Hong Kong and Macau: Delta Economy Comfort HKG-NRT-SEA-ATL-ECP

Delta Economy Comfort ECP-ATL-SEA-NRT-HKG
W Hong Kong
Exploring Hong Kong
Conrad Macao
Exploring Macau
Conrad Hong Kong
Delta Economy Comfort HKG-NRT-SEA-ATL-ECP

My journey back to the United States would take me the along the exact same route that had taken me over to Hong Kong. An all too long 26 or so hour routing that would have me connecting in the same three airports (Tokyo-Narita, Seattle, and Atlanta) and spending all too much time in the air. Although I’ve done several trips like this where you are in transit for more than 24 hours, it’s rough on the body, especially when you are in Economy, even if it is Economy Comfort and you have a little more leg room. Now, try to fly for that long when you’ve managed to catch something and you aren’t feeling the greatest. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to start to feel under the weather with who knows what. I mean, I wasn’t running a fever, but I didn’t exactly feel top-notch, and I didn’t really look forward to being in a plane for all those hours in Economy when I knew what I needed was being able to lie down and just sleep.

Departure From Hong Kong
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I hailed an early morning cab from the Conrad Hong Kong to get me to the Hong Kong MTR station. Having an 8AM flight meant that I would want to be on the first train to the airport, although I had no idea when that was. Consequently when the driver dropped me at the station entrance I found myself on my own with the ticket counters closed (the station has a city check-in service where you can get boarding passes and check luggage before boarding the train), the ticket machines not functional, and wondering why I just didn’t pay to take the cab the entire way.

Quiet, Empty Check In Area At Hong Kong Airport Express Station

It turned out I actually had a good bit of time to kill, but there wasn’t anything to do there. Nothing was open, not even a Starbucks so I pretty much just had to sit around and wait until the ticket machines were turned on so I could get my ticket to the airport. Of course once they opened up the ticket machines, they had not actually opened the turnstiles for the train platform yet, so everyone that had arrived during my period of solitude, started crowding until they let us on. While I stood there though I did find one rather humorous sign on the platform:

Why Do They Not Like Balloons?

I mean, really, why can’t you have metallic balloons on the MTR? I can’t think of any rational reason as to why they should be banned in comparison to regular balloons. I’d love to know why that is…

The train whisked us through the early morning to the airport and found myself soon enough in the Sky Priority line to check in. Even though I believe HKG is a mobile boarding pass station, I did want to check with an agent to see about what were the odds of an op-up (operational upgrade) or if there was any other way of getting into Business Elite for a small fee. Knowing that Delta has no official program because they do like to “protect the integrity” of the Business Elite cabin, it sometimes never hurts to ask. I just wish that they had a KLM-style upgrade program where you can usually on day-of-departure pay a fee and an amount of miles (even Delta SkyMiles) and get that seat upfront if there is space. Honestly, given how I was feeling I would have probably paid up to $400 and 25,000 miles to do that, if it had been an option. Unfortunately there was no chance of an op-up although they did tell me that I should check again when I was in Tokyo.

Air France Lounge
After getting my boarding passes, I went and exchanged the bulk of my remaining Hong Kong Dollars for US Dollars, as I had about the equivalent of US$60 still in my pocket before heading through immigration and security. While there wasn’t a Sky Priority or other premium passenger line (or at least that I could find), it didn’t take long to process through either and get airside. From there I made no delay in making my way towards the Air France Lounge, which involved a train ride a decent walk, located around Gate 60. Up until recently before my trip Delta had been using the Qantas Business Class lounge, but made the switch to their alliance partner. There are two other SkyTeam lounges within the terminal (Korean Airlines and China Airlines), but if I recall correctly, they are quite far from the gate that Delta uses and were not even open that early in the morning.

Despite taking the first train to the airport, I was not going to have much time in the lounge. Checking into the lounge was quick and efficient, and I had enough time to sit down, grab a quick breakfast and chill out for a moment before needing to make my way to the gate. The breakfast spread was decent, along with beverages, and there was ample seating for everyone.

Lounge Breakfast

Plenty Of Complimentary Reading Materials

Not A Bad View From The Lounge Either

On the way out I had grabbed a water bottle from the lounge fridge to take with me on the plane since I knew I had to keep hydrated, but when I got to the gate I found out that anything of that nature was forbidden from being brought on the aircraft. I had not seen that before; perhaps I had just not noticed this prohibition in the past when flying out of other international destinations, but I tell you I would not have been happy had I bought a bottle of water and found that out.

