AA Mileage Run SEA-DFW-HKG
Back in February I booked my AA mileage run SEA-DFW-HKG all in Economy Class. It’s been a while since I flew internationally in Economy and I was wondering what I was doing. My sister eloquently said it — “You are sitting in the back with the Clampetts“. I have a friend that is just getting in to the miles game so I convinced her to come along.
Unlike past mileage runs, where I had to position myself with a flight to a departure city, this run had me leaving from my home airport. I have booked mileage runs for less, but those needed a costly flight to get to the starting city. My AA mileage run SEA-DFW-HKG would cost me about 2.8 cents per elite qualifying mile when credited towards Alaska. After my 125% MVP Gold 75k bonus, I was looking at 1.2 cents per redeemable mile on Alaska. The ticket was $548 all in at 19,516 miles flown that earned me 43,911 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.
SEA-DFW – A321 Seat 12F
The first flight was early; 5:00am departure from SEA. I didn’t know that domestic flights left that early. The light rail to the airport doesn’t start running until then. I ended up taking Lyft to the airport where I checked in to the agent saying “You’ll be in the air more than on the ground in Hong Kong!” Thanks for the reminder; that fact hadn’t crossed my mind…
The other problem with a flight that early is that TSA Pre√ doesn’t open until 4:00am at SEA. The Alaska Boardroom and Centurion Studio don’t open until 5:00am. Rough morning for me.
The one saving grace was the fact that with my Alaska MVP Gold 75k status I was able to book American Main Cabin Extra seats ahead of time for free. So on the 9 month old A321 I was able to reserve seat 12F; an exit row window seat that has no seat in front of it. Leg room for days. Although it can be a bit awkward as one of the flight attendants sits in the jump seat facing you.
The service was about what you would expect. I got a Biscoff cookie and club soda (a whole can!). Upon landing we had a quick layover; just enough time to get from Terminal A to Terminal D at DFW for a quick stop for breakfast in the Centurion Lounge; my first visit.
DFW-HKG – 777-300 Seat 31L
The next flight was the longest of the trip; 16 hours 8 minutes. The plane was a 777-300 and it was in decent shape. I selected seat 31L; another exit row window seat towards the back of the plane. Not only does this seat have more leg room than anyone could need, it also is in a row with just two seats. My neighbor had the aisle and I had the window. I typically prefer an aisle seat but with the exit row I could easily get up without bothering my neighbor. The window seat also had the “bump” for the inflatable escape slide which I found made a nice foot rest (until I was told briskly by a flight attendant that I couldn’t put my feet on it… not that I changed my behavior 5 minutes after she left).
The bad part is that it is right by the lavatory. So passengers tended to congregate near the seat. It didn’t bother me too much and the lav was far enough away that I couldn’t smell it. Another other negative is that there is no window at the seat (besides in the exit door, which you can’t see out of unless you get out of your seat). I didn’t mind because I knew I was going to try to sleep, but others might be bothered by it.
Finally there are no overhead bins above this seat. I like to get my suitcase down to use as a footrest when traveling with this much legroom. At one point, while I was asleep, a flight attendant removed my suitcase from under my feet, waking me up. In a daze, I looked up to see what was going on. She told me “The fasten seatbelt is on. You can’t have your suitcase down.” Um… okay. A few minutes later another flight attendant told me I needed to put my suitcase in the overhead bin. Wait, isn’t the fasten seatbelt sign on? Am I supposed to get up to put it away? I did, however the space in the overhead bin had been commandeered. I actually didn’t mind, since my seat mate had brought on Popeye’s fried chicken and was storing it in the overhead bin for a snack… which he ate about 8 hours in to the flight. I was able to find space in a bit in the forward cabin before landing.
There were three delicious* meal services. The first was about an hour after take off and included the option of “pork and rice” or “pasta”. Actually the original announcement was “chicken and rice” but later it was corrected. I had the pasta; it ended up being a cheese tortellini and was about what you would expect. I did win the carb lottery and was given two rolls. The best part was the edamame and dessert brownie.
There was free wine; not sure what brand but it came in a gallon bottle. I didn’t try it.
This is exactly how the meal was served to me:
And this is my attempt at making it look like a real meal:
The second meal service was a snack box that included a sandwich with meat and a herb butter. I think it was either smoked turkey or ham. The side was some sort of snack mix (I didn’t eat it) and some rather tasty ice cream.
If you got hungry or thirsty during your flight you could stop by the galley. Apple, orange juice, and water were self service as well as many trays of potato chips and Milano cookies. It would have been nice to have some fresh fruit or a healthy option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Don’t even think of serving yourself coffee.
