Flying business class on United Airlines is something I look forward to.
I hope my worst decision today was not eating breakfast before flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong via Narita. I woke up at 6:30am in San Francisco and did not have time to eat. I had errands to run and since I am anal about getting to the airport early, I was stressed that I was not leaving much room for error since I had an 11am flight. For some reason, even with my global entry and flying business class on United, I still feel the need to get to the airport at least 2 hours early.
Flying around the world makes for a long day without the perfect concoction of sleeping aids and alcohol.
I have decided after doing this many times;however, that the best bet is sleeping well the night before, not drinking much several days beforehand, and then just enjoy the flight. By enjoy the flight I mean drink and watch movies while contemplating life. I am on the flight to Narita, Japan in business class at the moment and loving it. It is a very liberating feeling, just being so alone yet surrounded by people who know nothing about each other in such close quarters.
Everyone is quiet, the flight attendants are attentive until the lights go out and then everyone sleeps. I am obviously not sleeping because I truly love this time. I am buzzed, decently fed, with an open bar, sleeping pills if necessary, my lap top and endless movies. Even though I am flying business I still do not feel like spending the $12 or $17 for wifi that is mediocre and intermittent in order to keep me tethered to the world. I like taking this time to connect with myself.
A flight attendant once told me that it was worth paying the difference of economy to business class but not business to first class.
Honestly, flying to Hong Kong from SFO in coach is about $1100-1500 on United in Economy or $8000-10,000 in business. In what world is that a negligible difference? If someone said, you could spend $110 on a lovely dinner or drop $800 but the $800 dinner is better would you just say ok? It is such a huge difference, I don’t even understand it. I always wonder who in business class paid for it and who uses upgrades? I have been a loyal United customer for years now and pay more, fly inconvenient routes, fly stupid times (sometimes), and do whatever it takes to remain a 1K customer. I have my own company so everything is 100% out of pocket but I make it work for these moments, and the moments where you can call your own line and get an American person who wants to help you with travel – these things make it all worthwhile.
For those of you, like myself, who would probably not pay full fare for a business class ticket, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate my time up here. The differences are great but are they worth the price of a vacation? A new wardrobe? Paying off your credit card? Saving a family in Ethiopia or some other developing nation? Getting Sarah McLaughlin to not sing that sad animal song and saving like 100 puppies or kittens? No way…. I would so rather get letters from a family I donated money too, or seeing 100 videos or pictures of happy animals I saved, or flying myself to DaNang Vietnam and making myself a custom made wardrobe or pretty much whatever for $7-$9000.
That all being said, if you feel like sticking with an airline, really getting in bed with them, letting them take advantage of you sometimes and getting perks in return, this is the fun part and I have earned it.
I normally try to fly business class on United airlines direct to Hong Kong but this trip, like last, was full so I am flying with a stopover in Tokyo, Japan. Last time to get an upgrade to business class I flew through Beijing which may be my least favorite airport in the world at this point. I have visited 26 countries, 34 states and about 200 airports so I feel like that is saying a lot. I would rather fly coach direct to Hong Kong than fly business if I have to go through Beijing. Going through customs just to get to your next flight was a nightmare! No one would help me, there were no signs, and I think they were too cheap to turn on the heat and it was 30 degree Fahrenheit so I was freezing! I thought I did not have time to hit the lounge because of the lines and how big the airport was, but what Air China didn’t tell me ever, not once, was my flight was 30 minutes delayed. There was no communication whatsoever, everyone was rude, and this was after flying around the world. But alas, what I do for an upgrade! Anyway, this time for an upgrade I am flying through Japan which is actually nice. The food is better on this flight than when flying to Hong Kong or Beijing. I love the wine selection, sake selection, and even the menu is pretty great.
When I first sit down on the plane, I get a beverage. I love that because I am always drinking. I don’t mean alcohol, mostly water, but I love tea, sparkling water, coffee, wine, sake – pretty much anything I can consume. I like not having to wait to quench my thirst. Also, once you are at that 10,000 feet mark, the three beeps that let you know we are finally ready to turn those electronics back on and the lovely flight attendants can come back with more drinks, that sound makes me very happy. We now get to switch to glass and for some reason, this makes me feel awesome… I don’t know why but having glass instead of plastic is just nice. Last night I went on a walk with my mom to take the dogs out and after a somewhat stupid day, I wanted a drink. Instead of taking my Sangiovese in a coffee cup, I decided to take it in a wine glass and it felt great! Why? I guess because normally that is not what we do. I think its the same with flights.
After the 3 dings, we get hot towels shortly followed by warmed nuts.
My question is why aren’t all nuts warmed? I mean it’s not that hard, but warmed nuts are so much better than cold ones. And thanks to all those peanut allergies out there, its only cashews and almonds which are the tasty nuts. I am going to Hong Kong to work pretty much straight for 6 weeks so I am enjoying my vacation while it lasts, away from earth so it seems, with my open bar, personal server and my interesting meal and snacks to come. Normally, for some reason, I usually make friends on the plane. I think I have about 10 Facebook friends now that I met on planes, a few customers and stack of business cards. This time my partner or plane buddy is very quiet. He is very polite, very sober and very asleep. I on the other hand am awake and chilling.
