Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     This was not exactly the trip that I had originally planned. I don't think one single thing went right. Not saying it made the trip horrible but just so much stuff happened that I wish didn't. Everything in the end worked out though. Some of my Higlights: * Delta's T4 and hanging out with fellow Avgeeks/Travel Bloggers * Catching up with my friend in New York even if briefly * Spending 4 hours walking over Manhattan * Spending time in Vancouver with my friends, just chilling, no stress Some of the things I would rather forget: * Almost losing my camera * Hurrying through New York like a mad man * Middle Seat... nuff said * Having to drop 20k points and more money at the last minute The whole point of this trip though was Cathay First Class. All I can say is WOW! It was amazing! I couldn't say enough about the crew, Kevin and Angel did a fantastic job. Nothing was to much, they were friendly, engaging, refined, dignified and everything all rolled into one. The food was great (suprisingly) and even though I didn't get the caviar that would come with a full dinner service, the Lobster... omg the size of that thing just made up for it. I can wait to have caviar onboard first class. The seat itself was great, so much space, comfort and all the good bits and pieces you want. The amenities onboard were good, I haven't opened my pyjamas yet as I haven't had a chance but they will be used! The overall value of that flight alone is a bargain. I paid $27 for a seat worth $3500! I even got a pair of designer pyjamas probably worth a good $100 or so I would assume, plus a designer amenity kit. Sadly no spoons to add to my collection (I got a couple in the BA lounge) but that isn't anything I can't get in the future. Now it's time to prepare for the next trip.

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                    

Monday 27th May 2013

It’s Monday morning and I am in a hotel room, this isn’t normal.  So what do I do? I try to act like normal!  A run in the hotel gym (pushed hard to work off the weekend of crap) and some quick push ups and burpees, to my brain this is normal Monday work out.  Originally today was going to be a little bit different to how they panned out.  After my work out I was originally going to head into the city, drop my suitcase at the station and have some breakfast somewhere.  However today after the work out, i packed my bag and tried to drop it at the Alaska Airlines check in. If you read the introduction you would of seen that I had planned to use the Bolt Bus home, well things changed when the I5 bridge over the Skagit River fell down.  I was a bit worried about traffic and actually making it home at a fairly decent time.  Being memorial day weekend I was expecting a fair amount of traffic so I knew it would of been a possible slow journey home.  This would make things even worse. I looked at my options and the train was $55 at 6am... pass.  I had two options for using points to get home.  Alaska or American points.  American had a cheaper points outlay on 12,500 points however the flights were 7am and via Portland.  2 flights for 12,500 points is pretty good value.  However what was not so good was the $120 outlay in taxes... pass!  Alaska was a direct flight for 20,000 points and only $50 outlay. So I ummed and I ahhed.  I asked friends opinions and after some convincing arguments, I bit the bullet.  $50 later (plus a bag fee later on) and I was booked to get home.

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
As I was heading to breakfast at Tim Hortons I figured I would try and drop my bag off to the Check In desk and then go back to the hotel to do some work before heading through immigration.  Smart right?  Wrong!  Apparently you can’t do that at all and you HAVE to go straight from check in to immigration.  No going back at all!  That’s crap.  So rather than lug my bag all the way back upstairs, I just stored it with the Porters at the door and went to get my usual canadian breakfast.  Tim Hortons bagel & coffee.

From Memorial Day Firsts
After a bit of catch up on work emails, some personal email clearing out as well, I left my room 2 hours prior to my flight departure.  I checked out easily (grabbed the card for the marketing manager for a future story pitch) and headed to check in.  I checked in with a very cute canadian blonde and headed through to drop off my bag after paying my $21 bag fee.  $71 in costs and a $20 forfeited bus fare meant I was going to get home at a reasonable time.  Worth it!
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The transborder gates at YVR have a very wierd system.  You have your bags tagged but you have to self load onto a conveyer at about 4 or 5 different stages you have your boarding pass scanned (even security) and then you make it into the US Immigration pre clearance.  Pre Clearance was easy as hell, no forms now so I was through quickly and easily!  I wish it was always that easy.
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From here I had about 35 minutes till boarding so I went in search of a coffee (one last Timmies hit!) and then walked out to the “Shed” where all the Transborder Prop flights depart from.  I didn’t expect any facilities out there, but the free wifi worked, they had a small combined cafe/shop and plenty of seating.  Sounds good to me!  I sat down and did a bit of work on some of the articles I have due at the moment.  With at least 3 from the weekend alone and a few more in the pipeline, Mal has some serious work to do!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
Pretty soon without even realising it, the flight was being called.  The gate had swapped twice it seemed and I hadn’t heard the latest update from Tripit come through to my phone (although I may have and had just ignored it).  I was sitting outside Gate E94 which we had swapped to after I checked in.  then apparently we went back to E96.  So I went back over to the other side of the “Terminal”.  I was a bit worried about my camera bag in the Dash 8 overhead bins and was thinking I might have to gate check it.
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The gate staff assured me I wouldn’t have to and I moved a few things about to make sure that it was as small as possible anyway.  I walked around a bit knowing that I would be cramped for the upcoming flight. Alaska Airlines - AS2267 (Operated by Horizon Air) Vancouver to Seattle Tacoma 1030-1119 Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 (N438QX) Economy Class - Seat 6A

Boarding: 1000 (Gate E96) Power Out: 1031 Take Off Roll: 1041 (Runway 8R) Top of Descent: 1100 Touch Down: 1111 (Runway 16R) Shut Down: 1118 (Gate N12A)

