Since I do so much flying on the 777 (American Airlines) a report on one of my flights is long overdue. I am going to give a report on a flight I took just a few days ago. I would also like to add that I took over 60 pictures but I am having trouble including them with this report. I downloaded them to my disk but when I tried to upload them to My Images on this website it says I am only allowed 10,000,000 bytes and I have used over 9,000,000 of them. I have seen trip reports with over 100 pictures so if any of you reading this can help me with how to include them in this report I would appreciate it. The pics were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 7900 which is a 7.1 megapixel digital camera. Any help would be appreciated because I want to include them with the report. For now I will give you the report, and hopefully I can add the pics later.
I retired from AA in March 2005 and moved to Japan as a missionary. One of the best perks of working for an airline is it's flight privileges. I was never one who liked flying standby but shortly after going to work for AA it became a way of life for me. I fell in love with our 777 which we added in March 1999, and I have made over 135 flights on it; most of them overseas in first class. As an employee, and now a retiree, I can fly any flight, any class of service on a space available basis. This means we take care of our paying customers first, and if there are seats, I can get on. Because of this and other factors, there is no guarantee of getting the desired flight or class of service. If you are flexible and like fun and adventure, I can think of no better way to spend my time. Also traveling as a non revenue (nonrev for short) passenger is a privilege so if any of you are in this boat, this is something to remember. Now you can enjoy your flight.
I flew NRT-DFW on Christmas day to be with my sisters and friends. I was on AA 60 which departed NRT at 7:00PM and arrived DFW around 3:00PM the same day. It made for a very long Christmas, needless to say.
At DFW all international flights fly in and out of Terminal D. This terminal opened almost 2 years ago and is very nice, although there may be considerable walking distance involved. Getting between terminals at DFW is very easy with the Skylink which is a monorail. It also gives you a nice view of the ramp and surrounding areas.
The loads on these flights were very good for travel. I returned to NRT 30 December. Although the night before there were some very bad thunderstorms in the DFW area and the Rockies had been hit with much snow. This resulted in several flights being cancelled or diverted. Nobody likes weather delays but there is nothing we can do about it, other than ride it out.
I was able to fly first class which is the only way to fly for a flight this long.
On the 777 we board through the #2 door on the left side and turn left for first class. This is a very nice arrangement because it is very quiet with no other passengers passing through on their way to business class and coach.
I was immediately greeted by a flight attendent who offered to take my jacket. I was offered water, champagne or orange juice, along with my choice of several newspapers. On AA we usually board first and business classes first, followed by premium passengers (Aadvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum, Gold and Aairpass). The f/a's made sure I had enough to drink, and also passed out menus, amenity kits and slippers, and Bose headsets.
We were a bit late in departing, because twice the jetbridge was moved back to the aircraft to allow late passengers to board. We were pushing back to the gate when we stopped and were towed back to allow another passenger to board.
Today's flying time DFW-NRT would be 12:55. We taxied out and took off with little delay. We took off to the south, and made a right hand turn to fly in a north, northwesterly direction.
At this time of year, most flights to the Orient usually fly far north, over Canada and Alaska to avoid strong headwinds which are further to the south. The flights flying to the US will fly further to the south to take advantage of the tailwinds. (Our flying time NRT-DFW was 10:35)
We flew over the Rocky Mountain states and it all looked white because of heavy snow in that area.
Lunch was served shortly after reaching our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet. I know there are differing opinions about inflight meals, but I wouldn't want anything else other than AA Flagship service. And also the flight attendants on this flight were wonderful. Even though I was flying as a non rev, they were so friendly and helpful. They looked like they were truly enjoying what they did and it showed. As much as I love flying, it is the inflight service that makes or breaks the flight. It is unfortunate when I read about or hear about poor inflight service. I had to deal with that often as a supervisor with AA. The inflight service on my flight more than made up for any bad service I ever had.
I won't go into all the details on the menu but for a flight to Tokyo, the service usually begins with appetizers, salad and bread. In first class, the flight attendants come to your seat with a cart and serve you from the cart. (Also AA has gone back to regular silverware in first and business class). The flight attendants come by and set your place for you.
We had 3 choices of entrees (steak, Japanese pan fried noodles or boursin lasagna on this flight) or you could have the Japanese meal. This consists of an appetizer tray (Kobachi dish, Hassun dish and Western style dish) followed by the main tray (Simmered dish, entree and Miso soup). I usually take the Japanese meal as it is very filling. I'm not hungry when I get finished with it!
For dessert we had a choice of fruit and cheese or ice cream sundaes made at your seat.
We had Bose noise cancelling headsets which were very nice. AA has a good selection of inflight listening and there are personal monitors at every seat for viewing in flight programs (Sorry but no AVOD). Also in first class there are an additional selections of movies available for viewing on demand.
