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Paris, Bali, Auckland, round the world

Paris, Bali, Auckland, round the world
Paris, Bali, Auckland... around the world
via Air France La Première, Q Suites and Qantas First
November 2023

Off to Paris, Bali and Auckland

I’m off on another round the world adventure, including 10 hours in Paris, 24 hours in Bali and 12 hours in Auckland. First up is the usual mediocre United positioning flight to LAX, and the highlight of the trip Air France La Première from LAX to Paris. Then mostly Business Class including 16 hours on the world’s best Business Class, Qatar Q Suites. Then Garuda, LAN and Qantas. Then home via miserable worst in the world Qantas “First Class” on a wretched ancient A380 featuring worn out seats, terrible IFE and, naturally, no Wifi.

Pleasantly surprised this morning as DIA Clear+/PreCheck security had very few passengers.

Which gave lots of time to lounge hop.  First stop is the A concourse and the new Capital One Lounge.   Unfortunately, their soft opening meant the lounge didn't open until 9am.

Then to the C concourse for the Amex Centurion Lounge.

Nice breakfast offerings...

Not one but two of the three lav stalls were "out of order".  But we're really sorry for the inconvenience.  LOL.

Then to the new United Club the B concourse, near my gate.

Nice tarmac views.

Then down to nearby Gate 45.

The usual pathetic United boarding where First Class gets to board with the Group 1 which is seemingly 1/2 the plane and that's after an army of pre-boards.

Pleasant DEN-based crew with pre-departure beverages and meal orders.

But then it begins.  Captain announces a minor mechanical.  LOL.  I've heard before and we all know what that means.

No one has any idea, so let's tack on another 30 minutes.

And then the usual +15 minutes because we have no clue.

At this point, I started looking for a back up and grabbed the last unsold F seat on the 10:15am LAX flight.  At T-40 minutes, I decided to give up on this flight and walked off the plane to Gate 35 where boarding had just begun.

Denver DEN to Los Angeles LAX
United UA 405
November 8th, 2023

The only available seat was the bulkhead, which was not a problem today since we boarded from 2L and the 753 has plently of overhead bin space.

Keeping track of my old flight. Glad I made the switch.

I need a drink.

Well look at that, my old flight has departed the gate.

The nice thing about a scheduled 10:15am departure is that it is a lunch flight.  The chicken meatballs was very tasty.

Some Instagram videos of this morning...

Air France La Première to Paris

So nice to be back in Air France La Première and the elegant private single row 4 seat cabin. With the planned LAX Première Lounge still not open (sometime in 2024 maybe), Air France continues to use the pleasant LAX Qantas First Class Lounge for Première passengers. 

The Qantas First Class Lounge.

The always delicious Salt and Pepper Squid.

Yummy stir fried pork ssam.

At T-50, my Personal La Première Assistant Etienne stopped by to escort me on the long walk to Gate 204.

Los Angeles LAX to Paris CDG
Air France AF 65
777-300ER (77W)
3:25pm-10:45am +1
November 7, 2023

Such an elegant 4 seat First Class cabin.

Excellent service, good food, wonderful champagne and a nice Bordeaux on today’s 11 hour flight to Paris.​

And a very nice visit to the cockpit prior to push.

Today's menu...

And wine list.  Other than the champagne, not very exciting.  And not Emirates.

Meh, not like on Emirates.

Parsnip cream and bresaola julienne soup.

Vegetarian salad... barley, beet and shimeji mushrooms.

Prime cut filet of beef, pepper sauce.

Perfectly medium rare.

Wonderful bed for 5 solid hours of sleep.

On arrival, I was met at the door by my personal La Première assistant who escorted me downstairs to a waiting Porsche for the drive to immigration and passport.


And my Instagram video of my day with Air France La Première

12 Hours in Paris

There is no city like Paris, any time of the year.  So nice to be back for my 6th time this year.


Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme

The Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme is perfectly located in Paris just off of Place Vendôme in the 2nd arrondissement. Lovely small hotel, wonderful service and an outstanding Hyatt points value.


As usual, no Globalist upgrade today... but not a big deal as I was only had the room for 7 hours.

After a quick shower, off to lunch.   

Thru Place de la Concorde...

And across Champs-Élysées...

Le Jardin des Champs-Élysées...

