Why Are EU Tax Refund Counters So Rude To Asians?

Hello from Brussels Airport! I’m currently sitting down with a beer at the British Airways lounge waiting for my Qatar Airways flight to Doha. And I’m not going to lie – I’m pretty mad.

Two years ago, at the tax refund counter at Munich Airport, I had a borderline traumatic experience where we were mocked and laughed at since we didn’t have our goods out. Following experiences at Zurich and Geneva we assumed we didn’t actually need to take our goods out to show customs, and that backfired on us big-time – not only were we mocked, but we also almost missed our flight, as they were deliberately trying to waste our time by making fun of our inability to read the German on our receipts.

Mentally prepared to face something similar at Brussels Airport, we had prepared everything to show the man at the counter. So instead of leaving traumatised, I was just left…ticked off.

Either way, I’m concerned about the blatant discrimination of Asian-looking people at tax refund counters.

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China’s Next Retaliatory Act On Hong Kong Involves Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong is going through a bit of a rough patch right now (to put it lightly), and China is largely displeased with the way Hong Kongers are rioting against them. In my last post where I described how this weekend’s airport protests would affect those flying in and out of the airport, I talked about how I was in no way a supporter of any violence that was going on, though at the same time agreed that Hong Kong was facing high stakes.

I know that protesters overestimate their ability to overturn the government and lead Hong Kong autonomously, and they think they’re starting some sort of cutting-edge revolution. What they fail to realise is that China has the ability to wipe the entirety of Hong Kong out in a second. As of now, Hong Kong phones are already getting cleared when getting into China, to stop any footage of the protests from getting into the country.

Well, the first of China’s retaliations have hit, and it targets Cathay Pacific. From now on, crewmembers involved in protests will no longer be allowed to operate Cathay Pacific flights overflying Chinese airspace.

Now, how does this work?

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Hong Kong Airport Protests: What Should This Mean For Your Flight?

Update: The protests will start at 1 PM local time on Friday, August 9, and more or less continue until Sunday night.

Update: The allegations of boarding pass checks are correct, and there’s currently a bottleneck at the departures area as most staff are busy manning the arrivals area; those travelling out of Hong Kong this weekend are advised to get to the airport at least 3 hours before departure.

That being said, YTHK is happy to report that most departing travellers have reported that the process lasted under a minute, and posed no risk of missing your flight.

Photo credit: Danny Lee, my friend from SCMP

In this post:

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Qatar Airways’ QSuite Is As Good As I Hoped It To Be

WOW! Hello from 34,000 feet somewhere over Iran. I’m currently trying out Qatar Airways’ QSuite between Doha and Amsterdam. I flew to Doha this morning, where I managed to sample QSuites for the first time; I believed that a review of the “world’s best business class product” was long overdue.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class 

Mainly I was looking forward to playing some sort of devil’s advocate, since I’ve heard unanimous praise from various trusted bloggers. It all seemed too good to be true.

It wasn’t. Obviously I’ve tried enough business class products so that I can come up with a couple of (nitpicky) criticisms with regards to the seat, though there’s no question that this business class product blows any other that I’ve flown out of the water.

This is as close to perfection as business class gets.

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Cathay Pacific Retires 777-200s

Cathay Pacific has been introducing some new aircraft lately. Last year Cathay Pacific introduced their newest variant of the A350, the A350-1000. The airline took the opportunity to introduce new economy class seats when introducing the A350-1000, and although I was swapped out when booked in their economy class, I did manage to fly their business class on a short flight.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Hong Kong Airport

Obviously, as with any company that has moving parts, the arrival of new planes means it’s time to say goodbye to some old ones. Cathay Pacific is retiring their last 777-200 out of service on August 7, 2019.

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How Good is British Airways’ New Club World and Club Europe Dining?

In my last post, I talked about my experience with British Airways’ Club World and Club Europe hard product. To my surprise, I found that the seats weren’t quite as bad as most people have made it out to be. With that in mind, I wanted to follow up on that post by sharing some of my thoughts about British Airways’ new Club World and Club Europe soft product offerings, especially considering the recent upgrades that have been made.

