Looks like I’m oneworld from now on…

From now until 2015, all my trip reports (including my readers) seem to be part of oneworld. (CX or KA, to be exact.)

My trip to Singapore will be on Cathay Pacific, with CX 739 and CX 734 on my itinerary. (I’ll be trying Premium Economy for the first time, though.)

My reader’s trip to Kaohsiung will be on Dragonair, with KA 432 and KA 437 on schedule.

After that I’ll be going to Vancouver and my reader will be going to Fukuoka (all unconfirmed), with CX and KA respectively.

That’s a good thing, but will it be boring? Please comment below.

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China Southern new 777-300ER products released

China Southern has released their new 777-300ER products (due to arrive this year). It’s a great step forward for China Southern, since they now fly my favourite airliner 🙂 and are quite good with award space.

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First Class is practically the same product as CZ’s A380 product, and both are pretty good. All that flaws is they haven’t really announced to upgrade their champagne product (which is Duc de Paris sparkling wine).

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Business Class is the same as the A380 as well…comfortable staggered flat beds, but without a footrest. We’ve talked about the A380 product here.

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A leap ahead for China Southern is that they’re the first Chinese airline to introduce authentic Premium Economy. Before, China Southern only had seats that were slightly more substantial in seat pitch and not a lot of extra service. Now they have real, authentic premium economy seats. We’re not fans of the shell seat, though, which looks really like Cathay’s economy class, except with a legrest…

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And finally, the wide China Southern economy seats are really nice, since the norm (China Eastern…?) seems to be 3-4-3 by now. Good job China Southern!

Cathay starting freighter service to Columbus

Cathay is starting service to Rickenbacker Airport, Columbus, Ohio with its newish freighter, the Boeing 747-8F, via Anchorage to LCK and via New York and Vancouver on the way back.

This is a great use of CX’s new cargo fleet, and soon they’ll be shipping porta potties cargo over, on March 21st to be precise. Before that, they will start a freighter service to Timbuktu Mexico City, on Saturday.

If only they were passenger flights…

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End of my first trip report…

Earlier today I published my last installment of Down to Modern Middle-earth, my very first trip report. How was it? How did you feel about it?

A quick recap:

I travelled south to Auckland on February 1st, 2014 on Cathay Pacific Flight 197 in Economy, on an A340 with the old hard shell seats.

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Then I headed further south to Rotorua, where I stayed at the Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua for three nights, which was a spectacular hotel.

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I explored Rotorua in this period of time.

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On February 5th (Wednesday) we headed north to Paihia and explored the Bay of Islands, where we stayed at the Waterfront Suites Heritage Boutique Collection, which was kind of a mixed bag.

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We explored the Bay of Islands as well.

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Then we headed back to Auckland and took Air New Zealand Flight 087 in Economy in a polished but slightly old 777-200 back here to Hong Kong.

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Note: I’ll be doing some recaps on my trip reports too, so you can stay tuned for them as well.

I’ll be posting more trip reports when I can on this site. Hope you enjoy them!

Review: Down to Modern Middle-earth – NZ 087 Auckland to Hong Kong 777-200 Economy Class

Introduction
CX 197 HKG – AKL 343 Y
Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua
Exploring Rotorua
Waterfront Suites HBC Paihia
Exploring Paihia
Exploring Auckland
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 772 Y

Comfort 4/5 Service 3/5 Amenities 3/5 Little things 4/5 Meals 4/5 Overall 4/5

Cathay Pacific has a codeshare on this flight (CX 7402), so we decided to take this flight because of the better timing and seats that really recline. When going there we had to celebrate with our family (Year of the Horse), so we couldn’t really go so early at 7:05pm (the only NZ flight from HKG to AKL). When coming back the schedule was better for us, so we went with NZ.

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AKL Terminal

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NZ Check-in

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Looking into Premium Check-in

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On time!

We made it to Gate 2 with minutes to spare, and the ground crew let us go through Premium Boarding (since there were so many other passengers and all Business passengers had boarded, they split the queue).

Air New Zealand Flight 087
Saturday, February 8th, 2014
Origin: Auckland (AKL) Gate: 2 Dep: 23:59 (00:00)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 35 Arr: 06:05
+1 (05:50)
Duration: 11 hr 06 min (10 hr 50 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 44H (Economy Class)

Boarding was swift, and we waited a little for the rest of the passengers to go past the horrifyingly long economy queue as I tested out the seat.

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Premium Economy

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Premium Economy

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Premium Economy legrest

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Economy Class

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Economy Class

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Our seats

The entertainment system, I thought, was broken at my seat, but it restored quickly after the door closed.

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My entertainment screen upon boarding

The seats were noticeably wider than a Cathay Pacific A340’s, and I liked the curvature of the 777-200 cabin.

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Air New Zealand 777-200 Economy Cabin

Soon enough we were all settled, and the safety demonstration began. It was the nifty The Hobbit video, not the All Blacks video on the All Blacks Air New Zealand planes.

