Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I am sharing a recent trip to Asia with JAL, Thai Airways, and ANA. The trip came about because I parked a return leg (NRT-ORD to be specific) of an ANA ticket on a random day in January, having used the outbound USA to Japan ticket back in August. When I booked the round trip in July the January return seemed so far off. Time flies when you're flying in premium cabins so January came before I know it. I could pay $50 to Virgin Atlantic to move the flight to some other date or find a way to Japan and use the ticket. The timing worked out with work and home life that I decided to use the ticket as is.
I had some Alaska Miles and some Krisflyer miles on hand in sufficient amounts so I started my search for a way to Asia using those currencies. Nothing on SQ excited me except for SQ25 but that wasn't even available for wait list on the day(s) I needed so I turned my attention to JAL and CX by way of Alaska Mileage Plan. Cathay didn't look very encouraging and JAL had space on both JFK-HND and JFK-NRT in F on the day I wanted to travel. Perfect! The Haneda departure is later so I opted for that one to allow more time to get to JFK. With Mileage Plan another 5k miles gets you an onward flight with JAL so why not keep going. HND-SIN with new (to me) business class seats was available so I tacked that one on too.
I have two holes now: Southern California to JFK and SIN-TYO. The first was easy 25k Alaska miles for Virgin America LAX-JFK. I could have done NRSA but I didn't want to sit in coach for a red eye flight. Starting out a long trip, with little to no ground sleeping time planned, already sleep deprived didn't seem like a good plan. Even though the Virgin America product is far from competitive on this route I figured I could get some sleep.
The second hole has many options. I have a small orphan balance of AA miles so that's where I started. Lots of Oneworld choices on the SIN-TYO route but I was drawn to MH. I have a soft spot for Malaysia Airlines and wanted to try them again. SIN-KUL-NRT was available at the times I wanted so I booked it. Or so I thought. You will see from map below of my final routing the flights didn't go as planned…
Courtesy of gcmap.com
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Tokyo International Airport Observation Deck and JAL First Class Lounge Haneda
I returned to Haneda via the Tokyo Monorail. The winter decor in the International Departure Building is quite striking.
The frigid winter temperatures (look, I live in Southern California) isn't going to keep me from a visit to the observation deck.
Various "downtowns" of Tokyo in the distance.
50 787s in the fleet. That's very impressive.
The Japanese operate lots of 787s.
The cold air and the promise of a lovely fist class lounge led me back indoors after about 15 minutes.
I walked up to the "Premium" security line and presented my boarding pass but was turned away. A lowly J passenger on JAL is not eligible. In my mind I was still a First Class passenger. The queues for security and immigration were minor.
A left turn after clearing passport control and we find the JAL First Class Lounge, among others.
When I entered the lounge I was greeted by name before handing over my credentials. It turns out that I left something on board the aircraft on the JFK-HND sector, which I had yet to discover, and the staff had been waiting all evening for my return. I was admitted to the lounge and told someone would be along to return my item. Again, fantastically focused and extensive service.
I made my way into the lounge and down the lovely hall flanked by Japanese shoji screens.
The lounge is very spacious and offers a diversity of seating options. Of course Oneworld First Class lounges have to be huge as everyone has access ;)
The central part of the lounge is the dining area with buffet and teppan station.
I was not desirous of food but I cannot pass up a freshly prepared beef dish off the teppan. The meat was tender and flavorful, as always. I helped myself to some of the pickled items from the buffet as well.
There are two beverage stations, on in the buffet area and one at the far end of the lounge. As far as I can tell they are similarly equipped. The Hibiki 17 is a fantastic whiskey to stock on a self serve bar.
For me the highlight of the lounge is the "Red Suite". It's a beautiful alcove made up of several rooms. The style is very different from the rest of the facility and very elegant and striking. It is reminiscent of bygone era of style and travel. I also very rarely find other passengers enjoying the space. On this day an Australian family was enjoying the game room. It was nice to see and hear their enjoyment of the space that I normally find empty.
