Here is my March trip report and this time, I am going to report both on the familiar and the unfamiliar. Singapore Airlines’ first class is undoubtedly one of the best first class out there, and my return flight was much better than the slightly below average performance a month and half ago. The other airlines include China Airlines and Dragonair. Hopefully this report will be a great assistance to your future plan.
March 9, 2006
SQ 11 LAX-NRT Lv1305 Arr1750+1 Boeing 747-400 9V-SMZ
I arrived LA around 10am on a United Airlines p.s. flight from JFK, and with my bag checked all the way to Tokyo, I was in no hurry and decided to take a casual stroll towards TBIT. LA was pretty busy in the mid morning hours, as Spring break began to arrive. However, TBIT was not too bad especially SQ counters. I immediately walked towards the first class check in line, and there was no wait at all. Boarding pass was given, as long as direction to the lounge in the fifth floor. However the agent forgot to give me the Japanese immigration form, which was a problem later as they no longer carried those forms on board. For folks on SQ 11 to NRT, please remember to get the Japanese entry form before leaving the check in counters.
The first class lounge was typically TBIT, but it was not too bad considered the limited space. Food included Singapore Chicken Rice, Seafood soup, turkey croissants, smoked salmon wrap, roast beef sandwiches, soba noodles, cheese wedges, and fruits, which were really good compared to other lounges even CX. But beverage choices were weak with relatively unimpressive wine and Chandon sparking wine (not even champagne). Facilities wise include TV and free wifi Internet connection. The lounge attendant was extremely kind and asked a few of us to fill in the forms.
Of course, I did some plane-spotting, and here is the list of planes:
KE 772 HL7598/ KE 744 HL7490/ NH 773 JA733A/ CX 744 B-HOZ (CX884/5)/ OZ 74E HL7413/ JL Old 744 JA8076 NRT/ JL New 744 JA8072 KIX/ QF744 VH-OEI and ED/ QF 744 Roll Royce VH-OJI/ CX 744 (CX 882) B-HUJ/ LA 763 CC-CML/ FJ 744 DQ-FJL/ TN 343 “DV”
Today our flight was parked in the remote gate (Stand 216), next to a TN 343 and RG M11, and therefore, boarding began early at the bust gate 115 (12:18pm, instead of 12:30pm). Of course, chaos was guaranteed, but I managed to get on the first bus of the flight. Thankfully, I did not mind watching planes on the really slow ride toward the gate. I took a few pictures for those, who were lucky enough not to see these remote spots, and for those who rarely flew out from LAX. For those interested, remote gates were located at the far end of the airport and were commonly used as extra gates for International flights. CX 884/5 was sometimes parked over there too, and during the summer, those gates were quite busy too. Of course, there was only one line towards the plane, and once aboard, the Japanese F/A immediately led me to my seat. The pre-takeoff routine – Dom Perignon, newspapers, magazines, and hot towel – was offered immediately, and boarding of course took a while, but the door was able to close early at 12:51pm. We pushed back at 1:04pm, and slowly rolled toward R/W24L. We took off at 1:25pm and flying time was a long eleven hours and twenty-eight minutes. Routing was simply a straight line towards Tokyo after passing Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, and cruising attitudes were 10,400m, 11,000m, 11,300m, 11,600m, and 12,200m.
After takeoff, amenity kits and PJ were offered, as well as today’s menus. Of course, my Book the Cook Lobster Thermidor entrée was reconfirmed, and the service was as good as ever. The F/As were friendly and did not question me taking pictures. They were really nice.
Here is the wine list and menu transcript:
Dom Perignon 1998
Krug Grande Cuvee
Chablis Premier Cru les Beauroys 2000 domaine laroche
Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2004 Dr Loosen
1999 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon
Chateau Cos D’estournel 1998 Siant-Estephe
Dow’s 20 Years old tawny Port
SQ11A LAX-NRT-SIN (LJ/LMJ/DJ) 3-1.1 03-04FC
Lunch from Los Angeles to Tokyo
With onion, cucumber, and spicy peanut sauce
Chicken and beef skewers were really good.
Chilled Malossol caviar
With Melba toast and condiments
Steamed Maine Lobster served with choice of Cocktail Sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce
I had the lobster, which was really nice.
Chicken consommé with quail egg, hen of wood mushroom and orzo
Cream of Artichoke and asparagus garnished with Sri Lankan crabmeat and lemon spring onion crème fraiche
I chose the delicious creamy soup.
White asparagus, pomegranate and pistachio, baby lettuces and aged feta cheese
Honey sherry vinaigrette
I had the vinaigrette and the salad was really nice as well. Not too large, but good portion.
