Flying to Manila – The Atlanta to Tokyo Leg

Yesterday (or I guess, technically, the day before yesterday), I left 45 degree St. Louis and made my way to 85 degree Manila. I woke up at 5:30am CDT in St. Louis Monday and went to bed in my hotel in Manila at about 1:30am Wednesday. By my calculations that’s 31 hours.

I’ll try to give some thoughts on Manila itself after I’ve been here a few days. For now, I’d like post some photos of the trip itself. I flew Delta from St. Louis to Atlanta, Tokyo and Manila. Althoug my flights weren’t spot on time, I made my connections with ease.

From Atlanta to Tokyo, I was on a Delta 777 in Business Elite, which feature its herringbone layout.

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My seat (or “suite”) had a seat and a footrest. The gap between was closed when the bed went flat. It was comfortable, but it lacked in real storage space for anything other than a magazine or book. I ended up putting things behind the chair. You’ll note from the pictures that my 5’6″ frame barely got my feet to the footrest. Taller folks you’re in good shape.

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Here are a few more shots from this leg: the seat controls, not as confusing as they look, with a convenient USB port beneath, the large tray that pulls out and the TV screen, the ridiculously large piece of salmon for dinner, and the vanilla ice cream sundae for dessert.

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All-in-all, this was an above average experience if only for the flat beds that, when combined with an Ambien, led to at least six hours sleep. The primary negative was the malfunctioning AV system, on which shows would appear randomly. I selected Black Swan, and I got Man vs. Food. I love Adam Richman, but I wanted Natalie Portman.

Next post on my Tokyo to Manila leg. Spoiler: the AV system worked!

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Delta Airlines to Beijing – Bonus Miles Make Up for Spotty Service

Last week, I flew Delta round trip from St. Louis to Beijing.   I didn’t do it for the great connections or flight times.  I did it purely for the miles.

Delta has a program now that provides for bonus miles and extra qualifying miles for elite status for flights from St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville.  I flew Delta through two connections (and a very, very low price), because every round-trip international business class trip originating in St. Louis and routed through a Delta hub nets 50,000 extra miles and double qualifying miles towards medallion status.  I’m already a Platinum Medallion, which gets me double miles on every flight.  Business class gets a 50% bonus.  It was a bonanza!!

I earned a total of 88,491 miles:

  • Round trip miles (STL-ATL-SEA-PEK-PEK-MSP-STL) = 15,396
  • 100% Platinum Medallion bonus:  15,396
  • 50% International Business Class bonus:  7,699
  • Special bonus:  50,000

On that one trip, I also earned 46,190 miles towards status, which nets me silver for next year and is less than 3K away from gold.  Note that you have to register for this Delta promotion in advance.  Visit this post at Gary Leff’s View from the Wing blog for links to all four city promotions.

The trip itself was very smooth.  I had six flights and four connections.  The flight from Atlanta to Seattle on the way out was delayed a bit, but I wasn’t close to missing my connection.  Beijing-Seattle pushed back on time, but sat for about 45 minutes on the tarmac.  Still, it arrived early into Seattle.  Thanks very much to Delta for making a four-connection round trip very smooth.

On the Atlanta-Seattle flight I paid $12.95 to use their Gogo Wifi internet.  My experience was very positive.  The connection was easy and fast.  I spent a bit of time chatting with friends, and the connection couldn’t have been smoother.  I used Skype to send texts to my family, although I wasn’t able to receive any back, because I hadn’t preauthorized it through my mobile phone.  I didn’t try voice on Skype, because my headphones and microphone were up on the overhead storage.  The only downside, was that my 757 did not have electric outlets, even in first class.  My laptop battery ran out before time to use the Internet.  What a bummer.

The international business class on Delta had ups and downs.  Although the seat wasn’t a flat bed, it was very comfortable, as were the pillow and duvet.  The flight attendants rated about a 7 out of 10, with most of the points earned by the crew from Beijing to Seattle.  The crew from Seattle to Beijing wasn’t impressive.  One flight attendant didn’t know the wine choice, even though there was only one red and one white, and others tended to be too chatty with a group of flight attendants that were passengers on that plane.

Business Class Dinner on Delta - That's Steak at Bottom Right

There were at least three other negatives to my Delta experience.  First, the video system itself had a smaller screen and a must narrower selection than Continental and United for comparison.  On my return, I watched Breaking Bad on DVD on my laptop and didn’t even pull the video unit out.  Second, the electric plug is located behind the passenger’s right hip and is nearly impossible to reach.  Third, and most notably, the food was just not good.  I took a picture of my dinner from Beijing to Seattle and have posted it here.  Yuk.  At any rate, who wants dinner at 10am anyway.  We should have had breakfast!!

I may take another trip to Beijing at the end of September.  No question I’ll endure the connections and layovers for the Delta miles, assuming the cost stays low.  I’ll renew Platinum Medallion on that trip.  And now I know not to order the steak!