The third meal was brunch, which I found a bit odd considering it was served an hour before landing in Hong Kong at 6:30pm. I passed on the breakfast sandwich and gave the chicken and rice a try. It actually was edible. It reminded me the frozen teriyaki rice bowls I got from Costco as a kid. I’m not sure what the Wednesday sticker meant as I was eating it on a Saturday.
I probably come off as a total food snob. I have to admit the food was all edible and was included with the cost of the ticket. The presentation could use some help but when you are trying to quickly serve 200 people in tight quarters I understand that there is a need for utility.
The inflight entertainment was robust. I was surprised how many movie options there were. I suppose the thought is keep the passengers entertained or asleep (with large pours of cheap wine) and the long flight will be easier on the staff. I was impressed that AA doesn’t bombard you with advertisements like other carriers; even when in economy.
Wifi was available and surprisingly quick even over northern Russia. The cost was reasonable too; $19 for the entire flight.
There was no amenity kit although each seat was given a wrapped blanket and pillow. With the blanket the cabin temperature was actually just right. I am used to flights either being too hot or too cold, so the comfort was a nice surprise.
Overall the first half of the my AA Mileage Run SEA-DFW-HKG adventure was surprisingly painless. It helped that I brought a neck pillow, lumbar support, face mask, blindfold and ear plugs.
Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities and we were able to do a good amount in the 20 hours we were on the ground. Taking the Airport Express into Central Hong Kong is quick, easy and comfortable. You can read my review of the Grand Hyatt here.
After grabbing dinner we walked to to the Victoria Peak Tram that runs until midnight. We were the only ones on the tram at 11:30pm and although the main visitor center at the top was closed, we were still able to check out the great views of the city.
The next day we took one of the Star Ferries across to Kowloon. It rained but made for dramatic photos.
We headed back to the airport with plenty of time so we could check out one of the Cathay Pacific Business Lounges I was able to access through my AAdvantage Platinum status. I had visited The Pier and The Wing First Class lounges on my previous trip, which I was able to access because I was actually flying in Cathay Pacific First Class. AAdvantage Executive Platinum members are able to access those lounges even when flying AA Economy. However, we were left to slum it in The Bridge Business Class lounge ;). Full review here.
HKG-DFW – 777-300 Seat 16K
We boarded the same plane we flew in on at 1:45pm after a good meal at The Bridge. This time I was in the first row of the Main Cabin Extra Economy Class which is an exit row. Unfortunately I was in the middle seat. Proximity to the lavatory was the same as in row 31 and came with the same issues.
Again, huge amounts of legroom. I didn’t notice any difference in the physical seats between my seat in row 31 even though supposedly the Main Cabin Extra seats are a bit wider. Both of my seats on the 777 had the inflight video screen in the armrest so perhaps that accounts for the consistency.
While the DFW-HKG flight went north over Alaska and Russia, our return flight across the Pacific Ocean and ended up being nearly 3 hours shorter at 13 hours 30 minutes.
The meal services were timed the same as our outbound flight. First meal about an hour in to the flight. I chose the “vegetables and rice” which seemed to have some tofu in it rather than vegetables. A lettuce salad and cucumber salad with crab (?) meat, roll and banana cake complimented the main dish. Photos again of how it was served followed by my cleaning up the presentation.
Turbulence cut the meal service short and the flight attendants were asked to take their seats. I was left with my leftovers on my tray table and dozed off. I woke up to turbulence and my dishes strewn across the floor and my poor neighbor. After apologizing and cleaning up a bit, I fell back asleep for a good portion of the flight. I missed the snack but my friend said it was a disgusting wrap and no ice cream.
This time the snacks in the galley included sesame rice crackers. They were surprisingly good. It seemed like a lot of people slept through the snack service as there were many boxes for the taking.
Breakfast was served an hour prior to landing in Dallas. A breakfast sandwich (egg, cheese and ham) with a side of fruit. Basic but held me over until I was able to visit the Centurion Lounge for dinner and a quick shower and massage.
DFW-SEA – A321 Seat 12F
For the final leg of my AA Mileage Run SEA-DFW-HKG I was back in my favorite 12F. After two long haul flights there was little to report about the final flight. I slept and it went by quickly.
30 hours of flying time and 20 hours in Hong Kong is not an ideal vacation. When I told friends about my trip I either got “You are crazy” or “That is amazing!” But over all it was a great adventure and a fun, surprisingly relaxing way to spend a weekend. I will admit that while I am still Single Flyer it was fun to have a travel companion on this mileage run; thank you Lena for joining me! I would do it again, and in fact, I am doing it again, in Economy but on a different airline to a different country, in less than 2 weeks.
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