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
- 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
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..
departures hall and AA
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
- 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
/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
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!
[Edited 2009-10-08 21:24:53 by jpetekYXMD80]