Vacation Report, India: Departure

Vacation Report, India: The Arrival

Vacation Report, India: Poetree Sarovar Portico

Vacation Report, India: Periyar National Park

Vacation Report, India: Grand Hyatt Mumbai

Vacation Report, India: Airport Lounges

Vacation Report, India: Departure


Upon arriving at the airport I inquired to see if it was possible to upgrade to Premiere (Business Class). Finding out that there were seats available, we opted to pay the difference (cheaper than a single ticket from COK to DOH, amusingly enough) for the upgrade.

The seats were noticeably wider than economy, as to be expected, but were not lie-flat as it was a Boeing 737-800. They did, however, have extra recline and calf-rests which helped considerably. We were offered per-departure beverages and we were soon on our way.

Premiere Seating
Leg-Rest controls
Plane Demographics for #AvGeeks
MInt-Lime and Watermelon Juices

The only frustrating thing was that the TV screens were shared and were always on for the duration of the flight, so it made sleep a little difficult.

Warmed Nuts and Wine
Murgh Muligatawny
Chicken Shish Taouk / Laham Kefta / Grilled Prawns


For the flight from Doha to London-Heathrow, I opted to take the backwards facing window seat on the B777. While this made for some frustrating navigation when leaving my seat, it offered some excellent views of the terrain!

As we boarded, I managed to capture a few pictures of the suites available in the First Class cabin.

First Class Cabin
First Class Cabin
Scotch and Nuts!
Mezze Sampler
Poached Salmon
Lamb Shank
Sandwich Selection

Full Menu

Terrain Shots

London Approach
London Approach

Sheraton Skyline

With a 20 hour layover in London, we took some time to really catch up on sleep. After having spent a lot of time with recycled air and confined spaces, a nice big bed was definitely appreciated.

As a pleasant surprise, I was given a toy Mini-Cooper upon check-in (the local specialty) and was given a customized fruit basket! Talk about service! It is nice to see brand loyalty rewarded, truly.


The Champagne Belle

From London to Detroit we used Delta SkyMiles to book Upper Class tickets on Virgin Atlantic’s VS107. This flight is serviced by an Airbus A330-300. This was our first experience flying Virgin Atlantic, let alone their Upper Class product, so we were both extremely excited. The seats were arranged in a herringbone configuration with the ottomans facing the aisles.

Seat Controls and IFE
Stowed LED Reading Lamp
Aux Inputs and USB charging (110V under the seat)
Swanky toiletry kit!

Though we already had a feeling we were in for a treat from everything we experienced getting situated, the meal service is what really made that clear to us. In addition to a private bar available (not pictured) behind the Upper Class cabin, the menu is carefully thought out with fairly healthy options. Furthermore, everything was adorable.

How can you not love this mug?
The other side of the mug
Salt and Pepper shakers!
Wholemeal dinner roll
Tomato Basil soup
Chicken Breast!
Steak and potatoes
Cheese for dessert
Pre-Landing Quiche

One interesting feature of the flight-map is that it also showed various landmarks, like the location of the Titanic, in addition to cities.

The “fun fact” map!

Full Menu


The last leg of our flight was by far the most frustrating. Instead of the initially scheduled 5 PM departure, our flight was moved up to 3 PM, which left very little time to get through customs and re-check all our bags. Thankfully, the Diamond Medallion line was very helpful and took care of rebooking both of us on the 8 PM flight (keeping us in First Class, no less). Though it took a fair amount of time on hold, everything was sorted out before we even boarded our flight in London. I love how helpful Delta staff are – they go above and beyond, consistently!

Instead of a regional jet, we returned home in a Boeing 717-200, which offered a lot more room for our cabin luggage (to our relief!).

Vacation Report, India: Airport Lounges

Vacation Report, India: The Arrival

Vacation Report, India: Poetree Sarovar Portico

Vacation Report, India: Periyar National Park

Vacation Report, India: Grand Hyatt Mumbai

Vacation Report, India: Airport Lounges

Vacation Report, India: Departure

Cochin International Airport

Cochin International Airport (COK) is the fourth busiest international airport in India and the seventh busiest in India, overall. Despite this  volume of traffic, on August 18th 2015, it became a fully solar powered airport. In fact, it is the first of its kind in the world.

Currently there are two terminals (T1: International, and T2: Domestic), with a third terminal under construction to take over international traffic, leaving the current international terminal to handle domestic traffic. The existing domestic terminal would then be for private planes only.

To give you an idea of the destination served by COK, I did a quick search on Google Flights to identify non-stop destinations. In addition to various location within India, there are flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, various cities on the Arabian Peninsula, and Malé.

Non-Stop Flights

Both domestic and international terminals have lounges available to PriorityPass members. While both lounges are named “Earth Lounge”, they offer different amenities. You can see the details of each lounge on the PriorityPass website, above.

International Terminal Lounge

Known as the Earth Lounge and available to everyone with a Priority Pass membership, or traveling Business Class, the lounge in the international terminal at COK is found on the third floor (level ‘2’) of the airport. It offers expansive views of the apron, which makes for some excellent plane watching! There is a buffet that is stocked with a decent spread of Indian goodies, as well as a bar.

