Las Vegas Vacation: Allegiant Air Flight from Bellingham to Las Vegas

We had originally planned for a road trip this summer to North California but decided to change our plans when we found cheap airfares out from Bellingham, WA to Las Vegas. I came across it quite accidentally when I heard over the radio of the news that a lot of Vancouverites had been coming over to Bellingham for cheap flights.

Although the airport is called the Bellingham International Airport, I don’t think they have scheduled flights to airports outside of the US. It’s a small airport really and that means that checking in and out is so much more faster and easy.

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The flight tickets we bought were just $89 one way from Bellingham to Vegas. We decided to fly Bellingham-Vegas on our way there and take a return flight from Reno (which was just $39 or $59 depending on the day of travel), Taxes and all came up to about another 20% more. They do charge $3 for each baggage checked in. All in all, it’s a good deal — I figured it could be actually cheaper to fly than to drive from Vancouver to Las Vegas. You should check out their prices on their website … you’ll be surprised I’m sure.

One thing though … you need to be careful about all the additional charges they put on. I am not surprised because this is a no frills fare they are selling. For instance, if you book the flight ticket over their website, they will charge you $7.50 convenience fee, It is not charged if you buy it from the ticketing counter at the airport. To select a seat of your choice, it will be an additional $11. If you want a choice seat, you have to check-in early … at least 2 hrs early.

Everything about this flight is really basic. You don’t even board the planes via aerobridges but a walk-up stairs. Gosh … the only time I had boarded a plane via stairs were in Phnom Phen, Cambodia about 10 years ago!

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Amsterdam Series: British Airways from Amsterdam to Vancouver

Hey all, hope you enjoyed my series on Europe as much as I had enjoyed blogging about it. This is my last on the series and will focus on the flight back home.

I took the British Airways flight from Amsterdam with a transit at London. I was really glad to be on my way home.

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I like British Airways — definitely more than Air Canada which I took the last time I went to London. Oh yeah, I forgot to share about some weird thing about the Brits on flights — at least on the flights I was on. When the plane landed on Heathrow, people actually claps! I guess it’s something they do … so of saying the pilot did a great job or something … *shrugs*

What I like is having your own video display on your seat. That way I have a choice of movies I wanted to watch. Forget about the computer games … they were crappy.

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So, bye bye London and Europe. I think I’ll be back again as long as I am in the same job. Although the hours were irregular, one of the perks of this job is that I get to travel.

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My fav drink … tomato juice. One thing I notice … my Asian friends mostly does not like tomato juice. I can’t really figure out what it is. Asians will drink orange juice, watermelon juice, but not tomato juice. Just the other day in a friends gathering, I made Bloody Caesars for everyone and guess what, none of them were even half-finished.

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London Series: British Airways Inflight Meals

I went on a two-week trip in Europe a few weeks ago. During that time, I had amassed over 30 blog entries on the travel and the food I tried. This means that I’ll be blogging the next one month and Suanne will have a long hiatus from blogging … i.e. no recipes or cooking class for the next little while.

I had a scheduled 4-day training in London. I thought that I take advantage of the free flight there to visit a bit more of the parts of Europe that I had never visited before. Over the 16 days, I was in London and the cities in the “Low Countries” — Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. It was a great trip.

I bought some new photographic toys for the trip. Besides doing the normal touristy stuff and trying out the food, I planned to have a great time taking lots of pictures. So, I went and get myself a new long lens, the Canon 70-200mm 2.8L. The lens is a classic among the extensive Canon lens lineup. I also got myself a new Manfrotto tripod and a new software that allows me to make HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures.

The picture below is taken at the YVR Airport of the Spirit of Haida Gwaii. It is extremely difficult to produce a shot like this in a dark indoor but with the HDR technique, one could bring out the details all round.

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Enough of photography. I traveled for the first time on British Airways from YVR to LHR. Overall, it was much better than Air Canada. Trust me, if you travel in this sector choose BA over Air Canada anytime. It is an economy flight. During the 9 hours flight, they serve drinks, a main meal and a snack box.

