Cathay Pacific Resumes In-Town Check-In For US Flights; Introduces New Powder Restrictions

Late last year, Cathay Pacific suspended in-town check-in services for travellers heading to the United States in order to comply with new security directives implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all flights. As part of the new directives, passengers would be subject to a security interview at check-in and another one immediately prior to boarding. The new directive also meant that passengers were required to arrive earlier at the airport to complete the interview.

As of June 29 (last Friday), passengers will once again be able to use in-town check-in services when travelling to the United States. This comes as the result of a new set of DHS directives which allows all passengers to be interviewed at the boarding gate. Despite this, all passengers travelling to the United States (except on flight CX888) will be required to undergo a secondary security check at the boarding gate.

IMG_4798.jpgCathay Pacific Business Class Check-In Hong Kong Airport 

Continue reading “Cathay Pacific Resumes In-Town Check-In For US Flights; Introduces New Powder Restrictions”

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Review: Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room
Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class London to Hong Kong


While a nap after a longhaul sounded great (though to be fair, I did get some pretty good sleep in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class), this wasn’t to be for either myself or my dad, as we were off to Bath University to attend a 10:45 AM meeting. Bath is a beautiful campus, though I can’t see myself studying there for four years, was I given the choice (I’d still be happy there, though it’s 20 minutes from the nearest Nandos, so…) After attending all meetings and taking the train back to Paddington, we lugged our carry-ons on the Underground to get to St. James’ Park, where the Conrad St. James is located. (For more on how I booked, check out my introductory post.)

This brings me to the beauty of the hotel’s location. Not only is the hotel literally right across the street from St. James’ Park station (I especially value this in London, as it’s relatively possible to get around London through the Underground than by any other means of on-ground transport), but St. James’ Park is also a relatively quieter station smack in the middle of Westminster and Victoria, two large intersection stations in the middle of Zone 1, each with their own attractions. So while you’ll face huge crowds at both of the aforementioned stations, St. James’ Park typically is easy to get in and out of. In summary, the hotel has a great location.

The exterior facade of the hotel blends in with the area, so it’s rather “classic”.

Conrad London St. James Exterior

It’s worth noting that the hotel used to be an InterContinental up until October 2014. The switch was made overnight, and while initially a renovation was promised, at the end the management company just decided to keep the same rooms, which I have no complaints about (as you’ll read about below).

Continue reading Review: Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room”

WAIT: Qatar Airways’ Bangkok Lounge Is Closed Already?

This one shocked me when I got a few messages in caps from Jason this morning (I’d probably still be in bed otherwise).

Just this February Qatar Airways opened a brand new lounge in Bangkok. This was a business decision that made sense as Qatar Airways flies six (!) daily flights between Bangkok and Doha – an A380, three 777s, a 787 and an A340 (one of the 777s continues to Hanoi). While the 777s feature an inferior product (none of them feature Qatar Airways’ new QSuites), Qatar Airways features one of the world’s best business class products, and their outstation lounges have been known to be particularly luxurious as well.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 Doha Airport

Continue reading “WAIT: Qatar Airways’ Bangkok Lounge Is Closed Already?”

Review: Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room
Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class London to Hong Kong


We made our way through immigration by 5:20 AM, thanks to the fast track cards we were offered, and the fact that we were one of the first flights through. From there we passed baggage claim (we didn’t check any bags), and walked through Terminal 3’s drab arrivals hall, following the signage to the arrivals lounges.

The Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge is open to arriving Upper Class passengers and Delta Gold Medallion members. Unlike the departures Clubhouse lounge, though, you’re not entitled to a guest here. The lounge is open from 5 AM to 1:30 PM, so it’s mostly for passengers on morning flights who don’t have a hotel to check into yet.

The lounge is located opposite the multi-storey carpark, and requires a walk diagonally across the (small) arrivals hall, and a ride up a lift (the signage is intuitive enough – one of the redeeming qualities of Heathrow’s Terminal 3). The lounge is then located to the right of those lifts.

Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow Entrance

Continue reading Review: Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow”

Review: Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room
Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class London to Hong Kong


My dad and I got to the airport at 10:30 PM for our 11:55 PM flight. We’d checked in online and weren’t carrying any hand luggage, though we were sure to quickly drop by the check-in counter, where there was no line, so we could get our lounge passes. While Virgin Atlantic used to operate their own Clubhouse at Hong Kong Airport, that made way for the AmEx Centurion Lounge, and Virgin Atlantic now uses the Plaza Premium West lounge (I tried to get into the East lounge so I could re-review it, though I was redirected).

While the Plaza Premium West lounge has a nice airline-invitation-only area, it was 10:45 PM, so I just decided to get some work done in the gate area. I decided to line up at around 11:10 PM and a few other people followed suit, and boarding began with Upper Class passengers at 11:15 PM. Since airlines almost never begin boarding punctually, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to board at the scheduled boarding time of 11:15 PM.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Hong Kong Airport

I made my way down the jetbridge with my backpack and my carry-on, more than ready for the Upper Class experience.

