Norcal773 From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1404 posts, RR: 12 Posted (6 years 9 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 20473 times:
As I promised on my previous TR SFO-MNL-SFO on NW (http://www.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/96334/), here’s another TR SFO-NRT-MNL on JL Executive class (JAL’s version of Business class). I took this flight a little over a week ago which was on Feb 26th. This was exactly 5 days after returning home to San Francisco from Manila after being gone for 2 months. Unfortunately, I only had a total of 10 days off from work and considering the travel time, I couldn’t stay home longer because I wanted to spend a few days on the beach in Boracay, Philippines. Anyways, I spent the night at the Grand Hyatt Union Square in downtown San Francisco because my flight was at noon and I did not want to deal with the traffic from Sacramento to San Francisco the morning of my flight. Those who have taken the drive probably know what I mean because of all the valley people who work in the bay and this was a Monday morning. I checked out of my hotel at 9 am and was ready to head to the airport. I had a rental car that I had picked up on Feb 21st when I got here and I contemplated dropping it off at a Hertz location around the corner from the hotel and just cab the ride to the airport but I decided against it. I later regretted my decision because driving to the airport, it started pouring and it was kinda hard to see the road not to mention traffic was backed up on 101 South. The ‘Rental car return’ at SFO is not the easiest to get to and I took the wrong exit trying to save time but that was a bad idea. I ended up getting lost for a good 10 minutes trying to look for a gas station but eventually I ended up at Hertz. Earlier on, I had noticed the tires on my rental were literally bald so I let the lady at Hertz know that they do need to replace the tires and the wiper blades. I also realized they had charged me for the gas option which was about $50 but I know I never took the option when I picked up the car because from experience, I never do. I wasn’t too happy about this because I did remember the Hertz guy at the gate asking me if I wanted the gas option and I specifically said no so I went looking for Hertz customer service booth. I got there and they reversed the $50 charge. Right before I walked away, the manager showed up and asked me if the tires were bald when I picked up the car 5 days ago…lol. I was getting impatient now because it was almost 10 am and his question was kinda dumb. I told him yes I did and he asked me if I was sure and that ticked me off. I asked me if he was implying that I changed the tires on the car and took the good ones and he said no. He asked me to fill out an ‘accident report’ and I told him he’s gotta be kidding me because I advised them of the bald tires out of courtesy and I wasn’t filing an accident report. This was quite disappointing coz I’m a loyal Hertz Gold member customer and I rent from them a lot even out her in Manila. To make a long story short, I filled out the form because time was running short and I had to check in.
I got on the train to the terminals and if you’ve ever done that at SFO, the train passes by UA’s international gates and there were about 5 UA 777’s, 3 747’s, an NH 773 taxiing to the runway. I got to the check-in counter and I there was nobody on the business class line. I went straight to the agent and handed her my passport and ETicket. She looked at my passport and I could see she was searching for something on her screen. After about 8 minutes, she excused herself and took off with my passport. I started wondering what was going on but she soon returned and explained the situation and I realized for a frequent flyer, I had made a rookie mistake of forgetting when my passport expired…lol. My passport expires in early August and to travel to Manila, you need a passport valid at least for the next 6 months after date of arrival to MNL. Oooh boy, now I started panicking because my boss would literally skin me alive if I wasn’t back in MNL soon. I do happen to know that at port of entry, they’ll let you in if your passport is valid for at least 90 days and I explained that to her but of course she didn’t believe me. I asked her to call the Philippines consulate in San Francisco but instead she disappeared for 5 minutes and I could see her chatting with her boss not too far from the desk. She eventually returned and said it’s ok, I can travel and I let a sigh of relief. She handed me my boarding pass, advised me that the incoming flight was late thus we were delayed for 40 minutes. I had about 2 hours to kill so I headed straight to the security gates coz I wanted to chill at the Sakura lounge. Security line was a breeze and I decided to check out the duty free shops where I ended buying some cologne. It was a 100ml bottle and they packed it in a sealed HUGE plastic bag….lol. The cashier even made a comment about how big the bag was for something so small but it had to be sealed until I boarded the plane. I went to the lounge which looks almost identical to the NWA lounge upstairs. I checked airliners.net on my laptop, no news of AA ordering the 787 or NW getting rid of the DC9’s so I logged off and headed to the bar. I tried making a bloody Mary but put too much Tabasco that I took a sip and couldn’t drink anymore…lol. I then tried some Japanese wine and around noon, our plane pulled up to the gate while NW 0027 to NRT was pushing back. A few minutes later, we were called to our gate so out I went. The NZ 772 had just parked at the gate followed my CX 744.
