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A Weekend To Europe

A number of The Higher Flyer Consulting obligations had me jetting off from the East Coast to London on a Friday, taking the train to France on a Saturday, and then returning home on a Sunday. A weekend like that, in theory, sounds absolutely brutal… And, well, sitting down at my day job desk that Monday morning was a struggle. The trip was well worth it though, and thankfully, premium accommodations all the way through to the end made it all the better.

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United Airlines Polaris First Review

After our excellent flight in Thai’s Royal Silk, my father and I were eager to see how United’s Polaris First compared. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when we were boarding; United has been rather transparent about its plans to ditch first class. The new, super-business Polaris is the future, and at the time of our flight, United was (and still is) awkwardly juggling the various premium cabins it has across its fleet. Would Polaris First be a comfortable way to travel, or would it be a forgotten flop of a product? Turns out we were in for a pleasant surprise, and our final flight to complete the Southeast Asian Summer Vacation trip was both a winner and an incredible value at only 80,000 MileagePlus miles… but it wasn’t without some glaring indications of the end of United’s first class. Be sure to enjoy it while you can!

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Thai Airways Royal Silk Review

As much as we enjoyed indulging in the Thai Royal First Lounge, my father and I had to leave rather quickly. Our departure gate, C10, was quite far away, and we nearly had to sprint just to get there in time. Out of breath and in a tizzy, we arrive to find the boarding area a jumbled mess. The ground crew was totally overwhelmed by a mass of economy class gate lice who were all swarming the business line. That chaotic scene wasn’t the best first impression, but we made it on the plane eventually, and settled in for what would develop into an exceptional regional flight.

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Thai Royal First Lounge Review

Finding the Royal First Lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi was a bit of a challenge when we first arrived for our departing flight. While the airport is physically stunning,  actually navigating it is more problematic. It doesn’t help that everything is just so spread out. We entered the terminal at the wrong end, and had to walk what seemed like miles (it was actually a quarter mile, but still, that’s pretty far) until we finally found what we were looking for: the premium check in desk. It only got better — much, much better — from there.

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Plaza Premium Siem Reap Lounge Review

When it came time to return to Bangkok after visiting Siem Reap, we were preparing for another ordinary, unremarkable experience courtesy of AirAsia. We certainly weren’t expecting something luxurious during any part of the leg, and we didn’t anticipate anything more after we learned that there is a Priority Pass lounge at the Siem Reap airport. Discovering its existence was a pleasant surprise — we figured something is better than nothing — but we didn’t get our hopes up. “How good could a contract lounge at a regional airport in the middle of a jungle really be?” we thought to ourselves. Turns out, we were in for another surprise.
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At Angkor Wat and Beyond

For my father and I, escaping to Siem Reap for Memorial Day Weekend was a welcome respite from Bangkok’s perpetual hubbub. Even though we had grown used to the crowded, chaotic, and steamy streets of the city, we appreciated the change of pace in the quaint and sleepy river town. Siem Reap has a long history, but it wasn’t until Angkor Wat was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site that it started to attract international tourists (like us).  Continue reading “At Angkor Wat and Beyond”

The Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap Review

A few days before we were set to arrive in Siem Reap, we received an email from the management of the Aviary Hotel with some exciting news: they were arranging a complimentary airport transfer for us. Seeing that we landed just as the daily monsoon was rolling in, we were really happy that we didn’t have to find our own way to the property. The driver who met us in the arrivals hall was a hotel employee, and he was kind and welcoming. He took our bags and offered us bottled water and cold towels… all before we settled into the van! In hindsight, we shouldn’t have been so surprised by the high standards of service; such hospitality is the norm, not the exception, at the Aviary.

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Air Asia Hot Seats mini-Review

“Should I pay for that?”

This shouldn’t be a surprise given the headline, but this post won’t be a full-blown review. It primarily seeks to answer some questions that I get a lot: are a few extra inches of space/baggage/food worth the extra cost? If you’re flying on a low cost carrier like AirAsia, there’s a good chance you’re budget conscious and you want to balance your comfort with your expenses. Perhaps this post will give you a better sense of what to expect. Continue reading “Air Asia Hot Seats mini-Review”

Exploring Bangkok

As I quote in the introductory post to the trip report, Bangkok is described as a “town of juxtapositions.” The sprawling metropolis, also affectionately referred to as “The Big Mango,” is well deserving of its characterization. It sits at the crossroads of the jungle and the sea, and between ancient traditions rooted in Buddhism and recent efforts to globalize. These four key influences all blend together in the city, and both visitors and residents alike are all in for a dynamic treat. Some might find it all to be a bit too stimulating and overwhelming, and don’t get me wrong, being on your feet in Bangkok can soon become exhausting, but it truly is a spectacle in a nearly otherworldly way.

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