Hello, this series covers a total of 34 flights that I have flown and will be taking over the next few weeks. I am a little slow in catching up with the reports but quite a few should be completed over the next few days! Please read Parts 1 or 3 for the full introduction, I’ll just duplicate a small portion here as a reminder.
1. I intend to do this series semi-live; i.e. I shall type as I fly and publish the FR soon after arriving at a destination. I do apologise if there are delays but I will try my best to be as up to date as possible.
2. I will do away with my usual “timeline” style (see my past reports), otherwise it will take me much, much longer to get my reports ready.
3. Those square brackets in italics will give you an idea as to when exactly I was writing parts of the reports in this series, i.e. right now I am typing on board a Taiwan High Speed Rail train.
4. And lastly for now, my apologies for not catching up on those previous series of mine. Was so super busy in school and also, busy preparing for this massive trip of mine. (:
A look again at the map and flights included in this series:
Japan Airlines JL38 Aircraft Registration: JA620J Origin: Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN) Destination: Haneda International Airport, Tokyo, Japan (HND) Date: Saturday, 14 May 2016 STD/STA: 0150h (UTC+08:00) to 0950h (UTC09:00) ATD/ATA: 0211h (UTC+08:00) to 1005h (UTC09:00) Estimated Duration: 07 hours 00 minutes Actual Duration: 06 hours 54 minutes Flight Distance: About 3,288 miles / 5,292 km
[Aboard Taiwan High Speed Rail – Train No. 157]
Welcome to Part 10 of this series! From Parts 9 to 13, I will be flying all the way from Melbourne (MEL) to Macau (MFM), making 4 stops in between, with a total journey time of 49 hours.
Picking up from the previous flight, I have 4.5h of transit time in SIN before departing again for another flight to Japan. The Qantas check-in agent back in MEL wasn’t able to issue to me the boarding pass for the next flight, therefore, I had to head to the transit counters first.
The agent who assisted me there seemed to be a new staff as she took quite a while before she successfully printed my boarding pass.
Here’s my first ever Japan Airlines (JL) boarding pass! While I was technically flying Qantas Flight 4017, I’m glad I made the detour to SIN just to try out JL for the first time!
Other choices of getting from MEL to Tokyo (either NRT or HND) included a transit in SYD or BNE. I could’ve even flew directly to NRT from MEL on Jetstar, but I decided against it almost immediately.
Once I received my boarding pass, I headed straight to the QF Singapore lounge to get a shower. On the way, I passed by the arrival immigration and felt a little weird that I don’t have to pass through immigration.
(I’m SIN-based, and this was technically my first time transiting in SIN without clearing immigration.)
It was really good to get a shower after the flight from Australia.
This isn’t the best airport showers, but everything was in good and clean conditions.
Feeling refreshed, I headed to the bar to order my dinner/supper. I also got myself a bowl of cream soup.
Singapore Hokkien Mee was on the menu that day. This is my ultimate favourite Singaporean local dish, so I have high expectations whenever it comes to this. Unsurprisingly, QF’s version didn’t impress me much. But oh well, it was decent food, so no further complaints!
After I finished my meal, it was time to head to the adjacent SATS Premier Lounge (used by JL in SIN) since the QF lounge will be closing soon.
(I spent the main bulk of my transit time in the SATS lounge, so the final grades for “lounge” will be with regards to this lounge.)
There was of course free Wi-Fi in the lounge, and the internet speed was above average. However, if I recall correctly, I had to try a few times before getting a successful connection.
Some photos to show you the seating choices in this lounge.
Initially, I wanted to settle down at the individual cubicles (those with the Samsung Galaxy screens; see second photo of lounge seating above). But when I sat down, I realised the seats were too far away from the table and I needed to stretch quite a bit if I wanted to use my laptop.
Eventually, I decided to take a seat at these long tables with high stools instead.
An overview of the lounge.
The food and literature choices were quite decent. I didn’t take any photos but I remember seeing several hot meal choices despite it being close to midnight. There was also a self-serve noodle bar, which probably will make a good supper if you are really hungry.