A little off topic but this CX 744 arrives at SFO from HKG around noon and doesn’t make the return trip until midnight. That means it spends 12 hours at SFO (unless it makes a hop someplace that I don’t know of). CX is soon going double daily. I guess once they do, this flight will be returning to HKG fairly quick instead of sitting here all day.
Here’s our ride to NRT
The weather was awfully bad outside. What a surprise for SFO this time of the year, NOT.
Boarding line for Executive class was a breeze and we boarded around 12:40pm. My seat was on the upper deck so I went upstairs, stowed my laptop bag in the overhead bin because it won’t fit on the side bin. I took my seat and the FA asked what I wanted to drink and I went with faux.j (the airlines’ version of OJ per another TR I read….lol).
My seat neighbor.
At this point, the friendly FA saw me taking pics and told me I had to put away my camera because it was an electronic. Her English was not very good but I heard the word ‘camera’, saw her shaking her head and heard the words ‘electronic’ and ‘off’. . I didn’t understand this but knew better than starting an argument so I turned it off and stowed it. Interesting though because some airlines don’t care about cameras but she was quite stern about it. No pun intended here but I had heard JL’s FA’s are really pretty kinda like the Singapore girls but this lady was at least 60 years old (Thanx Jacobin777 for the false hope….lol).
We pushed back around 1 pm which was exactly an hour after our scheduled departure. Earlier on, I had seen a few UA 777’s taking off of the runway 10 and I was hoping we would take off from 10 too. I saw a UA 757 and a CO 737 take off from 19 and to my surprised, we taxied to runway 19 and I knew this was gonna be an awesome takeoff. We were number 2 for take off after another UA 757. The three dings indicating we’re ready for take off rang and we lined up. Unfortunately, it was still raining hard outside and I couldn’t see very well. The overhead screen at the front was switched on to the forward camera and I could clearly see the ‘RWY 19’ markings. The take off roll started and for those of you who know SFO, we lifted off right after the 28L/19R intersection which was way early. Heck, even the UA 757 which had taken off while were taxiing hadn’t lifted off that early. I could see a UA 777 lining up for RWY 10 to the right. Right after liftoff, we banked hard to the left and pretty much made a 180 degree turn heading towards Oakland. We might as well should have taken off from RWY 10 and banked left after takeoff as I’m sure the UA 777 did. We then made another 90 degree left turn right before we got to the Bay Bridge (this is a guess because it was pretty overcast at this time and couldn’t see a thing out the window) and the rest is history. We didn’t do step climbing or anything but in less than 20 minutes, we were at FL360. I figured we were pretty light because of the takeoff and the F22-like climb rate.
After dinner (sorry, no pictures per FA), I made the mistake of taking two Benadril pills and I was knocked out for exactly 7 hours. I woke up pretty groggy and asked the FA if I could have some noodles because I was kinda hungry. The noodles were ok but not as good or hot as OZ’s. And to think some people add chili to the OZ noodles….lol. I then whipped out my camera because the FA was nowhere to be found. Here are a few pictures I took;
I then went back to sleep for another hour or so and then was woken up by the lights. They served us breakfast which was pretty good. At this point we had about an hour before landing. I brushed my teeth and was ready to get off the plane after 10 hours.
This was on our approach to NRT.
The next three shots show the ‘forward camera’ showing on the front screen. Pretty neat if you ask me.
Cool looking JAL classic
Forward camera again. Check out the 744 ahead of us.
This is the 744 that’s showing on the forward camera on the previous picture. We went around it since it was just sitting there.
