1502 CST Depart Austin – We left AUS on time on an Airbus A319…. Fortunately we were able to use our global upgrades, which afforded us guaranteed first class seats.  This was a nice reprieve from our typical wait-to-see-if-measly-1k-status got us an upgrade…

We were fortunate to be on a flight with a Chicago-based crew that had a really nice first class steward.  It’s sad to say that more often than not, the first class steward/ess doesn’t care much about the level of customer service that is provided to the first class passengers.  This was not so much the case with Continental, but since the merger, the level of service previously offered by United has bled over to all flights to include those routes previously managed by Continental.

On the way out, we had a great view of Lake Travis (Austin, TX), which is our usual summer playground… we got a good amount of iPad video watching in, and saw some other great sites on the way…

1704 PST Arrive in San Francisco – I had read blogs about Global First passengers being met at the gate and swiftly ushered to the international global first lounge, but when we deplaned, that was not the case.  We found ourselves in an abandoned gate with no staff present.  Fortunately, we were familiar with SFO and where the international first class lounge was located.

We made our way towards the lounge with great excitement and were pleasantly surprised by the silence and exclusiveness with which we were presented.  There was a great self-serve bar with premium spirits, a food bar that had sushi, salad, steak, and other small plate items.

The lounge had showers stocked with nice toiletries including shaving cream and razors, toothbrush/toothpaste, and even a neat little miniature deodorant.  It was really nice to take a shower in the middle of our 24 hours trip to Sydney.

We met Marshall’s mother Mary and her friend Sylvia when they arrived from Houston and walked with them to the United Club.  We had a couple of drinks and surprised Mary with an early Christmas gift (a new iPad) before making our way to the gate for the flight to Sydney.

2233 PST Depart for Sydney; Global First Experience – We boarded the 747 excited for our first Global First experience.  I was surprised at how small the overhead compartments were, but equally surprised at how incredibly spacious the seats were and how much storage space they had.

The 747 had one of the older entertainment systems with a tethered remote and several movie and entertainment options.  The toiletry kit provided had tons of great products including hand sanitizer, which really made me happy.  Our flight was equipped with wifi for $16.99 USD.  I didn’t use it too much, but it was great to be able to stay in contact and not get behind on emails.

The first class stewards were very nice and accommodating, although I must say, there really wasn’t much difference between what I’m familiar with traveling in business class versus what we experienced in Global First.

The dinner service was great; similar to Business class.  They started us with warm nuts and a cocktail, followed by a warm appetizer of a vegetable-filled pastry and shrimp tempura with Asian barbeque sauce and a mushroom brie bisque.

For our main course, we had a grilled pork chop with green peppercorn sauce, shitake mushroom bread pudding, white asparagus and broccolini.  To finish, we had an international cheese plate, port wine, and an ice cream sundae with chocolate, caramel, and nuts.

We curled up and watched White House Down on the entertainment system followed by House of Lies on the iPad before falling fast asleep.  They brought us bottles of water and were good about refilling them throughout the night.

I woke up around 0500 Sydney time, checked email and watched After Earth with Will Smith.  Breakfast came about an hour later and we landed in Sydney by about 0805 Sydney time (the next day) excited for the next part of this vacation.