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:
After napping for a few hours I sprung out of bed excited for today's flights. Visiting an airport for the first time is a great motivator for an avgeek. I had done cursory research on a bus that left from a depot very near my hotel that goes virtually directly to ITM. Google Maps to the rescue again and about 15 minutes and many turns through alleys and shopping streets i was at the bus depot. Buying a ticket was easy and the bus only made one stop. Turns out the one stop was right by my hotel! Oh well.
About 30 minutes later we're approaching ITM on a bright Sunday morning.
The bus stopped about equidistant from the ANA and JAL check in counters. I walked on tot eh JAL side of the airport and entered the check in lobby. It was rather busy but I had a mobile boarding pass so I went straight to security. Ther was only a brief wait and I was through. I was never asked for ID, an odd feeling for a US based flyer.
Air side was much quieter. It was so easy to get in I was now rather early. I strolled about and checked out the JAL equipment at the various gates.
I spotted a JAL Sakura lounge and popped in to check it out. This nice lady said no, without an onward connection in J or F from NRT I am not entitled to use the lounge. Apparently a connection on ANA in F doesn't carry any clout in a JAL lounge. Who knew ;)
I located my aircraft for this morning parked at gate 19.
Signs detailing the boarding process were posted. Protective bags were on offer to insulate your purse or coat should you ahve to store them under the seat or in the overhead. What a thoughtful Japanese touch.
There was a JAL service center across from our gate on an otherwise deserted pier.
Some more spotting before boarding.
Boarding started very near departure as is the norm here.
I was aboard quickly and seated in the full J cabin. As a n aside I had a non-window seat at the time of ticketing but set an alert on Experflyer for a window. A week or so before departure I received a notice and moved myself to 6A my most preferred seat in the cabin.
It's a fairly standard staggered 767 lie flat J product but one of the newer versions.
The tray table.
The foot well.
Seat information card.
Almost full flight but boarded and pushed in a blink.
Some views on taxi at this one runway airfield.
Excellent views on climb.
The seat belt sign was turned off very early in the climb so I took the opportunity to visit the lav before the cart was in the aisle.
Aircraft and crew placards found in JAL equipment.
Out over Ise Bay a good look at NGO. I thought I was looking at Kansai (KIX) but member Numero_2 pointed out that KIX has two runways. Thanks for the education.
Service commenced quickly with a choice of beverage. I opted for water and coffee. No refills were offered. The service was the same in economy. No snack of any kind.
The moving map was the only feature available with the AVOD, in horrible resolution. This was disappointing and I can't for the life of me figure out why. yes it's a short flight so you won't finish a film but what's the harm in turning it on?
A shot of Fujisan.
Approaching Narita heading northwest.
Vectoring for a Southeast approach to 16L.
Parking spot at gate 65.
Walking around Narita.
My first domestic arrival in Japan and I headed straight to shuttle bus to Terminal 1 so i could stash my bag and head into town.
The Keisei Mainline to Narita.
A shot walk through the JR station to my breakfast spot.
I chose a random bun thinking it might be the curry puff that has the soft egg in it. Nope.
Love the story on the bag from the bakery.
A stroll down the Omotesando towards the temple.
The temple is celebrating a birthday. I had to read it twice to realize it was one thousand eighty years and not one hundred eighty years.
More sights on the shopping street.
A walk through the temple to get to the park. There was an ice sculpture exhibition taking place.
Up more stairs only descend into the park. A few blossoms were starting to show.
Lovely pond in the park.
Looking up at one of the pagodas.
On the way back to the airport I used the JR line as it was about 20 yen less than Keisei and I had the exact fare left on my Suica card. I would have needed to add more to cover the 250 yen fare on the Keisei line.
Osaka - ITM
Tokyo - NRT
The Ground Service: N/A.
The Lounge: No access. Knew this going in but wanted to try my luck. Just like flying from LAX-DFW in AA F I don't get Admirals Club access.
The Cabin: Quite the opposite from the 767-300ER from last night. This is a new cabin with full flat seats. I was rather appalled at the resolution of the moving map otherwise it's a good seat.
The Crew: The flight leader was serving my side and she addressed me by name. I was surprised they didn't offer to top off beverages on their way back by after serving Y.
The Food and Beverage: Rather poor offering. I expected it to be like a LAX-SFO in F experience. Full bar available, a snack basket or something, but no. Coffee, juice or tea.
Overall: It's a short flight so I understand the service limitations to some extent. Drink refills, a packaged snack, and access to the AVOD would have been appreciated.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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