JpetekYXMD80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 4391 posts, RR: 26 Posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 20103 times:
Had another great opportunity to take a trip with a good friend of mine and fellow a.netter kjet12 to somewhere i’ve always wanted to go- JAPAN!
Sept 4, 2009
American Airlines 153
Chicago ORD- Tokyo NRT
D: 12:50a A: 3:35p+1
Arrived at the airport around 10:30 on a beautiful late summer day in the Chicago area. There we no lines at this time, but TSA never fails to find a way to be difficult…. “No, you can’t both come in this line, I can only take 5”. We then checked out the new NRSA lounge at ORD which is a very nice place to hang out for awhile. NRT was going out of K19 today, a switch up from the usual K12. This was cool because K19 has the long wrap around jetway, and is the gate where Iberia leaves from.
Shiny new 738
JAL 744 getting a jump start to NRT
Boarding began on time at 12:10 and I walked through the maze and arrived at my seat, 4G, right side of the center section. Champagne and orange juice was offered, and I went with juice as I knew there would be plenty of drinking on this flight. Menus were handed out, which were more like books considering the usual choices, Japanese menu, and Japanese writing. The noise canceling Bose headphones were also handed out.
Pushback was just about on schedule and we took a circular route to arrive at 32L behind 2 other Asian departures- United 744 to HKG and Korean 744 to ICN. As UA895 is the longest 747 flight in the world I think, it was a hell of a takeoff roll. We were next, and probably used around 8000’ before the buzzsaw RR engines took us away. We banked right hugged the shoreline before passing over the Milwaukee area and assuming the course. Flight time today was estimated at 11:50.
Hot towels were given out and lunch service began fairly quickly. AA has done a pretty good job customizing the Japan routes on the menu and extra amenities like slippers. The usual AA starter of mixed nuts and marinated cheese was given with drinks. The mozzarella was ok, but I missed the other type of cheese- feta I think- that they have used before.
I went shrimp but no salmon for the appetizer
Typical salad cart offering, with chicken strips available.
There were 3 main course choices, in addition to the Japanese menu.
-Gorgonzola Mushroom Beef Fillet- green beans and mashed potato/turnips
-Char Siu Pork Bowl, served over egg fried rice with bacon and seared vegetables
-Cheese Tortellini with Romano Sauce
-Japanese Autumn Menu, which sounded very good with 3 appetizers and 3 dishes on the main tray. Would be cool to try in the future.
Wine list was extensive, with 9 choices including Sake, plum liqueur, port and sherry.
I went with the pork bowl and it was pretty tasty, alongside a glass of Rully Chardonnay. The beef also was said to be cooked well for being in the air.
Heres a pic of the filet meal
Dessert from the sundae cart, strawberries and chocolate sauce on there, finished off with some Kahlua and chocolates passed around. A fruit and cheese plate or Grand Marnier fruit salad were also offered.
I don’t think I had enough drinks there…
It was a pretty unnatural time to sleep, so I spent most of the flight awake and looking through guidebooks and watching Entourage and the Office on the AVOD. We took a fairly typical route, passing directly over Anchorage. A snack basket was available in the galley.
Mid-flight snack was offered somewhere over Alaska.
The choices were Uno’s spinach garlic pizza or Japanese soba noodles. I went with the noodles to get in the mood, and they were pretty good.
The flight was starting to get long at this point, as we inched over the Russian coast battling some strong headwinds.
After some relaxing with the ipod, it was time for the 3rd meal service 2 hours out of NRT.
I had some sake this time around, which was presented nicely in traditional style. Japanese rice crackers were given with drinks.
Meal choices were:
Udon Noodle Soup, with assorted seafood
Served with side salad.
Chicken was interesting and loaded with sesame seeds with a nice sauce. Lettuce was a little wilted at this point, but you can see I got my share of greens here.
The other option
Dessert was a chocolate chip cookie, eat your heart out YX.
The NRT runway directions always seem to confuse me, so I was trying to figure out where we’d be coming in. We flew down the eastern coast and past NRT before turning around for 34R, the short runway, after 12 hours in the air. Landing was smooth, and I was amazed at the curves and bends in the taxiway to the terminal, I’m assuming to avoid landowners that wreaked havoc in this runways construction. We parked at gate 72 I think.
All in all, a nice flight, good food, friendly crew that took care of us well.
I was expecting to have a swine flu inspection on board, but this didn’t happen. No line at immigration/customs and it was off to the airport Holiday Inn for night 1.
Japan was an amazing place to visit.. easily one of the best experience of my life. I loved the people and the culture, and was lucky enough to make some real friends along the way. Cannot say enough about the friendliness and beauty of the country, the sharp contrasts of relaxation and energy, and the constants of clean and efficient. We visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone along way. Kyoto has to be a top 3 city for me now.
Just a few pictures, the rest are on facebook of course.
