In this day of the Jet age, it’s amazing how you can go from one part of the world to another, literally overnight, or with our routing a couple days. After a wonderful and quick trip to Singapore, we reversed our direction flying home, going from Singapore to Helsinki, London, and a one night stay over in Calgary, before flying back thru Dallas to Orlando. For someone that flies a lot for work, this was actually fun though flying to all those places.
On Friday, our return flight from Singapore to Helsinki wasn’t until nearly midnight, so we had the whole day at the hotel to lounge around by the pool, pack, relax, and for Steve (DOS) some quick last minute souvenir shopping. I worked on the blog a bit in the room before we headed out for lunch.
As a Hyatt Globalist member, we were entitled to a 4pm checkout, which is a nice perk when you have a late evening flight, however as we weren’t leaving the hotel until around 8pm, we went ahead and paid for the night anyway, so we didn’t have to sit around the airport for four extra hours. We packed up our suitcases and hauled them down from our 21rst floor bedroom, to our 20th floor living room (no small feat with the circular staircase),
and would later get a bellman to cart them down to our taxi.
For our last dinner in Singapore, we ate at the Hyatt, where they offer an all-you-can eat (and drink) pool-see barbecue fest, which for Singapore was a bargain at $86. We had a pool-side table and seat setup, and made several trips to the buffet, while drink service was provided by waiters table-side. I had a few brewskis while DOS settled on Coke Zero, so his meal was a bit cheaper at $68 since he didn’t have an alcoholic drinks. Considering how much alcohol costs in Singapore, the unlimited drinks were a real bargain in itself.
As the evening started to get dark, the pool and table lights started to glow, providing a warm and romantic mood setting. DOS and I always like to have a nice farewell dinner in whatever city we are visiting, and this was no exception; it was a very nice finale to our Singapore trip.
After dinner, we showered and changed before heading down to the lobby from our 20th floor suite. The Bellman assisted us getting the luggage stacked into the cab, although unfortunately we didn’t get to ride in style like this Arab Sheik who had just arrived in a Rolls Royce.
Anyway, our luggage fit in the small taxi, and we were soon on our way to the Singapore Changi International Airport.
Once at the airport we snagged a couple of the complimentary luggage carts conveniently located curbside, and headed to the Finnair ticket counter to check-in. As we arrived over 3 hours early, there was no waiting in line at the check-in desk.
As we had quite a bit of time before our flight, after clearing security and immigration, we took a leisurely walk around the international terminal at the Changi Airport, which was colorfully decorated for the Chinese New Year.
After walking around a bit, we repeated our trip to Singapore, but in reverse; i.e. trying out the different airport lounges, followed by a flight and then repeat again > Lounge > Flight etc. Since Finnair does not have an airport lounge in Singapore, we used a couple of the other One World Lounges for British Airways and QANTAS. Here are a few pics of the British Airways Lounge. While we could use the First Class Lounge at British as we are One World Emerald members, unfortunately we didn’t have access to the Concorde Lounge (one of only 3 worldwide: New York, London, and Singapore) as we were not flying British Airways First Class; rather Finnair.
We could at least take a photo by the Concorde Lounge sign.
Moving along . . . here is the QANTAS lounge in Singapore.
Soon enough it was time to board our Finnair A350 aircraft for the long-haul flight back to Helsinki. DOS and I had the same seats we had on the flight back to Helsinki as the ones we had on our way to Singapore: Window/Aisle seats 3A and 4A (each seat was both a window and an aisle accessible seat). We were served Champagne shortly after being seated, and our amenity kits, headphones, and informational packet were already waiting for us when we boarded.
Finnair makes good use of color in their amenity kits, info packets, and blankets, and I blended right in with my bright yellow and blue striped socks!
Boarding was quiet and efficient, and sitting in the forward business cabin with the boarding door behind us, made for a much more tranquil boarding process. Soon we were on our way, and I again adjusted my TV monitor to show the view from the tail camera of the plane for takeoff.
As it was after midnight when we took off and fairly dark in the cabin during meal service, I didn’t take any photos then, other than a couple screen shots of this horrendously stupid movie with Will Ferrel, “The House”. Fortunately I didn’t have to waste my dollars paying to see it, as it was part of the on-demand programming on the flight.
