The long road to Bridgetown...

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kirstyoz

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I thought I'd do a trip report for my upcoming journey from Perth to Barbados for training. I'm actually in Bridgetown for three days, other than that it's eight days of travel because of the fairly lengthy layovers. It's in J with CX and AA though so I'm not complaining :)

Also if anyone is interested in the PCL-R tool (for assessing psychopathy), that's what the training is in and it's with Prof Robert Hare (OMG)... just message me and I'll send you any training materials that I can :)

I leave this friday June 20th just before midnight...
PER-HKG
HKG-LAX
LAX-MIA
MIA-BGI

Thu June 26th:
BGI-MIA
MIA-LAX
LAX-HKG
HKG-PER - arrive home late on Saturday 28th June.
 

Danger UXB

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Hi Kristyoz

nice trip your taking but you cannot enjoy the delights of the West Indies in just 3 days. You are lucky with your routing, the last few times I have gone to that part of the world I have had to transit through San Juan, Puerto Rico after MIA on my way to GND (Maurice Bishop International Airport Grenada).
Ah well enjoy and don't forget to consume copious quantities of Mount Gay whilst there

Cheers Danger UXB
 

kirstyoz

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Yes sadly I won't get to see much of the West Indies at all! Of the three days I'm there I'm in training for 2 days and will need to spend the day before preparing. Might get the odd rum punch on the beach in the evening :)
 

kirstyoz

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So. The update didn’t come as planned during the trip. I was exhausted and there were a few snags along the way…

20.06.2014 - PER-HKG CX170 J
The flight was due to take off at 23:55 but ended up being delayed an hour or more. So I hung out in the QF lounge until close to boarding. When I got to the lounge after check-in the woman at the reception asked me if I knew why the flight was delayed because no one had told her anything… good old Perth Airport.
I was worried about making my connection in HK because I had about 90 minutes to make it. When we boarded I asked the flight crew in J and I was dismissed by three separate crew members over the course of the flight who said when I arrived ground crew would tell me. I know that’s the case, but to give you context, when we came home from the USA (ORD-HKG) with CX in J in 2012 and had a very close connection due to delays, the flight attendants were amazing and kept us updated about how we were doing, then when we landed they got us out first so we could run for the connection with a member of the ground staff. So with that as my prior experience it was a bit disappointing getting no answers on the flight, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

I had photos of the plane, but as my phone is no longer with me (that’s coming later) I don’t have the photos. The aircraft was pretty grubby and we definitely had the CX “B” team on in terms of the FA staff. Brekkie was good though and I got a decent sleep. I also learned not to take sleeping pills with champagne when you get on a flight, because the champagne breaks it up instantly and you end up with powdered pharmaceutical slurry in your mouth. After that the champagne is a bit chemical-tasting. Just FYI.

As a general rule, I’m always FREEZING on planes and had rugged up accordingly. I was surprised then that the cabin temperature was comfortable for this flight and all the other CX flights in my itinerary. Whoever made the decision to alter the temperature on CX aircraft, bravo. :)

When I landed, the very nice ground staff told me I missed my connection and had my new ticket waiting for me for the next flight out. At least I’d have time for a shower.

21.06.2014 – HKG CX J lounge – The Pier
Went right to the lounge and had no wait for a shower suite, it was lovely, roomier than other shower rooms I’ve been in (possibly because this lounge is pretty new) and really slick look, with granite (?) tiles and timber. My only complaint was there was no disposable shower cap and given the shower was one of those ‘rain’ ones, it was really hard to wash without getting my hair wet. But again, no big deal, just a minor thing, because my hair looks like cough most of the time anyway.

The rest of the lounge was more or less just as slick. And I love the CX chairs in the lounges… the ones that are like ‘pods’ are brilliant.
Had a coffee, chilled out for a short while, wandered around the terminal and it was time to board.

21.06.2014 – HKG – LAX CX 884 J
This was the flight I was bumped to instead of CX 898 which departed at 09:30 without me… It was excellent. Again, no photos (sorry) but the food was beautiful, hot smoked salmon with kipfler potatoes to start, Aussie steak for mains, very average lemon meringue pie for dessert and excellent cheeses to finish. Wines were beautiful (I had to sample all 5 of them), crew were ABSOLUTELY fantastic, seat area was clean, toilets remained relatively clean… overall I was really pleased and had no real complaints. I’m headed to an orphanage in Thailand in late October and have been enlisting people to collect as many of the airline amenity kits as I can for the staff there as they will really appreciate them, I asked if they had a couple spare at the end could they give them to me and I got one each of the men’s and women’s which was very kind.

When I arrived at LAX I was dreading immigration… and walked into an empty hall. Excellent. We landed 11:20am so we might just have got a brief lull between arrivals.

21 - 22.06.2014 – Westin Hotel LAX
Got the free shuttle to the hotel after about a 20 minute wait. Then had about a 30 minute wait to check in which was a pain in the bum but the lady who checked me in was so lovely. Up to the room, it was fine, clean enough, basic amenities. A bit tired and I laughed when I looked up… the ceiling was roughcast! :p They had single cup Starbucks brewing machines and I was sceptical looking at it but desperate… it was REALLY good for what it is. I’d go back to the hotel just for the little coffee device.

I was supposed to get a tattoo done in LA at 10am that morning but because of my missed flight I didn’t arrive in time. I rang the tattooist and he told me to pop by later in the day and he’d take me if he could. Took a car to Hollywood and wandered around, and if you haven’t been, don’t bother. It smells of incense and pee, and not necessarily in that order. I ate a very late lunch at Hard Rock café which was average at best. I have to remind myself because the one in Orlando is good, doesn’t mean any of the others are. In my experience, NONE of the others are good.
Ended up going for my tattoo about 4pm which took two and a half hours and hurt like a cough. But it is very cool and the tattooist (Jeremy Swan) is an AWESOME artist. Reputation well deserved.

