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First Class *A Mini-RTW, or how to burn 1000 points per hour for 5 straight days

First Class *A Mini-RTW, or how to burn 1000 points per hour for 5 straight days

Old Feb 25, 11, 9:15 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: YUL
Posts: 2,091
First Class *A Mini-RTW, or burning 1000 points per hour for 5 days on LX, TG and NH

I decided to spend part of a week of vacation trying out various first class cabins, and managed to put together, with nine days' advance notice, several segments that would fit the bill:

YUL-ZRH LX F (333)
ZRH-CDG LX J (320)
CDG-BKK TG F (773 suites)
BKK-HKG TG F (744)
HKG-NRT NH J (763)
NRT-IAD NH F (777)
IAD-YUL UA Y (ERJ)

All together 120,000 Aeroplan points, plus $194 in taxes and $30 booking fee.

I tried hard to get something that would allow me to visit the LH FCT, or to combine long-haul LX, LH, NH and TG in one routing. I couldn't find anything reasonable that would not require an overnight in Germany, or excessively late departure from FRA, i.e. a 14+ hour layover, or something similarly inconvenient. So this will do for a first time mini-RTW.

In the days after ticketing, I saw various other segments open up, such as NRT-LAX (SQ F), NRT-LHR (NH new F), NRT-ZRH (LX F), etc. However, there was nothing so dramatic as to make me change my plans. There are more points available for future redemptions!

So, without further ado, here we go!

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 9:27 am
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:16 am
  #2  
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Location: YUL
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YUL-ZRH LX87 A330-300 new Swiss First Class

Arriving at the checkin at YUL, there was no activity at all. Presumably most other passengers had already gone through.

The First checkin agent was polite, but didn't make any particular effort to be friendly or forthcoming.

Unfortunately, no First Class ticket folder was available, in fact, there were no First Class ticket holders anywhere along this trip.

Security was quick and easy. There was one body imaging machine, not in use, with a very clear sign in English and French stating that it was possible to have a physical search instead of using the scanner. Nice to see the choice presented so clearly. ^

The Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge is usually very crowded in late afternoon, and today was no exception. The lounge features a reasonable selection of salads, bread, soup, and later on toward evening, pasta. Various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available. WiFi is free for Aeroplan Elite or Super Elite members; others have to pay $10, regardless of class of service.

The LX gate was quite busy, with a long lineup for Y. There was a separate J entrance with no lineup, but no mention of F.



The welcome on board was friendly and correct in all regards. Immediately a drink was offered, and I chose the Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle champagne.

A little amuse bouche was offered:

Mozzarella + tomato
Spicy duck spring roll
Vol au vent



There were only four passengers in First; all four were redeeming their Aeroplan points. That made for a fun atmosphere as everyone was a little bit giddy about their first First experience.

A male and a female FA made certain everyone was comfortable and were very attentive during the entire short flight to ZRH.

The male FA brought me a nice Van Laack pajama, size L. I asked whether he thought this size was correct, and he assured me that XL would be more like a tent. He was right - it fit perfectly. A First amenity kit labeled Bally with various La Prairie products was also distributed. After an on-time departure, the meal service followed promptly.

An elegant menu was presented:



***

GOURMET MENU
Created by our featured chef Mattias Roock, Kempinski Hotel, St Moritz

First Course

Fillet of Balik salmon
Seafood, meat and vegetarian platter

Main Courses

Sautéed fillet of beef with jus lié
Herb butter, roasted patatli and romanesco broccoli

Parmesan-crusted veal medallion
Buttered fettucine pasta and ratatouille

Seared halibut with olive and caper puttanesca sauce
Mashed potatoes with chives, buttered broccoli

Agnolotti pasta with mushroom cream sauce
Parmesan cheese

Choice of vegetables

Cheese

Selection of artisan cheese

Gruyère AOC - Selection Rolf Beeler
Bregaglia
Jersey Blue - Selection Rolf Beeler
Engadiner Extra
Suferser Geiss Cream Cheese

Dessert

Chocolate cake
Vanilla ice cream
Sprüngli chocolates and pralines
Espresso and a choice of coffees and teas

WINE LIST

Champagne

Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle

White Wine

Fläscher Riesling Sylvaner 2009
Weingut Davaz
Fläsch, Graubünden, Switzerland
100% Riesling - Sylvaner

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007
Domaine Servin
Burgundy, France
100% Chardonnay

Chardonnay Red Label 2008
Newton Vineyard
Napa County, CA, USA
100% Chardonnay

Red Wine

Pinot Noir Selection 2009
Weinbau Manfred Meier
Zizzers, Graubünden, Switzerland
100% Pinot Noir

La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion 2005
Pessac-Léognan
Bordeaux, France
48% Cabernet-sauvignon
45% Merlot
7% Cabernet-franc

Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Hess Collection Winery
Napa Valley, CA, USA
100% Cabernet-sauvignon

Dessert Wine

Sauternes Cru Barréjats 2004
SCEA Barréjats
Bersac, Sauternes, France
Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle

Port

Grahams Tawny 20 years

SWISS BREAKFAST

Assortment of breakfast breads, preserves and honey
Fresh fruits, yoghurts, muesli and cereals
Egg dish, cold cuts and cheese
Coffee, tea and juices

***

All the food is served from a cart next to your seat, a very nice feature. You can see everything, and can choose exactly what you want and how much of it.



I chose the Balik salmon, which was exquisite, to the point that I even asked for seconds, along with the duck and the plum.



This was followed by a mixed salad with a choice of dressings.



The filet of beef was, unfortunately, overdone, even though it tasted very nice.



After dinner, they brought around a cheese tray and some 20 year old port, which was excellent.





Finally, chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream rounded out the meal.



It is amazing how the FAs know exactly how large the table is below the ample tablecloth, in that they manage to place things directly on the edge of the table, while the cloth still extends several inches beyond. The table arrangement was very elegant, and perfectly set up at all times.

The little things do matter. Look, for example, at how the toothpicks are presented! A single piece of wood, cut in just the right way so as to make multiple picks that you can simply break off.



The seat itself is very comfortable, and can be adjusted in many ways via the electronic touch screen, which also controls the lighting. The video screen is 23", which is about as big as it gets on a plane. Very nice!







The seat has 110V power, as well as USB and Ethernet (what for?) connectors, and a variety of compartments to store your things.

The cabin itself feels roomy and generous, with only eight F seats. I wouldn't mind trying the older F on LX, as certainly it's the quality of the service and the food that makes or breaks it for me.

One funky thing to note, which I have not seen anywhere else so far, is that both the toilet seat and the cover had gaskets on them, effectively preventing the suction from popping your ears in that small, enclosed space, and additionally making the whole experience much less noisy than usual.

***

After dinner, I decided to try to sleep a bit. The FA promptly made up the bed, with a pad on the seat and a nice soft duvet on top.





Unfortunately, I was not yet really tired, as it was only 8pm back home, and then couldn't sleep as the cabin was very hot and dry. In the end, I think I managed about two hours or so before the captain came on and announced our arrival in 40 minutes. I suppose the southerly route did not help, either, but the flight was just too short!



I changed back out of the pajamas, and grabbed a yogurt and an espresso. Yes, real coffee on a plane! Great stuff.



A few minutes later we were in Zurich. After getting off the plane, a quick train ride in brought me from terminal E to terminal A, where the Swiss lounges are.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 1:21 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:16 am
  #3  
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Location: YUL
Posts: 2,091
ZRH First Class Lounge

This is definitely one of the nicest lounges I've been in. Very sleek, stylish, clean, elegant. The lounge personnel were all impeccably dressed and extremely polite and forthcoming. There were no more than a dozen people spread through the lounge, so everyone had lots of room to themselves.



There were little snacks on each table, including Lindor balls. One could get seriously overdosed on those in here!



I took a quick shower to freshen up, and enjoyed some of their excellent muesli and some cappuccino.



There were also roesti, sausages, scrambled egg and omelet, and a variety of breads. They do offer make-to-order dishes for breakfast, as well.



