Here it is, my first in-flight amenity kit dating back 11 years ago. The crazy thing is that this kit was provided in economy class!  My college friends and I purchased Virgin Atlantic tickets to Europe in 2003 when they (along with BA and American) were running a buy-one-get-one free promotion during the international travel slump in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

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Inside the drawstring bag from Virgin Atlantic was a smaller pouch, a notepad and pen, tissues, socks, eye mask, headphones, ear plugs, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Quite a bit more impressive than the kit provided on my recent Virgin Atlantic flight in Upper Class (thanks to points now)…

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British Airways asked their pilots for their favorite views from up above. The Northern Lights took the top spot, while other favorites included the London skyline, Mont Blanc, Sydney Harbour, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Check out the full list from the Daily Mail here.

Sydney Harbour

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“Surprise, some passengers order a wheelchair to try to game the system and board first. Those people are jerks”  Now, I’m not saying that everyone who orders a wheelchair is faking, but I can’t begin to count the times people have boarded the plane in a wheelchair, but by the time we arrive they’ve been miraculously cured of their ailment. It’s a joke between wheelchair attendants and crew members. As we’re getting off the airplane, they’re all lined up with their empty chairs in the jetway as we tell them all the passengers are gone … they were “healed again.” This, folks, is known as the “Jetway Jesus.” Praise be unto him.”

Betty continues spilling her secrets. Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing a new weekly series called “Confessions of A Fed-Up Flight Attendant” written by “Betty”.  Below is the eighth entry from the series, you can check out the full post here and a new one each Monday.

Throughout my career I’ve seen more miracle cures than the pope. It never fails to astonish me how often sick people are instantaneously healed in the process of flying. (Maybe it’s all that ginger ale or maybe it’s the vitamins in the Bloody Mary mix.)

Take this incident I witnessed the other day: I was at the security screening area when a passenger in a wheelchair and her wheelchair attendant moved to the front of the line. I was in my uniform, and I never mind letting a person in a wheelchair go in front of me.

Most people who order a wheelchair actually need assistance or simply can’t walk long distances. Bully for them, they also happen to get on the plane first, typically snagging the best spots to stow their luggage as well. (You can imagine where I’m going with this.)

So this lady hops out of her chair and whisks through the detector and quickly starts walking away. The wheelchair attendant yelled to her, “I have your boarding pass!” He then rolled his eyes at me and said: “Look how fast she’s walking. She’s practically running.”

After I had my heels back on and started down the concourse, I saw the wheelchair attendant pushing manically after the woman down the long concourse, attempting to catch up with her — so she can get back into her chair to board the airplane first.

It’s actually a diabolical plan, because you can’t tell by looking at people if they are indeed disabled. Illnesses and disabilities affect all types of people, of many different ages. And no one in their right mind would accuse someone of faking a disability. … I mean, who on Earth would do such a thing!

But how much do you want to bet that this woman will indeed board the airplane first as a person who needs assistance — but will most definitely not be waiting for her wheelchair at the end of her flight. And why? People in wheelchairs may be boarded first, but when the airplane arrives at its destination, they’re typically kept on board until last so they don’t hold up everyone else who is disembarking.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who orders a wheelchair is faking, but I can’t begin to count the times people have boarded the plane in a wheelchair, but by the time we arrive they’ve been miraculously cured of their ailment.

It’s a joke between wheelchair attendants and crew members. As we’re getting off the airplane, they’re all lined up with their empty chairs in the jetway as we tell them all the passengers are gone … they were “healed again.” This, folks, is known as the “Jetway Jesus.” Praise be unto him.

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This is part five of a ten part trip report from my third and most recent trip back to Thailand and includes my stay at the W Bangkok which opened in December 2012. 

The W Bangkok may be two years old, but it still felt brand new to me and service was top notch. As a platinum, I was upgraded from my prepaid $99 Spectacular Room to a corner Spectacular Room (the hotel was sold out, otherwise I’m confident I would have received a suite).

