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Glasgow, Cairo, Mileage Running

Glasgow, Cairo, Mileage Running
Glasgow, Cairo and More Mileage Running
via Cathay, American, BA and Alitalia
September 2018

I’m off this afternoon on another 72 hour mileage run, to help me re-qualify for both my BA Gold and AF Flying Blue Silver. My mileage run officially starts at 10am tomorrow at JFK.  As for getting to JFK, why not Cathay First from Vancouver?  So the first flight today is LAX-Vancouver on a cheap $103 Air Canada Economy fare, which I bought with 6,895 Chase points.

Since I'm returning to TBIT on Thursday, I parked right by the ground level TBIT door in the T4 garage and then walked down to T6 and Air Canada. 

My UA 1K/Star Alliance Gold gets me access to the LAX Maple Leaf Lounge on any Air Canada or Star Alliance ticket.

Access to the lounge is either via slow elevator...

... or the elegant staircase.  LOL.

And the grand entrance, a far cry from the expansive and easy to access old T2 lounge.

I’ve been here once before with Mrs. SFO777 and, while a small but comfortable place once you get there... 

... the food offerings here are really weak.  

And as before, drinks are basically hidden away.

At T-40, I headed downstairs and to the gate.

Los Angeles to Vancouver
Air Canada AC 555
A320
2:40pm-5:45pm
September 10, 2018

 

Despite my cheap Basic Economy fare, my United 1K status got my an auto-assigned exit row seat and priority Zone 2 boarding.  Even better as I was the only one in my row.

Not bad for $103.

Air Canada's BOB menu, where the pictures looked way better than real life.

Excellent service from a friendly cabin crew.  Since there was absoloutely nothing worth eating at the Maple Leaf Lounge, I decided to see how close Air Canada's BOB would come to their pretty photos.

Not so much, although the Pellegrino was just exactly like the pic.  LOL.

Yikes...

Uh no.  Not even close.

I had low expectations today but was pleasantly surprised by Air Canada.  Excellent service and an entire row to myself goes a long way to surviving Economy.  Even Gogo Wifi worked reasonably well and was essentially free using one of my 30 annual Amex Platinum Gogo flight passes.

Vancouver International is a nice place to transIt, far more attractive than Montreal or the dump that is Toronto.

The long but pleasant walk to customs/immigration and/or transit. 

One cool thing here is the ability to transit without having to clear Canadian customs.  D for international or E for those cabotage pax making a US to US connection.  LOL.  Since Cathay is international, my YVR-JFK flight is international instead of transborder. 

I headed for the International Connections entrance where my boarding pass was checked by a pleasant and helpful agent.

And less than a minute later, I was in the international departures concourse.

At this point, I was still two hours away from the Cathay lounge opening.  So I decided to head for the BA Lounge...

... which was at the far end of the part of the concourse near Gate 64.

Alas, despite my double One World Emerald status, I was denied entry as BA has decided that only BA passengers can access the lounge during the summer when they operate "a bigger plane" aka the A380.  I don't think I missed anything as by the looks of it, it was just another crappy BA lounge.

Fortunately, five minutes away was the SkyTeam Lounge, which is also a Priority Pass lounge.  

Pretty sure I lucked out as this one is quite attractive, bright and spacious... and empty.

I spent a couple of hours here before heading to the nearby Cathay Pacific Lounge.

At around 8:30pm, I headed across the concourse to the Cathay Pacific Lounge.  Looks like someone reset the giant chess board.

The Cathay Lounge is very attractive with nice seating areas and tarmac views.   Which is fortunate since I'll be here for 4 hours as tonight's flight is arriving two hours late from Hong Kong and departing two hour late to JFK.

 

With a nearly two hour delay on our inbound from Hong Kong, our revised departure time was now 12:40am instead of the originally scheduled 10:55pm depature.  Finally, at just before midnight, I headed out for the trek to Gate 73.

Gate 73 is configured as a transit gate and is used by Cathay for thru passengers on their HKG-YVR-JFK flight.  YVR originating passengers are required to remain outside the gate until transit passengers have boarded.

Vancouver YVR to New York JFK
Cathay Pacific CX 888
777-300ER
10:55pm-7:00am +1 (sked)
12:40am-8:30am (actual)
September 10, 2018
First Class Suite 2A

As I boarded, my amazing 6 hour Cathay First experience began, with FA Roos escorting me from door 2L to my suite.   It may be dated, but the 6 seat 77W First Class cabin is still one of my favorites.  

