Getting to Louisiana from Hong Kong is no easy feat. Traveling with young kids longhaul is no easy feat. However, we decided to make the first bit of our longhaul journey slightly more bearable by flying in the lap of luxury that is Cathay Pacific’s business class. How do we do it? As members of the Marco Polo & Avios frequent flyer clubs I make sure that everyone in the family banks up all their air miles. In addition to that, we have a Cathay American Express card so all our spending generates air miles. The mileage required for a roundtrip upgrade from premium business is 30,000 miles so 120,000 miles for our family of four. Luckily we cobbled together this amount between us and 10 months in advance, I booked our flights from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. I found the Marco Polo Club helpline extremely useful, the operator advised me which flights had upgrade seats available and to book those for Premium Economy online first. Then I was to phone up again and have them upgrade our flights. At the same time, they also confirmed our seats (I booked the same business class seats as last year as you can get a group of four together in the smaller business cabin, just behind first class – 11 and 12 A-D). Utilising your air miles, especially for a group of people can be tricky, so make sure you book these far in advance.
This year we took the night flight, CX880 which departs around 11.45pm and lands the same day LAX at 10pm. The night flight is the way forward. The trick is to sleep during the first half of the flight which is much easier as you are taking off late at night.
I am not a frequent business class traveler, I am almost always at the back of the plane. This means that flying business class is extraordinarily exciting for me – I love every second from lounge access to the free chocolates onboard. If you ever get the chance, Cathay’s product is fantastic from standout service to a comfortable flat bed. I do make sure to keep my kids on a tight leash and not annoy the other business passengers.
Arrival in LAX
This year the arrival system was slightly different. For those travelling with ESTAs (visa waiver for certain countries), you have to process your passports at an electronic machine before queuing up for passport control. This took a while and my kids were a bit feral by this point. Even if you don’t normally use a stroller, you may wish to bring one with you just for moments like this!
We stayed overnight at the Courtyard Marriott LAX as our domestic flight departed the next morning. I highly recommend this hotel, it’s always clean, spacious and the staff are friendly. It can take a while to get to as it’s the last stop on the airport hotel shuttle route but it’s usually fairly quick to get to the airport in the morning.
Flying Delta, Los Angeles to New Orleans
I booked our domestic flights from LAX to New Orleans through Expedia and chose Delta as they had the most convenient flying times. At the time of booking I was also able to confirm our seats which took the pressure off arriving at the airport early etc a la Southwest.
I signed us up to the Delta Skymiles programme as I didn’t have any previous Sky Team membership.
It costs USD $25 to check in bags and I did this in advance when I checked us in online for our flight.
At the airport I found the Delta checkin staff to be extremely friendly and helpful. They even handed out kids packs with activity books and crayons for the flight – highly unusual these days! Didn’t even get that flying Cathay business class….
Delta departs from Terminals 5 & 6 at LAX and in true LA fashion there are huge amounts of eateries from super healthy to fast food. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time to get through security and if you are traveling with kids, wear shoes that are easy to take on and off!
We flew Delta 1577 which departed LAX at 9.20am and arrived New Orleans MSY at 2.55PM. I had extremely low expectations of Delta thanks to friend’s horror stories. However I was very pleasantly surprised. The flight is nearly four hours to New Orleans so I was delighted to see our 737 had seatback TVs. We were in a 3-3 configuration and I lucked out by having a seat to myself!
Although you get pretzels and a free soft drink, you do have to pay for meals. Be prepared to either bring your own or pay up!
You can also pay extra for access to a bigger variety of TV shows and onboard wifi. Why anyone actually needs onboard wifi is beyond me. I love my time in the air as the only place I can ever truly switch off.
‘Sky Kids’ offered several kids TV shows and movies including Frozen. You also have to pay extra for headphones so make sure to bring your own.
Overall the flight was comfortable and I would definitely choose to fly Delta again domestically.
For more tips on how to entertain your kids onboard, check out these blog posts: