We had just landed from NH 005 from LAX at Gate 43. We had a bit of a lengthy walk to the transfer security area. They had a separate security lane for premium and *G passengers. A security officer requested to see a boarding pass for our connecting flight to MNL. Once checked, he asked if I had any laptop or iPad as well as if I had anything in my pockets. When I confirmed my empty pockets, I was through and collected myself, about 10min after stepping off NH 005.
Once my parents had gotten their stuff, we sought out a FIDS to figure out where our MNL flight would depart. Initially my parents got confused because they saw the DL flight, but when I pointed out the wrong flight number, we realized we would be heading back to where we disembarked, Gate 44.
I wanted to immediately head to the ANA Lounge. There are two, one near the 40s gates and another near the 50s gates. Thus, we headed to the lounge near the 40s gates. The last time I was at NRT and could use a *G lounge, it was the UA lounge. This time I wanted to try the ANA Lounge and see how it compared to the ANA Suite Lounge at HND. I definitely wanted to see what was on offer at the Noodle Bar.
This beautiful NH mockup of a 788 in the *A livery welcomes you to the lounge. Upon entering, three NH lounge staff welcome us with a bow. We handed over our boarding passes for MNL in which one of the agents scanned. She had let us know since the main lounge is busy, we could take the elevator up and enjoy the extension area which they had just opened. We nodded in agreement figuring this was the peak time of arrivals and departures. She finished scanning all of us in and directed us to the elevator as we made our way up. Once we got off the elevator, we entered a rather quiet and empty lounge. Definitely seems like they had just opened this section. It seems on one side of a partition was the Suites lounge that seemed underutilized while the main lounge tends to go over capacity at that location. With plenty of seats available, we found a nice spot where I could leave our stuff while we checked out the food offerings as well as the arrangement in the lounge. I wonder if they would have any “grapefruit jerry”.
Hot items next to condiments.
Today’s hot items: noodles and meatballs
“Smart” cheese and yogurt
Egg, potato, and vegetable mini sandwiches
Heading towards the Noodle Bar
Coffee machine and drink dispenser
After checking out the food options, it was time to get some stuff as well as place my order at the Noodle Bar.
A bit of noodles and a bit of meat balls.
おいし! Karaage Udon with fishcake as well as Curry Udon
I guess they no longer make the fishcake with the NH logo. Either way I loved both bowls of udon! As for the noodles and the meatballs, they were interesting. I was surprised that the lounge does not serve kabosu, which I knew I would look forward to on my upcoming flight. They did offer Pocari Sweat, a drink similar to Gatorade without the added colors or flavors. Now I was attempted to get some Asahi beer from the fabulous dispensing machine. Instead, I declined the temptation and opted to get some on the return flight.
The Asahi beer dispenser.
The sitting area over at the Noodle Bar
After getting our fill of food, we decided to leave the lounge around 17:00 since our gate would just be a couple of meters from the lounge. On our way, passengers queuing for a TG flight to BKK on the A380 blocked our path to the gate.
When we got to the gate, I noticed the queue for Y and a relatively empty J lane for our flight. Boarding had not commenced as the “gates” remained closed. As we stepped up, a gate agent announced there would be a short five minute delay because a delayed arrival of the previous flight. My parents decided to just go ahead and queue up while I took a quick walk and take a peek at the bookstore located near the gate.
Our 763 with winglets and older seating.
The last time I had taken this flight, and had read on a few other sights, that this flight usually requires a bus gate. This time, we got to enjoy the joys of a jetbridge. On my way back at to gate, I noticed the plane we arrived on parked at Gate 43 would be returning back to LAX. When I got back, they started pre-boarding. I pulled out my Passbook boarding pass for the flight and handed it to one of the gate agents along with my boarding pass. After verifying my documents, she scanned my mobile and wished me a good flight.
This SQ A380 had followed us a bit later from LAX before it continues on to SIN.
As I was about to step onto the plane, I was greeted by our Lead Purser Y. Kowai and Purser K. Ishihara, both wearing the purple version of the uniform. A. Kurosawa, also in purple, would round out the three FAs manning the J cabin on this flight. Pursers wear an additional pin just above their nametags. After showing them my boarding pass, they directed me to cut through the galley to my seat. Since this is a regional flight, we got the old school recliner seats, which were good because they had thicker cushions than much newer seats. I am hoping we would get an updated 763 on the return from MNL.
This would be a relatively full flight, especially in Y mainly with passengers connecting from the US and Canada. A couple of passengers had originated from Japan. There were a couple of open seats in J, including the seat next as well as the single middle seat. About twenty minutes after pre-boarding had commenced, all passengers had boarded and Kowai-san had made an announcement that boarding doors had now closed.
