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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:28 pm #1
Original Poster

Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Lincolnshire, UK
Programs: BA Gold, TK M&S Elite, IHG Spire, HHonours Gold, Sixt Express Platinum, Hertz Presidents Club
Posts: 289
The Taste of Gold: A Business Trip Odyssey Around the World

Prologue

I have been an avid reader of the TRís since coming across FT about 4 years ago even before I signed up during my lurker phase. It was my main research resource before the TR vlog boom came on YouTube and whilst I have taken some TR worthy trips I always remembered a bit too late to make notes or pictures, which would of made it incomplete and missed what the assembled company may of found most interesting.

The reason why I remembered to make the effort this time was twofold. Firstly in a recent idle moment of searching on the Forums I came across BA forums international man of mystery @corporate-wage-slave who wrote (some years ago now) what I would vote as my favourite TR. I felt I could in some way produce my own version of it, less of knee pictures and wine menus but more on my opinions on modern business travel through the medium of a trip report.

Secondly the trip report below would give me enough TP for the first time to make BA Gold. I have been in the silver doldrums for many years. Sliver in itself is great but it would be nice to experience the Flounges and I do some travel in some regions where status eases travel.

My annual TPís have usually loitered around 900-1200 pa and with my points reset in February it just never seem to work out financially (post Christmas) for me to spend extra money. I also couldnít then justify to my wife using my holiday on a TP run. Phrases like ďYou travel enough anyway, why do you want to spend your free time on a planeĒ and to an extent I cant argue with that!

In other years I did try to move some of my regular trips to IST and ADB with TK to push it over the edge, but this was neither enough and lost my status with TK and in the end I preferred to have two ďSliversĒ as opposed to one ďGoldĒ particularly as they are different alliances. However my travel schedule the past 18 months has reached a point where I will probably making Gold for the next few years. However to celebrate what I hope will become the first of many years of Gold status I felt that I ought to contribute to this section.

I also felt that this trip would be worthy of a report due to its nature. Itís started as a run-of-the-mill OW RTW ticket (which in itself is a bit of battle to ticket as users of it will testify), which has been added on with other airlines to match my work schedule and to fill in the gaps where the OW RTW online tool couldnít do itself. This trip is for work and whilst this is not my normal week, I am flying on average monthly to Turkey and usually another trip within continental Europe every other month and most weeks an overnight trip or two in the UK. With these regulars I usually have two or three long haul multi flight trips per year, however these are usually confined to a region, (i.e USA or SE Asia) as opposed to multiple continents. This was my first ever RTW and my first time crossing the International Date Line. I hope the prospect of 3 alliances, 6 airlines and 6 different aircraft is interesting and worthy of this forum, so on we go! This report is long and will be serialised to ease the word count and there wont be as many pictures as most TRís but, youíve all flown before so you know a lot of these things look like already! So I apologise now and look forward to reading comments or asking questions!

Luggage and packing essentials:

As Iím sure most of you are as well, I am pretty much HBO for all business travel, the only time I check baggage is when I have to take some items for a trade show, if its just clothes, electronics and paperwork, in the cabin every time.


Main Cabin Bag: Briggs & Riley International Carry-on Expandable Wide-body Spinner

Iíve only come to B&R just over 18 months ago, I previously had a Rimowa Classic, I discovered Rimowa when I was given a Monocle subscription as a Christmas present about 8 years ago and I went for the (what I now call) ĎInstagram lifestyleí advertising. Whilst it was sturdy bag, typical German nothing even looked remotely close to breaking and it was aesthetically pleasing, It was unbelievably noisy on certain pavements and it was a bit challenging to get all my items in when on a 10 day trip. Most certainly fashion over function and my increasing travel schedule led to look for something more practical.

Funnily Rimowa new prices have gone up so much I sold it on Ebay for only 25% less then what I paid for it and with the proceeds went to John Lewis Oxford Street and was sold my current bag. Itís a great bag, has been definitely been designed and engineered by road warriors and I can fit 2 weeks worth of clothing, including suit and shirts and an extra set of shoes and it has a great quick access pocket where I can put my phone, wallet etc in through security. So far its looks like it has barely aged a day so hoping I will get many years of use from it. If my wife allowed me Iíd probably holiday with it as well!

Personal Item: Samsonite PRO-DLX⁴ Laptop Bailhandle Expandable

Iím a firm believer that the most important piece of luggage is the personal item. It has to be small enough to not get the attention of beady-eyed CC and fit under the seat in front but big enough and/or practical enough to fit all those extra items. My Dad was a Samsonite man; I think if they had built houses he would of bought 12 and seeing our cupboard room full of various different Samsonite luggage as a youth has given me a soft spot for them. I have this one because it has enough separate pockets and dividers to store my travel documents, electrical cables, headphones, glasses cases, paperwork, laptop and tablet all separately and still have enough spare space for extra items along the way. The added bonus of this bag is the expandable pocket which I use for myÖ. AhemÖused underwear and socks however I am able to collapse this pocket with them in and not compromise its size. It means that the bag fits under the seat in front of me. When I travel short journeys/day trips, I can take this bag only, this allows me to board the plane as late as possible, knowing I will have space in front of me to store my bag and not worry about overhead bin space.


My weapons of choice


Essential Items:

Besides the usual sleeping tablets (which I must confess have very hit and miss effects with me, ranging from comatose to nothing) toiletries and plug adapters Iím not one for a long list of travel items, I guess the smart phone has advanced the lack of items by a lot but over the years I have picked up a couple of items, which aid and abet a trip.

Eye Mask: I use a Lewis N. Clark mask as it is very well padded, comfortable on the face, it doesnít absorb body heat much, which gives better sleep for me and itís thickness blocks the light well and the lower padding is the best Iíve seen at blocking light from underneath. The strap quality is a little cheap but strap length is endlessly customizable.

Berocca: Iím not into supplements but I have an acquaintance that is a management accountant for a multi-national who does an obscene amount of air travel and he recommended it to me over a chance breakfast meeting. Like he suggested I only take it in the morning when I feel particularly tired or a lack of sleep on a red eye. Placebo or not it has always helped me get through the day, however Iím a firm believer than it works because I only take it sparingly. If I took it regularly I doubt it would.
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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:29 pm #2
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Lincolnshire, UK
Programs: BA Gold, TK M&S Elite, IHG Spire, HHonours Gold, Sixt Express Platinum, Hertz Presidents Club
Posts: 289
Part 1: Mother BA and Good Karma

Day 1

I am firm believer that T5 is one of the best terminals in the world, and I will argue this with anyone. This continues to be one of the main reasons why I keep using BA (for short haul) On journeys within Europe I use Ryanair frequently, but I cant really abide by STN all the time so I’m find myself at T5 more than BA deserve on short haul.

99 times out of 100 I'll drive to UK airports. Driving in the south of the UK is so traffic dependent and I live up in rural Lincolnshire, which is fairly centrally located but the roads in and out are ‘less good’, but improving a lot. Home to Heathrow I have driven door to door in 2 hours 12 minutes but it usually takes 2 hours 30 minutes and allow 3 hours minimum when driving. My nearest airport is HUY, and I’m praying one day BA (when a certain 3rd runway is build) will operate a service to LHR, but in the meantime I’d prefer driving than having to connect at AMS and use KLM.

The drive down is fairly uneventful, in the early part of the journey the combine harvesters that take up 2/3 of the both roads slow me down, but once I get to 3 lane roads it’s plain sailing the whole way and I arrive at T5 at 8pm and off to park the car. On a shorter trip my favourite parking is the POD parking, but trips over 10 days it's not available to book. I have tried the valet but for what less it costs my go to parking is the meet and greet. The valet checks are more laborious and I find it’s just as quick and sometimes even quicker with the meet and greet with it’s less formalities.

It’s first day of September and fast track security is empty, the traveller’s dream. I’m though the X ray in 25 seconds flat but the man checking my bags certainly has the Friday feeling and I wait whilst he lazily screens them through, picking up my bags and walking, I place my finger on the light green button, the full smiley face missed out due to the monitor man’s leisurely pace. I usually try to schedule no travel though the last two weeks of July and all of August, just for sheer sanity at security and passport control and besides one quick two day trip to Romania I managed it this year.

I always find that no matter the time, day or night or month T5 seems to have the same buzz of people. the walkways between the shops have the steady flow of passengers of all creeds. Tonight the inhabitants of airside land are mostly families catching a quick trip away before schools return. Children proudly pull their own wheeled bag behind them. When I was young the last thing you wanted to do was move luggage. It’s a sign that times are changing, but if my children want to pull their own I wont complain.

