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Jan '16

Trip Report:

Pigletté In Vietnam – Second Leg: SFO-DBX

In some ways this section of the trip excites me almost as much as checking off Vietnam from my “bucket list”. It will be my first ride on an Airbus 380-800 – and it’s upstairs (the A380 is a two-level [three with cargo] passenger aircraft).

But first I need to get to the airport (thanks BART!), through security and into the lounge. And that’s the first snag of the trip – turns out my Vietnam Visa is for next week, not this week. Luckily I have copies of the “invitations” from the tour company but it’s a 30-minute delay in getting me checked in – at least I have a fair warning that I’ll need to apply at the airport when I finally get to Saigon – and yes, I call it Saigon rather than Ho Chi Min City because the airport code is still SGN.

Though security in the mid-fast lane (Premium Customers – Business/First/Gold) but not TSA-Pre – so it’s shoes off, laptop and liquids out, all the shit out my pocket for the body scanner.

But once past the gauntlet, it’s off to the Emirates Lounge – wish Alaska was using this as their temporary lounge rather than Cathy Pacific’s Lounge in the same terminal – and it’s nothing to sneeze at. Link here to posts about that lounge.

Nice to be able to have a nice buffet lunch on the ground before eating on board:

Pigletté and I started with a little champagne and some nibbles:

Veuve Cliquot for Pigletté, Jack and Diet 7-up for me – we split the Ahi tuna tartare salad and went back for the shrimp and the potato lobster cakes:

Nice facilities here in the lounge:

Like a help yourself bar…

And even a shower room in the bathroom if you are sticky…

Rough life – and about to get rougher since San Francisco to Dubai is a 16-hour flight, but at least the seat is comfortable, and look, more Veuve Cliquot:

Here are what the seats across the aisle (would those be the Republican seats?) look like:

And of the larger section of Business Class…

I’m in seat 23J – though for the flight home I might move to 24K so I don’t have to crawl over the nightstand to get to the aisle. Refer to the seating chart at the beginning of this post for location – I chose the back section of Business because it’s closer to the stand-up bar…

This should give you an idea about the amount of leg room with this seat:

And yes, that’s a 22-inch diagonal touchscreen TV. And then there is the amenities bag filled with nice razors, and Bvlgari products:

Hell, even the toilets on this plane are swanky – I swear it’s heated:

Even the towels are cloth!

But I’m really here for the food…

And the drink…

Espresso and Cointreau (yes, they have an espresso machine built into the galley):

The basically free internet (while watching the Blue Brothers):

Something like 3000 channels of entertainment on their ICE system (this would be the detachable seat side controller for the TV):

And the bed…

Landing in Dubai and getting through customs and immigration (I just had carry-on) was fairly painless other than their “automated” entry system where you scan your passport and stare into the camera once again failed to work, but there was nobody in line in front of me, so no big deal other than the airport itself is HUGE to it was lots of waling to the cab stand.

When I booked my overnight hotel in Dubai I accidently booked the Holiday Inn Express that was further from the airport (hiccup number two in the trip). At least in Dubai the cabs are fairly reasonable – it was about $20 bucks to get into downtown. I would have cancelled and changed to the correct one (I knew about this hiccup before leaving the country) but there was a 3,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards bonus that I would have lost bringing the points total from 4,000 down to 1,000. 4,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points under the new schedule which goes into force on the 24th means that is worth $120 worth of Amtrak spendable dollars. Well worth the longer cab ride.

And the room isn’t bad. I left Pigletté in the room while I went for dinner – not sure how a pig would be treated in a Muslim country, guessing not well.

Not a bad room for one night.

Odd thing at the hotel, yes, it had a bar, basically unmarked behind the reception counter, and filled with Arab men smoking cigarettes and drinking.

Off to Saigon in the morning.

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Pigletté In Vietnam – Second Leg: SFO-DBX

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