The alcohol selection seemed decent, though I did not try any. Can't drink all the time! (Well, I guess some people here on FT could, and would, but I decided not to! )



Soon it was time to leave, to go and board the next flight. I was escorted downstairs to security at an entrance that bypassed whatever lineup there may have been at the others. The walk to the gate took only a few minutes, and the flight started boarding as soon as I got there.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 1:19 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:17 am
  #4  
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Posts: 2,091
ZRH-CDG LX634 A320 Swiss European Business Class

The flight was about 3/4 full in Y, but only had 5 passengers in J. Of course, J is not much different from Y in this case. The Recaro seat was quite comfortable, and the design of it means there is reasonable legroom, while the various magazines, etc. are at the top rather than in front of your knees.



This means there's no reasonable place to put an AVOD screen, even if they wanted to.



Interestingly enough, the safety announcements were made only in English, with a short explanation in German, French and Italian indicating to ask the crew for more details if required.

A small meal was served:

Fruit plate
Croissant
Coffee
Chocolate
Water



Otherwise this short hop was quite uneventful.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 3:51 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:17 am
  #5  
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CDG - a day in Paris, or not?

Upon arrival at CDG, my intial plan had been to go into town to visit the Musée d'Orsay. However, upon seeing the first of two daily TG aircraft sitting at the gate, I figured it would be worthwhile to see if they would let me switch to the earlier flight. If you don't ask, you don't get!

CDG seems to be a maze of Plexiglas tunnels and endless moving sidewalks. Impressive.





The TG First and Business checkin counters are roped off and there is someone at a desk checking your ID before you even get to go to the counter itself. I explained that I was actually booked on that evening's flight, but was wondering whether I could leave earlier. The lady didn't even let me approach the counter myself, but took my passport up to the First agent. Strange.

Finally, after a few minutes, she came back and told me that it would be ok. Now I insisted on being about to talk to the First agent myself, and she reluctantly removed the tensabarrier to let me pass. In the end, there was no problem at all changing the flight - good to know for F redemptions! The flight ended up having 5 F passengers out of a possible 8.

So instead of the RER and Musée d'Orsay and a 21:30 departure, I got to leave Paris at 13:30. This was probably better as I was rather tired from the lack of sleep the night before. It also means I got to HKG at noon rather than 8pm.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 1:32 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:18 am
  #6  
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Posts: 2,091
CDG - Star Alliance Gold Lounges

This lounge is located on level 11 after the border control, and above the RCC. The lounge itself is split into two levels - first is upstairs, immediately after the desk, and business is one flight of stairs further down.



Overall, compared to the Swiss First Lounge earlier that morning, or even the YUL MLL, both lounges were quite disappointing. There must have been about a dozen people in the business lounge, and nobody in the first lounge. The food selection was very limited, with some small sandwiches, cereals, yogurt, but also included what looked like a chicken curry, but I did not want to guess how long that had been in its warming dish.


Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 1:38 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:19 am
  #7  
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CDG-BKK TG931 B777-300 Thai Royal Orchid First Class

This aircraft is leased from Jet Airways, and features First Suites with closing doors, so I had incorporated that into my itinerary to see what it was like.



The welcome on board was warm and sincere, with everyone bowing slightly and welcoming the passengers on board with a "sawadee krap" or "sawadee ka". I was immediately offered a glass of champagne (Dom Perignon 2002).

A good part about boarding via two doors is that it is extremely quiet in the F cabin with only the J passengers passing through. A nice touch.

Push-back from the gate was on time, and after an interminable roll to the runway, we were on our way about 1/2 hour later. Fortunately, there were interesting things to see along the way.



The announcement had already been made at the gate that they were having issues with their AVOD, and that it would likely not be working during the flight. Indeed, there was a technician on board, sweating profusely, and apparently unable to get things running properly despite having been at it since earlier that morning. They did try re-booting it a number of times during the flight (shades of Air Canada!), but to no avail.



Everyone was given a pair of slippers and a light blue pajama (not as nice as LX!), as well as the famous Rimowa amenity kit.

