After arriving at the airport, it took a few minutes to figure out which terminal JAL was in, but the maglev station sits between the two terminals so at least you can’t screw up until that point.
I already had a mobile boarding pass, so I headed straight for immigration and security, which took a total of about 20 minutes between them – half of which I felt was used by the security folks with a flashlight trying to see the wattage on my battery pack to make sure it was ok to fly. China is the only (I think) country who regularly checks the capacity of battery packs, so you think the manufacturers would make it easier, but who knows…
Through security, and I was greeted with a little bit of Switzerland. Of course I stopped since it had been a whole five weeks since I had been there! I can’t wait until I’m back again in a few days to get more. Mövenpick is outrageously expensive in Switzerland (two scoops will set you back like $8) but it’s so delicious…especially if you go to the shop and get tiramisu and rum raisin. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Next up was to figure out which lounge I had access to. The signs made it quite easy…and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Air Koryo on a lounge sign before these days. I was pretty exhausted and not feeling like lounge-hopping to get the maximum experience, so I just went to the JAL Lounge.
Yup, this must be the right place…little cardboard guy was there to welcome me!
Plenty of seating in the lounge, although it was slightly warm. I saw several people eating dim sum, but couldn’t figure out for the life of me where they got them. They weren’t on the buffet, and there was a little window so I tried asking the lady through the window and…zero english.
Hmmmm, well, I guess I’ll inspect every corner of the lounge…and lo and behold there was another room that looked like a kitchen/bar area back near the bathrooms, and that’s where the dim sum was coming from. Success!
Off to the gate, which was fortunately very close to the lounge, and boarding was by some convoluted process I couldn’t figure out where they seemed to individually inspect passengers before allowing you to line up, and then they moved you around in lines. Not sure…
JAL Japan Airlines flight 86
Shanghai, China (PVG) to Tokyo, Haneda (HND)
Depart 16:05, Arrive: 20:00, flight time: 2:55
Boeing 787-8, Registration JA823J, Manufactured 2013, Seat 7D
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 132,718
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,825,306
It took a little bit of work online to figure out what kind of seats would be on this 787, but my research paid off and it was exactly as expected. Good seats for a short regional flight, but I definitely wouldn’t want these on a long-haul route…plus it’s a 2-2-2 config aka “climbover class.” Sure beats what we get for short flights in the US and Europe though!
Despite it being a relatively short flight, I was expecting a full meal and wasn’t let down. Japanese or Western options, and the crew (as I often find is the case in Japan) seemed to smile a bit when I chose the Japanese option.
Takeoff was quite bumpy, and I can’t describe it, but the plane didn’t feel very “stable” and shook a lot…even an hour into the flight. I don’t think I’ve ever sat this far back on a Dreamliner and maybe it’s typical when you get near the wings, but it just felt incredibly bumpy to me…and not in the turbulence way. Can’t quite explain it.
I think I’ll have some wine before dinner to sooth the nerves. I always love it when you get the little mini bottles…although I feel a bit guilty when I asked for a second. It doesn’t feel as bad when it comes out of one big bottle to me *grin*
Wow…the presentation of the Japanese meal was incredible. I honestly don’t know what 75% of the items were, but there wasn’t anything I ate that wasn’t super tasty. Lots of different flavours and textures, and definitely enjoyable – even if some of them were flavours that weren’t exactly aligned with my palate.
Mmmmm ice cream. Yes, it’s simple and packaged, but it seems higher quality than the ice cream in United’s sundaes. Maybe I’m just imagining things?
The plane continued to do what I was describing as “shuddering” most of the flight, and it was pretty disconcerting…but nobody else seemed concerned, so maybe it was just me. As far as temperature, true to form for Japanese airlines the cabin hovered nearly 25C for most of the flight. Not exactly pleasant, but I had my fan…which I totally clipped to the seat to blow cool air on me *grin*
I’ve seen this before in Tokyo, ATC there seems to love strange loops, I’ve never seen this so regularly in other parts of the world.
Arrived at the gate, and first stop was transit security. No line at all. efficient and helpful as always in Tokyo, and soon I was in the Haneda terminal for the first time trying to figure things out. I had flown into Haneda once before, but just as an arrival, so had no idea how the departures area worked. It seemed to be one long terminal, and I followed the signs to the ANA “Suites” aka first lounge.
Got in side, surprisingly little English spoken by the agents given this is a first class lounge, and first thing I did was ask for a shower since the JAL flight had been so warm. “You are number 18 on the list – it will probably be 2-3 hours.” Um, WTF?
Other than my flight to LAX, I could only see one other ANA flight that had a first class cabin in the next six hours…and my flight appeared to have only two people in first class! Where do all these people come from? ANA Diamond members have to fly 100,000 miles, of which 50,000 on ANA metal, so I guess that’s only like a 1K on United – and those would swamp a lounge at Dulles too.
I know Lufthansa allowed HON Circle members into their first lounges, but that doesn’t seem to add many people (given the rather high requirements for this status), but this lounge was absolutely packed, with probably 75% of the seats taken.
Oh well, super helpful and pleasant staff, and I soon had a plum wine and my choice of hot or cold towels. Obviously I went with cold….
After about 90 minutes, when it became very obvious I wasn’t getting a shower (I’m sorry – but when your elite members take preference over your first class customers…you need to rethink things) I decided to have a snack. Tasty little rice-based morsels and a bit more plum wine.
With 30 minutes before I head to the gate, I decided to ask one more time if there was any chance I might get a shower. Nope, still number eight on the list. Ridiculous after more than two hours. You’d think they might have found a way to take care of a first class customer…but nope.
Off to the gate, nice and sweaty, which probably was for the best anyways since the cabin was likely to be on the tropical side anyways!
64 hours down, only 22 hours to go…next stop: Los Angeles!