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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 2,280 total)

  • IanFromHKG
    Participant

    It is a nice lounge, but tbh not (at least in my opinion) that special when you consider that it is the home base for an airline which is concentrating on long-haul trips to Asia.

    I was also a little surprised by the comment that it doesn’t seem cramped even when it is busy, since I find it quickly does become so. Ironically, when busy, I think it is better to go to the “standard” business class lounge next door – if you like views over the apron (which you can get from either lounge) you will note that the seats in the standard lounge are twice as far apart as those in the premium lounge!

    I have found the food offering is fine for snacks but if you want a proper meal, better to go to the Nordic Kitchen a short distance away.


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    All great suggestions above and I second them all. Except for the Shrimp/Louisiana restaurant canucklad referred to (I assume he was talking about Bubba Gump) – our preference is Wildfire (sorry canucklad!). There are two major buildings at the top of the Peak Tram and Wildfire is in the one that houses the Peak Tram station. Try to prebook a table by the window at the harbour end – the views are amazing, as are the cocktails (order the large size, the glasses are quite impressive and excellent for sharing). Their supersized steak (can’t remember what they call it – porterhouse, I think) is stunning. If you like spicy food (but bear in mind it is SPICY) the chicken kebab is fantastic. They also have an outdoor terrace for drinks.

    I would also add, re the Peak, that the best time to go up there is around 5:30 to 6. There is a lovely gentle walk around the Peak called Lugard Road – from the Peak Tram station head towards the road and you will come to a junction. Do not turn left, do not go up the hill, take the road either straight ahead or to the right (they both connect as it is a circular road). If you get there early while the light is still good go straight ahead. If the light is fading, go to the right. I say this because the harbour views are to the right and the best time is when the sun goes down and the lights start to come on and shine.

    Taxis are cheap as chips and easily available at all times of the day when you don’t want one. When you do want one, it will almost always be a shift change or when everyone else wants one! But then I only try to find them at the beginning or end of the work day, so perhaps it will be different for tourists! Bear in mind that taxis will not (usually) stop on double-yellow lines. No tips are expected, other than rounding the fare up to the nearest Hong Kong dollar (ie about 10p). If you are going across the harbour, then either (i) try to find a special taxi stand for cross-harbour taxis (these are signposted) in which case you will pay a single toll or (ii) be prepared to pay double toll (which is mandated by law, so they aren’t trying to cheat you) and get a level of grumpiness from the taxi driver. HK has a three-tier taxi system – blue taxis (cheapest) are confined to Lantau Island, green taxis (middle cost) are confined to the New Territories, and red taxis (most expensive, but still cheap) are licensed to pick up anywhere in Kowloon or on HK Island and can take you anywhere (save for some restrictions on Lantau Island). However, red taxis, notwithstanding they are licensed to pick up in HK or Kowloon usually stay on just one side of the harbour, so a Kowloon cabbie won’t necessarily be familiar with roads on HK Island and vice versa. Others have commented that it is worth getting your address written in Chinese – there is a handy app for this called Hong Kong Taxi Cards, which allows you to input your address in English and provides you with a handy Chinese translation to show the driver. Another useful app is called HK Taxi which operates rather like Uber – I find that offering a $20 bonus usually gets me a cab fairly quickly.

    The MTR is superb – clean, efficient, cheap, fast and frequent. Buses are plentiful and even cheaper. Minibuses are also plentiful and cheap, but can be a bit of a white-knuckle ride! Overall, HK has one of the world’s best public transport systems, added to which is a high level of personal safety. There is violent crime in Hong Kong, but 99.9% of it is domestic or triad-related so if you don’t have a partner there and you’re not a triad, chances of violence are almost zero. I would be perfectly comfortable (from a safety perspective, at least!) if my wife or teenage daughter were to walk alone through Wanchai (the red-light / bar district on HK Island) at 3 am.

    To add to handbag’s suggestion about the bus to Stanley, make sure you take the 6X (rather than the 6) as that goes over the mountain rather than through the tunnel, and that way you get the best views. If you are feeling brave, sit on the upper deck front row on the left, and marvel at how the drivers can charge along narrow roads with cliffs on both sides (going up on the left and down on the right) just inches away from the rock face.

