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Old March 4th, 2016, 04:20 PM   #1
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hkskyline's 2015 Flying & Plane Spotting Showcase

Montreal - Toronto Billy Bishop
Air Canada

The airport is nice by North American standards, although the check-in process is just as annoying as back at Heathrow. You go to a kiosk first, grab the paperwork, and then line up for the bag drop, where the agent weighs your bag. Line up twice - how efficient.

Plane spotting is quite decent, with a variety of smaller birds which are not easily seen in Hong Kong.

Today's plane is so small, the boarding ramp cannot get to the door, so they had to provide an add-on, and you will need to get exposed to the bitter cold for the last 5 seconds.

Toronto - Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific

Terminal 3 has been greatly improved, with nice tables and computer devices included.

15.5 hours in Economy is crazy. 15.5 hours in Business Class is far more humane. I've amassed enough miles over the years to redeem this flight, albeit at fairly last minute when inventory opens up.

Hong Kong - Dhaka

Dragonair's IFE has been upgraded and now has a similar interface and name as its parent company, Cathay Pacific.

I spent a bit of time going through the paperwork for arrival. For those planning to bring an air rifle, dish washer, or a chandelier into the country, expect to pay duty.

Interestingly, the form had the airline's label on it. But at immigration, they would not accept it pointed us to fill out a different form. Bureaucracy.

Dhaka's airport is qute old. I have never seen a complaint box like this during my travels.

Biman Bangladesh is an exciting mystery to aviation enthusiasts. I grabbed one of their magazines and confirmed their retired MD jets are really gone.

Dhaka - Hong Kong

The airport is very basic and I went out to photograph the barrenness and preliminary attempts to modernize.

The "before" bathroom is quite horrendous and smelly.

You can see the layout is still the same but a simple renovation makes a huge difference in the "new" version.

Biman's planes are not easy to spot worldwide.

So are these relics of ancient history.

The best part was at touch down and spotting some interesting birds.

Zhengzhou - Hong Kong
HK Express

There is no train connection to the airport, and bus services from the new high-speed train station is quite sporadic, so I needed to grab a flat-fare cab for my evening flight home. International departures are located in a quiet corner of the terminal building, which is a new facility. Note international flights are a rarity here.

I like these slim seats with the magazine rack at the headrest and not in the pocket below that will affect your legroom.

Zhengzhou would never have made it to my radar until such cheap flights were available. It was a worthwhile trip to see the rich history in this part of China. But I didn't want to spend extra for food!

Hong Kong - Tianjin
Air China

I was supposed to visit Japan for the Easter break. However, the weather turned bad for them and the forecast called for cloudy skies and rain for the entire break. Disappointed, I had to find a value-for-money alternative on a long weekend at short notice with a decent forecast. Tianjin was the unfortunate answer.

Tonight's plane looked fairly new with mood lighting. We made a very sharp ascent that was quite uncomfortable and entered Chinese airspace at over 10,000 feet.

Dinner is served.

Tianjin - Hong Kong
Air China

Many years ago, 3 state airline groups were created to reduce the number of small and fragmented airlines in the country. Now it seems the industry is going back to the old days with many regional airlines once again.

Both Japan and Korea are only a short flight away, so there are a lot of morning departures to both countries.

Hong Kong - Sydney
Cathay Pacific

I previously didn't know The Wing actually had 2 floors, and the noodle bar was upstairs.

But I didn't want to fill up so soon. A great feast awaits high above the South China Sea.

I always sit on the left side for this aerial view.

Sydney - Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific

I prefer this long bar more than The Wing in Hong Kong. Many bottles of wine were laid out for your self service.

Tokyo Narita - Hong Kong

Narita's budget airline terminal is a bit of a walk from the train station, but at least it is covered and there is a neat pavement to lead you to it. The interior decor is basic yet functional, and clean as expected anywhere in Japan.

The aerials of Hong Kong's countryside were stunning on this hot summer's day.

The full report : http://www.globalphotos.org/showcase2015-air-1.htm
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!

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Old March 19th, 2016, 08:30 PM   #2
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Hong Kong - Mumbai

The Bridge stretches long with several open lounges but had very few of the private cabana chairs like at The Cabin. I ended up sitting at the long bar, where the server didn't bother to ask me what I wanted to drink and she didn't know how to make alcoholic drinks anyway.

They gave me yet another useless and not re-usable amenity kit to add to my big collection. I miss the agnes b bags.

Let's have another feast in the sky.

Cheese has become my favourite dessert when flying.

I noticed a few weeks earlier on the way to Sydney that the A330 J seat seemed smaller than the same on the 777.

Mumbai - Hong Kong

I am quite fond of Mumbai's new international terminal. It is one of the rare infrastructure success stories in India, unfortunately.

All the airlines use the same contract lounge, where I picked up this bag of deliciousness. If the price label wasn't printed on the packing itself, it would be a good souvenir.

Another amenity kit ...