The main meal is pretty normal, consisting of bread, salad, dessert, chocolates and coffee. British Airways does not publish their menu on the inflight magazine like other airlines. So, I had no idea what was really served except that there is a choice of chicken or beef.

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The bread as usual is nothing to shout about. Airline bread for some reason is just soft, dense and not crusty.

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The tomato and cheese salad is OK. I like the cheese though. It’s a tasteless type but am not sure what this type of cheese is called. What is this called anyway?

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Atlanta Trip Report: United’s Snackbox

A few weeks back I had to make another trip to Atlanta on business. Having just came back from Malaysia just the week after, I really dreaded another change in time zone. Man, I had so many trips this year, I must admit that I am really sick and tired of all these travelling.

I flew United from Vancouver to Atlanta. I had flew the same airline on the same sector before and had blogged about the United Airlines Snackboxes here. Back then I had the one of their four snackboxes called the Mini Meal.

For a change, I ordered their Quick Pick Snack Box. All their snackboxes costs $5 cash. Snackboxes on United Airlines are available only for flights 3 hours or longer. There are four snackboxes to select from: Quick Pick, Mini Meal, Smart Pack and Right Bite. This blog is about the Quick Pick Snackbox.

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The Quick Pick is plainly described as comfort food and had a really wide selection packed into the box. As I opened it, I know that Nanzaro and Arkensen would certainly love to have this box, so would Suanne — it does look that appealing. In the box there are … Tortilla Chips and Salsa, Cheese Snacks, Trail Mix …

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… Smoked Dried Beef Chunks, and Cookies. I normally like cookies crunchy but the Chipper Gourmet Cookies is really something else. This chocolate chip cookie is soft, moist and fresh — very nice.

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KL Series: Airline Meals on EVA Air

Nanzaro and I flew Economy on EVA Air from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur to attend my father’s funeral. It was the cheapest flight we could get at such short notice. Man, I know that airline meals are bland but we did not expect it to be this bad. I tried eating anyway but Nanzaro hardly took a bite of the meals.

The flight took almost 20 hours with a 3 hr stopover in Taipei. During the flight, there were a total of three meals.

The first meal (served at about 2am in the morning!) was fish and rice. The rice was soggy and mushy. It was terrible. I took two bites and just gave up.

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The fruits and salad looked colourful and that’s about it. I only took the fruits and did not touch the salad at all.

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They also served Russian Ice-cream — Macadamia Nut and Vanilla. The outer side of the ice-cream was very soft and almost melted. This looks nice but melted ice-cream is just urgh!

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I was not particularly hungry anyway. So I tried to sleep but simply can’t. So, I just watched the inflight movie and did some reading.

Breakfast is even worse. They asked me if I wanted rice soup. Rice Soup? Sounds OK to me but what I saw was far from what I had pictured it to be. It is a horribly looking glob of overcooked porridge with some slices of beef. I took two bites and decided I had enough.

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Singapore-Malaysia Trip: Business Class on Singapore Airlines

This was one long haul trip. I was travelling from Vancouver to Singapore a few days ago on work. Since Malaysia is just minutes from Singapore downtown, I will be taking at least a week off work to visit family and friends — and most of all eat all the food I so missed all these years.

The trip took a total of 19 hours. At least I was travelling in Business Class. Singapore Airlines’ Business Class is known as Raffles Class. I normally dread long-haul flights but this time I really enjoyed myself. The food was great, the service was superb. I felt so pampered and full rested by the time I got to Singapore. What made the difference the most was the fact that I could sleep on flight because the seat could actually recline!

Even before I got to settle down, the stewardess came around with a tray of champagne, juice and cocktail. I chose the Golden Spice cocktail which was really refreshing. This appears to be a lime cordial with a spicy relish, pineapple juice and ginger ale. I had a lot of drinks during the flight and tried to try every one on their menu.