There was a hell of a lot of pre boards (but then it is cruising season and a lot of old folks do cruise in Alaska) and eventually boarding began with a laundry list of Elites who can board.  Alaska Elites, Delta Elites & American Elites all in the one list.  The elites is a scrum on its own!  When general boarding was called it was on for young and old at the gate.  Everyone was swamping their way in as much as possible.
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Out into the cold (without my jacket on mind you) and up the steps into the tiny little Dash 8.  At least its a Q400 so it has a bit more space inside (not that there is much anyway).  I couldn’t fit my camera bag in the overhead so I had to stash it under the seat infront (where it fit easily) and stash my backpack in the overhead.  Reverse of the usual!  Not good for legroom either as the camera bag took all of it!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
People moved onboard pretty quickly and the Horizon staff were proud to advertise that they were Horizon and not Alaska Airlines.  In saying that though the staff were pretty nice and friendly.  During the Captain’s intro he was quite light hearted and joked around quite a bit.  Making sure we were not to congregate around the forward Lav area and that if we did, “we would be in trouble, not that he could divulge what trouble”.  A good laugh for the short flight which was announced as 30 minutes from “wheels up to wheels down”.
From Memorial Day Firsts
When the door was shut we powered up and was off the gate dead on time.  We taxiied towards the gate with the words from the Captain “Cabin Crew, lets fly!”  Why can’t all pilots announce with that!  As he said this I turned my head and saw a 747 on the strip ahead of us.  Cool!  Then I saw the winglets missing... 747-8F!  Definately wouldn’t be an -8i as Lufthansa never fly here.  Then as we got closer I saw the colour scheme.  It was Hong Kong Trader.  Cathay Pacific Cargo’s special livery.  One of the Freighters I had dreamed of seeing for ages!  I got a half decent shot out the window.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
As we made it over to 8R the pilot did not even slow down, he turned onto the runway and before we were even straight he was flooring the props.  The climb out was noisy (I was sitting next to the propellors) and as we climbed away from Vancouver I snapped a last picture of the city and Hong Kong Trader as well.  We then got into the clouds and that was that.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I had hoped the clouds wouldn’t be there as apparently the flight is extremely scenic.  Sadly not this one!  I saw nothing but white.  I read my book and even got a free cup of water!  WOW!  The funny thing was when I was getting my cup of water given to me, they were pouring on demand and I was instructed to hold it over my own lap, that way if it was my cup that went and got splashed it went on me, not someone else.  Nice and all for the other person but what about my pants!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
As we tipped over to descend we broke out of the clouds right above my house! Pretty awesome to see your own area as you descend out of the clouds and we came in from the north heading towards what would obviously be a 16 arrival.  As we passed the 520 bridge over Lake Washington, I got my first ever view of the draw span open.  In over a year of living here I had never seen it open till now.  Awesome!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

As we passed over Boeing Field there was a number of shiny new 737s on the ramp including both a Qantas & Virgin Australia sitting almost side by side.  We landed on 16R spot on time and the pilot felt like he kept the front wheel off for quite some time as though he was skidding it along on the rear wheels only.  O did I mention it yet?  It was raining.  Meh!  Nothing like my memorial day weekend last year!

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
This trip was coming to a quick conclusion as we taxiied over to the north gates and parked up next to a couple of other Dash 8s.  First time I have had a ramp walk at the North Gates to finish off my first Horizon flight.  Pity it was wet everywhere.  Once in the terminal it was down to the train, over to baggage claim and let the timer run.  Come on bag, fail me now!  Daddy wants some points!  I wanted it to be just a minute or two late so I could get some points back.  I got my wish, it took my bag 35 minutes to show up!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts

With bag in hand I headed over to the baggage desk, collected my voucher thanks to the delay and headed towards the shuttles to head over to the car park.  It seems that every time I organise my truck to get washed at the car park, it rains.  But it needed the clean and minutes later I was looking at my shiny (tho wet) truck.  Back in the truck and north I head to the house and some chores to get myself ready for a week of work and more travelling ahead!

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                    

After disembarking at Vancouver and going up the escalators into the Sterile area (Vancouver is different and has the sterile area for disembaking guests in the rafters of the temrinal) I walked the long long way to immigration.  Immigration itself was empty and there was only 1 or 2 people ahead of me but it was still pretty wierd to see no one there.  I was expecting a grilling like every other time I have entered Canada, however tonight the officer who allowed me to enter must of been having a good evening because she barely even questioned me.

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I was through within minutes without a problem.  My bag came out onto the belt about the third of the non crew bags and that was even better!  I was the first person through customs and as I strolled along almost whistling, the customs agent was also in a friendly mood, giving me directions up to the Fairmont.  I was walking upstairs turning right and heading over to the escalators up to the walkway.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Within minutes of leaving customs I was walking into the Fairmont and as I turned right to go to the check in desk, i was shocked... there was a couch there... umm say what now.  I turned around and noticed the check in desk had moved.  Wierd!  I commented about it during the check in progress and they apparently changed a few months back.  I got all my paperwork fixed up and after asking about my room, I found out I was above the transborder gates.  I swear I had fixed that problem! They couldn’t move me tonight but I guess I had no real say.  I just sucked it up!  Headed up to the room.  Total time on the ground including waiting, 33 minutes.  Near record timing!  Plane to bed in less than 35 minutes.  There was a few problems with the room (no working power points near the bed, lights not working that sort of thing) and since I couldn’t be bothered dealing with it that night, I just went to bed.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Sunday 26th May 2013 I hit the gym nice and early for a run on the treadmill (earlier than I had planned to be honest) and was going to take it easy today.  Plenty of plane spotting, writing of stuff and just general relaxation, no stress at all. After the gym though I stopped by reception and mentioned all the problems and they gladly offered to room move me later in the day when I came back to the hotel after spotting.  That was easy!  So I didn’t unpack anything really and just kept the suitcase almost packed.  I did what I usually do at YVR Airport and that is breakfast at Tim Hortons in the Domestic Terminal over looking the ramp.  Catching up on emails and relaxing. After a nice simple breakfast, I walked back to the hotel and just spent the rest of the morning spotting from the room, using my scanner that I had brought with me and did I mention I relaxed?  I caught up with my friend Leighton and his friend Matt for the rest of the afternoon and although I was meant to catch up with my friend Roylene who had just moved to Canada from Aus, that didn’t happen.  
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
So after getting the train into Broadway for my old faithful (Whole Foods) for dinner, I made it back to the hotel pretty much right as I got a message from her saying she was all good to catch up if I hadn’t of eaten.  O well!  I settled in for a quiet night as I was going to need to get up a little earlier.  My way home had changed a little!

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                    

I had gotten myself back to the hotel after spending all day walking around and changed over a few things with my bags.  Swapping out was easy and I snacked on an apple while I waited around a bit as I was not going straight away.  Check in wasn’t going to open till 6:30pm and I didn’t want to spend to much time just sitting around the airport with a giant suitcase.

From Memorial Day Firsts

My idea after seeing a special offer online for getting to the airport had changed from getting the train to trying out Uber.  I managed to get a $35 discount code and it seemed pretty cool, I was looking forward to giving it a try.  All you need to do is hit a couple of buttons on your phone and a car will appear within moments.  So that’s what I did.  Took me a couple of minutes to get it going to begin, setting up the app but once that was all done, there was a car out front of the Eventi within moments.  The traffic wasn’t to bad and after a good chat with the driver about Uber we were sitting arriving at JFK.  I jumped out and as soon as the driver was gone, that’s when I realised it.  O M G... where is my CAMERA!

