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Introduction: First Class to Panama on Air China
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IAH – PTY
Flight time: 3hr 40min
July 22, 2018
I left the lounge a few minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin. As I approached the gate, there was not a line formed or any other passengers standing around. I approached the agent to ask about the flight. She saw the confuse look on my face and, with a smile, told me that boarding would begin in 45 minutes. Returning to the lounge was an option, but I decided to remain near the gate.
Boarding was called at exactly 45 minutes. I quickly hurried down the jet bridge to see if I could get a good picture of the aircraft because I could not from the terminal. This is the best that I could do from the jet bridge.
Bummed, I hurried to the aircraft. I approached door 2L where I was greeted by four friendly flight attendants. After showing my boarding pass, I was pointed left into the first class cabin.
The cabin consisted of eight semi enclosed suites arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. I chose seat 2A which was a window seat in the last row. The seat itself looked dated but was really comfortable. I also really liked the space that the suite offered.
The left armrest contained the IFE and seat controls.
Just above the armrest were three huge windows. I enjoyed them because of the brightness and because I had THREE windows.
The IFE was fairly big. I tried to use if to look at the map on the ground, I received an error. I tried multiple times throughout the flight but it still did not work. Were the maps missing because this was a fairly new route?
Embedded in the outer wall of the seat was a small closet.
I was offered a predeparture beverage shortly after arriving to my seat. I asked for a glass of champagne, it was served with a cold towel, snack mix, and a single rose petal.
I made my way to the business and economy cabins to snap some pics. Air China’s business class consisted of 60 lie flat seats that were arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. The window seats were angled towards the windows, while the middle seats were angled towards the right aisle. There were only a handful of people in business class.
There were three economy cabins. A mini cabin which consisted of 25 seats was located just behind the business class cabin. Two rows were arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration, while the last row was 2-3-2.
The two main economy cabins were 13 and 14 rows, respectively. The last two rows of the main rear cabin were offset a bit and consisted of a 2-3-2 configuration.
Back to the seat. The captain came on the PA to apologize for the delay and to inform us that we would experience turbulence into Panama due to thunderstorms. At this point the safety demonstration and push back began. I the panda on the safety video was so cute.
We had a short taxi to the runway. After rolling start, we were airborne quickly. I am assuming that this was due to the light passenger and fuel loads. The climb out of Houston was smooth.
Meal service started 15 minutes after takeoff. I was informed that it would consist of three courses due to the short duration of the flight. The tray table was set quickly by the flight attendant working my side. I ordered an Air China signature cocktail as the drink.
A few minutes after setting the table a salmon with cucumber appetizer and bread basket were delivered. All items were fresh unlike my flight from Boston to Chicago.
Next up was the main. Without a food menu, I was given a couple of options for main entrees. The options were beef, chicken, and seafood curry. The curry was delivered hot. It was fresh and contained a large amount of scallops and shrimp.
After the meal, I was offered a fruit bowl. The fruit “bowl” was more of a fruit cup. All of the fruits were fresh and sweet.
The service was completed less than 45 minutes after takeoff. I decided to make my way to the front lavatory to freshen up. The lights in the mirror was a cool feature.
I returned to my seat and was bored. We still had well over two hours left in the flight so I walked through the plane. I returned to the seat and remembered that I had not taken a picture of it in the bed position. Here you go!
The flight attendants delivered landing cards and a refrigerator magnet to me. I thought that the magnet was an especially nice gesture.
At this point, I had become a little hungry so I ordered some ramen. The flight attendant asked how I knew that they served ramen when I did not have a menu. Really? I laughed and told her that it was just a guess. The ramen was delivered a few minutes later. It was hot and just a bit salty (just the way I like it). I ate it so quickly that I almost ordered another bowl.
The flight was soon coming to an end. We began our descent 30 minutes prior to landing in Panama. The pilot turned on the seatbelt sign at the point. It is a good thing that he did because experienced some serious bumps. I landing was smooth. One thing that I found odd was that we taxied past the terminal to a remote stand. There was a free for all mad dash to get to the buses once the door was opened.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Panama on Air China. So much that I would transit Panama if I were going to another country. From their kindness, to allowing me to take pictures and videos, the flight attendants were amazing. The 40,000 United Airlines MileagePlus miles were well worth it.