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Old Feb 9, 11, 4:32 pm   #1
 
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FLIGHT#26: Delhi Green Lounge & JL 740 Business Class with photos

FLIGHT#26
Japan Airlines #740
Delhi, India (DEL) – Tokyo, Japan (NRT)

Date: Feb. 1, 2010
Departure: 20:20
Arrival: 07:40
Length: 07:20
Miles flown since start of trip: 47,228 mi.
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Seats: BUSINESS 8ACD

We’ve just finished month seven of our amazing year around the world (click here to see the big trip report). India was wonderful. I believe that it has changed my son’s life forever. India changes you. With over a billion people, India is like its own world. We’ve barely begun to process what we’ve seen in India.

We took two JetLite flights from Delhi to Cochin and back. I didn’t write trip reports from these flights. JetLite is the low-cost child of Jet Airways. It was perfectly fine. It’s all economy and pay on board for food and drink, pretty standard fare. Both flights were on time and we had a free seat next to us both ways. What more can you ask for?

In New Delhi, we stayed at the Hilton Janakpuri. The location is a bit out of the center but luckily there is a metro station right in front of the hotel. A single train takes you to Connaught Place in about 45 minutes. The best part about this hotel was the service. OUTSTANDING. Not only was it very attentive but also extremely friendly. The staff in the Executive Lounge was eager to serve. I was making a vodka tonic for myself and a waiter came up and apologized that I was having to make it. He insisted on taking over and then asked would I like it to be a double? How did he know me so well? They also offered bring over a plate of a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Lovely service! My favorite part was that we had long conversations with many of the staff members often initiated by the server. Normally I’m not very chatty with servers because I know they have other things to do. But all the staff in the lounge was talkative in a very professional way. It takes a seasoned employee to know how to walk this line appropriately. I will be writing a nice letter to the GM about our experience.

We arranged a car transfer to the IG Airport for 350 rupees, eight dollars. Bargain!! Our driver worried that the traffic at late afternoon would be difficult so he picked us up at 3pm for our 8:20pm flight.

CHECK-IN:
We arrived with lots of time at 4:00pm and the JAL check-in desks were just being set up. We took a seat nearby and waited. I decided to take a walk and noticed signs that informed us that we had to change all rupees before passport control. So I took our remaining 6000 rupees and attempted to convert them into yen, the currency of our next country. Unfortunately, my request was met with a response of “only dollars”. My home currency isn’t dead yet!


The JAL check-in area on Pier M


Corbin in line for check-in

At 16:45, the check-in desks opened and we were the first in line for the JAL Seasons Executive class line. I had already checked in online so I expected that this would be painless. How wrong I was.

After standing there a while, the agent informed us that we would each need to pay 1500 rupees tax. Apparently BA, our ticket issuing agent, had not charged me the appropriate departure taxes. Ugh. Part of me didn’t believe them and this was just an attempt to get more money out of me. We had been traveling six months on this ticket with no problem.

The assistant manager of JAL finally came over and handed me his cell phone with THE MANAGER of JAL in Delhi. This guy confirmed that my ticket did not include the required taxes. I really didn’t understand how BA could have issued me a ticked without the required taxes but alas, we moved forward.

After speaking with the manager, I decided that I would just pay the taxes and work it out later with BA. So I gave my credit card to the agent and said I would pay any taxes they felt they were due.

Several minutes later another employee approached me disputing why I had to pay the taxes. I simply stated that I had already given my credit card and this was no longer a point of discussion.

I gave my trusted Starwood AMEX. I could see that this would not be a fast transaction so I instructed my family to pass through immigration and I’d meet them in the lounge.

Of course, after 15 minutes, the young lady came back saying my card was declined. REALLY!?!? There is no reason that my card should be declined. I had just used it to pay my hotel bill. Luckily my Chase BA Visa worked fine but it still took a long while. As she was having me sign the credit card slip, she asked me why I wasn’t paying cash. What was the point of asking me this now? She had already charged my card so the point was mute. This was the same woman who wanted to continue discussing why I needed to pay the taxes after I had agreed to pay them. At this point I lost it. I told her to stop with pointless questions and comments. Her questions about me paying with cash would have been appropriate BEFORE she charged my card but were useless ipso facto. I have learned over the years that getting angry or rude never pays off. But this woman’s comments were inappropriate.

One of the things I have noticed in India is that negotiations tend to involve lots of loud shouting. It’s not something I do or am used to. Throughout the whole check-in process, I was calm, polite and collected. I think my passivity did not serve me well. I would have been better respected had I yelled and made demands.

It was a bad start to the journey. I really don’t like confrontations of any kind. So this incident really upset me. My son is just like me and also hates all confrontations. He was offering to pay the $100 himself because he could see I was getting upset. Unfortunately, his $4 a week allowance wouldn’t quite cover this.