For a minute, I thought we landed on the highway and they were trying to get us back to the airport because we taxied for a half hour. I don’t know about you but after a long flight, I cannot wait to get off the plane but that probably has to do with the fact that unfortunately, I’ am a smoker and all I can think of at this point is my next puff. We literally taxied for a half hour before the captain came on the PA and said something in Japanese. He didn’t care to translate it but I could tell by everybody’s expression, it wasn’t good news. Later on, I figured he said that there were available gates because we taxied to a remote area almost a mile from the nearest gate. A few minutes after we parked, an AA 777 parked right next to us so I guess they must have been really short of gates. Everybody on the upper deck was already off their seats at this point and lined up to go down the stairs. I took 2 more pictures before the FA told me again that I cannot use electronics while on the plane. Here are the pics;
We finally de-planed and got on bus to the terminal. Here are a couple of pictures I took on my way out;
We rode the bus to the terminal and then a train to a different terminal. I still wanted a DLSR so I went shopping around but didn’t find anything. I got a coffee from Starbucks and this is pretty embarrassing but the coffee lady asked me a bunch of questions and I gave up on trying to figure out what she was saying and I said was yes to every question she asked. For that, I ended up with a cold strawberry Frappe instead of a hot latte….lol. Good times. I went looking for the lounge and eventually found it a few meters from my departure gate to MNL. I only had about a half hour before boarding started so I got me a hot coffee at the lounge and dumped my cold frappe from Starbucks. I then went online and sent Jacobin777 a PM expressing my excitement about taking off of the 19’s at SFO. Here are a couple of pics at the JL lounge in NRT;
After a half hour, they called us to the gate and boarding was un-eventful. This time I was on the main deck and I took my seat and took a couple of picture;
No PTV’s on the 747 Classic but at this point, I could care less coz all I wanted to do was sleep, Thanks to the 2 Benadril pills I had taken earlier.
This is the staircase to the upper deck on the classic.
Legroom was okay but when the person in front of me reclined their seat, it almost fell right on my lap and I didn’t feel like I was in business class anymore. Now I know why JL wants to get rid of the classics.
NZ 772 parked at the gate.
We taxied to the runway and took off eventually. I was asleep a few minutes after take off and didn’t even eat or anything. I woke up about a half hour before we landed and I looked out the window and I could see another plane a little behind us to the right. The guy from DC sitting next to me told me service on the NRT-MNL segment was not as good as his ATL-NRT segment (I think it was ATL) and I believe him because I barely saw the FA’s except when they were making sure the seats we in an upright position but then again, I was asleep for the most part. We landed and while taxiing to the gate, 2 NW 744’s landed behind us and I figured one of them must have been the plane I saw behind us earlier. We were the first arrival around that time so I cleared immigration in about 5 minutes and picked up my bag and was out the door. I had reserved a hotel car before I left Manila 6 days ago and it was sitting right outside. I got in, was in my hotel in about 20 minutes. I checked in, took a shower, called my buddy from LA and we went to Burgos. Good times…lol
All in all, JL was okay but my thoughts are they concentrate too much on the Japanese customers and kinds forget about the non-Japanese customers. The IFE was great but most of the movies were Japanese, sometimes no translation was offered (e.g. when there we no gates available). I still gotta fly them again on my way back home in a few months but unless they WOOW me on my return flight, I most probably won’t be flying them again. NW beats them even on in-flight service and seats are pretty much the same. OZ is still my favorite but for now, looking forward to my flight in May on SQ’s brand spanking new 773 SFO-ICN.
Ardian From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 528 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 20117 times:
Interesting tripreport and too bad the service from JAL wasn't really what you expected. I also head great stories about their inflight product. Strange that you weren't allowed to take pictures, I think it's only during take-off and landing (and on the ground if I recall correctly) that the use of electronic devices is prohibited JAL Flight Safety Video B744
Jacobin777 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 14968 posts, RR: 61 Reply 2, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 20054 times:
Interesting trip report....I like your little situation with Hertz..lol!!
Looks like you are turning into TR king..lol!!
Quoting Norcal773 (Thread starter): I then went online and sent Jacobin777 a PM expressing my excitement about taking off of the 19’s at SFO. Here are a couple of pics at the JL lounge in NRT;
lol..yah...I couldn't believe when you had told me..you have got to be one of the luckiest people on A.net....taking off from the 19's is practically non-existent in SFO....and the fact you B744 took off before the 28 crossings...must have been the emptiest B744 in history..lol!!
you lucky bugger..
Quoting Norcal773 (Thread starter): No pun intended here but I had heard JL’s FA’s are really pretty kinda like the Singapore girls but this lady was at least 60 years old (Thanx Jacobin777 for the false hope….lol).
...hey, whatever man..its not my fault you get the "odd lot" (lol)....
..since you aren't a fan of Japenese women, I think we'll have to ban you from Japan...