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The flight has an in-flight entertainment system which includes movies, TV shows, and Nintendo games. Each seat has its own personal television. The movies and TV shows were the on-demand type where I could pause, rewind and so on from my seat control. There was a selection of 80 movies of various kind. On the flight I caught the Da Vinci Code. I like computer games but the Nintendo games was downright childish and game that a miss.

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Next they issued me socks. Nice touch. It felt so good taking off the shoes and donning the socks.

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Of course, there is the ubiquitous packets of nuts.

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There are a total three meals served throughout the 19hr flight. Two of the meals are full meals while one is what they called a light meal — which is not light in every sense of the word!

For the dinner menu, I started off with Satay with onions and cucumber.

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Oh yeah, they actually setup the seat tray with table cloth. The tray was large and I really had the meal in comfort.

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Next came the Marinated Prawns salad. The prawns were succulent but I am not a great fan of cold prawns.

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They came by with a basket of various type of bread. The garlic bread looked really good. They looked better than it tasted. I mean, I had much better garlic bread before. I prefer garlic bread which is crusty but this one is a soft.

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For the main, I selected the Poached Chicken Breast with garlic mashed potato, sauteed spinach and creamed morel. I selected this primarily because the menu indicated this is an exclusive creation by Nancy Oakes (who?) of San Francisco.

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I also had the coconut and mango ice-cream. The taste was unique but too airy.

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They next came with a push cart of some gourmet cheese selection. I asked for one of each to sample.

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For coffee, I chose the Kenyan AA Kilimanjaro coffee from their gourmet coffee menu. This is a very dark brew with an intense flavour. It was so good that I ordered this two other times during the flight.

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To end the meal, they came by with a nice tray of chocolates. I felt like asking them to leave the entire tray with me!

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That was just one meal. Frankly, it was too much food. By the third meal, I could not finish what was on the plates. You know, I had weighed myself before I left for the airport. At the rate I am going, I am afraid I will have gained quite a lot of weight.

Anyway, I really had a great time on the flight. There are a few more pictures of the food I had on the flight. Click on the link below for them.

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London Trip Report Day 1

I left Vancouver for London on an Air Canada flight in late afternoon on Friday. Time wise, the flight was not too bad — it took about 9 hours in all and I did had a chance to sleep quite well.

Grant told me I should have booked on British Airways. Grant was right, the Air Canada plane was a really old plane. The inflight movie was on a CRT TV. The seats although comfortable, has seen many. many years of service.

Right after the flight took off, dinner were served. I was not given a choice at all unless you had special dietary requirements. The meal was chicken with potatoes and some vegetables. The chicken breast was pretty good.

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The meal also came with salad and Balsamic Vinegar for dressing. There were also a small tub of vanilla ice-cream. The meals were passable but I remember many years back, airline meals were a bigger deal.

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I choose red wine. It knocked me out right after — I wanted to sleep throughout the flight and it did the trick.

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About 1 1/2/ hour before landing, I was woken up by the announcement about breakfast. Breakfast was served in a simple box. The box contained a muffin, peach, orange juice, yogurt and dried raisins. I also had coffee.

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I have never been to London before. Right after I checked into the hotel, I quickly made my way to the City on my own. I actually had a great time and seriously wished Suanne were here. I know she would have loved it here too.

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I have tons of pictures I took this afternoon. Check out the link below if you care to read about them …

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United Airlines Snackbox

A good meal ought to begin with hunger.
~ French Proverb

On my flight to Atlanta, I thought I try out United Airlines’ Snack Box even though Suanne packed some snack for me. It has been a while since most airlines had discontinued free inflight meals even for long haul flights. On United’s flight over 3.5 hrs, one could purchase United’s snack boxes for USD $5 each — they accept only cash. United has choice of four different types of snack boxes. Click here for their selection. I wanted something a bit salty and cheesey. I opted for the Mini Meal Snack Box.

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The boxes were shrink wrapped. I was pretty surprised by the content. It was packed pretty tight and had a very good selection.

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