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

I paniced, big time, my mind was swimming, omg what do I do, how do I get in contact with the driver.  As uber is all smartphone based there isn’t a contact number really.  That to me was the biggest issue with the service as I couldn’t instantly call my driver back.  I was frantically scanning the web but the internet on my phone at the airport was excrutiatingly slow.  In the end all I could do was email them and wait and hope they would send it to me.  So by the time I had resigned myself to this, it was 630pm!  Time to check in and get through security, probably pick up a cheap camera and just use that for the next day or so.

Check in was pleasant and easy and I dropped my bag off and was given a lounge invite, map and they even pointed out where I could get my camera.  Thank you Cathay for being so understanding.  They showed me the directions to the lounge and wished me luck.  I headed off to TSA and they commented on just how early I was.  I didn’t mind at all.  The crazy thing about it all was by the time I got through security I had fully resigned myself to never seeing my camera again.  I came across one of the Best Buy vending machines but the only camera they had was expensive.  So I started heading towards another store.  When I got there though my email went off.  I checked it.  It was Uber emailing me with the drivers phone number.

I called, he had it!  He was still close by and told me he could drop it off in a few minutes.  To be honest I didn’t know if I could make it back out or not. I ran quickly to the lounge to find out if I could get out, otherwise I would see if a staff member could get it for me instead.  They said it was fine, so I rang the driver back and ran back through the exits, back to where I was dropped off.  Within moments the driver pulled up and handed me my camera.  Score! I was happy as all larry!

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Back through security again (this got wierd looks) and now I was hoping to just get a shower and some lunch.  I was in a “fuck it” mood and didn’t care anymore!  So I relaxed into the experience of the BA Lounge, had a shower and then next on the agenda was some lunch.  I browsed through the food options on the business side before heading over to the first side.  The first class side of the lounge though smaller was actually worse food wise, there was nothing!  However when I went over to the Business class dining area, they then told me I couldn’t access it, which seemed strange because I swear my friends had said they used it when they did the same flight earlier in the year.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

So as I went back to the other side of the lounge they advised me that yes I should of been able to use it and they will fix it up.  I wasn’t worried I could of just snacked on carrots and stuff, but they decided to fix the issue (awesome service really) and within a few minutes (after i had grabbed some carrots anyway) they told me it was all resolved and I should head around when I am ready.  So I did.

I had some lunch in the pre dining and avoided the desserts which was smart, accept as I left the business side to head back over to the First Class lounge to do some work, I grabbed a few cookies.  So much for being good.  I ended up enjoying them so much I went back for some more (they didn’t have the same in the F lounge, so I had to walk to get them).  What is it with me and cookies!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I settled in with some club soda, my cookies and my laptop and did some work trying to get the photos uploaded from the Delta event.  It wasn’t working as I didn’t have the ability to do full photo maniupluation on the laptop,  Not fantastic but I will have to work out a away to fix this before my next trip.  But that is just something I can do later.  The time sort of sped by and it was approaching boarding time.  I wanted to be there early to see if I could pre board. I got to the gate and tried my business card trick (same a I did with Qantas, and they said yep shouldn’t be a problem, I just had to wait).  So that’s what I did!  I waited!  It was turning into a real zoo as there was a BA flight boarding right next door to our gate and they were just pushing and shoving their way through the Cathay crowds.  As the security checks of the Aircraft completed, the head of the gate staff signalled me over and they let me straight through.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

Cathay Pacific - CX889 New York John F Kennedy to Vancouver 2200-0013 Boeing 777-300ER (B-KPC) First Class - Seat 1K

Boarding: 2130 (Gate 4) Push Back: 2225 Take Off Roll: 2241 (Runway 31L) Top of Descent: 0031 Touch Down: 0055 (Runway 8R) Shut Down: 0106 (Gate D64)

I boarded down and he told me to “be quick” so they could start boarding everyone else.  That was not a problem as I was intending on being as quick as possible.  All I wanted was a few photos of the empty cabin.  What I got was a fantastic few photos of not only the First Class cabin but also the mini business cabin behind it.  The new seats that AA, CX and US Airways are using are pretty damn nice for the business class but today I was flying first.  All i can say is.. DAMN!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
This seat is HUGE!  Almost as wide as the Sinagapore Business seat that i flew on their A380.  You could probably feet a couple of small people in the seat.  Totally impressed just by looking at it.  The seat was comfortable and now that I was onboard, I didn’t want this flight to go anywhere.  As I snapped a whole heap of photos of just about everything, I was offered all the usual treats.  Beverage of choice, amenity kit, pyjamas.  Everything you would expect for Long Haul First class, just NOT on a transcon!  I settled in, tweetings, taking photos, doing the usual.  Enjoying myself.  My drink barely even got touched and the crew were greeting everyone as they boarded, First class filled up to be 6/6.  I was thankful that a friend had managed to get me the seat I was in.
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The flight was slow to load I guess and the shuddering as they loaded all the cargo was bouncing back and forth.  But as I relaxed into my big seat, I was happy for the lateness.  As soon as it passed the moment we were officially late, the first thing i thought was YAYAYA we are late!  That was probablly the only time I have ever said that I was happy to be late.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
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From Memorial Day Firsts
Eventually the boarding doors closed and the glasses were all collected (I was on my 2nd water by that stage).  I had managed to get a photo of the Krug and I think the crew thought I was wierd just asking for a photo of the bottle and a glass without wanting to drink it.  The things we do for blog articles!
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We pushed back and taxiied out to the active runway past all of the Jetblue aircraft.  I had a good laugh at the safety demo as the asian looking pilot who did the Cantonese translations had the cheesiest grin ever! I did pay attention, I swear.  We lined up onto 31L and as we did so, I could hear the pilots wind up the GE90s and I had a giant grin on my face.  I LOVE that sound.  We climbed out of JFK with a bit of bumps through the clouds and I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to it, I was to busy just enjoying it all. As we climbed up to altitude the seat belt sign came off pretty quickly compared to the US airlines and I got myself set up.  The menu had been presented on the ground and as the order was taken I asked if I could delay my meal a bit (love first class) and I changed things up a little, mixing and matching the meals with a majority of the western options (entree, salad, soup) but with the asian main.  They were happy to oblige.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I settled in to do a little bit of work and try and get the stuff to work with the laptop, it still wouldn’t so I prepped up more of the trip report and settled into the seat.  The flight was just winging away and by the time my hour had started to come to an end a number of people were on their 3rd course, there was a couple using the ottoman to double dine in the seat behind me, and I was getting myself ready for a nice long dinner.
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From Memorial Day Firsts
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The meal started with a full elaborate table setting, a bread basket and the famous Cathay Pacific Garlic Bread (not that I was going to eat it).  I had both butter OR olive oil.  I was looking forward to this meal.  I had swapped to diet coke with the meal and I still had the sparkling water and before the meal started I did ask for some nuts (which I had delayed earlier).  I started up the movie and settled in.
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From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Course after Course started to come and I was in heaven.  Each one was tasty and it was a full seafood meal for me.  First up was a Prawn Appetiser and then a bowl of White Aspargus soup (I was offered seconds of the soup but declined to make sure I could fit everything in).  Then came the Salad which was meant to have lobster with it.  I was expecting just a tiny bit of lobster. I was wrong.  There was like a solid half a lobster on my plate.  I may not of gotten any caviar on this flight but just look at the size of that lobster!
From Memorial Day Firsts
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The main came and it was the asian Black Cod so all my cutlery was swapped out for chopsticks and I was even offered a fresh bread basket.  Kevin who was serving me was fantastic and as I enjoyed the main we had a chat about just how good some of the meals are out of certain cities (chinese soups on cathay out of Hong Kong I will have to try).  With the main finished up, time for more courses!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I was offered Cheese, fruit and dessert, well I wasn’t really offered it was more suggested!  I of course accepted and with the cheese it wasn’t pre plated either.  A full cheese board was shown to me first!  I picked the cheese I wanted and this was served with a few crackers and some grapes and some Rosemary Apple jelly.  Perfect way to continue the meal.
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Following that I was offered my selection of fruit and just choose some strawberries and some mango, I was REALLY getting full by this stage and then after that came the chocolate mousse cake and some coffee.  I finished off with another cup of coffee and some of the pralines.  By the time this came out there was about 2 hours or so left of the flight and I was just stuffed!  I asked for the duvet because it was slightly chilly and settled in to try and watch tv.  But first they had to reset my IFE.  damn.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Once the IFE was reset I settled in to watch some tv shows and just relax, we were going through a bit of turbulence (for the 3rd or 4th time during the flight) so unforutnately no more coffee for the moment since the seatbelt sign was on.  But once it came off I grabbed myself another cup just to keep me going till the end of the flight.  As we approached the descent into Vancouver I was feeling it a little, I was ready for bed!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
A few minutes prior to descent the Captain came on and gave his pre arrival brief and concluded with “Cabin Crew, 30 minutes to landing”.  The first time I had ever heard an airline say something like that.  Pretty cool still.  As we descended into Vancouver you really couldn’t see anything till pretty much the last minute and it was ok really considering it was pitch black outside without lights.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I had immensly enjoyed the flight and I didn’t want it to end, but I also wished that I was continuing onto Hong Kong and had so many hours ahead of me in this suite.  So many hours of fun and maybe some sleep... but I doubted it.  What was awaiting for me was probably plenty of hell at the border for immigration and then a bed mere steps away from the terminal. Upon landing in Vancouver we were the only aircraft moving about (rightly so that early in the morning) and before you knew it we were heading for our gate.  Parked up right next to a China Airlines A340-300 headed to Taiwan, and we were the only two aircraft at the International terminal.  Wierd!  Before I could barely even get out of my suite, someone from Business had pushed his way forward and was already exiting the aircraft, either he was desperate to get off or I dawdled way to much.  I thanked the crew for an amazing flight and headed into the terminal.  Knowing that my first Cathay experience was over.  Hopefully not my last though.

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                    

Friday 24th May 2013

I had touched down at JFK T5 and with my bag in hand and over an hour later than I had hoped to of been there, I dialed up Dial 7 and let them know where I was.  Dial 7 is the same car company I used last time I was in New York and they were still pretty cheap $39 + tip & tolls into New York.  Worked out around $55 from what I could work out before the trip and considering when I originally booked it and paid for the base cost it was well worth the effort as I was hoping to be in the city quickly.
From Memorial Day Firsts
Sadly had I known we were going to be late and I wouldnt have all that much time till I was due back at the airport I would of pricelined a cheap hotel from the night before and then when I got back from the cheap hotel used left luggage at T4 to store my suitcase while I worked.  Crazy++ really.  But I was stuck.  So into the city I went.  Just as we left I asked how long it was going to take... he told me over an hour and 20 minutes... SAY WHAT!!! I went into panic mode and thoughts of not even having time to change went through my head.  I was worried entirely about getting back in time for the start of the walk throughs for photos.  Dammit!  We made it in about 45-50 minutes in the end which wasn’t so bad but it meant no time for a shave, and I was still pretty paniced as it was almost 8 and i knew I had to be at least back at Penn Station by no later than 830 to make it in time. I got to the Eventi hotel and was immediately impressed as the car had barely pulled up and someone was already opening my door and helping me with my bags.  From that moment on, the race was on to get everything done in time.  I didn’t expect a room, all I wanted right then and there was a shower and some coffee.  I checked into the hotel and they immediately greeted me and let me know that I had been upgraded to a suite.  Score.  I didn’t expect a room right away considering it was very very early in the morning and check in was 3pm.  But they told me that if they didn’t put me in the suite now, I may not get it later so they wanted to make sure that it was clean and that it would only take a minute or two to check.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I was happy with a normal room and to be honest any room with a bathroom, but they were adamant I should have my suite.  So I waited a few minutes and grabbed a coffee from the stand in the lobby (free as usual) and with the service they were going to, I knew it was going to be an awesome stay.  They were totally friendly and amazingly generous to me.  Wanting to make sure I was ok and looked after all the time.  They got their phone call saying the room was good to go and I was handed my key.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I sped up to the room (704) and as soon as I walked through the door I was blown away by it.  Not large by normal standards but large by New York standards but totally adequate for me.  The bathroom was beautiful and a nice big marble shower/tub set up looked magnificient right then.  My stuff was thrown all about the room as I was literrally in and out of the shower within minutes of getting through the door.  I was dressed cleaned and ready to go and on the street in less than 15 minutes and as I was heading for the door I thanked the staff for the amazing room and she commented “you were serious about being quick” to which i replied “I told you all I needed was a shower and to get back to the Airport for work”.  They wished me a pleasant day and all stress went out of my head as I was ahead of time.  Right outside the door of the hotel was a coffee and bagel cart so for $1 I had a HUGE (albeit not that great) Sesame Bagel and within 2 blocks I was in Penn Station and for another $1 I had a banana in hand.  With coffee from the lobby for $2 I had my go to breakfast.  How can you complain about that! Couldn’t figure out what ticket I needed to JFK so I lined up and they told me where to go and what to do and within 20 minutes of leaving the hotel I was in my seat on the train, heading back to the airport I had just left.  Perfect right?  Breakfast and some downtime reading my book on the train for the 25 minute ride to Jamaica station to connect on the Airtrain to JFK.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
After spending some time at the new Delta T4 with a heap of other Travel Bloggers and getting the royal tour, spending way to much time snacking on crap in the new Sky Club and enjoying myself immensly I was just happy to be heading back to the city.  One of the fellow blogger (Cynthia from Jaunted) had pointed me in the direction of a nice cheap barber to get my hair cut as I needed one before the Hong Kong trip and wouldn’t have time to get one during the week.  So I took her advice and headed to Astor Place and wow... this place was old school and unlike anything I had ever seen but they were good, cheap and quick! It was approaching 5:30pm by the time I had reached the hotel so had literally spent almost 9 hours in New York so far and done nothing really but spend it all at JFK!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
When I got back to the hotel, that is when the Kimpton service really showed.  Inside the door of my room was my amenity for being Inner Circle.  This time it was spot on!  2 Apples, 2 bananas, two bottles of diet coke and 2 bottles of sparkling water, along with a nice big bowl of unsalted roasted almonds and cashews and hazlenuts.  They know the way to my heart!  I had a quick snack and a shower to wake me up and set up my dinner plans for the evening with my friend Daniela who was visiting New York from germany.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Our dinner plans were catering to the both of us.  I was getting my first ever Raw/Vegan experience and Daniela was experiencing the foodie sweet tooth of mine by indulging in what is reputed to be the most addictive dessert ever.  We were heading to East Village into the “trendy hipster” area full of lots of different organic, raw, vegan you name it places.  So if we couldn’t get into one, we could go to another within a 5 minute walk.  I was happy to walk wherever we needed to go, exercise was good!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
The first place we tried was full for several hours apparently so gave up on that and headed to another one that my friend had been to the day before for lunch.  She showed me what she had eaten for lunch and I instantly HAD to try it.  It sounded so wierd it was awesome.  We made it to Quintessance Cafe and it was small, so tiny!  But it was half full (which was a half decent sign).  I ended up having the “Ravioli Combination” which was a raw turnip based dish stuffed with cashew cream and served with zuchinni pasta on the side.  It may sound wierd, but god damn it was tasty.  I may not ever make the decision to become vegan but if I was offered this, I wouldn’t turn it down.  They also had an amazingly creamy butternut squash soup that I could of sworn had cream or something else in it, but it was just pure pumpkin and spices.  SCORE!! Recipe replication time!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Daniela had the “burger” and it was certainly unique.  Served with “Coconut & Squash Bread” it sounded totally far fetched but the sauces that went with it to replicate mustard and tomato ketchup were tasty as hell.  I would not complain about the sauces at least, the burger though wasn’t all to interesting (so really it was kind of like McDonalds hehe).
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
We left dinner, regretting not hitting up Groupon like everyone else it seems that night had done and walked through the east village navigating the cold windy streets to find ourselves at Momofuku Milk bar.  I had one thing on my mind this evening.  Crack Pie.  This wierd sounding dessert is really not all that much when you list the ingrediants but holy crap is it AWESOME!  Amazingly tasty and the slices were not all that big either, a good small size piece is all you need as it was decadant and tasty and sticky and sweet and rich all rolled into one.  Serve it with a little cup of “Cereal Milk” ice cream and your set!  What is Cereal Milk Ice Cream?  Ever drank the leftover milk from your bowl of cereal in the morning?  Get that yummy milky cereal taste?  Take that leftover (although they make it especially by steeping the cereal in the Milk then straining) milk and turn it into the ice cream base.  YUM!!!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
After that I walked it all off by walking back almost 20 blocks to my hotel, totally content with my day.  Sleep could not come soon enough and I crashed out! Saturday 25th May 2013 I woke up around 7 hoping to see blue sky or at least no rain and win.  I got neither!  It was crap out, so my plans of running in Central Park were totally scrapped and with dissapointment I hit the gym for a solid hour, something I had not done in a while.  That at least made me feel good.  The rest of my plans to spend the day walking, that I was NOT going to give up so I caught up on the work and got that all done before heading to breakfast with a foodie on twitter who had met a friend of mine in Singapore.  I figured I may as well touch base and we had a good meet up over a bagel and coffee.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Ess A Bagel is where we met and their “Everything” bagel is what was recommended so one of those with low fat cream cheese (im on holidays remember) and a banana and a coffee and that was my nourishment for the day.  I was intending on keeping myself to a west coast schedule so that I was good for a very late dinner on the flight and then touching down around 1am and heading straight to bed.  The bagel, chat and company were great and I left her to head off to a lunch meeting and I headed off back to Broadway.  At Broadway and 20th I pulled out my ipod.  Turned left looked all the way down manhattan and headed off.  Destination Battery Park.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

I walked, and I walked and I walked some more.  Eventually I ended up at the World Trade Center area and made a quick stop (not that I wasn’t stopping for photos and stuff along the way as it was) to visit St Pauls Chapel, the new World Trade Center buidling and then kept on going. I walked for almost 2 hours down to Battery Park and once I got there I strolled around pretty slowly getting heaps of photos and then trying to stay out of the wind as much as possible.  I contemplated hitting the Statten Island Ferry to get the free trip past the Statue of Liberty but the wind and waves looked a bit to much for me.

So instead I jumped the 6 train over to Brooklyn and then got a bit lost in brooklyn trying to find the bridge but a police officer (always good for local directions... to the nearest donut place,.. kidding) helped me out and I was soon heading to the Brooklyn bridge where I walked through high winds, rain and plenty of crowds doing the same thing enjoying that feeling of being on an icon.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
I was so excited to be doing it, that I didn’t care about all the crap around me.  I just kept on walking, and walking and walking.  By the time I reached city hall on the New York side the crowds I had passed were pretty thick and getting thicker, so I hit the Subway station again and headed uptown this time to Grand Central.  I was going to go and visit the Transit Museum hopefully.  What I got though was a tiny little gift shop.  Bummer.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Instead I explored the station a little, stood around, relaxed, people watched a little.  Making me slowly happier to just be resting for a little, by this time it was 4pm and I had been walking around 4 hours!  After walking the wrong way out of Grand Central I found Lexington Ave closed for some kind of street market thing so just followed the crowds uptown further, I did turn around at 48th street and started heading back downtown as I would have to go the airport soon enough.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
In the end I walked all over the city.  From 48th Street to Battery park, crossing over many avenues along the way, all through the East Village area back and forth back and forth.  I would have to say that in the two days in New York I probably walked a good half of Manhattan.  Pretty good accomplishment.. at least I think so!

I can't tell if I am coming or going right now. I just got back from Vancouver yesterday, and it was good to be back. Managed to skirt all the I5 traffic issues thankfully. But I am back at work and need to knuckle down and focus... well at least for the next few days. You see I am only back at work till mid Friday afternoon and then I am back in the air again. I can't tell if I am coming or going right now. I have had my head in the laptop the last few days with a heap of Airline Reporter articles to finish, the trip report from the weekend to get done. Paying bills, doing stuff like that, planning stuff for this trip and also planning articles that will be upcoming with AR. I did manage to get all the photos up from the weekend but I am still way behind in aviation photos. Who knows what this next weekend will bring but I am looking forward to some of these flights, though I am spending more time off work, I can work remotely (though I will try NOT to work to much, but there are times when I will need to do, and with some downtime I can do it easily). One thing I am REALLY looking forward to is my flight on Friday. I am flying Southwest for the first time. This is going to be an interesting experience purely because this kind of flight service isn't on offer in Australia so it's not as if I have had this before. I will need to do some planning so if anyone has some tips on a first time Southwest flyer I would be more than happy to here them. Who knows.. it may even make a web article! But this is going to be a pretty full on couple of days. As of Friday I will be back in the tweeting and foursquaring everything game. Make sure you follow #ANASJC as that's the hashtag I will be using once I set off in the truck to SeaTac on Friday afternoon. Till then I still have to keep my mind firmly grounded rather than up in the clouds.
Memorial Day Firsts

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                    

Thursday 23rd May 2013

As I paniced my way through a long, extremely busy day in the office, trying to get everything tied up prior to my long weekend, all I could do was think about what laid ahead.  It didn’t help as I chatted along with people on the phone about weekend plans and with them thinking I am pretty insane.  As the end of my shift grew nearer all I wanted to do was hit the road and get to SeaTac, however it was around 3pm when I got the bad news via Tripit.  Inbound flight delay 🙁  O well!  At least it meant I didn’t have to hurry to the airport and that was a good thing as the 405 was a parking lot as usual. I actually made pretty good time to the airport after leaving work as I took a back way to cut through a good majority of the traffic and actually managed to get through to the airport in around 45 minutes, suprising cause it usually takes an hour!  After parking the truck and hopping on the shuttle, I was at the airport before that usual hour was up.  Pity that meant I had 4 more till my flight was due to leave pretty much.

I headed towards the Jetblue counters and checked myself in, trying to talk my way into an exit row without any cost.  The agent told me he could’t waive the cost but that it would only be $35 for my flight.  I jumped at the chance cause it would normally be $65 however about 2 seconds after I said that he said he made a mistake and it would be the proper price.  Bad move!! He wouldn’t honour what he said so I walked away with my window seat intact and a tip from him to “try again at the gate” with a wink.

From Memorial Day Firsts
I headed off for a bit of an explore of all the new check in desks as there had been some major reshuffles with United moving from the North to the B gates. American, Jetblue and Frontier moving from A to D. Delta consolidating all to the south, along with Alaska moving the majority of it’s gates to the North and still a smattering here and there at some other areas. Confusion I am sure for just about everyone!
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
What it meant was shiny new check in counters for both Delta & United. How shiny? Well Delta’s opened that morning! It looked good to and if this was anything to go by for T4 in New York, well I was looking forward to tomorrow! Since I was all the way down in the Southern end anyway, I decided against back tracking to security closer to my gates. It was smarter as well as security was quiet and I only waited because the TSA agent checking my ID was busy chatting with a collegue till the collegue pointed that someone was standing in front of her. I wasn’t in a rush so I didn’t mind the extra 15 seconds of waiting time. Hell I was tempted to go for a TSA Grope if they pointed me towards the backscatter machines to waste some time (and my hard earned tax payer dollars).
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
Once through security my main focus was to find some power for my laptop and log into work to finish stuff off since I wanted to make sure my inbox was empty before I flew out.  My plan was get it empty and then not touch it till Tuesday.  I had plenty of other work to do if I was going to do anything.  I scoured the terminals for something resembling a desk and a power point, but there wasn’t much of anything till I found some by the D gates, about 4 up from where my flight was departing.  Good location right?  I plonked myself down, connected to the free wifi, started charging my phone so it would have as much power as possible for when I hit the ground in New York and got stuck into it.
From Memorial Day Firsts
Time passed pretty quickly and I didn’t even really notice my surroundings.  A couple of tweets and about an hour or so later my inboxes were all empty (personal and work), blogs caught up on and I was getting a tad sleepy.  Coffee time!  I packed up my stuff and as I turned around, what should be sitting opposite the gate... Salmon Thirty Salmon.  HAH! I was to busy working I hadn’t noticed the rarest of rare birds sitting behind me!
From Memorial Day Firsts
I headed off to Starbucks for a coffee and went all the way back to the main food court because it would give my legs a stretch and because well, I didn’t want to use any cash when I could get a coffee off one of the cards I had been given.  Slow stroll through the terminal looking around, people watching, perving, thinking.  All the things you do when you have time in a terminal right?  I was totally relaxed.  No stress of work, just not thinking at all.  We were only meant to be delayed about 20 minutes or so and that was not a big deal.
From Memorial Day Firsts

I headed back towards the gate as I wanted to try the exit row trick again, and when I did, the last aisle seat was taken already (windows were gone days ago) so I sat down and read my book for a while and munched on a couple of cookies I had stashed in my bag from my work stash (which were actually from my last VX flight) being in a “meh” kind of mood.  The delay kept on adding up though as the aircraft just was not showing up at all.  When it should of arrived it was no where in site and my brain went into “O SHIT” mode.

My plans upon arrival in New York had been pretty solid.  I was to hit the ground running at JFK  Caffinated up from the flight I had booked a cheap car (thank you Dial 7) to take me to the hotel, where I could drop my bag and hit the gym at the hotel for a run or a quick workout before a shave and shower and getting my butt back on a train to the airport.  Well that workout was now in jeapoardy and if things got any worse so would my shave (a shower I was determined to keep if i could).  I would have to really be on the ball if I wanted to get back to JFK in time for the hour window I had to get photos.  If push came to shove I could scrap the photo plans and just do the media proceedings at 1030 onwards. I was thinking through my situation and decided that if I wanted to get things done quickly I should just try and get as close to the front as possible, no matter what the seat was. I could deal with a middle seat for 5 hours if I could get out of the aircraft quickly and cleanly (but I would have to wait for my bag anyway).  So I saw my opportunity with a nice young girl manning the gate and took the opportunity to put on a bit of charm and a smile and see where that would get me.  Pretty soon I had a fresh boarding pass and had just traded a window seat for a middle, but the middle seat was row 4 and had the “Even More Space” leg room.  I knew it was going to probably be an uncomfortable red eye flight, stuck between two people and probably not able to leave my seat all that much but it could be worse.... I could have a middle seat in the rear of the aircraft.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
With that I repacked my bag so that all the stuff I would need during my flight was all in one bag so that when I stowed my camera bag I wouldn’t need to access it, since I knew there was chance in hell that was going to happen.  The aircraft eventually turned up and that’s when the scrum started.  There was people EVERYWHERE.  I couldn’t not join them either because if I didn’t get overhead bin space I was boned!  There was no way I was going to be able to gate check my camera bag... no way in hell!  Eventually the flight boarded half an hour after we wee due to originally depart which meant a good half hour till departure.  A solid hour late!  Definately no gym now!

jetBlue Airlines - B682 Seattle Tacoma to New York John F Kennedy 2130-0545+1 Airbus A320 (N637JB) Even More Space - 4A

Boarding: 2200 (Gate D5) Push Back: 2230 Take Off Roll: 2240 (Runway 16L) Top of Descent: 0550 Touch Down: 0618 (Runway 31R) Shut Down: 0622 (Gate 19 - T5)

When the flight was called it was as though someone had thrown some fries into a flock of seagulls.  People came from everywhere and no where and they pushed, they shoved, it was on for young and all.  My main desire was get onboard, get my stuff stored, get the phone switched off to conserve power (since Jetblue don’t have power onboard) and try to settle in as much as possible.

It was an almost full flight with as far as I could see one empty seat in the same row as me but my focus was my book as we eventually pushed back, safety demo’d and headed for the 16s.  Being a red eye flight it was dark outside by now so it wasn’t as if I could take photos and since I wasn’t in the window anyway I took a quick couple of snaps and stashed the camera as well.  What can you do when your jammed in the middle?  But it was my decision in the first place!  Next time, remember your rules Malcolm.  Red Eye flight, Aisle Seat.  Daylight flight, Window seat.

From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
We climbed out and it was a pretty uneventful climb out as they asked everyone to close their window blinds since this was a “Snooze” service.  They ran through the order of service was went as follows: 1. Distribution of “Snooze Kits” (Eye Shades & Ear Plugs) 2. Selling of Snack Boxes/Headphones/Blankets etc 3. Drink orders 4. Drink distribution 5. Snack offering Did I just say snacks? Well yes I did.  Delta gives either Biscoffs, Peanuts or Pretzels.  Jetblue offers a whole lot more.  Blue Chips, Corn Chips Nuts, Popcorn Chips, Chips and even cookies!  Score!  Also the drinks were full cans!! I munched down my dinner which at this stage was almost 11pm just as drinks were being distributed and grabbed a bag of nuts to round out my dinner.  Once that was all cleared and the cabin headed off into sleep land, my task was now to keep myself awake and work.  It was going to be a solid 36 hours of non stop awake time and I was determined to be productive.
From Memorial Day Firsts

I pulled out the laptop and set to work, switching from watching Iron Chef on the tv (Battle Turkey Wings for those watching at home) to listening to SiriusXM.  I have to admit Jetblue have it nailed down pretty good, I was impressed.  Free snacks, free drinks, free entertainment.  The Even More Space seats up front had HEAPS of leg room (way more than I needed) the only thing it needed was a half decent frequent flier program and I would be pretty loyal.

My #1 criteria lately for airline judging had been drink size.  United gave full size coffee cups but tiny tiny cups of soda.  Delta gave big cups of Soda but tiny tiny cups of coffee.  Alaska just gave tiny cups of both and well Virgin just was slow at giving anything at all when you order it.  Jetblue was pretty generous.  Full size cans for soft drinks (or double small cans for things like tomato juice etc) or a normal 10oz coffee cup for the hot liquids.  The coffee was good to... Dunkin Donuts!
From Memorial Day Firsts
After finishing up my work and some of the trip report, I switched the laptop off, snacked on some cookies and channel surfed pretty much till the “wake up” service was offered.  With a tail wind and a reduced flight time, maybe we could make up sometime (yeah right).  I pretty much went between the tv channels of food network, map and the news shows till we started to descend.  Towards the end of the flight I could smell fresh coffee on the brew and I knew the “wake up” service was going to begin.
From Memorial Day Firsts
Jetblue on their red eyes offers a wake up service on their red eyes.  So about 45 minutes prior to landing they will offer a round of water, orange juice or coffee to those who are awake.  Again the cabin crew in my area didn’t use a trolley at all, he hand carried around the bottles of water and then out came the coffee.  Once that was all done then came another suprise... a “Hot Towell”.  Though by the time that I got mine it was cold.  But even still it wasn’t what you would expect for an economy service.  Very impressed with Jetblue.  If only they had some decent FF parnters. The flight started to descend and because pretty much everyone had their window shades shut still it meant that I had no idea where we were and couldn’t see a damn thing.  The map didn’t help much.  There was no real time pick up in the delay so that did not help at all.  I had pretty much canned the thought of any gym workouts at all, and with the live shots of the news showing rain all weekend, I had given into the fact that most of my plans for the weekend were going into the trash.  Damn!! Eventually we came into final descent and the seat mate to the left of me in the window woke up and opened his blind... finally.  I was just happy to be able to see things.  Meant that I could see and even though I had no idea where we were, some landmarks came into view and then I saw a Costco and thought “so thats where all my friends spot from”.  We touched down pretty effortlessly right next to T5 and that was that.  My first jetblue flight was over. We taxiied quickly over to T5 and I was out of the aircraft fairly quickly which was good, though I now had to wait for my bag.  T5 looks pretty good and was very impressed.  I knew I was on the East Coast where the line for Dunkin Donuts was the longest around.  Compared to the west coast where it would of been the line for Starbucks (which funnily enough was not in site anywhere that I could see).  The bags took a bit of time and they didn’t come out at all.  Which was suprising because I was at the Baggage Carosel they had said.  Apart from the fact it was going to a different one!  Went over there and a minute or to later the bags started spitting out.  My bag was about 30th out.
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts
From Memorial Day Firsts

Bag in hand, phone dialled off to the city I go!

 

What a crazy weekend so far, since I left Thursday night a Bridge has collapsed just north of my city, A bunch of avgeeks have taken over the new Delta Sky Club at JFK and made a mess ;), There was a terrorist attack in London and I managed to leave my car in the back of a car in New York.

The trip so far has been amazing, full of fun, food and just down right awesome and as I sit in Vancouver airport soaking up my sunday morning caffeine and enjoying a bit of downtime before the spotting hits full swing, I am looking forward to just enjoying everything that comes my way. Not sure how I am going to get home back to Seattle as the bus may be a bad idea but if I have to forfeit that it is just $20 and I can live with it, no point in even claiming it on insurance as I am sure the deductible is probably higher than that!

