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Reader Reviews: Trips & Tips Last Minute Trip to Asia

Discussion in 'questions. answers. conversations.' started by Chris M., Jul 30, 2017.

  1. Chris M.

    Chris M. New Member

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    Thanks to this site, I was able to join my brother on a last minute trip to Asia. Paying cash for flights in economy would have been ridiculously expensive, but thankfully I was able to find saver availability with points (and fly business).

    What follows is a mini-trip report. Feel free to ask any questions about the flights and/or hotels.


    SFO Ground Experience
    I went by the United Club in the international terminal to pick up my brother, and boy is that lounge past its prime. It's crowded and cramped. The SFO Polaris lounge can't come fast enough.

    We instead spent our time at the Amex lounge in T3. We arrived at the gate a few minutes prior to the stated boarding time, but they were already boarding Group 2. D0 FTW....


    SFO to NRT on United in Polaris (UA miles)
    To start off the trip, we flew from SFO to NRT on United's new 777-300ER in "real" Polaris. We selected 9 D & G. The bulkhead meant we had more room for our feet and more room to store all the bedding. This was my first time flying the "real" Polaris, and I was very impressed.

    When traveling with someone, the honeymoon seats are great, but I didn't think about the fact that there is a permanent barrier between the two middle seats. Neither the Vantage XL seats (like SAS has) nor the ex-CO United seats have a barrier between middle seats, so I wasn't expecting one. The permanent barrier goes from the ground to armrest height. There is also an adjustable barrier that goes from armrest height to about eye level. This is very similar to the barrier found between middle seats in reverse herringbone configurations.

    I actually liked the permanent barrier, but if you're traveling with kids or a spouse, you may find it annoying. We enjoyed the honeymoon seats. We could talk to each other, but we each had our own space. The tables by the aisle made it feel like we had private cocoon. I would probably say it's the best business class configuration for traveling with someone.

    The food was decent. The wi-fi worked but was slow. The bedding was super comfortable.


    Grand Hyatt Tokyo (Points + Cash)
    In Tokyo, both the Grand Hyatt and the Andaz are Category 6 properties. I much prefer the Andaz. I have no real complaints about the Grand Hyatt, but everything about the Andaz is better in my opinion. The Andaz has nicer rooms, a nicer view, and nicer common areas. The staff at the Grand Hyatt were very friendly and professional.


    NRT to DPS on Air Asia X in Premium Flex
    At booking we upgraded from regular economy to "Premium Flex." I forget how much this upgrade was, but I think it was around $20 pp. The perks we cared about most were: checked bag, complementary meal, free flight changes, and seat selection. With these low cost carriers, you need to know what you're getting into. They don't offer any free food on this 7+ hour flight...

    I ended up taking my 20" rolling carry on this trip, so I didn't plan on checking a bag. Turns out that the maximum weight for a carry on in 7kg, so I was forced to check my bag. I'm glad "Premium Flex" included a checked bag...

    I could be wrong, but I think this is the first flight to depart NRT's Terminal 2 in the morning. The flight supposedly departs at 8:25 am, but security opened at around 7:30 or so. McDonalds was one of the few places open this early, so we went there to grab a bite to eat.

    We were in line for security before it opened, and we still arrived at the gate after the stated boarding time. I'm not sure how you are supposed to arrive at the gate on time. After rushing through immigration and security, we arrived at the gate only to see the flight attendants still waiting to board. Our airplane was late to arrive, so we relaxed for a bit.

    Premium Flex gave us the ability to board with the first group. The best part about booking Premium Flex is that we could sit in the first mini-cabin of economy. This mini-cabin was empty, while the rest of the economy was completely full. Each person on our mini-cabin had a row to themselves. Given that this an A330 in a 3-3-3 configuration, the space was awesome. They even had curtains separating this mini-cabin from the rest of economy.

    An hour or so after takeoff they came though the cabin and distributed our prepaid meals. Five or so hours after that they came through the cabin with drinks and snacks for sale.

    Overall, I was very pleased with this flight. It wasn't as nice, as Cathay Pacific's First Class obviously, but we got what we paid for. It was cheap, and we were prepared. If you're going to fly a low cost carrier, you better do your homework.


    Up Next
    In the next installment, I'll cover: The Mansion Ubud, The Ritz Carlton Bali, EVA A330 Business, Grand Hyatt Taipei, and EVA 777 Business.
     
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