Hello, and welcome to another flight-report series with yours truly. This trip will cover a quick journey across the Pacific to Japan with Delta in business class — in this case, the trip back home from Haneda to Toronto.
DL6825 - YYZ-DTW - 8/14/2017 - CRJ-900 - F - Not reported DL275 - DTW-NRT - 8/14/2017 - 747-400 - J - Find it here DL120 - HND-MSP - 8/17/2017 - 777-200ER - J - You are here DL1556 - MSP-YYZ - 8/17/2017 - 717-200 - F - Brief summary below
This trip was booked because Delta once again was kind enough to have a very attractive business class fare on Toronto to Tokyo. The main purpose was to get one more 747 trip in, but unfortunately, the return NRT-DTW flight wasn’t playing nicely with the deeply discounted fare. However, the comparatively new Haneda to Minneapolis flight was available, and this flight did have some interest for me — I’ve not explored much of Haneda before, and I’ve not flown the Delta 777 (although the seat is very familiar to me as a longtime Air Canada flyer.)
Arrival, check-in, and observation deck
The Airbnb where I stayed in Minato was a short walk to a subway station, just one station down the line from Mita Station, at which one can switch the Asukasa Line which is semi-express from there to Haneda — the whole process took about half an hour and was super-easy, and so much more cost- and time-effective than getting to or from Narita. No wonder Haneda is so popular.
I arrived at Haneda about 1:20 in the afternoon, a little later than I’d intented, but still in plenty of time. The airport struck me immediately in that “modern Asian major airport kind of way,” with quite a nice main hall for the international terminal.
Delta’s space was easy to fine, and quite large. There was no wait at the Sky Priority line, and very quickly I was checked in, boarding pass issued, and a lounge invite handed over. The friendly agent explained to me that I was welcome to use either TIAT Sky Lounge — the main or the “annex” location, but that the Annex location was located right by the gate from which we’d be departing. So that makes the most sense.
But before heading through security, it was time to go upstairs and explore the wonder of this lovely airport a bit.
One of the major attractions for the small floor above the departures level is the Tokyo/Edo heritage-style buildings and the scale representation of the iconic Nihombashi, from which this photo was taken. Just lovely and very cool.
The other major attraction of this floor is the massive observation deck, which runs a good portion of the international terminal. On behalf of avgeeks everywhere, I offer my sincere thanks to Japanese airport designers. Things are a little quiet at this hour, but needless to say, the spotting opportunities are excellent from this perch.
As I arrive, a Shanghai Airlines A330 is pushing back, on its way to… oh… I’m guessing Shanghai?
A look across the apron of the international terminal, featuring a CI A330, an LH 747.
There’s a good view of the rather massive domestic terminal, as well.
The photos don’t do it justice because the camera I was rocking has a lousy zoom — major faux pas on my part — but this is also a great place to watch arrivals and departures. Arrivals, in particular, were being conducted on the runway between the international terminals this day, so it was a great view. Again, the picture does it no justice, but it was close enough that you really got to “feel” the power of the thrust reversers as planes landed, particularly the big guys. Here, a CZ A330 touches down.
This was a really fun place to pull up the “augmented reality” view on the Flightradar24 app and see who was about to be coming or going.
Looking the other way, things were clear enough despite the rather cloudy day that a good part of the Tokyo skyline was visible in the distance.
Speaking of big guys landing — a hometown 777 pulls in, and nobody can possibly miss the roar of those reversers as they come on.
After enjoying the deck for a while longer, it was time to head inside. It had been a while since breakfast at this point, and I was starting to get hungry. Time to solve that problem.
Security was very quick — and very cordial in that typical Japanese style — and in no time, I was airside. Lots of retail, good navigation. Some of the restaurants looked very interesting, but not for me, I was heading for the lounge to see what was on offer.
TIAT Sky Lounge Annex HND
The newer of the two TIAT Sky Lounges at HND, the Annex is located out near one end of the terminal — as was suggeted by the agent, conveniently close to the gates Delta uses. It’s upstairs from the main departure level by a couple of floors, but easy to find, if in a somewhat unwelcomingly dark hallway. The lounge voucher, to which a duplicate boarding pass was stapled, was collected, and I was welcomed inside.