IMG_3374.jpgBritish Airways Boeing 777-200ER Club World Cabin

Last year, British Airways rolled out a new service style for their Club World cabins, which was created in collaboration with Do&Co. While the service initially included an elaborate trolley service, this was cut back in favour of a simpler hand-delivered tray service for convenience. In the meantime, British Airways have also rolled out improvements to their Club Europe dining. Having heard quite good things about both of these meal service enhancements, I was excited to give it a go for myself.

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British Airways’ Club World Seat Is NOT THAT BAD!

British Airways’ “Club” business class cabins are some of the most extensively reviewed products out there, and the consensus seems pretty simple: it’s not that great. The current “dorm-style” Club World cabin has been panned by everyone and their mother and their Club Europe product is little more than an economy seat with a blocked middle seat and free food.

IMG_3374.jpgBritish Airways Boeing 777-200ER Club World Cabin

However, on a recent trip, British Airways offered some really compelling fares to Europe from Bangkok, so I decided to bite the bullet and try the product out for myself to see how the product fared, especially when compared to some more highly regarded competitors such as Cathay Pacific and Finnair.

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ANA’s Stunning New 777 Cabins

While economy class seats get tighter and tighter, business class seats have gradually gotten more and more luxurious. Qatar Airways revolutionised the industry by introducing their QSuite back in 2017, and since then we’ve seen an increasing number of carriers introduce business class seats with doors.

ANA introduced their last-generation business class products in 2013. I’ve heard good things about their soft product, though honestly their hard product is somewhere near the middle of the pack lately. The seat colours are drab, and I’ve tried similarly configured products (such as EVA Air’s 787), which are nice but can’t compete with the latest and greatest out there.

ANA Boeing 777 Tokyo Haneda Airport

Well, that changed all of a sudden.

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FINALLY: Cathay Pacific Adds Much Needed Long-Haul Business Class Amenities

Cathay Pacific has a business class product that I find incredibly solid. Now that Cathay Pacific is installing WiFi onto a majority of their fleet, I actually find their premium cabins a very pleasant way to fly. Their A350 business class is currently my favourite business class seat out there – the sleeping surface is maximised, the storage is done right, and reverse herringbone seats are incredibly pleasant to start with.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class Bed

Unfortunately as of now they don’t exactly have the amenities to match. While Cathay Pacific has a decent pillow and blanket on longhaul flights, I find some of the basics to be lacking. One of the most annoying things about Cathay Pacific amenities is that they provide socks…and no slippers. Who wants to be walking towards an airplane bathroom in socks, soaking up all the…nevermind.

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Introduction: Revisiting Tokyo…Twice

Introduction: Revisiting Tokyo…Twice
Cathay Pacific The Deck Lounge Hong Kong
Japan Airlines 777-200 Business Class Hong Kong to Tokyo
A Tale Of Two Observation Decks: Tokyo Haneda vs. Narita
Hotel Century Southern Tower Tokyo
Scoot 787 ScootBiz Tokyo to Taipei
Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class Taipei to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific A330 Economy Class Hong Kong to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific 777 Economy Class Tokyo to Hong Kong

Before I start this trip report, I’m fully aware that I never managed to finish my Bangkok trip report. I’ll get back to that, but now that I’m back in somewhat of a trip report writing slump, I wanted to write about something that I like writing about – flying. (While there’s a flight report I’ve yet to write in the Bangkok series, I’d still like to document my time at the Siam Kempinski Bangkok – which takes a while.)

The inspiration for the trip began when I was looking at a short excursion abroad using expiring Asia Miles after my exams. I’m trying to make a switchover to American AAdvantage (which has been a complete PITA, though I’m finding a few workarounds as of late), so I’m trying to use Asia Miles to fly premium products that I otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to. One of the airlines I’ve really wanted to fly is Japan Airlines, so I found some award space between Hong Kong and Tokyo Haneda. I haven’t been to Tokyo since 2010, so it seemed like a good time to revisit a city I remember loving. (They also had award space on a morning flight to Tokyo Narita, which I would’ve otherwise preferred, though flying their reverse herringbone product seemed more exciting than flying their last-generation angled flat product.) This cost 30,000 Asia Miles per person.

Japan Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class

Continue reading Introduction: Revisiting Tokyo…Twice”