Trip Reports

Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Hong Kong To San Francisco

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I boarded through door L2, where I was greeted by several flight attendants and pointed towards my seat. I tend to think you can tell within the first minute how good of a crew you’ll have, and this one was stellar. Singapore has a few different longhaul 777-300ER configurations — they have one featuring their “old” product, one featuring their refreshed product and eight first class seats with no premium economy (which I was on), and their newest configuration, which has four first class seats and premium economy.

In this case I was on a plane with eight first class seats and no premium economy, though it was a plane with Singapore’s newest business class product, which I hadn’t yet flown. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write a real review of Singapore’s business class product.

Singapore has a total of 42 business class seats on this version of their 777-300ER. Business class seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are eight business class seats in the forward cabin (right behind first class), and then the main business class cabin has a total of 34 business class seats. The rear business class cabin had a total of nine rows, though in the center section there are two fewer seats than by the windows.

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Review: United Club Hong Kong Airport

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My flight from Hong Kong arrived shortly before 7PM, while my connecting flight back to San Francisco on Singapore Airlines was at 11:30PM. Upon arrival I tried to find the Singapore Airlines transit desk, since I didn’t yet have a boarding pass for my return flight.

It was quite a trek to the transit desk, though once there, a funny conversation ensued. The Singapore Airlines representative requested my inbound boarding pass, which I handed over without saying anything.

“Sir… you are coming from… San Francisco?”

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Review: United Business Class 777-300ER San Francisco To Hong Kong

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I boarded through door L2, which is between the two Polaris cabins. United’s Polaris cabin on the 777-300ER is massive, with a total of 60 seats. There are 28 seats ahead of the second set of doors, and 32 seats behind the second set of doors. I was in seat 18L, which is the window seat in the last row, so I walked to the far aisle and then turned right.

While each Polaris seat features direct aisle access, the seats alternate between being closer to the aisle and being closer to the window. Odd numbered seats are more private and are further from the aisle, while even numbered seats are closer to the aisle.

For example, below is a picture of seat 17L, which is a “true” window seat. The advantage of this seat is that it feels extremely private, as you basically have your own cocoon.

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Review: United Club San Francisco Airport

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After a quick, uneventful flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I arrived at around 8AM, plenty early for my 1PM flight to Hong Kong. My flight arrived at Terminal 3, while my connection was departing from International Terminal G. Fortunately these are connected airside, so I made the roughly 10 minute walk. Enroute I passed the Amex Centurion Lounge, which is definitely the best lounge I had access to, though I wanted to review the United Club.

The views from the terminal connector were awesome.

At the end of the connector was an escalator leading up to the terminal.

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Review: Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort Al Husn, Muscat

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort entryway

After a 45-minute, 15 OMR ride from Muscat Airport, I arrived at the Shangri-La. Hidden behind a towering mountain range, the resort was built in the middle of nowhere. Turning to the left at the hotel roundabout, we entered the driveway to Al Husn, the most exclusive of the three Shangri-La resorts on the grounds.

Al Husn is an adult-only hotel, featuring a private beach and pool area. While Al Husn guests are allowed to use the general hotel beach and pool facilities, Al Bandar and Al Waha guests cannot use those belonging to Al Husn.

Pulling up to the entrance, we were greeted by a porter who escorted us to the lobby.

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Review: United Club Los Angeles Airport

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In December 2016, a new United Club was opened at LAX. United can’t seem to decide what they want to do with LA, and whether it’s a hub or focus city. The new United Club certainly shows their investment in the airport, and I was excited to check it out.

In December Nick wrote a review of the lounge, though I figured I’d share my thoughts on it as well.

My flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco was departing at 6:40AM, so I got to the airport way early, at around 4:15AM, since I wanted to be able to review the United Club while it was still empty.

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Introduction: A VERY Quick Trip To Hong Kong

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I take a lot of quick trips, though this one was lightning fast even by my standards, as I flew to Hong Kong and back in about 32 hours, with just over four hours on the ground in Hong Kong.

Why? This trip was motivated by United’s new Polaris product. United introduced their new Polaris international premium cabin experience for flights as of December 2016. However, in reality, a vast majority of flights only have the new Polaris soft product, and not the new seat, which is only available on their 777-300ER aircraft.

So I was determined to review United’s new 777-300ER on a longhaul flight as quickly as possible after it was introduced. Late last year United announced the first routes that would feature the new plane. Specifically, Newark to San Francisco would get 6x weekly 777-300ER service between February and May, while the first longhaul route to feature the new plane would be San Francisco to Hong Kong, as of March 25, 2017.

