Jan 212013
 

Slept nearly 10 hrs, and woke up feeling even more like death than the night before.  Ugh!

Went to the Sheraton Executive lounge for the breakfast, where there was fresh-squeezed orange juice.  Fantastic.  I think I had 3 or 4 glasses, along with several espressos, and began to feel marginally functional.  Rather than deal with a cab, I decided to take the hotel shuttle to the airport for 10 TND, and be at least marginally more comfortable.

Check-in for Lufthansa at Tunis took an eternity – or at least it felt like that.  Waited in line for at least 15 minutes, and even then they could only check me in for the first segment to Frankfurt…and seats?  It was one of those old 1980s sticker maps where they peeled a sticker off a sheet with your seat assignment.  Once all the stickers were gone, there were no more seats.  Anyone have a clue why Tunis operates SO old school?   It’s as if they’re not connected to any global systems at all!

Through immigration and security, and into the TunisAir lounge which is used by Lufthansa.  First time in ages I’ve seen a lounge where smoking is permitted…ug.  Not what I needed with a horrid cold and congestion already.  Combine that with three or four sick people in the lounge who made me look like I was a rolemodel of health, and it wasn’t the recipe for the best time.  I was ready to get out of there!  The lounge did have a buffet and drinks (I did have one glass of wine…it kills germs, I swear) but I didn’t explore it much so can’t really comment on the quality.

Lufthansa Flight 1323
Tunis, Tunisia (TUN) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 13:40, Arrive 16:25, Flight Time 2:45
Airbus A319, Registration D-AIQF, Manufactured 1991, Seat 2F

I honestly don’t remember this flight too much.  We boarded just 5 minutes before departure, and ended up leaving nearly 20 minutes late…getting into Frankfurt 20 minutes late.  This brought my connection down to barely an hour….totally doable, but definitely not optimal in Frankfurt.  There was a full meal offered with two meal choices, but I skipped it so can’t comment on it.  Seemed to be the pretty typical Lufthansa meal, nothing overly special.  I spent most of the flight dozing in and out and watching some tv on the iPad…just trying to get through it.

The one big disappointment upon landing in Frankfurt – although we were at a remote bus gate, there was no car transfer waiting for me.  I had to take a bus to the terminal, and use the regular security lines with everyone else.  I’m not complaining, but part of the reason I’d booked a first award was that being sick I wanted the absolute minimum time standing around and waiting, and wanted to be as comfortable as possible.  Waiting in a cold bus, and long hot security lines…not my idea of fun.  Service failure:  Lufthansa.

Got to the lounge in Frankfurt with about five minutes to use it, but that was enough time to get a few glasses of water and freshen up again before heading to the next flight.  The lounge agents were very apologetic, but nothing they could do about the missed transfer request at this point.

Lufthansa Flight 118
Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Munich, Germany (MUC)
Depart 18:00, Arrive 19:05, Flight Time 1:05
Airbus A320, Registration D-AIQK, Manufactured 1991, Seat 7F

For some reason, Lufthansa had blocked off nine rows for business on this flight, despite there only being 8 people total in business class.  Economy was pretty full, so no clue what they were thinking.  There was a small snack on this flight, but again, I skipped it and had only water so can’t really comment on it.  We arrived in Munich nearly 20 minutes early, and at an actual gate, so I had plenty of time to unwind in the lounge – over two hours!

The lounge was actually relatively full when I arrived just after 7pm, but it did thin out quite a bit by 9pm.  The lounge attendants couldn’t have been more wonderful.  I was blowing my nose a lot, and she actually brought me two small packs of kleenexes to take with me on the flight – that’s service!  Had several glasses of water, and couldn’t resist a couple glasses of champagne, otherwise just tried to relax and take it easy as much as possible.  Caught up on some stuff online, and before I knew it it was time to head to the gate and board.

Lufthansa Flight 730
Munich, Germany (MUC) to Hong Kong (HKG)
Depart 21:55, Arrive 16:05 Next Day, Flight Time 11:10
Airbus A340-600, Registration D-AIHU, Manufactured 2008, Seat 2K

This flight was absolutely wonderful.  That’s the only word I have for it.  First was only booked to 5 of 8 seats, including a mother and approx 8yo son in the first row…but he was perfectly behaved.  The minute I was seated, the pre-departure treats arrived!  Mmmm macadamia nuts and champagne.

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For the first time ever, I actually changed into the Lufthansa pajamas for the flight…and I’ll admit it was partly because everyone else did as well.  I’ve never seen people doing it on DC-Germany transatlantics (too short maybe?) but on this flight everyone did.  With the cold I knew I’d already feel gross when we landed, so was nice to change back into clean clothes when departing.

I nibbled on most of the dinner, having a fair amount of all the courses.  By this point, I must have been somewhat dehydrated despite all the water I was drinking, because savoury foods sounded especially good.  I admit, I did have three helpings of caviar as an appetizer, and it was fantastic.  The veal main course was very tasty as well.  Topped off with a few glasses of champagne and red wine…along with some cheese for desert, and I had no trouble falling asleep for a solid 7 hours.  Wonderful…and exactly why I’d booked this routing.