To Yannick Alleno’s chic Michelin 1 star PavYllon restaurant, located just off the Champs-Élysées beside Le Petit Palais. 

Always fun to sit at the chef’s counter. Wonderful food, lovely wine and excellent service. 

Fabulous white octopus and poultry sausage.

Followed my the decadent puff pastry pie with wild duck and duck foie gras.  Out of this world.

And wonderful crème brûlée.

After lunch, a pleasant walk back to the Park Hyatt via Le Jardin des Tuileries.

With a short detour to Bar 228 at Le Meurice for the obligatory Whisky Sour.

And back to the Park Hyatt.

Instagram videos from Paris.

Qatar Q Suites from Paris to Doha

I decide on Qatar for two reasons.  A great mileage deal at only 75,000 AA miles for the Paris to Bali flghts, and Emirates Dubai to Bali is Business Class only.  While Emirates First Class is one of the top 2 in the world, Emirates Business Class is mediocre and not even close to Q Suites.

Check in was easy as Terminal 1 was very quiet tonight.

Very strange features in Terminal 1.

My 24 hours with Qatar Airways begins with an hour in the Qatar Lounge in Terminal 1 of CDG. 

Spacious and well appointed lounge with only a handful of passengers tonight. I relaxed and had a bite to eat in what used to be the First Class dining area, back when Qatar flew A380 with First Class to Paris.

Yummy tomato and basil soup.

And very nice lamb tajine.

At T-60, I headed off to security and my gate.    Yeah, an Emirates A380 will do this.   

Much calmer a few gates away.

Paris CDG to Doha DOH
Qatar QR 38
777-300ER (77W)
10;00pm-6:30am +1
November 8, 2023

After a number of Qatar First Class flights, this was my first Qatar Q Suite Business Class flight. And I was very impressed. Nice and spacious seats and cabin for Business Class. But the most impressive part was the soft product. Wonderful service and excellent food. The wines? Meh, not so much but then again neither are most First Class wines on airlines not called Emirates. Honestly, Q Suites is better than many international First Class products, like Qantas, British Airways and American.

Nice Diptyque amenity selection.

Tonight's menu...

Showtime: Q Suites style.

Tasty amuse bouche.

Quinoa crusted seared ahi.

For my main, the out-of-this-world chicken machboos.  Wow!

And decadent Sea Salted Caramel and Chocolate Mousse.

Beautiful sunrise about an hour from Doha.

Instagram videos from this evening.

Qatar Q Suites to Bali

After a short 90 minute connection at massive DOH Hamad International, it was time for my 9 hour flight to Bali. And this leg was on a brand new, gorgeous A350-10 (351). 

Doha DOH to Denpasar Bali (DPS)
Qatar QR 960
November 9th, 2023

The A351 is gorgeous.. nice spacious seats and cabin, and at less than 50% full, felt pretty private especially with the suite door closed.

Today's menu...

<ore wonderful service and excellent food. The mattress pad seat cover added an extra level of comfort and was great for sleeping. 

But first...

Delicious brunch platter.

After a great nearly 5 hour sleep, dinner time.  The Arabic mezze was outstanding.

Hey Singapore.

And then round two of the fabulous chicken machboos.

Also there...

What a wonderful day with Qatar Q Suites.  Wonderful service and food, and a great suite.   Hands down, the world's best Business Class.  And arguably better than First Class on mediocre airlines like British, American or Qantas.  And at only 75,000 AA miles for the Paris to Bali flights, no contest.

My Instagram video of my Doha to Bali Q Quites experience.

For my day in Bali, I wanted a resort close to the airport and chose reasonably priced (for a Belmond) the Belmond Jimbaran Puri. The classic Balinese style thatched roof cottages were comfortable although rustic and dated. It is definitely time for a refresh. Jimbaran Puri reminded me of the old Kona Village. Staff and service were delightful, and the food and drink excellent.


Much more to see next morning...

Breakfast at Tunjung Restaurant.

My office for the morning. LOL.

My Instagram video of my day at Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali.

Lunch at Cuca Bali

A quick 2 minute walk from the Jimbaran Puri is Cuca, a wonderful Bali restaurant that features eclectic tapas prepared with locally sourced quality produce and produced. Chef Kevin Cherkas has a great pedigree including stops at Daniel in NYC and El Bulli. Delicious and creative food with friendly Balinese service. Cuca is a must when in Bali.

