I request to walk down the terminal again.  THANKFULLY, about halfway down the terminal, I run into Junt and a couple of his friends.  Introductions happen, then I thank John for sticking it out with me.  What a way to start my visit in Thailand.

Wrap-up

These were my only flights on China Southern.  I was really pleasantly surprised about the service I received.  Depending on the seat available for a long haul flight, I would consider taking them over Korean Air.  Unfortunately, their website isn’t very helpful, and no pictures or much description is given about their long-haul business class product.

Korean Air Seoul-Incheon Airport Prestige Lounge, April 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Korean Air, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by getgowing

The previous posts of this two and a half week quasi-‘Round the World adventure:

April 15, 2011

I love these enormous departure boards.

I was pleasantly surprised to find their home Prestige lounge open at 4am, even though on their website it says that it doesn’t open until 6am.  But then again, why would Korean Air have such a prominent flight arrive, only to have the First & Prestige (business) passengers wait in the terminal with no lounge to relax in.  That makes no sense.

KE loves having to cross a bridge/tunnel to get to their lounge

The Prestige class and First class lounges had separate and dedicated entranceways.

When I got there, obviously it was still pretty empty.  I only counted about 4 people in the lounge.  I lingered on the plane a little bit longer to take a few pictures during deplaning, so I was one of the last premium cabin passengers to get off the plane.

Its a pretty large club, though nowhere near as large as the KLM Crown Lounge in Amsterdam Schiphol.

Front half has dividers for more privacy

Back half sans dividing walls

View from the lounge

Buffet spread

.....the plethora of wine & spirits.

Ever have these before? I haven't.

Plenty of soft drinks available.

Water packaged in a jello cup. I've never seen this anywhere else in the world except this lounge. Guess I should look around more.

Catering for the lounges is provided by the Hyatt Regency Incheon.  Not the best I’ve tried, but better than average.

Only Continental breakfast at 4:30am.

Didn't bother me though. I could eat croissants all day long.

At about 7am-ish, they brought out the hot food.

They tasted better than they looked

Special?

Didn't try it, though it probably not bad.

They also brought out some more pastries too.

Cheese danish, Green tea muffins

At about 10am or so, lunch stuff started coming out, though the hot lunch items came a little later.

This pasta salad was delicious. I think I came back 3 times for it.

Just as I was leaving, these came out. Wish I could've had some more, but it was a long walk, and I didn't want to get stuck just over some dim sum.

There weren’t any fancy amenities out of the normal in this lounge, except for the free international calls via skype.  There were a couple terminals like these along the window desks.

The internet was fast, I didn’t notice any slowdown when people started flowing in.  If you need anything, like a room key for the showers, or a plug adapter, or help with printing something, just ask the desk clerk near the coffee island.  There is a small button to page them if they are away from the desk.  Simple showers, with more than enough toiletries for any traveler. They provide two bath towels (I assume one for a floor towel?  or maybe one for hair?) and a small hand towel.  I didn’t have to wait long for a shower.  And to make sure you don’t walk off with their key, they make you give them your upcoming boarding pass.

Simple shower room, getting a little old though. In Asia, in many places, what they refer to the "bathroom" is just that. A place to clean yourself. The "toilet" is usually separate in a different room. Makes sense. Why excrete in the same place you make yourself clean?

If you don’t have the luxury of an airline lounge, there are also several other lounges in the airport that you can pay entry into.  But I wasn’t about to pay unless somebody else is picking up the tab.  If you don’t feel like paying, Incheon Airport is one of the most friendly to spend a long amount of time in.  Unlike many other airports, there is free wifi throughout the entire airport.  There are plenty of food and drink options, a viewing area of the runway, a spa and massage, a foreigners only casino (located outside the airport inside the Hyatt Regency, easy immigration to leave the airport, free transport to hotel), even a golf course and driving range!  Also, there are various free museums and cultural experiences.