    Another suggestion is to take one of the “sailing” junks (they have sails, but use engines) from Kowloon or Hong Kong to Stanley. We have done this a couple of times with guests and loved it. The best (in our view) is Aqua Luna. Try to sit on the port side (left) as that gives the best views.

    handbag also suggested Repulse Bay (on the south side of HK Island) although personally I think the neighbouring bay of Deepwater Bay is better. Both have changing facilities with toilets and showers. Most people don’t realise that HK has some fantastic beaches, and both of these are great – soft sand, great views, and 20-30 minutes from Central (the business district on the north side of the island), so take swimmers! – and easily accessible by public transport with multiple bus routes.

    Hope the family have a great time. HK is a wonderful place and offers a lot more than people think.


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    I detest being called ‘sir’. Or ‘Mr xxx’. As soon as someone, say a crew member on a plane, says ‘how do I say your surname’ (it is a bit tricky) I always reply ‘please call me xxx (my first name)’

    Um – Fer-guh-sern??

    I tease….

    I will say that to me it all depends on context. I can understand that in this increasingly-politically-correct and increasingly-casual world, we can no longer expect the level of formality that my parents enjoyed (I remember my father – a senior partner (and later THE senior partner) at a well-known City law firm – once telling me about an associate who had indirectly received a suggestion from my Dad saying that he had “received a message from God”). Thankfully hierarchies nowadays are no longer quite so entrenched!

    However, I do resent the general assumption that just because I am paying someone to provide a service to me, they are entitled to use my Christian name. There are a few occasions when I have had someone on the ‘phone asking “How may I address you?”. I like that. I always answer “Mr [IanFromHKG]” because that is my personal preference. I do not wish to invoke a level of familiarity that isn’t justified.

    An example of this, operating in reverse, came when we employed our first domestic helper in Hong Kong. Unaccustomed to the idea of having domestic help, we asked our then helper to use our Christian names, and she responded by saying (very politely) that that was inappropriate, as we were her employers, and she would call us Sir and Madam. And she was correct – it helped to maintain a certain distance that prevented what was always going to be a personal relationship becoming TOO personal. Our current domestic helper has been with us for two decades, and has lived in our home all that time, and seen our children grow up. She loves them, they love her, but we are still Sir and Madam, and that works.

    When it comes to more casual payer/payee relationships (such as restaurant personnel) then I am more relaxed. And I will confess to using “guys” in a casual context to a group including women. Perhaps I should rethink that.

    However, I will say that I draw the line at “dude”!


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    The Rijksmuseum at AMS springs to mind. And thank God it’s there – what a terrible airport in every other respect (IME and IMHO!). I cannot understand why it used to keep winning awards. Admittedly I have never gone through there on the home airline (KLM) or their Skyteam partners, but as a oneworld traveller – what a freaking dump. Everywhere you need to go is miles away from wherever you start (even the airplane taxi to and from the stand makes you think they are using runways in a different country), the lounges are terrible and don’t even offer showers, the security queues are slow and run by staff who seem to have taken lessons from the surlier staff at LHR and then added their own overlay of grumpiness and tardiness, and… well, I could go on, but I know I digress…

    Still – a museum at an airport. That is such a great idea and I wish more airports did something like that. HKG has a few half-hearted glass cabinets with stuff in them dotted around. Well, whoop-de-do… However, although I haven’t seen it, I understand that in SIN they have recreated an old-fashioned street of shophouses – the trouble is that is in the departure area. Anyone who has been to Singapore and is interested in that sort of thing will have seen the real thing already. So top marks for trying, but only about 3/10 for thinking it through.

    KUL has a little forest garden in the centre of the satellite concourse. It’s tiny but quite nice. In fact, anything that lets you get outside is nice, and I wish more airports did that too.


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    It’s a bit old nw, but here is a review I wrote of a shorter flight on Jet’s A330

    http://www.seatplans.com/users/profile/53426#


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    I can’t see SIA obtaining fifth-freedom rights New York-London. It’s tried in the past but the UK govt has always refused … hence the reason SIA flies Frankfurt-New York instead.