Shortly after take-off, the meal service started.

A choice of beverage was offered with warmed mixed nuts and a few canapés: goat cheese and melon with ham.



The Thai Royal Orchid Service is even a notch above Swiss in terms of its elegance and presentation. Each passenger is given a silk-covered folder containing a wine list and a menu in Thai, English and French.

The meal was served professionally, elegantly and efficiently. There were always two flight attendants at the cart, transferring food to the plate and arranging it nicely. Beverages were constantly topped-up. All in all a first class experience!

PARIS-BANGKOK

First Serving

Canapés
Oscietra Caviar with Garnitures

First Course

Serrano Ham, Mayonnaise with Ketchup
Lobster and Salmon, Vegetables
Salad
Mixed Green Salad

Main Course

Crusty Lamb, Rosemary Cream Demi Glace Sauce
Pan-fried Potatoes and Boletus Mushrooms, Carrot

or

Beef in Mussaman Curry
Steamed Thai Hom Mali Rice, Vegetables

or

Poached Cod Fish
Coconut Milk Tomato Curry Sauce
Grilled Fresh Zucchini, Sautéed Parsley Potatoes

or

Lobster Medallion
Pan-fried Sea Scallops and Shrimp
Bouillabaisse Sauce, Saffron Potatoes, Vegetables

Bread Selection / Butter

Assorted Cheese / Fresh Fruits

Dessert

Petit Fours, Valhrona Chocolate
Tea, Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino

In addition to the choices presented, it is possible to select a special meal in advance from an extensive menu. I had done so, but figured that changing flights would preclude me from getting my choice. In the end, they were able to transfer the prepared meal to the earlier flight!

CDG-BKK Main Course Choices

Half Lobster With American Sauce
Beef Tournedos
Stuffed Chicken Fillet With Morrel Cream Sauce
Salmon With Asparagus/Facette Potato
Quasi Veal With Spicy Sauce
Confit Duck Leg With Bigarade Sauce
Swordfish With Cucumber Sauce
Chicken Green Curry
Beef Green Curry
Prawn Green Curry
Chicken Pa-naeng Curry
Beef Pa-naeng Curry
Prawn Pa-naeng Curry
Cod Fish Sam-ros
Risotto With Assorted Mushrooms
Vegetables Tajine


WHITE WINE

Meursault 2008
Appelation Meursault Contrôlée
Pierre Gruber
Nuits Saint Georges, France

M. de Malle 2007
Appelation Graves Contrôlée
GFA des Vignobles des Comptes de Bournazel
Preignac, Toulenne et Fargues, Gironde, France

RED WINE

Château Cantemerle (Haut Médoc) 2006
Macau, Médoc, France

Nuits Saint-Georges 2008
Appelation Nuits Saint-Georges Contrôlée
Pierre Gruber
Nuits Saint Georges, France

CHAMPAGNE

Veuve Cliquot Rosé Vintage 2004

Dom Pérignon Vintage 2002

COGNAC

1795 Extra Cognac OTARD

Serving the caviar.



Caviar plate.



Green chicken curry. Not sure how the shrimp found their way onto the plate!



Cheese serving.



Dessert.



The suites on this plane are nice, and quite comfortable. There were a few hitches, however: one of the doors insisted on sliding back until the FA taped it in place.



The AC power was intermittently on or off, which meant I was only able to charge my laptop later in the flight. The suites are definitely also showing their age, with little chips and scratches everywhere.

The massage function on the seat is fantastic, with various modes and areas of your back or derrière that can be done. The only problem is that it shuts itself off after 20 minutes, so you then have to re-start it manually.

Everything is controlled, like on Swiss, by a touch screen panel, including lighting, seat position, massage function and FA call button. A separate remote control serves to make AVOD selections, and doubles as a game controller and telephone ($8/minute).

The bed is fully lie-flat, and is even longer than the one on Swiss. Even someone 6'6" would have no problem stretching out. The duvet on Swiss is certainly nicer, but given the proper cabin temperature, TG's blanket was fine.