LOUNGE:
I had read on the Oneworld website that they use the Kingfisher Lounge at the new T3 Indira Gandhi Airport. So I was surprise when our lounge invitation was to the Green Lounge next to the food court and the Priority Pass Lounge.

The lounge looked fairly new although I was amazed at the number of stains in the carpet. Unfortunately, half of the lounge was open to the main departure area so it was quiet noisy somewhat like the Wing in Hong Kong. I much prefer a quiet, closed environment.


The entrance to the Green Lounge near the Food Court


Seating areas in the Green Lounge at IG



A view into the lounge

After getting settled I returned to the front desk to ask about the Wifi. The agent informed me that it wasn’t working. Ugh. Today just wasn’t going well. I had really planned on getting a number of things done at the airport that required the internet. I love to travel and usually my reports are happy and peppy. Not today!

Other JAL business class passengers began to arrive but we all never filled the place. There was lots of seating and space for us all. The lounge had six large flat screen TVs scattered throughout the lounge. All were playing movies with LOUD movies. I am concerned that more and more restaurants and lounges are putting in TVs. I don’t understand it at all. When I looked around the lounge, the only people watch the TVs were the wait staff. I finally asked the front desk agent if he could lower the volume a bit on the TVs since none of the guests were watching them. At one point three of the six had car chase scenes with loud sirens and crashes. It was crazy. Who thinks that’s what I want in a lounge?

Once again I have to apologize for sounding like Grandpa Grump here. I love lounges. I love travel. Today just wasn’t working for me. So what’s the cure for a bad day? A stiff vodka tonic. Several of them. An hour later I was much happier.

I was surprised that the alcohol offerings were all unknown brands. The only one I recognized was the Bacardi rum. I’m always a bit leery of mystery brands fearing a bad headache.


Spirit offerings


Wine

The food offerings were a strong point for this lounge. I really enjoyed a vegetable noodle dish with some spicy veggie meatballs. They also served sandwiches and pastries. I had two helpings of the noodles and meatballs because it was so tasty.


Sandwiches


More food


Meatballs and noodles


Messy but tasty food


BOARDING:
Finally the agent announced our flight and most of the passengers popped up quickly. We made our way to Gate 15 slowly enjoying this brand new terminal. It is such an improvement over the old terminal. I remember arriving in Delhi The gate area was fairly quiet as most passengers had already boarded.

A lovely flight attendant greeted us at the door and I knew that at this point our travels would be getting a lot better. We got settled quickly and I was happy that the center seat next to me was empty. A nice Indian gentleman sat opposite the free seat. He too was happy we had an open seat between us. My boys had the two seats at the left hand side.


My boys


Death to all tilty flat business class seats

Business class on this Boeing 777-200 was about 75% full. Immediately behind us was Premium Economy and then steerage. I never looked back to see what their loads were like.

Local Indian newspapers were distributed along with some Japanese ones. I was surprised that they didn’t offer any pre-departure drinks or hot towels.

I love aircraft with exterior cameras. Tonight’s takeoff was broadcast on all the monitors. Soon enough we were on our way to Narita.

The FA first passed out a cotton cardigan which was a bit tight on me. The in-flight wear from many of the Asian airlines often runs a bit small for the Euro-bodies. Slippers were provided at each seat but they were made for Asian feet. My hubby’s sized 13 feet didn’t quite fit!


The ugly step-sister trying on Cinderella’s slipper

MEALS:
Once in the air, champagne and OJ was served along with the hot towels. I’m not sure why this didn’t happen on the ground. Is this normal for JAL? The menus showed that we would be getting a dinner and then continental breakfast an hour before landing.


The pre-departure drink served after departure


My vodka tonic and packaged snacks. When did packaged snacks become acceptable in business class?

The meal and beverage service began immediately. Maybe because it was a short night flight, a single tray had the starters and mains together. My boys opted for the Japanese beef hamburger patty and I had the Japanese meal. Mine was fantastic. I love Japanese food. Everything on the menu was presented on a single tray and it was an opera of flavors for me to enjoy. I should have had the menu next to the tray but instead opted to just enjoy the meal without instruction. My boys really enjoyed their hamburger patty. The Japanese sure know good beef.


My Japanese meal


The Western meal

Our meal ended with two desserts presented on a single tray. They were fine but I would have preferred a plate of cheeses.


Sweetness

During dinner I tried to watch “Red” but gave up on it quickly. Instead I caught up some of my American sitcoms. It was fun to be watching Outsourced while traveling in India. We were living the manager’s life. Sort of.