Free for foreigners, and there are many things you can see/do there, including wear traditional clothes and learn their calligraphy

Wouldn't be S. Korea without shopping.

Next time I’m through ICN, I’ll only swing by the lounge quickly to eat, drink, and freshen up, then see more of what the airport has to offer.  If you ever have an itinerary that goes through ICN and it says the layover is at least 6 hours long, don’t automatically dismiss it!  There’s so much to do, you’ll find it one of the most pleasant connections you’ll ever do.  If you have a lot of time, they have day tours you can take of the surrounding area, or even Seoul (its about an hour away).

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Korean Air New York (JFK) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN), April 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Airlines, Korean Air, Miles, Travel Tips, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by getgowing

The previous posts of this quasi-‘Round the World adventure:

Korean Air
Flight #86
New York City-Kennedy (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
April 14, 2011
Departure: 00:48 (scheduled 00:50)
Arrival:  03:47 (scheduled 03:50, April 15)
Duration: 13’59”
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 18J (Window, Upper deck, Prestige / Business class)
Miles flown including this flight: 14,045
 

Originally, from here to the end (Asian portion of this trip) was the only trip I was taking.  London and Amsterdam was a last minute add-on.  I managed to work out getting all these flights for only 120,000 Delta Skymiles, booking everything in business class over three airlines, none of them being Delta.  It took about 4-5 hours of research on my own, then about another 3 hours on the phone with a few Delta agents getting everything ticketed.  Most people would agonize over such a task, but I’m an airline geek.  And I’m estimating that if I paid for a similar itinerary (too complex to actually ticket, so I can only speculate), it would be somewhere in the $7,500-$10,000 range.  For me, its worth it.

Check-In

Korean Air has separate dedicated lines for First Class and Prestige Class (what they call their business class).  Also allowed in the Prestige line are the Skyteam Elite Plus, Skyteam Elite, and their own Elites.  I believe the Korean Air Million Milers get to use the First Class line, but I may be mistaken.  When I got there, nobody was in line so I just walked up to the first agent, which was the First Class line.  My first final destination was Bangkok (BKK), but I was traveling ICN-CAN-BKK (Seoul/Incheon – Guangzhou – Bangkok) with ICN-CAN-BKK on China Southern Airlines.  In the process of checking in, I was told that she could only give me my first two boarding passes.  When I get to Guangzhou, I would need to get my last boarding pass at the China Southern transit desk.  Ok, not a big deal.  My luggage however could be checked all the way through to BKK.

Travel Tip:  Always check the luggage tag that the airline prints out for you.  Especially for this leg, I was connecting twice, and traveling on two different airlines.  While I haven’t personally ever had that tag print incorrectly, I’ve heard stories where it has.  Check to make sure that ALL your flights/connections are on there in the correct order, and the flight numbers are correct.  Only takes 10 extra seconds.  If your bag isn’t on the belt at your destination, you wouldn’t want it to be something that you could have prevented.

I was at the desk for at most 5 minutes, grabbed all my documents, and then headed off to do my tour of 3 lounges in JFK.

Lounges

I previously wrote about my lounge surfing experience.  Read it HERE.

Boarding

Until this point in my life, I was mostly an economy flyer.  But after recently (Nov 2010) moving up to Gold Medallion, I have seen more upgrades to First Class compared to when I was a Silver Medallion.  Even still, when I have confirmed seat in First Class, all my domestic flights only have one jetway to board the plane.  But all the big birds flying over a pond usually have TWO jetways.  Ok, 1 boarding door and 1 jetway that then splits off to First/Prestige & Economy cabins.  I have only made a left turn in the jetway on one other trip (again on miles).  A year previous when I was flying from Nagoya, Japan – Shanghai, China when I performed for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.  I still giggle on the inside like a schoolgirl who just had her first conversation with her first crush when making that left turn.

