BarclAysia Day 1: Off we go!

(posted by Emily)

20 December 2014
Beijing, China
(technically, Friday did not exist for us, so hello from the future!)

Hello from the other side of the world! Rick and I are safely back on the ground again, in China. It is the first time for both of us, and has been a fascinating stop on our way to Tokyo. 

The first stop of our Asian Holiday adventure is in Tokyo. Rick has done a ton of research about booking tickets and maximizing layovers, so we'll be spending 23 hours in the city before we finish our journey to Thailand. 

Ever the points guru, when we decided to book this trip, Rick found a way for us to splurge and redeem our frequent flier miles for first class tckets through United. We'll be flying on 3 different Star Alliance carriers, but it has been so worth it so far! Flying first class internationally is something we've never done before (and probably won't do again for a long, long time), so we wanted to enjoy the experience as much as possible. 

We arrived at LAX a few hours early, to take advantage of the first class lounges available to us. Even though Air China departs from Terminal 2, if you have a valid boarding pass for the current travel day, you can access the Star Alliance first class lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. We checked in, and then walked over. 

We avoided this crazy line of passengers and walked right up to the first class counter
The newly renovated international terminal at LAX
Rick's first ever first class ticket
Once in the lounge, we helped ourselves to a few cocktails and ordered a quick snack from the dining menu. I caught about an hour of sleep (the ladies working at the lounge were nice enough to get me a snuggly blanket) and then we headed back over to Terminal 2 to be ready for our departure. 

Mushroom slider with caramelized onions and root veg chips--a cooked mushroom I actually enjoyed!

Once we were through security again, we stopped in the Maple Leaf lounge (Air Canada shares that space with Air China) for another quick snack and some water. We weren't there long, because the lounge was closing and our flight was boarding. 

Our flight began boarding early, and Rick and I were the first passengers to enter the first class cabin. There were eight little cubicles, and we sat next to each other in the middle. 

An assortment of newspapers, slippers, a toiletry kit, and some flowers
Very excited for all of the perks :)
Talk about leg room! That compartment holding the blanket lines up with the seat when it lies flat, to make a full flat bed.
Complimentary pjs
View from my seat
We enjoyed some orange juice and nuts pre-flight (they came in a dish, not a package--have any of you read that story about Malaysia Airlines Korean Air?) and Rick dozed while we took off. About 30 minutes in to the flight we had a meal--better than regular economy fare, but nowhere near as nice as what the other passengers enjoyed in terms of quailty and freshness. The one downside of pre-prepared vegan meals, I suppose!

After our midnight snack, we changed into our jammies and laid our seats out to get some sleep. It was great to lay out all the way and the flight attendants left bottles of water for us. I got a great night of sleep, and Rick did too. There came a point where we couldn't sleep anymore, around 9am LA time, so we enjoyed breakfast and some TV time. 

Rick's feet touched the wall in front of him
All laid out in his seat
Breakfast and some Sherlock for me!
What do I do with all of this space?!

First sights of China out the window, as we came in for landing
Obligatory first class selfie
For a 14 hour flight, the trip felt quick and easy. We never travel in the lap of luxury (we've only been upgraded on a flight once, 2 years ago) and this was an extra special treat for us. We trid to enjoy every minute, and you better believe I am very thankful for a husband who can figure this kind of stuff out!

That's all for now--more updates later! 


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