Just thought I’d share my experience with my recent trip for anyone thinking of doing something similar. I’ll keep it short since it could go on forever.
Redeemed SYD-CDG (Y) with Etihad with points+cash (37K points +320~ AUD).
Redeemed TLV-SYD (Y) with Cathay with points (surcharge was 350~ AUD).
Paid CDG-NCE with EasyJet
Paid NCE-TLV (Y) with Turkish
The House SYD:
- Entered via DragonPass (20 GBP) + 20 AUD extra
- Awesome lounge, felt the quiet immediately after the Easter madness in SYD
- A la carte delicious food (6 dishes), great alcohol selection, service was very professional but was a bit understaffed
- Tried REALLY hard to squeeze extra cash from me for: overpriced upgrade bid (min bid SYD-AUH 1900 AUD), empty neighbor seat, extra legroom, 40+ AUD for std seat selection, paid alcohol, food and snacks and many more overpriced upgrades. That is what I’ve hated the most about this leg.
- Food was actually delicious but only 2 meals for 14hrs was not sufficient, snacks were tiny. I suspect they wanted to sell food in between.
- A380 was awesome and specious for Economy (both flights)
- IFE was responsive and great selection
- WiFi was normal price but very low data 180MB for 20USD
- Headset was nicer than typical economy
- They’ve collected the headset / turned off IFE about 30-45 min prior to landing which I always find annoying
Al Reem lounge AUH:
- Paid via DragonPass (20 GBP)
- Looked beautiful, Middle Eastern touch
- No showers unfortunately
- Food was relatively basic but sufficient for brekki
- Didn’t try the alcohol section but it looked good
- Paid for a shower at the Aerotel (20 USD), they acted like they are doing me a favour~
Not much to say here, just a low cost. They had cool Gin and Tonic selection with Artisan brands (paid of course) which I found pretty cool option.
Didn’t go to a lounge in CDG, it was pretty disgusting airport, very hot and humid, everyone were rude, took 1 hour for my suitcase to arrive in a horribly designed baggage claim conveyor belt, everyone were on top of each other.
Iv’e chosen to fly with Turkish to TLV (6.5 hrs via IST) instead of El-Al direct (4 hrs). If you are not aware, El-Al is a horrible mixture of bad soft and hard product and very high prices, would always recommend to avoid.
- NCE-IST was with an old A321
- Had IFE via phone but no one told us we need to download an app or chrome browser, so I had none
- Business class seat were identical to economy but with armrest as a middle seat
- IST-TLC was with a newer A321 with proper IFE
- Service was pretty rude to be honest
- First leg with A350 was probably the best economy flight I had
- Everything was excellent except the food which was just nice
- Service was super friendly, WiFi was good and unlimited (yet slowish)
- We were encouraged to ask for extra snacks if we wanted to
- Simple stuff like Ice cream were a cool touch.
Plaza First HKG:
- Originally I’ve planned to pay for The Pier Business, as I’ve heard it’s one of the best. I’ve called Cathay prior to my flight and confirmed I can pay for it (100 AUD~) during a promotion period. Unfortunately you have to be a Marco Polo member which cost 100 USD+. I think you can get it for free with an ABN but it was too late when I was at the airport. I was disappointed as it was the lounge I was most excited about.
- I’ve ended up with Plaza First which I was very happy about! Paid DragonPass (20 GBP) + 45 AUD
- It was early morning (6am) so almost empty but served full menu
- Had to wait for shower and massage (!!!) with a buzzer which is perfectly acceptable
- Massage was beyond expectation, I thought it will be “relaxing soft massage” but I’ve urged the therapist to hit me hard as my back and shoulders were crooked from flying and training and he did some Chinese magic tricks on me which were very painful but also very efficient in the short time that you get.
- Showers were nice with relaxing music.
- Food was great, the only downside was you are only allowed one a la carte meal while free buffet selection plus some other extras like konji. I’ve got some Hong Kong style beef which was delicious.
- Alcohol was beyond expectations, including amazing cocktails with interesting ingredients like Pernod mist and Rosemary infused syrups etc.
- Desserts were delicious including macaroons and other little bites. Also had great barista coffee and delicious tea mocktails.
- Downside was - they had a LOT of paid super-premium alcoholic options. I don’t mind paying to enter the place, but please don’t limit me while there or ask for extra money.
All up, really enjoyed it, my next adventure is Japan with Singapore Airlines (Y) and hopefully finally redeem a J flight next year via redemption.
Note: DragonPass membership was free via some sign up to a office space service.