I was greeted as soon as I entered, and was shown the way to the staircase to head upstairs to my seat.  The upstairs of a Korean Air Boeing 747-400 is configured for 24 Prestige class seats.

First class. Kosmo Sleeper seats

Upstairs Prestige cabin, Boeing 747-400

Seat

Korean Air is in the middle of renovating their fleet with improved seats in all 3 of their classes.  The new business class seat, the Prestige Sleeper Seat, which unfolds out into a 180º flat bed, unfortunately was not on this flight.  This plane was equipped with their Prestige Plus Seat, which is pretty much a really fancy recliner seat.

Prestige Plus seat in sleep mode

In the sleep position the seat is almost flat, and still at an angle. While I thought being almost stretched out like that would be comfortable, it was actually uncomfortable. I am a side sleeper, and its just enough where I think I may be able to turn on my side, only to keep finding out that it doesn’t work. And you do tend to slide down a bit. I heard using the seat belt as like a harness for your rear to keep you from sliding can work. But I didn’t have any luck trying to get that to work. It was actually an easier time sleeping with the seat in the recline position.

My window seat was on the “passenger” side of the plane.  One cool aspect that the upstairs cabin has which the downstairs Prestige cabin doesn’t have is the under-window storage bins.

My backpack and world bag in the space. There was still enough space for another backpack and duffel.

These bins are huge!  If the other person doesn’t need to put anything in there and I have the entire storage space to myself (which I did), its big enough to not have to put anything in overhead storage.  Though it wouldn’t fit many roll-aboard bags.  When closed, it also can double as more table space if you need to spread out while working.  So unless I had to use the toilet, I could stand, stretch, and get anything I needed from my bags without disturbing my seatmate….and this wasn’t an exit row/bulkhead seat!  I may have just screwed myself for life, since ignorance is bliss.

However, there were a couple negatives to the seat.  It’s a little awkward on these Prestige Plus seats with the heights of the armrests. On the non-shared armrest, it’s a little narrow, maybe 2-3″ wide and at the end are the controls to the seat.

Seat controls

The opposite is the center console which stores the tray table, remote control for the in-flight entertainment, USB power, AC power, and little niche for storage next to the power ports. The center shared armrest is a few inches higher than the other, making it slightly awkward when just sitting watching a movie.

In the sleep position the seat is almost flat, and still at an angle.  While I thought being almost stretched out like that would be comfortable; it was actually uncomfortable.  I am a side sleeper, and it’s just enough where I think I may be able to turn on my side, only to keep finding out that it doesn’t work.  AND at that angle you do tend to slide down the seat a bit.  I heard using the seat belt like a harness for your bum can work to keep you from sliding.  But I didn’t have any luck trying to get that to work.  It was actually an easier time sleeping with the seat in the recline position (as opposed to sleep position) with the ottoman as high up as it goes.

Each Prestige passenger gets a pair of slippers, a small bag for the slippers, and a set of cheap headphones, all of which you can keep.

KE slippers

Compared to other business classes, these amenities are greatly lacking.  Delta gives out Bose noise-cancelling headphones to their international BusinessElite passengers (though you definitely can’t keep those).  No lotions, no eyemasks.  The bathrooms were equipped with those little amenities if I wanted to use them.

Bathroom amenities: lotion, aftershave, cologne/perfume, razor, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste

But where they lack in amenity packs, they certainly make up in top notch service.

Service

As soon as I got to my seat, I started putting away my things, and about 2 minutes later, the stewardess came by with our pre-flight drinks / snack.

Pre-flight offerings. I'd rather have a mimosa, but these'll have to do.

This was a red-eye flight (Or red-eye departure.  I think its impossible to go between NY & Asia, and not pass the time you should be sleeping either at your origin or destination), so the meal was sort of an abbreviated service.  Starts with the hot towels, then a plate of nuts, then the meal on a tray, but with real bowls and plates instead of the disposable things that economy gets.  Usually you get your drink and nuts at the same time, then a few minutes later your appetizer course, then the main course.  I think they expedite it a little bit so that people can get to sleep a little earlier.

