Greetings Flight Report community and welcome aboard. OK, OK it's another ANA report. I'm aware they have been plentiful. This time is different though, I'm going out and back rather than around the world. See, keeping it interesting for the dear readers.
The genesis for this trip was actually a trip in July. My pal Mark and I had a spectacular Lufthansa First Class extravaganza that left us in Tokyo with a need for a ride home. Enter Virgin Atlantic and their unbelievable redemption of 110k Flying Club points for a round trip in ANA First Class. In the miles and points world that's the preferred was to get between the US West Coast and Tokyo. The gods of mileage redemption smiled on us and we found two F seats from Tokyo to LAX on the July day we needed. His was HND-LAX and mine NRT-LAX but it was good enough. Flying Club require a round trip redemption so we had to park the return segment somewhere. I scoured Expertflyer and found two First Class seats on LAX-NRT for January 17th, 2019. Darn it all we'd have to plan a second trip around that segment. If we must. So then, you're up to speed on how we and why we presented ourselves at LAX on this date and time.
As for building out a trip around this flight to Tokyo it was easy. Mark loved eating around Singapore on a previous trip so I told him if we ever get a chance to go back to that part of the world I think he would really enjoy Kuala Lumpur, for many of the same reasons he enjoyed Singapore. Amazing cuisines as a result cultural diversity chief among them. I added the KL is a lot like a less polished version of SIN. Also, it's a much less expensive hotel town so we could stay in luxury for a fraction of the price. So it was settled, we'd make our way down to KUL and, since we were in the neighborhood, we'd swing by Hong Kong on the way home. Mark hasn't had the pleasure of visiting HK either.
In the 6 months between trips I planed and schemed and fleshed out all of the segments on points (some his but mostly mine) so that we would travel in relative comfort. We would rely on Delta to non-rev home on the last T-Pac segment, which likely meant economy class for Mark. Can't win them all.
Spoiler alert: Things didn't go to plan for either of us. The first installment contains the unfortunate circumstances.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Mark and I were the first two passengers to alight NH5 from LAX. We bid farewell to one another and I assured him he will have an email in the morning with some flight info to get back to LAX. I presented myself to the ANA agent next to a sign that said MH815 KUL. She verified that I had a boarding pass so she handed me a long yellow streamer with some numbers on it and informed be of my departure gate. I suppose the streamer was to identify me at security as someone with a tight connection. It wasn't needed as I was the first passenger to arrive and I was through in the minimum time required. I proceeded directly to the gate where boarding was just beginning.
I promptly do my aviation geek excitement dace at the realization that I'm departing from a remote gate. You probably have a version. Yes, this does eliminate any premium aspect to the boarding process as the bus is filled to the brim and off we go.
We hold for a 777-300ER being towed onto a gate.
The bus passed the aircraft and took a very circuitous route but that's fine by me, more ramp time. When we parked at the aircraft I took a step aside and snapped some photos. It was very refreshing to be in a civilized county where no one took exception to this.
It's an older business class configuration on this 787-8 which is curious on several levels. The 787 is not that old of an airplane and this seating configuration is quite dated. I understand it was conceived as a regional flyer and this is where the confusion rises. I've flown International configured, life-flat equipped, airplanes on shorter hops to PVG and PEK yet this regional aircraft flies the 7 hour flight to KUL. Sure utilization plays a role, but still.
I would at least have the benefit of direct aisle access as the seat next to me was vacant.
The seat has some thoughtful design features. Various storage compartments, a drink tray, a reading light, a decent size IFE monitor and power options in easy to access areas.
The inboard armrest raises to increase the seat width.
The under seat area is not usable for storage.
Boarding ebbed and surged as buses would arrive. We were delayed about 35 minutes due to late arriving passengers. This really is a short connection to make if you're inbound from North America on NH or UA.
I opted for Champagne and water as my PDBs. A plastic cup was used for the wine but glass for the water.
When we made it off the block we were number 4 for takeoff in the evening rush.