*Exclusively by Nancy Oakes of Boulevard, San Francisco
Black Truffle chicken with asparagus, fava beans and roasted potato
Wok fried Chinese style beef steak with barbecue sauce, stir fried vegetables and fried rice
Grilled seabass, lobster, cauliflower and orzo risotto, lobster nage
Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli in tomato consommé served with baby assorted vegetables and extra virgin olive oil
I had the lobster entrée, which was okay, but not as good as from Singapore.
Selection of cheese with garnishes
Four kinds, but I chose the Brie & St. Mature, and the sides include crackers, nuts, and grapes.
A selection of fresh fruit
Caramel bavarois layer with sautéed pear and vanilla crème, chocolate ice cream
Beautiful dessert platter, as you can see from the picture. It tastes very good too.
From the bakery
Oven fresh rolls with a choice of extra virgin olive oil or butter
Duck terrine, crab claw, burdock with eel, gingko nuts
Omelette with eel, beef teriyaki, black bean, shrimp in herb paste, apricot jelly, burdock
Seared tuna, rolled squid with seaweed
Cold Green Tea noodles
Grilled salmon with herb crust
Simmered fried beancurd, eggplant, snow peas and minced chicken
Marinated Carrot and radish
Gohan & Kounomono
Steamed rice and pickles
Miso soup with beancurd
After lunch, the F/A made my bed, and I decided to watch some TV before falling asleep. I woke up half way, as I wanted to adjust to Asian time. The Japanese F/A immediately brought around the snack basket, which includes Lay Chips, kit kats, sweet buns, bananas, apples, and wet napkins, but I decide to go for the new snack menu. The Fish Ball Noodle soup sounds good, and not disappointing. It has minced pork on top with garlic chips, as well as the condiments of chili soy sauce, as well as green onions. Delicious noodle! Then I worked for the rest of the flight. I definitely gave high marks to the introduction of “real” snack items/noodle soups on SQ long haul flights.
Fancy a snack?
Simply take your pick from our range of delectable snacks and make your selection known to our cabin crew
Fish ball broth with kway teow or bee hoon noodles
Vegetarian or non-vegetarian instant noodles
Feta Cheese sandwiches
Cashew, almond or macadamia nuts
A selection from the fruit basket
Assorted Walkers Biscuits
Around 11:02pm LA time/3:02pm, the lights were turned on, and hot towels were passed around. The light meal service began, and the F/As mistakenly gave me the Western appetizer, which I did not mind at all (Honestly, I thought the Japanese meal was one course, so they gave everyone the Western appetizers). Anyway, the F/A apologized and then brought out my Japanese meal. It was delicious and the beef sukiyaki was good, and not overly salty. For dessert, fruit plate was offered.
Light meal from Los Angeles to Tokyo
Parma ham, pear, fresh goat cheese, red oaks lettuce, aged balsamic
Spaghetti with braised beef cheek in tomato herb sauce, sautéed cepes and shaved pecorino cheese
Selection of Dim Sum
Glutinous rice with chicken, pork dumplings and prawn dumplings
Mascaprone with caramel banana
From the bakery
Oven fresh rolls with a choice of extra virgin olive oil or butter
Sea brean “yuan” style, prawn, vegetables in beancurd paste, cucumber with moro miso, fish cake, broad bean
“Sukiyaki” style beef with beancurd, mung bean noodles, shiitake mushroom, leek
Gohan & Kounomon
Steamed rice and pickles
Miso Soup with seaweed and dried beancurd
Japanese dessert (well fruit actually)
Around 5:27pm Tokyo time, descent began gradually, and we landed on a rainy R/W34L at 5:53pm. We parked at gate 15 around 6pm, next to SQ 744 9V-SPB back to LAX, and CX 744 B-HUB to HKG.
March 11, 2006
CI 107 NRT-TPE Lv0940 Arr1230 Boeing 747-400 B-18275
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After a restful night at Hilton Narita, I proceeded to NRT around 7:30am. The van dropped me off in front of Terminal two and headed towards CI area. NRT was very busy, as lines were forming everywhere. Check-in was handled by JAL Group, and the agent helped me immediately. I asked about the load, which were 3 in total in F this afternoon. I got 1AB to myself, and was also given the lounge pass to Sakura lounge. No real first class lounge for CI first class passengers – I was very disappointed, and a follow up letter would be sent to CI. I paid F fare this time and JL had a couple first class lounges. There was no excuse for CI not able to give F passengers access to JL First Class lounge.