I didn’t have any other experience, at that moment, with other airline’s business class, but I thought it was nice how they had separate menus printed for each route & direction they fly.  Meaning, there was a separate menu for JFK-ICN and ICN-JFK.  I thought I took one with me to reference what meal options were available, but I may have left it on the plane.  For my main course, I had the Bibimbap.

Bibimbap with minced beef and seasonal veggies, accompanied by sesame oil and 'Gochujang' (Korean hot pepper paste). Sans wine and soup.

The wine I had

Bibimbap mixed and all ready to eat with my wine and soup.

Midflight snack. 🙂

Pre-arrival breakfast: Almond pastry, quiche with broccoli and roasted potatoes. Yogurt and fresh OJ.

The cutest little ketchup bottle.

The service is spectacular, though I think there is a little discrimination.  Sometime midflight, between the main meals, the stewardesses were walking around handing out bottles of water, but they also had this little aerosol spray bottle they were handing out.  I know the guy I was sitting next to was Korean, and did get one.  But for some reason, I didn’t get one.  Sometime later when I got up to walk around, the galley had water, snacks, and these little spray bottles available.  They’re just water sprayers for your face to freshen up a little bit.  Why didn’t I get one?  Do they just assume that only Koreans use this?  Was it because I was on an award ticket and not a revenue ticket that I didn’t get one?  If anybody has any experience with this happening to them, I would love to know your insight on this matter.

One little thing that I always appreciate is that the purser comes around to every First Class/Prestige passenger, addresses them by name, and thanks them for flying Korean Air.  This happens twice on the flight…before takeoff, and before landing.

Deplaning

We arrived pretty much on time.  The walk from the plane to the transit security was pretty far, even using the moving walkways.  I did pass a sign I don’t see everyday on my way.

Though it obviously makes sense from all the things going on at the Fukushima plant in Japan since that incident was only about a month prior.  If you are a transiting passenger, security can take awhile, so try and use the bathroom when the plane is on approach to land as opposed to right after you get off the plane.  There are only 2 or 3 x-ray machines and you can easily wait 20-30 minutes if you are last to get in line.

Lucky for me, the Prestige lounge was open when I got there (4:00am), though on the website it wasn’t supposed to open for a few more hours.  I’ll talk about the lounge in a separate post.

Wrap-up

The experience as a whole was great, but there are a few points that were unfavorable.  The thing that sticks out the most was the intense cabin temperature.  For some reason, Koreans like the cabin temperature to be borderline HOT.  It was almost hot enough that I would have sat there shirtless.  I removed everything but my sleeveless undershirt.  AND they don’t have those personal air vents.  I guess it didn’t help that I was upstairs either.  Those little water sprayers helped cool down a bit, too bad I wasn’t initially offered one.  I know I would be miserable if I were doing this flight in economy.  So many people so close to me, with the temperature what it was, for 14 hours….I would be hating life.  Despite these negatives, the service on the ground and in the air well make up for these shortcomings.  If I have the choice, I will still choose to fly Korean Air over Delta on these long haul flights.

I borrowed this flight report format from “olafman” of FlyerTalk.  He’s currently taking a year off with his husband to take his son around the world, staying in a new location every month.  Read his story and flight reports here.

New York JFK lounge surfing: KLM “The Oasis”, Air France Salon, Korean Air (April 2011)

Posted in Airline Lounge, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by getgowing

After arriving home from London and Amsterdam about 24 hours prior, I was back on my way to the Asian portion of my quasi-‘Round the world trip:  Thailand, Malaysia, and China.  Here are the previous posts in this series:

I had a difficult time finding a ride available to get to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). (My plan was to get dropped off at EWR then take a bus/shuttle direct to JFK.) My mom was getting home from work soon, so she said she’ll just take me all the way to JFK (though I drove the way there). Did you know that from Central Jersey, without traffic, you can get to JFK in about 45 minutes?? I thought that was a crazy good time. I was prepared for 2 hours. Unexpected good news……more time to lounge surf, the theme of this post.