Once I woke up, I was informed by the flight attendant that she was bringing me a pot of tea…I tried to say I didn’t much care for tea, but it wasn’t a question.  She was bringing me tea because I needed it.  End of sentence.  I have to say, it was fantastic too.  I also let myself be talked into a bit of breakfast.

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I have to admit, I actually landed feeling many many times better than when I left Munich.  Yes, I was definitely still sick, but the sleep, tea, and care of the Lufthansa staff went a long, long way to making me feel much better.  The award was worth every mile I spent on it!

Got a ticket on the Airport Express train after landing, and in just over 30 minutes was right at my hotel – the W Hong Kong.  I chose the hotel mainly because of location – it was in the mall right on top of the airport train station.  Fantastic because it was a nice easy commute for my sick, tired self, and nice that it was attached to a mall for anything I might need.

Service at the hotel was fantastic.  No suites available when I arrived, but they gave me a great room to change and shower in while I waited.  When I came back from dinner, they said there would be a suite ready after 8, and they would move my bags from one room to the other for me!  Now that’s service!

While waiting for dinner, what else to do when sick but enjoy a fantastic warm bubble bath!

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Around 7 I wandered into the attached mall, and found a small pizza/italian restaurant to have dinner.  My appetite had finally fully returned, and it was nice to enjoy a full meal and feel marginally human again!  The strangest part of the mall was the attacked ice rink, complete with hockey practice going on.  Not something I expected to see in Hong Kong!

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Got back to the W, and found my bags had indeed already been transfered to the suite – Wonderful!  There was also a complimentary welcome drink at the bar for SPG platinum members, so I decided to go down and enjoy that.  The odd part was, it was good on any drink up to 100 HK$ – which was about half the menu.  If you wanted a drink over 100 (most of the rest were 105-110) you didn’t just pay the 5-10 extra, you had to pay full price.  Odd system!  I enjoyed something fun that I can’t remember the name of now, but it was tasty and knocked me out for the night.

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Got up early, and grabbed Starbucks at the attached mall.  It was so, so nice to be back near a reliable source of caffeine.  It’s amazing how much the little things can make such a difference when traveling!

Back to the room, got to see the view in daylight of Hong Kong Harbour.  Amazing as always.

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Took the airport express back to the airport, and it was a bit of a nightmare.  Check-in for Thai is in one terminal, but the actual gates are in another, meaning a rather long walk after check-in plus two train/shuttle rides to get to the gate area.  Not horrible, but mildly annoying.    That said, from the Airport Express train to the Thai lounge was maybe 20 minutes total, so it really wasn’t that bad.  Especially with a full snack menu in the lounge!  I’ll have the Dim Sum please!

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Next up….the part of the trip I was most excited for!

Thai Flight 601
Hong Kong (HKG) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
Depart 13:25, Arrive 15:10, Flight Time 2:45
Airbus A380, Registration HS-TUC, Manufactured 2012, Seat 3A

Two jetways, and since business and first class were both upstairs on the A380, no need to walk up any stairs.  The jetway went straight to the upper level.  I was still blowing my nose every three seconds, so a quick trip to the washroom, and I had to snap a couple pics.  Complete with sitting area, this thing was bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve seen!

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A couple of shots of the seat area….fantastic room with plenty of storage area.

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There were 12 seats on first, and 9 of them were occupied today.  That said, those 9 people managed to put away two bottles of Dom Perignon before departure with only 5 people drinking.  This was going to be a bit of a messy flight!

The meal was ok, a small appetizer, and then for a main I had a beef green curry which was tasty. No huge meal, but no need for one on such a short flight.  The champagne antics continued, and according to the purser we landed five bottles lighter than when we took off – impressive for a 2.5 hr flight!

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Upon landing, there were a couple Thai agents with signs, waiting to escort connecting first passengers to security.  We took a small ride in the golf carts, but then got dumped in the regular security lines and more or less abandoned.  In retrospect, I probably could have walked there faster than waiting for the other passengers, so while this was a nice attempt, I’m not sure it really lived up to its billing since we were at a close-in gate.

The lounge…hmmm.  I’d heard great reviews but in the end I was seriously underwhelmed.  I was escorted to a seat, brought a drink, then more or less ignored.  Anything else I wanted, I had to go hunt someone down and ask.  I didn’t have a super long connection, so no time for the spa, but in the end it just kind of was.  Another nice lounge, but nothing that jumped out at me with the “wow” factor.

Thai Flight 305
Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Yangon, Myanmar (RGN)
Depart 17:55, Arrive 18:40, Flight Time 1:15
Airbus A330, Registration HS-TEK, Manufactured 1998, Seat 15E

Very uneventful flight, so not much to say.  The flight was packed in business with a German tourist group, and there was a small meal, but I was still full from earlier so ended up skipping it.  There were a couple of wine runs through the cabin, but otherwise it was a totally uneventful one hour flight.  Seats were comfortable enough, although definitely a generation out of date for modern business class.  That said, they were still way better than anything you’d find in the US or Europe on a flight of similar length!

Next up:   Myanmar!


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