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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 22:01

I have to go back to Hong Kong in October and am looking to book the air fare. OZ worked out quite nicely last time, but this time around their biz class fare comes out to be quite a bit higher than the competition [perhaps getting the Skytrax 5 stars has gone to their head a bit]. CX flies nonstop LAX-HKG but they ain't cheap either. How do KE, UA, China Airlines (Taiwan) and CX's biz class products compare to OZ? I could always go Delta and use miles, but the connection thru NRT isn't as convenient.

I reckon FLX could be of help here as he's based in HKG and flies regularly on these airlines.

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FLX

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 10:41

U're right, I hv also been noticing OZ fares creeping steadily upward lately, around 10% more than the same travel periods last yr across all fare types. Well, to be fair, OZ fares hv always been among the lowest on any given routes it flies except nonstops to/fm ICN/Korea. Even after the recent increases, OZ fares originating HKG are still a bit lower than competitors on most similar routings. Given its high inflight service stds and consecutive wins in SkyTrax, OZ still offers very good value @ current fare level if U fly fm Asia-Pcf<Again, excluding ICN/Korea>. A much more serious problem is the vastly decreased availability of lower/discounted OZ fare types<Including C/J cabin>. They're simply snapped-up quickly and as a result, only the higher OZ fares remain mostly bookable so they ended up costing similar to or a bit higher than the lowest available fares of competitors. I can see OZ fares hv risen by a larger margin in the U.S. therefore its fare advantage pretty much gone. Compare with biz travellers based in Asia-Pcf, U.S.-based premium pax tend to be more willing to try non-home carriers and possibly, a lot more aware of annual global rating results such as SkyTrax<e.g. None of my colleagues nor friends who travel fairly frequently hv any idea what is SkyTrax....they thought it's some sort of new flight status tracking software...>. In short, most travellers in Asia-Pcf are more conscious to brand imagine/familiarity than values that are more tangible. In fact, I bet OZ has been more successful in translating industry recognitions into profits in the U.S. mkt than in most Asia-Pcf nations.

OZ:
If your current higher OZ C/J fare is still acceptable however, I would still recommend it for this reason alone:
http://us.flyasiana.com/Global/US/en/homepage?fid=NEWS11000&cmd=NEWSVIEW&seq=1304

I luv the design of this new seat and can probably live in it continuously for days. So if your outbound/inbound flights match the wkly schedule of the new OZ 772ER equipped with this C/J product, go for it. IMHO, this new OZ C/J product ranks solidly among the best in the world today and I hv seen it before on the latest C/J of NH and EK. It's my favourite layout among all horizontal lie-flat configs....slightly better than the best fm CX and KE and @ least 1 Gen ahead of CI<ChinaAirlines>. Also good choice if U're dying to earn StarAlliance miles.

CX:
CX has very good C/J class<I maintain CX's Y is a diff animal though> with horizontal lieflat seat in fishbone layout. Ruthlessly efficient+responsive cabin crew but sometimes may be a bit cold/robotic. Absolutely impossible to hv any language/Eng communication issues at all. However, there's also no question that it has been and always will be the most expensive LAX-HKG option thx to zero competition in its nonstop routing+excellent connecting network throughout Asia-Pcf via HKG. I'll be really surprised if CX is cheaper than OZ. This is the prestigious option in intercon travel so if $ is no object, go for it. Good choice if U're dying to earn OneWorld miles.

KE:
Think of it as a 90% replica of OZ and U'll be close. Diff in cabin crew service/attitude is very very subtle. Being a flag carrier, KE crew is just a tiny winy bit colder/robotic/less eager to please than OZ. Chances are U won't notice it until U fly with KE and OZ a few times. No real diff in inflight F&B, AVOD, @ ICN lounge<KE lounge @ HKG is inferior to OZ's though> and other usual C/J ground perks. Many KE flights @ LAX hv its new C/J horizontal lie-flat seat in classic side-by-side layout but a few flights<Especially non-77W> hv the older inclined lie-flat config. U can look up exactly which KE flight# @ LAX has the newer seat on KE's website. On the ICN-HKG intra-Asia sector, most KE C/J seats<Recliner-type> are inferior to OZ's<Inclined lie-flat> and about the same as typical U.S. domestic F. Overall, if KE is significantly cheaper than OZ AND U get to fly on the newer C/J seat on LAX-ICN, I would recommend this. Also good if U're looking to beef-up your SkyTeam miles.

