Wrapping it up

This post invokes the spirit of the Navigatrix’ 8 year old cousin who always asks: “what was the best and worst thing about your day?”

We did not really have any bad experiences. No-one got hurt or sick, we did not lose or break anything, nor was there anything we would recommend against.  Not even bad weather disrupted us, despite coming within days of a typhoon and a hurricane.

Now onto the good things, of which there are many:

  • Best flight: Cathay Pacific, Singapore to Bangkok.  The A350 is a beautiful airplane with a spacious and comfortable seat.  The crew of diverse cultures was exceptional and the food and drinks were amazing.  The overall experience was wonderful - the only thing missing was an amenity kit as this was a short haul flight.

  • Best airport lounge: Still The Pier at Hong Kong International. Cathay Pacific has a massive lounge with great food and a quiet ambiance. The Cathay Lounge in Changi Terminal 4 is an equal, albeit smaller.

  • Best hotel: A close one but Hotel Telegraaf in Tallinn wins out. It is perfectly located and the rooms are spacious, comfortable and beautifully decorated in a Baroque style. The Elemis toiletries are wonderful.  The staff are exceptional - even down to the "welcome back" greeting we received every time we walked in. The lack of a hotel club lounge was not a problem as we found a perfect little café just down the street.

  • Best destination: Kyoto, without a doubt.  We had a whole week there and barely scratched the surface.  There are reputably more than 200,000 festivals per annum in Japan, so there is always the chance of something happening in Kyoto no matter when you are there.  Twice now we have found something spectacular to do just by looking at a list prepared by the hotel. Kyoto is also centrally located - Hiroshima is just 2 hours away (human impact incident aside), Nagoya is an hour in the opposite direction, Lake Biwa and Osaka are just a short train ride away.  One can spend a lot of money to stay in flashy Kyoto hotels, or choose the great value Citadines which is right above the subway, has self contained facilities and a supermarket only two minutes walk away.  The only challenge is to identify what food to buy when there are no labels in English.

  • Best upgrade: Hilton Helsinki Airport.  From a normal hotel room to a massive 1 bedroom suite and all on Hilton points so it did not cost us a cent.  The only way this could have been better was if we were given a corner suite with its own sauna.

  • Best moment: This like being asked to choose a favourite child - impossible and also unfair.  We can narrow it down to three:

    • Flying over Mt Everest: Some readers though they were clouds but we can assure you they were not.  Flying along the Himalayas was special - confirmed by the Finnair flight attendant who cried tears of joy when we showed her what mesmerised us.

    • Seeing The Pope: This is something we never thought we would do, even in our wildest dreams.  The Navigatrix had that warm and fuzzy feeling associated with seeing a celebrity.  One of our readers said: "you created that feeling, not Il Papa," but there is no doubting he has an aura.  As our American acquaintances at  the bar in Hotel Telegraaf said: "he embodies the best of what we want people and the world to be." Touché. 

    • Japanese Horse Archery: This is not something one could see anywhere in the world except Japan.  The skill and dedication of both archer and horse was astonishing.  Not only that, the archer had to compete wearing many layers of traditional clothing.  This sport is unchanged in rules and execution for over 800 years and is a throwback to ancient times.  This was one of those festivals we discovered from the hotel list and we are so glad we spent the JPY500 to stand inside the enclosure right at the edge of the track.

We could go on and on...

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That's it!  After 46 days, 14 flight legs over more than 31,000 miles and about 7,000 photos it is all over.  Thanks to all of our readers who engaged with each post, answered those questions we posed and liked our photos on Instagram and Facebook.  Stay tuned for some follow up posts over the next few weeks as we have articles being published on a travel website.

 Oh... and why is the seat layout reverse herringbone?  Because the window seats face towards the window.  So now you know!

“It catches a feeling, a sky with no ceiling, a sunset inside a frame.”

“It catches a feeling, a sky with no ceiling, a sunset inside a frame.”

Day 25 (6 October): AA219 MCO - LAX

This morning we disembarked the ship and drove the Navbro and Navniece to their accommodation at Disney World.  We said farewell to one another with great sadness because it was a wonderful week of family time - something which is difficult to achieve when we live on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Then we made our way back to Orlando Airport (via the outlet mall of course) to catch our flight to Los Angeles.  We had a quick rest in a very below average Admirals Club lounge which was small and had no food worthy of writing about.  Free drink vouchers did little to compensate for a poor service offering.

THE PLANE

Boeing 737-800

LOYALTY SCHEME

Oneworld.  This is the start of the fourth leg of our oneworld Classic Reward.

CLASS

Business/First - seat 3A (window) and 3B (aisle).  This is the first row of seats.

DURATION

5 hours and 40 minutes.  We push back 10 minutes late and despite bumpy weather for most of the flight we arrive almost on time.

As it turns out we timed our cruise perfectly. The bumpy weather we experience over the Gulf of Mexico is the beginning of Hurricane Michael.

THE SEAT

Is as described on our flight from JFK - MCO.  Having the first row with the bulkhead in front at least gives a sense of more legroom.

ENTERTAINMENT

We downloaded the American airlines app before boarding.  It has 12 movies, mainly first release but also some from the Disney  catalogue.  There are approximately 25 TV shows available for streaming as well.  This is quite an elegant solution to providing free (albeit somewhat limited) content.

Content is also played on the TV screen which folds down from the overhead lockers.  'I Feel Pretty' with Amy Schumer is played and this is followed by two episodes of the latest series of 'Will & Grace'.  Free earbuds are provided.

BAGGAGE

AA's baggage policy changed on September 21 and although Business/First passengers are still allowed 32kgs per bag it is not clear if the allowance is 1 or 2 bags.  When all else fails the Finnair MSC rules still apply to our itinerary. 

Despite all our Caribbean souvenirs we are still at 2 bags per passenger of 23kgs each.

SERVICE

This time service was better.  The staff asked about The Navigatrix's stitching and also about our holiday itinerary.  The bumpy flight made disrupted service.  We noticed every time the seat belt sign came on the food trolley was placed across the aisle in order to make it completely clear the toilets were off limits.

FOOD

We can now confirm that food is only provided on transcontinental flights (including to Hawaii). Drinks were offered before take-off and then another round with warm nuts was delivered after the seat belt sign was switched off.  A hot towel was delivered just before the food service.

If we had known, we could have ordered our lunch online before the flight.  Despite being in the first row we are the last to be asked about food and only grilled chicken and vegetables is left.

Perhaps this is a case of some food being better than no food but it is hard to tell.  The chicken was dry and overcooked and the bread rolls were stale.  The green salad with oil and red wine vinaigrette was better.  However they did redeem themselves with ice cream served with a choice of toppings including whipped cream, butterscotch, chocolate fudge or raspberries. 

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Snacks such as potato chips, popcorn or pretzels were handed out about 90 minutes before landing.

Alcoholic or soft drinks as well as tea or coffee were available any time upon request.

THE VERDICT

Better... but nothing approaching their catchphrase of "great is what we're going for".

RATING

6 out of 10.