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Safety Demonstration

Takeoff was quite quick and we were in the air quickly. After takeoff a flight attendant roamed around the cabin asking “Would you like some water?” I declined.

Air New Zealand is quite humorous when it comes to advertising, and this was clearly seen:

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Vomit bag

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Vomit bag

I couldn’t resist taking a legroom shot.

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Ample legroom

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Ample legroom

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Cabin after takeoff

Unlike on Cathay, who actually has menus, Air New Zealand talked about the economy catering choices over the PA system. I ordered the orange chicken, which was…interesting. Sorry I forgot to take a picture…I was ready to crash at this point.

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Table (no power points)

Air New Zealand didn’t have wifi so checking Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Grindr wasn’t an option. Neither was working on my trip reports.

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AVOD Remote Control

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Airshow

Service during the night wasn’t really good. I didn’t see the cabin crew during the night. I know they have to rest, but this was in stark contrast to my Cathay Pacific flight (although on that flight they were just pushing trolleys.)

I didn’t really feel like watching a movie at this point, so I went on AVOD (which is the old, laggy Kia Ora system) and played a bit of Caveman.

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Caveman

The toilet was really, really small.

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Toilet

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All that for forgetting to turn off the seat belt sign!

I slept for a good 5 hours, and when I woke up breakfast was already being served. This was about 3 A.M. Hong Kong time. The choices were egg and something else that I have forgotten, and I went with the former.

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Breakfast

The egg was bland, although it went great with tomato sauce.

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Cabin during breakfast

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The angle of recline (still ample space in front of me)

A notable thing that happened during breakfast was the service. When I asked for a hot chocolate, instead of “Yes, we do. May I get some for you in the galley?” the flight attendant said “I’ll get you a hot chocolate.” This is economy class, but…

After that they took my breakfast tray but seeing I hadn’t finished my hot chocolate they gave it back to me. I had to bring it to the galley myself:

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Back cabin

Soon enough we were landing, and touched with a quiet “bump” at Hong Kong International Airport. And then we were on our way home…

Overall this was a good flight that could have been improved, and I can clearly see why Air New Zealand is a four star airline, nothing more or nothing less.

Review: Down to Modern Middle-earth – Exploring Auckland

Introduction
CX 197 HKG – AKL 343 Y
Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua
Exploring Rotorua
Waterfront Suites HBC Paihia
Exploring Paihia
Exploring Auckland
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 772 Y

Now, we were only in Auckland for an hour or so, but the views were spectacular, so I would like to post some pictures of Auckland as well.

Well, what better place to start than on the airplane?

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

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Views upon landing (CX 197)

So on Wednesday we passed through Auckland for lunch. We went to the “Live Fish Restaurant”, a recommendation if you’re passing through as well:

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Live Fish Restaurant

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Tell me that’s not magic…

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Those cloudy days…

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Shops nearby

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Views along harbour

The ice cream there, as with all the dairy products in New Zealand, is excellent. And please don’t ask me which ice cream parlour I ate at, because I forgot.

I’d like to do a more extensive trip report on Auckland. Hope I can go again soon!

Review: Down to Modern Middle-earth – Exploring Paihia

Introduction
CX 197 HKG – AKL 343 Y
Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua
Exploring Rotorua
Waterfront Suites HBC Paihia
Exploring Paihia
Exploring Auckland
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 772 Y

The weather during our stay in Paihia liked us as much as the air conditioning at Waterfront did, and it was raining most of the time during our stay. So we had a few indoor activities. We stayed at the hotel on Thursday, and we decided to go to the Chocolate and Cheese factory (two factories this is, not one).

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In the making of the yummies

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In the buying of the yummies

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Cheese!

Also we went to a vinery to check out some wine.

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Barrels (of wine) pointing at me…

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Selling

The wine was mediocre, as my father said.

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Same-same personalities…

We were planning to go to Auckland for a short visit on Saturday, but since the weather ended up being so fine we went to Russelltown for a look, and therefore (despite plans to get to Auckland by 12 p.m.) we got to Auckland two hours before departure, at 10 p.m..

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iPhones take good pictures…

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The great scenery (hi, dove)

We took a cruise around the Bay of Islands at 1:30pm, and the cruise was fine (nothing exciting, but not anything to moan about either).

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Aqua 747 (3-4-3)

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Views at the shore

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See the white boat?

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Greatish Sights

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Good scenery

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More doves

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Traditional Vineyard

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Traditional Vineyard

There were a lot of great restaurants, and I have to say that McDonald’s was one too. The angus beef was actually beef and the drinks were good. We thought the Kiwi Burger was made of real kiwis… 🙂

Anyway, Paihia is a good place to visit (assuming the weather’s fine, of course) and the cuisine is as good as what you’d expect anywhere else. Great job Paihia!