CI:
Overall, 2 notches below OZ/CX and 1-1.5 notch below KE. Most LAX flights get the inclined lie-flat<Interestingly, it's exactly the same design as OZ's inclined lie-flat yet it's somehow not as well-maintained> in C/J but occassionally due to rotation issues, U get the mid-90s style recliner type<IMHO, totally unacceptable today for 12hrs+ intercon sectors>. For TPE-HKG sector, U either get a recliner or inclined lie-flat seat, 50-50 chance<To be fair, it's not too relevant as the flight is just 1.5hr>. Cabin crew service in C/J is functional but more basic/less sophisticated/routine-like comparing with OZ/CX/KE. U'll easily notice the same in its F&B,AVOD,lounge,ground perks,etc. TPE as a transfer hub is functional but basic. Been there many times in recent yrs, very boring and actually a tad worn-out<Especially in T1>, chaotic and not terribly user-friendly. U'll easily notice this architecture is fm what era....a bit like an Asian version of LAX TBIT...and U can easily tell it was not designed to appeal to connecting pax. This is not a transit heaven like ICN or HKG. All in all, I would only consider CI if fare is less than 2/3 of OZ/CX/KE which is possible since its TransPcf C/J fares are typically among the lowest. U'll earn miles on many SkyTeam airlines but not all since CI is not in any alliance.

Wildcard: TG
Quite often, TG offers TransPcf C/J fares that are even lower than CI departing LAX. Inflight product std is about the same as CI but cabin crew service/attitude is quite a bit better. I also prefer TG's F&B in C/J over CI's partly due to my luv of Thai food. BKK as a transit hub, along with the TG lounge there, is clearly superior to TPE and approaching the stds @ HKG and ICN. Contrary to perhaps some rumors, Thailand's political stability issues hv absolutely no impact to BKK's daily ops especially when we're talking about flight connections. The only catch with this option is that your total journey time will be longer by @ least 3hrs. I would pick TG over CI if total journey time is not a significant issue and TG is cheaper than CI. Another bonus: TG deploys 345 on the LAX route which is just about the last major airline still flying this rare bird these days.....I predict 345 will disappear completely fm major intercon mkts in about 2yrs....similar fate as the pax M11.


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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 16:34

Thanks very much FLX, this is a big help. I checked TG and the much longer trip time is too big an inconvenience. KE, DL, UA and CI are all competitive within ~$150 or so. CX is about $300 more and OZ about $425 more.

I also have to beware of price because I'm travelling on the company's money. The last thing I need is to spend so much on airfare that I have to battle with the anal-retentive bean counters to reimburse me for all of it.

At the end of the day I'll probably either go with KE, OZ or CX. I'm also considering taking the wife and baby with me and staying over a weekend as my wife has never been to Asia. If I go this route I'll probably go with DL or KE and use SkyTeam miles for the second seat. The baby did a capital job on his first long-haul trip to England so I think he can easily handle another long trip to Hong Kong.


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captain bill

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 17:14

Can't comment on the fares BUT I do like the wee toffee man.


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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 18:17

Thanks Captain Bill! He has his dad's ginger hair and his mum's sweet, outgoing personality! He only cries when he's ill or needs a change. He started crawling about a month ago...he went from a BAE-146 (stubby with plenty of baby fat round the middle) to a Concorde (supersonic and damn near impossible to keep up with) very quickly! Before I know it he'll be a 346 towering over the old man...


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captain bill

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 20 Aug 19:36

I tell you Mabel it's the best years of your life. Enjoy the wee lad. I have just had two of my four grandsons with me tonight and that is also wonderful. The eldest (4) is aeroplane mad just like his Gramps.