And why not, some train interiors!
Shinkansen- N700 series
We showed up to the airport at 3 for the 5:55 departure. Narita Terminal 2 leaves a much better impression for departures. The shopping and eating area above ticketing was very nice, and the spotting area is great up there. In the shopping area I found a place called “Mochi Cream”, a really kicked up version of the Japanese dessert I love full many different ice cream flavors and frozen… really great stuff.
From the observation deck, I could tell tell I’d be flying on the oneworld plane today, parked at gate 84 after arriving from JFK.
Some other shots..
The T2 departures hall and AA check-in.
The security line was very short and painless, surprising for the number of international flights leaving around this time. We had to take the tram over to the satellite concourse. The interior of the NRT T2 is nothing flashy, put it is pleasant with nice touches like fresh flowers, clean, and a nice restaurant and shopping selection… definitely a cool place for a pre-flight stroll. In fact, there was a group of runners circling around the concourse, don’t know what was up with that.
Time to go home.
Sept 13, 2009
American Airlines 154
Tokyo NRT- Chicago ORD
D: 5:55p A: 3:05p
Boarding started at 5:10 or so. I ended up in 4G again, which I was happy about. The usual- menus, drinks, amenity kits, newspapers, etc were distributed as we waited for an on-time pushback. Flight time is shorter on the return, and we’d be taking a very southerly route. Flight time just over 11 hours.
Of course, taxi was over to the other side of the airport for the long runway. At this time, the airport is full of US departures with tons of AA, UA, NW/DL aircraft preparing for flights. No line, and we took off of 16R after a moderate length takeoff roll.
Here is the menu for dinner…
Same extensive wine list as the flight in.
Same Appetizer and Salad portions
-Teriyaki Beef Fillet- with rice and vegetables
-Miso Cod Fillet- with puttered potatoes and seasonal vegetables
-Chicken Noodle bowl- miso chicken with sautéed vegetables over udon noodles
-Japanese Autumn menu also offered
Dessert: Ice cream sundae
I finally figured out how to get really good food shots on my camera, a big improvement!
Shot of the steak
I chose the cod, which was nice and flavorful with the miso crust. Wine was Sancere sauvingnon blanc.
Sundae with all the toppings. Like the f/a said, “if you’re going to do it, go all out!”
After the good and filling meal, I watched “City Slickers” for a blast from the past and got a couple hours of sleep in.
When I woke up, a ham and cheese sandwich was served. Nothing to write home about, so I didn’t get a pic.
As I said our route was very southerly, cutting right across the Pacific and entering the US near the CA/OR border. We were really flying for the first half of the flight, with groundspeeds well over 700 mph.
At this point, I decided to finally see ‘The Hangover’, which was pretty hilarious and ridiculous for sure!
Breakfast service began over Colorado.
-Spinach and Cheese Omelette
-Cereal and Yogurt
plenty of cinnamon rolls, biscuits and croissants for bread
Took the Omelette, which was tasty, with some good kielbasa-like sausage on the side.
First cabin shortly before descent.
Approach was pretty much straight in to RWY 10. Nice landing, nice flight. The few hours of sleep really made it seem pretty quick for 11 hours.
We parked at M4. Customs and immigration was real busy at this time, lots of arrivals, so the line took a good 20 minutes. I took the train over to T3 to catch an Eagle flight up to MKE for easier pick up.
A wonderful trip to a wonderful country. Hope you enjoyed, thanks for reading. Special thanks to kjet12 for making this possible!
Cambrian From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 619 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 18447 times:
What can I say about AA? Food in the most part looks rather thrown together. The catering exNRT looked rather better. The AA First cabin is also super drab. I avoid AA like the plague.
What passes for First on an American carrier seems to be more akin to business class on European airlines long haul product.
Have to agree with you about Japan. Went there in August and loved it. Did you go to Hakone Sculpture Park, and then to Togendai sulphur pits? We had a similar itinerary, I think.
Can't wait to go back. Check out my trip report on LX. You will see that the onboard product is steps above AA.
I did the same flight in May of this year, You are lucky you were on Business Class. Y is a dump. Tattered and dirty carpeting everywhere, rude flight attendants.. but hey for a 50K mile award - i am no one to complain..
I LOVED Japan - what an interesting place. Definitely more an experience than a "landmark" place.
When i got back, Best Buy looked pityful!! and Times Square like a dimly lit village square ...
Kjet12 From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 976 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 17380 times:
Sorry to all of you AA naysayers out there, I have to disagree. I think AA does a great job at presenting quality meals, and the Flagship Suites have remained in very good condition, and continues to remain quite competitive against some of our foreign counterparts. Anyone going into AA intl F expecting SQ first class is going to be disappointed, but for what it offers I still find it nothing short of spectacular. AA's 777s in Y are in excellent condition, and I have yet to see any dirty or tattered carpeting. As for the flight attendants, most of AA's international F/As are very friendly. I think some people on here don't like that they are a bit more personable and laid back than most foreign international F/As. But what can I say, I'm a bit biased.
