Category Archives: Airline comparison

EVA Air Hello Kitty Airbus A330-200 Economy vs Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Economy from Taipei to Hong Kong

My friend Jason and I are having a heated conversation about EVA Air versus Cathay Pacific in Economy from Taipei to Hong Kong (of course, we’re setting the standards high with EVA Kitty). I lean towards Cathay Pacific sometimes, but I’m nowhere as fanboy-ish towards the airline as Jason is – I mean, take Lucky’s love for Lufthansa (alliteration not intended) and multiply that by ten, and you’ll get an impression of how Jason loves Cathay.

I love EVA too (the last flight I flew before I started reviewing flights was on EVA), so I’d share my general impressions of how the products compare (the only pictures I took of EVA had my sister in the middle of it so I can’t crop her out, so I’ll have to find pictures off the Internet, sorry).

Note: Only half the Taipei CX flights are on the A330, so please only take reference if you are taking the A330 (or the 777-300ER with a similar product).

Cathay Pacific A330 Economy Class

The seat

I’m generally a fan of Cathay’s A330 economy class. While I’ve never been booked in a new CX seat, I’ve sat in one and tried it for a total of thirty seconds (much to the surprise of the person next to the empty seat), so I know how it feels like.

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It’s plush and quite comfy, and is perfect for a 16-hour flight, much more an hour-long hop.

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Legroom

The food

(I’m making a rough assumption that Premium Economy and Economy food are similar.)

Having lucked out on dinner/lunch food on flights to both Auckland and Singapore, I think the good “main meal” food is the norm and not a “fluke”, if you can call it that. So I have generally positive impressions on Cathay’s food.

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Continue reading EVA Air Hello Kitty Airbus A330-200 Economy vs Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Economy from Taipei to Hong Kong

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Etihad revealing f^&*ing nice A380 cabins

Etihad is revealing nice cabins on the A380. I don’t mean “nice”, I mean f^&*ing nice.

Just look, they’ve added an extra class called “Residences”. Take that, Singapore!

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Etihad A380 Residences Class Bedroom Bathroom

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Etihad A380 Residences Class Seats

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Etihad A380 Residences Class Seats

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Etihad A380 Residences Class Separate Bed

The only problem is that this will also be quite useless, since Etihad only allows revenue passengers up here and a 7 hour and 30 minute flight costs a f^&*ing HKD$598477. (Suddenly, a $18000 HKG – AKL economy class ticket doesn’t seem that bad.) Only the top companies will ever put their CEO to sit anywhere near here, it’s so damn f^&*ing pricey. (Just the number of times I’ve used the word “f^*&ing” tells you how amazed I am at the beauty – and uselessness – of the product.)

Apartment First is a little better, as you can cash in your Airpoints/ANA award points/etc. miles for them. Though it’s not as luxurious, at least you can attract some passengers.

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Etihad A380 First (Apartments) Class vanity mirror

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Etihad A380 First (Apartments) Class Seat (with double bed, Singapore!)

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Etihad A380 First (Apartments) Class bathroom (shared)

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Etihad A380 First (Apartments) Class aisle

That’s it, I no longer think that Cathay’s revamped first class is classy at all. 😉

Their Business Studios product isn’t any better worse – I don’t know if I prefer this or Cathay, because this looks like the Ritz-Carlton of airlines. (Cathay…maybe more like a good W, perhaps? I don’t know…)

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Etihad A380 Business (Studio) Class bed

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Etihad A380 Business (Studio) Class seat (staggered)

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Etihad A380 Business (Studio) Class – shared with First Apartments

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Etihad A380 Business (Studio) Class bed (with someone in it this time)

Seriously, Etihad’s just upping the look of a staggered business seat, but it looks so f^&*ing classy that it just makes Etihad’s current business class look like s^&*.

Economy Class isn’t half bad either.

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Etihad A380 Economy Class

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Etihad A380 Economy Class head lodging bulkhead

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Etihad A380 Economy Class cabin

Pretty awesome idea to fit a wing, but wasn’t that why adjustable headrests were created? A thing I like about these wings is that they’re not so close to the middle of the seat, so when you lean backward and forget to unfold the headrest wing, you bump your head on it. Ouch!

