A Golden Trip Part 4 – Hopping around the West Coast

I crashed at the hotel at about 10 pm the previous night and slept very well until about 5 am. I decided to get up and see what the hotel offered regarding breakfast. As a Hilton Diamond member, I should have got a $15 dining credit. There was nothing on the menu that took my fancy, so I checked out and decided to head back to the airport. I had paid for the hotel with points – the room was selling for about $200, so I opted to use 48k Hilton points. The price had been fluctuating from 55k points when I originally booked, so always worth keeping an eye out and rebooking if you see the price drop.

I hopped on the shuttle at about 0645 and was at Terminal 4 about 10 minutes later. A Flagship First check-in area accessible to OneWorld Emerald customers at the curbside takes you into a small, private room. I was able to collect all the boarding passes for the day and was then escorted to the front of the security queue. Thankfully there was no issue like in New York, and I was through quickly. Immediately after security, I took a right turn and headed towards the Tom Brady International Terminal, where the Qantas First Class lounge can be found.

The lounge had been closed for a long time during the pandemic and opened a week before my trip. While flying domestic First class on American, I would not have been able to access the lounge, but my OneWorld Emerald status got me in.

l was last in the lounge in 2019, so I knew the drill. I headed straight to the dining area for breakfast and was met with this extensive menu.

I had the avocado on toast with salmon and egg, which was as good as it looked. The coffee in any Qantas lounge worldwide is always good, so I had a flat white.

My flight to San Francisco, the last leg of the primary ticket, departed from the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, the satellite terminal requiring a bus ride across the tarmac. I left the lounge about an hour before departure to ensure I had enough time. There is a small Admiral’s Club in the satellite terminal where I spent 15 minutes before boarding commenced. The Embraer aircraft that was taking me up to San Francisco has a 1–2 configurations in business, and I had secured one, meaning I had both a window and direct aisle access. I had a fantastic view window over Monterey, where I spent a wonderful few days back in 2016 with my wife.

On landing in San Francisco, I was first off the plane and had enough time to wander to the bathroom before returning to the gate and back onto the plane. I had booked a nested ticket we started in San Francisco on the same aircraft to minimise any risk from delayed arrivals. I had noticed that American had cut their frequencies around the West Coast, which increased the connection time of my flights. The crew were surprised to see me back but were very welcoming, and the flight back to LA passed quickly. I took the same journey in reverse and returned to the Qantas lounge for lunch.

When I was away, the menu shifted from breakfast, and I was presented with a new menu.

I started with the salt and pepper squid, a classic, followed by the seed bass and a seasonal salad.

I had a glass of the Mirror Pond Pale Ale before I headed to the shower suite for a wash.

My first flight of the day was over to Phoenix, leaving just after 4 pm. I was offered another pre-departure beverage which was served in a plastic cup.

The flight was uneventful, and I was glad I had downloaded several films onto the iPad. Having noise-cancelling headphones was great, especially with a very chatty seatmate. There are several Admiral’s Club lounges at Phoenix, and I had visited them in the past, so I made my way to the far end of the terminal to see the American Express centurion lounge. Access is granted with the platinum card, and I was able to find a seat at the bar.

The barman was good but severely overworked, and he was not exceptionally professional in hiding his emotions, making it clear that he was unhappy. This did somewhat detract from the service and overall atmosphere. I was not in the mood for big food, having eaten well in the lounge and the previous day, but I wanted some crisps or salty snacks. There was nothing available which was disappointing.

My final flight of the day was to Las Vegas, which followed the same format as the previous three flights on American. I like the comfortable recliner chairs they use in first class, and the service is good for the length of the flight. We flew over from the east, and I must remember to sit on the right-hand side of the aircraft to benefit from better views on the landing. I spotted Sam’s Town, which I visited on my first trip to Vegas.

As I was under the driveway, I was at the taxi rank within 15 minutes of arriving at the gate and soon on my way to the Tropicana Hotel.

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