Archived entries for Aviation
Asia is pretty great, but the journey is pretty damn spectacular, too — so long as you get to enjoy a great airline like Cathay Pacific. I was rather miffed when my 16-hour nonstop flight from Hong Kong to JFK in New York only lasted 14 1/2 hours!
After arriving into Marrakech from Paris on Royal Air Maroc, I was greeted with this terrific weather and a fantastic terminal:
My love affair with Cathay Pacific was only made stronger with my trip with this week, flying New York-Vancouver-Hong Kong-Singapore, and then back Singapore-Hong Kong-New York (on their marathon 15 1/2 hour HKG-JFK nonstop, which was simply amazing).
Approaching Changi Airport, over Indonesia, with Singapore Strait at center and Singapore on the horizon:
No trip would be complete without getting photo evidence of everything I ate:
The sublime noodle bar at The Wing, one of Cathay’s lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, where I just had to try every option on the menu:
My friends know no trip is complete without me documenting the meal service…
Pre-flight dinner in the British Airways Lounge at JFK:
Lunch on London – Abu Dhabi (complete with bright beetroot hummus):
London – New York breakfast:
From one 747-400 to another on a rainy morning at Heathrow:
Abu Dhabi International Airport:
My obligatory meal shots from flying with British Airways this week:
Yesterday I flew Icelandair from Paris-Reykjavik-New York (Why not? Air France was full and transiting via a rock in the North Atlantic makes for a fun story!). It turned out to be a blast!
Here’s their 757 Saga Class cabin:
Lunch service CDG-KEF:
Approaching Keflavik Airport:
Keflavik Airport Saga Lounge:
Local treats in the lounge:
Appetizer from KEF-JFK:
Dinner service, KEF-JFK:
I love Gulf airlines and this trip opted for Qatar Airways for my trip from New York to Thailand and Vietnam. Added bonus: Qatar has fifth freedom rights to fly passengers between Bangkok and Hanoi, and I jumped aboard that quick 90-minute hop. Quite simply, it was spectacular. The airline far exceeds the experience its “World’s 5 Star Airline” slogan promises.
Doha main terminal lounge:
Doha Premium Terminal:
I decided to go the long way around to Madrid this weekend: on Lufthansa, via Frankfurt, so I could fly the A380 for the first time. Back in December I’d been on the aircraft during a tour at JFK last, but I never took off until now!
The aircraft was amazing! The two features that stuck out most: the massive windows and the perfect silence, even when taking off. You could probably sleep right through it and never know you’re airborne.
Soaring over the cloud cover of Europe, as seen from the tail-mounted camera:
When we walked off the plane in Frankfurt, everyone stopped to look back in amazement. Everyone, it seemed, had their camera phones out to snap a picture of this feat of engineering!
I actually love airline meals. It’s true! There is something about getting a restaurant-quality meal served in a metal tube barreling through the sky at 600 mile per hour that really appeals to me. I’ve flown about 100,000 miles this year and unquestionably the best catering I had on all those flights and all those carriers goes to Turkish Airlines. They’ve really improved — when I first flew them in 2008 the food was nowhere near the quality it is today. Big kudos to THY!
Best short haul meal: Turkish Airlines, Istanbul – Cairo. A quick 750-mile flight across the Mediterranean with multiple, beautiful courses (Turkish appetizers; stuffed zucchini; filet mignon and chicken medallion with mustard and curry sauce), and great wine. I’ll never forget this meal: I was still drinking wine as we touched down at Cairo International Airport. Fortunately I was wearing a black suit because I had to protect it from spillage!
Best medium haul meal: Cathay Pacific, Vancouver – New York. Hong Kong style chicken curry with steamed jasmine rice and kailan. Cathay nails the food. The only problem is this red-eye is so short that you feel a need to woof all the delicious food down too quickly so you can head to bed.
Best long haul meal: Lufthansa, Frankfurt – New York. Despite its appearance, this meal was actually really delicious. Beef goulash with root vegetables and herb Spätzle.
