Talk about a bit of an anticlimactic end to a trip. I had been all excited to fly two long segments with EVA Airways in their Hello Kitty service on the 777, but due to crew strikes the flights were canceled. At least I had an option that would get me home comfortably. No, it wasn’t exciting or new, and certainly not the way I wanted to end this really cook AvGeeking trip, but hey, make lemonade from lemons and all that jazz!
Woke up early after only about six hours of sleep, figuring I could always sleep on the super long flight and crossing 12 time zones my body wouldn’t really know the difference anyways. Grabbed an early coffee before heading to the airport, and what Hong Kong Starbucks called a “croque monsieur.” Close, but no croque…
Off to the airport by train again, and one thing I was looking forward to was checking out the American Express Lounge. The United Lounge in Hong Kong is known to be one of their nicer ones, but I’d also heard great things about the American Express Lounge.
I know everyone loves the AmEx lounges in the US, but they frustrate me a bit. I find them very crowded most of the time, and hard to find a seat. It also really bothers me that as a Centurion Card holder I can barely find a seat when some guy and his family of six with a Platinum Card are taking up seven seats. Anyways, rant over.
So, why was I looking forward to the AmEx Lounge then? Hong Kong, like Buenos Aires and Mexico City actually have Centurion Lounges within their “Centurion” Lounge. I always found it weird that “Centurion” lounges let platinum card holders in, but whatever.
The lounge in Hong Kong was pretty quiet, and had a nice menu to order from. How can I say no to eggs benedict and champagne in the lounge? That’s right…I can’t.
Service in the AmEx lounge was amazing, and it was easily one of my top AmEx Lounge experiences ever. Next time, I’m going to have to make much more time to stop by than just the 45 mintues or so I had before this flight.
Fortunately, my gate was not far from the lounge, and caught this view of my chariot as we waited to board:
The plane was named the “New Spirit of United” but beyond Polaris seats (which I do actually really like) I wasn’t expecting too much.
United Airlines flight 180
Hong Kong (HKG) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
Depart 10:25, Arrive: 14:10, flight time: 15:45
Boeing 777-300ER, Registration N2331U, Manufactured 2016, Seat 11L
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 78,376
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,770,964
Somehow I think this 8,063 mile flight is going to take a bit longer than 0:00 as the screen seems to promise:
Pre-departure sparkling plonk and water were offered. I commend United on upgrading to actual glass glasses for PDBs, but the Spider Man napkins and terrible sparkling wine were a stark reminder I wasn’t on Emirates anymore…or Qantas…or Thai…or Cathay…or, well, you get the point…
I love planespotting outside the US where I get to see lots of airlines I don’t see every day…today it was Air Mauritius:
Warm nuts were served right after takeoff, with more Spidey napkins. I honestly have always wondered what United “does” to their almonds. They always seem kinda mushy to me and stale.
The salad was a pretty below average offering today, and the appetizer was two rather sad looking shrimp with “yellow mushrooms”. Way to put the class in business class, United. *frown*
I felt like something was fishy with this meal, so I went with the “pan-fried halibut” with lemon caper butter sauce. It was pretty decent, and less heavy than the overcooked beef options, so overall it passed muster.
Cheese and deserts finished off the exactly-as-expected United meal. I would say the cheese was just average today (I never really find interesting or adventurous cheese on United) but the bonus cherries on the sundae were definitely a win!
Having only gotten about six hours the night before, I decided that after lunch was a perfect time for a good long nap….which lasted nearly six hours!
Woke up at exactly the perfect moment! I looked outside and the sun was just rising over extreme northern Alaska. Absolutely gorgeous views!
Pre-landing breakfast was served, with the usual offer of congee, “smoked salmon and spinach frittata” (aka cholesterol and sodium bomb) or “fruit with cereal and milk.”
There was nothing high-end about it, but the fruit and cereal were nice and light and did hit the spot, so overall it was the right choice for me.
Landed at the B Terminal at Newark, which seems to be where all my international Star Alliance flights have been coming into lately. I know SAS always lands there as does Lufthansa, but even my United flights seem to land there now. Is immigration and customs at Terminal C just that busy?
Caught the AirTrain over to Terminal C, and fortunately my flight to DCA would be leaving out of C today and not A so I could spend my layover enjoying the Polaris Lounge, which I hadn’t visited in Newark before.
I asked the bartender for a Paper Plane, but made with Mezcal (thanks ORD Polaris Lounge for introducing me to this) and the bartender gave me the most perfect Jersey “what’s wrong with you” look. She made it though, and it was delicious, and she was an absolute hoot to chat with, so bonus!
All too soon it was time to head to the gate for the short hop to DCA.
United Airlines flight 3434 op. by Republic Airlines
Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Washington, DC, National (DCA)
Depart 15:45, Arrive: 17:17, flight time: 1:32
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration N642RW, Manufactured 2005, Seat 1C
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 78,575
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,771,163
When I booked, only economy was available on this flight for an award, but the great agent did waitlist me for first. Oddly, 24 hours before the flight, there were still five seats unsold but still no upgrade for me….it dwindled to four, then three, then two…and held at one…and finally cleared for me at the gate. That was a close call.
Nothing to say about this flight. No drinks, no snack basket “due to the short length of the flight” but I really didn’t care for barely 40 minutes of flight time.
Most notable part of this flight was the beat to hell United plane at the gate next to our arrival at DCA. Get this thing a new paint job!
…and just like that, I was home from an epic 18 day vacation….and when I say home, I meant for 68 hours…because it was already time to head out to Switzerland for work….for three whole weeks! Next segments, coming up soon!