Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that provided a chance to try several First Class products and lounges that were new to me and also enjoy some familiar but fantastic experiences along the way. A while back I had enough Krisflyer miles in my account to wait list for SQ25. This is a tough nut to crack for us mere mortals. (Rewardflying uses Jedi mind tricks to secure space on a whim.) I went about searching the SQ award engine for the rest of the year and wait listed on the only 4 dates (that could possibly work with my schedule) where even wait listing was available. I wait listed for both JFK-FRA and JFK-SIN. Fast forward several months and the magic email arrives telling me I have 48 hours to confirm my booking but only on the JFK-FRA segment. I'll take it!
If I'm going to be in FRA and flying Star Alliance I will all too sad not to drop in on my German friends and their spectacular lounges. The problem is I cannot book LH F through Krisflyer until space opens two weeks prior to departure. This date would come after my 48 hour window to book SQ. In comes the trusty Star Alliance member Asiana and their ever present F availability. I booked JFK-FRA-ICN on SQ and OZ as a place holder until LH comes calling. The SQ change fees are so very minimal it was worth it to me to have something. Worst case scenario is 10 hours in an OZ A380 suite. Concurrently I place flight alerts on Expert Flyer for just about every LH flight heading east form either FRA or MUC. The two week window arrives and the emails start flying in. Well, not really. FRA-PEK, FRA-PVG and, most interesting to me, MUC-PVG all offer O class space. Munich piques my interest as I have never done LH F from there and I know they have a new F lounge as well as a remodeled F lounge. Oh and expert Flyer was showing F8 for MUC-PVG.
I can't leave the table while I'm up so I start looking for where to go after PVG on this ticket. I would like to get to Tokyo but the connections don't work without an 8 hour wait. International to International MCT at PVG is 2 ours, just FYI so the other options didn't allow enough time. What about Osaka? I do like Osaka a great deal for night time food and adult beverage consumption. Plus, it's closer to Tokyo… Great, let's add PVG-KIX and book this thing! The Krisflyer rep on the phone had me hold to verify this was a legal routing but I'm confident. Shortly I have an email confirming JFK-FRA-MUC-PVG-KIX. What fun!
Now to get to JFK. I had a little snafu, you may have read about, with a ticket issued by American Airlines. Due to a date error i wasn't able to use it when I expected. I think I will try to use these miles/ticket to get to JFK. Then, in a somewhat miracle fashion, the points blogosphere blows up with news of AA releasing a lot of F and J space on the LAX-JFK transcon routes. Normally this is none. OK, this was meant to be. I look up my date and low and behold it's there. F space from LAX-JFK that fits perfectly. A call to AA and a super agent even waived all the fees. She siad technically I'm upgrading to a higher class of service so she can waive the change fee on the award ticket. Never mind that the city pairs had changed… I had to kick in 20k extra miles but i was excited to try the new AA F experience with new lounges and dining.
There is now one hole. TYO-LAX. I suppose you know how that ends. ANA of course. My favorite redemption, for 110k Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, I booked NRT-LAX-NRT with the outbound to complete this mission and the return to begin another adventure in November. Enough talk, let's fly.
Behold the visual representation courtesy of gcmap.com:
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Even a same ticket, same alliance flight connection here requires entering China in some fashion (I have a Visa so I just go that route) and circling back to check in at the departures level. My connection was 3 hours so I was not pressed for time. The VIP treatment from LH on the arrival certainly made a huge difference here as I was through in 15 minutes. I've spent as much as an hour on the same formalities.
I located the ANA check in desks and presented my passport.
Leaving China was expedient today. The passport control was about 15 minutes and security was another 15 minutes, using a First/Business class lane.
I don't have much to say about the Air China Business Class lounge as I only utilized one feature, the nap room. It is a fantastic feature and has been immediately available every time I have visited this lounge. The room is dark, quiet, and provisioned with water, slippers, and an alarm clock. Also fantastic is a thermostat to control the room temperature. The bed is twin sized and very firm but perfectly suitable for a nap. The bedding appears clean and crisp. I was keen to go out in Osaka later that night so I was doing everything I could do to sleep opportunistically. I set a timer on my phone and had a 90 minute nap.
I awoke disoriented but with time to gather my belongings, use the restroom, and rush to the gate with boarding in the late stages.
I was welcomed aboard the 767-300ER and located my seat. It was an extremely light load in Business, perhaps on account of it being Saturday night. There were 7 passengers. The aircraft interior was a study in contradictions. The seats and related finishes looked ancient but the aircraft was equipped with the latest (for the 767) pivot bins. Also, I'm not used to seeing the 2-1-2 configuration.
The seats themselves are a blast from the past. The large storage area attached to the center seats is a great feature.
I tend to prefer seats in the rear of the cabin for engine and wing views so I selected 11G.
Headphones were not the substantial variety.
I appreciate the slippers on a sub two hour flight.
The IFE was also dated but was VOD.
I was surprised to see the nose gear/forward facing camera on the 767.
Menus listing food and beverage options were presented. Only one meal option but a rather extensive beverage selection.
Departure was timely and taxi was relatively short by PVG standards.
Service began with the oshibori and offer of a beverage. I opted for an Asahi and water. Additionally I am asked if I would like to enjoy the meal offering.
It's a simple one tray meal on this short flight. My experience with ANA is they generally keep the hot dish covered to retain some heat so you may enjoy your starter and still have a warm main.
I was impressed with the presentation of the appetizer(s).
The fish was also well cooked to retain some flake. I was by no means hungry but I tasted most of the elements and there are no complaints. I didn't manage a taste of the corn bread or matcha sweet cake.
Service was impeccable with several offers to top up water and beer and offers of coffee and tea. I deployed the limited recline and enjoyed another beer and the flight was over.
A few hours in Osaka!
Bonus : Click here to displayhide
I really get a kick out of Osaka and the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi in particular. So even though I was fairly pooped I decided not to miss an opportunity to stroll and snack and drink. With this in mind I found a very affordable hotel near Namba Station and made the most of my short stay.
Arrivals hall at KIX.
Nankai rail station.
Funky train to Namba.
Thank goodness for Google Maps or I would still be wondering the alleys near Namba Station.
Quick stop at the hotel to ditch my bag and add a layer of warm clothes (the SQ lounge wear serves many purposes) and I was off to hit the streets.
I had a lovely time walking and taking in the sighs and smells. Even though it was early Sunday morning there was no shortage of patrons out enjoying this culinary wonderland. I couldn't resist ducking into a little shop and having a taste. Kuchihachou was perfect and I enjoyed all of the bites.
Time to hit the rack, sleep a few hours and then find my way to 大阪国際空港 Ōsaka Kokusai Kūkō.
Air China Business Class Lounge No. 71
Shanghai - PVG
Osaka - KIX
The Ground Service: Nothing on departure.
The Lounge: The Air China Business Class Lounge, and the First Class Side for that matter, exceeds my expectaion of a mainland China carrier operated lounge. The sleeping rooms (there are 3) are an excellent feature.
The Cabin: It's dated, and then it isn't. I found the cabin to be perfectly serviceable for t a two hour flight. NRT-CGK on a red eye would not be acceptable, for example.
The Crew: i come to expect excellent service on ANA and they continuously deliver. Now this was such a light load I can't say it's a good yardstick for all their regional ops.
The Food and Beverage: Perfectly appropriate for a < 2hour flight.
Overall: It's always a treat to fly with ANA and this flight did nothing to change that perspective for me.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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