And you knew there had to be a worst, which goes to this rubbery breakfast on Air Canada’s Newark – Vancouver nonstop. It’s too bad, because among North American airlines they usually have some of the best food. Let’s face it: breakfast is tough (though Turkish seems have it figured out both in-flight and in their lounge!).
What meals did you have and enjoy – or not?
The other night I had the supreme pleasure of getting onboard the A380 for the first time, with a tour courtesy of Emirates. The plane is not to be believed, and Emirates has it pimped out beautifully. Here are a few shots from onboard the impressive aircraft:
Tending the upper deck bar:
Upper deck business class – seemed as big as a football field:
The crazy first class suites:
The first class shower – there are two of these at the front of the cabin. Customers are entitled to five minutes of water and 30 minutes in the bathroom in total. A flight attendant told me that the plane is staffed with two crewmembers whose sole job is to maintain these bathrooms:
Flying doesn’t get much better than Cathay Pacific, the only airline I spend more time on than JetBlue, thanks to their daily JFK – Vancouver flight which is perfect to supporting the life of the Vanyorker. So I was thrilled to attend a party they hosted the other night at the Madison Avenue outpost of Shanghai Tang, the Hong Kong retailer that makes Cathay’s first class pajamas (not to mention some of the most fabulous leather goods). Great champagne, great company, a great fashion show!
Takeoff for JFK from Munich. What lush scenery!
Aboard WestJet, flying from San Francisco to Vancouver.
Spent Friday afternoon with Pam Ann aboard JetBlue’s JetPride flight from San Francisco to Long Beach. To say that it was the best flight of my life would be an understatement…more to come!
“5A and B. Yeah, you’ve got a good view of the engine. And you can see the volcano when we go over it.”
“OK, we’re going to be boarding from Rows 1A to 1C. And I’ll have the gays wearing Armani and Abercrombie Fitch first.”
“We’re currently flying at 35,000 feet. For those of you on the left if you look outside you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For those on the right, you can see Islamabad.”
I don’t usually write about beer, but… The other day I flew Virgin America from San Francisco to New York, and tapped (literally) into RED, their seatback ordering system, for a beer on my afternoon flight. The variety I wanted wasn’t available, so the flight attendant substituted with Black Star Beer. I was disappointed that my choice wasn’t available until I cracked open the can — it turned out to be a truly fabulous brew from Montana. Highly recommend it! Four cans later…I was home.
The bright and airy Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge in Istanbul is one of the best airline lounges around. Check out how spectacularly they light the art!
My flight on the Turkish A321 was great. I’m always impressed by how European airlines still offer a full meal service (in all classes) even on short hops like our 90-minute flight across the Mediterranean. I was in their short-haul business class, which like most European airlines does not offer a larger seat or more legroom but simply offers a blocked middle seat. At least the food service is still unique to business class! The food was quite tasty on this sector:
Crossing the mountainous southern shore of Turkey:
Cutting the flat northern coast of Africa:
Ever since Turkish Airlines acquired a number of planes in the 777 fleet of Jet Airways of India and placed them on the JFK/IST route, I’ve been dying to fly them again. I finally got my chance the other day and it was spectacular! I last flew them in late 2008 on the A340/A330 and the business class was just OK. Now it is world class with a fresh cabin and fully horizontal lie-flat seats that make for great sleeping conditions. Anyone who has flown Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, or Air Canada’s new business class will recognize the herringbone seats. But these ones seemed wider and the individual seats less coffin-like than they do on the other airlines.
A little map mishap. Can you spot it?
Some excellent food:
Off to Istanbul tonight on Turk Hava Yollari (that’s Turkish Airlines). I miraculously got upgraded to business class, which should be a treat since they are now flying the 777 to JFK, with its superbly upgraded product (these are ex Jet Airways jets with much better seats than the Turkish A340 I flew on last year). Fortunately for me, JFK is fogged in today so my flight is delayed 2 1/2 hours. Normally that would be an annoyance, but not when you’re ensconced in the Korean Air Lounge sipping cocktails and watching all the international airline action. Track my flight!