ANA Shower Room – Haneda Airport

Following my long layover in which I was able to explore Kamakura a little, I was looking forward to taking a shower before my flight.

I have previously reviewed the ANA Business Lounge at Haneda Airport, so this review will just focus on the shower room.

After providing my Star Alliance Gold card, I inquired about the shower rooms. I was given a pager and told that the wait was about 45 minutes. This was a lot longer than I was expecting, and since I didn’t have that much time in the lounge was wondering if I would even have time to take a shower if called before my flight started boarding.

Luckily the pager went off with about 20 minutes to spare before my flight started boarding.

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Corridor

I was led to my shower room by an attendant who was very nice and helpful. The corridor is neat and well maintained with sleek black walls.

The shower room itself is perhaps a little larger than most business class lounges, but not as big or opulent as some lounges out there, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal or the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge.

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Shower & Toilet

The shower itself is on the larger side, and thankfully bigger than a phone booth. There is a Japanese style toilet.

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Counter Space

The sink has a decent amount of counter space.

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Amenities

There are amenities by Shiesedo, and come with just about everything you can imagine.

The shower rooms are impeccably clean, and are the perfect way to freshen up before a long flight.

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Singapore Changi Airport

Following my flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, I had a short layover at Narita Airport. I then had a connecting flight to Singapore Changi Airport, where I had an unusually long layover.

Unfortunately, my flight arrived at Changi after midnight and I had checked luggage to Changi. I had a connecting flight from Singapore to Jakarta on a separate ticket, so instead of being able to stay airside the entire time, I had to get my luggage. The check-in desks were already closed, so I was stuck being landside until the check-in desks opened several hours later.

There isn’t much to do in the wee hours of the morning at Changi airport, but I was able to do some work while killing some time.

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Pokemon
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Pokemon
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Pokemon

There was a Pokemon display with interactive games, however that portion was closed when I arrived.

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Enchanted Garden
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Enchanted Garden
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Enchanted Garden

Once the check-in desks were open, I quickly wandered around the airport before heading to the lounge to rest, and take a shower before my onward flight.  This included the Enchanted Garden.

If there is one airport where you do want a long layover, it is Singapore’s Changi Airport. In Terminal 2 alone, there is a Children’s playground, the Enchanted Garden, the Family Zone, and the Entertainment Deck which includes Xbox 360, Kinect stations, and a movie theater. For those with longer layover, a free Singapore City Tour is available. There are plenty of rest areas, and free wifi throughout the airport.

A21 City Flyer Bus – Hong Kong Airport Transportation

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A21 City Flyer Bus

After arriving in Hong Kong, I decided to take the A21 City Flyer bus. Yes, the Hong Kong Airport Express is the much faster option in most cases, and you won’t have to deal with traffic.

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Bus Stop Sign

Two things swayed my decision. I was arriving close to midnight, so traffic wouldn’t be an issue. Second, and maybe more importantly, I was staying at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui, which is not close to any station that the Hong Kong Airport Express makes a stop.  The bus stop is easy to find after exiting immigration.  Just follow the signs for ground transportation.  Once you exit the airport, there are ticket windows where you can buy bus tickets or an Octopus Card.

The A21 City Flyer bus however, almost drops you off at the Hyatt’s doorstep. The double decker bus has plenty of seating, and space to store your luggage. If you decide to sit up top, there is a video camera showing the luggage area intermittently. The bus also offers free WiFi.

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Bus Stops
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Bus Stops

The closest stop to the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui is stop #16, Mody Road.

The ride took about an hour. With a cost of 33 HKD ($4.25) each way, it beats the pants off of the Hong Kong Airport Express at 100 HKD ($12.90). You can either pay with an Octopus Card or cash, but I have read that the driver will not give you any change if paying cash.  The thought of not having to switch trains, and a two-minute walk was much more appealing than the maybe somewhat faster Airport Express, but a long walk from the East Tsim Sha Tsui station.

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Return Stop

When taking the A21 City Flyer bus from the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui the stop is directly across from the Cartier store on Mody Road.

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Bus Stop SIgn

The bus stop has clear and easy to find signs. The first part of the journey back to the airport will take a while due to traffic, but once out of the city things clear up nicely.

You will also have some nice views of the city and harbor.

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Time to Airport

The journey to the airport was a little longer at nearly 1 hour and 10 minutes, but the A21 City Flyer might be a better option depending on your final destination.

Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport

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Hilton Garden Inn
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Signage
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Signage
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Signage

After landing at the Frankfurt Airport, we found our way to the Hilton Garden Inn, which is conveniently connected to the airport, and is located within The Squaire and sits directly next to the Hilton. The Squaire is a multi-purpose building, as it houses a train station, office building, along with hotels, shops and restauarnts.

As the hotel is located indoors, there are big plate glass windows fronting the hotel. Upon entering the hotel, the front desk is directly to the left. Check-in took a while for some unknown reason. We were given two complimentary bottles of water. I am not sure if that is customary policy, or due to the fact that I currently have Hilton Diamond status thanks to the status match promo earlier in the year.

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Lobby

The lobby is very small with limited seating.

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Room 721

After crossing the lobby, we took the elevator up to room 7201.

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Bed

The room had a fairly comfortable bed. Strangely, only one side had outlets next to the bed.

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Table & Chair

There was a small glass table and chair next to the bed.

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Desk

The desk space was fairly sizable for an airport hotel. There was also a kettle and ice container on the desk.

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TV

The TV was on the far end of the desk.