I look at the board and see the flight will depart from B. I head for the lift and push the button for -4. I always get an oddly smug feeling when everyone else gets out and leaves me by myself. I find the walkway somewhat therapeutic. Its has a gently hum, you are usually on your own and it gives me time to think and contemplate my trip ahead. Will everything go to plan? Will I make the deals I want? Will BA disappoint me?



My contemplation zone

I head up the escalators to the lounge and right at the top is what looks like cardboard, resisting suction into the conveyor. I pick it up only to see it’s a Canadian passport. I hand it in to the lounge dragon and enter feeling I’ve done my good deed today. This is good Karma for the start of the trip, perhaps a sign of things to come?

My rule on the BA Galleries lounges is thus, flying from satellite B & C? Always got to Galleries B lounge. It’s the quietest lounge. Flying from A and are pressed for time? Go to Galleries North, its’ access is much quicker and you can be in and out, grab some food and drink without going off route to the gate. Flying from A and have time? Go to Galleries south, it has more room, you can usually find a quiet space with some interesting views looking down into the hustle and bustle of transit shuttle area.

British Airways BA247
LHR (T5)-GRU(T3)
Club World seat 15K
Departure 21:50 (scheduled) 21:53 (actual)
Flight time 11h 22m


I was flying from gate B35 so a quick 30 second walk from lounge stairs to gate. Boarding is fairly swift and I seat myself down at 15K. A seat oft discussed on this forum. I made a beeline 24 hours before to grab the seat, and for BA it doesn't disappoint. Im 6’3 so the extra legroom I sense is going to help when I lay down, unfortunately I’ve already failed as I forgot to take a picture of the legroom in this seat.

I love to create scenarios in my head for fellow passengers, My seat staring buddy, is a post retirement business man wearing a table cloth for a shirt. He has a face that would scare a bulldog and at first he gives off the air of a man who's funding plenty of mistresses back in Brazil, supported by a hotline supply of the magic blue pill. However I can sense he’s a business traveler at heart as no sooner does the wheels leave the ground he pushes the divider button with the ease of a man who's done it blindfolded and lies down for the sleep.

BA IFE on this aircraft must be steam powered because the choice of films and the speed of it is frankly ridiculous, perhaps I’ve been spoilt with the likes of Qatar and Finnair's A350 but I can barely find anything watchable. I go through my reading material and contemplate the menu. I ate quite a bit in the lounge and nothing jumps out at me. I can't trust BA to produce a decent piece of beef so after a glass of water, I change to my Qatar PJ’s and move to lay flat to find myself surprisingly comfortable. With a few wake ups here and there, I find myself getting a solid 8 hours sleep, very respectable for a BA 777-200.

As a traveller business or leisure the hard product always drives me first. Whilst the CW product has it’s strong points, the privacy in a window seat and the bottom storage tray and this seat the leg room. Those positives aside it just feels to much like a abattoir in this 777, The plastics make the space very narrow and having someone in your peripheral when the screen is down, detracts greatly from the privacy that you did have before. Putting my business head on, it’s great piece of revenue maximisation and for many of BA’s travellers who travel with them long haul that have been booked by their companies travel department. It seems a world away from WT but comparing it to the competition, it’s now behind.

However seats like 15K and the upper deck on the 747 do have benefits, these little quirks in BA seat design give the knowledgable flyer that extra benefit which you may not get on other airlines. I slept as well on this plane as I ever have on a plane, this was in due only to the extra leg room. If I were flying regular TATL and could get myself that seat every time. I’d probably take it, even over AA product which can be variable, however it would need to have the modern IFE.

My opinion on airline soft product has always been very nuanced. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a meal on a plane that has wowed me so, I’m not a big eater on planes and food good or bad would never put me off an airline. Whilst the BA crew might not have that same deference or a more butler style service that you get from an airline like Qatar. There is a lot to be said about the “Good Bad” service you get from BA, however this may only appeal to Brits. The humour and British style is for me a positive and I would prefer that over crew with a forced smile from a ME3 airline. There was a number of Brazilian staff on the plane, to be honest as I spent most of the flight sleeping I had minimal contact with them.

I woke up 1 half hours before landing and prepared myself for arrival in Sao Paulo. I nibbled on the pastries and fancied the omelette. Alas when they got to me they were all gone. Although a proud Brit I’m not a big fan of English breakfasts, so I decline the other options and carry on my reading. The captain tells us proudly we’ve landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule and I deplane for the next stage of the journey.

Last edited by Leaping_Deere; Yesterday at 7:53 am
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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:29 pm #3
Original Poster

Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Lincolnshire, UK
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Posts: 289
Part 2: 1 Hour Brazil


Day 2

Brazil is just a stepping stone. My first destination is Santa Cruz Bolivia. I had tried to get to Bolivia on the RTW ticket but I couldn't get a decent connection via MIA with AA, which seemed to be the only sensible way and in the end after some searching I found the best way was to fly to GRU and take a one way flight to VVI with Gol airlines, Brazil major budget carrier.

24 hours previously I had tried to check in online but had been baffled in my attempts. After consulting the online chat I was told by a helpful bot that my ticket was all kosher and safe but I had to go to check in kiosks. This thwarted my plans to stay in transit and meant a quick entry into Brazil. As it happens Brazil immigration was well staffed and it appeared that the planes landing were mostly filled with Brazilians as the queues for Brazilian nationals were four-fold bigger than ours. I was through in about 2 minutes and had to negotiate my way from Terminal 3 to 2.

Coming into arrivals it was up one floor and a walk around the maze of restaurants and cafes to terminal 2, which is connected to T3. I arrived at the self check in desk, it said to go to the main desks. I go to the check desks only to be told after some typing that I had to go to the ticket office. Another 5 minute walk away. I arrived at the ticket desk dreading what potential ticketing calamity had befallen me. I was firstly asked for my passport, then the credit card I paid the flight with and after a 4 minute phone call to someone else, the ticket officer handed me a boarding pass and said safe flight! Firstly it’s unlikely I’ll never know what the issue was and secondly I didn't know ticket offices had the ability to print boarding passes!

Security was done in about 4 minutes and the immigration officer seemed more interested in talking to her colleague than me and I was whisked out of Brazil back into airside land in just over an hour…..well at least I got two Brazilian stamps in my passport!

Gol has its own lounge and as I has bought a premium ticket I could use it. The lounge is used by the Skyteam members and I was surprised by its comfort. contemporary furniture, showers, a very typical but edible Brazilian breakfast selection and a burnt orange decor, this would be my home for the 4 hour wait for the flight to Bolivia. The lounge was frequented by well heeled South Americans and I perched myself on a seat over looking the airport and Sao Paulo skyline in the background and as I sat there responding to messages in a very active WhatsApp group chat to friends who are 6000 miles away, I get this sense that we live in an amazing world.


As lounges go, it ain't half bad

Gol Airlines G37714
GRU(T2)-VVI
Seat 2D
Departure 10:20 (scheduled) 10:15 (actual)
Flight time 2h 27m



This is my first time on Gol airlines and to be honest I didn't know what to expect. I’ve been to Brazil once before and on a short haul flight last time I flew with TAM, just before the LATAM merger and I was very impressed, clean on time and very efficient. Judging by it’s lounge and the cabin very clearly proud of it partnerships with Delta, Air France KLM, on the face of it should be a decent package.


Excellent leg room for the prat perches. Did you know they're Skyteam partners!

The lounge make boarding calls as flights change from boarding to closing so by the time I got to the gate most of the plane was boarded. It was a fairly swift process. On Gol's premium ticket, it guarantees you space in the overhead bin, blocked middle seat and more legroom. the legroom is very impressive, (even after take off when the tiny female passenger in 1D who preceded to recline to the max as soon as the belt light flicked off) I found the legroom better than nearly all European short haul business class products I can remember. They offered a ham and cheese croissant which was edible and at the end, a cup of hot, very strong and typically delicious Brazilian coffee.

This time I had no one joining me in 2F but the eclectic mix of passengers gave me something to muse over, older couples to teenage girls in groups, it always amazes me no matter where you go in the world, people are moving places. Whilst this Gol 737 is little on the older side it’s holding up well and it takes me to my first real destination with minimal fuss. I’m impressed with Gol, it left on time and landed ahead of schedule and I would certainly not hesitate to fly with them again. As I’m thinking about how to grade Gol I observe for the first time the cabin crew in the cockpit whilst the pilot goes to the toilet. I’m sure I’ve seen it before but this is the first time I’ve taken it in and considered its significance. Although it’s some years since the Germanwings tragedy but these are the moments when you realise how important those two in the front are. I seldom think about the dangers of air travel, I accept that with everything in life there will always be an element of risk which you cant ever negate 100%, but this TR has put me in the a mood of reflection and some usual thoughts come into my head.

