Greetings Flight Reporters and thank you for stopping by this report. I have added a tourist section at the end of my walking and snacking in Narita Village on a cold clear winter day.
This trip was a RTW that came about as an excuse to enjoy some quality Lufthansa lounge and airplane time and pop in on the Swiss First Class Lounge on the E gates in Zurich. A recent Aeroplan promo had a bonus for moving Starpoints to Aeroplan. When combined with the bonus Starpoints that SPG provides on airline transfer partners is was not a terrible value.
Some of the reports will be a little light (not this one!) but I think with the lounge additions they will be sufficient to interest someone. They did me.
The routing and procurement method were as follows:
Delta Air Lines LAX-MSP 737-900ER First (Cash- No Report) Delta Air Lines MSP-LGA MD-88 Economy Comfort (NRSA - No Report) Lufthansa JFK-FRA B747-8i Business (United Miles - Here) Swiss FRA-ZRH A320 Business and Lufthansa Business Lounge (United Miles - Here) Swiss ZRH-FRA CS100 Business and Swiss First Class Lounge E (Aeroplan - Here) Lufthansa FRA-PVG A380-800 First and LH First Class Lounge and Terminal (Aeroplan - Here) ANA PVG-NRT B787-9 Business and Air China Business Class Lounge (Aeroplan -This Report) Delta Air Lines NRT-PVG B767-300ER Business and Delta Sky Club (NRSA - Coming Soon) Delta Air Lines PVG-LAX B777-200ER Business (NRSA - Coming Soon)
We pick up the story on arrival in PVG aboard LH728 from FRA in F on the A380. Exiting the aircraft I see a man with a board listing several names, one of which is mine. He is the escort for F / Hon passengers. He asks that I wait to the side and when he has the others corralled we start the walk to immigration. I inform him that I have a connecting flight but the language barrier is preventing him from responding to this concern. I am not familiar with the connecting procedures on Star Alliance carriers at PVG, I possess a Chinese visa and I have ample time, so I follow his instructions and go through the VIP immigration line. It's a quick an painless process but now I'm land side and get to look forward to immigration and security screening all over again. Horray for PVG.
I locate the ANA counter and am surprised to see it staffed. I ask to check in and I'm told this is not possible for two hours. I then proceed to bemoan that I have no checked baggage and am in transit. I guess pity was taken as I was handed a boarding pass and informed about the lounge. Another 20 min. in immigration and security screening and I'm back in. I have no idea if there was a way to skip this or not.
Having recently visited the Air China lounges I was pretty familiar with where to go and I presented myself to the dragons at the counter. I expect that I would be invited to use the Fist Class Lounge given that I'm in on F itinerary and F long haul connecting to J regional. Not so. I am directed to the J lounge. I plead my case but there is no flexibility. Oh well. As a result of my fatigue and pout I didn't take any pictures of the lounge. I have a few to share of a previous visit.
The J lounge is actually quite good. It is quite spacious and occupies two floors. Upstairs is the dining, showers, nap rooms, and buffet and downstairs is the bar and general seating. When I fist arrive on this visit it is packed upstairs where the food is but downstairs is rather tranquil.
I first opt for a shower and there is no wait. Once that is taken care of I look about the lounge for a quiet place to nap when I notice a directory/map of the lounge with "nap rooms" indicated. I go back tot he service desk where the shower was secured and low and behold, after surrendering my boarding pass, I am given the key to a room and directions on where to go. While I knew that this existed on the F side, and was rather counting on having access to it, I was not expecting a J equivalent. This is a great feature.
The room had an independent thermostat so I set it on the cool side and had a great nap. I cannot emphasize how surprised I was ad the quality of the entire facility. If you have been to ANY lounges at PVG (The new China Eastern complex may be the exception) you would understand that these kind of amenities are not the norm. Heck the Air China F lounge at PEK is a complete joke compared to these lounges. Credit where credit is due.
Anyhow the shower and nap were the bees knees and 4 hours turned into a blink of the eye and it was time to head off to the gate.
Some terminal views.
Bus gate today. Being able bodied and an avgeek this is great. Huge yelling match at the gate next door between an Air China staff and male customer. I have NEVER been to China without witnessing one of these altercations in the airport between staff and either customer or other staff. Never.
Boarding queues were well defined and properly applied.
The 787-9 in the twilight.
At the top of the stairs I am greeted and directed to turn right at the first aisle where I quickly locate seat 8A.
Boarding seemed to be completed quickly as the foot traffic past my seat stopped. At this point I noticed that I was alone in this J cabin.
As an aside 8A is a great seat for wing and engine views.
The seat is quite private and has a large video monitor. Slippers and a light blanket were waiting at the seat.
I enjoyed some water as a pre-departure beverage and the friendly flight attendant, seeing me take pictures of everything, offered to make my picture in my private cabin.
Departure time came and went but there we sat. Announcements were made but the English skills of the person making the announcements were simple. It came out something like, "we apologize for the delay because of delay." I suspect the cause of the delay was the infamous Chinese ATC closures that are so common. All told we took about a 45 minute hit.
Service started quickly after takeoff. I requested champagne and still water. They were served with some rice snacks.
I really enjoy the next-gen moving maps that are highly configurable and informative.
Dinner was served shortly after and it was a all on one tray affair. I opted for the Japanese meal and it was quite satisfying. The appetizer bento was well stocked with flavors and textures. The main was a fried fish hiding under those vegetables. I requested chilled sake to accompany the meal.
After dinner I was offered and accepted another sake. Served with mixed nuts this time.
I told everyone in the cabin to keep the noise down so I could enjoy the moving map and the views from the window.
Arrival into NRT is uneventful and immigration and customs are very quick tonight. I take the Keisei train into Narita for my one night stay.
****Bonus Section - Walking and snacking in Narita Village.****
Breakfast at my favorite bakery. Savory baked goods are such a treat in Japan. The USA is all sweets at the bake shop.
The police and their doughnuts…
Plum blossom festival this weekend.
Walking Omotesando St. to the Naritasan-Shinshoji temple. The shops were just being opened up for the day.
Temple and park. Especially beautiful with a light dusting of snow from the night before.
Eel restaurants preparing for the influx of people this day.
Best suit ever?
Air China Business Class Lounge No. 71
Shanghai - PVG
Tokyo - NRT
A flight with ANA in a private cabin, what more could you ask for?
The Ground Service: It's silly. The "escort" to immigration probably took more time than just walking there. The inability to address questions or for the representative to even have knowledge of on wards connections of the people he is escorting is a poor showing.
The Lounge: Frustrating that F lounge access wasn't granted. It was in ZRH and i beleive should have been here. Still, the J lounge far exceeded my expectations and the sleep room and shower were top notch.
The Cabin: I find the J seats in this configuration quite good for both lounging and sleeping. Critiques include lack of storage and the inability to get up when the tray is deployed.
The Crew: Excellent and generous service was expected and realized. Even though I was alone in the rear cabin I was not forgotten and the FAs were frequently checking on my well being.
The Food and Beverage: The Japanese meal was well received. The variety of tastes and textures make for an interesting dining experience. The sake was flowing and my water was kept topped up.
Overall: ANA is consistent and high quality, in my experience, as any airline flying. I look forward to flying with them again.
Thank you very much for reading, stay tuned for the next segment, and happy flying.
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