Usually because of the length of the flight and many passengers like to sleep, the f/a's usually come around and close the window shades shortly after lunch.
There is an assortment of snacks available (I go after the Rice Crispy treats and the plain M&M's). Because we are flying west, the flight is daylight nearly all the way to Japan. Also we cross the International Date Line, so we lose 1 day. On this flight we departed DFW around 12:30PM and arrived in Tokyo around 4:40PM the next day.
I took several pictures inflight which I hope to show you at a later time.
About halfway through the flight, there is an afternoon refreshment consisting of Japanese Soba noodles or Uno's pizza. I usually get the soba as it is very tasty.
We flew in a northwesterly direction, toward British Columbia, over Anchorage Alaska, and out over the Pacific. As mentioned earlier because we were flying west and I was by a window on the left side of the plane, there was a lot of sunshine. The scenery over the Northwest US and over Alaska is very pretty. Out over the Pacific you see a lot of clouds and water, and the nice big Rolls Royce Trent engine. The 777 is equipped to fly ETOPS, which is extended twin engine operations. (It also can mean engines turn or people swim..lol). We need to be within 180 minutes of a suitable landing field if there is any reason we need to land (like medical emergency or an engine fails. The RR engines on the 777 are very reliable).
First class on AA 777 comes in two configurations. There is the 2-2-2 configuration or the Flagship Suite which is 1-2-1 configuration. I know some people prefer one over the other. If I can get a seat in first class I'll be happy. On this flight it was the 2-2-2 configuration, although I understand AA which eventually reconfigure all it's 777's to the Flagship Suite and the new lie flat seats in business class.
If any of you have ever been on a long transpacific flight, you know there is not a whole lot to do, other than sleep, read, or watch a movie. Yet the f/a's were always very cheerful and helpful through the entire flight. There is a crew rest compartment with bunks so each f/a gets a break. In the cockpit 2 pilots are all that's required to fly the 777. However on long flights there are relief pilots aboard as well (1 relief pilot for a flight over 8 hours and 2 relief pilots for a flight over 12 hours). There is a crew rest compartment with bunks for the pilots behind the cockpit, and in addition there are 2 seats in first class for crew use only.
About an hour out of Tokyo it was time for supper. We had a salad and a choice of a cold entree (sesame chicken with Asian salad) or Udon noodle soup. I took the Udon noodle soup as this was the first time I have seen this offered. It was very good. There was also cheesecake for dessert and the f/a's offer chilled sparkling water before we land.
We began our descent into NRT and it was just starting to get dark. As any airline knows, landing slots at NRT are jewels in your crown. Slots are limited and NRT has a night time curfew. If anyone is familiar with NRT it is about 40 miles from dowtown Tokyo and was built where some farmers had their land. There was very heavy resistance to NRT when it was built. It was a one runway airport. Another diagonal runway was planned but never completed.
The original runway, 16R/34L is 13,123 feet or 4000 meters long. In 2002 a second runway, 16L/34R was opened and this runway was made shorter than planned, so it didn't interfere with the farmers. It is 7,152 feet or 2,180 meters. Because of the restricted landing slots at NRT, all AA flights are required to land on the shorter runway. This runway is closest to terminal 2, and AA flight at present use terminal 1. This means that after landing (especially if you land to the north), you will have to taxi for 20 minutes before you get to the gate. If you are seated on the right side of the aircraft, you will see the displeasure of the farmers, as they have put up a large sign, in both English and Japanese, that says Down with Narita Airport. Not the best way of saying welcome to Tokyo.
On our flight we landed to the north, and I had a nice view of the sun setting as well as I could see the top of Mt Fuji. (I had the chance to climb it this past summer. Instead of making it to the top, I got six stitches above my right eye, because I hit my head on a ladder when I jumped out of the top bunk). We landed, and taxied past the Down with Narita Airport sign, and about 20 minutes later we were at the gate. If you ever fly in or out of NRT you will notice the fencing with guard towers at spaced intervals. This is because of the fact that those living in the surrounding area hate Narita Airport. Because of riots, the opening of the airport was delayed much later than planned.
Because the inflight service on this flight was so nice, I hated to see it end. I am very thankful I can still travel as a non rev on AA because it is the only way to do such a long flight.
I mentioned earlier that NRT is located a considerable distance from downtown Tokyo. There is train service, bus service or you can even take a taxi (very expensive). The quickest way to Tokyo Station is the JR Narita Express which takes 1 hour.
I hope you enjoy reading this trip report. It was a very delightful flight for me. As I mentioned earlier, if anyone can let me know how to include my pics, I would love to add them to this report. Thank you