This is will be my second time in Bolivia and Santa Cruz, I came here last time for about 15 hours on a bit of a whim. I was already planning on a South American tour when I was introduced to the client Im meeting again, seeing the potential and remembering I was going to be a short flight away I managed to sneak in a short afternoon and evening in Bolivia when I was on the trip, it paid off as this client has been a steady but good one since. Having established ourselves this time with him as a trust worthy partner. I’m here on the harder sell. I have two and half days to find out his needs and then sell myself as the fixer of them. He’s his own boss and it’s a family business so I know visiting on the weekend wont be a problem so it maximises my time on a trip knowing I wont have to waste two days idle in a hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised by Santa Cruz, my client described it to me before I visited as “Miami without the sea” Whilst I cant say this is an accurate description it is the economic centre of Bolivia, boosted by the gas industry in the past the growth is here and it’s reflected in the number of newer cars and western hotel chains. This time I’m feeling better, no first country visit nerves, I know the airport and I’m prepared for the strict customs checks on arrival and familiar with the city, I can focus more on doing the job rather than a familiarisation with the new place.

I land into Santa Cruz 15 minutes early and walk into the immigration, The border officers stamp my passport so fast and wave me through it barely leaves my hand and after making a hash of my customs declaration form twice, yet they don't require a further inspection so I’m through into Bolivia.

I'm through quickly enough that it catches out my client who's picking me up. after 20 minutes of waiting he and his wife duly arrive, all casual small talk aside and we are on the way. Ashamedly my Spanish is resolved to small phrases and numbers, His english is based mostly on films which means it’s half decent, I quite enjoy spending time working out translations here and there and the conversations never stop. He’s a year or so older than me so we have a rapport straight away. Its off to a Peruvian restaurant with his wife for seafood lunch. The place looks like someones house from the exterior with no signage at all but inside is a traditional family style place in a Mediterranean way. It's Saturday lunch so big tables full of families who are there enjoying plates of calamari and other foods of the ocean.

The afternoon is spent with him and his two young sons, we drive about an hour out of Santa Cruz and visit some of his clients, I’m paraded as the Gringo with connections and I get to do one of my favourite things. Seeing a country for what it is. It surprises me how sandy and barren it is. This part of Bolivia has a decent community of German descended people and all of a sudden some very Aryan faces appear, the feeling I get is what pushed people to move here. Unlike Argentina or USA, Bolivia’s landscape is nothing like Europe and its makes me wonder how hard life must of been for these peoples who felt compelled to move to these harsh pastures new.

We had back into town talking business along the way and we go for dinner at a burger restaurant. Bolivia it seems is no different to anywhere else and the gentrified hipster burger place has made it here. It’s logo is a skull with a beard and the name of food harks to British musical references, burgers such are ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sargent Pepper’ litter the menu, all in all the burgers aren't bad. I prefer Five Guys but its USP is the black ink put into the bread to change the colour, it’s something I've seen in Japan and whilst it doesn't make the taste better it does give something to Instagram about.

I’m staying in the Radisson on the outskirts of town. It’s a new development with villas and condos, plans for a shopping centre and in pride of place is this two year old hotel. The reception staff wears a grey jacket that looks like he borrowed it from a old uncle but his english is without much accent and I’m swiftly to my room. After a night at BA's leisure and a wait in GRU it doesn't take me long to fall to sleep and besides waking up briefly during the night I get 8 hours of decent sleep.

Day 3

My client asks me if I want to watch some football (soccer) I’m not the biggest fan of football but if makes sales I’ll do most things. He’s picking me up at 10am so I head down for breakfast. I’m fascinated by hotel breakfasts, I believe them to be a microcosm on life, They are universally loved around the world and you can read a lot into people by their selection from the counter. it’s quite busy but mostly with middle class Bolivian families visiting for perhaps the weekend and two elder Americans I imagine to be energy executives.

My habit is to go straight to the orange juice, My general rule on hotel breakfast is if the orange juice is good then the rest of it will be, whilst that isn't always the case it’s more true than not. Fortunately the orange juice is freshly squeezed and it reflects with the rest being a good selection, the omelette chef is so keen to make one she comes around the counter to help you plate other food in the hope of you asking for an omelette. I had a bowl of cereal and some scrambled egg, finish up and wait for my pick up.

What I imagine as a local football team turns out to be a football tournament for his old primary (elementary) school. Each school graduation year enters and at the end they light bangers and the winning teams runs around with a trophy. My client teams goes out in the first round, however it becomes very obvious it’s an excuse to see friends of old and drink beer. The school’s carnival band comes out and the beer doesn't stop for 6 hours. Bolivian beer appears to me based on Germany beers in look. Whilst its more than palatable it isn't particularly strong, and by 6pm we’re ready to go home, me the least drunk. My client is impressed with my drinking and I tell him to make to the UK and he can drink some real beer. I’m back at the Radisson by 7pm, feeling tired as much as tipsy. A shower, a bottle of coke and some comfort food is what I need. The Bolivian love a potatoes perhaps it’s only rivalled by Ireland and after what feels like 6 types of different potato plus corn, rice and strips of sirloin I’m ready for bed.


And the band begins to play

Day 4

Sleep is harder this time. I wake up a few more times than before and by 6am I give up trying. I pack my bag and head down for breakfast. Where as yesterdays breakfast was a hive of activity, today is more like a library. A few suits like myself but Sunday night appears to have been a slow night for this hotel. The morning story turns out to be on my return from breakfast to find my hotel room door wide open, I’m instantly thinking that they don't mess about the cleaners only to find none, panic then befalls me, left out exposed is iPad, and if they dig hard over 500 USD cash and my laptop, fortunately the hotel appears so quiet I think I was the last person on the fifth floor and after going through nothing is missing. My confusion as to how this happened doesn't take long as when I leave the room to check out I notice the door doesn't self shut and has to be physically pulled to lock, not the best idea.

I liked the Radisson, the staff were eager, it was modern, clean, big comfortable bed, the breakfast was better than most in Europe and wifi that was fast enough to watch videos from youtube. It’s biggest flaw was the A/C, which had two speeds, hurricane or tornado, which created a lot of noise, light sleepers would really struggle as a gayle blows through. there was not a slow fan option and whist switching it off made it silent, it would be 2 hours before the 30c heat outside came into the room. Not only that but the air filters for the system needs replacing or introducing as some odd smells came though at times, still I would stay again.


The somewhat interesting architecture of the hotel atrium

My client takes me to the customs warehouse where all goods go for clearance. Its a maze of containers ands warehouses full of all things you can imagine. Starbucks coffee beans, air fans and spare parts for tractors. A pile of motorbikes sit there doomed to rust to death as they haven't passed some emissions test or the importer hasn't paid the right import duties. I think he brings me here to show the situation for commerce in Bolvia, he has some products in here and expects them to be out ‘in 20 working days or so’ This sort of bureaucracy is still alive in the developing world but Bolivia is particularly acute due to its lack of sea port.


The motorcycle graveyard for imported vehicles which the import duty hasn't been paid. Saw a near new Harley Davidson in there!

We had back to his office to meet some of his staff but the waiting at the warehousing has pushed our plans back and my hard sales pitch is forced to be done in the car heading to the airport. it doesn't go quite as I am imagine but we have a friendship developing, and whilst I can't see a lot of sales straight away, Im sure we’ll do more business. I think a quick email a day or so after will reiterate my visit purpose.

Bolivia seems to be the only country I’ve visited which has more controls going out the country than in. At check in I have to fill a from in, asking for the usual details. this is for the airline and it’s some sort of exemption but it doesn't explain. You then go through the security screening, which unlike the rest of South America is about on European levels in terms of liquids in bags and electronic devices. This then leads onto your luggage having a thorough search for drugs (messing up my packing system!) Then you have to fill out a customs declaration identical to the one you did on the way in and finally you have passport control. The customs paper is taken by the ground crew at boarding, presumably where it’s used to power the furness of some government building somewhere, on a busy day this process could take an hour plus but it’s quiet when I arrive 1hour 10 before the scheduled depart time.