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The lobby bar on Fridays and Saturdays is hopping and as a Platinum you’ll receive two drink tickets upon check-in!

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Up to the corner spectacular room…

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Pretty cool tablet to control everything in my room at the W Bangkok, from lighting to A/C and messaging. I’ve had other recent stays at W hotels, but they’ve been a bit older than this one which opened in December 2012 and had no tablets. Tablets are by Archos…

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The bathroom is part of the bedroom, separated only by a curtain. Here’s the positive – the shower pressure was probably the strongest I’ve ever experienced at any hotel, awesome! The negative – without a change in the level of flooring, there is going to be flooding…and it will happen fast, especially with the power of the shower (see the pics below). Essentially, I would call the front desk to clean up the flooded bathroom each time I left the room.

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So just how great was the service at this hotel? Here are a few examples:

  • If you are taking a taxi, the doorman actually sits in the passenger seat and speaks to the driver in Thai, ensuring he turns on the meter and knows exactly where to go…no misunderstandings.
  • Similarly, the concierge had some amazing local restaurant recommendations for us. She too came outside and sat in the taxi with the doorman, both of them instructing the taxi driver exactly where to head.
  • I had a 4pm late check out which they pushed back to 7pm for me. My flight wasn’t until midnight and so at 7pm they called and asked if I wanted to stay longer. I did but they needed the room, so someone came up with a key to another room where I could shower and store my luggage.  Wow!

The food and drinks at the pool are overpriced but sometimes you just want to relax….oh and there’s underwater music which reminded me of some of the first motels/hotels I stayed at on our family vacations to Cape Cod or Disney World back in the day!

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Some sad breaking news, not many details are known yet, but here’s what is being reported so far:

  • MH 17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200,  flying from Amsterdam (AMS) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) with 280 passengers and 15 crew, had its transponder signal disappear while flying over the Ukraine.
  • Malaysia Airlines has confirmed via Twitter that they have lost contact with the jet.

Malaysia Airlines Tweet

AP Malaysia Airlines Flight Shot Down

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“Cool Ranch” flavored Doritos are known as “Cool American” in Europe. Burger King in Australia is Hungry Jack’s. Cocoa Krispies are Choco Krispies in Mexico, Coco Pops in Australia, with different mascots as well. As frequent travelers you’ve probably seen many of these, but check out this video from Yahoo! and presented by BuzzFeed for a full rundown. Thanks to Mark for Yahoo! for sharing.

Cool-American-Doritos

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Could someone please tell me how an Alaska Airlines flight between Salt Lake City and San Jose, Ca. is going to make money? Because I can’t see it. In fact, if you believe in that flight, don’t read this column, where the assumption is that the flight is ridiculous.

Forbes contributor Ted Reed outlines why he thinks Alaska needs to make nice with Delta in order to avoid an “unwinnable battle” and to benefit from the future revenue that Delta’s international flying while bring to its Seattle partners.

Here’s a snippet of the article, check out the full text here. What are your thoughts?

Of course Alaska wants to fight back against Delta, the arrogant intruder from the South.  And who can resist backing the relatively small airline with deep community ties that it built up over 66 years? The problem is that the battle has pushed Alaska to act like an angry kid, telling Delta that if it doesn’t stop, Alaska will hold its breath until it turns blue. The fact is that Delta has no choice but to build a Seattle hub. Delta is one of three global U.S. carriers and it needs to offer Asia service – particularly China service — from a West Coast hub, where it can gather passengers from the states to the east, all 45 of them. The best U.S. West Coast hub is San Francisco, where United is long established.  For years, that has left Delta and American, as well as United, fighting it out at LAX, a place where nobody can win.

It is easy to forget that Alaska and Delta are partners in a code share agreements.  I don’t know all the details of why they enabled their relationship to break down. My sources say that the accountants who run Alaska understandably insisted on squeezing every last penny out of the relationship, rather than backing down a little bit on price and rather than giving Delta passengers preference over passengers from other partners.