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Review: US Grant Hotel San Diego

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Ford and I recently spent the weekend in San Diego visiting Tiffany and her husband. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in San Diego, including the Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Sheraton, and W (which is now a Renaissance). San Diego isn’t a terribly exciting hotel market. What I’ve noticed over the years is that there’s very little variability in rates across hotels.

While other cities will have 4-5 star hotels ranging in price from $150-1,000, the San Diego market just doesn’t seem to be able to command a premium for luxury hotels. So there’s not much variability in terms of cost or quality among those hotels.

One hotel I’ve stayed at probably five or so times over the years is the US Grant, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. I reviewed it eons ago, but haven’t reviewed it for my past several stays. However, the hotel recently underwent a renovation, and I was really impressed by the work they did, so figured an updated review would be helpful.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York

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Upon arriving in Shannon we were all directed to get off the plane and reclear security. As we deplaned we were each given a transit card and our name was checked off a list.

Since I had “SSSS” on my boarding pass in Kuwait (which means I was selected for additional screening), I was ushered to a separate area. Once about a dozen passengers requiring secondary screening had deplaned, we were escorted to a separate area for screening.

One of the other business class passengers flipped out. “I WANT TO TALK TO A KUWAIT AIRWAYS SUPERVISOR, THEY DID NOT TELL ME I NEEDED TO GET OFF THE PLANE.” He said that he refused to go through security, etc. Then he turned to me and said “did you know we had to get off the plane here?” “Yeah, actually.” Then he stopped talking.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon

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As our bus pulled up to the remote stand, I was happy to see that our flight was actually operated by a 777-300ER. Kuwait Airways’ 777-200s are ancient, so I was worried we’d have a last minute swap. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, and I was excited to experience the “future” of Kuwait Airways.

We boarded through door L2, where we were pointed right into the business class cabin.

Kuwait Airways has B/E Aerospace Diamond seats in business class on their 777-300ERs, which is a similar product to what’s available on Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air China, KLM, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, United, etc.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport

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Our flight from Kuwait City to New York (via Shannon) was departing at 9AM, and we got to the airport plenty early, at around 6:15AM. We had already received our boarded passes all the way to New York in Dhaka, so could skip the check-in counters (which were deserted anyway).

Kuwait Airport is pretty solid. While the finishes don’t come off as especially luxurious, the ceilings are high, and they have excellent concessions.

Starbucks and Pinkberry next to one another? Yes please!

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Review: Sheraton Kuwait

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Before returning to the US we had a one night layover in Kuwait — we were arriving at 12:25PM, and departing the following day at 9AM. As someone who tries to stay at Hyatt and Starwood properties whenever possible, the options were fairly limited — the city has no Hyatt properties, though has both a Sheraton and a Four Points by Sheraton.

The Four Points is a Category 5 property, meaning that a free night would cost 12,000 Starpoints. Meanwhile the Sheraton is a Category 6 property, meaning that a free night would cost 20,000 Starpoints. Kuwait clearly isn’t a cheap hotel market.

The price difference in cash wasn’t huge between the hotels — the Sheraton was ~$300, so we decided to stay there, and paid cash, since that seemed better than redeeming 20,000 Starpoints.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class A330 Dhaka To Kuwait

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Our flight from Dhaka to Kuwait City was operated by one of Kuwait Airways’ new A330 aircraft, which are in a three class configuration. There’s first class, business class, and economy class. However, on the Dhaka to Kuwait flight, the airline doesn’t actually sell the first class cabin (I guess because the premium cabin demand isn’t there).

So on our flight, business class passengers got seated in first class, and then economy class passengers partly got seated in business class. As a result, service in first class was the same you’d usually get in business class, while business class had the standard economy service.

We boarded through the forward left door, where we were greeted by the crew and pointed to the far aisle, where our seats were located. Kuwait Airways’ A330 first class cabin consists of reverse herringbone seats that are in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are a total of 17 seats, meaning there are four full rows, and then in the back there’s a single seat on the left side of the cabin.

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Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge

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Our Kuwait Airways flight from Dhaka to Kuwait City was departing at 8:55AM, and we got to the airport at around 6:45AM. Our driver pulled up to the airport and signaled for us to go through the staff entrance. I wasn’t sure whether we were really supposed to do that, but he insisted, so we did. Sure enough, the officers waved us through.

Security at Dhaka Airport is very high. Probably the highest I’ve seen at any airport. There were guards with machine guns everywhere. First there was a security and passport check to get into the terminal.

Then we tried to find the Kuwait Airways check-in counter, which proved a bit of a challenge. There was a lack of signage indicating which airline used which counters, and on top of that the terminal was crowded. Eventually we found the Kuwait Airways check-in counter, located in row “E.”

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