Quoting Norcal773 (Thread starter): A little off topic but this CX 744 arrives at SFO from HKG around noon and doesn’t make the return trip until midnight. That means it spends 12 hours at SFO (unless it makes a hop someplace that I don’t know of). CX is soon going double daily. I guess once they do, this flight will be returning to HKG fairly quick instead of sitting here all day.
....when do they plan on starting "double daily" service? What would be interesting is if the plane turns around 4:00 p.m.-that would put it at an 11:00-11:30 p.m. arrival bank at HKG.....I would say the first flight would arrive earlier (say by 10:00 a.m.-depart by 1:00 p.m. and arrive at HKG by 8:00-9:00 p.m.
The beauty of the current CX flight is that it arrives at 7:00 a.m. so it allows for connections...
I'm hoping they will scale down to 2x/daily Merrimans...
Norcal773 From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1404 posts, RR: 12 Reply 3, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 20005 times:
Quoting Ardian (Reply 1): Interesting tripreport and too bad the service from JAL wasn't really what you expected. I also head great stories about their inflight product. Strange that you weren't allowed to take pictures, I think it's only during take-off and landing (and on the ground if I recall correctly) that the use of electronic devices is prohibited
Considering I didn't quite understand what she said except refferencing my camera and the word equipment, there's a possibility she said I couldn't use it while on the ground. After we got to NRT and we were waiting to deplane, I took a few pics and she told me again that I had to wait until I deplaned to use my camera. Weird though.
Quoting Jacobin777 (Reply 2): Interesting trip report....I like your little situation with Hertz..lol!!
It wasn't funny at all at the time but looking back, that was a little hilarious.
Quoting Jacobin777 (Reply 2): ..since you aren't a fan of Japenese women, I think we'll have to ban you from Japan...
Ha haa, I don't wanna get myself in trouble here but there's a reason I plan to take a one week vacation in Japan...anywhere in Japan.
Quoting Jacobin777 (Reply 2): The beauty of the current CX flight is that it arrives at 7:00 a.m. so it allows for connections...
Wait, it get's to HKG at 7:00 a.m? That's quite early but you're right, it allows all kind of connections.
Quoting Jacobin777 (Reply 2): ....when do they plan on starting "double daily" service?
There was a thread not too long ago saying the'll soon go doubly daily to SFO. I also hope they downgrade to 2 773's. Who knows, maybe Zeke and his A346 will be coming to an airport near you soon (SFO).
To add to the TR, I was thinking about whether they showed a safety video before take off but to be honest, I don't remember seeing one. I know it's almost impossible that they didn't show one but I wrestled with that question about 15 minutes after takeoff and I don't remember seeing a safety video.
BAStew From Australia, joined Sep 2006, 1016 posts, RR: 2 Reply 4, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 19822 times:
SO hear what you are saying about JAL being totally geared towards the japanese passenger and feeling slightly alienated as a westerner. I have used JAL a few times LHR-SYD via Japan and have noticed the same (which is often quite blatant). I have always enjoyed their service but there are differences in the way they are with japanese passengers and western passengers.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 9 Reply 7, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 18845 times:
Thanks for the trip report!
Well JL and NH and most Japanese carriers do not allow digital camera while on the ground... strange policy, but then you can't really argue with it. But once the plane take off, you can take pictures again. Nobody is going to stop you... just no pictures on the ground.
I assume it will be fine if you use an old style camera.
Norcal773 From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 1404 posts, RR: 12 Reply 8, posted (6 years 9 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 18753 times:
Quoting Carfield (Reply 7): Well JL and NH and most Japanese carriers do not allow digital camera while on the ground... strange policy, but then you can't really argue with it. But once the plane take off, you can take pictures again. Nobody is going to stop you... just no pictures on the ground.
I assume it will be fine if you use an old style camera.
That is interesting and thanx for the info. Maybe they know something we don't, the Japanese make almost all the digital cameras anyways.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1803 posts, RR: 9 Reply 11, posted (6 years 9 months 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 17920 times:
Meant to correct... I assume you can take pictures while on the ground, if you use a classic film camera...
But once taking off, you can use your digital camera as much as possible... it can be quite a hassle though if you want good cabin pictures.
I flew NRT to LAX in F earlier this month, but did not take much cabin pix due to a VIP guest... but after takeoff, the F/As did not seem to care when I took my dinner pix. Actually lots of Japanese pax like to take pictures of their meals according to F/As from various airlines I came across.