Continue reading Review: Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London”

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin

Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin
Virgin Atlantic 787 Upper Class Hong Kong to London
Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge London Heathrow
Conrad London St. James Grand Deluxe Room
Virgin Atlantic 787 Economy Class London to Hong Kong


This trip report will be a short one, as it essentially consisted of university hopping around London for a couple of days (in a slightly more luxurious fashion but you’d expect, but…).

(And no, if you’ve stumbled upon this travel blog for the first time, this isn’t a “young traveler gets laid in obscure country” story. I’ll justify the naming of the report in the next installment.)

As longtime readers will know I’m not far away from my university applications, and while I’m still deciding between universities, I’m pretty much dead set on the UK. So this year I decided to make the trip to London to explore a few of these universities, and my dad decided to join me. (For non-longtime readers, my dad loves to fly direct, and both of us had meetings we had to attend on both sides that required us to fly direct, so…).

One of the universities I’m looking at is UCL, which I visited on this trip

Continue reading Introduction: Spending The Night With A Virgin”

Three Reasons To Pick An Exit Row Bulkhead Seat In Economy

I’ve been involved in a ton of premium travel lately, so it’s always somewhat of a hit when faced with a longhaul in economy. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that economy class is where a bulk of people travel, since even premium economy prices can be exorbitant at times. Today I flew from London to Hong Kong in Virgin Atlantic economy class, and assigned myself an exit row bulkhead seat for HK$870 (~US$110).

I’m always a very large advocate of customising your travels as rigorously as you can to make sure that you optimise the experience for the price you paid. This includes researching and selecting your seat, purchasing any affordable add-ons, etc.. Prior to this flight I was quite skeptical if an exit row seat was worth it (over an extra-legroom seat, which on Virgin Atlantic’s case came with priority boarding), since there was no floor storage, my seat would have a misaligned window, etc..

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Economy Class (not the exit row, taken on a previous flight)

However, after spending 12 hours in an exit row economy seat, I’m convinced that HK$870 is absolutely worth spending money on, despite all the caveats. Here’s why.

Continue reading “Three Reasons To Pick An Exit Row Bulkhead Seat In Economy”

What Are Herringbone Seats Like?

The first fully flat bed I’d ever sat in as a child was one of a Cathay Pacific 747. I thought it was really cool how I could change the seat into a bed at the touch of a button, and I loved the sense of privacy that the seat had as a 4”5’ lad. I remember not understanding why my mother hated the seat, since I wasn’t prone to claustrophobia and didn’t have to take care of my sister. But I’m a growing boy, and unfortunately herringbone seats haven’t grown nearly as fast as I have.

On Saturday I had the chance to try a herringbone seat for the first time in seven years when flying Upper Class between Hong Kong and London. In the meantime, as a premium travel analyst, obviously I’ve been on the lookout for different reports on herringbone seats, as well as their correspondent nicknames – coffin class, prison, etc.. Prior to this flight, the herringbone seat was one of two major business class configurations that I’d yet to try, the other being the Apex Suite. I wanted to see if I liked the product, and where it stacked up against the rest of the configurations I’ve flown in the past.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Upper Class Seats

I figured I’d break down some of my thoughts on herringbone seats based on my experience in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class “suite” (if you can even call it that). While my thoughts of the seat are mostly negative (as expected), it did pleasantly surprise me in a couple of ways.

Continue reading “What Are Herringbone Seats Like?”

Don’t Make The Same Mistake I Did With The Heathrow Express

This morning I landed at London Heathrow after sampling Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic’s 787. I spent a couple of hours at the Revivals Lounge (review to come), and decided to make my way to the Heathrow Express, so I could get to Paddington and connect to Bath, where I am now.

While I still made my connection at Paddington with a lot of time to spare, my dad and I made a huge mistake at the platform. Turns out a bunch of people had made the exact same mistake as we had, though I couldn’t find any reports of the same mistake being made online. I figured someone would have to write about it at some point, so here’s my experience with the Heathrow Express (or lack thereof).

London Heathrow Airport

I’m usually one to criticise people for not listening to instructions, so I’ve beat myself up about it all day. Here we go.

Continue reading “Don’t Make The Same Mistake I Did With The Heathrow Express”

What Is Virgin Atlantic’s 787 Upper Class Like?

Hello from London! I just had the chance to try Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class product from Hong Kong to London. While I’ve flown the route countless times, this was my first time flying Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class. I’ve flown the route in economy before, as well as in premium economy, so I’m more or less familiar with the aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class intrigued me because of how highly esteemed the product is. I visited the airline’s Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow last year, which was spectacular – it easily bagged the number one spot in my five favourite business class hub lounges. However, I was convinced that the herringbone seat would bring down the comfort factor of the Virgin Atlantic experience, and predicted that it would be an underwhelming experience.

I’m pretty good with predicting how airline experiences will turn out. As a student I plan my travels far in advance, so I have a lot of time to read into the products that I book. However, as usual, there were things about the Upper Class experience that I was pleasantly surprised by, and others that I didn’t quite like. While a full review will come within the next week, I figured I’d write about my first impressions, as I usually do after experiencing a new product.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Upper Class

Continue reading “What Is Virgin Atlantic’s 787 Upper Class Like?”