I didn’t take any food though since I just had my supper at the QF lounge.
After taking a cup of tea, I settled down at my temporary “office” for the next 3h or so, settling some bills, emails and then preparing photos for flight reports. (Anyway, the M&M’s chocolate was from my previous flight and not the lounge.)
Slightly after 1am, I decided to check out the showers even though I didn’t intend to use them. It looked less clean than QF’s so I was glad I took my shower before coming to this lounge.
But the fact that it has both the overhead and handheld showerhead may make it a better airport shower cubicle.
Anyway, I left the lounge 5 minutes later and headed to my gate. It was 1.17am and many shops were already closed.
My flight can be considered as the last flight of the day at Terminal 1. The next two departures were both Perth-bound Jetstar flights, departing only 1.5h and 3h later, respectively. (Are there really that many Perth-bound passengers for Jetstar to operate two flights within such a short span of time? Well, the catch is that the second Jetstar flight to Perth operates via Bali-Denpasar.)
My gate for that day was C23, located just a short walk after the airport’s Uniqlo outlet.
Security was a breeze and I was able to use the fast track queue with my Oneworld Sapphire membership. On top of that, the security agents were really friendly.
Soon after, I was happily taking photographs of the aircraft operating my next flight!
Japan Airlines / B767-300ER / JA620J / JL38 SIN-HND
I filled up my bottle and joined the priority boarding queue, which was already quite long.
Boarding commenced soon after at about 1.25am. Here’s the fuselage shot!
A few days before this flight, I happened to come across KevinDC’s flight report on JL712, also a Tokyo-bound flight operated by the exact same aircraft type. The only differences were that JL712 is a day flight, and it’s bound for NRT instead of HND, so the in-flight services may differ slightly.
Nonetheless, having read Kevin’s report, I already had a brief idea of how the cabin looks like and what to expect. This is precisely the beauty of this website – allowing us to share with other fellow travellers our experiences on flights we’ve flown all around the world! Isn’t it?
If you’ve also read Kevin’s report, you would be familiar with this dark red Economy seat. I particularly like the design of the headrest cloth!
A few more photos of the cabin.
The headrest was quite comfortable. But during the flight, I found the seat to be a little hard and at one point, I was having quite a hard time trying to fall asleep.
A pillow and blanket were pre-set on the seats. The blanket was of quite a good quality.
The size of the pillow wasn’t very good, and it was very thin.
Similarly, headsets were also placed in every seat pocket prior to commencement of boarding.
The plastic cover used to wrap the headsets made the headsets look like some rubbish to be disposed, so I quickly removed it and tested out its quality – just average, not too good, not too bad.
The legroom, however, was awesome. Lots of space in front of me!
The IFE was available right from boarding. The controller looks simple yet a little stylish.
The IFE was available in five languages; I chose Traditional Chinese.
This is the main screen, after selecting your language.
I switched to the flight map immediately. It was good and there were many map options available!
Slightly after 1.45am, boarding was almost completed.
The FAs went around distributing Japanese arrival forms and customs declaration document.
We were “ready for departure” at 1.47am, but waited until 2.11am before pushing back.
Our captain explained a bit about the delay as he welcomed us aboard. Captain Morimoto also apologised for the anticipated delay on arrival, which would be due to “slow speed on cruise.” (The English announcement begins at 1:05)
I planned to sleep as much as possible on this flight, so while waiting for the aircraft to be pushed back, I decided to look through the seat pocket contents.
The skyward magazine, JL’s in-flight magazine.
IFE guide, featuring the movie – Paddington.
The duty free shopping catalogue.
Safety information card for this B767-300ER.
Information about the in-flight Wi-Fi.
Another interesting card with information about the “new” JAL Economy Class seat, which is 10cm wider than before. (Sorry for the blurry image, it was 2am and I guess I was already half-asleep.)
The air sickness bag, which has a JAL logo.
And, the drinks menu. Good to have this as it saves the trouble of passengers having to ask FAs “what drinks are available?”
Now, let’s look at the in-flight magazine in a little bit more details.