Once aloft I used the lav to change into my lounge wear from my previous flight. I waited a while for the seat belt sign to be turned off and it never was so as i observed crew and passengers going about their business as normal I did too. The lav on the 787 is not conducive to changing clothes.
I placed the seat in full recline to pose for a picture. You can see that it's not even angle-flat class.
As a result of changing clothes I missed the initial oshibori beverage, and menu offers. As drink orders were being served to those around me I finally asked if I might see the menu and receive the towel. The Purser was serving my section and quickly provided the missed items.
The drinks menu.
The meal options.
The tray table is a bi-fold style.
The headphones on offer.
My meal and drink orders were taken and the table was finally laid at about 1:20 into the flight.
I was interested in sake to pair with the Japanese cuisine so I opted for the Tenzan Junmai Ginjo to start.
The meal service was done via carts in the aisle.
A selection canapes is offered with the bar service. I appreciate that the meal is coursed out a bit to correspond with the longer flight. THe nut stick, scallop, and tomato feta were all nice bites.
My main course was delivered with the offer to sample the other sake on board. The Purser was really fun and engaging and she offered a sake tasting lesson. She suggested tasting the sake, then the miso soup, and then the sake again. She noted the flavors in the dashi would change the flavor of the sake on the second taste. While this is probably true for all food and wine pairings it was a fun and thoughtful tidbit of information and I certainly did my fair share of hypothesis testing.
The sashimi, scallop and prawn, and duck were served first. All reasonably nice flavors.
The Shusai of simmered alfonsino was served on a tray wiht pickles, rice, and miso soup. The fish was tender and flavorful if a bit sweet. The pickles are always appreciated and soup make for good sake experimentation.
The Pierre Herme Emotion Carre Blanc dessert sounded more elaborate that it was. Still very delicious. Maybe the plastic cup was not befitting of a dish with such a grand title. Always good for a bite of cheese.
My table was cleared after I finally cried uncle. A cognac to finish.
At this point it didn't matter how flat the seat was, I was out cold. I came to over the South China Sea as we were off the coast of Borneo headed for the Malaysian Peninsula. There were several offers of snacks and drinks before arrival but I was quite sated from dinner and enjoyed the bottled water provisioned.
We landed only slightly behind schedule with most of the 35 minute delay made up in flight. I easily made the last KLIA Express train into the city.
Bonus Section: Sites and Bites around Kuala Lumpur
Bonus : Click here displayhide
Morning view from the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Easy access hotel attached to the KL Central Station.
Rode the metro out to Sea Park to enjoy Aunty Christina's Sarawak Laksa. I enjoyed her Laksa at her previous location several years ago so i tracked her down to this spot. Superb dish.
I walked around Sea Park and found a few other bites to taste. The chicken rice, made with fried chicken, was exceptional, the curry laksa was forgettable.
I took an afternoon break by the pool. They have a water slide so…
A nice walk around Merdeka Square and a new (to me) walking path along the river. They are doing a beautiful restoration to this river area.
The walk continued to the Central Market building, Petaling Street, and some kind of interesting "thieves market" of sorts. A kaya toast break was included.
I went to the fantastic Lot 10 Hutong for a sensational bowl of chili pan mee. This is not the original branch of Kin Kin but this dish sure was a revelation to me.
My final night included the obligatory visit to Jalan Alor and a great walk through Bukit Bintang to see the bar street and of course the Petronas Towers.
Tokyo - NRT
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
The Ground Service: They were prepared for folks inbound on NH5 connecting to NH815 but really the place is so efficient i would have made the connection with or without their assistance.
The Lounge: No time.
The Cabin: It's a regional configuration on a flight that's longer then NYC/BOS - LHR. I wish they would schedule the other 787 configurations on this route.
The Crew: After a slow start to the service I had a great experience. I deviated from their plan by being the lav during the first interaction and the process minded crew didn't recover without my intervention. The Purser working my area was a joy to spend time with.
The Food and Beverage: A coursed out Japanese meal with a good drinks selection was on offer. I find the quality of the catering out of Narita, especially on the Japanese cuisine, to be excellent.
Overall: Another quality experience with ANA. Their consistency is astounding.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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