Entering the lounge
Lots of seating!
Jet Airways B738
Saudi Arabian A330
Air India Express

Doha – Hamad International Airport

Though I might not agree with all the social policies of Qatar, the Doha airport was by far the safest I have felt throughout my entire vacation. The Hamad International Airport is positioned for expansion and has received many awards over the years. In fact, it is currently rated as having the best staff service in the Middle East and being the best airport in the Middle East. Any interaction with the staff will immediately make it clear why they have consistently won in these categories. They are spectacular in these regards.

In addition to having a truly world-class airport, the surrounding areas of Doha are being developed quite nicely. Driving from the hotel to the airport, we noticed that a large amount of plants were being planted. Though this serves multiple purposes, the one that has the most noticeable impact is that it reduces the dust in the air. In fact, within the next 10 years it shouldn’t be surprising to see this turn into a tourist destination.

Al Mujra Business Class Lounge

Since we weren’t flying Qatar airways from Doha to London-Heathrow, the lounges that were available to us were the Al Mujra Business Class Lounge or those available from Priority Pass. We opted for the former and we were not disappointed! The lounge itself is very spacious and offers ample seating and outlets to charge your devices. There are also many personal flight kiosks so you can remain up to date on your own departure time.

Lounge Seating
Personal flight-tracking


As we were departing on Virgin Atlantic flight 107, we made our way to Terminal 3. Thanks to the miles available and given the duration of the flight, I had booked Upper Class tickets. This allowed us entry to the Upper Class wing of Terminal 3, complete with private security lines as well as access to the expansive Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Upper Class Wing Entry

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

The Clubhouse itself is located beyond the shopping in Terminal 3, and is a fair distance from most of the gates served by Virgin Atlantic and Delta. Upon entry we were informed that in addition to a concierge, there was a deli, bar, spa and hair salon, and that we would be waited upon as soon as we were seated. Since this was our first time in a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, we weren’t really sure what to expect, but the treatment blew us away! If you ever have the opportunity to visit a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, you will not be disappointed.

Seating across from the deli
The bar and many leather couches
Seating across from the concierge
A full map of the facilities

As promised, as soon as we were seated, we were greeted by a very friendly waitress who took our orders for a quick breakfast. I opted for an Egg Royale, pictured below, and also poked about the deli. For those curious, the full menu can be found below as well.

Egg Royale!
Full Menu

Great @VirginAtlantic Premium Economy Sale!

If you are looking to fly to London, now is the time! While this sale is limited to the NYC and DC area, you can fly Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy to London!

Like Domestic First...
Like Domestic First…
...But with real food!
…But with real food!

The icing on the cake is that American Express currently has an offer where if you spend $1,000 or more with Virgin Atlantic, you receive a statement credit of $200! Since the purchase has to be made on the Virgin Atlantic website, and travel must originate in the US, this qualifies if you are buying at least two tickets.

The offer!
The offer!

Like MommyPoints and the FrequentMiler point out, if you are going to do this, jump on it quickly! You can find dates scattered around the calendar through May 2017. Crediting the miles to Delta would allow for extra earnings of both award miles and Medallion Qualifying Miles because of the booked fare, as well.

Check Google Flights and see what works for your calendar! 😀

HotelStorm and Virgin Atlantic @AmericanExpress Offers

American Express offers are one of my favorite perks for having one of their credit cards. Two very handy offers showed up for me today – be sure to check your cards to see if they are available for you as well!



I’ve also received offers to Asics ($20 back for a purchase of $100 or more), Dropbox ($25 back of a purchase of $50 or more), Hulu ($25 back after spending $25), and more.

If you have any travel coming up – save some money! 😉

Current Flight Deals

There are quite a few flight deals available right now – both for domestic and international travel. I’ve listed some of the big ones out below – keep in mind that some of these sales expire quickly!

JetBlue is offering many one-way flights starting at $39! The full list of terms and conditions are available at the JetBlue website.

British Airways is offering triple Avios earned on all flights, which can be quite generous when combined with the AARP discount. Keep in mind that earning is based on fare class and distance flown.

Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines all have excellent deals from various US airports to Europe. If you have any flights coming up on one of these airlines, it would definitely be a good idea to check out if you can get a lower price.

Virgin Atlantic is offering a 30% discount for Economy and Premium Economy tickets! This makes for affordable flights, though be warned that these award tickets do come with some hefty fuel surcharges (in the £200 range for Economy, and £400 for Premium Economy).

Finally, American Express has released some new offers, one of which is a $200 discount on Delta purchases of $1000 or more! Remember that you can open a new tab for each AmEx card you have, allowing you to get the same offer multiple times – one of my favorite tricks.

Virgin Atlantic: Bed Time Stories for Night-Flights

The Guardian recently published an article that told the story of a father, Stephen Holmes, who wrote a story for his two daughters to help them get to sleep. One of his daughters convinced him to publish this story, and Virgin Atlantic ordered 2,000 copies!

It is always nice to see an airline take an active interest in the comfort of their passengers, and even nicer to see them support independent (and local!) talent. Though it still isn’t certain if the book will be distributed to other flights, it is a nice surprise for both the father as well as the children on those flights.

Let’s face it, when a child is happy on a flight, everyone around them is happier, as well! 😉