ThaiA345 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2006, 888 posts, RR: 15 Posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 23318 times:
Reason for trip:
After my last fantastic vacation to China 3 weeks ago, its now time to embark again on a business trip to Japan. Places I will be stopping are Kuala Lumpur (transit), Bangkok (8 hours stop, attending a meeting in downtown Bangkok), Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hofu, Hiroshima and Kyoto. I will also be extending my trip for a short extra 3 days in Tokyo at the end of my business trip. The so called title Biz Class Battle is also interesting as all the flights I will undertake will be on aircraft on regional configurations, so an even fight indeed between the airlines.
30 October 2007
Jakarta (CGK) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Airline: Malaysia Airlines MH726
1st Flight: 9 June 1993
Flight time: 2 hours
Class: Golden Club (Business)
Cruise: 36000 feet
As I ply this route so often, I have since stop writing up trip reports for this sector, however, in this case I decided to do it for this sector as the main purpose is to write a business class challenge report between AsiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s big airlines in J. Mainly, SQ, MH, TG and NH. Again I had to get up at a ghastly hour (seems to be the norm for me on my recent departures from Jakarta!), but one thing I do like is that there was virtually no traffic on the roads. I arrived at the airport with 40mins to spare before take off. Surprisingly no one at all the check in desks except maybe 1 couple in the economy counters. When I checked in, the agent told me I was the only passenger in J (yahoooo!!!) and in Y there were only 40 pax. Seems like it was going to be a nice and quiet flight. Actually, the whole airport was surprisingly empty! Even SQ counters were empty. Very strange indeed. I spent what little time I had left at the Premier Lounge which several airlines use.
9M-MMV waiting for me, extremely light load today
1st time for me to be onboard 9M-MMV.
GA B738 ready to depart for Perth
Another cheerful set of crews on this flight. Boarding was completed in no time. One thing I did notice though when I was taking pics on board, was that this particular B734 is more run down than the usual ones! But it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother me to much as I was pretty happy that I had 2 flight attendants serving me, the only pax in J. Talk about great pax to f/a ratio huh!
Whats to eat?
Breakfast was also surprisingly good and a nice departure from the usual meals that I get on this route. Flight was really bumpy for most of the way and it also seem to take forever to arrive into Kuala Lumpur.
Over flying KL city centre & the old Subang airport
Once we arrived, it was as usual a nice walk to immigration and luggage reclaim and then re-check in for my onward TG flight to BKK.
As weird as the empty terminal was during departure at CGK, amazingly it was also the same at KUL! Empty! Immigration was such a breeze (took me 15 secs I think!) and by the time I walked to the baggage conveyor, my bag also came out around the same time. Talk about efficiency! After that I proceeded to the departure hall to check in for my onward TG flight to Bangkok. By the time I got back airside, I looked at my watch and realised at the whole time since I landed and got back airside again only took me 20mins! I spent the rest of my time at the really tired and run down Royal Orchid Lounge (note, the name of this lounge is yet to be changed to Royal Silk) checking emails and had a few drinks.
Really desperately needs an overhaul!
I decided to walk to the gate earlier as I wanted to first stop and have a smoke.
HS-TEA, one of the oldest A333 around!
By the time I settled into my seat, I was getting pretty tired already.
Load was around 70% in J and similar figures in Y. Crew was pretty cheerful (maybe they knew I was writing a J class comparison report!) but some of them did look pretty tired. Again like my inbound flight from CGK, this flight to BKK was even bumpier than ever.
I can never get tired of eating!
A short take off run & we are off!
It was only 45mins after take off that our meal was served. And the wait was worth it was it was really tasty.
After the meals, it was off to snap a few pics of the lavatory
A333 of TG still a nice aircraft to travel on, but it too needs a product enhancement especially in J.
I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t watch anything in particular on the in seat video, most of the time it was just on the airshow
Had a busy day navigating through heavy traffic into town to attend my meeting. But at least the meeting was really positive and I was even treated to a really nice Thai dinner before I was dropped off at the airport. When I arrived at the airport, I noticed finally all lighting at Sunarvabhumi was up and running and it is a majestic piece of architecture and construction.