Overall, I’ll try to summarise the cabins:

First Apartments

This is undoubtedly a luxury product, and takes luxury up a notch from Singapore Airlines. There isn’t really a flaw to this seat, except, would it be too based on SQ, both in colour and in the double bed idea?

Business Studio

This is, though just a decorated staggered seat, luxury. Staggered seats were really good ideas in the first place, and this does nothing but enhance it. I would take these in a heartbeat if within my budget (well, I don’t own miles from any of Etihad’s partners, so…)

Economy

Overall, the wings are a very good idea. However why does NOBODY invent the f^&*ing awesome idea of making the headrest adjustable to go down (so little children can use it) as well? Overall, a good idea for travellers, especially if you put it on just one side (so you can have your partner on the left side and the wing on the right side to rest on if your partner’s shoulder is a little too short/hard for your liking). As for the colour tones, they’re quite nice, but not necessarily refreshing – but given my sanity not having gone after four nights in the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, this should be no problem.

And at last, Residences

This is undoubtedly the future of luxury travel. If only this class doesn’t only accept cash, this would be a very practical way to use the front of the plane’s nose. I love the idea, but I’m not sure if someone would have a spare 600 thousand dollars to use on just one flight. (That’s more than a million if you go AUH – LHR – AUH…terrifying!)

See you in a week, Kaohsiung, and see you now, my wonderful little bed that I’m starting to think of less luxurious after seeing the great Residences class!

UA 869 – the longest flight without PTV?

Earlier I shared my thoughts about the best and worst Business Class flights from San Francisco. Of course, all of them are quite good products, so it’s not a big deal.

What really matters is the poor Economy travellers (like us) which have to look at the projector for the better part of a day on UA 869 from San Francisco to Hong Kong.

It isn’t nearly as bad as AR 1180 from Buenos Aires to Sydney which required looking out the window/at your lower body part feet for 16 hours, but that’s over, replaced by the need to connect in Santiago for a more legitimate entertained and less austere Qantas flight.

Avoid UA 869/UA 862 if you’re in Economy, and instead try affording to travel on Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines.

And I was pissed with the shell Economy seats…

To Beijing – Dragonair A320 or A330? (Economy Class)

Last June I went to Beijing and my trip report came out last month – since I just compared Cathay and Air New Zealand economy class, I’ll compare Dragonair’s A320 and A330, though I don’t have as many pictures to support my thoughts.

Timetable

The A320 is put there for good reason – it’s mostly for travellers transferring from other destinations, such as Adelaide (arriving Hong Kong at 13:45, with not enough time to catch the 3 o’clock KA 902), Bandar Seri Begawan (a KA codeshare on BI coming to Hong Kong at 13:35, also short of time to catch the KA 902) or Surabaya (arriving Hong Kong at 14:05, probably really a little too late to catch the KA 902 15:00 flight). KA 974/5 is just put there for no big touristy reason:

Summer timings

KA 974 HKG – PEK 16:00 – 19:15 320
KA 975 PEK – HKG 20:30 – 00:05 320

Winter timings

KA 974 HKG – PEK 16:50 – 20:10 320
KA 975 PEK – HKG 21:00 – 00:35 320

Note: Dragonair now operates A321s on this route from Thursday to Sunday.

The other A330 flights are timed pretty well:

KA 900 HKG – PEK 08:00 – 11:15 333
KA 901 PEK – HKG 12:30 – 16:10 333

KA 902 HKG – PEK 15:00 – 18:20 333
KA 903 PEK – HKG 19:30 – 23:00 333

KA 904 HKG – PEK 18:00 – 21:30 333
KA 905 PEK – HKG 08:00 – 11:40 333

KA 906 HKG – PEK 19:00 – 22:30 333
KA 937 PEK – HKG 07:40 – 11:15 333

KA 908 HKG – PEK 12:00 – 15:15 333
KA 909 PEK – HKG 16:30 – 20:10 333

KA 992 HKG – PEK 14:00 – 17:20 333
KA 993 PEK – HKG 18:30 – 22:05 333

Conclusion: The A330s have a much higher frequency.

Redemption with Miles

I paid cash for Economy this time, but I believe the A320 and the A330 have similarly priced seats in business class in terms of miles.

Conclusion: I don’t have enough experience to create one.

Cabin

While the A320’s cabin is smaller, has stylish lighting and is more intimate, I much preferred the spacious A330 cabin.