One of the flight attendants made up the bed with an extra thick blanket underneath, and the regular one above. Very comfortable.

I managed to sleep about three hours, which certainly helped how I felt, given the extremely short night earlier.

I had a quick look at the J cabin on this plane, which seems to have a lot in common with AC or NZ, in that the seats are all angled herringbone style. I didn't dare venture further back.

An hour and a half before landing in Bangkok, breakfast was served. Again, the presentation was excellent, with nice looking and tasty fruit including mango and grapefruit, great coffee, and several main courses.

Second Serving

Fruit Salad
Fruit Yoghurt, Plain Yoghurt
Cereals

Main Course

Pan-fried Chicken Sausage
Grilled Bacon
Ham and Mushroom Omelet
Fried Cherry Tomato, Broccoli
Sautéed Mushroom with Fine Herbs

or

Pan-fried Chicken Sausage
Grilled Bacon
Emmenthal Cheese Crepe
Parmesan Tomato with Thyme
Broccoli, Sautéed Mushroom with Fine Herbs

or

Boiled Eggs, Poultry Chipolata
Grilled Back Bacon

or

Assorted Cold Plate

or

Yellow Noodle Soup with Porc Char-siu

Assorted Bread, Butter, Jam, Honey

Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate

I picked the Emmenthal Cheese Crepe, which didn't seem to have too much to do with Emmenthal, and where the Grilled Bacon was mysteriously missing. Not bad, but not up to par with the rest of the food so far.





Arrival into BKK was uneventful, and we soon found ourselves inside, with TG staff waiting to take all the F passengers swiftly through the terminal on electric carts.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 4:27 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:19 am
  #8  
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Posts: 2,091
BKK - arrival and transfer - Royal Orchid First Class lounge

All first class passengers were greeted at the gate and driven to the security check.



From there we were escorted to the Thai Royal Silk First Class Lounge. The lounge looks very nice, but I was not able to spend a lot of time, as I only had 1 1/2 hours between flights.



One regret here is that I was unable to take full advantage of the one-hour full body massage offered to all TG First Class passengers at BKK. However, I did manage to get in a half-hour back and shoulders massage, during which I was tortured appropriately! I look forward to a longer stay at BKK on my next trip!

When it was time for the next flight, we were escorted to the gate by TG staff, and were the last to board.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 4:58 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:20 am
  #9  
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BKK-HKG TG600 B747-400 Thai Royal Orchid First Class

On the way to the runway, again, lots of things to see.



This older First arrangement is still comfortable, but nothing special.



I ate yet more breakfast, which was OK, but not great compared to the other food I had eaten thus far on this five-day RTW fling.





Again, it is possible to pre-order a special meal departing from BKK, this time from an even more extensive menu!

BKK-HKG Main Course Choices

Tab-tim Fish Souffle
Chinese Roast Duck
Coquilles St.Jacques
Glass Noodles Pad Thai
Fish Maw With Crabmeat
Ostrich Steak With Brandy
Sauteed Pasta With Shrimps
Grilled Tournedos A La Sompote
Lobster Thermidor
Supreme Of Chicken A La Rochanee
Mushrooms With Zucchini And Semolina Gnocchi
Boiled Rice With Fish
Boiled Rice With Prawn
Boiled Rice With Minced Pork
Boiled Rice With Minced Chicken
Grilled Fillet Of Beef Rossini
Stir-fried Prawns With Chilli And Basil
Stir-fried Pork With Chilli And Basil
Stir-fried Chicken With Chilli And Basil
Stir-fried Beef With Chilli And Basil
Roast Pork With Egg Noodles
Tom Yum Kung
Fried Rice With Prawn
Fried Rice With Pork
Fried Rice With Chicken
Stir-fried Vegetables With Beancurd
Beef Stew
Chicken Curry Pa Nang
Pork Curry Pa Nang
Beef Curry Pa Nang
Prawn Curry Pa Nang
Fish Chu-chee
Rice Porridge With Minced Pork

I was extremely tired at this point, and slept probably 1 1/2 hours before we got to HKG. Upon arrival at HKG, we were again driven to customs in a cart, which was great as it would have been an extremely long walk otherwise!

