Saturday, September 8, 2012

A weekend south of the border (Part 1 of 3)

With a busy August having come and gone, I thought it to be a good time to take Michelle away from the quiet life here and head off for some relaxation, food and cerveza in Mexico City. Strange choice? Probably but AA had some deals I just couldn’t resist, couple that with some Amex MR points burning a hole in my pocket and enough SPG points to supply a place to lay our heads it was off we went.

Seaborne Airlines #105 Seats: 2B & 2C
DHC-6 Seaplane
Depart: SSB 6:40 AM
Arrive: SPB 7:05 AM

Firstly the biggest hurdle, AA has taken away our morning flight here in STX so the only way to get to Miami is now in the afternoon / evening or in the morning from STT, which meant waking before dawn to catch the first seaplane for the short jaunt over the channel. A relaxing flight in itself aided by the thought of breakfast on our way to MIA and a couple shots of espresso before leaving the house.

AA #2230 Seats 4E & 4F
Depart: STT 8:30 AM
Arrive: MIA 11:20 AM

After one of the VIs ridiculously expensive cab rides, $20 for about 5 minutes and 2.2 miles

We reached STT to check in and it sure is different from our little airport at home – big (relatively) queues for both AA and JetBlue and porters running around everywhere as bag drop is not at check in counter but rather after customs, a short couple minute walk. Lines for both customs and security weren’t too bad though why airports in the Caribbean insist on running jumbo, high speed fans in already air conditioned terminals still baffles me. With the short connection time and running from the seaplane we only had a couple minutes to wait before they called business class boarding. Aside from the usual gate rushers boarding was smooth and once seated in AA’s old brown seats with a glass of orange juice boarding finished quickly thanks to using stairs at the front and back of our 757. 2 doors is always something I love about travelling in Asia as they seem to use 2 doors to board more often than not and it’s the one thing we have here at STT and STX that is miles ahead of the states!

Unfortunately our catering service is miles behind, actually we don’t have catering service…breakfast always consists of cereal, fruit cup and the microwaved AA croissant. One thing that really jumped out though was Michelle’s blanket was unwrapped and covered in crusties, though as unfortunately seems to be the rule more so than the exception the MIA based flight attendants were utterly unhelpful. The rest of the flight was smooth and uneventful and soon we were on the ground in MIA and heading for the D15 Admiral’s Club to catch up on some emails and have a drink before our flight to MEX. Though we have access to the AC due to our Amex Platinum card we entered with our business class boarding passes instead for the free drink certs.

AA #2185 Seats 5E & 5F
Depart: MIA 1:00 PM
Arrive: MEX 3:15 PM

Within the hour it was time to head to gate for boarding but first a stop at the shops for socks, not knowing what the blanket situation would be this time around Michelle was worried about getting cold. You have to love how airport shops market their products, we had the choice between 2 pairs of “travel socks” for $15 or 1 pair of “socks” for $5, naturally they appeared to be the same socks! Boarding was relatively quick and painless though I keep forgetting how many AA elites are based in MIA so the Priority Access line was again longer than the general boarding line. Being a 738 this flight had the new blue seats with the feature I find among best in the sky, the small tables for holding a drink or snack. Not sure why no other airlines I’ve seen have these but they beat resting a glass on the armrest or having the full table out, plus they keep things nicely out of the way of a clumsy people like me so we don’t spill our coffees on ourselves. Lunch was served with the choice of Prawn Salad or Chicken Parmigiana, both sounded good so we did one of each along with a glass of wine and of course an after meal baileys and coffee or two!



Both meals were pretty good, mine had good flavour but wasn't crispy enough and Michelle's prawns were nice but too much salad! I do love the pita chips that AA provides though, it's a great snack with the hummus and a big benefit for us who can't eat the nuts.

Service on this flight was much better than the previous and that is always the thing that bothers me most with AA, the service is far too hit and miss sometimes you’ll have a great flight and it feels like they really have their act together, then you’ll get one with dirty blankets and blank stares.

Shortly after immigration forms were distributed and we were on our descent before we knew it, the approach to Mexico City was much prettier than I expected and after a descending past the surrounding mountain ranges we made a big loop over the city followed by a smooth touchdown and parked next to an AA MD80 after a short taxi. Immigration was smooth an uneventful and after grabbing our bag we presented the customs official with our declaration and that’s where it really hit us, even though we had an English declaration card, his response was “fila diecisiete”…guess that meant time for Spanish!

Knowing the potential issues with cabs we elected to go the safe route and get an official airport taxi, prices all seemed pretty similar with maybe a 10 peso variation to our destination in Polanco. We bought our 250 peso ticket and were ushered to our nice white cab, a new VW “classic” (aka Jetta). The ride to the W wasn’t bad considering the late afternoon and weekend timing and we were there in 20 minutes or so.

Courtesy of CondeNaste

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