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January 17, 2007

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                           KL TO TAIPEI

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CORRECTION: In last week's Good To Know section, the story "What's New in Travel for 2007?" linked to a different story. It’s been fixed. Here's the correct story.

Greetings from the good ol’ U.S. of A! Last time we left off from the highlands of Malaysia (here’s the link to the archives). This week we make our way back to the U.S. in style, as we board a Malaysia Airlines 747 jet. Once through the cabin door we get to take the cherished left turn into first class. Yeah baby! On the flight home we stop in Taiwan for some quick shopping before hopping the Pacific Ocean. If you want a dream ride (and news about an inexpensive Los Angeles car service), then come aboard. Don’t worry if you’re in a hurry or have ADD; there’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week’s story. It’s a compilation of our round-the-world trip, which we are now completing.

I spent my last night in Malaysia at the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur (here’s the link to that review). In the morning I took a 10-minute ride to the Sentral Train Station, where I checked in for my flight (and checked my bags all the way through to Los Angeles). Because I bought so many gifts, and wanted to add one more layer of protection, I had my bags wrapped in plastic by one of those neat machines you see in many airports. In Europe it usually costs 7 euros; in New York it’s $8 -- but in Malaysia it was just 7RM ($1.98). Boy, it’s gonna be tough to go home and get used to paying top dollar for almost everything (huge sigh). (NOTE: I did not check anything of real value).

I took the 28-minute KLIA express train to the airport (35RM [$10]), went through security in 2 minutes, and made my way to Malaysia Airlines’ Golden Lounge. This is for sure the largest (43,284 square feet) airport lounge I have ever been in, and one of the plushest. It features Moorish and local architecture, with separate seating for business and first class passengers. Both areas have plenty of food choices. There’s your typical lounge snacks and open bar -- but this one also had an American breakfast, noodle bar, free wireless, showers, a massage room, a kids’ place -- even a putting green.

Of course, I spent too much time in the lounge. I was running so late, I needed a buggy complete with flashing lights and that annoying beeping noise to rush me to the plane. Like every passenger, I had to go through a secondary screening again at the gate (it was thorough, and comforting). Then I was escorted onto the aircraft. My earlier Malaysia Airlines flight from Stockholm to KL (here’s the link) was a Boeing 777 with only business and economy class cabins. There was no first class, so I had no idea what to expect. When I made the always-cherished left turn through the door, I was thinking, "BABY! This will be awesome!" And I wasn’t even referring to the hot flight attendant waiting there with a hot towel.

There were 10 pod-like capsule seats with plenty of space in between. Only two of the other seats were taken, making it even more spacious. My private seat was along the window, with 81 inches of pitch. When passengers slide the seat into a 6-foot, 6-inch flat bed and drop the armrest, there’s 25 inches of width. How’s that for comfort? The first leg of the flight was only 4 hours and 15 minutes, so I did not sleep. I was too excited and busy, flipping through the endless entertainment channels that were displayed on a 15- inch touch screen monitor. There were 39 on-demand movies, from recent blockbusters to classics; 100 TV shows (including many American favorites); 55 video games, and 200 CDs (from which passengers pick their favorite songs, to make a personalized play list). There was also a live tracking system, which invited me to play with the remote-controlled window shades so I could enjoy the view outside.

To top it off I was waited on hand and foot by the friendly and very attentive flight attendants, who kept bringing me more food and drink. I have never drunk so much water in four hours in my life. Every time I finished the tall crystal glass of aqua, she came by (often without me noticing) and filled it up again. It almost became a game. I also have never used an airplane restroom so much in that short time span. BTW: The first-class bathroom was one of (if not the) nicest I have ever seen. It had wood paneling, full-length mirrors, fresh flowers and L’Occitane soap.

The seats also come with a gigantic table. If I was traveling with a friend, she could dine across from me on my buddy seat (normally the foot stool). Instead I used that space for my laptop, which I plugged into an electrical outlet so I could work offline as long as I wanted. This leg of the flight offered some of the best airline service I have ever had. Not only did they fill my glass constantly, but when I finished any of my many food courses it was immediately picked up too. All of this was done without feeling rushed, watched and being addressed as Mr. DiScala (my real name) every time. I should mention the food. I started with chicken/beef satays, a mixed green salad, cheese-filled cannelloni, fresh fruit and tiramisu. It was all delicious! This was definitely not your typical airline food -- but then again, I was not in your typical first class cabin either.

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Copyright 2007 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

click here for your Round The World Tickets

Pictures From

The Trip


Malaysia Airlines


Getting Bags Wrapped


Golden Lounge


Noodles Bar


Welcome Aboard


First Class


First Class Seat


Flight Path


Dinner Time!


Tasty Bread


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