This is just a short sweet post to let you all know that I am alive and well and will be back home in Seattle tomorrow, somehow!

 

Introduction Seattle to New York New York New York to Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver to Seattle Conclusion                                                                                                                                                                     This is probably one of my craziest introductions. Lately when I told people what I was doing for memorial day they looked at me wierdly.. and asked one thing... Why? My reply.... "Because I can". This all stems back a number of years, when I first started reading about points and I saw a trip report from either Lucky or Gary (I don't remember which) on Cathay Pacific First Class. I saw it and I was hooked. I had to fly it one day. Well that eventually was going to come to fruition. My friend Charles flew it last year when he came to visit this side of the country and he told he how easy it was to fly JFK to YVR on Cathay First Class using American points. Using Qantas points was just stupid as it would of cost me way to many. How do I get enough American points to do this... well 1 credit card churn is all it took. Once I got my credit rating the first thing I did was apply for an American Airlines Citibank card. 50,000 points later (after like $2000 in spend in 4 months.. pfft whatever) and I was set. Finding the availability was a whole other story. Eventually after plenty of planning i managed to get the flight booked in and the total outlay was $2 in taxes. I scoffed at this on the phone. Then the agent remembered the phone reservation fee. Dammit. $25 added on. Still a $3500 airfare one way from New York to Vancouver for $27... Hell YES! So one flight set. Now how the hell do I get to New York. I managed to find a cheap one way flight on Jetblue and then booked that. Crap... now I have to get from Vancouver back home to Seattle. Can't drive, that won't work. So I ended up checking Amtrak vs Bolt Bus. Bolt wins. Mal's taking the Bus! From an Economy Seat to a First Class Suite to a Bus... talk about differences. Here is what a crazy ass itinerary looks like on a map: memorialday   So with that all booked in.  I was flying out on the Jetblue red eye on Thursday night (which is tonight actually!) and then I was not flying to Vancouver till Saturday night at 10pm so I would actually have some time to see New York.  I managed to get a really good rate on a room in New York at the Eventi, which is a Kimpton Hotel.  I did status match over (and I talked about that in the past).  This was planned to be my first stay at a Kimpton but my Portland trip fixed that.  So that was the east coast covered.  What about the West.  2 nights were required in Vancouver as I got in on Sunday morning at 1am.  So I tried my trusty old friend the Fairmont Vancouver Airport.  They came to the party with their usual cheap rates and I was set. Fast forward till to about a week or so ago and I find out that I will be in New York for the opening of the new Delta T4.  So a few emails back and forth and hey presto.  Mal has  press invite.  It did mean I was going to have make quick turns on arrival in New York but hey it would be worth it.  My plans got all changed up and it meant I wouldn't be able to go spotting anymore in New York but I would keep it for Vancouver.  Also found out that a friend would be in New York on the Friday so that solidified my evening plans hanging out with her. So in the end it looked like this: Thursday 23rd May - Jetblue B682 Seattle to New York 2130/0545+1 Friday 24th May - Delta T4 Opening, New York fun and Frivolities - Eventi Hotel New York Saturday 25th May - New York during the day, Cathay Pacific CX889 2200/0130 Sunday 26th May - Fairmont YVR Airport, Spotting, Avgeek Fun Monday 27th May - Bolt Bus - Vancouver to Seattle It would mean I have a whole heap of firsts for me: 1. First Transcon Red Eye 2. First flight on Jet Blue 3. First flight on Cathay Pacific 4. First flight Trans Con in First Class 5. First Media Event NOT in Seattle (trips don't count) So Stay tuned, This one is going to be indulgent!

I lead into this over the last few days and you may have noticed a nice little new logo on the right hand side. Well that is part of this post as well. The next few weeks are going to be pretty crazy and full on but all I can say is "Bring it On".
The Map of My Craziness that is about to begin

The Map of My Craziness that is about to begin

The next few weeks are full of Travel. I think I am spending almost as much time away from home than I am at home. I have 3 trips planned over the next few weeks and when you roll it all together it looks like the map above. What am I doing? Well 2 of the trips are for "pleasure" the other is for "Work". Not my real job though (if the US Government reads this, I am not being paid ;)). The first trip is my Cathay Pacific First Class Adventure. Way back when I first got my credit rating here in the USA, the first thing I did was a churn for an Citibank AAdvantage card. The reason? Well so I could spend the time sitting in Cathay Pacific First Class from New York to Vancouver. The total cost of that flight... $27. Yes that's right $27. There will be a full lead into the Trip Report and definately stories on AirlineReporter but it shall be a load of fun. Staying at one of my favourite hotels in Vancouver as well, and spending time with friends on either end I hope. Either way shall be a great long weekend. It will mean a couple of firsts for me. 2 new airlines (Jetblue & Cathay Pacific) and 2 Border crossings in less than 48 hours. I will be coming back to Seattle on Bolt Bus so it will be good to see the differences to the service now that they have been operating for a solid year. The second trip is my "Work" trip. On the 1st of June All Nippon Airways resumes their 787 services to the USA. Their first route is from San Jose, just outside of San Francisco. It is a pretty big tech destination being that the headquarters for companies like Google & Apple are located right next door in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto to be exact). So what has that got to do with me? Well ANA has selected a couple of Avgeek's to join them on this "Innagural" service and one of them is ME! I get to fly the 787 again! I don't know if I can tick it off my list as a real "Innagural" service but either way I am excited. Japan is not our intended destination though. We are headed to Hong Kong, to show just how much fun an Avgeek can have out there. But the bit I am excited most about on the trip (other than the flights that is) is the fact we are staying at the Peninsula Hong Kong. To me the best hotel in Hong Kong!! I can't wait to share more details about the trip via AirlineReporter but that will be hopefully in the next week or so. The last trip is barely 2 days after getting back from Hong Kong I am heading to LAX for a day of plane spotting. Ages and ages ago I made a promise to my friend Kinny that the next time he came to the states, we would fly down to LAX and we would go spotting. Well he flies in the day after I get back from Japan. So I guess I am heading to LAX. Hopefully I can rope in a few other Avgeeks and make it a good day down there. Should be a fun day hopefully! Don't know if there will be any In n Out in my forecast for that day, but I am sure we will be there for some photos. I do see a rental from National on the cards and that means at least a hopefully awesome car! It shall be a crazy few weeks. A total of just over 21,000 miles with 4 different hotels, a number of new airlines (Jetblue, Southwest, Cathay Pacific). Travel on both Planes, Trains and more than likely Automobiles and lots of late nights and early mornings. Bring on the awesome food, the good times and the fun!