Back to the hotel around 7pm, quick calls to family and off to bed (after cleaning my tattoo) for my 4:30am start. I ended up wide awake at 3:30am so had a super early start. Check out was quick, got the shuttle back to the airport, pretty sweet.

22.06.2014 – LAX – MIA AA 28 ”F”
I was meant to be on AA 200 departing at 07:25 however I couldn’t get checked in online the night before. When I arrived, the woman at the check-in desk told me she couldn’t find my reservation. Hmmmm. She looked for an excruciating 60 seconds and then found my booking which had been moved to a later flight (she had no idea why). Since I was at the airport so early she offered me the 6am flight which I gladly accepted, I’d rather have time in MIA than LAX any day. So I ended up on AA 28.

Now I know I was on CX long haul the day before, but REALLY. The J cabin had one small TV mounted in the ceiling for everyone. I watched my iPad and did some work on my laptop. The brekkie was pretty average-looking, so I just had a couple of bagels with cream cheese which were decent as they are part-baked on the aircraft. You can now book your chosen meal on AA up to 30 days in advance if you’re travelling F or J which is great, but of course if you are mysteriously switched between flights or get there really early and take an earlier flight, your food doesn’t follow you. The leather seats had a small recline and no foot rest which is uncomfortable for someone who is 5’4” and has a back injury and a twisted pelvis. I’m not trying to be negative, but we’re not living in the 1980’s, which was the last time that aircraft had a facelift.

22.06.2014 Miami Airport
Landed in Miami and had a wander around the terminal. Checked out the lounge which was also part of the hallway, obviously it’s not big enough. Went to the Jose Cuervo Taqueria and had some terrible beef tacos and a margarita that was about 98% tequila (so I wasn’t complaining).

The only big issue I had in MIA was the signage. I wanted to check out the Miami Heat shop because my nephews are big fans. I checked about 6 different places for the shop location… and was given 4 different locations of the shop. After visiting three of the four places I found that there was indeed a shop, there was only ONE shop, and there was a 40% off sale on everything in the store. After I bought half the store, I headed back to meet my Mum who was flying in from Tampa (where she lives) so she could accompany me to Barbados and have fun whilst I worked. I was checking her arrival time and gate regularly, and got to her gate at the scheduled landing time to see... another flight listed at that gate… and then heard her voice. I don’t know if the website wasn’t being updated quickly enough that day, but she had landed 25 minutes early (not bad on a less than 90 minute flight) and was waiting for me. So I was a little bit irked that I had the wrong time because I wanted to be there to get her… I had a sign and everything. Anyway, it’s all good.

We had the most expensive pedicures ever before our flight to Bridgetown ($120 for two people plus tips which in the USA is a HUGE amount) and then headed to the gate where we found it was delayed.

22.06.2014 MIA-BGI AA 2393 “J”
There was some lighting outside (typical Florida) and no one could tell us how long it was expected to take until it passed (not typical Florida). We finally boarded about 90 minutes late and had some further delay on the aircraft. The FA was an older man, absolutely lovely and made the journey better from his loveliness. Mum was starving and I was tired, the dinner was a pasta that was pretty gross, I had a couple of mouthfuls and tried to catch some sleep. This aircraft was worse than the last one in terms of condition and age of the fittings – the TV in the ceiling in J was actually an analogue unit. No really. A lot of the carpet was ripped up in places and/ or stained, and everything was somewhere between grubby and filthy. I know USA airlines aren't great but this was really pretty bad even by their standards.

22.06.2014 BGI
Landed at Bridgetown airport. It reminded me of Honolulu a little bit in that it’s fairly aged and semi outdoors but it was still cool and great to know I didn't have to catch a flight for a few days. Crickets and frogs were chirping and the air was balmy which was lovely.

The transfer which my travel agent booked (Johnson’s Tours) was a nightmare. They turned up late, with a car too small for our baggage (actually it would have fit in the sedan no problem but they refused to try), then were incredibly rude about the whole thing, and after midnight when I’d been up since 3:30am and had my elderly mother with me we had to wait 30 minutes for another vehicle. NEVER EVER USE JOHNSON’S TOURS (also known as Sun Tours) in Barbados for ANYTHING. Later they tried to extort money from us even though we’d specified people and luggage on booking. Then they were 30 minutes late to collect us for our return transfer even though we rang and confirmed the transfer time with them. It was just a nightmare.

The hotel was “The Crane Resort and Spa”. We were there 22.06.2014 (although by the time we checked in it was 1am the next day) to 26.06.2014. The loveliest security guy named O’Neill took us and our bags to our room, and the Night Manager who checked us in and out (I forget his name) was one of the loveliest, most genuine people ever. The first night I was on the sofa bed and didn’t get much sleep because there were springs sticking out of the mattress. The replacement was covered in rust. All in all the room was fine though.

The food in the resort was really bad. My mum was unwell the first night. The facilities (pool/ cliffside beach with an elevator) were good but I didn’t have time to use them. The meeting/ conference space was great and the training was AMAZING. If anyone is interested in the PCL-R let me know and I will send you some reading materials. If I went to Barbados again I probably wouldn’t stay at the Crane although maybe the food is better in the 'peak' season.

That’s it for now… the return journey will follow. I learned what it's like to be detained by American immigration.
 
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