The First Cabin was full tonight with 5 thru pax and me, the lone YVR-JFK pax.   A week ago the cabin was still F4 so I'm guessing that most of the pax, like me, were on mileage tickets.  I used 40,000 Asia Miles which I accumulated on my Cathay Synchrony Visa card.

Not Krug, but the William Deutz was very nice.

FA Kylie insisted that I take a pic of Roos with the Deutz.

My first of 3 glasses while still at the gate.

Perhaps this is the YVR-JFK kit as I don't recall the long-haul kit being this meh.   PJs were offered by I declined for the short flight tonight. 

OMG, only 4h13m tonight??  In the end, it would us being more like 4h45m.

Tonight's menu.

Once in the air, Kylie and Roos began what would wind up being 90 minutes of flawless dinner service.

Showtime, Cathay Pacific style.

My aptly described jumbo tiger prawn and crab meat salad, with saffron and tomato sauce.   

The personalized Cathay First note is always a nice touch.

The Green Pea Soup was delicious.

Next up, how can I pass on the Chateau Lynch Bages Gran Cru Classé.    

For my main, OMG.. The Grilled Canadian AAA beef tenderloin with broccolini, baby carrots, zuchini, mashed potatoes, demi glace and Bearnaise sauce.

The beef tenderoin was spectacular... perfectly medium rare as requested and as Roos promised.  Add in Bearnaise and Lynch Bages and this is heaven.

I was so far gone on the consumption scale, that I just kept going.  I didn't want to disappoint Roos.  LOL.   Aged cheddar and triple cream Canadian brie.  And another glass of the Lynch Bages.

And of course dessert, white chocolate banana cake with black berry sauce.  Yummy.

At this point, we're somewhere over Manitoba and only a couple hours to JFK.  Roos made my bed with mattress and duvet and I pretty much feel alseep right away.  Amazingly, I got 90 minutes of sleep and it was only the captain announcing our descent that woke me.

Despite heavy fog at JFK, it was a perfect smooth landing.

What an incredible flight, with simply amazing service.  Hands down, this is the best transcon North American flight one can fly.

In spite of the long walk from the T8 40 Gates to CBP, I was upstairs in the departures level of T8 less than 15 minutes after deplaning.  

The biggest delay was at PreCheck, where there seemed to be a whole lot of confusion by the one PreCheck agent who appeared to be have no interest in expediciously processing passengers.  Add in the wave of line cutters and it took 15 minutes to clear security.

And then to the Flagship Lounge, where I had the most bizarre experience.  Since Cathay Pacific has an arrangement with AA for its passenger to access Flagship First Dining, typically one can access First Dining on arrival when connecting to an AA flight.  Either the policy has changed or the lounge dragon was having a bad day or was just uninformed.  She looked like she'd seen an alien when I told her that I and others have previously access First Dining on arrival.  She offered one excuse after another as to why I couldn't access from First Dining, from "I've never heard of that" to "I don't have any invitations".  The final whopper was "since I used the Cathay Lounge in Vancouver, I couldn't use First Dining at JFK".   Not that I was going to eat anyway since I was still completely stuffed from my dining orgy that only ended 3 hours earlier.  I only wanted it to make sure I could still access and for the photo op.

So I gave up and entered the Flagship Lounge, just not Dining, which both my Business Class ticket and BA Gold status give me access.   And then for a shower which I really wanted and needed.  

Not this time.

 

New York JFK to London Heathrow LHR
American 142
777-200
10:20a-9:45pm
September 11, 2018
Business Class Seat 7L

 

At T-45, I headed downstairs to nearby Gate 16 where boarding had been underway for at least 5 minutes.  Today's flight is part of my $1,700 Cairo-Honolulu unlimited stop-over including transcon First fare.   With all the stopovers and fights on this ticket, I figured that I paid maybe $250 tops for this segment..

My seat today, 2nd cabin rear-facing bulkhead seat 7L.  If I have to fly Business and this plane, I prefer the rear-facing seats as their is more shoulder room.  But is it still Business.

Service on AA can be hit or miss depending on the crew, but today's New York based crew was excellent.

Today's menu.

