DC to Dubai and Tokyo via… Santiago? Two Days in Dubai, Day 1

Introduction
Planning
TAM Economy Class New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Santiago
LAN Economy Class Santiago – Sao Paulo
TAM Economy Class Sao Paulo – New York JFK
United BusinessFirst Denver to Tokyo Seattle (Emergency Landing)
United BusinessFirst on the 787 Seattle to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1  (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda


After clearing passport control, I found a greeter from the Park Hyatt who led me to my private S-class limo for my transfer to the hotel.  Since I was staying at a suite at the Park Hyatt, this transfer was complimentary.  As we went outside to get to the car, the overwhelming heat and humidity of Dubai hit me hard.  It was only 5:30am, and it was already approaching 100 degrees!  I guess that’s what I get for deciding to go to Dubai in the summer time.

The transfer to the Park Hyatt Dubai is only a 5-10 minute car ride, as the property is located on Dubai Creek, very close to the airport.  The Park Hyatt itself is a stunning property. 

Park Hyatt grounds

Park Hyatt grounds

Park Hyatt Dubai

Park Hyatt Dubai

Park Hyatt Dubai indoor promenade

Park Hyatt Dubai indoor promenade

I checked in and was walked to my suite where I was meeting a friend who had checked in the day before – on my intended arrival date.  I was to meet a group of about 20 frequent fliers who were gathered in Dubai for a big meet-up, dubbed the “DubaiDO.”  My roommate and I chatted for a bit, and then I took a nap to get some additional rest before brunch.

The living room of my suite at the PH Dubai

The living room of my suite at the PH Dubai

The view from the balcony of my suite

The view from the balcony of my suite

We scheduled Friday brunch for 12:30pm at the Traiteur Restaurant at the Park Hyatt.  It was an all-you-can eat and drink affair, featuring Veuve Clicquot champagne and a massive assortment of foods.  In Dubai, Friday brunch is a BIG deal.  The weekend in Dubai spans Friday and Saturday, so the Friday brunch is a great kickoff to the weekend.  Our group of about twenty people had two tables of ten reserved.  The spread was truly spectacular and delicious.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  It was well worth the price.

Grilled lobster and beef tenderloin

Grilled lobster and beef tenderloin

Assortment of grilled seafood and meats, including sausages, lamb, and duck

Assortment of grilled seafood and meats, including sausages, lamb, and duck

Wines and desserts

Condiments and appetizers

Assortment of side dishes

Assortment of side dishes

My first dish

My first dish

Meats, cheeses, and breads

Meats, cheeses, and breads

After 3.5 hours of food, drinks, and glass upon glass of champagne, we finished up an epic brunch and decided to take the party to the pool.  The pool at the Park Hyatt is beautiful, and is an awesome place to escape the ridiculous heat.  An array of palm trees keeps the pool relatively shaded, which is great in the middle of the desert.

The beautiful pool at the Park Hyatt Dubai

The beautiful pool at the Park Hyatt Dubai

We had previously arranged reservations to go to the top of Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building at 6:30pm, so we headed that way at about 6pm.  We arrived at the Mall of Dubai and followed the signs to get us to the “At The Top” observation deck.  Though the observation desk is ironically NOT at the top of Burj Khalifa (nor is it anywhere close), the views are pretty stunning nonetheless.

Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Unfortunately, it was quite hazy the entire time we were in Dubai, but we were still able to get some pretty cool vistas of the downtown Dubai area.

Dubai from the "At the top" Observation Deck

Dubai from the “At the top” Observation Deck

Hazy day in Dubai

Hazy day in Dubai

A city carved out of the desert

A city carved out of the desert

Long ways down...

Long ways down…

While we were up top, the sun went down, and we got to witness one of the water shows (similar to the ones at Bellagio in Las Vegas) from above.

