I needed to attend my best friend's wedding in Hong Kong, so I claimed a 60k award on DL to do so. For those who say such "lowest" awards don't exist, well, if you're flexible enough with dates and routing, one can indeed find them. I was routed IAH-DTW-HKG on the outbound and HKG-NRT-ATL-IAH on the inbound with a 5.5-hr layover in ATL on Thanskgiving Day. [It worked out well, read on.]
I decided to use this opportunity to visit my 88-year old uncle in Perth, Western Australia. Never visited him and I had never visited Australia or the Southern Hemisphere. I looked into non-stop options on CX/QF, but wanted to visit Singapore as well. LCCs Tiger, AirAsia and Jetstar were considered, but in the end SQ's schedule was best and didn't cost too much more.
So, final routing was IAH-DTW-HKG-SIN-PER-SIN-HKG-NRT-ATL-IAH. 26,330mi, which is the most of any trip I've ever made. If I dig a tunnel from Houston through the center of the earth and come up other side, I wouldn't be that far from Perth.
Added some new lines on my Flightmemory and OpenFlights, 2 new aircraft type, and one new airport - PER.
11/8/10 DL 5134 IAH-DTW CR7 N376CA
Found out early in the morning my flight had been delayed for over an hour. DL was pretty good in notification about this through email and text messages to my phone. Turned out the CR7 that arrived previous night at IAH was found to have problems, and ASA (Atlantic Southeast) would ferry an empty from ATL early in the morning. Since I had 3 hours at DTW anyways, this actually benefited me. No need to get to IAH that early.
First time using Terminal A at IAH in months. The TerminaLink train extension had been completed, along as an airside walkway between the two halves of Terminal A. Meaning all gates at IAH are now connected on the airside with trains and walkways. No more re-clearing security or bus riding.
Flight was uneventful. I grabbed the overwing exit row during OLCI and it has tonnes of legroom. Still got about 2 hours for my layover, and I had lunch at DTW's McNamara Terminal, which is indeed one of the best in the US.
11/8/10 DL27 DTW-HKG 77L N704DK
This is a fairly new route for DL, started only in June of this year, using their ultra-longrange 777-200LR, which would be the very first time for me on this type. It uses a pair of derated GE90 (to 110k lb, down from 115 on the 77W). DL has herringbone for BusinessElite, but coach is standard fare. Modern AVOD with large 9" widescreen, decent selection of entertainment including some Asian movies.; but all controls are via the screen with no extra remote, including the control for the reading lamps. There is AC power on this aircraft for my seat 41F, one row in front of Door 3.
[Since I've flown CO's EWR-HKG many times, you may read some comparison in my report, as well as comparison to the old NW trans-Pac service, which I have also experienced many times over the past few decades.]
Similar to CO, DL has a towel service and printed menu. First meal supposed to be pretty nice, better quality than CO and old NW. Unfortunately, the entree wasn't heated enough. I wasn't hungry since I had lunch at DTW, but many of my fellow Chinese seatmates sent their pork/rice back for reheating. Mid-flight meal was served a bit late, past mid-point of the flight and only when hitting land in Siberia. Apple and Milanos are great, but the cold ham sandwich is very hard and cold. Before arrival in HKG, a second full meal is served, rather than breakfast as on CO, despite almost identical departure/arrival times. Besides the cold first entree, another issue for me is that they turned on all the lights for the mid-flight snacks. That was totally unnecessary, waking up everybody 1am Eastern Time. Alcoholic drinks are complimentary, unlike on CO.
The cabin crew consisted of many Cantonese-speaking ones, but I question some of their attitude. I heard one complaining about the trash and tissues on the floor, in Cantonese. Well, 3/4 of the passengers can understand what she was saying. Also, the timing of the service was horribly managed. No reason why the whole crew was totally unprepared for landing after a 15-hour trip. At the end, no one passed through the cabin to check for seatbacks and tray tables. Unacceptable.
The flight path we took is Polar4, same as UA's ORD-HKG, but not the Polar3 used by CO/CX/AC from EWR/JFK/YYZ. We flew NNW through Northwest Territories into the Arctic Ocean, passed on the Pacific side of N. Pole, then down through eastern Siberia, and cut through the eastern most part of Mongolia before overflying Beijing down to HKG. [EWR/JFK/YYZ goes NNE initially, and flies directly over N. Pole or just to the Atlantic side of it.] Flight time for my flight was 15:04, basically identical to typical EWR-HKG flights. DL scheduled the flight for 16:05; and we ended up arriving 40 minutes early.
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rkkwan's 9-seg 26,000mi DL/SQ trip to opposite side of the earth, Nov 2010