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Dragonair A320 cabin

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Dragonair A330 cabin

That said, I’d prefer a widebody anytime over a narrowbody, due to stability, so I guess this can’t really be argued in terms of Dragonair alone.

Conclusion: The A330 wins here.

Seat

On the A320, no headrests are given. The seat’s reasonably tall and a little bump in the seat can act as a fixed wing headrest, but there’s really nothing to support your head.

On the A330, things are much comfortable with a headrest, albeit a seat that feels slightly less wide.

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Dragonair A330 seat

Also, the recline on the A330 is substantially deeper, and more stable (the person behind me on the A320 managed to kick my seat up).

Solution: Albeit a slightly wider-feeling seat on the A320, the A330 is a clear winner here.

In-flight entertainment

While none of the aircraft have PTVs, the A330 has drop down screens, even though the TV shows they played on the PTVs were unrecognisable.

However, the A330 has some special feature I’m crazy about:

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Music!

There was substantially relaxing classical music playing when I inserted the provided headphones inside, even though the provided headphones were just OK. However, this is like radio: it’s not on demand, it’s just a variety of different channels to choose from.

Conclusion: No entertainment vs. limited entertainment – I’d definitely choose the A330.

Toilets

I didn’t take pictures, but it’s worth saying that the toilets on the A320 are much quieter than the A330. (On the A330 – damn, when I flushed the toilet a tissue on the floor started flying.) That said, the A330 has slightly bigger toilets.

Conclusion: Though it’s a minor point, the A320 wins here.

Food

I didn’t eat any main courses on either flight, so I can’t make a judgement. However I ate ice cream and had Coke on both flights, and they were both good.

Conclusion: From what I know, it’s a draw.

Service

As much as the service was pretty abysmal on my flight to Beijing, they were faster, so I suspect that on flights that they listen closer to each word customers say I keep quiet, the service will be better on the A320. My thoughts are that the smaller the cabin, the faster the service, since I only saw one flight attendant working our aisle on the A330 and quite a few working our aisle on the A320 (there was only one). Of course, on the A330, the purser sometimes came to help.

Conclusion: As long as misunderstandings don’t happen, the A320 wins here.

Conclusion of conclusions

Due to the timings and the seat, the A330 gives a clear win here – and it’s not that the service on the A320 is that meant to be up a notch, so I’d choose the A330 anytime.

I’ll be doing comparisons every time I take different products in the same trip, though Singapore is not one of them.

To Auckland – Cathay Pacific or Air New Zealand? (Economy Class)

Timetable

It’s worth saying that for travellers from Hong Kong, Air New Zealand has much better schedules if you’re going somewhere other than Auckland City. (That said, if you go to Auckland City, Cathay Pacific might have a slight edge for the return flight.) Same for our Kiwi readers – while both CX 197 or NZ 80 will work for your inbound flight, your outbound flight definitely works best on NZ 87 (possibly CX 118 in the winter, if you’re close enough to the airport to depart that early), where you don’t have to arrive at night.

Summer timings

CX 197 HKG – AKL 21:05 – 12:00 343
CX 198 AKL – HKG 13:25 – 21:10 343

NZ 080 HKG – AKL 19:10 – 10:00 772
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 23:00 – 06:30 772

Winter timings

CX 117 HKG – AKL 15:25 – 07:30 343
CX 118 AKL – HKG 08:55 – 15:20 343

CX 197 HKG – AKL 21:00 – 13:05 343
CX 198 AKL – HKG 14:30 – 21:00 343

NZ 080 HKG – AKL 19:20 – 11:15 772
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 23:59 – 06:05 772

Conclusion: Air New Zealand here.

Redemption with miles

Both airlines codeshare each other, so the same number of seats will be released. That said, CX (I don’t know about Air New Zealand since I don’t have Airpoints) releases ridiculously few seats on both flights, that’s why we were stuck in economy. (Premium Economy didn’t have award space either since the whole cabin was full on both flights, but neither airline has Premium Economy seats much better than Economy, so I can live with that.)

Conclusion: I don’t have enough mileage experience to make a conclusion here. However it’s a draw, since it’s the same booking system.

Cabin

I prefer the A340-300 cabin to the 777-200 cabin for a 2-4-2 layout, since we usually travel in a family of 4 and we can sit in pairs (we usually take the window seats) instead of leaving someone in the middle row. That said I like the 777 curvature.