Shortly after dinner, I feel fast asleep. It had been a long day with sightseeing in the morning and then airport stuff in the afternoon. Mama was tired. I often refer to myself as Mama in the third person. On our son’s birth certificate I was the one listed in the Mother/Parent box on California’s Birth Certificate. Since then I’ve been Mama. Corbin isn’t allowed to call me that though. Only I am allowed to use it.

After about four hours of sleep, the lights came on and hot towels were given before a tray of continental breakfast was placed in front of me. I wasn’t hungry. I was tired. Still I picked at the food and was surprised how delicious the croissant was!


Continental breakfast

Here’s is the menu for our flight:

DINNER:

JAPANESE MEAL:
Zensai:
Marinated Herring Roe Wasabi Flavour / Grilled Prawn with Sea Urchin
Egg Roll / Simmered Taro rolled with Kelp
Conger Eel Teriyaki with Turnip / Glazed Broad Bean

Mukouzuke:
Vinegared Crabmeat & Radish

Kobachi:
Simmered Radish with Egg White Starch Sauce

Nimono:
Simmered Freeze-dried Tofu, Dried Radish & Japanese Butterbur

Dainomono:
Deep Simmered Alaska Rockfish with Sweet Soy Sauce

Steamed Rice / Japanese Pickles / Miso Soup
We are pleased to offer freshly steamed Koshihikari rice.

WESTERN MEAL:
Plate of starters:
Potato Salad with Grain Mustard
Chickpea & Bell Pepper Salad
Bell Pepper Crusted Chicken
Fresh Fruits

Main Dish:
Japanese Beef Hamburger Steak with Juniper Berry Cream Sauce
Or
Grilled Chicken with Sauce Provencale, Tossed Spaghetti

Fresh Salad

Bread or Steamed Rice

Dessert:
Chocolate Profiterole & Moccha Pastry with Raspberry Sauce

Coffee / Tea

BREAKFAST
Orange Juice
Fresh Fruits
Croissant & Muffin
Yogurt

SNACKS:
Ramen de Sky
Udon de Sky
Soba de Sky

BEVERAGES
Champagne:
Champagne Delamotte Brut
White Wine:
Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay 2007
Robert Pepi Sauvignon Blanc California 2008
Red Wine:
Sirius Rouge 2006 or 2007
Blue Moon Wines Silver Peak Zinfandel 2005
Louis Jadot Bourgogne Rouge Couvent de Jacobins 2008

Plus a wide selection of spirits and sake.

Soon enough we were on the ground and on the way to Immigration. Unfortunately there is no Fast-Track so we waited in a 45 minute passport control line. Ugh. This did mean that our bags were waiting for us on the belt.

OVERALL:

Japan is a strong member of the Oneworld Alliance. The service was excellent but suffered a bit from the robotic Singapore Airlines style flight attendants. CX still wins in Asia for me!

Previous reports in this year of travel:
FLIGHT#23: BKK CX & QF/BA Lounges & CX 751 BKK-DEL Business Class
FLIGHT#22: SGN International Sasco Lounge & TG 551 Business Class with photos
FLIGHT#20: SGN Dom Sasco Lounge, VN452 SGN-NHA Biz Class and Sheraton Nha Trang
FLIGHT#19: BKK Royal First Lounge & LH772 BKK-SGN in First Class with photos
FLIGHT#18: TG242 KBV-BKK in Biz Class with photos
FLIGHT#17: TG245 BKK-KVG in Biz Class with Photos
FLIGHT#16: THE CABIN & CX751 HKG-BKK in Biz Class with photos
FLIGHT#15: CX748 JNB-HKG Biz Class with photos

Last edited by olafman; Feb 9, 11 at 5:52 pm.
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Old Feb 9, 11, 4:57 pm   #2
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Nice report. None of the Japanese airlines serve drinks on the ground, even in F. My understanding is that it is a Japanese regulation that applies only to Japanese carriers, but wherever they operate.
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Old Feb 9, 11, 9:12 pm   #3
 
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Great trip report. I recently travelled to Delhi and though I did'nt have an issue with the departure tax, it took me an hour to get through security.

No airline is permitted to serve alcohol on the ground in India, although on AA we were offered OJ, water, or mango juice.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 12:06 am   #4
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Great report! Did you follow up with BA regarding the departure tax? I have to say, I love India too but I've also ended up losing it at some of the staff. They can sometimes make the simplest request amazingly complicated.

