Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quick Thoughts on 2/26/2014

1) Delta devaluation. Should I feel good about flying American? Or should I be scared for the future because these changes are inevitable? Why do people fly Delta again? Oh wait, good in-flight product and well-run airline. Supposedly this will make Delta miles more valuable in the future since earning rates are going to be cut so much?

Inane aside: I used to fly Delta, but then I had a terrible experience and switched to US Airways (The first airline I ever got status on! And it was unintentional. And I actually got upgraded as a Silver. For these reasons, US holds a special place in my heart). Since I figured I’d never fly Delta again, I tried to spend all of my miles down, even redeeming for a non-low-level award and redeeming miles for magazines. Magazines! But the flight that was supposed to be my last Delta flight ever went mechanical, and I ended up getting a handful of miles as compensation, so I still have a small number of Delta miles that might actually end up being redeemable for a flight now that Delta will introduce one-way awards.

2) Why don’t people talk more about JAL? Given how many travel bloggers are AA fanboys, you’d think that there’d be more miles redeemed on them. Had the chance to visit the JAL First Class Lounge at Narita the other day and was very pleasantly surprised. That lounge had some of the best food I’ve had at an airport (granted, I like Japanese food).

3) I’ve got 90k US Airways miles burning a hole in my pocket. What should I do with them? I’m thinking I want to redeem prior to US Airways leaving Star Alliance. My current fleeting thought is to redeem a trip to Taipei or Hong Kong on EVA J (hopefully getting a segment or two on a Hello Kitty plane), then embedding a trip to Australia using UA miles on the outbound for Thai F and AA miles on the return for Qantas F.

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Thailand 2014: Millennium Hilton Bangkok

When I was booking the hotel in Bangkok, I was deciding between the Millennium Hilton and the Conrad. I ultimately chose the Millennium due to its supposedly better location for tourists, since it’s located on the river, and many tourist attractions are located along the river. In the future, though, I’d probably try to choose a hotel closer to a BTS station, as it got a little old after the second day to have to take the hotel’s shuttle boat every single time you wanted to get anywhere.

Since our flight arrived quite late at night, the only option was to take a taxi to the hotel, so we went to the taxi queue and got a taxi. At first, the driver tried to take us for a flat fee, but I insisted on the meter. He still ended up taking us on a VERY roundabout way and driving 90+ miles per hour, but at the end, the total cost was 570 baht (450 fare + 50 airport surcharge + 70 for tolls), which was only a couple of dollars more than the fare should have been, and I didn’t feel like arguing at 1am.

View of the hotel from the river

View of the hotel from the river

The first thing I noticed about the hotel was the mosquitos. Granted, this hotel is in Bangkok, and there are mosquitos in Bangkok, but there were mosquitos in all of the common areas of the hotel, including the lobby, restaurant, and executive lounge. You should definitely wear bug spray whenever you’re not in your room.

Hotel lobby

Hotel lobby

I was upgraded to an executive room, which was on the smaller size but adequate. The room was nicely furnished and had a lot of stuff in it, which made it feel a little bit crowded. The bed was large and comfortable, the bathroom was large, but the biggest problem I had with the room was the lack of separation between the bed and the bathroom. There’s no actual wall, but instead there are just slats like a window shade separating the two, which I found less than ideal.

Entrance (note the blinds into the bathroom)

Entrance (note the blinds into the bathroom)

Room

Room

Room

Room

Bathroom

Bathroom

I was told that I could get breakfast at either the executive lounge or at Flow, the hotel’s ground floor restaurant. The first day, I got breakfast at the executive lounge, but I ended up eating at Flow the rest of my stay due to the slightly better selection. The service in the executive lounge was great, and the views were quite good.

View from the executive lounge

View from the executive lounge

Executive lounge seating

Executive lounge seating

More lounge seating

More lounge seating

Executive lounge breakfast spread

Executive lounge breakfast spread

Lounge breakfast

Lounge breakfast

More lounge breakfast

More lounge breakfast

Moar breakfast

Moar breakfast

I also got afternoon tea in the lounge one day, and they served everyone who arrived an entire tray of snacks that were decently tasty for a complimentary tea.