    But Alex, there are a number of fifth-freedom routes between the UK and the US, haven’t there? I will confess to only using my memory and not having researched (and I am sure your resources are better than mine on both counts!), but I do seem to recall that ANZ and Air India have those fifth-freedom rights. I have an idea that PIA did too. Rather more pertinently (and I did research this one) SQ fly a fifth-freedom route between Houston and Manchester.

    So given that the UK government allows fifth-freedom flights between the UK and the US, why would they refuse LHR-NYC? Wouldn’t that be more a matter of slots at LHR?


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    Not Working at T3 for sure, arrived last week on CX flight.

    Not sure why you think a BA initiative would apply to a CX flight, Steve???


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    (should have bought A380s like most competitors).

    A380s – much as I love them – just don’t make sense for Cathay (according to a friend of mine who occupies one of the C-suites). Their heavy dependence on cargo and the A380’s relatively low cargo capacity just don’t mix. They have also decided on their flagship routes (eg LHR) to compete on frequency (five flights a day) rather than a low-frequency-high-capacity basis (eg BA with their 1xB777 + 1xA380 approach)


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    Martyn, I sympathise, but at least you had the opportunity to go to a different part of the terminal and transit there. Some years ago I arrived into T3 on Cathay, and we all ended up stuck in the terminal.

    Now I admit that I probably can’t blame HAL for this one, as they don’t have control over Customs and Immigration, but all the same – the idea that they could allow a planeful of passengers to land and disembark when there was nobody to process us was astonishing. It would certainly have been a damn sight more comfortable to wait on the plane (even in economy) than to stand around an otherwise deserted terminal waiting for staff to turn up.


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    So we now have a new Top Trumps parameter – A330 wing vs A321 tail fin…

    JohnHarper and Mrs JH – glad to hear you are alright

    FDOS – can’t help wondering if there was some damage to the A321’s undercarriage – that took a fairly significant sideways jolt too by the look of it. Not to mention the pressure bulkhead at the aft of the passenger cabin

    In light of the SFO incident, I can’t help but wonder if the Asiana co-pilot was thinking “Wow, we’re really close to that other aircraft, I wonder if I should say something?”


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    It appears that one of the drivers behind the commencement of the service is not just increased passenger demand, but also additional freight capability from the London/Midlands area to the Gulf. Demand is high, so rather than an additional freight only service, add passengers on, so expect less than full flights, but maximised in the holds.

    That would be consistent with using a B777 rather than an A380 – is that the plan?


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    My parents made quite a display (in the downstairs bog) of a large glass jar full of airline soaps for many years. They also served nuts at dinner parties or drinks evenings on lacquer mini-bowls liberated from JAL.

    So far as I can recall anything I have liberated from an airline has been by accident (scooping up a safety card with my newspapers for instance) or was in the nature of a disposable item (such as a shaving kit) or intended for sole passenger use (such as slippers). Put I do emphasise that it is only so far as I can recall…!!

    Mind you in the light of a report a while ago that a bar in some Mediterranean resort gave free drinks to people who produced an airline lifejacket, I always check on boarding that mine hasn’t been liberated by some previous passenger!


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    BA have had some great ideas in the past. Personally I think it is a shame they didn’t develop this idea, which showed true inventiveness and ‘outside-the-box’ thinking.

    Unfortunately, it seems that BA’s days of true innovation are over – and I am not just carping here, I really do feel that the flag carrier of the nation that has brought more innovative travel ideas to the world than any other could do better (sigh).

    I have been involved in airline research programmes before (including at the top end a new J seat and, most recently and trivially, an amenity kit) and it is absolutely true that NDAs are produced. Even for the amenity kit.


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    I have just realised I have been responding only to comments on the thread and not to the OP, who asked:

    1) Have you ever had need to break policy and why?
    2) What would you like to see changed in your policy?
    3) Do you think there are any different ‘generational’ considerations concerned with policies?

