Monday, December 31, 2012

Bangkok on ANA and United

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to teach a workshop at a conference in Bangkok. This trip was full of many travel firsts for me. To start with, I flew on ANA (All Nippon Airways) for the first time, which was a treat. Asian airlines do it right. When I checked in at the international terminal at the nightmare known as LAX the agent apologized for the inconvenience that the flight was 20 minutes delayed. Japanese are so polite. That was the least of my worries. I headed to the Star Alliance Lounge and had some coffee and toast. My flight left a little late because the previous flight landed a little late, so we left about an hour late but boarded only about 30 minutes late. This is a shot of my 777-300ER.

I was the first person on board in the very last section of the plane. The cabin was spotless and the seating is a 2x4x3 in coach. I had the aisle in the middle section. The plane was completely packed but it was very comfortable. There is a lot of legroom including a foot rest which actually does help your legs feel better. The one thing I do not like about the seats is that instead of reclining, they slide forward to give you the illusion of reclining. It was a good thing that I didn't need to sleep because it was a daytime flight. The service consisted of a main meal soon after take off and then a light meal about 2 hours before we landed. There were always snacks and drinks available in the galley during the flight. This flight probably had some of the worst turbulence I had experienced in a really long time. I think that comes with the territory when crossing the Pacific in the winter months. It was so bad about 4 or 5 different time that the flight attendants were ordered to sit. It was less than pleasant.
We had a really strange routing this flight. Usually flights to Japan fly up towards Alaska as that is closest to the great circle route. This flight had us fly straight out across the Pacific. I've only ever seen this routing on the return flight with the tailwinds. Our flight was just under 12 hours long and we landed about an hour late. 
After that long flight it is hard to feel human. I really needed to take a shower but I had about 70 minutes until my next flight was leaving. So I headed right to the ANA lounge shower where I cleaned up and brushed my teeth. It was so nice. I didn't have time to eat anything in the lounge which was too bad because the food is actually really good. My next flight was on United and it was on the opposite side of the terminal so I had to huff it to the gate. I grabbed a little trolley for my bags and made my way through the terminal to my flight. They had just started boarding when I got there. I had an aisle seat again on the side section. This 777-200 has 2x5x2 seating and it must have been one of the very first 777s ever made. The TV screen was so tiny and the entertainment system was the first generation where the programs just cycle through several different shows. It's so sad compared to airlines like ANA, Singapore, Emirates, and Thai. Even Delta has a better system on the planes that do have individual TVs. This United flight was a short 5 hours and 45 minutes from Tokyo to Bangkok. It's hard to believe that only getting to Tokyo from LA is only about 2/3 of the way to Bangkok. I tried napping but I only mildly succeeded. They did feed us a dinner but it was nothing special. The flight was super smooth the entire time which I appreciated after the vomit comet on the last flight. We landed around 11:30pm in Bangkok and I expected us to park at the terminal but we parked about 2 miles away (no joke). We were past the cargo areas and the charter airlines. We had to take a bus all the way back to the terminal which is actually quite cool because you get to drive right under all the jumbo jets and you can appreciate just how huge these planes are. This is a shot from the bus and it is clear that we were nowhere near anything.
After a quick wait through immigration, I found myself waiting for the airport taxi/limo outside of the terminal. This terminal is nothing but glass and concrete. After about a 25 minute ride into the city, I was at my hotel for the next 5 days, the Centara Grand CentralWorld. This was the first time I've stayed at a Centara hotel and it was very nice.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I fly the United 787

This was a flight from LAX to Houston Intercontinental on United's first 787. This plane is awesome. Here are some pictures that I took from the trip. This was the view from the terminal.
This is next to the door which is the second one back. There are three rows of business class seats both in front of and behind this set of doors.
This was seat 3E, my seat for the almost 3 hour journey. The seat was very comfortable with lots of space. The plugs behind on the left of this photo include a usb port and you can connect your iphone to the system and listen to it while it charges.
I think this is the largest screen on any TV on any plane I've ever seen. It was awesome. There is a little area below the TV to put books and things.

This was a postcard-sized information pamphlet that had all the information on 787 and the features that make it so different from all other jets.
This was my view from my seat and the size of the windows is evident here. I could see out of the windows perfectly from where I was seated.
All new planes have hiccups and this one thought it was going to London Heathrow. Even once we arrived the computer still showed the destination as London.
I love the lighting in this plane. Apparently the section up there houses the crew rest area. The irregularity in the overhead bins is noticeable here.
My cold plate with crudités, red wine, and green tea wasn't half bad. They also brought around warm scones which seemed a little odd for a post-dinner evening flight.
This is the view from the gate in Houston. It is such a beautiful plane with a humongous wingspan.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ebags: I wish they paid me for this endorsement

I am leaving for a trip tomorrow and I wanted to share one of my packing tricks. One of things I absolutely love to travel with are my packing cubes by ebags. They aren't really cubes (the mathematician in me hates that they are called this). I now have 9 of these "cubes" of all different sizes. It's almost like a puzzle trying to fit them with your clothes and then into your luggage. I packed 3 pairs of jeans, 6 shirts, 2 sweaters, 5 underwear, 5 pairs of socks, 3 undershirts, a shirt and shorts to sleep in, running shorts, and a running shirt.
All of that fit into 4 different packing cubes. 
They fit easily into my rolling garment bag which also holds 2 more pairs of shoes and my toiletry bag that is also from ebags. It is a flat toiletry bag that fits perfectly into luggage. 
I think I can actually fit more clothes into my garment bag this way than by laying out the clothes in the usual way in the bag.