Greetings flight report community and thank you for stopping by this report.
I've read about mistake fares but have always been too late to the party. That trend reversed as I sat in my den with my laptop on 12/31/18 and, as I often do, surfed over to one of my favorite miles and points blogs to see a post about some rather incredible airfares ex. Vietnam, in first class too. For fun I pivoted to an OTA website and sure enough, these fares were still live. I picked some random days and a few clicks later the tickets were purchased. Jennifer and I would be taking two trips to Vietnam and we were ecstatic. Please visit this post to read more about the planning and the first trip.
This series of posts will cover the second half of the mistake fare ticket. On this trip we added a visit to Laos and the enchanting Luang Prabang.
I get a kick out of this lounge because I lived in Arcata, CA for many years and our tiny airport uses the IATA code ACV. The ACV lounge in Ha Noi is roughly the same size as ACV, the airport!
We arrived at the lounge just after 21:00 for the 00:10 departure.
There's a grand façade where a dis-interested lounge attendant scans boarding passes and collects lounge invitations. I never understood that redundancy.
Lounge is one big room divided into several sections. The first section to the right of the entrance is the relaxation area with massage chairs. These would prove to be quite handy for a rest during our long visit.
Seating to the left and right as you continue down the main path.
The staffed bar has limited cocktail options and will serve you a bowl of Pho, instant no doubt. There are also packaged snacks available on the bar including various Lays potato chip flavors.
The buffet and dining is at the far end of the lounge. Complete with a variety of hot and cold items. None of which seemed particularly appetizing to me.
Overlooking the bar and seating area from the hot buffet.
We took a seat along the edge of the dining area to enjoy some water and ramp views.
Our stay was uneventful as we didn't partake in any of the food and only drank water. We had such phenomenal cuisine in LPQ I think we both were just trying to hang on to those taste memories a little bit longer. We left the lounge quite early to walk the concourse and do some shopping.
We arrived at the gate before boarding time commenced.
Jennifer was in 8C and I was in 8A.
The seat was stocked with the JAL buckwheat pillow, slippers, a light blanket, on-ear headphones, and a simple amenity kit in a draw string pouch.
A bottle of water, Japan immigration and customs cards, breakfast order cards, menu and wine list, and amenity kit (8C the kit was on the seat and 8A it was on the shelf) were thoughtfully arranged on the shelf under the video monitor
Slippers with shoe horn included.
I'm not going to miss an airplane meal photo op!
An oshibori was distributed before takeoff however I did not receive a PDB.
The Apex Suite has a brilliant high definition monitor of sufficient size. It's essentially the width of the seat.
A look at how 8A and 8C are arranged with the privacy screen open.
Cardigan sweaters were offered for use on the flight. I accepted one.
We pushed back on time and had a short taxi to 11R. Jennifer changed into her Cathay Pacific jammies on the ground and was asleep as the gear retracted. Ever the smart play on this short red eye flight.
Not wanting to be out-poshed, I also changed into my CX jammies. The lav is fairly basic. Amenities such a toothbrushes and mouthwash were set out, I just got there first. The bidet toilet is a nice touch.
The crew kept the cabin dark as most passengers went straight to sleep.
Economy didn't get the same lighting (or lack there of).
I am not able to get on an airplane and go straight to sleep. I need a bit of service before I turn in for the night. I opted for a bit of cheese and a glass of red wine. The flight attendant also brought some rice crackers. It's a fairly sad and spartan cheese plate but it was fine to nibble with wine as a late night snack.
When she came to clear the cheese I asked for some water and Japanese whisky. Goodnight now.
I woke to the sound of meal service and the smell of food. My table cloth was quickly laid and an oshibori and orange juice was delivered.
The cabin was still dark for those sleeping so please forgive the lighting on the pictures. Everything is quite lovely in presentation and flavor. Of course some the textures of Japanese cuisine are an adjustment for a western palette. The salmon was nicely cooked and the rice was exceptional.
Green tea was also offered.
A very pretty day in Narita as we approached feet dry.
We parked at a remote stand and bussed to arrivals.
Some shots of the cabin as we deplaned.
I'll take a remote stand any time!
Tourist Bonus: Enchanting Luang Prabang
Bonus : Click here display hide
*This is not a comprehensive review of Luang Prabang rather few photos to express the affection we developed for the destination.*
There was an immediate connection for me , and Jennifer too, upon arriving in Laos. Maybe even before arriving as the approach to LPQ takes you down a canyon following the Mekong river to a small airfield. Your first views of the city are rather striking with the green mountains shooting up all around.
LPQ is a quaint little airport and sets the tone for the intimacy of the destination.
We stayed at the Sofital M-Gallery property called 3 Nagas. I cannot recommend it enough for the location, beauty, and staff. It was like going back in time.
It's a visually stunning location at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers.
Food is a large part of the travel experience for us. Lao cuisine shares elements with Thai, Vietnamese, and Cambodian.
Exploring the city on foot is quite manageable but if you are overcome by the heat a tuk-tuk is never far away.
Excursions on the rivers are a wonderful way to see the area.
ACV Business Lounge - Terminal 2
Hanoi - HAN
Tokyo - NRT
The Ground Service: N/A as a transit passenger connecting between two airlines and tickets. It was a bit of a disjointed process that involved waiting for a rep from JAL to come to the transit counter (30 minutes) and waiting for a government/security officer to return from break to let us upstairs for departure (15 min).
The Lounge: The old adage "not worth arriving early for" comes to mind. The ACV lounge is a completely average contract lounge.
The Cabin: Apex suites seem rather polarizing, like 787 windows (see what I did there!). I'm a fan for the privacy, aisle access, huge screen and spacious bed with no foot constraints. I will acknowledge that width and storage space are sub optimal.
The Crew: Not as many opportunities for interaction on a short red-eye but the high standard of Japanese service was met. Gracious, prompt, and polite at every turn.
The Food and Beverage: This is mainly a breakfast flight so in that regard it's hard to beat a Japanese breakfast for interesting flavors and textures. The departure service was limited to some instant noodles or a cheese plate. The wine, sake, and spirits options are impressive.
Overall: The circumstances of a short redeye flight don't give JAL much room to shine. That said the experience was as good as I can imagine given the parameters. Japanese hospitality is very unique and connects strongly with me.
Thanks for coming along on this series of flights and leaving any feedback along the way. Happy flying.
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