 

Afternoon tea in the lounge

Afternoon tea in the lounge

Breakfast in the lounge was a more impersonal affair, but the selection was better. In particular, I enjoyed the hot soy milk and toppings on offer, as well as the noodle bar. Otherwise, I’d probably choose the executive lounge given the better views and service.

 

Flow restaurant

Flow restaurant

Restaurant breakfast

Restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

More restaurant breakfast

Soy milk and toppings

Soy milk and toppings

Pastries at breakfast

Pastries at breakfast

Overall, I found the breakfast offerings at the hotel to be quite good, and I didn’t get tired of the food after four days. The food ranged from decent to good, and the selection was varied with American, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian food on offer.

I didn’t use too many of the hotel’s facilities except for the gym, but the pool area seemed to be relatively popular. Besides the pool, there were plenty of places to get some sun, including a fake “beach” area, and a couple of small fresh water jacuzzis. The gym had a decent selection of machines, but I particularly liked the large multi-use room that they had.

Swimming pool

Swimming pool

Fresh water jacuzzi

Fresh water jacuzzi

"Beach" area near the pool

“Beach” area near the pool

Gym

Gym

Multi-purpose room in the gym

Multi-purpose room in the gym

Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Millennium Hilton. The room served my needs, housekeeping was good, breakfast was pretty good, and the service was competent. Honestly, my biggest complaint about the hotel is the elevators, which were terribly slow and often seemed to stop on floors with no one on them. I’m not sure I’d stay at this hotel again due to its location, which is good for first-time visitors to Bangkok, but relatively inconvenient otherwise since you essentially have to take the river boat to get anywhere. The hotel offers complimentary boats to the Saphan Taksin BTS station and to a mall called River City right across the river, but the boat essentially adds 20 minutes each way to any trip.

Review: United Club Hong Kong (HKG)

The United Club at the Hong Kong airport is supposed to be one of the best United Clubs out there, so I was excited to check it out when I flew out of Hong Kong back to the US.

Entrance to the United Club

Entrance to the United Club

Upon entering the lounge, I asked to take a shower, as I got to the airport pretty early and didn’t have the chance to take one before I left. Since it was quite early in the day, the lounge wasn’t crowded at all and the shower was free, so the desk agent led me to the shower immediately. There’s only one shower available, so you might have to wait a while later in the day if you want to use it, but then again, Hong Kong isn’t a huge Star Alliance connection point.

The shower room and the shower itself were large, and the water temperature and pressure were good. The only negative was that the shower room smelled a little funky when I entered.

Shower room

Shower room

After showering, I checked out the food options, and I don’t think I’ve seen any United Club with more food offerings than the United Club in Hong Kong. There were a couple of salads, some snacks, pastries, several hot food options, and a sushi bar.

Salad bar

Salad bar

Alcohol selection

Alcohol selection

Pastries

Pastries

One of the hot food dishes

One of the hot food dishes

Sushi bar

Sushi bar

The food wasn’t particularly good (the scrambled eggs looked disgusting, and the sushi was pretty terrible), but at least they offered more than just snacks, and I was able to put together a decent breakfast with the food offerings.

The club also offers ample seating, or at least when I was there in that morning there was plenty of room. It did not feel overcrowded at all, unlike almost any other United Club that I’ve been to. There are also pretty nice views of the tarmac, if you like to watch planes.

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

View of the apron

View of the apron

My only other complaint about the club was the wifi. Every 5 minutes or so, I’d have to reconnect as the wifi would cut out, and I’m not sure if I was the only person having the problem. But otherwise, yes, the United Club in Hong Kong is one of the nicest United Clubs I’ve been to, but that’s only because domestic airport lounges in the US are almost all not very nice. Compared to other international lounges, the United Club is decidedly mediocre in terms of the food offerings, but the space is nice, and I appreciated the views and ample seating.