Oct 272014

Headed down to the gate, and boarding was just starting as I got there. As usual, United was being super classy and all of “Group 1” was being invited to board at the same time. 1Ks, business class, first class, doesn’t matter. All lumped together. Not even a priority announcement for Global Services. We’re clearly not on ANA anymore!

United flight 803
Tokyo, Narita (NRT) to Singapore (SIN)
Depart 18:00, Arrive 00:10, Flight Time 7:10
Boeing 777-200, Registration N788UA, Manufactured 1997, Seat 2K

Welcome aboard…can I get you a glass of Krug? Oh, wait…I mean a glass of Veuve Smisek. Mmm…delicious!


Wait, where’s the caviar service?!


Quality construction. I went to put my feet on the footrest, and it fell off.


Takeoff was on-time, and in fairness the crew was very pleasant and efficient, I will say in general despite Jeff’s best efforts to the contrary, the hard product is pretty decent (not good, or great, but decent) and the crews are almost always very good.

There were two choices of red wine today, and I went with a glass of the Changes-You’ll-Like Shiraz. It was perfectly drinkable, and would make a reasonable $10-15 table wine for every day drinking. Certainly not international first class quality, but…


Yes, this is the appetizer. Two shrimps, two cucumber slices, and two tomato slices. I literally couldn’t even. I refuse to touch shrimps on planes (food poisoning twice will do that to you) so sent it back untouched. Sad.


The salad was marginally better. It was solid, but nothing special. Could have used something crunchy in it.


I went with the pork main. I know I’ve seen this dish before, but not sure when, since I haven’t flown first out of Tokyo in quite a while. Maybe they’ve been recycling this dish for years? Anyways, the pork was decent, although the quantity was sorta sad.


Now, the big letdown. The sundae. You could have fudge on it, with whipped cream, or nothing. No choice of toppings. In first. Is this seriously the norm now?


After eating, I made the mistake I was trying not to and fell asleep. For five hours. This was going to make getting a few hours upon arrival in Singapore pretty difficult. Ugh. Looks like I would be piecing sleep together for the next few days.

Overall thoughts on United first, especially right after ANA first? The seat was perfectly comfortable…but international first should be more than that. The competitors have all upped the game by this point and have fully private suites, and although the United seat is comfortable it’s lagging behind. The food is a sad attempt, and basically just says United has given up all pretenses of competing. Staff were friendly in that very casual American way, which was actually a bit refreshing after the formality of ANA.

Landed right on time, and walked down to the terminal three transit hotel. I’d booked a room in hopes of getting some sleep from 1-6am or so. However, having slept five hours on the plane, I didn’t have high hopes. Could be worse, I could be camped out on the floor like these unfortunate souls:


Wasn’t tired at all, so after checking into my room headed to the Singapore Airlines business class lounge (if you’re not arriving in Singapore first, your lounge access is based on your departure flight…which was in business) to have a small snack and a glass of wine in hopes of winding down. Even the business class lounge had an impressive food spread:


Including this description, which did absolutely nothing to entice me to try it:


Left the lounge after about an hour, and walked to the hotel in hopes of finally getting a couple hours of sleep. I’ve never seen Changi as empty as it was at 2am:



Got about 2.5 hours of sleep, which added to the 5 I’d gotten on the plane should be enough. Unfortunately, the weird timing of the sleep wouldn’t do anything to help me adjust to the time zones, but beggars can’t be choosers I guess.

Decided to head outside immigration and get some Starbucks. Grabbed my passport and phone, went through immigration, and was soon at Starbucks. However, unfortunately, I didn’t have my wallet. My brain was doing when I normally wake up and it’s not time to go to work, it assumed my phone could do all…including pay at Starbucks. Nope, no paying with the Starbucks app in Singapore, so I struck out. Ugh.

Back through immigration, where the agent paged through my passport a bit. He saw several visas for west Africa, and asked me if I’d been there recently and “perhaps maybe you could have the Ebola virus?” Um, no, sorry to disappoint. At least he was nice about it and offered me some candy!


Having failed in my mission to get Starbucks, I settled for a triple iced espresso in the Singapore lounge. After about 15 minutes I wasn’t really awake, so I had a second and assumed it was just weak espresso. After two of them, I was feeling a little sick, and I assume they were plenty strong, I was just so wiped out I was past the point of recovery. Ugh, great, now I was going to go into caffeine overdrive. Greeeeat!


Back to the hotel, and checked out after my six hour block was done. The transit hotel was a fantastic alternative to going into town, and was quite comfortable for what it was. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to discover it, but I’ll definitely be using it again in the future.


Walking to my gate, passed the Changi coi pond. Pretty sure Singapore is the only airport in the world with its own coi pond!



Got to the gate, and it was time to fly to Bali!

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