Business Class (3 class configuration)
April 2008; depart Monday 2:40pm - arrive Tuesday 6pm
Duration: 11hr 20min; (+1 day)
There are separate check in lines for first, business and coach classes at the Singapore counter. Even though I had checked in on-line and printed my boarding pass before-hand, I still needed to check in at the counter, however, this only took a total of five minutes. After the cheerful attendant issued me my "real" boarding pass, she gave me a pass to the Star Alliance business class lounge (there was also a first class lounge attached), which entailed a walk up three flights of stairs. The decor was a bit drab, but there was a wide variety of champagne, beer, wine, sushi and sandwiches, available for self-service. Each bathroom was its own individual room (like in your own home) complete with a shower and fresh cut flowers. When boarding time was approaching, an attendant walked around with a sign and called out the particular flight that was about to begin boarding. There were separate boarding lines for coach and upper class passengers, but the gate attendants did such a great job, all was orderly and there really were no lines to speak of. I was greeted on the jet way by a flight attendant who escorted me up the stairs and showed me my seat. Another gracious flight attendant asked me if I would like to be seated downstairs, where I would have an empty seat next to me; I declined as I looked over my exit row business class seat on the top deck of the 747. I suggested that she offer the same option to whomever would be seated next to me and she assured me she would. As it turned out, I wound up spilling my champagne on the seat, blanket and pillow next to me and nobody wanted to sit there!
Champagne, juice, water and a variety of newspapers were offered before take off. Our drink orders, for after take off, were also taken. Take off was fifteen minutes behind schedule, after which noise canceling headphones, eye masks and socks were handed out; there were no amenity kits in business class, only the aforementioned items. Immediately after that, our drinks and gourmet nuts were served. The food and drink menus were located in the literature bin with the in-flight entertainment guide and duty free catalog.
The appetizer was a plate of delicious Asian seared scallops served chilled, while lunch consisted of three choices: beef, chicken or a fish dish; all prepared in elaborate fashion. In addition to the main entrées, "snacks" were available throughout the flight on-demand, including candy, sandwiches and crackers. Following lunch, a gourmet cheese plate and chocolate ice cream were offered; both were of the quality you would expect in a successful restaurant; not at 38,000 feet.
After lunch, and after the attendants made sure all their business class passengers were fat and happy, the lights were dimmed and the flight attendants disappeared, but I am sure they were only a call button away. Throughout the night, the attendants sporadically, silently walked through the cabin to ensure their customers were comfortable.
The business class seat on this plane is, good, not great. I do not believe it is Singapore's newest seat (there was no power outlet); it lies almost flat but not at 180 degrees; as you recline the seat lowers closer to the floor of the plane and it is not quite wide enough for someone with broad shoulders, like myself. If be chance, you sleep on your side, as I do, the seat is quite comfortable and offers plenty of privacy with ample room in front of your seat (exit row).
About two hours before landing, a "light" meal service commenced. Passengers had a choice of spaghetti with chorizo, braised beef noodles or traditional Japanese fare. In addition, the snack menu was still available; so, wanting a true light meal, I ordered the roast beef sandwich, which was fresh and tasty, but I have no need to eat another.
Due to wind and traffic, we circled Tokyo's Narita airport for 30 minutes, which the flight attendant told me was quite uncommon.
There was a large sign at customs that implied that anyone staying in Japan for less than 72 hours (shore pass for people in transit; like people connecting on a flight the next day) needed a special stamp on their passport, located at another desk, before reaching the customs official. I elected not to get that stamp (even though I was in transit) because I did not see the sign until after I had already waited in the main line for 15 minutes. Needless, to say, the agent did not mention this special stamp and he let me pass. The entire customs process took roughly 25 minutes. With nothing to declare, I was headed out into the cold, wind driven rain of Tokyo.
The pick up location for airport hotels is at post #16 in front of terminal one arrivals and post #26 in front of terminal 2 arrivals.