Aerolineas Argentinas AR1369
VVI-AEP
Club Economy Seat 2D
Departure 14:05 (scheduled) 14:30 (actual)
Flight time 2h 42m


This is my third flight with Aerolineas Argentinas and both times they were delayed and today they are true to form, a 30 minute delay. I made my way to the Priority Pass lounge, which had all of one guest once I got in and 4 staff who spent most of the time on their phones and at one point they turned half the lights off in an ‘get out of here’ way but on the plus side the wifi was really fast! However what Aerolineas fails with punctuality it made up with a very quick turnaround when the plane landed and a top notch offering in short haul business class.

The seat is genuinely comfortable in a old fashioned way and whilst I understand the model the europeans carriers are running for J I do wish we got something more like this back home.The club economy section has 8 seats and on this flight I have one other companion in the cabin sat in 2A. He looks like some Argentina football scout, chasing raw talent to bring back to Argentina on the cheap, with a wiry frame and a walk like a cat.


I wish all short haul J class seats were as comfortable as this

Along came drinks and a typical Argentina Queso and Jambon sandwich with no crust and cabin service that wasn't the normal Argentinian polite but aloof but a genuine effort to please. The CC brought some newspapers and once discovered I didn't speak or read much Spanish, showed me that the inflight magazine was dual language.

The turnaround was so quick we landed almost on schedule and the transfer process in AEP was rudimental but effective. This first thing that strikes me when I deplane is the move from tropical climate to spring, whereas Santa Cruz was 36c and not too far off the equator, we’re in early spring 2 1/2 hours south and the cooler air feels like a change for the better. Aeroparque Jorge Newbury is the major airport for regional and domestic flights in Argentina and last time I came here there was a decent food court…. which I forgot was before immigration. It’s international areas is mostly a fairly large duty free shop, one uninspiring cafe and a lot of plastic seating and no lounge options from any airline. So I pick a seat with a window view and watched the Buenos Aries sun go down. It’s a city I've been to once before and it’s a city that I put in my global top 10, but today it’s just a screenshot imagine and a springboard to Uruguay.


Lovely Sunset of BA before the Chaos ensured....

Aerolineas Argentinas AR2386
AEP-MVD
Club Economy Seat 3A
Departure 20:45 CANCELED


However once again Aerolineas throw a spanner in the works and 2 minutes after the flight is meant to depart the flight is cancelled. Chaos pretty much ensues straight away as what appears to be half of Buenos Aries surrounds the gate desk, I decide to be a little patient and let the Latinos have their theatrics, eventually Aerolineas get hold of the situation and we’re escorted to immigration. As I’m a transit passenger we get moved to the front of the queue and escorted to the check in desks where I’m rebooked onto the 8am flight and where we are told we’ll get a hotel and food for the night. Which at first seemed like a disaster before has turned very quickly into a bit of jolly, I get visions in my head of a night visiting a friend I know in the city and mountains of pampas beef with red wine all on Aerolineas' expense. This delay wont affect me to much as I’m in meetings all day from 10am in Montevideo so I should be there in time, I call my contact in Montevideo and he informs me that the driver can still get me and take me straight to the meetings.

I receive my boarding pass for tomorrow flights and I’m told to go customer services for my hotel voucher, the queue takes about an hour as some passengers seems to be making a spectacle and one gets so irate about
8 airline staff surround him and for a brief moment I was certain a fight was going to kick off. Eventually everyone calms down and the staff speed up and I’m given a voucher for the Hotel Presidente and I'm told to bring my taxi receipts for claiming back in the morning. I book a private car and head into town. Whilst in the queue it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten since midday and the notion of just getting a pizza appeals to me more than a sit down meal. In the end none of this comes to pass as by the time I get to the hotel room my hunger as formed itself into sleepiness and with a 5:30 am start and only 6 hours till then I just get my things ready and go to sleep.

Last edited by Leaping_Deere; Sep 15, 17 at 11:54 am
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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:30 pm #4
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Location: Lincolnshire, UK
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Part 3: The Meat of the Project

Day 5

Dont you just love it when you wake up naturally before your alarm? After just under 6 hours or so of fairly deep sleep I wake up for the journey back to AEP. I prepped everything the night before so it’s shower, dress, pack up the cables, hail the uber and down to the airport. The hotel Presidente was only slight better than sleeping rough, its’ stuck in a 1980 time warp, it isn't dirty but neither clean, all the furniture is old and the bed sheeting feels like something out of a New York bedsit, one of its most redeeming features is it has a roof. I suspect this place is kept going by the airlines and the only reason you’d stay here is because you've been booked into it. I feel particular scathing because I’m sure there are worse hotels but this is worse because with investment it could be very good. its located right in the downtown but it appears the hotel owners have no interest in modernising it. I suspect the profit margins made from the failures of Aerolinas and it’s Skyteam partners are the difference.

I head to the customer services desk at AEP and show my receipt for travel, it's stamped and signed and then told to go to the cashier. I walk down and begrudgingly I'm paid in pesos. I make a small protest but the cashier woman would make a lounge dragon quake so I'm resigned to spending it on breakfast. The majority of AEP food options is land-side, however when I arrive all of the interesting food options are still closed and all is on offer is the usual sandwiches that can be found at any kiosks, in the end I air on the side of caution and go through security and immigration, which I can imagine during the morning can be busy.

As soon as I’m though the very quiet security and immigration I suddenly remember that I didn't eat last night. The more I look the more I cant face a ham and cheese sandwich. Today is going to be a long day of meetings and attending some speeches so I revert to my old tried and test method of buying chocolate from duty free, water and some sprite from the kiosk and running on sugar for the rest of the morning, I choose a Milka with Oreo biscuit layer and begin to think of the day ahead.

Once again Aerolineas strike back, delaying my flight by 50 minutes and cancelling the later morning Montevideo flight (which I had been booked on originally but managed to get it moved) The feeling that I’ll never get to Montevideo takes over me and my soft spot for Aerolineas club economy seats has been ebbed away by their refusal to fly to Montevideo. I have only one option but to check the board with dread and pray to the aviation gods that they get this plane away as another long delay would really scuttle my schedule.

Aerolineas Argentinas AR2380
AEP-MVD
Club Economy Seat 2A
Departure 8:10 (scheduled) 8:58 (actual)
Flight time 0h 23m


My fears however never came to pass as soon as I saw the cabin crew mince into the departure area I knew we were going.

The bus transfer…. a premium passengers worst nightmare, no staggered flow of foot traffic that keeps an easy flow, but a stampede of the pack all trying to strain every sinew to walk faster without looking like they are, it defeats the object of seating at the front and one of the biggest benefits of paying premium. As it was an outbound transfer this isn't such a problem but there is still the mele towards the steps.

Where the previous Aerolineas flight had a mostly empty club cabin this, like the the rest of the plane was full, many of the faces I had seen causing the riot or ruckus in AEP the night before. turns out that 2A was the first seat and as an Embraer was a single row seat, again no seat companion to critique but just a cabin of suited Argentines surrounding me. the 1A/B/C seats is what I usual refer to as the ‘prat perch’ on short haul flights and I never choose it as I prefer a seat in front of me for the underneath storage.


The view from 2A aka the prat perch

Once again Aerolinas excellent seat gave me the more positive feelings towards this airline and we left ahead of schedule for the very short hop over the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo.The flight was about 25 minutes and my fears of a bus transfer came true. I can finally say goodbye to Aerolineas Argetinas, Their timekeeping and I suspect union issues has once again come back to haunt them but their short haul business class product is as good and anyones and they way they dealt with the cancelled flight would perhaps put BA to shame, whilst I cant commend it’s hotel choice it has done enough for me to fly again with them.

Into the shuttle bus and I gamble on the other side of the bus being the exit so positioned myself next to those doors, the hunch paid off and I was off early and only had a short wait at Passport control and walked through to the obligatory duty free area, perhaps with a smug face whilst the queues mount behind me.

Uruguay is a country I have been to once before and last time I was seduced by it’s undoubted charm and I imagined myself buying a holiday home here, thoughts of spending Christmas gorging on cuts of meat and wine and then renting it out to middle class Argentines through January and February. The reality I learned would be intertwined with some arbitrary property laws and it's lack of direct flight from the UK and flight time would grate more than you would imagine in time. I’m here to launch an move into Uruguay with a potential base for for future expansion within the continent. I’m been escorted by a Latin American consultant our company has hired to help with our moves here and I’m picked up from the airport and taken straight to Montevideo financial district.

