Flight: EI 178
Plane: A 320
After a nice relaxing holiday driving around Ireland it was time to head back home. It was a major surprise that after 6 days in Ireland the first rain we saw was in the last hour of our trip. We had been keep an eye on the weather and could see it was going to be a good time to leave Europe. Checkin was painless as usual, but as we had arrived early at the airport, we had a long wait until departure, then we had a 30 minute delay as the plane was late arriving in from LHR.
The captain promised to make up time on the flight back to LHR, which he did mostly, gaining 15 minutes by the time we arrived at the gate at T1. It took us longer to walk through the rabbit warrant than it did for our bags to arrive and head out to the Hotel Hoppa bus. As my girlfriends sister was not going to be home this evening we have to fend for ourselves this night, but it was not a problem – Renaissance Hotel Spotters Package here we come! You can almost hear my girlfriends eyes rolling but she accepted this especially as I was paying.
Eventually the bus arrived and deposited us at the hotel. I was very surprised to be given a magazine and handouts as part of the package, but again, the staff needed reminding that a Hotel Hoppa ticket is part of the advertised package. As we were very hungry we deposited our luggage in the room and went straight to the bar for some drink and food. Can’t remember what my girlfriend has, but I had a meat pie which was quite cold in the centre - not so pleasant. We then made our way back to the room to watch some TV. News seemed the best option and as watched there was a live report on the BA strike with a view onto the runways. My eagle eyed girlfriend said the view looked very familiar and looked out our window and there was the reporter giving her report – live.
Flight: JL 402
Plane: B 777-346ER
As our flight was due to depart in the evening, we left our bags at the hotel and went to visit my girlfriends sister in Putney, after of course some spotting from the room.
Great views from the Renaissance
Luckily, for us, she was sick and was having the day off so we spent a few hours with her before going back to the hotel and airport.
This was my first time checking in at T3, but didn’t find it so bad – until later. JAL desks are really quite hidden so took a few minutes to find. With our boarding passes for both flights we then headed upstairs and through security. As usual, there were many people totally unprepared for this, I don’t understand how hard can it be to read instructions and see what other people are doing. Anticipation folks.
Time wasn’t an issue so it was no problem to be held up by the unprepared.
First stop was the new BA Lounges [sorry, forgot to take photos]. The First lounge seems very nice, and would have some good views during daylight. When we had a drink and a bite, we then headed back out to do some shopping. Wow, during the early evening this place is a zoo, so many people, it’s a fight just to get anywhere. My girlfriend went to look for some presents for her mother and I went looking at cameras. Saw the Canon 7D at a price I was happy with, but I didn’t need the lense, so I asked if they sold body only, which they didn’t. The guy told me I would need a lense in any case, but didn’t seem to understand that I had some good lenses and didn’t need or want to pay for another, so they missed out on a sale.
Boarding started pretty much on time and we managed to get aboard pretty early. It seemed that there was not as much emphasis on premium passengers boarding although it was announced, it was not enforced.
J cabin, not much different than the last time
I think this was one of the first flights after JAL reduced LHR to one daily flight, so it was full in every class, but in J it isn’t noticed as much as in Y.
Pushback was about 5 minutes late with a 20 minute taxi to 09R, following a wingleted AA 763.
Dinner was served pretty quickly after the seatbelt sign was extinguished. Unfortunately I forgot to keep/hide the menu so I can’t remember exactly what the meals were. For some reason on each leg, the FAs came though and took back the menus, previously we had hidden one to take back with us, but not this time.
I am sorry to say that I did not have the Japanese menu on these flights because as much as I love Japanese meals, sometimes the meals don’t love me back, and it wasn’t a risk I wanted to take.
The beef was nice and tender, but it took a while to get to me after a small issue of being given salmon and rice, whereas I had asked for beef without rice.
The rest of the flight passed quickly, I read for a while and tried unsuccessfully to get some sleep. Daylight appeared with about 4 hours to go so I amused myself by looking out the window. This time towards the end of the flight a FA came around and asked if we wanted the 2nd meal or something else, so feeling hungry I went for the Western breakfast.
Views on descent into NRT
ANA cargo 767
UA 744 in Staralliance colours
Arrival at the gate was about 25 minutes late, but with a 4 hour connection there was no reason to rush. We made our way pretty quickly through connections security and to the JAL First lounge for a shower.
Our ride from LHR
Flight: JL 771
Plane: B 777-246ER
Having showered we had not much to do until 19:30 when we were due to board the last flight home. Shopping at NRT is average, surprisingly I would have thought it would be much better so that only took 5 minutes leaving a few more hours to kill, which we did reading in the lounge.
At 19:30 we made our way to the gate and didn’t have to wait long for boarding. Again a very full flight, with boarding well policed. As we departed I noticed QF 22 being pushed back for its journey back to Sydney, and hoped we would get in front – which we did.
As I was pretty tired with not much sleep on the last flight and also with some night training planned on the boat I am doing the Sydney Hobart on, the night that I arrived back, I reclined as soon as possible to get some sleep. Unfortunately turbulence woke me up about 3 hours into the flight and I never got back to sleep. I didn’t have the meal, but by all accounts it was pretty much the same as the other flights so I didn’t miss out on much.
Breakfast was served about 2 hours from arrival, a pretty plain meal, but I don’t like anything fancy for breakfast so it suited me well
Great day for views over Sydney
Our path took us over Sydney Airport
Arrival was slightly later than scheduled, but again we were lucky with queues for customs and immigration as well as bags being one of the first off. Only took 25 minutes from arrival at the gate until we were in a cab going home.
The JAL flights I found to be quite good, but not as good as I have experienced on BA and QF. The adage you get what you pay for really shows here. The seats were for me very comfortable, but I am not a big person to say the least, if I was any wider, I could see the seats being too small. Food wise, the quality was good, I wish I could have had the Japanese menu, but the Western was pretty good. Service was very good and attentive, especially considering all flights were full or close to. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly JAL again if the fares were good, otherwise I would pay a bit extra for BA and QF.
Thanks for reading