Since my Korean Air flight departs from Terminal 1, AND I will have extra time to visit (for the first time) non-Delta branded airline lounge, I will be able to visit and give you a brief rundown of the two lounges in Terminal 1 (Air France & Korean Air) and KLM’s “The Oasis” in Terminal 4.  Luckily, that lounge is before security (landside) so I don’t have to deal with any fuss of not flying out from there.  I dropped off my bags and got my boarding passes.

Terminal 1 Korean Air check-in

Terminal 1 security

I took the AirTrain to Terminal 4.  First up:

The Oasis by KLM

This lounge is located on the 2nd floor of the main concourse in Terminal 4, though when walking from the check-in area you enter the concourse on the 2nd floor.  When I tried to enter, I was initially met with some resistance.

Starting March 1, 2011 Delta changed its benefits for Gold Medallions to align more with the rest of the industry.  Golds will now be considered SkyTeam Elite Plus, which means that if the Gold Medallion is traveling on any Sky Team airline in ANY class, they will be allowed access to ANY airport lounge run by a SkyTeam airline.  

But Delta seems to have implemented this benefit without really telling any of the other airlines.  The lounge check-in girl said that only Delta Platinum and Diamond members were allowed.  I had to direct her to Delta.com and navigate a few clicks to show her that Gold Medallions were now SkyTeam Elite Plus.  Just a quick road block but I made it in.

Taken from left most side of the lounge, if you are facing the windows.

The lounge is laid out length-wise with one side being a floor to ceiling window with a view of Terminal 4 tarmac between the two “football field goal” gates.  Here is a JFK airport map; it should make more sense.  It was getting late at night so there wasn’t much traffic activity, but I imagine during the day or heavy traffic times the sights of all the big airplanes are spectacular.  The Oasis has a very homely feel in its decor and furnishings.  One of the neatest features of this lounge was their “living room” area.

Living room / dining room

The dining table was sweet.  I set up camp on a corner of the table.  But its definitely a cool place to relax, with the couches that surround a fireplace at the end and bookshelves with books to read.  Another thing that is much better about non-Delta lounges (with the exception of the Delta Tokyo lounges) is the selection of food, especially hot food.

White rice / Red baked potatoes in vodka sauce

Vodka sauce is my absolute favorite.  And what man doesn’t like potatoes?  Too bad the combination of the two does not make an ultimate dish.  They were actually kinda bad.  I almost wanted to not finish them and throw them away.  But again, I hate wasting food.

Chicken lo mein

The chicken lo mein was good.  It had a certain flavor I couldn’t quite place but it tasted of Indian origin rather than Chinese.  An interesting flavor.

Cheeses, turkey croissant sandwiches, turkey wraps, crackers, fresh fruit

Booze & mixers

Beer available were Red Stripe, Miller Lite, Heineken, and Kingfisher.  Kinda a weird mix, but whatever.  One positive that many Delta lounges have draft beer, whereas these were all cans.  But as I found out over the next few weeks, cans are the norm.

I tried for several minutes to connect to their wifi, but it wouldn’t connect.  Oh well.  After tasting all the hot food choices, and having a Red Stripe and a glass of Glen Ellen cabernet, I gave up trying to connect and decided it was time to move on to the Air France Salon.

I make my way back to Terminal 1.  Next up:

Air France Salon

By now it is about 10:30pm.  The last Air France flight takes off a little after 11pm; therefore the lounge closes around 11pm.  So I only got to enjoy this gem of a lounge for about 30 minutes or so.  It is located next to Gate 1 and the end of the terminal.  Quite a big space.  Two floors, with identical food/beverage spreads on each floor.

View just as you walk through the doors

As soon as I was allowed entry, I started taking pictures, telling the attendants that it was for my blog.