The rest of the day in spent in various meetings with accountants, solicitors and other professional services industries. Uruguay is positing itself as the logistic hub of Latin America and it’s taking advantage of this by offering zero taxes and other tariff free benefits if you use the countries various free trade zones for distribution, storage etc and if products are sent and then ‘finished’ off in Uruguay, this can then earn them MECSOUR COO status which allows cheaper access to the highly protectionist but lucrative markets such as Argentina and Brazil. By the end of the day my head is full of information that needs computing and after a fantastic piece of beef I go to bed full of thoughts. One of the major highlights is being taken to the top of Montevideo's World Trade Centre for a breathtaking view of the city.


Thought I was John McClane in Die Hard

Day 6

I’ve been put up at the Hotel Dazzler in Montevideo by one of the law firms here I met in Uruguay and the saying beggars can't be choosey comes to mind. It’s quite modern in design, clean with a decent sized bathroom, an almost too big of a bed and a Chinese copy of an Eames chair. I wake up and head down to breakfast, it’s fairly basic with a section of sweet breads, ham, cheese and the most unappealing sausage Ive seen for some time, yet it has one of largest selection of yoghurts known to man. I’m picked up and taken on a tour into the interior of Uruguay to be shown one of the opportunities we’ve been offered. The landscape is a mix between Belgium, New Zealand and the USA with its Flanders style flat fields, fencing and trees, the green colour of New Zealand which then transforms into prairie style land akin to Iowa or eastern Nebraska.

It’s back to Montevideo and then out to a network evening organised by the chamber of commerce. Its’ regular event held by the chamber for visiting businesspersons. It’s a fairly low key affair and only about two hours long, plenty of small talk about everything from the national Football stadium in Montevideo to Scottish whiskey, but with a another long day ahead and a presentation as well I’m glad to be in bed earlier than usual.


Day 7

Another long day, the consultant we’ve hired has arranged a large chuck of meetings today and presentation to a local ‘buying group’ in the evening. The meetings don't go to plan at first, it’s more of the same old talk about the great advantages of the Uruguayan free trade zone. I'm already well aware of there advantages but it's a chicken/egg situation. I need some leads before I can consider such a venture. It reaches a point where I know the free trade zones speech off by heart now. (available for hire to explain it or all interested parties ) Then we start to gain to movement. After being made to wait 25 minutes in the waiting room of one company I had a very productive chat from it’s two owners and whilst waiting to meet them I get a very apologetic phone call from a previous potential client that we arranged a meeting with that was cancelled. He mentioned they have previously worked with a competitor of ours but wasn't as happy with there current partnership so he’s going to send over his proposal.

We head to the presentation and buoyed by the two positive reactions the presentation comes to me with relative ease. I don't feel now this presentation is the be all and end all and the audience asks the right questions at the end. I try to keep the slides very brief and use video aids as much as possible, It's been slightly modified by the office which at one point almost catches me out but I’ve done enough of this now to not need a script. The buying group are unlikely to come to us directly but I'm hoping it creates some buzz in the local industry and hope hearsay might bring out the right partners.

The questions run longer than I plan on so we’re not back into Montevideo until 9:45pm. I had plans to me a Uruguayan friend this evening and forgetting that 10pm isn't that late by their standards he meets me at my hotel and takes me to a authentic Parilla with about 10 seats only for some fantastic beef. we discuss Uruguayan politics and his work with Qantas which has lead him here with LATAM for now. The conversation flows and it’s not 1am before I’m back to my room.

Day 8

I underestimate the time it takes to pack and end up stoping the packing and going down to breakfast for a quick bite before retuning back to the room to finish the packing. I’ve acquired more papers than I expected and so had to do some creative Tetris packing to get it in. Later on I can go though some of this and get some of the irrelevant documents put in the bin. The Uruguayan national show has just started called the Expo Prado and our consultant has set us up in shop at the UK pavilion, companies exhibiting here in include Mini, JCB, and some other British brands and academic institutions. I get a brief talk with UK ambassador for Uruguay, he's a very nice guy who doing his job as the diplomat to the tee and spend the day walking around the show and meetings with various interested partners. One I click with immediately, we’re a similar age and whilst he is Uruguayan, his parents are British and he has lived and worked in various countries and he has the sort of Anglo Saxon style I like to work with. We exchange details and make arrangements to keep communication up. I feel I may have found a long term partner here if it continues as it started. I have my final talk with the consultant who has done a good job of creating the meetings and I head to the airport with a feeling that we've headed in the right direction.


The Expo Prado, everything from horses to savings accounts

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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:31 pm #5
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Lincolnshire, UK
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Part 4: The Gold Standard

MVD is perhaps the perfect size for an airport, Not only is it modern it’s big enough for a few places to eat and shop, a well stocked lounge that isn't the size of a box of matches but small enough that its takes only a few minutes to get from one end to another.

There is a bit of delay trying to print the second flight boarding pass, the check in lady seeks her neighbour who manages to print it on her computer and I make my way though the near empty security. Uruguay security doesn’t require the separation of belongings so its done in less than 45 seconds and onto the shared lounge, it has a membership option and as a result it has a elegant style and ambience to it with comfortable settees and more Chinese copy Eames seats.

LATAM LA409
MVD-SCL
Economy Seat 3C
Departure 19:05 (scheduled) 18:57 (actual)
Flight time 2h 32m


Originally booked as premium economy seat, the flight was ‘cancelled’ some 4 weeks back moved back by 5 minutes. The only other change from the time was the downgrade to economy. After making a quick call to BA CS I was told that this class was no offered on this flight.

Still branded as LAN it was modern A321 with the latest design of airbus 'thin' seating, the flight is fairly full but fortunately 3B is left empty. 3A contains the archetypal cliche Jesus lookalike with long brown hair straight out of a shampoo advert and a beard that looks like Kings of Leon circa 2004. He's dressed like he just got off a skateboard but his sheer volume of dead straight hair distracts me from creating more persona for him. The flight is pushed back ahead of schedule and we’ve head off to SCL. The flight is fairly uneventful, it’s the typical ham and cheese croissant with a mixture of drinks on and the crew are good but not memorable.

Landing into SCL and we’re once again bused into the terminal, with plenty of time to kill this doesn't bother me as much as before and when we get to the terminal building I am one of only a handful of people doing international transfers. Security process is swift and I`m soon up to the gates, I have just under 3 hours before the next flight so I head to LATAM lounge. This proves more difficult than I expect, the interactive map doesn't explain very well how to get to it and there isn't any signs until you arrive there. It turns out there is a whole section of duty free shops between each side of the airport gates and this leads up to the lounge. I cant say I ‘click’ with this lounge, it isn't well sign posted and it appears that they build the lounge around the building and doted seats around very ad hoc. For the first time on this trip I feel weary, Ive been none stop for a week and I just don't fancy being in an airport or a plane, the last hour and and half drags a bit but mercifully the call goes out to board. I take two Nytol and make my way downstairs.


Day 9

This will be one of life's unusual moments. Once the plane door is shut all time stops in my eyes and because of this I will be getting a 40 minute Saturday. I feel strangely that its been stolen from me and whilst I will get some of it back when I head west again, to lose on paper 29 hours feels very odd. As we depart, we have a very half hearted hand baggage inspection on the jet bridge. They take away everyones drink bottles, which grates the affected passengers who just bought it from a kiosk.

LATAM LA2801
SCL-AKL
Premium Business Seat 4D
Departure 0:40 (scheduled) 0:51 (actual)
Flight time 12h 45m


I’m not sure what to expect from LATAM long haul service. I had seen some videos on youtube it appeared that the 787-9 was the aircraft with the best hard product and on this flight we had that very aircraft. The seat is one of the widest I can remember sitting in and there is more space than a BA seat, it makes sleeping easy with room for your knees, which I have to bend to sleep on the slightly short bed length. Although its 2-2-2 the distancing is well spaced and the seat companion next to me feels far enough away to feel private, not huge amount of storage but just about enough cubby holes.

The J cabin is full and when they hand out NZ landing cards I appear to be the only one who takes one. Everyone else seems to be staying onto SYD and the cabin is full of semi entitled Australians. My seat companion is one of these Aussies, with ‘airplane’ blonde hair and a face that looks like someone is waving a stick with excrement under her nose, she’s with a section of others I bet they’ve been to the andes and feel culturally superior as they spent two weeks trekking, even though some poor sherpa local who's paid less than 300 USD a month carried their luggage. I take these fellow passengers of my mind and lay back to sleep.

The best part besides the seat width is the bedding, whilst the pillow was standard J product, the duvet was something out of a F product and it certainly made a difference for sleep comfort. I skip dinner and sleep on and off for about 9 hours. I give up trying to sleep about 1 hr 45 minutes before landing and put my mind of the next stage of the trip.