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 5:07 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:20 am
  #10  
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HKG - arrival and transfer to hotel

Arriving around noon certainly has some advantages, notably that of daylight to try to counteract the jetlag.

The lineup at immigration was about 10 minutes, so no big deal. There were no questions at all, merely a quick flip through the passport, and two stamps later, I was in Hong Kong! (Compare this with entry to the US or Canada....)

I changed a bit of money (1 CAD = 7.3846 HKD for cash, whereas Amex gave me 7.6970) so I would have some cash for the next two days.

I then went to the Langham hotels' welcome desk at the airport, and they promptly tried to sell me on the limo transfer, which I politely declined.

Finally, I ended up taking the Airport Express to Tsing Yi, and with two quick MTR segments, made it to the hotel in 55 minutes. Total cost, 60 HKD. Not sure paying well over 10 times as much would be worthwhile, especially when traveling with only a carry-on.



I have to say that Hong Kong puts Montreal (and most North American cities, that is!) to shame when it comes to public transit. While Montreal squabbles over an airport train for years, Hong Kong gets things done! The MTR is also efficient, quick and cheap. Very impressed.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 5:19 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:21 am
  #11  
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Posts: 2,091
Langham Place hotel, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

I selected this hotel based on its reviews on Tripadvisor. It seemed to be a good value for money for a more luxurious hotel, much cheaper than the usual suspects like the Peninsula or the Mandarin Oriental. Overall, I was not disappointed, and would stay here again, perhaps with a few small changes.

The hotel is relatively new, in an area that has seen a lot of new development in the last 10-15 years. The first impression is very positive.

Many employees were milling about the lobby, waiting to serve. Checkin was quick and efficient, and I made my way to the 36th floor. I had booked a "Sweet Place" room, which is a two room suite. The view toward the West wasn’t the best, but nevertheless impressive.

The living room features a couch and couple of chairs and small table, a large TV and a kitchenette, as well as a small powder room. I didn’t use the kitchenette, but it would certainly be convenient to have for a longer stay. A water boiler was constantly on at 98 degrees C, so a cup of tea or instant noodles was never far away. In the drawer were various useful items including a plug adapter and an Ethernet cable.









The bedroom itself is very comfortable, and the bed is excellent. A hard mattress, combined with soft blankets and many pillows to choose from made for some very good sleep.





The bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a glass wall, which, fortunately, has a shade that can be pulled down. There were both a shower and a bathtub available. The shower door didn’t close 100%, so there was always some water on the floor afterward. No big deal.





The "Sweet Place" room comes with "Club L" privileges. This means access to the club lounge on the 36th floor, where various beverages and snacks are available 24/7. They also have a nice breakfast buffet set up in the morning, which is considerably calmer than the main restaurant "The Place" downstairs. The selection is more limited, of course, but that’s the trade-off.

Breakfast at "Club L".



Breakfast at "The Place".





Overall, I am not certain the Club L is worth paying for. If you are going to be entertaining guests or spending a lot of time at the hotel, maybe, but if you’re going to be around sightseeing, then you’ll likely not have a lot of time to spend at the hotel anyway. At least for me, that was the case.

I did take advantage of the Chuan Spa to have a 1 1/2 hour massage on the 2nd day. That was an overall amazing experience, and while not cheap, certainly worth doing.

The swimming pool on the rooftop is nice, though the weather was a bit cold to really stay outdoors for a long time. Then again, it's likely less unpleasant than July or August!

The hotel has a strange "X ME" theme, where X can be replaced by any number of things, as seen in these pictures. Funky and modern, I suppose.









If I did stay here again, I would probably just book a standard room and forgo the free food and drink from Club L. Given the limited amount of time I did spend in the hotel, mainly asleep, I personally think it's not worth paying for the extra touches.

The hotel is attached to the Langham Place mall, where many shopping opportunities, a food court, and movie theatres are available. Of course, the really fancy shops are elsewhere, but there are ample choices here for clothing or cosmetics, for example.

Nearby are several markets, notably the Ladies Market and Sai Yeung Choi Street South. These are fun to walk through, though the items they offer do seem repetitive after a while.

(I won't post more pictures of the area here, as there are any number available on the 'net!)

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 5:47 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:21 am
  #12  
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HKG-NRT NH910 B767-300 ANA Business Class

Transfer from the Langham Place hotel to the airport took well under an hour by MTR and Airport Express.



Checkin was quick and efficient, and in fact, they processed all three consecutive flights, all the way back home to YUL.

I first went to the United RCC. This is a fairly spacious lounge, and featured all sorts of food and drink.









Out of curiosity, I then walked over to the other side of the terminal wing to the Thai lounge. This was very crowded compared to the RCC. Despite the fact that I was technically on an "F" ticket, and this particular segment did not have "F", they did not let me into the "F" seating area, claiming it was closed. It wasn't, of course, as there were a few people sitting there. I have no problem with not being allowed in because of the class I was flying in, but there's no need to lie to me.







Wishful thinking:



Soon it was time to leave, and so I made the short walk over to the departure gate. There was a considerable line at Y, but none at the J counter.

The short-haul business class is comfortable enough, but not spectacular compared to First, of course.



A mini bottle of champagne was served along with a nice-looking bag of rice crackers as an appetizer.



The meal was underwhelming, with the salmon served with some brown/gray gooey sauce.



Arrival at NRT was a bit early. At immigration there were no questions, but at customs, they saw I had only a carry-on, and asked whether I was on a business trip. I must have been very tired, but I heard "business", thought J class, and said yes. After they carefully checked my passport for entry stamps for various dubious places, they let me go.


Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 7:35 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:22 am
  #13  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: YUL
Posts: 2,091
NRT - ANA Crowne Plaza Narita hotel

A pointbreaks deal got me a night at the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita Airport for only 5000 points, whereas a similar room would have cost around $75 or so. The only extra was 735 Yen ($10) for Internet access, which was blazingly fast. Not a bad deal overall, and the hotel is right next to the airport.

The bus arrived exactly on schedule, and the transfer to the hotel took about 1/2 hour, as the bus first stopped at Terminal 2, and then did a detour around the area before coming back to the hotel. Checkin was fast and efficient, and I went up to my tiny room.

The room itself was reasonably renovated, but the bathroom seemed a little older. There was the usual Japanese toilet with heated seat and bidet. The shower worked very well and was needed after the day’s travel.





Even as a basic member, I got a special card and letter welcoming me to the hotel, and was offered a free beverage at the 17th-floor restaurant. That's about as far as I made it, tired as I was!

The bed very comfortable, though, and since by now I was starting to adjust to the time difference, I was able to sleep about six hours.

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 7:51 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:22 am
  #14  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: YUL
Posts: 2,091
NRT - UA RCC First and NH First Lounge

The next morning, I took the shuttle back to the airport. Security was quick, efficient and ultimately polite. No need to take off shoes, watch or belt. They practically bowed to me when everything was done.

I first went to the United RCC lounge. Upon arrival, I was immediately advised that the First Class section was upstairs, and the attendant guided me the ten feet to the elevator. Upstairs, there were only two passengers, including myself. The coffee was bad, and the food selection was quite limited, so I had a couple of dim sum and some sushi with a cold beer instead. Free WiFi was available, and very fast.







When I decided to leave the lounge, the attendant was super polite, thanking me for my visit. She even went so far as to press the elevator buttons for me, and bowed deeply as the elevator doors closed.

I had a quick look at the business class lounge downstairs, which is larger, and was far more occupied. The food selection is better than upstairs.





I managed to capture a picture of Lufthansa’s A380 “Tokio” right after landing. Later on I saw SQ’s and AF’s A380 as well. Nice to see so many of them all in one place.





I then went looking for the elusive Wasabi Kitkat, and found it at the second FaSoLa store, and also picked up some Green Tea Kitkat.