Water fountain show from above

Water fountain show from above

Burj Khalifa at night

Burj Khalifa at night

Me at Burj Khalifa

Me at Burj Khalifa

This was a great experience, but in the future, I’d wait to make sure it was a clear day before paying the ~USD$30 to go up there.

After Burj Khalifa, the group wanted to grab some drinks, so we decided to checkout the Atlantis Resort at The Palm Islands.  The Palm Islands carry that name because, well – it’s a group of islands.  In the shape of  a palm tree.  Only in Dubai, right?  The cab ride from Burj Khalifa out to The Palm was about USD $20.

While most things in Dubai like food, drinks, and merchandise are expensive in Dubai, the cabs are relatively dirt cheap.  We cabbed pretty much everywhere and found them to be very reasonable priced.  This was a good thing considering that Dubai is very spread out.  It’s quite a haul from the Dubai Marina or Palm Islands to Burj Khalifa or Dubai Creek / Park Hyatt.

The Atlantis is at the very tip of the island.  Having stayed at Atlantis in the Bahamas a number of times, I found this resort pretty similar, but nowhere near as grandiose as the Bahamas version.

The Lobby of The Atlantis Palm

The Lobby of The Atlantis Palm

Aquarium at Atlantis Palm

Aquarium at Atlantis Palm

Looks pretty similar to Atlantis Paradise Island

Looks pretty similar to Atlantis Paradise Island

We proceeded to the outdoor bar called Nasimi Beach for a couple drinks.  After about 45 minutes, we had to go inside because it was just too hot outside.  We then settled on drinks and sushi at Nobu.  As with most things Atlantis, Nobu was very expensive.  After a few drinks, we decided to call it a night and headed back to the Park Hyatt where the group hungout for a bit before going to bed.

Continued…

DC to Dubai and Tokyo via… Santiago? Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class – Hong Kong to Dubai

Introduction
Planning
TAM Economy Class New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Santiago
LAN Economy Class Santiago – Sao Paulo
TAM Economy Class Sao Paulo – New York JFK
United BusinessFirst Denver to Tokyo Seattle (Emergency Landing)
United BusinessFirst on the 787 Seattle to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1  (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda


I headed to my gate about 30 minutes early, and boarding was commencing as I arrived.

My ride to Dubai

My ride to Dubai

My flight was scheduled to go to Dubai and then continue to Jeddah, so there were a very large number of Hajj pilgrims on the flight.  Economy was completely packed, but there was a pretty light load up front.

Cathay Pacific (CX) 745
Hong Kong (HKG) – Dubai (DXB)
Aircraft:  Airbus A330-300
Seat: 20A (Business Class)
Friday, June 21
1:40AM – 6:00AM
Duration: 8:20

This was a newly renovated A330 with the new Cathay Pacific business class seat.  These seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration, and are truly awesome.  These are without a doubt the most private and comfortable business class seats  that I’ve flown.

Cathay's new business class seat

Cathay’s new business class seat

Forward Business Class cabin

Forward Business Class cabin

Tons of room

Tons of room

I settled in with a pre-departure champagne, and then occupied myself with checking out the details of the seat.

Obligatory champagne

Obligatory champagne

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

So much legroom.  You WANT this seat

So much legroom. You WANT this seat

Before I knew it, it was time to push back, and I assumed that it was only myself and the guy next to me in the aft mini-cabin of business, but once I stood up, I saw that every seat was full. The seat was so private that I didn’t even notice the people around me.

As we ascended after a takeoff to the east, we turned to the south, providing me an awesome view of Central Hong Kong and Kowloon below.

Kowloon and Central Hong Kong below

Kowloon and Central Hong Kong below

Hong Kong is probably my favorite city in the world, and I do wish I got to leave the airport for a day or two.

Dinner service started soon after takeoff, as it was already approaching 2am. Because of this late time, it would be an expedited meal service.  The meal was brought out on one large tray, and the courses were not delivered course by course  The appetizer was a small salad served with garlic toast.  For the entrée, I selected the halibut. It was nothing special, and I left the choy sum since I’m not a huge fan.  Dessert was not memorable, and again this dinner service left me wanting more.