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Spot planes

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 21 Aug 1:21

Another wildcard is AC via YVR. AC YVR-HKG is using their brand new B773 with the VS herring bone style lay flat seat. The same seats used in newer CX interiors. Western J FAs are less robotic than Asian, also tend to be more personal and friendlier.

I heard good words about BR <BR better than CI> but never tried it.


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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 22 Aug 16:21

I forgot about BR...they've increased their presence in So Cal lately...loads of billboards round town and adverts in the L.A. Times and local magazines.

I'll have this wrapped up by tomorrow. I am taking wife and baby...so it'll be either DL or KE as i'll have to use my own personal miles for the second seat. I think we're going to spend 3 days in either Tokyo or Seoul after I do my business thing in HKG.


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FLX

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 23 Aug 10:27

Mabel:
Sorry, I completely missed that U hv also asked about UA and DL.

UA: I hv never flown its C/J so I learnt mostly fm the media/photos only
+: Very good brand new horizontal lie-flat seat with huge AVOD screen
-: Cabin crew seem to consistently hv a bad rep in terms of attitude and attentiveness relative to most Asian competitors, probably similar to CI or worse. Connection will be @ SFO and even though it's got 1 of the best U.S. intercon terminal, not as good as NRT T1 North<Completely rebuilt since 07>.
Conclusion: If I must fly HKG-LAX via SFO all the way on Star, I would only do it like this: LAX-SFO by UA + SFO-HKG by SQ

DL: I actually flew HKG->NRT->LAX on C/J last yr while it was still NW-coded. Don't know why U think NRT is not as convenient as KE/OZ @ ICN or CI @ TPE. I find DL's hub @ NRT T1 South works brilliantly. Connection time between HKG and LAX DL flights are ALWAYS scheduled perfectly, not too short, not too long. Neat & well-organized T1 South is just 6-7yrs old with plenty of shopping+dining options while DL's 2 lounges there are among the most spacious+comfortable in NRT. Notorious delays+pax overcrowding @ NRT are also things of the distant past thx to both rwys now fully capable to handle heavies, vastly increased space in T1+T2 and HND<Tokyo Haneda> hv been effectively relieving many NRT traffic between China+Korea and Tokyo. NRT may not be as architecturally pleasing/avant-garde as ICN nor HKG, it's got all the things connection pax want in a comfy setting.

DL's Pcf ops are now completely integrated in terms of both crew and equipment. This means U'll find pre-merger DL and NW cabin crew working on the same flights throughout its Pcf network such as LAX, NRT and HKG. I had no experience in these post-merger flights but I find NW Pcf crew service has always been better than CI and just a bit inferior to KE/CX. I heard DL has recently upgraded F&B std in C/J on Trans-Pcf flights over the already pretty good NW std<Comparable with KE>. LAX-NRT-HKG will most likely be flown all the way on ex-NW metals either 330 or 744 - meaning inclined lie-flat seat in C/J on both types and NO AVOD/PTV in Y on the 744 until End 2011. If stopping-over Tokyo, try the new hi-speed rail link<Known as Skyliner> between NRT and downtown<About 0.5hr> which is much quicker than the existing fastest option of nearly 1hr by rail.

If your choice is between KE and DL, ideally, I'd pick KE due to 1 single differentiator: Horizontal lie-flat option on KE's C/J between LAX and ICN. However if redeeming miles, I expect this will be nex to impossible to book<Though inclined lie-flat on KE should be easy to book>. Another catch is that on ICN-HKG sector, your C/J seat on KE will most likely be a recliner/non-flat whereas DL provides inclined lie-flat seat in C/J all the way between LAX and HKG. If U intend to redeem miles, your choice realistically depends only on redemption seat availability more than driven by anything else such as inflight product or services. I suspect U'll most likely hv much better chance with KE redemption since it has multiple daily connections fm LAX to HKG while DL only has 1 connection a day. Good luck.