What is the JAL seat like? How flat does it go? I need to get to London in June and JAL is an option that I'm investigating.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 12:48 am   #5
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Wow!! Excellent TR!! I'm glad you had a great trip. You have a wonderful time in DEL. You haven't see it whole new terminals 3? How is security doing? Do you have enough time? What about your bags to put into the conveyer belts? When you can returns back home to California? I was wondering how much longer if you spent the time by overseas flight. Do you have enough comfortable to sleep in the J class.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 12:52 am   #6
 
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Thanks - Fantastic report.
It is interesting that you had such a good experience in the Hilton Delhi.
While the building is new and the rooms are nice in a business 4* hotel kind of way, I thought the location was terrible and the staff while talkative and superficially nice is quite weak (to put it nicely) at dealing with problems. FX rates are a rip-off. Public areas are Ok.
I gave it a try but I would say it is way behind other hotels in the city (Taj Mahal and Palace, ITC, Oberoy or the public areas of Le Meridian bar the rooms).
I agree about the carpet in the Green Lounge. There was no hot food when I was there (noon) for the BA early afternoon flight - just snacks.
It really annoyed me that they did not have wireless internet - not sure if this was a one off (the desktops were not working either). When I asked the lady in charge of the access to the lounge, she replied that I could use the complimentary wireless of the airport. I informed to her that this is not possible as I had already use it once (they asked you for your mobile number where the password is then sent ) and after that you need to get a paid-plan. Followed by her: Sir, I am afraid there is nothing we can do.

I love India too. It does not matter how challenging it can get sometimes, it is a fantastic place.

How was the general reaction when they realised you were a gay couple. Being gay is such an alien concept to a lot of people over there....
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Old Feb 10, 11, 4:48 am   #7
 
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Nice report, as always. Thanks for posting.

The agents trying to get you to pay cash makes me suspicious....
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Old Feb 10, 11, 4:57 am   #8
 
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I found that JAL NEVER serves pre departure drinks .. no matter what route... I agree.. it would be wonderful to serve a bit of pre departure champagne.... your trip report is sensational...
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Old Feb 10, 11, 5:38 am   #9
 
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Great trip report!
Thank you for keep writing
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Old Feb 10, 11, 5:41 am   #10
 
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Looking forward to my trip to DEL in the 1st ¼ next year, can't wait for the hustle and bustle of a billion people!
Thanks for writing.

Last edited by vecta; Feb 10, 11 at 5:51 am.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 8:33 am   #11
 
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nice report olaf, i think its the first time i see a picture from your son without wearing a bayern shirt...:-))
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Old Feb 10, 11, 10:11 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghillier View Post
No airline is permitted to serve alcohol on the ground in India, although on AA we were offered OJ, water, or mango juice.
If I recall on Emirates, we were served Champagne in First at BOM.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 10:24 am   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghillier View Post

No airline is permitted to serve alcohol on the ground in India, although on AA we were offered OJ, water, or mango juice.
Alcohol can be served on the ground in India, but only if the airline has paid duty for it and declared to customs.
This is a painful process, and most airlines avoid it - SQ I don't think does it, although I have been served champagne on the ground in F a few times (I guess some crew may do so without knowing the rules).
CX serves champagne ex India in Biz as part of its welcome drinks.

9W makes up for this with refreshing juices - especially in First - usually a great selection of light fresh beverages.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 2:26 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by matthandy View Post
=Did you follow up with BA regarding the departure tax?

What is the JAL seat like? How flat does it go?
I haven't had a moment yet to call BA. It's a royal pain. In the back of my mind, I do think that it is BA's fault based on how difficult it was to ticket.

Our 777 had the JAL Shell Seat. Bottom line is that it is a tilty flat business seat. I hate tilty. It is flat though just not horizontal. Hopefully all airlines phase them out soon.

I will say that we all managed to sleep at least four hours though.

Last edited by olafman; Feb 10, 11 at 2:36 pm.
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Old Feb 10, 11, 2:35 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by palermo View Post
How was the general reaction when they realised you were a gay couple. Being gay is such an alien concept to a lot of people over there....
Overall we didn't have any negative reactions to us being a gay couple. We explained it many times and often they just didn't have the background to understand it. I was talking to these 23 year old students one day in Cochin and we chatted for over ten minutes. I even showed them pictures of my family on my phone. After a while, one of them asked me "So are you guys here in India looking for wives?"

I think that the concept of two guys in a relationship with a kid is COMPLETELY foreign to most Indians.

Also we had a woman come to teach me cooking. She came at least five times to our house. She had a college education in English and seemed very worldly. On her last visit she made the comment that my wife was very lucky since I enjoy cooking so much!

We met up with a gay Indian couple in Delhi that we met on Couchsurfing. They were very nice but neither was out to their parents. We found the same thing to be true when we were in Istanbul. It's just not an option. One of the guys lives on his own at age 38. The other still lives at home with his parents at age 30. Their goal is to move in together at some point but they might have to leave India to make that happen.

Last edited by olafman; Feb 10, 11 at 3:29 pm.
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