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The First Class Travel Blog

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Cathay Pacific First Class to SFO

February 9, 2011
Suites 1K and 2K

Although the First Class cabin was 0/6 when I changed our reservation yesterday, all six seats were filled by flight time. Despite a couple of phone calls, I was unable to select either of the two "Blocked" seats 2A or 2K prior to airport check-in, where the agent released 2K to us so we wound up with the same 1A and 2K as our outbound.

We were the first two F pax to board and exchanged hellos and pleasantries with Rose and Audrey, our two wonderful FAs for today's 11 hour flight. No cabin pics today as it was the same equipment as our outbound. The first of many glasses of Krug...

While Mrs. SFO insisted on only water today. Her newly found sobriety lasted about 5 minutes until she came to visit me in 1K and started drinking mine. Rose, could you please get my wife a glass of Krug so she'll stopping drinking mine??

Interesting maintenance fix in my suite...

And not the prettiest caulking job...

On time push-back and our short taxi today...

Amarillo? Seriously? Of all the cities they could display on the map, they picked Amarillo?

Shortly after take-off, Rose and Cheryl were in the cabin offering drinks and mixed nuts. Another glass of Krug, please. The captain had previously announced that we would "might" experience a "bit of turbulence" as we approached the coast of Japan. Unfortunately, that bit of turbulence started about an hour out, well before we were even near Japan, and continued on and off, and in varying degrees for the next five hours. Initially, it was a light to moderate chop, and did not impact the start of lunch service.

The always great CX caviar and smoked salmon with Krug...

Very nice mixed green salad...

But the soup (sorry can't remember what was actually in it) was not particularly good.

Today, I wanted to try a proper glass of Lynch Bages, instead of my previous pop and pour version. FA Rose assured me that she would have open bottles as two other pax were already drinking it. Just to make sure it had time to breathe, I asked for a glass two courses before my beef. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans...

It was at about this time that light to moderate chop turned to some serious turbulence, prompting FA announcement that they were discontinuing hot beverage service. About two minutes later, the bottom fell out, literally, with a few minutes of some of the worst turbulence I've experienced in a long time, including one episode that caused the Lynch Bages to hit the ceiling and cabin wall. Like a crazed FTer, of course my first move was to grab my camera and take a picture.

Rose and Cheryl rushed thru the cabin to quickly clean up the mess and remove everything from our meal service and batten down the hatches. About 20 minutes later, after the worst of the current turbulence had subsided, lunch service resumed.

Unfortunately, by that time my beef was even more well done than on Emirates. Although the Lynch Bages, now properly open and no doubt vigorously shaken was very good and quite enjoyable.

Desert was delicious and accompanied only by mild chop.

Let me preface this next part by saying that while I love to fly, I hate turbulence. And while I realize that these planes are designed to take a beating, it still doesn't make me feel any better. With 150 segments a year and at least a third of these over the Rockies, I'm pretty familiar with turbulence and the general patterns of turbulence.

I just had the feeling early on that today was not ordinary. Indeed we were subjected to roughly five hours of frequent fairly intense heavy turbulence. For 4+ hours after the meal service, there was simply no pattern, no gradual reduction, just flat out frequent periodic bad turbulence. Just when you thought that things have calmed down and perhaps we're thru the worst of it, boom. Even the cockpit crew seemed at a loss. At one point after 5 minutes of relative calm, they turned the seat belt sign off. Within 10 seconds, a couple of chops and then, boom, the bottom fell out again.

For 4+ hours, my beverage was bottled water, with the top on. It was miserable, whether sitting, reclining, watching a movie, or in bed trying to sleep. To the point where you start thinking "is this it?", or my morbid "if I'm going down at least I'm in First", and OK we're in the middle of nowhere, where do we go if we have to land? February in Siberia is very cold.

At one point during a brief lull, Mrs. SFO decides to try to make her way to the lav.
Me: Where are you doing?
Mrs.: I have to go.
Me: You can't be serious? Do what you want, but I wouldn't even try it.
She thinks for a couple of seconds and heads back to her seat, buckling in just in time for the next boom rock and roll, after which I hear.
Mrs.: OK, you were right.

I would rank this in my top three bad turbulence experiences vying with an old Southern Airways flight where the idiotic crew flew into a thunderstorm and a UAX thunderstorm prop flight from ORD-TVC complete with drinks on the ceiling, screaming and throwing up.

Back to our flight, I eventually fell asleep but woke up a little later, still some four hours out of SFO, to much less severe chop. The last three hours were nice and calm.

Time for breakfast starting with a fruit plate...

And delicious scrambled eggs with sausage and Canadian bacon...

As we begin our descent to SFO, breath-taking views of the California coast...

The right place at the right time, very cool shot of a UA 777 (I think) having just taken off from runway 28 at SFO.

Wheels down on final approaching the San Mateo Bridge...

We touched down on runway 28L about a half hour late, just under 10 days after we left. Turbulence aside, another great CX First experience. I can't think of a more comfortable First Class seat and suite I've had the pleasure spend time in. And what a great trip. Our first time in Thailand and memories of the wonderful people we met will stay with us for a long time.