I always cry more in planes.
I just watched “This is Where I Leave You” and “The Good Lie” and both were pretty awesome. I always cry more in planes during movies than normal and I am not sure why. Maybe I pick sadder movies, or maybe its the elevation, alcohol and contemplating the meaning of life while I fly. Two weeks ago on my way back from Hong Kong to San Francisco I watched “The Fault in our Stars.” Oh my god, I cried so hard i choked. Fortunately, the guy next to me was also watching it and we just looked at each other with an unspoken understanding of what was going on and there was no explanation needed. He and I sat together, drinking for almost 15 hours together, shared 3 meals, some snacks, tears, a nap and never said anything to each other. I love this weird relationship I can have with people yet never talk or know their name. “The Fault in our Stars” was such a sad movie, even the guys in Honest Trailer cried in it – by the way, I love these guys. Seriously, if you need a laugh, go to their site and watch 20 of them back to back, it will make your night. You’re welcome.
Whenever someone asks me what a good book is, I don’t have to think.
It is “This is Where I leave you”. The book was awesome and the movie was pretty damn good as well. The book was funnier and less sad than the movie. I recommend both though. “The Good Lie” now that is a tearjerker but it makes me appreciate life. I really don’t know what to watch next after those two. I mean what compares? I would totally watch “The Guardians of the Galaxy” again if I hadn’t already watched it twice… I love that movie. The night/ day is young, I could watch it again?
I am drinking a wine from the Medoc right now.
I finished my sake bottle earlier but I could have another. The wine and sake is picked out by some amazing Sommelier who writes the list for United. After the warm nuts, I got a pretty decent salad with cheese and both dried and fresh tomatoes. There was also another appetizer served with a California roll, prosciutto and cantaloupe with some olives. We also had for our main course, a bunch of choices and I opted for the Pork chop with broccolini, white asparagus and some bread thing I didn’t eat. The Pork chop was actually good, a little dry but pretty decent. My only problem with it was eating it with a butter knife; I really had to saw at it for a while, but I had nothing but time so no big deal. Either way, I was happy with my red wine from the Medoc and my little personal sake bottles.
After dinner we get a cheese course, a few grapes and some crackers with port which I always enjoy.
I like to sit and snack on these cheeses during my movie. I opted not to have the port this time, but did go for Grand Marnier mainly because of how cute the bottles are. After about 15 minutes with the cheese, they come around with an ice-cream sunday cart which I think is always fun and good idea. You can choose from other dessert drinks like port, Grand Marnier or any other spirit but I figured I had my fill now.
This is a Long Flight
This flight is about 11 hours and 45 minutes but they fed us a few times so i didn’t need to eat everything. There were some sandwiches I skipped, I did take a few of the Toblerone chocolates and the potato chips, I always enjoy these fattening items. For some reason by the time breakfast comes I am so over the flight and breakfast never tastes good on the plane. I had not slept so I didn’t want coffee, especially since I had a 5 hour layover in Japan and then another 5 hour flight, but I also didn’t want alcohol. What a predicament, so I chose water and tea. They gave us another warm towel to rinse our hands and then we chose 1 of 3 breakfast options. I always chose the eggs because I usually don’t want some interesting eastern breakfast nor do I want cereal and milk. I had my over salted eggs and the flight was over.
And that was my flight! I am a 1k member on United so I have lounge access when I fly internationally which does make a huge difference. I immediately went into the United lounge and took a shower. Seriously, a shower goes a long way between layovers and long flights. The showers in the lounges are pretty decent and they give you all the toiletries you need. This lounge has like 10 or 12 showers and a full staff constantly cleaning so I feel pretty good about this one. There is a seriously full open bar at this lounge but the food choices are pretty weak! I am not really hungry but still feel like eating; it just seems like the right thing to do and I am tired and kind of starting my hangover. I had some sushi and edamame. But after about an hour and half I got bored and this lounge is super crowded so I figured I would try the other lounge. This only worked because my next leg was actually on ANA airlines and I had never been in their lounge.
Showers at Tokyo United Lounge
It was far away from where I was but really close to my gate so it worked out well. I took a bunch of pictures of this lounge because its so awesome! It was pretty much empty, huge and so clean! I had more sushi choices, fresh salad, tons of Sake’s, weird looking potato and pasta salads that I avoided, sushi triangles with mystery surprises inside and some chocolates 🙂 They also had a few kinds of soup so i went for some miso soup which was pretty decent.
I did not get upgraded on my next flight which is a bummer since I am star alliance gold on this airline but that does’t do much for you. I asked if I could get an upgrade and the really nice ANA representative told me I could for “many many money” so I decided that did not sound like a good idea. This next flight was crowded, but it was 5 hours and they still fed us twice! Neither meal was worth mentioning but it is nice we still got meals. Overall, I like ANA airlines and would love to try business class with them. Unfortunately due to my exclusive relationship with United, I probably won’t get this chance.
Was this leg worth about $4k? I am pretty sure it was not but I always enjoy the experience and I am thankful for the benefits of United 1K membership.