Hong Kong Airport has some excellent lounge facilities. I’m not normally accustomed to such luxuries but I discovered a nice Ebookers promotion. Their membership scheme is free to join and its most eye-catching benefit is that after booking four nights accommodation, you receive a complimentary airport lounge pass. So for £18, as well as four days at the excellent Long Hostel in Saigon, I also received lounge access in Hong Kong Airport. After sleeping in the airport last night it was great to get a shower. Due to it being a morning flight the complimentary alcohol had to be consumed in moderation but the breakfast buffet was decent and it was nice to be able to relax in a comfy chair.
Flying east over the international date line can do strange things with the time. It’s possible to fly from New Zealand to Hawaii and arrive before you left according to the clock! Today’s flight wasn’t quite one of these. We departed Hong Kong just after noon, spent almost 15 hours in the air before landing in Chicago at around 2pm, still on the same afternoon. That was certainly a long time to spend on one plane. I managed to have efforts at dozing, read most of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, watched Ken Loach’s I Am Daniel Blake and still spent a fair bit of time twiddling my thumbs. While Cathay Pacific are one of the better airlines they were slightly stingy with the food. You get a meal about an hour into the flight, one not far prior to landing and that’s it. While I’m aware that there are still people starving in the world, ten hours during daytime is still quite a while to go without eating. Thankfully I managed to fill myself up to optimum capacity at the airport lounge buffet earlier.
Tranmere Rovers played Aldershot in the play-off semi-final second leg during the flight. I’d booked a ticket to London for next weekend’s final on the proviso that Tranmere would progress. Obviously this was a gamble but there was only one remaining Avios reward flight left. With a 3-0 lead there should have been little to worry about, however Tranmere are a bit of a basket case so there aren’t really any certainties where they’re concerned. Upon landing in Chicago, my phone informed me that the 2-2 draw was sufficient to send Tranmere to Wembley. Although this appears to be a relatively comfortable progression, watching the game would have been slightly more nerve wracking. At one stage Aldershot were leading 2-1 and had a couple of great chances to make it 3-1. A Tranmere bottle-job could well have ensued so it sounds like flying over the Pacific, oblivious to what was happening, was perhaps best for my nerves!
The more eagle-eyed readers of this blog may be wondering why I’m going back to Chicago, having already been there twice before on this trip. There’s a couple of reasons. I’ll be heading home via Panama in June so therefore need to head towards the direction of the Americas. Cathay Pacific are great for Avios redemption, charging only the mileage and minimal surcharges, unlike British Airways where taxes and surcharges are often well into three figures sterling. There was availability to San Francisco and Chicago. As much as I like SF, Chicago is up their with my favourite cities in the world where finding new things to see and do is easy.
Having not slept in a bed for at least 48 hours, I didn’t feel like doing much after arriving in Chicago. An accommodation first happened this afternoon while attempting to enter the hostel room. The key card wouldn’t open the door. Nobody was inside to open it. After a bit of toing-and-froing between reception it was decided that the battery had gone and the master key could not be located. The electronic-equivalent of a locksmith had to be summoned and he was off-site. This was just what you needed following sleep deprivation! When he arrived about half-an-hour later, I was in bed and asleep well within a minute of that door being opened.