Day 10

For most British people born after the war, we were sold the dream of emigrating to Australia or New Zealand. Countless tales of 10 pound poms who told us how great it was to go to the beach on new years day, we were sold the dream of sunshine, sand, surf and jobs for everyone. I went to Australia 9 years ago with the vague notion of staying and setting up this new life, but the dream for me didn't match the reality. I found Australia totally under whelming. I didn't make it to New Zealand until 3 months ago and I was charmed by the place, It’s feels more like a chilled out Britain where as Australia always felt like a lesser version of the USA and I'm back here again to finish what I started in June.

We land into Auckland 30 minutes early and I’m off the 3rd person off the plane, I walk off the jet bridge and round the corner and to my horror find that I’m just behind the last of the passengers disembarking off the QR flight from Doha, I had flown here on that flight last trip and we landed 45 minutes later then. I hadn’t banked on this, I have plenty of time to make my domestic connection but like all business travellers I know we hate queuing when it could be avoided.

We accept that at times it will happen, but when passport gates aren't being managed efficiently by airport staff or such other inefficiencies it grates us lot, we have timings in our heads, x amounts of minutes to clear immigration, x amount of time to clear customs x amount of time to walk to car, uber, train plane or hotel.

I move into top gear and veer my way around families, backpackers and the odd middle age couple. I see Auckland arrivals fairly large duty free area and I bank on the returning travellers stopping to take advantage. I also notice that the path through the shop forks two ways, I take the longer but quieter right path and use the clearer aisle to overtake others., this clears another 60 odd people. I get to immigration and as a UK passport holder I can use the auto machines, alas no NZ country stamp but the whole process takes less than 30 seconds and it takes me past 2 rows of queuing travellers.

I then remember that the next bottle neck and the potential deadly one is the bio-security. I’ve heard that at time it can be long wait, particularly if a flight from Asia has arrived, it hadn't on my last visit. I do my best to increase my stride length and bank on QR passengers still waiting for their luggage. When I walk past the carousels only a few of the priority passengers have their bags and the majority are Kiwi or Aussie so when I get to the other nations line I’m the only one there.

The Biosecurity is fairly painless and I'm into New Zealand 15 minutes before our scheduled landing time. The domestic and international terminals are about a 12 minute walk apart, there is a free shuttle bus, but after being on a plane I'm eager for the fresh air and a chance to stretch my legs out. The route had a giant green line in the pavement so it’s hard to get lost. As Im walking past the various offices and warehouses between the terminals I remember that this flight takes me over the 1500 TP’s to the level of gold. Before the trip I had worked this out and planned to have my own mini celebration during this flight, however the previous 10 days of travel totally pushed it out of my mind and the original fanfare I had originally planned had turned into a little smirk on a crisp Sunday morning outside Auckland. I'm hoping that the points get credited to my account before the journey back, might be able to get into a First lounge on my return journey to the UK.

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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:32 pm #6
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Part 5: North to South and South to North


I arrive at AKL domestic terminal and head towards to departure gates to see security isn't open yet. its just gone past 5am and I have just under a two hour wait for the flight. I pull up a chair and whilst waiting for McDonalds to get the coffee machine going I make a FaceTime call back to the UK. After a chat and a coffee along comes 5:45 the security opens and I'm through to the gate and the another wait for boarding.

Air New Zealand NZ519
AKL-CHC
Economy 15D
Departure 7:00 (scheduled) 7:00 (actual)
Flight time 1h 26m


This is another first again as Iím flying with Air New Zealand, They have certainly made an impression with their creative safety videos and some innovate products in the long haul market so I'm curious to see how they serve the domestic market. It amazes me for the countries population it has a very well connected and robust flight network with a lot more domestic flights than back in the UK.

For the first flight on an Sunday morning it's surprisingly busy but everyone you can tell are regulars so the boarding process is swift. My biggest worry for me is my hand luggage, whilst waiting in the lounge there was regular announcements saying that baggage allowances will be strictly enforced. Whilst my suitcase is just about on the limit of size my Samsonite carry on has become somewhat engorged with paper work collected and I feared they make pick up on it. One bonus of BA is the laissez faire attitude towards cabin baggage which you can take for granted but no one mentioned a word and I get my bag above and the other under my seat.

Flight departs on time and behind me a group of Canadians lads are chatting away, the cabin crew are all younger females and they do a good job of working the Canadians, being borderline flirty yet professional, they give them extra cookies and the Canadians boys are really feeding off it. You can sense they are thinking, ĎI hope all Kiwi women are easy like thisí Yet when they get to Queenstown theyíll find more Europeans and North Americans than the locals!

We land ahead of schedule and itís straight through (I always get a childish enjoyment out of really quick domestic arrivals walk) over to Hertz rental counter. My presidents circle status only seems to really carry any weight in the USA and sometimes in the bigger European counters, but the staff have everything ready, I booked the cheapest hatchback and find I have a Mazda Saloon. For a rental its surprising high on mileage but it has a lot of features, keyless entry, HUD and other high specs like blind spot assist, overall a good win in the rental car rodeo and Im in and out on the road for the hour drive to Ashburton.

Im down here to meet a company weíre looking to do a joint venture in the NZ. With us supplying the product and them providing the staff, sales, marketing and logistics in New Zealand. I picked down here rather than the North Island because of its connectivity. 'NZ Couriers' is the major parcel service in the country and it can get parcels from this area to nearly all of New Zealand next day. Itís also a town thats going through a bit of a resurgence as companies and people move out here from Christchurch in the aftermath of the earthquake with cheaper rents and prices.

The drive is fairly quiet but it's quite a sight with the near pancake flat Canterbury plains in front but with the snow capped mountains directly to the west. The company have put me up in the only Ďhotelí in the town, New Zealand is still much the land of the motel and whilst the differences between the two is very subtle I get to the Hotel Ashburton at 9:30am. The receptionist is the usual Kiwi friendly and when she discovers I'm a Brit she tells me she is coming to the UK for two months with her husband in November. I give her a couple of tips on where to go which she writes down enthusiastically and fortunately my rooms is ready to check in. I grab a shower and lie down for a short nap, the MD of the company I'm meeting texts me to tell him when I arrive, expecting him to tell me a meeting time, however this never comes. In the end I decide to go to the supermarket for some essentials and go for a quick run, the first real chance to do any exercise on this trip. To be honest after 10 days Iím quite happy to shut down for a day and be lazy. I take in the delights of Sky NZ's movie and sports offering on TV, I go to a Ďgastro pubí just down the road that opened 3 weeks previous for dinner and get to bed nice and early for what I expect to be a long day in an office.

Day 11:

I wake up at 5am, my body isn't really on anytime zone and I manage to push through to 7am dozing here and there. As my body clock isn't synched anywhere my eating patterns are the same. I don't fancy breakfast and just have orange juice I bought from the supermarket and head down to the company I'm meeting. The rest of the day is spent thrashing out the terms of this joint venture, effectively weíre supplying the product and technical knowledge and they are going to supply the staff, sell and market it in New Zealand, itís fairly painless and despite a short break for lunch Itís sat in one chair from 8:30 till 4pm. Ashburton doesn't have huge amounts of places to frequent in the evening but it's off to the pub. I learnt enough from my two trips here to know that Kiwiís love to have a Ďyarní aka a chat.

I have a strict no shop talk policy when at a evening meal or drinks and this is easy to achieve in New Zealand and they often talk about anything besides work. The MD of the NZ company has a 15 month old daughter so he doesn't want a long boozy night and this suits me. I'm back by 10pm to the room and off to bed.

Day 12:

The business is about 95% done now, I originally assumed that this day would be a continuation in the office but everything was agreed and we don't have much else to discuss. I have a quick drive around the area and catch some of the sights. This parts of New Zealand is part Fens and parts alps, the juxtaposition between the two is eye opening, The MD of the NZ company tells me of a couple of leads close who they will target first, so I make passing stops. I talk about rugby and the Labour party proposed water tax should they get elected in 2 weeks (this is a very contentious issues with the farmers and irrigators) and tell them to talk to our associates here.


Some of the views to be had on the Canterbury plains.

It's 12:45pm and Iíve done as much as I can. I call Air NZ and they have room on the 3pm flight to AKL, I change the ticket, head to the office. Say my goodbyes to the everyone and drive back to Christchurch. If everything goes to plan I will be coming down here once or twice and year. South Island roads have plenty of passing lanes, so the drive is an easy hour. The New Zealand government is investing a lot in the major roads, with a pipe dream to making the major routes all dual carriageway at some point. I arrive at CHC with 40 minutes before the flight. Besides one meeting tomorrow morning the work here is done and I'm starting to feel a little off duty.