The lounge was sparsely occupied when I showed up here, but would fill in a bit as pax from both the LAX and MSP flights were waiting here. Then it would clear out a bit later, after the LAX flight crowd had departed. It’s not huge, but is a nicely-adorned medium-sized lounge, very clean, very modern, and very comfortable. Plugs are ample, as befits a modern lounge.
Some reading materials on offer.
Apron views are almost as good as from the observation deck. On the plus side, you can have a drink and a comfy seat while you watch from here. On the down side, you can’t “feel” those thrust reversers. As you can see, they weren’t kidding about being pretty close to the Delta gates.
Right then… how about a snack? The food selection isn’t really world-class, but isn’t bad for a contract lounge.
The small buffet area.
We start with a small but simple bar — the Japanese whisky catches my attention, and I decide to check i tout before I depart. There’s a small sign that indicates that an “ice ball” is available for those ho want their whisky on the rocks. Sounds… interesting.
Other drinks, beer pour-o-matic, and coffee machine.
Soft drinks and water.
At the other end of the buffet, we start in on the foods — rice, onion soup, and vegetable curry.
Sushi and edamame.
There were also a couple of hot dishes — “fried chicken” and an empty fried noodles dish. I retreat to my space overlooking the apron with some French onion soup, some sushi, and some chicken, along with a ginger ale. All is pretty good.
I follow that up with a coke, some of the veggie curry (taste, very good… consistency, not so good), and a delicious “strawberry cheese mousse” dessert that really hits the spot.
Finally, it’s time to go try that whisky. I get myself a small sample, and end up chatting with an older Japanese woman who’s also having a bit. She’s a charming woman returning home to her husband on the East Coast after having been home for a few weeks. Her husband, it seems, is quite the Japanese whisky enthusiast, and would quite approve of the beverage on offer. I quite approve as well. It’s a very nice little treat, and a pleasant beverage to go along with some apron-watching. And remember…. “for relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”
From my seat, I get to watch the Air Canada direct to Toronto arrive on the central runway.
A check on the plane slated to operate my flight to Minny today shows it’s coming in from LAX, and it’s a running about a half-hour late. WiFi is just the generic Haneda access point, as near as I can tell. But it works well enough to make it a happy browsing experience.
After a while, the resident DL bird pushes back, ready to make her way across to Los Angeles.
At nearly the same time, what’s this I see touching down on on the runway? Why, I do believe that’s my ride over to Minneapolis!
Soon enough, the only two Delta planes at Haneda are crossing paths like two strangers in the night. Or rather, two Delta 777s in the mid-afternoon. But there’s no Sinatra song about that, unfortunately.
My ride pulls in at the gate next to the one from which the LAX flight has just departed. So it’ll be an even shorter walk to get to my gate. Score!
I spend a little while longer enjoying the lounge — one more whisky just because why not — and then just a little bit past when boarding is supposed to begin, I decide it’s time to make my way down to the gate.
Surely enough, no spoiler here, but there she is, albeit much harder to see from here on the departure level than it was from above.
Things are fairly quiet at the gate — there was some quiet (very Japanese-style) drama with a bunch of agents paying a great deal of attention to one passenger — I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be boarding our flight, or if he’d just come off the flight from LAX, but he was surrounded by a couple of DL airport agents and a couple of security guards, so it certainly appeared that something was up.
Boarding was called after a few minutes, and I was one of the first in line to board after those needing extra time and those with children. Actually, I was the first. There was some confusion and a few passengers who weren’t supposed to board in the Premium group were asked to wait.
The Flight Report
Flight: DL120 From: Tokyo Haneda (HND) To: Minneapolis (MSP) Date: 8/17/2017 Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER Registration: N864DA Seat: 7A ATD (STD): 18:02 (16:20) ATA (STA): 13:35 (14:31)
For this flight, I was seated in 7A, port window in the last row of the forward business class cabin. Stepping aboard, I felt instant nostalgia. It really was like boarding an AC flight a few years ago. Okay, the seat cover was a much more attractive blue leather as opposed to AC’s fabric. But so familiar, down to the little closet on the aisle side just behind this row, which makes for an extremely private seat.