Making My Way To The Gate

Patiently Waiting For Boarding To Begin In HKG

Delta Air Liens A330 Ready To Board For NRT

Delta Air Lines #156
Hong Kong (HKG) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Depart: 8:05AM Arrive: 1:58AM
Aircraft: Airbus A330 Seat: 13C (Economy Comfort)

The load on the segment to Tokyo was not overly full, which was great as that meant that the seat next to me was free. All for the best as I was still feeling less-than-stellar, so being able to spread out a bit to take it easy was a great thing. Shortly after takeoff a breakfast service was conducted; I opted for the omelet with potatoes, fruit, and a pastry; which wasn’t the exactly the best, but then no omelet that I’ve had in Economy or Business or First Class has really been that good. At least my expectations weren’t high! Can you guess what I did for the rest of the flight? Slept! Or at least tried to…

Economy Class Breakfast HKG-NRT

Tokyo-Narita Layover
I had roughly about two hours to kill at Narita for my layover of which about 30 minutes was spent just getting through the transit security checkpoint (and that was even going through the SkyPriority line). However, once in the terminal, I decided to head the Delta Sky Club in T1 Satellite 1 to waste the bulk of my layover. I wasn’t feeling any better at this point but wasn’t feeling any worse either so I took that as at least a small victory.

Once in the Sky Club I started to work on keeping hydrated, but also trying desperately to find my way into Business Class. Speaking with one of the agents at the counter, there was a glimmer of hope that might need to op-up me due to the oversold condition of the flight, but they weren’t able to process in the club. I was directed to go and check at the gate to see if I might be so lucky. With that being said, I didn’t stick around in the Sky Club for too much longer as a result. I thought about checking out the Korean Air Lines lounge as well, but figured it wouldn’t be worth the trouble as I walked to the gate. Another thing that I tried to do as I walked to the gate? I tried to find a vending machine that had a Suica reader on it; from my last trip to Japan I still had ~¥600 on it, and I figured I would try to spend that. Nope! Despite every other vending machine in Japan accepting them as payment, none of the machines at NRT did. Oh well.

Ok, I Lied…I Did Have One Beer In The Sky Club (Just Had To Use The Beer Machine Again!)

When I got to the gate, I did approach the agent to see if there was any chance of the op-up. They said maybe, but 99% of the time that means “no”. Such is life, and honestly I probably wouldn’t have even really tried if it weren’t for the fact that I wasn’t feeling top notch. I really just wanted to lay down and sleep. Unfortunately, I would be in my originally assigned Economy Comfort seat on a full flight.

Patiently Waiting…

When boarding began, a crowd did rush the gate, but luckily there was an agent that went through the line and was sorting out the people who weren’t Sky Priority during that boarding zone to kick them out. Still, that being said there were a lot of non-Business Class SkyPriority passengers on this flight today, but that probably shouldn’t be surprising.

Delta Air Lines #156
Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Seattle, WA (SEA)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Depart: 3:00PM Arrive: 6:55AM
Aircraft: Airbus A330 Seat: 12G (Economy Comfort)

On the plus side, the eastbound flight takes a few hours less than the westbound ones; flying time to Seattle was at just about eight hours, getting us in a little on the early side. Just as with the HKG-NRT flight, I was trying to rest as much as was possible; being in Economy Comfort makes that a little bit easier compared to regular Economy thanks to a little extra leg room, but is still difficult. It also meant that I tried to watch a movie too; which one I don’t remember because I feel asleep part of the way into it.

That being said, I did at least eat the meal, because I figured that I should probably keep eating and drinking water. For dinner that afternoon/evening I went with the chicken, which guess what? Was served with a side of chicken! No really; check out the photo below. You’ll see a pretty standard chicken + rice + vegetable Economy Class meal, but for an appetizer there was a cold chicken dish. Had I known that I probably would have gone with whatever the other option was, but that’s ok. There was also a typical salad, bread, and a piece of cake. As soon as I got done though, I tried to get to sleep.

I’ll Have The Chicken, With A Side Of Chicken, Please.

Seattle Layover
The good thing was that being near the front of the Economy cabin, I was in the first few off the aircraft in Seattle and quickly made my way to Immigration and Customs. Unfortunately by the time I landed, I was having difficulty hearing in one ear, which made the process with the CBP officer a little difficult. I could barely hear what he was saying and on top of the usual questions I get of “What were you doing ‘over there’ by yourself” and the such and ultimately he apparently was not satisfied with my answers because he marked my form for a secondary inspection. Now, I’ve been through secondary before and each time I have to say the CBP officers conducting the search through my suitcase and bag have always been courteous and friendly during the process. This time was no different than my past experiences and quickly the officer searched my bags and was satisfied that I had not lied on my declaration or had anything to hide.

Whenever I’ve mentioned that CBP has been typically friendly during the times I’ve been referred to secondary, I sometimes get confused looks from other passengers. Most have told me stories the exact opposite, but perhaps I’ve just been lucky. Now in terms of the agents who are scanning passports that’s a different story.