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In last week’s “Arrivals” newsletter, AA management provided employees with the latest status of the fleet repainting for both AA and US. Here are those details which will see the final new livery repaints (B737-800) occurring at the end of 2017:

AA Repaint Schedule

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“Sometimes on a plane we have to use our wits to find solutions to problems that arise with limited resources just like MacGyver used to on the TV show. Ever jerry-rigged a stuck door with butter? Become a fashion stylist — for babies — at 35,000 feet? Read on!”

Betty continues spilling her secrets. Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing a new weekly series called “Confessions of A Fed-Up Flight Attendant” written by “Betty”.  Below is the seventh entry from the series, you can check out the full post here and a new one each Monday.

Problem: Stuck Door
Solution: Butter and a Maxi Pad

One day the bottom of the first class lavatory door was sticking, and it was sticking really badly, so that one person on the inside had to coordinate with another person on the outside — one pushing, one pulling — in order to get the door open. Needless to say, it was really inconvenient.

What we really needed was some lubricant, but we don’t carry any WD-40 on board. So I started thinking of what he had available that would act as a lubricant in a pinch. It was a morning flight, and we breakfasts to serve…. Butter! I didn’t want to just spread it on the floor of the bathroom for fear someone would slip, and then we’d have a whole new problem.

So I got a maxi pad out of the lav. I spread the butter all over the maxi pad, peeled off the adhesive strip, stuck it to the bottom of my shoe, and then used my foot to rub the door jamb back and forth. I kept on rubbing in order to blot up most of the butter. And, sure enough, it did the trick!  When we de-planed and a new crew came on board, I told an incoming flight attendant, “If the door sticks, just put butter on a maxi pad!” Yes, they looked at me like I was nuts.

Problem: Dripping Air-Conditioner
Solution: Maxi Pads

When I was laughing over the butter story to a male flight attendant, he told me he uses maxi pads all the time to catch the drips from the air conditioning units that trickle down through the overhead bins and drip on the passengers. He told me, “People give me the strangest looks when they see me coming out of the lav with maxi pads in my hands!”

Problem: No Diapers
Solution: Maxi Pads (do you sense a trend?)

People constantly pack things in their checked luggage that they really need to pack in their carry-on — like diapers. (Some parents are super smart.) Usually when that happens, I look for another parent who’s traveling with a baby and ask if they have a spare diaper. This time, there were no other babies on board. So I pulled the synthetic pillowcase off a pillow and ripped two holes for the legs in the bottom of it. I put a maxi pad in between the leg holes — and voilà — it worked really well. It’s amazing how many uses we find for them.

Problem: Soiled Baby Clothes
Solution: Pillowcase

When a toddler threw up all over himself and his shirt, the parents didn’t have any spare clothing with them. So I pulled a pillowcase off a pillow, poked a hole for the head and two for the arms, and that kid looked downright stylish in his pillowcase shirt!

Problem: Toxic Bathroom
Solution: Vodka

And no — the solution wasn’t to drink. (Though I wish I could have.) Here’s the scene: Flying from Los Angeles to Kona, an older man was in the first class lavatory for a really long time. When he finally exited there was a foul smell, but that unto itself is not out of the ordinary.

My male flying partner, who was investigating what another passenger called an “unholy mess,” bending over and saying “I think I may throw up!” after looking in the lav — now that’s unusual.

I looked inside and was equally horrified to see number two smeared on the toilet, on the seat, and all over the door. Now I only had a few choices at 35,000 feet. I could lock off the bathroom, but it’s a 5-hour flight and on the 757, the other lavatories were all the way in the back of the airplane. Since there’s only one aisle that’d mean when we were out with the carts no one in the front of the airplane would have access to a lav. This didn’t seem fair to the passengers.

So I took some deep breaths, got latex gloves out of my bag, and hesitantly entered the “brown zone” — how in the world did he get poo everywhere?! I assumed he had an accident in his pants and was trying to clean himself up and kept getting it everywhere, or he was really disturbed and was doing some sort of painting from hell. I was in there a long time. It was revolting. And in the end I used vodka to sanitize the area.