The “Japan Explorer Pass” being introduced in the magazine. It’s actually quite a deal since the tickets are being sold at about USD99 per flight.
Another featured news was the new Fukuoka to Helsinki route launched by Finnair.
Information about the JAL Mileage Bank, Japan Airlines’ frequent flyer programme.
A short article by a JL crew member from Bangkok, introducing a “Beer Garden” in Sapporo.
Some other contents: Terminal maps, information about the oneworld alliance (in Japanese), details about the use of electronic devices on board.
And the more interesting part of the magazine – the airline’s network maps!
Destinations in North Asia.
Destinations in Southeast Asia – KUL, SIN and CGK.
Down under, there’s only SYD.
JL’s network in Europe is quite extensive.
And finally for North America, 7 destinations in the USA. None in Canada and South America.
[Continuing this report in the JL Sakura Lounge @ NRT]
Some timekeeping for the flight: (UTC+08:00) 0147 Ready for Departure 0211 Push Back 0216 Taxi 0221 Crew be Seated for Takeoff 0223 Take Off
As the safety video played, I can’t help but remember how Kevin described this video as one with “90’s computer animation”, I totally agree with him. In addition, I was surprised to find out that this was actually a “new version” of the safety video, which was released only a few years ago. In contrast, I think ANA has a much better safety video. Go google for both and see the difference by yourself, and you’ll understand what we mean!
We finally pushed back and taxied to the runway after 2am. It was announced soon after we were airborne that breakfast will only be served 2.5h before landing; in other words, it’s time to sleep!
I went to the lavatory to wash up and prepare to sleep.
Amenities were also provided in the lavatories.
Since this is Japan Airlines, I think it isn’t surprising that the lavatory was kept really clean throughout the flight.
Back at my seat, I tried to fall asleep at about 2.50am, 30mins after take off. I did get some sleep eventually, but it was far from quality sleep because the man beside me was snoring quite loudly…
Location of aircraft at 2.50am.
Either way, when I next opened my eyes for good, it was already 6.40am. At least I got to rest for quite some duration. We were flying past Taiwan and overflying Okinawa at that time.
The cabin lights were switched on in Economy (but not in Business) as breakfast service commenced.
The bread was hard like a rock; all I took was one bite of it.
I found it to be quite unique that the “main dish” for breakfast was minestrone soup. Nonetheless, the soup was nice and there was even cheese in it!
Other dishes served on the tray included a salad, a pudding and some fruits.
JL provides metal utensils, so that’s a thumbs up for the airline.
Another interesting observation I made – in contrast to how Emirates has “a policy of waking customers up for meals if they don’t stick the do-not-disturb stickers”, JL sticks such stickers for customers who remained asleep during the meal service, informing them that they can request for meals after they wake up.
Breakfast cleared! Except for the bread.
Time for cabin shots, and to walk around after the filling meal. (Yes, the soup was quite a large serving and indeed rather filling.) Anyway, try spotting the number of “stickers on seatbacks” in the cabin photo below.
You can see clearly that the flight was very full. I estimated that there was an equal proportion of Singaporeans and Japanese aboard this flight – Japan is indeed a favourite holiday destination for many! I can’t believe I haven’t travelled and looked around in Japan before even though this is already my fourth time passing through Tokyo (of which, I cleared immigration and entered Japan thrice).
[Reminder: I’m writing this in JL’s Lounge @ Tokyo-Narita]
Anyway, in the rear Economy section, the emergency exit row has unlimited legroom (probably even more than what the Business class passengers had).
With the full flight, FAs were kept really busy throughout the meal service and thereafter. Despite that, the galley was kept really clean and tidy. This made me really impressed with the Japanese!
Back at my seat, I switched the flight map back on. And also tried to search for the in-flight Wi-Fi’s signal.
The signal appeared to be strong, but I didn’t actually go ahead to test the connection speed, nor did I actually connected to the Wi-Fi.