Mixed salad with pine nuts and green olives with French vinaigrette

Mixed salad with pine nuts and green olives with French vinaigrette

Sauteed halibut with shallot black bean sauce, steamed jasmine rice and choy sum

Sauteed halibut with shallot black bean sauce, steamed jasmine rice and choy sum

I know it was a late night flight, but I was expecting more from an international business class meal on Cathay Pacific.

After dinner, I settled in for a good five hours of sleep.  Again, this seat is awesome for sleeping.  At 6’4”, I was stretched fully out and my feed did not touch the end of the foot well.  That is a very, very good thing.  A thick blanket and fluffy pillow were provided.

Waking up outside of Dubai

Waking up outside of Dubai

I awoke about an hour outside of Dubai as the cabin crew was preparing for breakfast service.  It consisted of fresh fruit, yoghurt, a selction of bread, and a choice of a quiche or dim sum.  Since this was Cathay, a Hong Kong-based airline, I naturally selected the dim sum.

Fantastic Breakfast

Fantastic Breakfast

It was extremely good.  This was a very good breakfast on all accounts.  As I finished my dim sum, we began our descent into Dubai and arrived just after 5am into Terminal 2.

Dawn above the Arabian Desert

Dawn above the Arabian Desert

Descending into Dubai

Descending into Dubai

The business class seat stole the show with this flight, as it truly is a superior hard product for international business class.  Though the service was good for the most part, and the flight attendants were very nice, they all seemed overly robotic to me.  The dinner was average at best, but the breakfast was great.   The late night flight and rushed dinner service detracted from the flight a bit, but overall, it was a good experience, and the seat more than made up for any shortcomings.

DC to Dubai and Tokyo via… Santiago? Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge – Hong Kong

Introduction
Planning
TAM Economy Class New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Santiago
LAN Economy Class Santiago – Sao Paulo
TAM Economy Class Sao Paulo – New York JFK
United BusinessFirst Denver to Tokyo Seattle (Emergency Landing)
United BusinessFirst on the 787 Seattle to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1  (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda


Upon arrival in Hong Kong, I cleared transfer security and decided to trek back towards gates 1-4 to try out the newly renovated Cathay Pacific Lounge, The Wing.   There are so many options of things to do in Hong Kong’s airport, but I’d heard good things about this place, so I wanted to check it out.

Entrance to The Wing

Entrance to The Wing

The lounge is visibly brand new, and is very appealing to the eye.  It spans two levels, and the top level is by far the better of the two.  As I arrived, I asked about taking a shower, and I was whisked away to a shower attendant who arranged a nicely appointed shower room for me.  This was especially refreshing considering I’d been in transit from Seattle for well over 24 hours at that point.

Bathroom / Shower

Bathroom / Shower

I grabbed a drink from the downstairs portion of the lounge and checked by email.

Funky seating / workstations

Funky seating / workstations

Afterwards, I decided to head upstairs.  If you find yourself in The Wing, forget the downstairs altogether – the upstairs is where to be.  Up here, there is plenty of seating space, the Long Bar (one of the longest airport bars in the world) with sweeping terminal and tarmac views, a Noodle Bar that serves up a variety of delicious noodle dishes and dim sum, and a coffee bar.  I had some dim sum, noodles, and a BBQ Pork Bao from the noodle bar, and it was delicious.

The Wing

The Wing

Noodle Bar!

Noodle Bar!

BBQ Pork Bao from The Noodle Bar

BBQ Pork Bao from The Noodle Bar

The Long Bar

The Long Bar

Afterwards, I shut down the Long Bar with a couple beers, as I had one of the latest departures of the night at 1:40am.

Shutting down another bar...