This is the end of my short India trip, and to finish off, how about an Indian breakfast?

As we landed, I took note of Hong Kong's changing landscape. This will be the boundary facility for the new bridge to Macau.

Hong Kong - Singapore

I have not been consistently lucky with upgrades. Check-in was smooth as I was dropping my bags only. No surprises then. The famed red-screen error came at boarding and I was upgraded to the regional Business Class today. I guess Cathay saved a lounge pass with a gate op-up.

Darn, no aerials today - we are taking off towards the west.

Congee is great for breakfast but the rice flour noodle didn't look like dim sum.

There was a lot of construction during descent above Malaysia.

Hong Kong - Seoul

I was a bit surprised at the seat map when I checked in online. Today's flight would be on a 747, which is used for regional runs these days and are slowly being retired from Cathay's fleet.

I secured a wider seat at the back of the plane where the configuration narrows from 3 to 2 seats. This is my favourite spot on the 747's economy class.

Breakfast is served. I opted for a lighter congee. The size is appropriate with bread, yogurt, and fruits on the side. This isn't the multi-course feast in Business Class that I enjoyed 3 times before, but I need to re-set my expectations being at the back of the plane.

It was a lovely day, and the aerials over the west coast of Korea were spectacular.

Hong Kong - Shenyang

My first time flying China Southern, which has a fairly small presence in Hong Kong but is the anchor airline at nearby Guangzhou. The narrowbody flight to Shenyang was uneventful. The food was OK and seemingly better packaged than expected.

More : http://www.globalphotos.org/showcase2015-air-2.htm
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!

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Old March 19th, 2016, 11:57 PM   #3
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Awesome, thanks!
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Old August 29th, 2016, 05:19 PM   #4
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Hong Kong - Abu Dhabi

Christmas in Asia is a time to travel. Europe traditionally isn't a great place to visit during this time of year, with late sunrises, early sunsets, and unpredictable weather. I originally didn't want to travel so far, but a routine search turned up some great fares on Air China and Emirates even a week before departure. 2 days before my vacation began, their prices moved up but Etihad popped up with a great fare. Having tried Emirates and Qatar before and not so keen on being trapped in a window seat on an A380 or A350, Etihad offered a more humane solution, flying Airbuses with 2-4-2 seating from Hong Kong all the way into Germany.

Etihad's check-in closes an hour before departure, which is a bit on the early side. There was no line-up and I was quickly processed. My luggage would be checked through all the way to Munich even though I will be land-side for the night.

Boarding commenced an hour beforehand, which was again too early because we were all stuck in our seats with nothing to do.

Each seat already had a headset, neck pillow, and blanket in a green bag. The IFE was not turned on and they played their airline music showing the various destinations on their network until it got too annoying.

We took off towards the east and turned south. It was a clear night and the city glimmered under a sea of neon.

There was an announcement on the multinational flavour of the crew, but nobody spoke Chinese. The crew was inexperienced and slow, which was surprising considering the other big Middle Eastern carriers are famous for great service. They seemed to have been shipped out from Eastern Europe with barely enough training to fly. Calls for service went unanswered and even passing crew didn't seem to want to deal with the illuminated call button next to their makeup-filled faces.

Disappointed, I browsed around the IFE. Each passenger in Economy gets a noise-cancelling headset, which is impressive and certainly an industry leader. There is an assortment of movies and TV shows but nowhere near Emirates' selection and I would even rank it a notch below Cathay. Not long after take-off, the airshow hung and we could no longer track the flight path. As I browsed the online news feature, the system hung, and it took a few call buttons and almost an hour to get it back online after a few resets.

The sandwich tasted decent and sufficient given the late night. Interestingly, it was made in the UK so it made a long way to get to me.

The final blow was Abu Dhabi's old and small airport. We landed on a far runway and had to cross their 2nd runway to get to the terminal. This took a while as air traffic control held us at the crossing and no announcement was made on the delay. Our plane eventually parked at a bus gate and it took a good 20 minutes to get onto a bus. There was a line of buses waiting so I didn't understand why they couldn't board 2 buses at once to speed things up.

I purposedly did not choose to connect immediately and opted for the morning flight out as I'm not a fan of red-eyes even if I had a lie-flat seat. The engines are simply too noisy to get a decent night's sleep on board, let alone I was flying Economy this time. I got a good night's sleep at the airport hotel and woke up to a decent view from the rooftop pool.

Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

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Old August 29th, 2016, 06:18 PM   #5
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great reports!!