Once in the terminal, I made my way to the Delta Sky Club, of which is one of my favorite lounges in the system. Mostly due to the fact that it is spacious, has a great view of the maintenance hangers (like that counts to most people!), and has a shower that no one seems to know that exists. That last one, is probably the biggest selling point; I have never ever had to wait for a shower at any time of the day that I have flown out of Seattle. The nice hot shower did perk me up a bit, and then I decided that I just didn’t want to spend the next few hours in Seattle (I had an originally booked 6-7 hour layover, that would allow me to go into the city), I just wanted to get home.

With that said, I went ahead and had myself added to the standby list for the 8:10AM SEA-ATL flight, which could have allowed me to get back to Panama City around 4:00PM and I could get medicine and get to bed. Shortly after showing up at the gate I cleared the list and I was a very happy…that is unntil about an hour and a half later at 35,000 feet.

Delta Air Lines #128
Seattle, WA (SEA) to Atlanta, GA (ATL) Kansas City, MO (MCI)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Depart: 8:10PM Arrive: 3:45PM 1:07PM
Aircraft: Boeing 757 Seat: 24C (Economy)

Well on the plus side, I was cleared into an aisle seat at the last minute instead of being stuck in an middle seat for this flight. However, as you can tell by the few lines above, this flight didn’t exactly go according to plan. No, the flight didn’t divert to Kansas City because of me; about an hour and half into the flight the captain announced that a sensor probe was indicating a failure and that they would not be able to descend into Atlanta as there was a chance of icing conditions. This is probably also why we didn’t turn back to Seattle or head to Salt Lake City. Apparently, our best bet was to land in Kansas City and they would sort it out from there.

So here I was just thinking “great”. My plan to get home early and get rested up had just been torpedoed. On the plus side I had never been to the Kansas City airport before, so I tried to look at it as a “good” thing from that perspective. Although as soon as we landed and disembarked, it became clear that this was not going to be fun.

I had read online about how Kansas City was more or less inappropriately designed and it became very clear very quickly. All of Delta’s gates were in a small area that was not connected to other gate areas and within our small area, there was one restroom, two small kiosks and apparently a restaurant upstairs. Did I mention that it was crowded too? You had all the normal passengers and then there were all of us from that unexpected 757.

They announced that they were going to be bringing in a spare part and mechanic from Atlanta to fix the aircraft, but that was going to be for at least a few hours. Everyone was provided with a $50 Delta Voucher as well as a meal voucher when we got off the aircraft; Delta actually had this worked out pretty well. Immediately I got on the phone to the Platinum Medallion line to investigate my options. Aside from the Atlanta flights, it appears that MCI mostly has Regional Jets to the other Delta hubs. The folks on the phone gave me a few options including through MSP and ATL but that would have gotten me home at my originally scheduled 10:00PM at night. I was still looking for that time savings of even just an hour or two. On Twitter, another agent was able to rebook me on to an MCI-ATL flight that afternoon and went further to provide me with a $300 voucher for the inconvenience. A few days later I would get an email giving me 5,000 miles as well as an apology for being delayed as a SkyPriority customer (which is something I haven’t seen from other delays). I won’t lie, I made out pretty well from the delay, but it was frustrating being stuck in Missouri when all you want to do is be at home in bed resting and getting over being ill.

The “Broken” 757

Delta Air Lines #896
Kansas City, MO (MCI) to Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Depart: 3:38PM Arrive: 6:40PM
Aircraft: Boeing 757 Seat: 23E (Economy)

I apologize to the two people I sat between on this flight. Yep, I was in a middle seat. At this point I had a bit of a cough and was feeling a bit more mucus-y, so I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant for either of them. At the very least I was able to pass out for about an hour or so, so hopefully I didn’t drool on anyone’s shoulder…

Although I was glad to get to Atlanta sooner, due to the arrival times, I had just missed a Panama City flight and as a result would have to wait for almost two more hours for the 8:26PM departure. That just meant I went over to the Concourse E Sky Club, took another shower and then hid out until it got closer to boarding time.

Delta Air Lines #2111
Atlanta, GA (ATL) to Panama City, FL (ECP)
Monday, December 2, 2013
Depart: 8:26PM Arrive: 8:38PM
Aircraft: Boeing 717 Seat: 3A (First)

Well, at least I cleared into First Class on this final 45 minute or so leg back home! Ha! Can’t say there was anything remarkable about the flight, it’s a short and standard flight and I just drank water. Not really anything to say there…

Once we landed though, I made my way as quickly as possible to my car rushed home. I knew at this point that I would not be going into work the next day, as there was no way I was going to be feeling well enough to go into work. I settled in, sent an email out saying as such (or I thought I did, because the phone call at 11:00AM the next day from my manager indicated otherwise), and proceeded to pass out in my bed. I didn’t even bother to bring my bags up from the car…

One more installment to go: the Conclusion of my trip and overall thoughts. Stay tuned!

This entry was posted in Delta, Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Macau, Travel, Trip Report. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: