Introduction: Short Trip to Central America
Review: Hilton Anatole – Dallas
Review: Air France Lounge – Houston Intercontinental Airport
Review: Executive Club – Houston Intercontinental Airport
Review: Air China (777-300) Business Class – Houston to Panama
Review: The Westin – Panama
Review: Nacion Sushi
Review: Le Meridien – Panama
Review: Avianca (A320) Business Class – Panama to Bogota
Review: Avianca VIP Lounge – Bogota
Review: LATAM VIP Lounge – Bogota
Review: Copa Club – Bogota
Review: El Dorado Lounge – Bogota
Review: Avianca (A319) Business Class – Bogota to San Salvador
Review: Intercontinental Hotel – San Salvador/Metrocenter Mall
Review: Avianca (A320) Business Class – San Salvador to Dallas
IAH – PTY
Flight Time: 4 hours 0 minutes
May 26, 2019
After indulging at the Air France Lounge and, to a lesser extent, the Executive Club, it was time for us to board the Air China 777-300 for our four hour flight to Panama. The flight arrived three hours late from Beijing. I was in no rush to get onboard, so I waited until every other passenger boarded before walking across the way to the gate. The agents were telling me to hurry because the pilots really wanted to make it to Panama since they had a return flight that night. OK. After a quick check of my passport and scan of my boarding pass, I headed for the airplane.
I booked this flight for 30,000 United Airlines miles. I was greeted at door 1L by two friendly flight attendants. They checked my boarding pass and directed me to seat 13C. I chose this aisle seat with the hopes that no one would sit next to me. As luck would have it, the entire row was empty. Actually much of business class was empty. This was the same when I flew Air China First Class on the same route last year.
Upon arriving at my seat, I was welcomed by a flight attendant who asked if I wanted a drink. I requested a glass of champagne. While I waited, I decided to glance around the seat. These are the same seats that were offered on my United Airlines 777-200 flight from Newark to Beijing. I saw the seat while walking through the cabin during my flight last year, but wanted to experience the entire business class offerings this time around.
There was a pair of slippers waiting for me in the seat. They were kind of thin and uncomfortable. I did not understand why there was not a blanket. Maybe due to the quick turnaround in Houston?
The seat and IFE controls were on the center console between the seats. They were simple and easy to operate.
Speaking of the center console, the tray table was stored in there. It could be used halved or whole. There was very little movement to the tray table.
The champagne arrived 25 minutes after I ordered it. Apparently, the flight attendants debated about the amount of time we had prior to departure before opening a bottle.
My food order was taken when the champagne was delivered. There was no menu to be found but I had the option of “egg and cheese” or chicken and noodles. The first option was quiche so I went with the noodles.
There was no announcement by the pilot while we were on the ground. The safety demonstration and pushback began shortly after I received the champagne. Both engines were up in just a few minutes and we began the taxi shortly thereafter. I did some planespotting on the way out.
We had a smooth rolling takeoff from Houston.
As usual, our route took us over Galveston Island.
Service began 35 minutes after takeoff with some packaged nuts and another glass of champagne.
The wasabi pork followed 15 minutes later. It was cold but cooked to a medium rare. I did not particularly care for it. I can do cold or medium rare, but not at the same time.
The chicken noodles arrived 30 minutes after the pork. While the dish was hot, it lacked flavor in the broth. The “soy like” sauce that accompanied it was no help. I wanted to ask for salt, but did not for fear of interrupting the service in the cabin.
The highlight was of the meal was the pretzel roll delivered a few minutes after the noodle. The carbs made me a happy man.
To finish, I was offered a fruit bowl. All of the fruit was fresh and sweet. The pretzel roll and fruit bowl were a pleasant end to a lackluster dinner.
I played with the IFE for a few minutes. The offerings were typical of just about every airline…flight map, movies, television shows, shopping, etc.
If you have been following for some time, you know that I do not watch television or movies on an airplane. I get bored wayyyy too easy for that so I decided to sleep. I asked the flight attendant if she could make the window seat into a bed, which she obliged.
I awoke with just under an hour left inflight and requested a green tea.
Shortly after receiving the tea, the pilot made a 30 minute out call that was very long in Chinese but when he made it in English, it was very abbreviated. The flight attendants took my glass and sat in the jump seats. They sat and chatted the remainder of the flight, which happened to be more than 45 minutes later.
Once on the ground, we had a 10 minute taxi to the gate. Yes, I said gate. The last time we were parked at a remote stand and had to be bussed to the terminal.
We all know that first class and business class offer different levels of service, but I did not expect the drop off on Air China to be so noticeable. My experience in first class last year was significantly better.
The pork was cold and nearly raw, whole the noodles were as bland as possible. If pretzel rolls and fruit bowls save dinner then there is definitely a problem with catering.
If the flight attendant taking care of me was not available, I waited until she was available to come to my seat. Many different flight attendants passed the seat, but none bothered to ask if I needed anything. Maybe I am exaggerating, but with only a few people in the cabin, it should be more of a team effort.
Overall, I enjoyed my flight to Panama aboard Air China. I think 30,000 United Airlines miles is the right amount to pay for a lie flat seat to Central America.