Shutting down another bar…

The Wing is one of the best business class lounges I’ve seen, anywhere.  I’d probably rank it a little behind the Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge in Istanbul, but it’s not far behind.  Hong Kong is probably my favorite airport in the world, and The Wing is just another awesome addition to it.

 

 

DC to Dubai and Tokyo via… Santiago? Review: Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class – Tokyo-Narita to Hong Kong

Introduction
Planning
TAM Economy Class New York JFK – Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Santiago
LAN Economy Class Santiago – Sao Paulo
TAM Economy Class Sao Paulo – New York JFK
United BusinessFirst Denver to Tokyo Seattle (Emergency Landing)
United BusinessFirst on the 787 Seattle to Tokyo
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1  (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda


I arrived in the late morning, I had several hours to kill at Narita due to my re-scheduled inbound flight.  As mentioned earlier, I hopped the inter-terminal bus to Terminal 2 and decided to spend the day in the Cathay Pacific Lounge.  There was nothing special about this lounge, but it did have functioning internet, a decent food and drink selection, and sadly no showers.

Cathay Pacific Lounge at Narita

Cathay Pacific Lounge at Narita

Self-Serve Bar at Cathay Lounge NRT

Self-Serve Bar at Cathay Lounge NRT

Self-Service at NRT Cathay Lounge

Self-Service at NRT Cathay Lounge

I proceeded to my gate to see a massive boarding scrum, but because I was flying in business, I got to hop ahead in line of all that nonsense.

Ready to go back to Hong Kong

Ready to go back to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific (CX) 505
Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Seat: 17A (Regional Business Class)
Thursday, June 20
6:20PM – 10:10PM
Duration: 3:45

 

Boarding my ride, a B777-300

Boarding my ride, a B777-300

A few weeks prior to this flight, Cathay Pacific subbed in a B777-300 with the regional business product instead of the lie-flat business seat that they’re known for.  This, of course was a disappointment.  Instead of a 1-2-1 configuration with a fully flat bed, I found myself in a 2-3-2 configuration with decent recline, but nowhere near lie-flat.

Cathay Pacific's New Regional Business Class Seat

Cathay Pacific’s New Regional Business Class Seat

Good IFE and decent leg room

Good IFE and decent leg room

Seat Controls

Seat Controls

For a regional business product, it was pretty good, and it was obviously tolerable considering the flight was only about 3.5 hours.

The flight attendant offered some pre-flight champagne, which I happily accepted.

Pre-departure glass of champagne

Pre-departure glass of champagne

About 30 minutes into the flight, the meal service commenced.  With this being regional business, the appetizers and salad came out together.  The salad was paltry, and barely had any lettuce.  The soba noodles with shrimp was not my favorite, and the ham appetizer tasted pretty funky.

Small salad, soba noodles with shrimp, and a parma ham and melon appetizer

Small salad, soba noodles with shrimp, and a parma ham and melon appetizer

Grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom wine sauce, pumpkin potato mash and sauteed squash with bacon

Grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom wine sauce, pumpkin potato mash and sauteed squash with bacon

For the entrée, I selected the grilled beef tenderloin.  It was tasty enough, but grossly overcooked.  The pumpkin potatoes were great, but it was not a very visually appealing meal in the least.  The steaks I’d enjoyed on United on the flights to Japan were far superior.  Dessert consisted of a small serving of Haagen Daaz ice cream, which is pretty hard to mess up. It was a relatively disappointing meal, but then again, it was only regional business class.

After dinner, I nodded off for a couple hours, and woke up  upon our decent into Hong Kong.  It was quite choppy on our decent, but we landed and arrived at our gate, leaving me with about 3 hours until my connecting flight to Dubai.

Overall, this flight was perfectly fine, but I was expecting more since this was my first flight on Cathay Pacific.  The service was fine, but certainly nothing special or memorable.  My first impression was that the flight attendants, while efficient and kind, appeared quite robotic.  But this was, again only regional business class.  Surely Cathay’s international business would be better.