The dopey AA amenity kit... although it probably had more of value that the Cathay First amenity kit.

Showtime, AA Busines Class style.

Sure looked pretty, but not so much on the taste side.   Can you say processed cheese?

Salad was a little better especially the hearts of palm and jicima.

On the other hand, the Pommery Mustard and Honey Baked Chicken quite tasty and substantial.

Jeez Louise, a little overkill with the giant carrots??

Mid cabin snack counter...

And the pre-landing snack, the Croque Monsieur with quinoa salad..

Quinoa salad was refreshing.

While that croque (or cheese sandwich as our FA called it) was really quite good.

With a flight time of just over 6 hours, we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule.   All in all, it was a pleasant flight for Business Class.  Reasonably comfy, surprisingly tasty food and excellent service.

Thankfully, AA Wifi was working as I remembered that I hadn't booked a hotel for my 9 hour overnight  I didn’t want to do the hotel shuttle bus thing since they don’t really exist at Heathrow.  I decided to try to find something similar to the T4 Hilton without having to go outside.   The new-ish T4 Premier Inn was  available and at a reasonable last minute price of £76.   And adjacent to the Hilton and accessible direclty from T4, albeit the same long walk.  Not much of a line at Passport control and I was at the arrivals level pretty quickly.   Just follow the blue signs.

Push the Green Button for your free ticket.

And the trek to the T4 elevators.

Up the departures level with counters on the left.

And the Hotel doorway on the right.

And we walk...

... and walk...

... and walk...

Left for the Premier Inn, right for the Hilton.

And we walk...

... and walk...

... and walk...

... and walk...

... and walk...

And finally...

For a budget hotel, very cool high tech lobby where you basically check yourself in, by simply typig in your last name.

My room #668.  Small and basic, but clean, quiet and comfortable.

 

With a 7:10am flight this morning and not certain of transit times between T4 and T5, I left my room just before 5am.   And reversed my walk from last night...

To the bank of elevators down to the train.  Except that that button for that level didn't work.   As I found out later, since the first train doesn't depart until 5:10am or so, the train level is locked until just before that time.

And we walk...

Same old train as last night to Express Central where you connect to the nicer Heathrow Express to T5.

 

And up to the T5 departure level.

After another long walk to the opposite side the T5, First Class check-in.  As a One World Emerald (AA and BA), I can use First Class check in and lounges on any ticket, even my cheapo Basic Economy to Glasgow.

After a quick visit to First security, the corridor leads to the BA Galleries First Lounge.

Time for a little breakfast.

... out on the terrace.

Yeah, your typical lovely weather London morning.  LOL.

The only reason for this quick trip to Glasgow was log two extra BA flights to meet the annual 4 BA flight requirement for BA Gold.  I'll accumulate most of my Tier Points on other better One World airlines.  The Gate was posted at T-50 and I left the lounge 5 minutes later for the short walk to nearby Gate A9.

London LHR to Glasgow GLA
BA 1472
A320
7:10am-8:35am
September 12, 2018
Economy Exit Row aisle 12D

 

Boarding started at around T-35.  As BA Gold, I was in Group 1 and able to board in the first group.

BA's fake Business Class seating.  Economy seat and legroom with an open middle.

And the Economy cabin with exactly the same seat and legroom...

... except for exit row 11 and my row 12...

Unlike most of the "full service...LOL" airlines in the world, nothing is free, not even water.  Not that I was hungry, but BA's BOB menu with lots of pretty pics which no doubt don't come close to looking like this in the real world.

With a flying time of 60 minutes, we arrived in Glasgow ontime and to much nicer sunny conditions.

Since BA won't sell a return flight with less than 60 minutes connect time, I headed for the BA Lounge to wait for the next Heathow flight. 

The GLA Lounge is small but quite attractive.

At around T-35, I head back to the BA gates for my return to LHR.

Lots of Priortity pax in line this morning.  Another day, another evil eye stare back.

Glasgow GLA to London LHR
BA 1479
A321
10:40am-12:10pm
September 12, 2018
Economy Exit Row aisle 9D
 

The A321 means loads of legroom in my row 9.

Back at LHR at the single digit A gates, a nice walk back to the First Class Lounge.

And the lunch spread.

A bite to eat before spending the afternoon catching up on work before I go Wifi-free for the night.

Yeah, I think I'll pass on the BA Gin.