To me this next little experience sums up how things are in this world. When leaving the plane in Hong Kong, the 6 first class passengers exit through their own separate boarding door. The entire rest of the plane exits out the other door.
So we exited out our special first class boarding door and headed straight for The Wing, Cathay Pacific’s first class lounge. I know when I hear the words “airport lounge” the image that pops into my head does not prepare me for the experience that is The Wing. First of all, most lounges are somewhat industrial seeming. Sitting at an AA lounge in Chicago or the US Airways lounge in New York you get the feeling that style is always balanced against pragmatic considerations, like how long the carpet needs to last, or how resistant the seat fabric is to having orange juice spilled on it.
In comparison, The Wing seems like it was designed as the personal getaway for some comic book arch-villian. The walls are black marble and tower above you, the furniture over-sized and quite private and stylish. The lights cast a cool tone on the black and crimson interior and the doors are seemingly hidden, as they sit flush with the walls and have no exterior handles. It feels somewhat like a maze and it is actually quite the contrast from the warm and inviting interior of the first class cabin. I actually think The Wing feels a little overly severe. When I’m there I feel like i should be hatching some sort of scheme to defraud investors or perhaps plotting to kill the Batman!
But I had not come to The Wing to plot my revenge, I had come for the private cabanas! The cabanas are a wonderful way to refresh before or after your flight. They are a private apartment that you can hang out in while awaiting your flight and feature a huge bathtub and shower, sofa, desk and private bathroom. They are fully stocked with amenities and even a nice bath robe to lounge around in after a good soak. The bath and shower areas are not separate from the rest of the cabana and therefore might not be ideal if you aren’t comfortable being naked around your travel companion. Of course you could each get your own cabana if you wished, but where would the fun be in that?
So we drew a nice warm bubble bath in the enormous tub and had a good long soak. The extremely low humidity in the airplane cabin always leaves me feeling like I have just had an extended stay in a food dehydrator and upon entering the bath it felt like my skin was actually soaking up all the water that it had lost during the flight. After the bath I wanted to try out the shower options. First I gave the waterfall option a go. It was alright, but mostly it just splashed water everywhere as it careened off of my round head. Next was the rain head, which was the largest I had ever seen and was built into the ceiling as a flush stainless steel panel. It was awesome! It really felt like being in a heavy summer rainstorm, only with the temperature of the rain being adjustable. Winning combo: bubble bath followed by rain head shower.
After freshening up in the cabana for an hour or so we headed to the restaurant. I wasn’t feeling very hungry but i knew I should eat. Em was in the same boat. I ordered the mushroom risotto and a bottle of Perrier. Em opted to grab a few morsels from the buffet instead, as most of the options on the menu were pretty heavy. I wasn’t particularly fond of the risotto and thought that the food on the flight was much better. Em liked the chicken option she got from the buffet but was perplexed that there was no rice. There were numerous Chinese food options but no rice in sight! Were we supposed to order the rice separately? We couldn’t figure it out and were too tired at this point to bother with asking. We picked at our food and ate a little and then headed to our boarding gate for our flight to Bangkok.
The hardest flight for me is always the one that occurs after the long haul leg of the trip. The two and a half hours to Bangkok are at least twice as hard as the 14.5 hours that we had just flown from Los Angeles. I am invariably an exhausted, crabby bastard by this point in the trip and the last thing in the world I want to do is get back on an airplane. For me the ideal situation is actually to head to a hotel in Hong Kong and crash for the night and then do the final leg the following day. This is often impractical and adds a lot of extra cost, as the hotels in Hong Kong are not cheap. So we board out flight to Bangkok and the flight attendants show us to our seats.
There is no first class on this flight, instead the plane is configured for regional travel and business class is as good as it gets. The business class cabin is not even a quarter full, as this is Cathay’s last flight to Bangkok for the evening. I can’t tell if it’s the exhaustion, the jet lag or the hangover but I am feeling pretty rough by the time we get airborne. The crew were really friendly and about half were based in Bangkok and the other half were based in Hong Kong. The Thai flight attendants are easy to spot as they smile about 3 times as much as any other flight attendants. They came and introduced themselves and took our drink and food orders. I opted for the red curry chicken, despite not feeling hungry at all, and the hot tea. Our Thai flight attendant apologized in advance that the curry was not as good as a normal Thai curry. The hot tea came first and was just what I needed to help soothe my stomach a bit. By the time the curry came out I had a little bit of appetite and as I was eating the curry found that I was actually quite hungry. I finished the curry and the rice and it was just what I needed to give me a little boost of energy.
As we approached Bangkok there was a really intense lightening storm to the South of us and I was hoping that we wouldn’t be flying into it. We weren’t and we were safely on the ground in no time. Shortly before landing they handed out our customs forms as well as expedited immigration passes, which are a very nice perk. Upon exiting the plane we headed first to get some money changed and then to immigration.
Expedited immigration is a little bit tough to find but nice and fast to get through. We had all of our documents ready and the immigration officer processed everything quickly and efficiently. Then it was off to baggage claim to collect our 6 checked bags, all of which we checked for free courtesy of our first class tickets!
This flight would have set us back a cool $12,000 per one-way ticket, $24,000 for the both of us. Instead of maxing out all of our credit cards we used 67,500 AAdvantage miles and paid $6 in taxes and fees plus a $35 phone booking fee per ticket (You can’t book these awards online, but you could always contact my award booking service if you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding and booking them yourself).
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