    My answers:
    1) *Need*? No, not so far as I recall. I don’t think I have ever NEEDED to break policy. I often did break it, though (in such a way that didn’t damage the company – such as where I paid to upgrade from a flexible economy ticket to a non-flexible business class ticket on the understanding that if I needed to be change my flight it would be at my risk for opting for a non-flexible ticket). I must confess that where I thought the policy was particularly idiotic or counter-productive and no flexibility was available I complied in such a way that ultimately did not help the company (something of a “work-to-rule”). For instance, after being forced to travel economy on flights under five hours, I refused to work on the ‘plane – partly because it was difficult and uncomfortable but also because it meant I couldn’t keep my work confidential. Another example – after an idiotic ruling requiring prior approval to take company equipment overseas (which I applied for but was not forthcoming in time) I went on holiday without it, which meant (as the bank didn’t permit email access on personal devices) that I was completely cut off for a week, and took some pleasure in pointing out in my out-of-office autoreply that I was unable to respond due to Law Department policy (that didn’t go down well with the head of my division, so it was a bit of an own goal as it turned out, but heigh-ho)!

    2) Rigidity. Any element of rigidity. Rules are fine – common sense in applying them is key. This may lead to inconsistency but you know what? The business world is rarely completely predictable. Adaptability is how businesses succeed. If it would have been more efficient and profitable for stevescoots to take a private plane from Lincolnshire to Glasgow (to cite his example above), why not allow it?

    3) Ha – yes, but in two directions. Too many policies are compiled by junior employees who think that cost-saving is more important than productivity and revenue (they couldn’t be more wrong). Conversely, too many senior people think that seniority alone brings privilege and special treatment when it comes to travel perks. That’s entirely understandable, but isn’t always sensible. Perhaps there is an element of “young people can deal with hardship” and to some extent that’s true. It has definitely become apparent to me as I (gracefully!) grow older that despite being reasonably fit physically, I no longer have the resilience I used to have when it comes to long-haul travel. I used to travel to the US (ultra-long-haul from here) and blast through three days of meetings, stop off in the UK on the way back to visit family (which was often more exhausting than the meetings!), and arrive back in HK ready to start work again the next day. Nowadays, frankly, no. Nor do I want to. However, policies don’t seem to deal with age, only with seniority. While there is in many cases a strong correlation, there are many others where there isn’t.

    So, having got back on topic – what do others think?


    IanFromHKG
    Participant

    I have written here before of some the dumber policies of my former employer so I won’t repeat myself (entertaining though some of the stupidity was when you weren’t having to deal with it on the front line!). The consensus here seems to be that employers often demonstrate a disturbing lack of flexibility and common sense and put travel policies before the wellbeing – security issues aside, which do seem to be addressed – of their employees. In that regard, I wish I had worked for CathayLoyalist2’s old shop!

    Mind you, having been a partner in a couple of law firms in my time, I particularly appreciated the policies of the first one where any policy could be overridden by an individual partner (even if that was the partner doing the travelling!). That was nice, although I was always careful not to get too carried away! Mind you the second firm was even better when it came to holidays – for partners, this was “as much time as you think is appropriate” 🙂

    I no longer travel for business, which probably makes me a fraud for still being on here (but I hope you all won’t mind too much!), and it is remarkably liberating. I still do a lot of travel and am busy burning up my Asia Miles while I still have CX Diamond (OWE) status and can access redemption tickets that work for me in terms of destination and schedule. Come August my CX Diamond status will be gone (as will, I hope, all of my and my family’s Asia Miles!), but I will still be piggybacking off the Memsahib’s OWE status with MH (which gives me a OWE card too). So provided she clocks up 100,000 oneworld miles per year (which isn’t too hard as MH are still among the cheapest for J between here and the UK and mileage accrual is pretty good), the rest of our travel will be governed by purely personal policies, which will revolve around fares that makes sense, travel class that makes sense, timing that makes sense, the comfort of the airline – or train, or coach, or car, or whatever – involved, and anything else that we deem to be important to *us*.

    On that final note I will mention one story from my former employer. A senior manager from the US took a business trip to HK. Given the flight duration he was entitled to fly J – but he chose to fly economy because it was “better for the company”. Now in a small organisation, where a few hundred dollars here or there could make a difference, this would have been understandable and (provided it didn’t impact on his productivity) even laudable. However, this was a bank with over a quarter of a million employees and a profit measured in the tens of billions (no, that wasn’t a typo). Needless to say, he didn’t travel on business much, but those of us who did were all completely horrified at the precedent he was setting. He wasn’t invited back…

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