It’s instances like this you may never know are happening while you’re settled in watching your TV. So the next time we’re saying thank you as you exit the airplane… maybe you should say “thank you” right back!

Hope your flight is fecal free!

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These are some pretty fantastic views of Lake Michigan, but the view will be even better for tonight’s 4th of July fireworks celebration. I checked in and was upgraded this morning before 9am to a room on the 32nd floor (no suites were available). Pretty sweet vista upon entering…those boats are snagging spots for tonight’s show:

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The trip was planned last minute so I didn’t even realize that the fireworks are set off right near the pier directly across the street. Even if your room has no view, the hotel has set up a special viewing area with a BBQ and cash bar for tonight. You can even bring up to two guests!

The room is great as well and the hotel just completed a $38 million dollar redesign…

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Full trip report coming soon…

It’s actually a miracle that I even arrived. My flight yesterday afternoon from LGA to ORD was canceled as was almost every other flight to ORD by any carrier from any NYC airport…this is for another post but persistence pays off and I’m also shocked by one airlines lack of notifications and irregular ops recovery when compared to their two largest competitors. Anyway, instead of flying all day on this routing -> NYC-MCO-ORD, I was happy to secure myself a direct LGA-ORD flight at 230am for a flight less than 5 hours later. More on that next time.  Happy 4th to all!

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Cathay Pacific opened The Bridgethe airline’s sixth and newest passenger lounge at Hong Kong International (HKG) last October. The lounge is located on Level 5 of the West Concourse near Gate 35, and is open to both First and Business Class passengers. Cathay says the lounge offers “understated luxury”.

The Bridge consists of North and South wings, each extending from the central Reception area. The North Wing features The Bakery, which offers freshly baked bread and pizzas, as well as sandwiches, pastries, Asian and Western soups, and fresh salads. The North Wing also features the iconic Long Bar together with a television lounge and general seating area. The South Wing features The Bistro, a self-service area where you can enjoy a variety of high-quality Asian and Western hot dishes and cold food selections, including desserts and salads. At the Coffee Loft, you can obtain freshly brewed coffee and specialty tea, as well as freshly baked muffins, pastries and cookies. The nine Shower Suites located in the South Wing are furnished with natural Travertine stone, complemented by oak slat walls.

The Bridge is open to First and Business Class passengers, Silver or above Marco Polo Club members, and Sapphire or above oneworld members departing or transiting in Hong Kong. Opening hours are from 5:30am until the last departure.

Cathay Pacific commissioned world-renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners to design The Bridge. Developed with a more residential design intent, The Bridge makes passengers feel relaxed and “at home”, and is the ideal space in which to unwind before a flight. Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Ivan Chu said: “The opening of The Bridge raises the bar for premium ground products and services even further. Our significant investments in offering the very best to our passengers on the ground and in the air will continue in enhancing their overall experience when flying with Cathay,” Chu added. The opening of The Bridge means that Cathay Pacific now has six lounges at its Hong Kong hub, offering passengers an unrivaled selection of lounges, each with its own individual identity.

This is part three of an eleven part trip report from my third and most recent trip back to Thailand.

Regionally Related:

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The South Wing

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The North Wing

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Shower Time

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The lounge is extremely modern, clean, has excellent wifi, and multiple outlets at each seat. The staff are what you would expect with Cathay, someone came over to refill our drinks and to see if we needed anything every few minutes. The lounge was also quite empty, I counted 26 total other passengers in both wings.

Now, remember this lounge is for First and Business passengers. Looking for ultra luxury? Check out these First Class HKG lounge trip reports- Trip Report – Cathay Pacific Private Day-Break Room & First Lounges – Hong Kong & Cathay Pacific First Class  777-300ER Hong Kong (HKG) – Vancouver (YVR) – JFK

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