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Sink

The bathroom was on the smaller side. There was a single sink with ample counter space since it extended past the tub to the wall.

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Toilet

The toilet was located behind the bathroom door.

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Shower/Tub Combo

There was a shower/tub combo which had fairly good water pressure. Thankfully, there was no half glass shower door.

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Closet

There was a small closet that contained an iron, ironing board and safe.

For some reason, check-out took an absurd amount of time. I am not sure if the front desk agent was new, but it took nearly 20 minutes to check-out.

The Hilton Garden Inn is perfectly serviceable for an overnight stay. There are actually three hotels within the Frankfurt Airport: The Hilton Garden Inn, The Hilton, and a Sheraton.

Brussels Airlines Business Class: Madrid to Brussels

After checking in for our flight from Madrid to Brussels, we were informed that we could use the VIP Access line.

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Fast Track Access VIP

 

The Fast Track Access VIP line is to the far left of the check-in counters.

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Fast Track Access VIP

After going down the escalator one floor, we got to a security area that was completely empty. It was like going through security in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, except in a bigger, brighter space. We were through in a matter of minutes.

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Brussels Airline Flight 3722

After leaving the Sala VIP Puerta Del Sol lounge we headed to the gate where our plane was already waiting at the gate.

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Madrid to Brussels
Departs: 12:35 PM, Arrives: 2:50 PM
Seat 1A

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Business Class
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Business Class

Intra-Europe Business Class is an economy class seat with the middle seat blocked. In this case, we were the only two business class passengers, and were each given our own row.

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Leg Room

Seated in the bulkhead, leg room was plentiful.

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Pre-Departure Water

A bottle of water was offered pre-departure.

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Tarmac Views
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Tarmac Views

There were some interesting planes on the tarmac.

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Hot Towel

A hot towel was also offered.

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Lasagna

A hot meal was served on the short flight. It consisted of pastrami, along with a tomato and mozzarella terrine. The entrée consisted of lasagna, which was rather soupy but tasted good. Dessert was not very good, and really sweet. I think it was a marzipan tart.

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Roll

I chose a wheat roll, which was pretty tasty and sopped up the lasagna sauce pretty well.

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Chocolate

The meal ended with a piece of dark chocolate.

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View
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View

The views over Spain were fantastic.

Drinks were refilled throughout the flight. The flight was pleasant but uneventful. Intra-Europe business class is not what you would call aspirational, but it’s amazing how service can be include a hot meal on a short flight. Although this flight was a little over a little 2 hours, hot meals are also served on flights lasting a little over an hour.

Getting into Madrid

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Transportation Options

Madrid-Barajas Airport is fairly close to the city for a major city. It is only about 7 miles. There are several ways to get into the city.

You can take the metro and use line 8. The cost will be €4.50-€5 when using the metro.

There is a bus that runs 24 hours a day to get into the city. The Airport Express bus. This is a great option for late arriving flights. The cost is €5.

Of course, taking a taxi is always an option, but at a cost of ~€25, it would be my last option.

There is a light rail (metro ligero) as well that runs from Terminal 4 into the city. I believe it is associated with the metro system, but this is a light rail train rather than a metro train. Tickets are €4.50.

We took the Renfe train, which is a Spanish railway company. The price of the ticket includes a ride on the Renfe train, as well as a metro ticket if your final destination is not one of their stops. Tickets are only €2.60 from the airport, and must be used within 2 hours of purchase.

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Renfe Train
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Aeropuerto T4
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Principe Pio Direction

The station is on the T4 terminal floor, and you will look for the Aeropuerto T4 sign, heading in the Principe Pio direction.

The train ride does have some luggage racks, but since we were traveling lightly we decided to hold onto our bags. This may be the most convenient way to get into the city, but if you have a lot of luggage, this might not be your top choice if you have to switch trains.

Iberia Airlines: Porto – Madrid

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Iberia Airlines

Iberia Airlines
Flight 8727
Porto – Madrid
Depart 12:15 PM, Arrive 2:25 PM

After finishing our stay in Porto, we had decided to go to Madrid for a couple of days before heading home.

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Retail Ticket Price

The prices for the short 273 mile, 1 ½ hour flight came at a staggering price. Tickets were going for over $500 for any direct flight. As we traveled during the summer, direct flights on Ryan Air or TAP Portugal was unavailable. Flights on Iberia were available for an astronomical price.

Fortunately, I was able to book award flights using British Airways Avios for a mere 4,500 and $14 per person. I’d gladly spend 9,000 Avios and $28 for tickets retailing for over $1,000 any time.

The Porto metro has a stop at the Porto airport, so it is very convenient when traveling from the city.

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Porto Airport

The Porto airport is a regional airport, but was somewhat busy when we arrived. Despite that, we were through security and in the gate area in under 30 minutes.

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Porto Airport

The Porto airport is very impressive. Although small, it has a big open fell with a glass roof.

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Porto Airport

The airport offers free wifi and the use of computers for all passengers.

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There are also water dispensers near the gate areas that serve ice cold water. This was great during the hot summer months.

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Bus to Plane

We were shuttled to the plane via bus.

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Economy Seating

Seating on Iberia was normal economy seats, but almost anything is passable on such a short flight. Surprisingly the flight was fairly empty, so I am not sure how Iberia justifies the prices for this flight.

Using Avios, whether British Airways or through Iberia’s program directly, can be a great way to travel cheaply especially on intra-Europe or intra-Asia flights. With the plethora of low cost carriers in these regions however, picking and choosing your spots is a definite must. If you do have luggage, using miles or flying the bigger airlines may save you on baggage fees.