Yummy Parmesan crusted baby corn.

Almost BBQ Ribs... Soybean Tempeh.  Wow!

Delicious Roasted Pork Buns...

Broccoli caesar.  Very nice.

Fabulous crispy fried chicken...

OMG, spectacular Hawaiian Cracker...

What a wonderful mean and treat.  And only US$64.

Dinner at Nelayan at Belmond Jimbaran Puri

What a romantic dinner location! Nelayan restaurant is on the beach just a few steps from my Belmond Jimaran Puri cottage. Too bad it’s just me LOL. And yes, I’m the only one dining solo tonight. Nevertheless, a beautiful setting, perfect weather, wonderful food and friendly Balinese service. Even the Balinese wines were pretty good.

Tonight's amuse bouche...

Tasty Lumpia Be Pasih, seafood spring rolls.

Gorgeous sunset.

For my main, delightful Balinese Prawns, mahi mahi and clams.


And refreshing Dadar Gulung to complete a very enjoyable meal.

Today's Instagram videos...


Garuda Business Class from Bali to Sydney

After dinner and with a very late checkout, it was a 15 minute taxi ride to Bali Airport for my flight to Sydney. My final destination tomorrow on this leg is Auckland, solely to position for a cheap AA-codeshare Qantas First Class ticket from Auckland to London via Sydney and with 5 month stopover in LA. I’d only flown Garuda once before and that was a memorable London-Jakarta First Class flight. Lots of choices from Bali to Sydney but Garuda was an easy choice over mediocre Qantas and not-in-my-lifetime Jetstar. Loved Bali but the airport leaves a lot to be desired. Long single side use concourse, mediocre lounges and one of the longest and a most annoying unending Duty Free shopping complex which one must navigate to get to any gates.

Denpasar Bali DPS to Sydney SYD
Garuda GA 714
11:30pm-8:30am +1
November 9th, 2023

Older but pleasant A330 with more 2-2-2 seating.  Comfy seats especially since had two seats to myself.

Yeah, I know how you feel and slept for 3 hours.

Excellent breakfast although with a menu, no idea what it was.

Luckily, there was no queue for International Transit security.


My Instagram video of my Garuda Business Class flight from Bali to Sydney.

LAN 787 Business Class from Sydney to Auckland

Deciding on my connecting flight to New Zealand was a challenge from the beginning. Emirates’ SYD-CHC flight was my first choice but was too early to make the connection. I finally settled on LATAM’s 5th freedom flight after both Qantas and Air New Zealand downgraded lie flat equipment to crappy regional 738s and changed departure times by more than 3 hours in the last 3 months. Apparently Qantas and Air New Zealand schedules mean nothing more than a month or two in advance. So, LATAM’s daily lie flat 787 seemed to the be lesser of the evils. 

Sydney SYD to Auckland AKL
LAN LN 800
November 10th. 2023

The downside of a bus gate is... a bus gate and a bus.

Fortunately, they opened a Business Class lane.

The upside is great photo ops for the av geek.

Not the most exciting cabin and a 2-2-2 configuration at that.  Ugh.

Pleasant but not the most efficient cabin crew which seemed pretty challenged serving lunch before we began our descent. On the other hand, lunch was excellent when it finally arrived.

Very tasty albeit not very warm it was finally delivered.


Nice view of Auckland.

Welcome to New Zealand!  LOL.

My Instagram video of my LAN flight to Auckland.

Park Hyatt Auckland

For my Auckland overnight, I chose the Park Hyatt Auckland and its wonderful location on the water. It was also a great deal as I used one of my Amex Travel $200 FHR credits which brought the cost down to $73 after the $100 hotel credit.

 Between Amex FHR and my Globalist status, I was upgraded from a basic room to a lovely harbour front room.

Gorgeous views...

Dinner at The Grove Auckland

Wonderful 10 course tasting dinner at The Grove, one of Auckland’s best restaurants. Located in Saint Patricks Square next to the historic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the heart of Auckland city, The Grove serves modern New Zealand food with a French touch. Friendly, polished service from a wonderful staff. The wine pairing was a treat and not to be missed.

What a delighful 3 hour meal at The Grove.  Meanwhile back at the Park Hyatt, wonderful nighttime views.

Instagam videos from Auckland...