An hour before landing, an announcement was made regarding landing preparation. (The English announcement begins at 0:55)
Soon after, Captain Morimoto came back on the PA with flight information updates, he apologised again for the delayed arrival. I like it that the pilot provides an exact time as to when the seatbelt sign will be turned on for landing – this allows passengers to plan their time ahead to tidy up their belongings and prepare for arrival. (The English announcement begins at 1:01)
Anyway, the seatbelt signs were switched on at 9.44am (UTC+09:00, Tokyo time), almost exactly as per what the captain announced.
Our final approach into Tokyo Haneda Airport.
The timeline for the final phase of JL38.
(UTC+09:00, Tokyo time) 0944 Signs On 1000 Touch Down 1005 Arrived at Gate 1017 Cleared Immigration 1031 Collected Baggage 1058 Boarded Bus to Narita Airport
So we touched down at 10am exactly, and then took a 5mins-taxi to the terminal.
The announcement after landing. (The English announcement begins at 0:54)
We arrived 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time at 10.05am (Tokyo time).
I didn’t have much time in Tokyo and needed to catch the 11am bus to Narita Airport. So after disembarking, I headed to immigration immediately.
However, this was my first time in Japan and I just couldn’t help but to stop for a few times and take some photos of the aircrafts on the way. =P
Japan Airlines / B777-300ER / JA738J / JL43 HND-LHR
Japan Airlines / B777-200 / JA708J / JL29 HND-HKG
All Nippon Airways / B787-8 / JA808A / NH847 HND-BKK
Finally, I cleared immigration and was officially in Japan for the first time in my life. Sadly, it was just for transit and I wouldn’t have any time to head to the city at all.
I collected my bag, passed through customs (where the officer asked a few questions) and then followed directions to the bus terminal.
All buses departing from Haneda Airport are clearly indicated here.
Before heading downstairs, I realised that I needed to first purchase a ticket from the kiosk located back in the arrival hall.
The machine was very easy to use and I got my bus ticket without hassle.
I walked back to the escalator and headed downstairs, only to realise that there were also ticket machines right at the bus platforms.
There was a long list of bus stops at the platform and I initially thought that these were the stops that my bus would be calling at. Eventually, it turned out that the airport limousine is an express service between HND and NRT.
The bus company’s staff helped to tag my luggage and gave me a baggage receipt which indicated my destination as NRT Terminal 2.
The bus arrived at 10.58am, 2mins before scheduled departure. Here’s some photos of the airport limousine bus, just to give you an idea if you need to use this service any time in future.
The bus seats were comfortable and had quite a bit of recline.
I initially wanted to remain awake and watch the scenery en route to NRT. But this proved to be impossible as I fell asleep unknowingly and woke up only when the bus pulled over to the kerbside at NRT Terminal 2, 1h 20mins later.
And this will be it for my first flight on Japan Airlines! In this series, I’ll have four more JL flight experiences to write about, so do look forward to them!
For now, it’s time to check in for my China Airlines flights to TPE and KHH. See you at the next instalment!
[Signing off from Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge @ Narita Airport]
(To be continued)
This report was completed on 2 Jun 2016 at 6.36pm (UTC+09:00).
Full sized photographs of this flight will be available soon.
Dnata Lounge - 1
Singapore - SIN
Tokyo - HND
Despite the advertised “10cm wider” seats, I didn’t find these Economy seats to be particularly comfortable for a redeye flight like this one. Cabin crews however, were really polite and friendly, despite the super full flight. There were both Japanese and Singaporean crews on board, by the way. I used just the audio function of the entertainment system, but sadly, it did not help me block off my neighbour’s snoring. Meal wise, I was satisfied with the breakfast and really enjoyed drinking the soup!
SATS lounge – I didn’t do much there except find a seat/table and used my computer. Maybe because it was already late at night, I actually found the lounge to be quite pleasant and quiet. I can’t comment much about the food though since I didn’t eat anything, but from what I remember, there was quite a good variety even late at night.
HND airport – I liked the fact that planespotting was possible upon arrival. There was quite a queue for arrival immigration too, but it cleared quickly and since I was able to catch my 11am bus, I guess the airport’s efficiency was okay! On the overall, I’m gonna give the airport a high score since my first impression of it was really good.
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