The seat was already decked out with slippers, amenity kit, and Delta’s excellent bedding and pillows kit.
Along with the privacy the closet affords this seat, the big benefit of the seat is this extra storage space between the seat and the closet. It really comes in handy.
Legroom shot. Wow. This one in particular really could be an AC flight from a few years ago.
Below the upper shelf of the outer armrest, a bottle of Evian awaits.
These seats are showing their age in some regards — this isn’t a good look in a premium cabin.
The forward wall of the pod has your reading light, and seat controls. All look very familiar. Headphone jacks and a USB port is also in here, along with the always-handy Ethernet port.
Here’s one thing that’s not the same. For some reason, the screen seems smaller than I remember the AC screen. As usual with Delta, it’s stuck in commercials mode throughout boarding.
A look across the aisle. This seat would remain unoccupied through takeoff, but shortly after reaching 10,000 feet, a man was escorted to this seat by a couple of flight attendants, who quickly brought him a ginger ale, and a bag. Apparently he’d had a rough time of takeoff in the rear min-cabin, from what I could tell. He didn’t look ill, but I didn’t think he ate anything for the whole flight.
Here’s a great pic of the power jack under the forward armrest. Well, at least it worked.
Menus were presented — I’d pre-selected the Japanese meal, but let’s take a look, shall we? It looks very similar — almost identical — to my menu from Beijing - Detroit a month earlier.
While we’re at the gate, the window is completely obstructed by jetway.
Meal orders are taken, as we’re told that they’re going to have to take a bit of cargo off the plane to make weights for the winds they’re expecting. So there’s a bit of a wait. Then a bit more of a wait as they unload a bit more. All-in-all, once boarding was done, we were stuck at the gate for about 45 minutes. I dozed off through part of the wait, waking up as we were pushing back.
I never received a pre-departure beverage, but it appears others around me did — so they must have done a very late PDB service during the delay after I fell asleep. Oh well.
Once we did push back, it was a short taxi, and were off into the late afternoon sky over Tokyo and eastward-bound.
While I wait for the service to begin, let’s take a look at some of the service items. The standard “States-bound” amenity kit, unboxed. As usual, it’s a decent kit — I really like the little Tumi pen, and the socks.
The new LSTN headphones. I tried them again. I didn’t like them again — not nearly enough noise-cancelling. I stick with my Bose.
Unlike my westbound flight, this plane has been loaded with new content for August, which is quite welcome, as I was just about done everything I could have ever wanted to see from the previous month’s roster. I end up putting on Ghost int he Shell, as I’d been interested in seeing it.
One we’re past 10,000, service begins with a very hot towel.
My table is quickly set, and the drink cart comes by. A Bloody Mary and some Pellegrino for me, with heated nuts to accompany.
Shortly thereafter, the Japanese meal starters are presented, along with some green tea and sake.
The stuffed shrimp and fish here were really good among the various small starters.
Interesting Japanese pickles.
Various vegetables — not quite as described in the menu, but pretty good.
This little dish didn’t seem to map to anything on the menu. Decently tasty, though.
When I’m done the starters, my main dish is quickly delivered. It didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t enjoy this eel nearly as much as the eel on the flight in from Detroit. Oh well. I guess they can’t all be winners.
Steamed rice is steamed rice.
The miso soup wasn’t nearly as good as the DTW-NRT miso soup. But fortunately, it was miso soup, so it was fine. Just not fantastic.
After my main course dishes were cleared, the dessert cart came around. Let’s start with the cheese, please. I always really enjoy Delta’s cheese mix.
I had this dessert a month earlier on PEK-DTW, and really enjoyed it. Sure enough, it’s still really good.
With dinner done, I make a quick visit to the lav — absolutely nothing exciting — and change into my Delta One pajamas, from another flight. Flights to Japan don’t make the grade, unfortunately.
As I emerge, one of the flight attendants comments on how comfortable I look, and as I head back to my seat, I hear her talking to her colleagues in a way that makes me believe she’s never seen the pajamas in use before. Interesting.
Having spent a busy day and a half in Tokyo, and woken up quite early this morning, I’m pretty exhausted. So immediately after dinner’s done and I’ve changed, I pause the movie and decide to turn in for some sleep. I had forgotten how comfortable these older seats are for sleeping. I approve, very much.
