A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

 
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Hi there Flight Fans This Trip Report is going to go 12 Rounds, or rather days, and this heavyweight traveller is going to land home a number of fists firsts. ...
  1. #1
    Senior Member RooFlyer's Avatar
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    A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Hi there Flight Fans

    This Trip Report is going to go 12 Rounds, or rather days, and this heavyweight traveller is going to land home a number of fists firsts. But thankfully the boxing analogy will be KOed right here.

    This first post is about the trip almost all being possible because of what I've learned through AFF and a number of terrific members who've helped me either specifically or in general on the various forums/threads. In particular:

    * SYD-SIN-DEL on SQ First, courtesy Velocity points bonus on credit card sign-ons, and then converted to SQ miles - all discovered on AFF;

    * SQ experience tailoring, advice and assistance by Cruiser Elite - amongst the helpful folk here, he's up with the best; honourable mention to JessicaTam for sort of foreshadowing my trip on SQ F by about a week. She posted lots of stuff so I wouldn't have to ask some dumb questions, and also showed that having only two hands is no impediment to how many glasses of good plonk you can have going at once in flight;

    * Advice and mentoring on fine wines (as in: served in F cabins and F lounges) by ... gosh, there are so many, but Buzzard, boomy, penegal (the budget end of the range, admittedly), Princess Fiona, TomVexeville, BlackCat, JohnM, the entire 'nice wines I have drunk recently' thread, ... and so on ... Apologies for the many I have left out ...

    * Indian private tour, following advice of jojen. The dilemma of choosing a tour company/guide was the main reason I'd put off going for ages - jojen put me onto what I'm sure is a great company and I have total confidence that it'll go great. Also advice and re-assurance on Indian visas - right at a time when they had their own stresses! Thanks

    * Advice on the current Indian currency situation and also a kind offer from leadman on the dedicated thread; others also contributing their experiences;

    * But of course I'll have my Citi debit card and 28 Degrees Mastercard to use, virtually no fees and very little FX margin;

    * Staying at the Shangri-La in Delhi, mostly on Shangri-La points. Shangri-La Jade status courtesy my AMEX plat charge card and a couple of previous stays with them;

    * Staying at Hilton at Agra and Jaipur, courtesy advice from jojen, and Gold status from AMEX plat charge card;

    * Staying at Pullman Aerocity in Delhi, got a great deal for 1.5 day stay (4pm check-in, midnight check out next day) courtesy Accor Platinum status from AMEX plat charge card;

    * Then its Delhi to Hong Kong on Cathay, business, using cheap Alaskan miles purchased when the dollar was close to parity. What a 'nice little earner' that was! Thank you limewood in particular in respect of Alaskan deals

    * HKG-Xi'an-HKG on Dragonair, economy. OK, I paid for this 100%;

    * Seeing the terracotta warriors at Xi'an - got myself organised with transport and tours courtesy of contributors to the thread I set up for this purpose;

    * A night at the Pullman in Xi'an - a great rate including exec club etc etc again courtesy of Accor Plat from AMEX plat charge card;

    * Ditto Pullman in HKG; free night courtesy Accor Plat via AMEX

    * HKG-SIN-SYD (waitlisted) MEL confirmed, again via Velocity points/cc bonuses converted to Krisflyer miles and thanks again to Cruiser Elite for helping with the SQ 'system' (waitlists).

    * Thanks to many Trip Report contributors - I especially love the TRs from folks who are travelling F or even J for the first time, courtesy of AFF tips. This will be my 5th airline in long haul F, and my First in SQ first, so I hope to engender some excitement too.

    This will be a tiny taste of India, and heavily tourist area focussed, but I reckon it'll 'go the distance' culture and food-wise.

    Anyway, to get us in the mood, here's the view from the top floor of the Mercure Sydney Airport:

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    I'm sure there was a good reason as to why I chose to stay here tonight, rather than my usual, the Rydges just across from the International terminal, but I can't think of it right now. Might have something with re-qualifying Accor Plat under my own steam, now that AMEX doesn't offer Accor plat as a perk.

    Oh, and ~50% off dinner and drinks tonight, courtesy Accor Plus Plat membership, from AMEX plat charge card.
    Last edited by RooFlyer; 30th November 2016 at 06:03 PM.
    admin, RB, Jacques Vert and 11 others like this.

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  3. #2
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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    This sounds excellent. BP swiped.
    Life Goal: Tick yes on the "Are you bringing more than $10,000 into the country" declaration
    My 2016 Travels: 87 segments and 146,835 km

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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Excited for this!

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    A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Sounds wonderful and rather complex. Rydges is nice

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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Looking forward to this

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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Sounds like a great trip!

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    Senior Member RooFlyer's Avatar
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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Currently ensconced in the SQ F lounge at SYD. Mercure shuttle was at 6:30am or 7am - I chose 6:30 even though it was earlier than I wanted; ride took less than 5 minutes (cost $6).

    JessicaTam gave her account (Heading towards the light)of SQ F check-in at SYD which was possibly sub-optimal for F; mine if anything was a little less (BUT I emphasise that I am in full DYKWIA mode here, don't take any of the criticisms too seriously )

    Bit of a wait on the F red carpet while the pax in front appeared to have difficulty in filling out his Departure Card and then seemed to discuss his life with the check-in agent. My own check-in went efficiently (I'm HLO on this trip); at the end, I proudly announced

    "I understand I get my invitation to The Private Lounge from the lounge here?"

    "You can use your boarding pass."

    "But I can get a souvenir invitation, right?"

    "I don't know anything about that, sir"

    "OK, no worries."

    As I was about to step away, he remembers that he hadn't given me my BP for SIN-DEL, so prints that off, and off I go.

    At the lounge, entry is 'personned' by a lady who apologises that the regular person has stepped away; she hands me my invitation to TPR (already filled out)

    The lounge is gorgeous; at 7am I was the first one there and got a table by the front window. The ride is there:

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    Waiter comes over, and hands me a menu. I ask whether they have fresh orange juice "No, sir, just concentrate." "OK, I'll just have an apple juice please". "Its concentrate too, is that OK?" "Sure". And in a few moments, it was served. Again, I'm in DYKWIA mode, but still .... hmmmmmm...


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    Some views of the lounge.

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    The buffet station is very nicely presented; I asked for a bircher muesli, which was served at my window table and was tasty. Full drinks of course; I didn't go the champers, can wait until on board.

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    This just presentation

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  12. #8
    Senior Member RooFlyer's Avatar
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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    On board - I'm the only pax in F . While I'm waiting for the obligatory Krug ( new config, BTW):

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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

    Is that the old F product on the 777-300ER?

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    Senior Member RooFlyer's Avatar
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    Re: A series of Firsts: India and Xi'an, mainly thanks to AFF

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    They told it was new Config. CE would be able to tell us.

    Oh, and hello from The Private Room Its a bit bigger than The Private Cabin, but The Private Cabin was pretty nice! Pics later.

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    Last edited by RooFlyer; 1st December 2016 at 04:48 PM.

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