Before heading to immigration, I headed towards the observation deck a bit. It was a fairly quiet morning, but my plane-spotting this morning yields MH 772 9M-MPC, PR744 N751PR, JL744 JA8086 to HKG, LH744 D-ABVH, GA333 PK-GPE, NH744 Pokemon JA8962, LX343 HB-JMF, KE’s AB6 HL7243, and new NW744 N668US.
I allowed ample time to go through immigration, as the morning was very busy. With ample time, I headed towards the Sakura lounge. Thankfully the morning traffic was light in the lounge, and there were lots of room to spread out. However, I would appreciate that there was a sign telling passengers that they need to get a wireless login card from the counter, in order to use the wifi service. Thankfully I asked in the reception. But folks remember to get the Internet connection card from the reception in the future, if you are in Sakura lounge.
Boarding began at 9:11am at D94, and I was disappointed to see the blue seats in first class section. I was really “lucky” to be on one of the only two remaining 744s with the really classic first and business class seats. Fortunately, F had three passengers, and the flight was only three hours, so I was not too unhappy. The F/A immediately introduced themselves to passengers, and offered me a pre-takeoff beverage with a bowl of mixed nuts and hot towel on a wooden tray. Newspapers and magazines were neatly arrayed in the central console, and menus were then passed out. Door was closed at 9:41am, and the plane pushed back at 9:46am. The announcements were made in four languages: English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. I was surprised that seven Japanese F/As were on board, and it was not surprise considered most passengers were Japanese in the morning flights. (Japanese tourists depart in the morning to Taiwan, and return in late afternoon, and Taiwanese tourists were the other ways departing in the mid-morning and returning in the evening from Japan). The morning hours were pretty quiet and we were number one in line for R/W34L. We took off at 10:03am. Flying time was three hours and eleven minutes, and we mainly cruised at 36,000feet, until we hit some turbulence after leaving the Japanese airspace, and descended towards 30,000feet.
At 10:20am, beverage was served along with a plate of canapés – Mozzarella cheese, olive, cucumber, and sundried tomato skewer, Proscuitto ham, and chopped mussel & onion tart. Followed with the meal… here is the wine list and menu transcript:
Piper-Heidsieck, Vintage 1999
Classic White Wines
Chassagne-Montrachet 2002, France
Chardonnay, Lodi County, 2004 USA
Premier Selection, Riesling 2004, Australia, Lindemans
Classic Red Wine
Bordeaux, Pomerol 2000, France
Chateau Beauregard Grand Cru Classe
Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, 2003, USA, Bonterra Vineyards
Premium Selection, Shiraz Cabernet 2004, Australia, Lindemans
Fried prawn with quail egg
Beef roll with vegetables
Braised duck with XO Sauce
Mullet roe with baby radish
Scallop and Baby Abalone Soup
Fried Lobster with vegetable sauce
Braised beef with soy sauce
Chinese Vegetable with starch sauce
Chingensai rice with picked egg
Crabmeat salad in mango cup and beef Wellington
Seasonal Mixed Salad
Caesar dressing, or non-oil yuzu dressing
Braised beef in red wine sauce with mashed potato
Orange sorbet with strawberry sauce
Panna Cotta with mango sauce
Fresh fruit of the season
Kaiseki style Japanese cuisine
Marinated Herring roe with kelp
Egg cake with bean
Deep Fried Prawn with rice cracker
Shirauo-tofu with bonito clear soup
Marinated turbot and red snapper with kelp
Simmered radish with minced chicken sauce
(January) Grilled Lobster with egg yolk
(February) Grilled Beef with eringi mushroom
(March) Simmered amberjack
Orange Sherbet with strawberry sauce
Fresh fruit of the season
Plum “CHOYA UMESHU” cool sake “GENKKEIKAN HORIN DAI GINJO,” and Japanese green tea are available on request with our compliments, please feel free to ask for services.
I selected the Chinese cuisine set, and it was served like the Japanese meal in a black lacquered tray. It was really great and the appetizer tray came with a plate of cold dishes, and a bowl of soup. The entrée set came next, with three main dishes. Grilled lobster was really good. The Chinese vegetable roll was next and was basically a wintermelon roll filled with shredded mushroom, snow pea, and carrots, and then there is the braised beef dish. After the meal, it came with fruit plate and the dessert. Fruit plate features pineapple, cantaloupe, orange, kiwi, and strawberry, and then I picked the orange sorbet as dessert. Orange sorbet was too frozen, and then I had a cup of tea, which came with cookies. Nonetheless, tea arrived, as turbulence hit. Anyway, after dinner, the screens were lowered, and a movie, “Zathura Space Adventure,” was shown, but since no one was watching in F, the F/A turned it off in the F cabin five minutes after showing. I took a little nap, and then thirty minutes prior to arrival, F/As asked if we need another beverage, and then the hot towel in the wooden trays was passed out. Descent began at 11:53am Taiwanese local time, and then we landed on R/W23 at 12:14pm. We parked at gate D4 four minutes later.