Spot planes:
I also never tried BR<EVA> but hv been comparison shopping it a few times for 2 TransPcf flights this yr. Compared with CI, BR tends to be more expensive for Y and about the same for C/J. According to friends/relatives and other commentators on the web who tried BR, it's indeed better than CI in Y but similar in C/J<Inclined lie-flat seat>. To me, the best thing about BR is that it's 1 of the few Trans-Pcf carriers that offer REAL PY<Premium Y> product and the only 1 that sells it @ reasonable fares<I define reasonable as PY fare not being higher than the lowest C/J fare available fm any carriers on the same route>. However, I hv 2 big problems with BR:
1) Similar to CI, whenever I can avoid TPE as my connecting hub I will
2) UNLIKE CI, BR has got so few FFP partners that miles earned are pretty useless unless U intend to redeem them only on BR....ok for Taiwan-based folks but a bit pointless for everyone else.
As a result, I'm still unconvinced to try BR....@ least until I desparately want to fly PY.

AC was a pioneer in horizontal lie-flat seat in C/J and adopted it even earlier than longhaul darling CX in 07, way ahead of any U.S. majors. Since mid-2009, all 77Ws, 77Ls, 333s and almost all 763ERs @ AC are equipped with this C/J seat design. Along with a whole bunch of Best XXX Award wins<Most notably, the Best Cabin Crew-N.America and Best Longhaul Biz Class-N.America awards> recently, AC's current pax service std is firmly recognized in the industry. These are some reasons why AC has been doing relatively well in the downturn, stealing premium intercon traffic to/fm the U.S. from U.S. majors/hubs.

If flying between HKG and LAX, I would not hesitate to pick AC<via YVR> over DL<via NRT> or UA<via SFO> EVEN IF AC FARE IS A BIT HIGHER. Heck, I'll even pick AC over KE<via ICN> if @ similar fare. Basically, here is my current preferred carrier shortlist for TransPcf flight in C/J:
OZ
AC
NH
CO<May be deleted after fully merged with UA>
CX<Only when price is no object>

Why is my list dominated by Star carriers?......


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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 23 Aug 17:03

KE it is. We'll be going out 8 Oct LAX-ICN on a 773ER with the new lie-flat seats in ''prestige class'' J, then ICN-HKG on a 773 non-ER with the recliner J seats, which is fine by me since that flight is only 3.5 hours. On the way back it's HKG-ICN again 13 Oct on the 773 non-ER with recliners in J, then we have 3 days to spend in Seoul before returning to LAX on a 744 on 17 Oct. Apparently not all of KE's 744s have the 180-degree lie-flats in J so I guess we won't know until we board. KE has been aggressively advertising its J class around town to compete with OZ, and after having an excellent experience with OZ last year I'm looking forward to comparing the 2.

I was able to use miles to book the second seat, and I think we were helped by the fact that we also booked a bassinet for the baby. For that reason I booked by phone instead of online and the very helpful KE rep made sure we got seats together in a bulkhead bassinet location.

I'll post a report after the trip. Stay tuned...


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FLX

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 23 Aug 17:43

Congrat Mabel:
U managed to redeem miles for KE flight with the horizontal lie-flat seat. Your family will totally enjoy it. The seat is officially known as Prestige Sleeper which is 1 notch above KE's own Prestige Plus and OZ's C/J seat U had last time<Both inclined lie-flat> in terms of comfort. 1 thing I hv to admit is that KE's recliner in C/J is 1 of the better recliner designs around...very soft and cozy with good recline, more than adequate for ICN-HKG<I personally think a horizontal lie-flat will be a bit over-kill for 3.5hr sectors>.

KE is in the midst of converting Prestige Plus to Presitge Sleeper throughout its huge 744/772ER fleet<All 77Ws are delivered to KE with the new design pre-installed> so that will take a while. In contrast, OZ will complete fleetwide conversion to its new horizontal lie-flat design quicker than KE by virtue of a much smaller intercon fleet even though OZ started later than KE.

Good tip to book redemption seat via phone as opposed to online. thx.


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Mabel

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  Topic: KE and CX Biz Class - Sent 24 Aug 18:47

Nothing beats talking to a live human being when you have a complex request where using the internet leaves too much room for error.


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