I find it very interesting to compare airlines’ premium products. After flying on some of the best products in the world like Etihad’s Apartment First Class, Emirates First Class, and Singapore Airlines business class, the bar is set quite high and many premium products that the US airlines offer do seem to miss the mark. The configuration of 777-200 that we flew from Seoul to Dallas is no longer active as American Airlines has retrofitted these aircraft with business class and premium economy, and main cabin instead of First, Business, and economy. In order to catch our first class flight from Seoul to Dallas, we first had to get from Hong Kong to Seoul.
Funnily enough, it has taken me significantly longer to write about traveling around the world in ten days than our trip took! Regardless, our vacation to Hong Kong and the Maldives was now up, and it is time to head home! Our trip home consisted of a quick Cathay Pacific business class flight from Hong Kong to Seoul then a long flight on American Airlines First Class to Dallas.
Our long day traveling home started at Cathay Pacific’s new Pier First Class Lounge, which was fantastic! We had access because we were flying American Airlines First Class later in the day and because I am a Oneworld Emerald member. The continental breakfast spread was delicious, and if you were to want something more substantive, they have a full restaurant in the lounge. The Pier lounge was by far the nicest lounge I have been to thanks to its good food, its comfortable and spacious layout and décor, and the other amenities it offers such as spacious cabana showers.
We could have flown American Airlines First Class from Hong Kong to Dallas to Tampa, but American’ Airlines’ First Class, seemed to be a good value between Seoul, South Korea, and Dallas. I redeemed some miles for Mallory and me to fly on Cathay Pacific’s Business class from Hong Kong to Seoul.
The mid-morning flight offered breakfast even though the flight was under 3 hours. I ended up choosing what I would describe as pretty close to an English Breakfast – Eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and beans – delicious!
They also offered a selection of fruit, yogurt, and cereals. The seats were comfortable, although not quite as nice as Qatar’s A320 lie-flat bed, the seats seemed to recline about 75-80% of the way. There was a decent selection for the in-flight entertainment, and the IFE screen seemed about the same size as Qatar’s.
One thing I noticed on this flight that was different than any of the others was three different crew members came up addressed Mallory and me by name and said “Welcome and thank you for flying with Cathay Pacific Business Class.” The short flight from Hong Kong to Seoul gave us time to watch a movie and then we arrived. My plan for our layover was to check out the Korean Air First Class lounge, but that plan was ruined when we found out you cannot go from the concourse terminal where we arrived at the main terminal (at least that is what we were told).
We settled for the Korean Air business class lounge, which had a décor that can only be described as modern and bizarre. The food selection wasn’t very appealing – salad, mini sandwiches, ramen noodles, and cheese. On a positive note, they did have a Korean beer on tap! The beverage selection otherwise was very limited. They had Water, Milk, Jack Daniels, Ballantine’s, and Remy Martin XO. The bathrooms and shower rooms were equally as strange as the rest of the lounge but served their purpose. It’s hard to complain since we had a decently comfortable chair to sit in and free food and drinks for the 5+ hours we were in Seoul, but Korean Air could take some notes from Cathay Pacific’s lounges!
After an hour and a half delay, we were finally about to board to head home when the agent lining people up asked if our documents had been checked. For the third time that day, we had to have our passports checked before we could board. Once we were finally on board, I was somewhat disappointed to find we had one of American Airlines’ older 777-200 aircraft, which are all currently in the process of being refurbished without an international first class. I tried to stay positive and make the most of the first class experience, but unfortunately, we had a few more issues to deal with on this 13-hour flight from Seoul to Dallas.
I knew it was going to be interesting when the lead flight attendant announced they had to reset the entertainment system, so the safety demonstration would have to be done manually. After fumbling through the safety announcements, he came through the cabin and took half of the food orders, in a seemingly random order Mallory got her order taken, but I didn’t even though we were sitting directly across the aisle from each other.
There seemed to be a lack of consistency or quality control during the dinner service on our American Airlines’ flight from Seoul to Dallas. I had the vegetable spring roll, cream of mushroom soup, Caesar salad, Korean Bibimbap, and a cherry tart. The spring roll was pretty good, which gave me false hope for the rest of the meal. The mushroom soup was very bland, and the Caesar salad was WAY overdressed, and the croutons were soggy. Another passenger sent back her bibimbap because the meat and rice were still cold.
My bibimbap was interesting, as I have never had food served to me with directions. The instructions said to add half the hot sauce for a mild dish and all for a spicy. Well, I added the entire tube, and mild would be overestimating the spice level. It was decent, but after having such good food on Cathay Pacific and Qatar, it did not live up to my lofty expectations. When dessert came I was expecting a warm cherry tart with vanilla ice cream; it was frozen solid. Luckily the wine they were serving was pretty good; I had the Argentinian Cabernet Franc.
As I was waiting between courses of my sub-par meal I decided to check out the in-flight entertainment system. The screen was a small six by 6-inch square, and there weren’t very many choices. You could choose from 8-10 new movies such as Spotlight and Burnt or “classics” such as Austin Powers, Batman Returns, and Jurassic Park.
I settled on Burnt and about 30 seconds into the opening credits my headphones get all staticy. I found if I held them in the right place or positioned the cord just right I could hear the movie, but any turbulence (which there was a lot of) or moving around to stay comfortable (which was hard) messed up the position, and I had to find that magic spot again. This wasn’t exactly my idea of First Class when I booked the flight. After struggling to get comfortable enough to enjoy a movie, I changed into the pajamas provided, which fit this time, and asked the lead flight attendant to make my seat into a bed for me. After trying to get my armrest to stay down to give me a little more room to sleep for a couple of minutes he apologized and said he would have to add this to the long list of broken items on this plane tonight. I got about 5 hours of sleep then switched on my in-flight airshow, so I didn’t have to mess with my headphones. I found out from the flight attendant about an hour and a half before we were due to land in Dallas that he had to reset the in-flight entertainment system three times during the flight each time taking about 45 minutes to reboot.
When it was time for “breakfast” (about 3:30 PM Dallas time), I decided to skip it even though I was pretty hungry. I’m glad I did because Mallory had their “egg sweet bread” and said it was soggy and gross. At about 5:30 PM we arrived in Dallas completing our around the world journey after leaving Seoul at 7:30 PM the same day – gotta love International Date Line Time Travel! We got some food and had a glass of wine in the Admirals club and boarded our slightly delayed uneventful flight to Tampa. We had a hell of a time finding an Uber to take us home, but finally arrived home at 1:30 AM March 7, just in time for me to shower pack and leave for the airport to go to Raleigh for work at 3:30 AM!
Our around the world journey is now complete. It was one of the coolest trips I have ever been on and was able to cross a lot of things off the bucket list. This week Mallory and I are visiting Mallory’s sister Lauren in California. I am hoping to post some hotel and airline lounge reviews and have a mini trip report for a couple of day trips we are taking to San Francisco! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @passports2life to have a live look at what we are up to!
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