By the time I wake up, the Pacific is behind me, and we’re over the coast of northern British Columbia.
Time for a movie. An interesting retelling of the Bernie Madoff story, it kills the time.
WiFi was also functional, and thanks to my U.S. Mobile iPass subscription — boy, I sure hope that deal comes back — I’m connected throughout the flight, although I have to admit I spent most of the time sleeping, relaxing, and generally enjoying the experience.
I connect with the Delta Twitter team over the Internet, and get them to standby me on an earlier MSP-YYZ flight than I’m booked on, although I’m fairly sure I won’t be able to make that connection. I’ll look for other options when I’m on the ground.
As the movie comes to its end, the pre-arrival service begins with a hot towel.
The table is set, and beverages are offered. I go with my usual breakfast combination.
As breakfast begins, we’re crossing the Canadian border into North Dakota airspace.
To keep myself entertained, I put on a documentary — I never did get it done, and it didn’t grab me. A little fringe/conspiracy-theorist for my tastes, personally.
As is usually the case on Delta, the pre-arrival meal is a single tray served all at the same time. I chose the Indonesian noodles with shrimp dish, having suffered through the “egg pie” dish on PEK-DTW a month earlier, and not having been a fan. This was pretty simple, and would have benefited from some veggies for variety of flavour and texture, but was fine for what it was. The shrimp weren’t tough and were reasonably tasty, with an appropriate touch of spice to it.
A pretty bog-standard croissant was also included.
As was some fruit — not my mix of choice, unfortunately. I’m not big on oranges except in liquid form.
And finally, a Lindt chocolate rounded out the meal.
After breakfast is done, I change out of my jammies and get ready for arrival into Minneapolis. Outside, it’s looking like quite a nice day as we begin our descent.
With the flight almost over, let’s let the port wing and powerplant to tell the story of my arrival into Minneapolis.
Finally, we pulled into the terminal, next to our fellow Delta widebodies.
We were all bid fond goodbyes, and let loose on the airport.
This was my first time arriving into MSP on an international flight, and I was pretty pleased with the experience — I don’t think there were any other international arrivals around the same time, so with Global Entry, it was very quick and efficient.
Getting Home from Minny
Having made it through customs and re-clearing security, I headed to the SkyClub in MSP to chill for a while. Having missed the earlier MSP-YYZ flight by a fair margin, I took a look at MSP-YYZ options, and noticed an available F seat on a MSP-ATL-YYZ schedule. It would get me in a bit later, but would earn me a few more qualifying miles, and I’d get dinner on MSP-ATL. So I called in and did the same-day change, which went perfectly. Free SDCs on international flights aren’t a published Medallion benefit, but in my experience, once the international portion of your itinerary is in the rear-view mirror, most agents will let you make such changes to remaining domestic portions of your trip.
I was rewarded by a perfectly good 757 flight in 1B from Minneapolis to Atlanta, with a very fun crew, and actually quite a nice dinner — a steak that was even a little pink in the middle — the best non-Delta One domestic dinner I’ve had on the airline. Then it was a short connection in ATL, and a short and uneventful hop up to Toronto on a 717.
And that’s where we’ll leave this particular story. Thanks so much for reading about this adventure, and I hope to see you all on future adventures, and read your some of your own!
Delta Air Lines
TIAT Lounge Annex
Tokyo - HND
Minneapolis - MSP
All in all, a pretty decent Delta One experience. The seat may look a little different in Delta colours, but it still held a lot of nostalgia for me, as all of my first flat bed flights were on AC 767s, 330s and 777s equipped with basically the same seat. The crew, as usual with Delta, was pretty good. Catering was passable.
Would I preferred to have flown this on The Queen as well as the outbound? Yes, but this itinerary also had its advantages — I got a 777 flight on this equipment before they get swapped out for the new Suites in the future, I got to fly out of, and spend a little time at, Haneda, an airport I’ve wanted to check out for some time, and perharps most importantly, it didn’t more than double the cost of this trip, which a 747 NRT-DTW flight would have.
I’m glad to have had the experience.
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