Alex and I

This is Alex, one of the Salon attendants.  He was quite helpful.  After they requested all the patrons to exit at 11pm, he came up to me and gave me some more information about the lounge.  Apparently there will be a complete lounge overhaul.  Remodel so that First Class lounge is upstairs, Business Class is downstairs.  I don’t remember many more of the specifics of what the difference will be between the floors.  But I know Alex has been waiting anxiously for this post, so he can comment on the future differences.  Thanks Alex!

Upstairs area

One of the upstairs private rooms

The 2nd floor has a few private rooms good for about 8 people.

Unfortunately, the views out of most of the windows is not as pretty as The Oasis. The lounge takes up a corner of the building, and one side overlooks the roadway, not the tarmac. The other window wall, mostly when looking out from the 2nd floor, has a roof outstretching from the building so that also detracts from the view. However, you can still get a decent view of the plane sitting at the gate, and a small section of a runway.

The best part of the Salon was their food and drink!

The French definitely know how to eat

Champagne & Grey Goose!

Caprese wraps, assorted meats

Alex finishes the tour, takes down this site’s address, and I’m on my way to the last stop of this tour.

Korean Air Lounge

Right down the terminal from the Air France Salon, about 30 yards away on the left, is the Korean Air lounge. Its on the 2nd floor, and has a cool white tunnel you walk through before you enter the lounge.

Kinda reminded me of the Matrix, or that long corridor in Resident Evil where you had to dodge the laser beams

To the left is the First Class section, to the right is the Prestige (business class) section.

There was a little sign on the desk (forgot to snap a pic of it) that showed which elite cards of the various Skyteam member airlines could have access. After the little debacle at The Oasis, I was happy to see that the Delta Gold Medallion card was showing having access. After mentioning it to her, she asks to see it, and because of it, she says,”If you would like, you can use the First Class lounge.”

“Oh.  Thank you.” though in my head, I was thinking, ” OH Hell Yeah!  Score one more for Gow.”

Before I stake my area in the First Class side, I go in to the Prestige section and scope it out.

Prestige class lounge

The Prestige side is pretty packed, with a not so great selection of food. Almost none. Pastries, chips, and the Tillamook REAL cheese that most of the Delta Sky Clubs have. (Cheese was a large topic of discussion on flyertalk.com last year) The Delta Sky Clubs are all mediocre at best, except for the Tokyo clubs, with the only redeeming factor being usually having decent beer selections at their hub airports. This lounge was barely a step up from a Sky Club. For an international lounge, from a very well respected airline, it was very disappointing.  The selections were pretty much the same on both sides.

Meager spirits selection

Almost like the snack basket passed around in First Class on non-meal flights on Delta.

Korean Air First Class lounge

View out the window of our plane

I enjoy some Korean OB beer and Remy Martin (at least they had snifters), then the time came to board.

Oh.  Also on the Prestige side, there were a couple rooms with massage chairs and a table.

Overall, I had a great experience using my Skyteam Elite Plus status to lounge surf for the first time.  I only with my Priority Pass (free lounge benefit from my American Express Platinum card) came in the mail before I left.  I could surf some other lounges as well.  Perhaps next time.

JFK Skyteam Lounge Rankings

  1. The Oasis
  2. Air France Salon (Really a 1.1 instead of 2.  Oasis just edges out AF because of the hot food selection and accessibility. But if in the mood, the Grey Goose could be enough to tip the scales in AF’s favor)
  3. Korean Air
  4. All the Delta SkyClubs (Although in Terminal 3, the first Skyclub, farthest from the gates, there is a cute bartender (Cassie) that works there. 🙂

Be sure to Like my Get Gowing Facebook page.  You can get all my posts, pictures, videos up on your news feed.  On it, there are ALL my pictures and videos related to these travels.  (I don’t put them all up here because Facebook doesn’t have a storage limit.)  

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