- Introduction, Positioning Flight to New York, and the Hilton JFK
- British Airways First Class Lounge, New York JFK
- Cathay Pacific First Class, New York JFK – Hong Kong
- The Pier First Class Lounge and Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City
- Park Hyatt Saigon
- Lunch at Pho Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City
- Vietnam Airlines Business Class, Ho Chi Minh City – Danang
- Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa
- Vietnam Airlines Economy, Danang – Siem Reap
- Park Hyatt Siem Reap
- Angkor Wat and Other Temples
- Dragonair Business Class, Siem Reap – Hong Kong
- Turbojet, Hong Kong Airport – Macau and the Sheraton Macao Hotel
- The Venetian, Fernando’s, and the Ferry to Hong Kong
- Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Harbor View Suite
- Bo Innovation, Hong Kong
- Amber Restaurant, Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge, Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – New York JFK
- American Airlines JFK Flagship Lounge and New York – Washington National
The Danang airport is fairly modern and new, and not nearly as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City.
This flight from Danang, Vietnam to Siem Reap, Cambodia was notable (to me) for two reasons. It was my first-ever time having to pay checked baggage fees, and it was the first time I was in an airport with a lounge that I had no access to.
I was on a paid coach ticket for $135.
Each flight had its own check-in queue and since the aircraft was going to be a one-class ATR-72 turboprop, there was only a single line (no need for a separate business class line).
I got to the front of the line, behind a couple of other passengers, and they weighed my checked bags. And they insisted on weighing my carryons. Their maximum carryon weight is 7kg (~ 15 pounds) and my carryons are always over that.
The checked baggage limit is 20kg ( ~ 44 pounds) which would have been plenty had they not insisted on checking my rollaboard. But taken together, the bags were over the allowance. I was sent to the ticket office 180 degrees behind me to pay the bag fees. At US$5 per kilogram I had to come out of pocket $50. They gave me a receipt for the charge which I then had to bring back to the check-in counter before receiving boarding passes and baggage claim checks.
Then I could proceed through passport control and security into the international side of the terminal. There were a couple of shops upstairs, and a restaurant/bar.
My gate was downstairs, as we’d be bused out to the aircraft.
Downstairs was also where the lounge was located. And for the first time I would stare at the entrance of a lounge, without any right of access.
I was a coach passenger, flying without status on any Skyteam airline, and unable to unlock the doors with either my American Express Platinum card or Priority Pass (or Lounge Club) card.
I was sure wishing I had picked up a Skyteam status match because the extra baggage allowance would have saved real money, and I would have had lounge access — not that I much needed a lounge for a short wait. The terminal was fine, and I imagine that the lounge itself wasn’t impressive. Nonetheless this was a situation I was very much unfamiliar with!
Nonetheless I didn’t have to wait long for boarding and being bused out to the aircraft.
We made it out to the aircraft and I started to think, I’m flying this internationally? It’s a 345 mile flight, blocked at 2 hours 25 minutes, because the ATR-72 is not a very fast aircraft.
We boarded the aircraft from the back stairs and made our way to the front of the aircraft — I had row 1, bulkhead, which would provide a bit of extra legroom and less of a sense of being in the midst of a plane full of people. (I actually like the illusion of sitting in the front of the plane and not seeing everyone behind me. I find it less stressful, but then I’m an introvert and large groups of people are anything but relaxing for me.)
Once onboard there wasn’t much of a wait to get underway. Everyone was seated quickly and there were no departure delays.
As soon as we were airborne the flight attendant went through the aircraft offering a boxed snack. Not the greatest, but this was coach on a prop plane and a sub-400 mile flight so it was still fairly impressive.
I plugged in and watched a couple of tv shows on my laptop and soon enough it was time to descend into Cambodia. We were on the ground and up to the terminal in no time. We deplaned again from the back stairs so I was last off the aircraft.
It was a short walk into the terminal to take care of immigration formalities.
I had obtained visas by mail in advance from the Cambodian embassy in DC. It’s $25 and shipping both ways. But they do visa on arrival as well. The only thing is that when your flight comes in at the same time as others the queues can be long. I breezed right through, waited for bags, and walked directly out through customs (dropping my form into an unattended box) and out the terminal.
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