SQ Check in area
Airport was busy but not as busy as I have seen it before.
Airside at Suvanarhumi
After check in I took some pics and then proceeded airside and spent my entire time at the Royal Silk Lounge (SQ are yet to have their own lounge in the new BKK airport).
Arrived at the gate just 5 mins before they commenced boarding.
9V-SQN ready to go
A great and cheerful crew greeted me when I got on board this B772. This is one of SQÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s older B777. It has a 3 class layout although on this flight, no one was in F, and J was only 50% full, and Y was around 70%. But it was great as it meant the seat next to me was empty. Too bad this aircraft is equipped with the regional Ultimo seats in J and not the Skybed (I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even dream of the new J product on this route).
But what lack the product itself had, the really fantastic inflight crew made up for everything else.
Duty Free, Silver Kris & Menu
All the crew were cheerful, even the captain (by his voice when he got on the speaker). Entertainment was on the older Wiseman AVOD, but at least still a great selection of shows and during my meal I also watch an episode of Top Gear and watched Ã¢â‚¬ËœI now pronounce you Chuck and LarryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
Just when I was about the star the movie, it was also meal time
After that I slept the rest of the way to Tokyo. I woke up just when the aircraft was about to commence descent.
Went to the lavatory just before landing, and one thing that really sets SQ apart from its counterparts is that their toilets are always clean and dry!
Rolls Royce still going strong!
Being one of SQÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s older B777, 9V-SQI was in surprisingly excellent condition, if this was only the case with some of SQÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s B744Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s though. Another great flight by SQ and its nice to see them lift their game once again in J.
Hotel Stay (31 Oct till 1 Nov)
A nice hotel, although the location is a little bit off from the tourist haunts of Tokyo, but at least you get really good public transportation in Tokyo, so in the end it was worth it.
Airline: All Nippon Airways NH981
1st Flight: 09 Dec 1995
Flight time: 1 hr 35 min
Class: Super Seat Premium (Business)
Cruise: 37000 feet
DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get much sleep as being in Tokyo, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so many things to do, plus I also met up a friend who was based in Tokyo for a nice Japanese dinner of Kushiyaki. Somehow, I still managed to drag myself out of the very comfortable Ã¢â‚¬ËœheavenlyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bed of the Westin and after a few minutes of frantic packing, managed to get a cab to Haneda airport. And man oh man, the cab fare really cost me a small fortune, around USD110 to be precise foe the 25min ride! By the time I got to the aiport it was around 0500, and guess what, the entire building was still closed!
A dead airport with me being the only pax there! Really spooky!
Great, just great! It was another 5 mins before they opened the terminal and I had to wait till 0540 for the check in to be open. At that precise time, a bell rang and all the check in agents at the counters (around 20 of them) bowed at the same time. Only in Japan Ã¯ÂÅ Check in took only 2 mins and this ANA terminal is relatively new and has a nice, modern yet cozy feel about it.
Sadly I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t check the lounge out at it only opened at 0630 and my flight will depart 5 mins before that.
Being in Japan, I did expect a certain level of service on ANA in J, and I was not to be disappointed. The f/a were extremely polite and accommodating. This B772 is quite an early production one, being built in 1995, but what I can say is the interior and exterior is absolutely spotless! The seats in J were the old cradle type and the legroom was just ok, but more than sufficient for the domestic runs which this a/c does.
Scenes from the push back & taxi
Safety card & inflight mags
Just after take off
Being Japan, everything was just spotless!
Overall I was quite happy with my flight with NH and the Onion soup that was served was absolutely delicious.
Scenes from Fukuoka, even caught one of the AnaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pokemon aircraft!
After that it was by private coach with my group to Hiroshima, the following pics are scenes on route to Hiroshima
As I travelled mostly within Japan by the bullet train, cities I visited were Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo and here are the hotel stays.
Hotel GranVia Hiroshima (1 Nov till 3 Nov)
A great location for a 4 star hotel but rooms were tiny and the toilets, even smaller! But it was clean and at least the bed was comfortable. The restaurants though were ample and really great.
Again after 1 night its off to Tokyo, via bullet train of course
Passing Nagoya I think
ANA Intercontinental Tokyo (4 Nov till 7 Nov)
A huge but nice hotel with refurbished rooms. Being mainly a business hotel, service is just above average, but has really good food and beverage outlets. This hotel is pretty convenient if you want to roam around the Roponggi area.
An even bigger hotel, costs a bomb, takes a long walk if you are staying in the tower block (me!) and although big in size, rooms are still mid 1990Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s in design. The only thing going for this hotel is its grand old name and excellent position in Ginza.
A little off into the suburbs, near the Westin Tokyo, but the main thing is that they have free shuttle bus service to the JR station and it so happens the line this JR station on is also the most convenient line which take me about to every place I want to go in Tokyo. Rooms are big, newly renovated, and service was also excellent and efficient. I really like hotels which are not too big (below 300 rooms) and cosy, and this one fits the bill perfectly!
Its really starting to get a habit for me to wake up at some godly hour to catch my flights. One thing I really hate about Tokyo is the distance of the airport from the city centre and also the expensive cost of public transportation. And due to my early departure, I could not catch the first Airport Limousine Bus, so I private car transfer was arranged for Yen 19,000. We managed to arrive at the airport 5 mins before the SQ counters were open.
Busy tarmac at the Star Alliance terminal at Narita Airport
My flight route was Tokyo-Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur with SQ on this sector and TG on my next, but guess what, the check in agent (being new I guessed) only wanted to tag my bags to Bangkok and told me to take my baggage in Bangkok and check in again??! WTF!!!?? Its really not the time to get coy with me especially since my lack of sleep, so I gave her the whole star alliance thing and that I never occurred such nonsense like this before etc etc, and in the end she gave in. Even the manager came over to apologise to me and said that the check in agent was still new on the job, so I politely told him that in this case, she should not be put at the premium check in counters as she will risk offending many frequent premium passengers. Well with that out of the way, we walked around airside a little and also managed to grab some breakfast before heading in for passport control. Narita is really starting to get crowded! Walking to the gate, I noticed there was either time for a smoke or for a quick drink in the lounge, and guess what, I picked the smoke! Ã¯ÂÅ There were 2 TGÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also ready to go, one is a B772 and the other a B773, and also 2 SQÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, ones a B772ER (my flight) and the other a B744 in Star Alliance colours, a real elusive aircraft for some spotters!
9V-SQN all ready to go
Soon enough I boarded the aircraft and its really a nice and somehow comfortable feeling to be on board SQ.
The elusive SQB744 in Star Alliance colours, to bad the windows were drenched from the rain!
As we took sometime to fly around bad weather, it took almost 1.5 hrs before our meal was served, but it really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother me too much as soon after take off, I was already into KrisWorld.
This meal was even better than the inbound one
After the nice meal I managed to visit my wife in Y ( she wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too happy being stuck there ehehheeh, well reason being was I booked her in Y and was trying to use out points to upgrade the J, but it was on waitlist till the day she left, so we just gave up and she took Y) and then got some sleep. I slept most of the way to Bangkok and woke up only at around top of descend.
Although this was a really full flight in both J and Y, I can see that the SQ inflight crew really did their best to keep everyone happy and satisfied. Overall another great flight by SQ.
Spent the entire time waiting at the Royal Silk lounge .
This time is a B773 to Kuala Lumpur, but although it has new c/s on it, it still had the horrible old interior and J seats in it, I really wonder which B773 of TG has been upgraded to the new config. I understand its only 1 a/c so far.
As I predicted, really tired looking interiors and this flight is really full, although the f/a on this regional hop were not too bad and still managed to serve with a smile, although there was one grumpy male f/a.
Flight was slightly delayed due to a late pax (I really hate these people!). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good thing I decided to stay over 1 night in Kuala Lumpur rather than trying the 30min connecting time I had to the onward MH flight to Jakarta. I watched some comedies and then had a really good tasting meal before dozing off Ã¯ÂÅ
Soon enough we touched down in Kuala Lumpur and I was on the KLIA express train within 20 mins of landing! Checked into the Le Meridian at KL Sentral and off to sleep !