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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:33 pm #7
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Part 6: The Journey Home


Once again it still amazes me how many domestic flights there are as I look at the domestic departures board. There is only one open security lane and half of my plane is in it. Its takes just over 12 minutes to get through and on this trip it is longest security check I've had by over 6 minutes, generally Ive been lucky but still marks down for CHC.

Air New Zealand NZ554
CHC-AKL
Economy 17C
Departure 3:00 (scheduled) 3:01 (actual)
Flight time 1h 14m


Whereas the flight out the crew was a younger average age, this lot could all be the mothers of the outbound crew, they don't quite have that flirty charm but they are a more private school matron feel. The planes about half full and once again it's incredible mix of suits and shorts. There is one flight an hour between this two airports and like before everyone regardless of what they look like on this plane appears to travel this route regularly.

The pilot must want to get back because the 1 hour 25 schedule time turns into 1 hour 14 minutes in the air and we seem to at the jet bridge in a time that doesn't seem humanly possible. I decided to rather than take a taxi or uber to try Auckland's Skybus service. it runs every 10 minutes to the CBD. I have one meeting tomorrow morning in Ponsonby so I picked the Hilton right on the harbour front. The Skybus starts well, it chops through Auckland commute with surprising ease and nearly everyone on it is a backpacker, they’re all heading to the CBD so it only stops once on the whole journey.

We get to the final stop but to get down to the harbour side we have to transfer to a small free shuttle bus, this takes 10 minutes to turn up and its still a 5-10 minute walk from the nearest bus stop to the Hilton in the end, whilst it’s more than half the price of an uber, the extra waiting and walk means I’m not sure I would use it again as a business traveler.

I stayed in the Crowne Plaza last time and it was serviceable but not memorable. I’ve been moving more and more of my stays to Hilton so decided to try this one out. I was pleasantly surprised. There was no mention of a room upgrade but the room I got was very modern and very spacious, the hotel appears to style itself as a crew ship on land as this is manifested best with a balcony that looked out onto the harbour. The usual Hilton gold perks aside I also got a bottle of Marlborough red in the room as well.


Room with a view.....over Auckland harbour

It was a quick shower and change and off to meet some friends in town. She's been here just over a year after making the move down here. She works right in the CBD and was still in the office working, so I joined her there. She works in a branding agency so as usual with modern urban office design, creaky floorboards, exposed brick and metal frame work, years ago this would be seen as a negative but now…. A fridge full of beer and wine but no beans bags or scooters.

The MD of the company we are working with booked me into the One Tree Grill in Epson. It turned out to be a well known place in town, I met another expat friend with his girlfriend. I went to school with him but his parents moved him and his family here 18 years ago, and we've still kept in touch since. The restaurant turned out to be a very high class establishment with an top rate meal and a vast selection of New Zealand wine, most interesting being a Kiwi Malbec, which I never knew was a grape grown in this country. We talk about everything from the upcoming election to first date calamities and we're the last to leave. I would highly recommend the One Tree Grill, but it's definitely a place to go on expenses or to take a client when you want to impress. I was in bed at 12:30am and I fall straight asleep.

Day 13

The body is now waking at 7am rather than the 5am, I think my body is moving to NZ time so it's time to move on. I check out of the hotel, I will definitely return here when I’m next in Auckland, the only real downside is the shower, which looks out of place in the big bathroom, it looks like a cheap B&Q home shower whereas a waterfall shower would really fit the rest of the quality of the room. It was onto the last bit go business, a breakfast meeting with financial advisor, accountant and a lawyer. They explain the various nuances of the New Zealand corporate law and tax system. The higher corporation tax level compared to the UK and other small taxes. We meet in Posonby which is the rich hipster part of town, I can imagine Tyler Brule living here, everything is more expensive and of course it’s better because of that.... The cafe we eat at has tables with rust in them and none of the furniture match. It's a fairly cordial meeting, being typical Kiwi the conversation comes first and the business sieved in drips and drabs. Meeting over, hands shaked, cards exchanged and uber hailed for the trip to AKL. I am now about ready to go home.

AKL immigration has more people than I expect at the automatic border gates, last time I used them I had a problem and the friendly Kiwi border officer looks like she wants to talk, I tell her this story and she suggests this time before I go in to make sure my luggage is out of the way, otherwise it can think there is two people, it’s sounds sensible and unlike last time I'm through without an inspection, security is painless and I’m through security in 8 minutes.

Peculiarly (although I’m sure someone on here will know why) CX use Air NZ lounge as opposed to Qantas’. With it being NZ’s flagship I went to the Koru. This lounge is without doubt my favourite I’ve been in. A good curry, a decent spread of seating, some nice views and exclusive quirky boarding announcements for lounge visitors. However the main reason it's my favourite is because its the first lounge I’ve ever been in that had cider in it! Cider (hard cider to some nations) is fairly unique refreshing beverage to the UK and some of its colonies and anywhere thats serves a good one gets my vote!


Ideal lounge for a spot of plane spotting


Only in New Zealand would a airport lounge have truck and van magazines

Cathay Pacific CX198
AKL-HKG
Business 18A
Departure 13:45 (scheduled) 13:32 (actual)
Flight time 11h 20m


This my first experience of J class with CX and my second time in an A350. I flew a A350 with Finnair and I rated it above the 787 for comfort. Im racking through my brain and I cant think of anything else…. I think this the best overall J class seat I’ve ever sat in. The seat is more comfortable and better thought out than BA’s first. The seat cushions might not be as soft as some of Qatars If I'm being picky but in every other way this seat is superior. Ample storage space which is practical, easy access and use of controls, headphones socket in a sensible place, comfortable seat position in take off/land position and in lie flat I found I could be in comfortable sleep positions on both sides and just about lying on my front, at 6’3 I’ve never quite had that.

My original plan was to stay awake for the duration of the first flight and that should give me a springboard to sleeping for most of the second flight. However the seat is maybe a bit too comfortable and I sleep for about 4 hours, This shouldn't be too much of a problem and it helps move on what feels like so far the longest flight, probably because it's the only long haul where I wasn't sleeping, but the journeys home always feel longer than the journeys out. As we descend the lights in the water of what I assume is ships become more and more frequent and brighter and soon we land into Hong Kong.

We’re into HKG 30 minutes of schedule and it's a short walk to transfer security, like every other airport on this trip, I’m practically the only person there. By now I'm totally in synch with where the toiletries will have moved around the bag and my security process is now a properly well oiled machine. The security officer sees this and doesn't ask me about my belt or any items, she knows that if I had got one it would of been off, I always fly in trousers that don't require a belt anyway.

The 2 hour 45 minute layover gives me time to collect a few little gifts, I like to usually get something more ‘native’ when I go further afield, but when you’re HBO you will always be restricted to certain items or paying the premium for them in a airport gift shop. Because this trip is more unique I just go for some face creams I know my wife uses and cigarettes for a neighbour. She always pays me 30% more than it costs me, no harm in making a profit for being a tobacco mule!

Gifts are purchased and it's off to HKG famous lounges. Personally I think this is where HKG fails, the lounges are badly signed posted and the information screens can be hard to find and may only show the area close by. I go on my phone and read about the newly refurbished pier lounge and after a quick search of FT the consensus opinion is it’s worth the walk down to gate 63, unfortunately the flight from MVD-SCL still hasn't been posted to my EC account so I’m still not officially gold, I did plan on showing my phone in the hope of getting into the first lounge if my app had changed from silver to gold but this never came to pass

As lounges go I have very mixed feelings towards it. The quality of the furniture and fixings is very high class, and it has a very colonial members club feel to it or like a bar you'd find in the Peninsula hotel full of foreign corespondents. Maybe it was the time of the day but it feels dark and maybe a little more light would be better, this lack of light is exaggerated by it's low ceiling, whilst there is a lot seating it doesn't feel really spacious. The food and drink options is fantastic in both choice and taste but nearly all of the food is served by staff in a canteen style. In the noodle bar it's needed but if you have a buffet then make it proper buffet and if you want an a la carte area have one, but don't mix try to mix the two together.

