American Airlines Chicago Beijing Flight in Business Class

Coincidences are always great. Earlier in April I flew from Chicago to Beijing on American Airlines Boeing 777-200 a 12 hours 50 minute flight which of course can be tiring.  I have done that flight in all classes – First, Business and Coach.  The coincidence I am referring here is that just as I had done this flight in Business Class, I came across the review of the same flight in First – so of course I wanted to compare the two experiences

Per the reviewer there were some good and some bad things about the flight

  • Amenity kit:  surprisingly essentially the same – please see below

American Airlines Amenity Kit in BusinessAmerican Airlines First Class Amenity

 

 

 

from Boarding Area Blog

 

Not easy to see from the BoardingArea Blog – but the amenity kits are essentially the same..

  • Then we go to the food:  The Boarding Area blog reviewer was VERY disappointed by the quality of the food in first class.   Interestingly enough – I had the same selection – the reviewer had pan seared sea bass — so did I.  Here are the images:

American Airlines Food American Airlines Food

 

 

 

The business class meal

 

 

The First class meal

 

 

 

Well, aside from the presentation of the food, I could not tell much of the difference in the fish.  Actually, mine was not half-bad….

  • Then off to the dessert:  I had a great selection – either ice cream (as in the first class posting) or a very nice tiramisu parfait

American Airlines Dessert Business class meal dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

So all in all, I think my experience in business class on exactly the same flight (may be not the same date) of American Airlines was actually a LOT more satisfying – especially given the price difference in the two tickets I am sure!!!

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Venice, Italy

And now for something completely different – from the other side of the world.  Last summer my family visited Venice, Italy.  Unfortunately, I could not make it — work, work, work….But they had a great visit and what is better than a photo album to remember the trip by.

So here it is – a snapshot tour of Venice…

 

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Next: Shenzhen Sea World

Shenzhen Sea WorldI wanted to add another posting about potential sites for you to visit while in Shenzhen.  This one is the Sea World Park / Plaza — a mix of commercial and entertainment area in the Shekou area of the city.  The area is VERY popular with the Shenzhen crowd due to its nice entertainment and food options.  Location-wise it has access to both the metro and local taxi cabs.  Here is a map to help you find it…

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Sea World was opened as an entertainment center in 2003 with a key attraction for it being the MingHua ship and the dancing waves/fountains.

Shenzhen Sea World

Of course the other aspect of the area are the numerous restaurants and pubs/bars

In case you need to show an address to your taxi driver – you can use this one:  深圳市南山区蛇口海上世界环船广场C-005

Well, that is it for time being… Enjoy!

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Visit to Dameisha near Shenzhen

Dameisha ShenzhenDameisha Resort – experience during Labor Day weekend…

What do you do on Chinese Labor Day (Lao Dong Jie – 劳动节) – of course if you are in China…. May 1st is the official Labor Day in China.  It used to be a reason for a Golden Week holiday – i.e. a whole week off, but in the last several years this holiday changed to a day long only event.  This year it fell on a Friday which made it a 3-day holiday across the country – a good thing and a bad thing.  Tons of people went on traveling leveraging the 3-day weekend.

Given the time available I decided to check Dameisha – the trip there requires at least 1/2 day.  My recommendation – take a cab from Shenzhen – even with the major traffic jams on the way (as you can tell from the photo above) – the fare was in the 140RMB range.

Shenzhen DameishaThe scenic area is located on Dapeng Bay in Yantai district of the metro Shenzhen area.  The drive was long but only because of the heavy traffic which my driver assured me was due to the May 1st holiday crowd.  Should be much better other times of the year.   The area is heavily built up with villas, local hotels (and a lonely Sheraton), and condo buildings – this relatively high end housing units show the high interest in the area by many… The area includes a long beach – estimated close to 2km in length.  Overall, in many places that will not be a big beach, but in China it is.  The beach is actually pretty scenic if it were not for the heavy crowds.    Here are some photos from the beach area – it is rather busy, isn’t it…?

Shenzhen Dameisha

Shenzhen DameishaDameisha Shenzhen

 

 

 

So, should you go to Dameisha beach?   My recommendation is NOT glowing!  Why ?  Well you can judge by yourself given the photos below – or at least, avoid it during national holidays!  My guestimate though – probably best to visit in the winter!  Why?  Most likely to have fewer people.

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Premium Economy Seats – Excellent Choice for Long Haul Travel

Air travel is not easy!  I believe most of you will agree to that statement…Why?  Because over the years, most travelers have focused on how to get low cost tickets and the airlines have responded by cramming increasing number of seats in the same aircraft.   Net-net seats have become smaller, the seat pitch shorter, and so on and so on…all in all – literary, a painful experience.

These days, though, the airlines have decided to add some comfort back as an option – for those of us who are willing to pay of course.  The next question then becomes – is it worth it?   In my experience based opinion – YES!!!

Earlier in the year I published a summary of the airlines that offer (based on my experience) premium economy seats.  Now some more details.  Here we go

  • Japan Airlines – for those who will travel from Asia to the US or from many US cities to Japan and other destinations in Asia – this is a good choice of an airline.  Their Premium Economy seats offer tons of leg and body room and conveniences like AC power outlets. 12-inch displays, USB connector…see below

Japan AirlinesJapan Airlines

Japan Airlines

 

 

 

 

Side note: even the economy seat on Japan Airlines has 34-inch pitch and AC power outlets

    • Qantas: in comparison their Premium Economy seat only has a 10.6-inch display — same as the display in the Japan Airlines regular Economy class…The seats are not bad though – they are large ranging from 38-inches to 42-inches
    • Air New Zealand – I have not traveled with this airline but apparently their seats in premium economy are very neat – allowing for two companions to travel in style..