A dark night in KL
Le Meridian Kuala Lumpur ( 11 Nov till 12 Nov)
A nice and simple hotel, although I always had issues with the air con, never cold enough. But I stayed there nevertheless as I was only 2 nights away to being a SPG Platinum member.
A bad pic of the pool view and luminous lighting on the building
Airline: Malaysia Airlines MH711
1st Flight: 08 March 1995
Flight time: 1 hour 35 mins
Class: Golden Club (Business)
Cruise: 36000 feet
Woke up at 6 and took the 0715 train to KLIA. Managed to check in with 35mins to spare and so it meant no time for the lounge too. Went to the Satellite terminal and had a smoke and then boarded the aircraft. KLIA is getting really crowded these days, especially during the mornings.
Many MH birds ready to go a testament to the busy airport
9M-MKD is my ride to Jakarta and this is probably my second time on this bird.
Really tired looking interiors
Food time and my favourite Nasi Lemak was on offer. I definitely made the right meal choice, and the dessert was really good too!
What can I say, another great and warm welcome by the MH inflight crew. I was pretty tired but still managed to stay awake to have some delicious Nasi Lemak before sleeping all the way into Jakarta. I really love the service on MH!
Alright now, the winner if this Asian Business Class battle on regional routes is: , well not as easy as it looks. Singapore Airlines, due to their product consistency and service consistency, but their catering at some stages is a let down. Service wise though, I preferred MH, but they were let down by their poor aircraft and in flight products due to aging equipment. TG is also good as I fly them the most, but they varying equipment and unstable levels of service in J puts them in 3rd. Actually for NH, I actually expected more from their product but it was not so. But its also hard to judge on them as I only flew them for 1 sector on a 1hr 30min flight. So in the end, based on my own judgement and only being on the flights I performed, the ranking are:
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 23212 times:
Your report was very good especially with the pics. I live just outside Tokyo so your pics made me really feel home.
Just in case you haven't flown into NRT a lot, it is about 60 km from downtown Tokyo. I usually prefer to take the train (Keisei Skyliner or JR Narita Express) because the trains run on schedule, and you don't have traffic delays.
What kind of business do you do that brings you to Japan?
B747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17314 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 23053 times:
The pics are really good.
Really nice to see the comparison.
if you look on the flight time with all four carriers SQ is the longest with 5.5hrs, therefore you got a better service I think. The other fligths was so short. If you compare MH and TG that you flew with 2hrs respectively, I think that TG wins that battle.
Ronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 23034 times:
What an amazing review! Definitely one of the best i have read. Very thorough, descriptive, and FILLED with excellent pictures. Just the way i like it
All your flights seemed great. It is definitely no doubt that you have recieved top notch service from MH, and perfect consistency on SQ, however, i did like ANA's interior most, although legspace was desperately lacking.
Japan definitely looks like a great place to visit. So clean and modern. I hope to visit there one day.
You also seem like a person who knows how to enjoy food, and that is just GREAT!
Quoting ThaiA345 (Thread starter): I spent the rest of my time at the really tired and run down Royal Orchid Lounge (note, the name of this lounge is yet to be changed to Royal Silk)
It really does look tired. Why has this lounge been neglected to the point that its name hasnt even changed? I mean, 'Royal Silk' has been around for enough time no?
Quoting ThaiA345 (Thread starter): When I arrived at the airport, I noticed finally all lighting at Sunarvabhumi was up and running and it is a majestic piece of architecture and construction.
I am due to fly to BKK soon and i am so anxious to see this rather 'controversial' airport that has been through hell and back till it opened up its doors.
Quoting ThaiA345 (Thread starter): I also visited the atomic bob site memorial, but I took those pics with really huge megapixels, so for those who are interested, I can give you guys a separate link to it.
Buck3y3nut From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 883 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 22002 times:
Wow... just wow...
excellent trip report and amazing pictures from japan. I'd really like to go visit that beautiful country sometime...
also liked the descriptions etc. of different J products...
Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful trip report
ThaiA345 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2006, 888 posts, RR: 15
Reply 12, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 21160 times:
Quoting LY777 (Reply 1): especially to Japan with an Asian carrier like NH!
So far actually I like what I see with NH, especially I read about their new long haul products. Therefore, I am also keen to try them out one day in long haul, like i said, its a bit tough to judge them on a domestic flight less than 2 hrs.
Quoting LY777 (Reply 1): Just in case you haven't flown into NRT a lot, it is about 60 km from downtown Tokyo.
Actually I fly into NRT abt once a year and usually its just the Airport Limo Bus for me as I usually have luggage with me and at least all luggage hassles are handled ...too lazy to lug my baggage with me from train to train
Quoting B747forever (Reply 3): if you look on the flight time with all four carriers SQ is the longest with 5.5hrs,
Actually the main point of my judgement is immedietly from the point of entry into the aircraft and how you are treated and welcomed ... as they say, 1st impressions last !
Hi Roni, thanks again for reading my report. Actually quite a few guys want to see the atomic bomb memorial pics, so what I will do tomorrow is, shrink down the photos by size and then post them here too! So when and how will you be flying to BKK?
Quoting Klm685 (Reply 6): 'm sure it took you a long time to write it and to select the pictures. I appreciate that!
Its my pleasure, always glad to share all my TR with you guys!
Ronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 52
Reply 16, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 20761 times:
Quoting ThaiA345 (Reply 14): so what I will do tomorrow is, shrink down the photos by size and then post them here too! So when and how will you be flying to BKK?
Thanks a lot. Can't wait to see them!
As for when ill be flying to BKK, i am not sure yet. I still have to firm up the dates, but it should be within the coming few months. As for how i'll be flying to there, it will either be EY or CX. Any suggestions?
A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
Quoting ThaiA345 (Thread starter): After the nice meal I managed to visit my wife in Y ( she wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too happy being stuck there ehehheeh, well reason being was I booked her in Y and was trying to use out points to upgrade the J, but it was on waitlist till the day she left, so we just gave up and she took Y)
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 17
Reply 18, posted (7 years 5 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 20241 times:
Hello Mr. Kwee,
Yet another great adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun. I wish I could go there soon, Japan always fascinate Malaysians. Hey, we were on the same flight! MH 711 KUL-CGK on 12 November on 9M-MKD. How can you missed me? And even more shocking, how can I missed you?
That flight was full to the brim on that day. There was a huge delegation of culture and art performance groups from Indonesia returning to Jakarta occupying almost half of the entire Economy cabin. They spent 3 days, performing at the Kuala Kumpur Convention Center. My seatmate was a lovely (and very beautiful) young girl, who were from the angklung team.
MH will announce a BIG aircraft order at the end of the year (I heard some MYR 30 billion). So your grouses (and mine too) on MH's fleet will soon be a history.
Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 965 posts, RR: 25
Reply 20, posted (7 years 5 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 19946 times:
Wow, thanks for the excellent TR and the very nice comparisons.
For me based in BKK, I often wondered about the SQ flight to NRT from here - it is so obviously a challenge to home base and fellow Star Alliance member TG that it seems a little outside the spirit of the alliance! Had SQ operated the flight with a Spacebed-equipped aircraft, the challenge against the incumbent would have been even greater still.
Quoting ThaiA345 (Thread starter): I spent the rest of my time at the really tired and run down Royal Orchid Lounge
The KLIA Royal Orchird lounge was being renovated the last time I passed through. A big purple sign saying "upgrading for a better tomorrow" was there. So you may well get to enjoy the new "Royal Orchid Star Alliance Lounge" (that's what they're calling it I think) the next time you're flying TG from KUL. If it's anything like BKK, it should be fantastic.
ThaiA345 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2006, 888 posts, RR: 15
Reply 23, posted (7 years 5 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 19687 times:
Quoting Airpearl (Reply 20): Wow, thanks for the excellent TR and the very nice comparisons.
You are welcome, I also love reading all your TR especially the one to OOL and SYD to SIN. Great that u managed to meet 9MMAR, as you found out, we were on the same flight back to CGK, but somehow both of us missed each other!