J Cabin as most of the passengers have settled in their seats
Older IOJ Safety Video
Once they had closed the doors and prepared the cabin for departure, Kowai-san fired up the safety video featuring IOJ and the old uniform. After the video had finished, we pushed back from the gate and slowly made our way back to Runway 34L. This flight would be under the command of Captain Tasashi. As we taxied to the runway, I could see a DL 744 ahead of us, likely the flight also heading to MNL.
At 17:50 we took off in the evening Japanese sky with the cabin lights brightly on. I tried to remain awake as we made our ascent, but my eyelids kept on getting heavy. However, the bright lights made it hard to keep it shut. I reclined my seat as far as I could and lifted my leg rest just to elevate my legs. I sat on the lookout to see if I could see Mt. Fuji, but it was too dark in the evening to see anything and I believe we were too far south to see anything.
Fifteen minutes after we had taken off, the front office turned off the fasten seatbelt sign. Yet a few seconds later, we encountered a small amount that jolted the cabin and the FAs getting ready to start service. After that it smoothed out a bit.
I could hear Ishihara-san getting things set up in the galley while Kowai-san would mainly serve my side while Kurosawa-san served the left side. First up, Kowai-san walked down my side and offered hot, scented oshibori. When she finished with our side, she started back up on the left side. Kurosawa-san would pick up the used ones in the same fashion.
Enjoying some water, kabosu, and rice crackers packaged for the J cabin.
Kowai-san and Kurosawa-san wheeled down beverage carts to start the meal service. Kowai-san tried to ask what I would like to drink while I had my headphones on watching Big Hero 6. I think she started to ask in Japanese and then made the action of drinking for me. I smiled and asked for a water and kabosu. I guess when I ask for kabosu, the FAs seem a bit surprised and either cannot understand me or double check to make sure if I am asking for the correct drink. I smiled and confirmed the kabosu is a favorite of mine. She then asked what I would like to dinner and asked for the Western meal since the Japanese meal seemed overloaded with seafood I cannot eat like squid and crab. She had her printout with her and scribbled down my choice before she she continued on with the drink service.
About fifteen minutes later after the first drink service, Kowai-san wheels down her cart again and starts distributing out the meals. I am not sure if Ishihawa-san organized each cart in order or followed the normal pattern of one meal set on top half and the other meal set on the bottom half of the cart. I saw her pull out the top most tray and carefully placed the tray on my table. Since she knew I loved the kabosu, she topped off both of my glasses with water and kabosu. She smiled when she heard me say “頂きます!”
Angel Prawn and Marinated Sliced Turnip w/Bitter Orange Vinegar Dressing
Braised Wagyu Beef in Red Wine Sauce and Kyoto Vegetables Pot-au-Feu w/Consommé
Comparing the two beef dishes I had between this and the previous flight, the braised wagyu was OK. It did not give me that excitement as the previous flight. Granted, I was a bit full from the noodles I enjoyed at the lounge. I did not try the dessert because I just was not sure how it would taste with the caramel and the green tea, but now I wish I did. Kurosawa-san made the rounds of collecting completed trays. She had seen I had finished and offered to take my tray. She asked if I would like anything else, and I requested some more Kabosu. She took my glass and came back with another glass looking like it was about to overflow. She then came out from the galley with an NH-logo cooler and started distributing ice creams out. How can I say no ice cream?
By the time I had finished the ice cream, along with Big Hero 6 ending, I got comfortable and ended up falling asleep. Most other passengers in J had similar intentions and soon Kowai-san turned down the lights all the way until it was time for final descent into MNL.
It looked like we would be landing ahead of schedule. At 21:09, we touched down on Runway 24 and made the long taxi towards NAIA 3, passing by both the antiquated and empty NAIA 1 and the crowded NAIA 2. We did have to wait a bit for a flight from one of the local carriers to land on cross runway 31. I could see that the DL flight had beat us to MNL and worried that the wait would be long from a crowded 744. We docked at Gate 113 still ahead of schedule. My parents and I got our stuff and were the first near the door waiting for MacroAsia ground crew to open the door. After Kowai-san and the NH agent exchanged pleasantries, she thanked us for joining her that evening. We in turn thanked her for a relaxing flight.
The thing I love when landing at MNL is that initial punch of Philippine humidity that welcomes you when you make that first step onto the jetbridge. This is one of the ideal gates at NAIA 3 because of the short distance to Health Inspection and Philippine Immigration. With forms in hand, we hand in our health survey while walking through a thermal scan, and then got a nice shock of the rather empty Philippine Immigration hall. We saw the lane for Priority passengers and took that. Within minutes, we made our way downstairs where NH ground staff had pulled aside checked bags with “priority” tags. This was the first time ever during my many trips to the Philippines where we were it took us to fifteen minutes to go from plane to seeing my relatives picking us up and joining the sea of humanity waiting for people to arrive from flights.
ANA Suite Lounge Satellite No. 5
Tokyo - NRT
Manila - MNL
Thank you for your continued reading. Please stay tuned for the next flight!
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