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A340 cabin

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Conclusion: On this route, a slight preference to CX for the hard product, although I do like Air New Zealand’s 777 curvature.

Seat

Cathay’s notorious seat isn’t that bad (as I mentioned in my review), but Air New Zealand really deserves credit for a seat that doesn’t recline in a shell, as well as a wider seat. (Well, that’ll change when Air New Zealand retrofits their new 777-200, which will probably have a 3-4-3 layout albeit having the Skycouch.) I tell you, 2 extra recline inches makes a huge difference.

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Cathay Pacific seats in reclined position (both of these seats are)

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Air New Zealand seat fully reclined

Legroom is ample on Air New Zealand too – while I couldn’t really cross my legs on Cathay Pacific’s economy class, Air New Zealand’s economy seat allowed me to cross my legs even when the seat in front was reclined.

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There’s enough of my leg there to give you an idea how much leg space there is – it isn’t much

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The seat in front of me is reclined here…

While they may have the same seat pitch, Cathay’s seat is definitely wider (Air New Zealand has a slimline seat and CX even has an inch thick shell).

That said, overall seat comfort is better on Cathay Pacific when added pillows – Air New Zealand’s seat has good lumbar support but the support is hard, and adding pillows gives too much lumbar support making the back lose some support, if you know what I’m saying. It’s not that CX’s seat was the best economy seat in the world, it’s just that Air New Zealand didn’t have enough padding.

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Not much padding seen here

Conclusion: While Cathay Pacific has better padding, Air New Zealand has better recline – however, for me, it was a slight edge for Cathay Pacific (an extra inch of recline actually meant an extra pillow down my back than anything else).

In-flight entertainment

(To me, nothing matters more than inflight entertainment and seat comfort, which, for the former, speeds the time more than 2x, and for the latter, gives me better sleep – which also speeds the time more than 2x.)

Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX and Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora both have awesome video selections, but I applaud to StudioCX for having a less laggy entertainment system. On the other hand, Air New Zealand offers entertainment on the ground.

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Slight preference to Air New Zealand’s actually informative airshow, admittedly it’s a minor thing

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Cathay Pacific airshow

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Air New Zealand entertainment

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Cathay Pacific entertainment

Conclusion: Albeit Air New Zealand offering IFE from the ground, CX takes the edge for faster loading and better music selection.

Toilets

Admittedly it’s a minor point, but Cathay’s lavatories are much more spacious than the puny Air New Zealand ones, and offer hand lotion while Air New Zealand only offers soap.

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Apologies for deleting the picture of the whole lavatory

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Air New Zealand Economy lavatory

Conclusion: Cathay Pacific takes the round this time.

Food

Cathay Pacific definitely has delicious food (at least they did for dinner, if not so much during breakfast).

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Cathay Pacific dinner (I forgot to take a picture of Air New Zealand dinner, but they did offer New Zealand ice cream)

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Cathay Pacific breakfast (sour egg but good meat)

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Air New Zealand breakfast (good egg when eaten with sausage but slightly lacking compared to Cathay)

Dinner on both airlines were good – but CX has a slight preference since NZ was a bit bland on their orange chicken. Breakfast on both airlines were mediocre – although the egg was inedible on Cathay Pacific and everything was edible on Air New Zealand, the flavourful meat made up and won over the bland but edible Air New Zealand meal.

Conclusion: Cathay wins Air New Zealand here.

Service

While Air New Zealand was generally good in service this flight, Cathay Pacific was much better service-wise (Air New Zealand’s crew were invisible during the night, which is understandable but different from Cathay Pacific whose crew were pushing trolleys around and offering blankets and pillows throughout the flight).

Conclusion: Cathay wins by a long streak here.

Conclusion of conclusions

Although it looks like Cathay has won here based on the conclusions, that’s true, but they’re not actually that far ahead. Air New Zealand has a solid product, with good recline and good (though not great) service. Although I’d give a slight preference to Cathay for onboard experience alone, I encourage people to travel to and from Auckland like how I did (both Hong Kong and Auckland travellers) – Cathay there, Air New Zealand back. No matter what class you’re in, I suggest you do that, just to try things out.

Later, I’ll be posting a Dragonair A320 vs A330 comparison.

Why doesn’t any airline put double beds in business class?

It’s a ridiculous question just by looking at it, but actually it just seems possible. You know the staggered seating put on Emirates’ A380, China Southern’s A380, select Hong Kong Airlines A330s, Alitalia/Iberia A330s, Thai A380s (and soon 777-300ERs) etc.?

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This, along with the reverse herringbone seating (on Cathay/American Airlines/US Airways) etc. is probably one of the best business class layouts out there (they’re quite much better than Austrian and Brussels etc.’s version). The window seats are private, the aisle seats are open and airy, and the middle seats are good for travelling couples.

Now that it’s said that the middle seats are good for travelling couples, why not take the first two or three rows and combine those two seats into one huge seat (twice as wide) that reclines into a double bed?

It’s not an out of the world question, you see. All Thai (above) would have to do would be remove the partition “flaps” and the armrests (hidden), add just an extra little bit of seat material (is designing a similar seat to fit in there really that hard?), redesign the headrests (or, to make things simple), remove the partitions between the foot cubbies, and sell it for double (or more) the price.

And we’re not talking about converting all the middle seaters – just the top three rows. And those who are thinking of different bedtimes and breakfast times, I’ll just take my parents for example – during holidays they ALWAYS wake up together.

Regarding seat belts, either they both share a seat belt (I don’t see why that’s so dangerous) or the seat belt hooks from the top corner near the console onto a soft hook in the middle of the bench and back towards a slot right next to where it came out, if you know what I mean.

Is this out-of-this-world, or do I have something going on there? What else is to put into consideration?

Aircraft types I need to try…

A long time ago I used to fly Business – all the time. I’ve flown Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair…all in Business. Then it came when there were limited award space on all these airlines. In this case I was pushed back into Economy. Looking back, I’ve tried Economy on the A319 (Bangkok Airways), A320 (Dragonair and Hong Kong Express), A321 (Dragonair), A330 (Dragonair, EVA and Cathay Pacific), A340 (Cathay Pacific), A380 (Singapore Airlines), 747 (Cathay Pacific) and 777 (Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand). I’ve tried the A319, A320, A321, A330-200, A330-300, A340-300, A380-800, 747-400, 777-200ER, 777-300ER and possibly the 777-300 or 777-200 in Economy…hooray!

This leaves the A318, A340-500, A340-600, the whole 737 family, the 747-8, the 757 family, the 767 family and the 787-8 I’ve yet to try.

The A318

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Hmmm…the A318 is a really tough one. There are no A318s departing from Hong Kong as of now, so I won’t be able to try the A318 soon (my mom really wants to go to both London and Paris but if then we’ll be on Eurostar through, sorry).

The A340-500

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Ooh…I just realised how small the number of A340-500 operators are…there are 34 A340-500 planes still flying. Nope. From Hong Kong, I don’t think that’s an option.

The A340-600

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I won’t be going to Munich with Lufthansa anytime soon, nor will I be going to Johannesburg with South African. On top of that I’ll definitely be Cathay-ing or British Airways-ing to London. So…I don’t think that’ll be an option soon, unless Virgin Atlantic suddenly becomes a really good option for me (I only have AsiaMiles, so if going to London I’ll definitely go snatch some good Biz seats, which means Cathay or British Airways, running on 777-300ERs and A380s respectively).

The 737

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I don’t know why I haven’t tried the 737 – there are so many airlines that serve Hong Kong with the 737. So stay tuned and I might be taking one soon.

The 747-8i

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I won’t be going to Frankfurt anytime soon, and no other airline serves Hong Kong with a 747-8i apart from Lufthansa. So…I guess not soon.

The 757

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This is a tough one. Apart from Air Astana, Nepal Airlines and Mega Maldives, I can’t think of any more Hong Kong 757s, but there should be a few more. Of course, if I go to the Maldives, I’ll be sure to use LV, just for you guys.

The 767

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Now there’s another one I’m not sure why I still haven’t encountered. Oh well. JAL and ANA, here I come!

The 787

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My only excuse to the 787 is that only Air India flies them to Hong Kong, and while I won’t be going to Delhi anytime soon either, their tag flights to ICN and KIX both have abysmally early flight times (they both leave at 7:45am).

So that leaves the 737 and 767 that I really have to try. See y’all later!