The Red Suite is also the place to go for Sake and Champagne. There is a striking anteroom to the right of the Red Suite entrance that has a beautiful display of LP Champagne and several chilled sakes.
I frittered away the remaining time in the lounge enjoying the Hibiki 17.
Off to the gate then. It's just steps from the lounge today. Business class is the second group to board after JAL and Oneworld status flyers.
This was my first time experiencing the Sky Suite III business set. First impressions are favorable as reverse herringbone configurations in J are usually fairly good.
This is 10K. There was an amenity "bag", headphones, pillow, slippers, and blanket on the seat.There is a small storage compartment for headphones. I really dig the JAL logo on the bag.
A rather dated looking IFE controller.
The foot well is decent size.
Privacy is decent although there is no one next to me to compare with.
IFE screen is the stationary variety with sharp resolution.
I am greeted by an exuberant Singaporean flight attendant and welcomed on board. She is beaming with smiles and energy even though our departure time is in the wee hours of the morning. It's quite infectious and quickly I find myself excited to be here, by association. Champagne is offered and accepted.
The menu and drink list is distributed for this overnight flight. There are a couple of snack options and then a breakfast.
A breakfast order card is also distributed. I checked to wake me and opted for the Japanese breakfast.
I have a look at the operation of the tray table. This mechanism is new to me and works well.
Before we took off the dynamic flight attendant asked what I would like after we take off. Wanting to experience everything I opted for some Champagne and the "Amuse" dish from the anytime menu.
Soon we were aloft and the mood lighting was in full effect.
Seemingly very quickly I am offered Champagne and tray delivered. I assume most of the cabin just goes to sleep so service is prompt for those who desire it.
After that I put the seat back and have a good 4 hour nap. I borrow a pillow and blanket from an empty seat to round out the bedding. The flimsy pillow and blanket that one would expect for a short day flight are completely inadequate for a 7 hour overnight flight. They're shockingly bad.
I awake as the lights begin to brighten for breakfast service. We're passing Palawan and approaching the island of Borneo.
Juice and hot towel are promptly delivered.
The jam packed Japanese breakfast tray is delivered. There is quite a lot of flavor packed on to this tray. I manage a taste of every dish. Highlights to me are the pickles, beef and burdock, and crab meat. The yellowtail was also nice. I'm on approach to Singapore and it would be a major tactical error to arrive with a full belly!
Green tea is offered and refilled.
I also enjoy some coffee after breakfast. Old habits die hard.
We're getting close now and the cabin is prepared for arrival.
For fun we do some acrobatic loops over Bintan and then head in to Changi.
Our 777 resting before tracing steps back up to Japan.
Eating the day away in Singapore
Bonus : Click here displayhide
What do you do with 8 hours in Singapore? A lot of walking and a lot of eating of course.
Singapore Zam Zam. The mutton murtabak is divine.
Right around the corner is the reason I was in this neighborhood at all. Oh the beautiful Laksa.
Some chicken rice to close out the party. The fragrance is haunting.
JAL First Class Lounge
Tokyo - HND
Singapore - SIN
The Ground Service: JAL J class doesn't even get you into the priority screening line at Haneda.
The Lounge: I'm a fan of the JAL First Class Lounge at Haneda. The design is attractive, the buffet is thorough and the teppan is a great add. The Red Suite is stunning.
The Cabin: It's a dense J product but overall it's a massive improvement over other regional JAL J cabins I've tried. I was able to sleep well for several hours so that's a fairly good endorsement.
The Crew: A delightful FA working in my section. Excellent service and I was always addressed by name.
The Food and Beverage: Not the best flight times to showcase the JAL culinary aptitude.
Overall: The new JAL Skysuite III is a comfortable way to travel. I'm pleased they are using this configuration on the long regional routes a la SIN. An upgrade to the bedding is definitely in order. Even Delta offers the plush pillow and duvet like you would find on an international long haul flight for this route.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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