Well I am flying China Airlines first class on my way back to LA at the end of the month, and will see if it compares to this flight. I find the service on this short flight to be quite good, but the old seats are really bad. Hopefully the service will be kept up at the longer flights.
After a day and half at Taipei, I headed back to Hong Kong with my family.
KA 483 TPE-HKG Lv2050 Arr2245 Airbus A330-300 B-HYJ
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If ask me, how does Dragonair compared to China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and EVA Air? I rate KA a bit less than the other three carriers, but for value wise, KA J is not bad. My parents paid less than $4,000HKD for a three days two nights package that include business class tickets, two evenings at Grand Hyatt Taipei, and Mercedes Benz pickup to and from airport to the hotel, and daily breakfast. What more can you ask for?
A rainy night at TPE and our flight to HKG was packed in Y, almost full in J, and empty in F. Check in lines and ground-handling agents was EVA Air – no surprise here, and J passenger is not allowed to bring in guest, which I find repulsive. However, Dragonair uses a third party lounge and there is not much bargaining power here. Nevertheless EVA Air lounge is not that fancy and you don’t really miss much here.
Boarding began at 8:30pm at gate C7, and our party of ten went in earlier because of three wheelchairs passengers in our group. The F/As were aware of our party and immediately helped three elderly to get into their seats. A much better arrangement than the outbound, told by my parents. A tray of pre-takeoff beverage was offered – Dragon Sunrise, OJ, and water, along with antiseptic wet towelette. KA has not re-introduced hot towels, which were strange. I saw it as cost-cutting, rather than real safety concerns. After everyone was boarded, menus were passed out and that was the only time I was addressed by name (unlike CX). We pushed back at 8:51pm, and wasted no time to head towards R/W06. After an EVA air’s A330 landed, we took off at 9:05pm. Flying time was an hour and twenty-nine minutes, with a cruising attitude of 39,000feet.
A word about the seats – it was just like the regional business class seat used by CX, but there is no personal TV system, which is fine for short flights like ours, but not so for longer KA flights to NRT or PEK or even SHA. For Asian airlines, personal televisions are pretty standard for business class seats. Anyway, the sound system also fails to work properly, so I gave up on the “King of Queens’ episode five minutes after its showing. Sky map returned after the sitcom episode.
Here is the wine list and menu transcript:
Wine & Cocktail Selection
KA Signature Drink – DRAGON SUNRISE
A Refreshing Combination of Gin with Fresh Guava and Lemon Juice
Aperitifs & Cocktails
Bloody Mary, Screwdriver
Sweet/Dry Martini, Manhattan
Rum, Gin, Vodka
Chivas Regal 12 years Scotch Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
Graham’s Port 98
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve
Chateau de Varennes 2002 Savennieres France
Chardonnay 2003 Penfolds Thomas Hyland South Australia
Macon Superieur 2003 Bouchard Pere & Fils France
Shiraz 2003 Oxford Landing South Australia
Braised Pork Rib with Rock Sugar
Fried Rice with Ham and Fava Beans
Created by Pearl Liang Restaurant, Taipei Grand Hyatt
Seafood Curry with Linguine
Rice Pudding with Apricot
Proudly Serving Pacific Coffee
Fook Ming Tong tea Shop
Fujian First Class Oolong, Fuding Jasmine Silver Fur
Tea-Ceylon, Japanese, Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, De-caffeinated Coffee
The dinner was served one tray style, which was typical in this short hour flight. The salmon terrine was pretty good and tasty, and then the bread was a soft cheese and sundried tomato roll. I had the seafood entrée, which featured shrimps and crab legs with linguine in curry sauce. The dessert was the worst part of the meal, but it was a decent meal for sure. After the meal, there is a tea/coffee service with Chocolate thin (Varda).
Descent began at 9:57pm, and we landed on Runway 7L at 10:34pm and parked at gate 33. The bags came out really quickly. They were already on the carousel after I passed through the immigration line (before even my wheel-chaired grandmother, and god-grandparents came out). I was a HK resident, and it took less than five minutes to pass through the immigration counter. I just brought out this point to show how quick checked bags came out in HK, and how the US can work on better baggage delivery time (so folks can have faith to check bags again and prevent folks from carrying too many hand carries).
Here is the end of my report. I hope you will enjoy it.