LACA773 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 4064 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (5 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 17022 times:
Quoting Kjet12 (Reply 7): Sorry to all of you AA naysayers out there, I have to disagree. I think AA does a great job at presenting quality meals, and the Flagship Suites have remained in very good condition, and continues to remain quite competitive against some of our foreign counterparts. Anyone going into AA intl F expecting SQ first class is going to be disappointed, but for what it offers I still find it nothing short of spectacular. AA's 777s in Y are in excellent condition, and I have yet to see any dirty or tattered carpeting. As for the flight attendants, most of AA's international F/As are very friendly. I think some people on here don't like that they are a bit more personable and laid back than most foreign international F/As. But what can I say, I'm a bit biased.
Thankyou for the informative TR. I enjoyed it very much. I do feel AA definitely needs to do something with the catering in all cabins. There's zero comparison to the catering in F/J/Y if you had taken your companies OW partner, JL or NH. This catering is more in line with the service UA provides. Maybe someday, AA will upgrade their international catering. It really does need a re-vamp.
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 763 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (5 years 2 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 15396 times:
I will be on this flight tomorrow, hopefully in first class, so thank u for the preview.
I would love to see ur pics on Facebook, because I used to live just outside Tokyo. Do u have a link to ur pics?
HOOB747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 449 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 14454 times:
Thanks for the report, how was the spotting from the observation deck? I love any chance to relax and enjoy the ground show at airports. And I can't wait to check out Narita, as I have only transited there once. Great photos, and the food looked pretty good to me.
Wow, that is quite far south. I did not realize that a transpacific flight would go that far south.
Quoting Cambrian (Reply 5): What passes for First on an American carrier seems to be more akin to business class on European airlines long haul product.
I respectfully disagree. Yes US carriers get a bad reputation and I agree they are not with the best, but they are better than many airlines out there who offer unreliable service. I think the first class service on American and United is actually quite good. Food is usually good and always plentiful (I find it better than some including BA and have been left hungry on airlines like NZ). The seats are very comfortable for sleeping and nice and private. I think the IFE could be better, but is quite good and adequate. I definitely feel that first class on UA and AA is certainly better than any business class on a European Airline. The US airlines compare to most airlines out there with the exception of those truly 5 star airlines.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
Planereality From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 103 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 12106 times:
Cool report! Thanks for sharing-I just crossed the Pacific Eastbound on OZ last week (report coming) and we too took what appeared to be even more of a Southerly route, much to my surprise. The pilot came on for an update and enthusiastically let us know that we were flying in excess of 720mph and had been for some time.
Did you have any "issues" taking photos on AA?? Apparently not, but I have heard they have some type of policy against pictures. Thanks again!!
JpetekYXMD80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 4391 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 11391 times:
Thank you all for the comments!
Quoting Lfutia (Reply 2): I could of gotten you through the employee line!
Thanks man, ill keep that in mind!
Quoting Cambrian (Reply 5): Did you go to Hakone Sculpture Park, and then to Togendai sulphur pits? We had a similar itinerary, I think.
Did not have much time there... just a night and were at the Prince, so took their free shuttle, but did not have time to get to the main tourist areas from that location. Did go up the Komagatake ropeway though, and see the sights in that little area. What did you think of the the areas you saw?
While they were both enjoyable flights, I think obviously AA or any US airlines F class product is anywhere near some of the Asian/ME/European airlines. I am glad UA and AA have stuck with offering this product, but more an in investment is necessary to stand out and make the product work with J becoming competitive and many better F offerings. I would classify the food as very nice Biz class, but not exactly what international F should be. While the PTV is outdated, I do love the versatility of AA's seat and the swivel to desk position.
44k From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 310 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (5 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 10747 times:
Quoting Cambrian (Reply 5): What can I say about AA? Food in the most part looks rather thrown together. The catering exNRT looked rather better. The AA First cabin is also super drab. I avoid AA like the plague.
The catering on AA is one of the best in international premium cabins for a US carrier, miles ahead compared to some others and on-par with Euro airlines.
The First cabin is not drab! Have you ever sat there? IMHO it looks very classy in person and the seat is super comfortable/adjustable and definitely on par with most intl F products out there.
If you avoid AA, that's a personal choice. But i think AA gets waaay too much dirt poured on than it actually deserves. The Intl F product is decent!
Quoting Cambrian (Reply 5): What passes for First on an American carrier seems to be more akin to business class on European airlines long haul product.
Disagree. IMO AA F > Euro-airline J. most frequent travelers would agree.
Back on topic, I did a round trip to NRT on AA back in may, flew DFW-NRT and NRT-ORD in F, and absolutelly loved it. I adore Japan, thanks for the great TR!