Airports visited:

My 10 top planes:
A340-600 / B777-300 / A330-300 / B787 / B747 / A350 / A380 / B727 / B737 / EMB190
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Old March 26th, 2017, 06:10 AM   #6
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Abu Dhabi - Munich

Abu Dhabi is building a new airport terminal, which is taking shape between the 2 runways. As of now, it looks like a Doha from yesteryear. With my bags through-checked, I comfortably strolled to the newer T3 to go through the formalities. There was a weird scent in the terminal - not a smell but a deliberate pungent aroma from some flower I probably don't know about. The check-in area was very small for an airline of such a size. I guess being mostly a transit carrier, a large facility was not needed. Abu Dhabi is worth a day on its own, and with new museums opening soon, perhaps a couple more. Etihad runs a shuttle to Dubai so it can indeed be an end-point destination. Perhaps once the new terminal opens all this would change.

Some weird partner carriers. Etihad, like Emirates, is not in one of the global alliances. But I'm grateful I can earn full AA mileage on these cheap flights.

The security agent turned me around and directed me to T1 for immigration, which was a bit annoying. There is a long covered walkway from T3. On the return flight I would find out I could have cleared security in T3 and walked back to T1 airside. There was a long line at T1's immigration already, although it crawled through reasonably well and the agent was more professional than the night before.

The main gate area in T1 looks a bit retro. There weren't enough seats here although each gate has a few rows more, but still weren't enough.

I was lucky to board from here today and not at a bus gate. The gates circle around a central spiral sort of artwork. Part of the attraction of flying Etihad was the A340, the uneconomical 4-engined plane that other airlines were trying to get rid of. The last time I flew this model was almost a year ago on Thai, which had a technical issue, had to fuel dump, and return to Bangkok. With a 2-4-2 configuration, getting out from the window to the bathroom would be far easier.

I didn't board so early like in Hong Kong this time. The flight was not full with a few empty rows here and there. A German captain welcomed us and informed a manageable 6 hour flight time into Munich. We pushed back on time and it wasn't long before we roared into the sky heading to Europe!

We took off towards the northwest and flew across Abu Dhabi with wonderful city views. The city's waterfront is actually very nice when I visited a few years ago - unpolluted, clear waters like in a tropical paradise.

I suppose the MH incident over eastern Ukraine has forced airlines to be more vigilant. We seemed to have skirted away from the IS warzones in both Iraq and Syria. The snow-capped mountain scenes over Iran and the Caucauses were beautiful.

Unfortunately, the IFE selection was the same as my inbound flight from Hong Kong. A snack and first round of drinks were served, followed by a towel. Almost 2 hours after departure, the meal was served. Service was slow once again. Seems to be a consistent problem. At least the IFE did not hiccup on me this time.

Anyone want to call North Korea?

After flying Emirates and Qatar, I had high expectations for Etihad. The base was Cathay Pacific, and so far nothing could even hit the base. The bathroom is not what you would expect from a 5-star airline. On both flights, there was no hand cream or moisturizer. There were also no shaving kits or cups to brush your teeth. I suppose the last 2 were not necessary given both were not red-eyes, but the Hong Kong - Abu Dhabi leg took 9 hours, so I thought these would be good things to have on board.

Now I head back to my seat to enjoy the views.

Seems like a nice day up ahead. It was fairly clear from the Black Sea all the way into southern Germany.

Flipping through the magazine, Etihad's friends include Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, and the more normal Alitalia. There was a short feature on Germany's Christmas markets - where I'm heading!

I didn't realize this was a blanket at first, but it was more comfortable having it on my back than on my lap.

While service was lacking, the hardware was quite good. No need to bring your special neck pillow when flying with Etihad.

On the A340, the controller / phone is located on the armrest, while on the A330, it is below the TV screen. The TV screen is touch-controlled but the remote was far easier to navigate than my fingers.

Seems fog and low clouds are common during the winter. At least the sun is shining bright and burning off whatever is left at the lower elevations.

The entertainment was turned off during descent and the crew came by to pick up the headsets. I guess these noise-cancelling ones cost some money so they want to account for them all. I wonder why some airlines turn off the IFE and not let it run all the way to the gate?

The clouds got thicker during descent. The forecast did not call for rain today, so I was confident things won't be too gloomy below. I continued to take photos as the crew passsed by to do their safety runs.

Munich, I return.

Although I complain a lot about service and the software aspects of the airline, the hard product is solid. I particularly liked the neck pillow and noise-cancelling headset.

Munich's Terminal 1 is not capable of handling a large widebody jet. The immigration area is a small cubicle past a set of doors. A backlog soon formed and it was not possible to make a few lines for the 2 counters open. Luckily, the people on this flight were civilized although it was still a bit chaotic. I was asked what I was in Europe for, how long, and where will I leave from, got my stamp, and was on my way. There appears to be just 1 luggage belt that snaked around the small space.

The full report : http://www.globalphotos.org/etihad.htm
Hong Kong Photo Gallery - Click Here for the Hong Kong Galleries

World Photo Gallery - | St. Petersburg, Russia | Pyongyang | Tokyo | Istanbul | Dubai | Shanghai | Mumbai | Bangkok | Sydney

New York, London, Prague, Iceland, Rocky Mountains, Angkor Wat, Sri Lanka, Poland, Myanmar, and much more!
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