We’ve finally reached the last post about my 2 week trip to Australia, only 3.5 months after I returned. I’ve had a busy few months in between, with lots of domestic travel for family, work, and other commitments. But in 10 days I’ll be leaving the country again, heading to Mykonos in Greece, which is great timing. I’ll try and post a preview post shortly…
US Airways Flt. 478 Las Vegas to Washington-National
Dep. LAS 10:30am Arr. DCA 5:50pm
Domestic First, A321
When I landed from Honolulu at Las Vegas, I was surprised to discover that most of the First Class cabin was actually connecting onto other flights. There aren’t that many destinations served out of Las Vegas by Hawaiian’s partners, and most are served directly from Honolulu on Hawaiian or its partners.
Though Vegas seemed like a weird connection point for me, there were two pluses compared to some other routings (beyond the fact there was award availability). First, LAS has an American Express Centurion Lounge – better than an Admirals Club or an Alaska Board Room where any other connection would put me. Second, LAS has nonstop flights to DCA, whereas other connecting points only had flights in Dulles or BWI.
My Hawaiian flight landed in the D terminal, which is also where the Centurion Lounge is. This was my third Centurion Lounge after DFW and SFO, and lived up to prior experiences. With a three and a half hour layover, I had plenty of time to explore. The friendly agent checked me in and put me on the shower list, and I went to get some food in the meantime. The dining area wasn’t too crowded. The food at the Vegas lounge is created by Scott Conant, and, for breakfast, was good, but not quite as good as the short rib-filled breakfast at the DFW Centurion Lounge. Dishes included pancakes, minimuffins, scrambled eggs with herbs, frittata, and baked polenta, along with fruit, yogurt, and cereal. A waitress came by and offered a mimosa or a Bloody Mary, but I just asked for coffee… I had to pace myself since I still had 2.5 hours til boarding after all. The baked polenta with fontina was the star; the pancakes had been out too long so were cold and crunchy.
After a short wait, the agent came and escorted me to the shower room. Although the LAS Lounge doesn’t have a spa like the DFW Centurion Lounge, it does have one lovely shower room, similar to but nicer than SFO’s, stocked with L’Occitane amenities. The shower was a lot better than the one I’d had in Honolulu. Afterwards, I retired to one of the many seating areas with some fruit and coffee. One area the Vegas lounge beats the other two Centurion Lounges I’ve been to is tons of natural light and outside-facing windows, as the others have either no windows at all or windows facing the concourse.
After some coffees, I headed to the bar and ordered a mimosa. I felt bad for the bartender who had a fancy bar with all sorts of liquor since everyone was ordering mimosas. Of note, apparently black card (Centurion) holders can get Veuve Cliquot if they flashed their card at the bar.
With 2.5 hours in the lounge, I was getting punchy, so I headed into the terminal and tried my luck at some video poker. After 15 minutes, I had only lost $4 so that was time to call it a day. And then 15 minutes later, it was time to board.
I wasn’t expecting much from my US Airways flight from LAS to DCA. The flight was completely full in both cabins, so there were lots of announcements about carry-on rules being strictly enforced. That didn’t stop a man in front of me from trying to board with First Class with three bags, trying to argue that his laptop bag didn’t count, and he was elite. His bag was gate checked after he held up boarding…and he headed to his seat in 19C. Oh America.
The plane was an A321 with standard domestic first recliner seats, with 3 rows of 2-2. Of course, since this was the one flight I wanted to stay awake for, it was the one flight with no in-flight entertainment at all, as with all US Airways flights. It also had a lot of loud high school and college girls who didn’t have inside voices, such that I could hear every word of their conversation several rows behind me.
The flight attendant upfront was pretty good, and offered a predeparture drink. While taxiing, she took meal and drink orders. For lunch, the choices were a beef enchilada or bowtie pasta. Oddly, the beef enchilada came with a side of a few chicken strips over salsa, as well as a fresh garden salad. The enchilada was definitely “airplane food” and I can’t really recommend it. There was a good key lime cake dessert as well.
The flight was uneventful, and I watched a bunch of stuff on my Kindle and edited some photos. And then I fell asleep a bit. We landed at DCA on time and all I could think about was whether my suitcase made it to DCA or not. So I headed to baggage claim and was shocked to see it there…. Of course in my haste I realized I’d left my laptop on the plane, but was able to pick it up from baggage services the following day – another reason DCA beats other airports in the DC area.
Australia was definitely a phenomenal experience, and I’d love to go back and explore more of the country. Being there 11 days felt like I only scratched the surface. Qantas business class on the way there was great, but the routing back was definitely not so amazing, and I think I may have been better off using miles to fly Qantas coach MEL-LAX, but this was a little more adventurous.