Cathay Pacific

  • Cathay Pacific – I have very good experiences with this airline and their premium economy service – even on a short haul flight between Hong Kong and Taipei…you can enjoy.  The seat pitch is 38-inches and the meals are very nice!

 

  • Thai AirlinesThai offers a very large premium economy seat – 42-inches of pitch; Unfortunately you cannot fly Thai from the US.  Need to get to Europe first and then fly on that airlines.  I have flown the airline from Beijing to Bangkok – a good flight…

 

 

So if you are headed on a long 10+ hour flight — it is a good idea to consider the Premium Economy offerings of the airlines.  Safe Travels!

 

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Tigertail Beach – Marco Island, Florida

TigerTailBeach-Sunset3In continuation of my trip report from Marco Island, Florida, decided to add a summary from one of the interesting places to visit while on the island — that being Tigertail beach – which in my opinion is best accessible via a very invigorating (read – good exercise) walk from the many beach resort hotels on the island.

More specifically, if you are staying at one of the hotels like

  • Marco Beach Ocean Resort
  • Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort
  • Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort

You can certainly plan for that nice walk to and back from the Tigertail beach.  Here is a map to give you some orientation of the resort hotels and the beach:
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Now, why spend the time going to that beach?   Well, for several reasons:

  • As I already stated above — great exercise
  • Beautiful views of the Marco Island beach
  • Good shell collecting
  • Interesting experience of walking on the sand bar in shallow water during low tide

The beach is located approximately 40-50 minutes walking from the Marco Beach Ocean Resort beach area.  I recommend the late afternoon as the best time of the day to experience it as it is more likely to be able to walk along the sand bar which at low tide will be at about ankle depth under water

You can see the special views from the beach and shells to be found there – Enjoy

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Marco Island FL Sunsets

Florida SunsetFlorida is famous for its beaches, warm ocean, great sea life as well as opportunities to observe various birds, alligators in the everglades…But even if you get to see all this you should not miss another great experience – observing the sunset over the ocean.  There are many places to do so.  Recently our family visited (for a second time) Marco Island – located south of Naples, FL

 To give you a bit of a point of reference – please see the Google Map above…

If you are in the Naples or Marco Island area there are many places to see a great sunset. Many Web sites refer to the Naples pier as a great place to observe it – while that may be the case – Marco Island’s beaches offer a great vantage point as well – and so do the hotels that line up the island.  So, let’s get to the point — here are several albums of Florida sunsets – as seen from Marco Island – with photos untouched by editing software. Enjoy!

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Crowd Reporting – Speed of Information in the Digital Age

Crowd reporting – it is real and happening all around us – whether the traditional media likes it or not…Pundits argue on its objectivity, but I believe many of us encounter it very frequently.

I was at the DFW (Dallas-Ft.Worth) international airport recently (less than a week ago) waiting for my flight in the Admirals’ Club — it was an early morning and the club was filling up with the business traveler crowd quickly…As I was waiting all of sudden a distant smoke caught my attention — it looked like something was burning at the edge of one of the runaways.

Dallas Admirals Club View of Runaway

By the time I decided to get closer to the windows in an attempt to see what was going on, a crowd of people with smart phones poised to take pictures had already gathered.  Soon enough we decided that this was most likely a training exercise of the local fire department as we can see a whole bunch of emergency vehicles and a badly burnt (from many such exercises we figured) air plane frame.   So all was well – no need to sound the alarms.

What amazed me though was the speed with which people gathered, camera phones went out and everyone was ready to record and report…

Which makes me wonder – can information nowadays travel any faster…Has this been a real emergency – the photos and information would have gone out to the community within minutes…

All in all, I believe this proves how powerful community information sharing and exchange can be and that we are really living in a digital age of information…

 

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Continuing to Add to This Blog’s Photo Library

I have always stated that travel and photography are very much intertwined.  It is important to provide descriptions and guidance to our readers on the special aspects of a given place around the world, but inevitably, photos from the described locations provide a lot more or at least additional insight.

Therefore I have been trying to organize a large library of photo albums from the places this blog talks about.

The newest addition to the library are albums from my several visits to Antwerp – a beautiful and history rich Belgian city – which of course I highly recommend visiting.

 

Belgium Antwerp
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Airline Secrets – Being Bumped on a Flight and Your Rights

Many of you have probably experienced the situation where you (and many fellow passengers) are waiting for your flight only to hear that the flight is oversold and the airline is looking for volunteers with flexible schedules to give up their seats in return for a later flight and a voucher for ‘free’ travel within the next year…

There are several things that you need to be aware of in this situation – per the US Department of Transportation:

  1. The airlines are allowed to overbook / oversell the capacity of their flights.
  2. If the airline gets you to your final destination within 1 hour of the original arrival time, there is no compensation required
  3. If the airline arranges for you to get to your final destination between 1 and 2 hours after the original arrival time (for domestic flights) and within 4 hours for international flights, the airline must compensate you with amount equal to 200% of the one way fare to that destination on that day up to $650 maximum
  4. If the amount of time exceeds the hours listed in 3 above or the airlines does not arrange for alternate flights – then your compensation jumps to 400% of the fare or $1300 maximum

Now comes the key secret many of us (me included until recently) are not aware of – the primary form of compensation is expected to be a check!  Not a voucher for a future flight – as it is usually advertised and offered by the airline…!

In other words – we are entitled to cash rather than a voucher which you will find very difficult to use in many cases…

The airline is allowed to offer you a voucher / free tickets – but You have the right to demand a check if that is your preference.

airport runway

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