Since it was a night flight, I slept most of the flight after the meal service and movie ended. The bed was fully flat and comfortable, except for the cut-out area for your feet, which could have been larger. For a 12 hour flight, however, it was quite comfortable sleeping on this new A350 aircraft, which was quiet and very smooth flying.
We arrived into Helsinki around 5:50am, and as it was still dark outside made you feel a bit sleepy, even after a good night’s sleep on the flight from Singapore. As we were in transit, we didn’t have to clear immigration, and there wasn’t a second security screening either; we just walked thru the international terminal and headed back to the Finnair Lounge. Deja vu – it felt like we were just here. Oh yeah we were a few days and thousands of miles ago!
At this early hour it was very quiet in the terminal and Finnair Lounge. We had a nice breakfast in the lounge, and appeared to be the first ones selecting food off the freshly displayed buffet.
Unlike our trip over to Helsinki, we didn’t take a sauna this trip, although we did use the shower rooms to freshen up and change clothes after the long 12 hour flight from Singapore.
As our layover in Helsinki was only a couple of hours, we were soon on our way to the gate for our next flight to London. The Finnair flight to London was also on an A350 plane, unlike the A321 we had flown on from London to Helsinki on the outbound portion of the trip.
We were in the same seats on the flight to London (3A, 4A) that we were on from Helsinki, so we had sleeper seats, but not the long-haul service. Missing were the headsets, comfy blanket, and slippers from the overnight flight, but we did get the same type colorful pillow.
As we were taxing out we could see the sun coming up, as well as the snow on the ground, reminding us we weren’t in Singapore anymore.
For whatever reason, the plane’s tail cameras were not active on this flight, so I just took a photo after we took off of the snow covered ground below.
Finnair did server a decent breakfast on the flight from Helsinki to London, and it was served all in one setting.
Once in London, we had another 3 hours or so layover at Heathrow Airport. We arrived into Terminal 3, but our trans-Atlantic flight to Calgary was on British Airways and left out of Terminal 5. One thing I do not like about busy Heathrow Airport, is the lack of gates, and connecting terminals. Here we deplaned via the stairs, and then took a crowded shuttle bus over to Terminal 5.
We then had to go thru security again at Terminal 3, and then had to take another shuttle bus over to Terminal 5. It would have been nice if we could have simply taken the bus to terminal 3 directly, once leaving the plane, but that was not an option. Though the line for the Terminal 5 bus was seemed long, it did move fairly quickly.
As we had almost a 3 hour layover, we went to the British Airways First Class Lounge (courtesy of our One World Emerald status) which was very busy; packed even, at noon on a Saturday. Unlike Terminal 3 which services other One World carriers and has multiple One World Lounges, Terminal 5 is exclusively British Airways, so there are no other options to chose from.
We couldn’t access the Concorde Lounge as we weren’t flying First Class on British Airways; rather Business Class, anymore a mere technicality as they are phasing true ‘First Class’ out on many of the newer planes. Considering they don’t even have First Class on our two class flight (only Business and Coach), and thus the Business Class is really First Class, they still don’t allow you access to the lounge; I guess to keep it more exclusive. We did get to go to the Concorde Lounge last June when we flew to Africa on British Airways in First, and it was nice and less crowded but honestly the First Class QANTAS and Cathay Pacific Lounges in Terminal 3 were nicer in my humble opinion.
We did make a reservation for a shower, which had a waiting list of 30 minutes, but they give you a restaurant-like pager to call you when it’s your turn. Fortunately we could shower and change before our next flight to Calgary, and still had time to eat in the lounge.
Our last flight of the day was from London Heathrow to Calgary on a British Airways Boeing 787.
We had taken this plane outbound to London, and we were quickly reminded of the yin-yang seat design in Business Class, with the pull-down footrest, which the person seated in the middle has to climb over.
This nine hour flight was good, however unlike the A350, the window shades do not actually close, rather they are virtual shades operated by the push of a button. Unique to the Boeing 787, this virtual window shade gradually darkens the window, but not completely dark. On bright sunny days such as this, there is still a glow to the window, so it’s not truly blacked out like a sliding window shade, so for some it may be harder to sleep on a daytime flight. I guess that’s what the eye shades are for in the amenity kit.
I didn’t take may photos on the 9 hour flight as it was a chore getting to the phone in the foot level storage compartment with the tray table out. Unlike the Finnair A350, British Airways layout of the 787 does not have adequate or easily accessible storage space for small items such as glasses, phones, contact cases etc. I had a nice lunch on board, and then napped for the rest of the flight.
On arrival into Calgary, we claimed our luggage, and while all our bags made it, DOS’s was slightly damaged, so he went to fill out a claim. The airline office at baggage claim did not actually make the claim, however, but simply handed him a form to take with him, and call the number on it to make the claim. It seemed kind of strange not taking the information at the airport, but we were glad as it had been a long couple days of flying and we were ready to get to our hotel in Calgary. We again took the Allied Shuttle bus to our downtown hotel, The Hyatt Regency Calgary.
Once at the Hyatt, the bellman remembered us, and delivered the 3 bags we had stored with him before heading to Singapore. (I had a work bag, and we had two duffel bags of cold-weather clothes we didn’t need in Singapore, as well as some souvenirs.)
On this return visit to Calgary, we only stayed for one night so we could rest up, and also to coordinate with the flight home the next day. The hotel upgraded us to a two room suite which was nice as we had 2 bathrooms, and a large sitting area where we could set our bags without taking up space in the bedroom.
We showered and changed after the long flights, before heading out for a mid-afternoon lunch. After being in Singapore, it did indeed feel cold again to be back in wintery Calgary, and seen by the snow-view out our window!
After a late afternoon snooze, we went to dinner at Saltlik, which is a restaurant across the street we had eaten at when we were in Calgary before our Singapore trip. The energetic hostess remembered us and gave us a really nice table, along with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
As I said earlier in the post, DOS and I like to have a nice farewell dinner wherever we go, and this was our second ‘farewell dinner’ in two days; the poolside dinner in Singapore, and now this dinner in Calgary. We had a wonderful dinner at Saltlik, and promised to come back next time we are in Calgary. We were so mixed up on the time and day of week even with al of the travel and time zones! Before heading back to the Hyatt, however, DOS and I had to say goodbye to Calgary, which we did with a late night walk around a park near the hotel, colorfully lit up at night enchanting the beauty of the snow.
It was the longest Saturday of my life I think, as we had gained some 15 hours time flying from Singapore to Calgary and it was still the same day!
On Sunday, it was time to finally go home after the long trip to Calgary and Singapore. I had also been gone another week prior to our trip as I was working in Wisconsin on business, so I was ready to get home. This time we were flying home with all of our luggage, including the luggage we had stored in Calgary, so we had our had our hands full! The bellman assisted us, and we headed to the Calgary Airport around 10:30am for our 1pm flight to Dallas, connecting to Orlando.
Fortunately we both have Executive Platinum status on American, and were flying Business Class, as we were allowed 3 checked bags each. And we only checked 5 bags total, although we did have a carryon each, and DOS’s laptop bag.
One of the nice things about flying back to the US from Canada (but not the other way around) is you clear immigration and customs in Canada, so when you arrive to the US, you’re treated as if arriving from a domestic flight, so no additional security, retrieving luggage etc – a huge time saver.
The flight to Dallas was nearly four hours on an Embraer 170 jet. While it had ‘First Class’, it was domestic First Class, and after being on the international flights with lay-flat seats, it felt a bit cramped, on this smaller single aisle plane.
We had a short one hour layover in Dallas, which was possible due to the pre-clearance formalities in Canada. We took the Sky train from our arrival in Terminal C to Terminal A, and our gate to Orlando was the very last gate there, A-38.
One last flight on an American Airlines 737, and two and a half hours later we touched down in Orlando, around 11pm. Normally we would take a shuttle and head straight home, but at this late hour we had booked the night’s stay at the Hyatt Regency inside Orlando Airport out of convenience.
We had a late night pizza in the hotel lobby lounge before heading to bed.
On Sunday, we slept in a bit and had breakfast at the hotel. We then headed home with all of our luggage in tow. After 10 flights total, stopping over in Canada and Singapore, and changing planes in London and Helsinki, and thousands of miles in between, we were finally home! And all our bags made it too!