I’ve read this place is ranked as one of the better J class lounges out there and I can see why people rate it, but I still preferred Air NZ Koru lounge in AKL on this trip and I still think all things considered the best lounge I have used is TK’s in IST, over CX it’s feels more spacious and its sheer amount of amenities, I would also put QR’s Al Mourjan over CX pier. As I walk out I’m confused why they would put a what is clearly a flagship lounge fairly out of the way.


A big airport that actually has a gate 1! Pity I didn't get to use it!

Cathay Pacific CX251
HKG-LHR
Business 11D
Departure 23:55 (scheduled) 00:15 (actual)
Flight time 12h 45m


The last flight is finally here, by the time I get to the gate the flight doesn't appear far off closing, I get to board from the first jetbridge and get a cheeky peek at CX first product, which looks very nice indeed, it’s not one that I hear about often, compared to EK or BA’s on FT. I’ve only ever flown F once, it was a £300 upgrade from J to F once from ORD-LHR with BA two years ago and I paid personally for the upgrade. Whilst the service was better and the seat was a lot better than BA CW it just didn't feel special enough, more like a CW+ and in hindsight I have found competitors seats in J more comfortable (QR A380/CX A350) and I would never pay or even let an employer pay full whack for BA’s F product.

This 777 seat is clearly an older version of the A350 and in some ways it’s better and some ways it isn’t. This particular seat 11D is bulk head in the mini cabin so there is a lot of room between the seat and the aisle, so once again I can be comfortable when sleeping on either of my sides and just about lying on my front. The storage doesn't have a cover so you have less bed area or a mini side footrest nearer than the ottoman but it’s still a well thought out product and I still rate it above the competition.

The four hours I got on the previous flight have given me more energy than I excepted, I put this down in part to the A350 and it’s the most earth like atmosphere, you certainly feel less dehydrated after an A350 flight. It's a big step in passenger comfort and coming from one plane to another shows you how much better and quieter these new planes are compared to the older generation and maybe because of this the noise of the 777-300ER workhouse just seems louder than usual, I also try out CX’s sleeping bag style blanket. It isn't as luxurious as LATAM’s duvet but it does give you more of the sensation that you are in a bed.

I sleep for just under 3 1/2 hours and wake up again, this isn't what I planned originally, I’ve still got 8 hours till landing but I bank on body will want some sleep later, which should give me enough to get me through the upcoming day. So I write some more of this and watch some more TV. If I continue being highly critical the choice of films and TV programmes doesn't match the rest of CX product, it's alright but this summers films have been mediocre at best and none of ‘classics’ stick out. This is compounded by the fact that its the same choice as the previous A350 flight. The sheer choice of what to watch on the Middle East carriers appears to still be ahead of the pack.

I put on raiders of the lost ark and fall asleep about half way through. I wake up again briefly when we’re 2 1/2 hours out from LHR but pretty much fall straight back and I’m awoken by that same reassuring voice the CX pilots have with 30 minutes to land. Overall the only noticeable weakness I’ve come up with CX hard product is the tray doesn't appear to be slidable and it can for me be a bit close to the torso, perhaps there is a way to slide it forward but I never worked it out.

Day 14:

We land at LHR at 5:59 and I’m the 6th person off the plane, yet it leaves me in a small dilemma. I had originally planned to try out AA’s new arrival lounge for a quick shower, change and breakfast before going straight to the office, the delayed landing time and the fact that we parked in what felt like LGW after the walk from gate to immigration means I’m not through arrivals till 6:20. The extra 20 minutes is what I had in mind for the arrival lounge, if Im much later I will get caught up in M25 traffic. I take less traffic over the lounge and head straight to level one of short stay and collect the car. I'm glad for my decision because when I get onto the M25 it is flowing but its not far off capacity, another 30 minutes and it would of be queuing. I head north to home with fairly pain free journey, get showered and head to the office. Im at the office at 11:45am, get to my desk, check my inbox, I've answered a few urgent ones on my travels but the rest loom before me, the real world starts to present itself in front of me once more….. Anyone fancy a trip somewhere?

Last edited by Leaping_Deere; Sep 20, 17 at 9:48 am
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Old Sep 14, 17, 11:34 pm #8
Original Poster

Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Lincolnshire, UK
Programs: BA Gold, TK M&S Elite, IHG Spire, HHonours Gold, Sixt Express Platinum, Hertz Presidents Club
Posts: 289
Epilogue: Reflections


Firstly a few awards to hand out from this trip

Most enjoyable flight: AKL to HKG - comfortable seat, great service, crew remembered my name, best plane on the market.
Least enjoyable flight: LHR to GRU - poor breakfast stock and shockingly bad IFE
Best meal - On the ground One Tree Grill and La Pulperia even steven. None stood out in flight, I liked Air NZ's lounge curry!
Best airport experience: MVD
Worst airport experience: SCL
Worst experience overall: Waiting in limbo at first after AR cancelled the flight
Best lounge: Air NZ Koru AKL International
Best tourist experience: On top of World Trade Centre Montevideo (although a tourist wouldn't be able to get up there unless he was connected)
Most unexpected experience: Sunday/Funday Bolivians beers and football tournament
Best hotel: Hilton Auckland

I made it through Thursday and Friday in the office, going through the motions and answering the emails. On Friday night I fell asleep at 8:30pm, woke up and 12:30am and then went into another coma till about 9:40am. I haven't slept for 12 hours since probably I was back in university. I think the big jumps in time difference just eventually caught up to me. When I checked my fitbit on my return I had an average on 4hrs 50 minutes of sleep per night on the trip, I didn't quite believe it at first but on reflection it's probably not far off. That figure didn't include being 'restless' which when sleeping on a plane is mostly restless sleep.

Overall I think this trip will become fruitful but it's more long term. I've learnt that Latin American business is done on a more personal level and you have to develop this, however once your in, you are in. I am looking at another visit but I don't think until 2019 and I hope to have some sales going by then to justify it.

New Zealand will progress quicker and I may be going back in March, if other plans happen and I can get it to fit with my schedule, if not a trip then, again at some point in 2018. Besides a few nights out in the UK I'm off to Germany but not until end of October so I have about a month to recover and remember the happy feeling I had 3 weeks ago when I'm about to go travel.

I quite enjoyed writing the TR, perhaps I should of taken more photos but I didn't want to take the same pictures that everyone else takes. Also Im a little ashamed to say but I'm a little embarrassed of taking pictures in a review style. I don't know how people like Sam Chui do it.

Last edited by Leaping_Deere; Sep 20, 17 at 6:19 pm
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Old Sep 15, 17, 10:02 am #9

Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: DSM
Posts: 320
Excellent start! While you do a great job of describing everything, the addition of some more picture would be awesome! Gives a little more depth to the story.
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Old Sep 15, 17, 9:57 pm #10

Join Date: Sep 2011
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Posts: 420
Really enjoyed Part 1. Flying for work is not always fun but you make it look like it!!
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Old Sep 17, 17, 6:55 pm #11
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Finally finished writing this! I hope the length doesn't put people off!

Last edited by Madone59; Sep 20, 17 at 2:05 pm Reason: Did not do any edits. Just accidentally pushed button.
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Old Sep 18, 17, 10:38 am #12

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Loved it !!

Brought back many memories from 15 plus years ago when I used to do a lot of business travel to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. I also remember the first time I went to Christchurch, I think it was 2004, and marvelling at the motorway that finished after about 2 miles
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Old Sep 18, 17, 12:57 pm #13

Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 12
Great report; been lurking reading these over the last year but felt compelled to sign up to respond to your report.
Question: you did HBO yet you traveled for 14 days; safe to assume you had the hotels do your laundry but you were barely in a city for more than a day??
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Old Sep 18, 17, 3:39 pm #14

Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Lincoln UK/BKK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaping_Deere View Post
Finally finished writing this! I hope the length doesn't put people off!
Quite short compared to some reports on here!

I enjoyed reading it, I found it very interesting rather than just run of the mill trip report. Thanks and I hope the expense of the travel pays off with increased business later.

I've managed to do Lincoln to Heathrow in 2 hours - leaving at 3am though
I go on the train now unless I'm with someone else and make them drive!
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Old Sep 19, 17, 3:11 am #15
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Location: Lincolnshire, UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdsuk View Post
Loved it !!

Brought back many memories from 15 plus years ago when I used to do a lot of business travel to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. I also remember the first time I went to Christchurch, I think it was 2004, and marvelling at the motorway that finished after about 2 miles
There isn't much more of a motorway now! There is one which goes into and out of Christchurch north and a bit of ring road south but thats about it. you come across a bit of sporadic roading building south and there is lots of signs saying about development, but at this rate in about 50 years they might have route 1 all motorway'ed
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