A short stroll to Satellite 5 and the ANA lounges followed. Upon arrival, the lounge attendants bowed to the guests coming through the doors. I was immediately directed to the ANA Suites Lounge on the right.

While the lounge is certainly very nice and quite elegant, I must say I was a bit underwhelmed. The food selection was very nice, but I decided not to have any, as I had already been eating for four days straight.







The lounge features some individual work areas with computers and flat-screen TVs. Nice to be able to hide for a while!



The one thing I definitely wanted to try, and found totally exquisite, was the Suntory Hibiki 17 year old whisky. Wow! The same bottle sells for 6,500 Yen at the duty free, while the 21 year old is 15,000 Yen.

Soon it was time to board the plane....

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 25, 11 at 8:01 pm
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:23 am
  #15  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: YUL
Posts: 2,091
NRT-IAD NH2 B777-300 ANA First Class

I saw one seat on this flight showing as being available for several weeks, until I finally grabbed it. The actual load ended up being 3/8 in F.

The first impression was very nice, with large individual suites. The seat is very comfortable, but it is weird how it moves forward when reclining. That means that the leg room is huge when the seat is completely upright, but when the seat is reclined, the leg room is reduced considerably. At that stage, the space between your legs and the table above them is also much smaller, and forces you to move the seat further back to be able to sit comfortably at the table.





The curtain behind the F cabin is kept firmly closed throughout the flight, with a big sign warning people not to pass!



The FAs are all incredibly polite and forthcoming. Their English skills are reasonably good, but not perfect by any means.

As is customary on NH, no drinks were served before takeoff. However, as soon as we were in the air, Krug champagne was served along with a small appetizer.



I was given an elegant blue folder with two menus: one for drinks, the other for the meals.


DINING MENU

Choose freely what you fancy when you feel like it from our fine selection of Japanese Kappo cuisine or from our Western course menu serving a pleasing array of fine dishes available in half-portion sizes.

KAISEKI
o Grilled flat fish, Japanese parsley with cod roe Prawn with Tobiko, Broiled chicken, Japanese abalone, Trout with egg yolk
o Noodles with grilled sea bream
o Thinly sliced flatfish and herring roe
o Assortment of steamed turnip and seafoods
o Seafoods and vegetables dressed with spicy vinegared miso
o Grilled tilefish with sake lees 199kcal

APPETIZER
o Caviar with traditional garnish
o Crab meat and avocado salad with apple "Crown" style
o Medaillon of lobster and scallop with pistachio and vinegar sauce
o “Kouchi”Prefecture phesant,foie gras and truffles traditional galantine
o Fresh garden salad, choose from three kinds of dressings Japanese style onion dressing, strawberry dressing, carrot dressing

MAIN PLATE
o Fillet of Kuroge-Wagyu beef steak truffles flavor with Annou potato croquette 427kcal
o Fillet of yellowtail fish with lightly smoke flavored with potato puree 171kcal
o Roasted "Shibetsu" lamb loin with herbs and crépinette with Noord's Oude Geneva Sauce 214kcal

BREAD OR RICE
o Freshly-steamed Nara koshihikari rice, miso soup and assorted pickles
o Selection of breads (luvain baguette, butter roll, campagne, calamari ink bread) with flavorful domestic Hiruzen butter or extra-virgin olive oil

CHEESE PLATE
o Cheese plate (Brie de Meaux, Roquefort, Mimolette and Pont-l'Evêque)

DESSERT
o Selection of fresh seasonal fruit
o Trio of strawberry sorbet, vanilla & jeasey milk ice cream
o Savarin with custard cream
o Tarte tatin with premium vanilla ice cream
o Three varieties of amanatto (sugar-glazed chestnuts, toroku beans and sweet potatoes)
o Three kinds of petits fours champagne flavored chocolate,petit strawberry tart,green tea macaroon

POST-MEAL SIP
o Caramelized freshwater willow minnow in sweet soy sauce
o Deep-fried fishcakes
o Devil's tongue dengaku

LIGHT DISHES
o Bowl of hot Japanese udon noodles, garnished with wakame seaweed
o Japanese tea poured over steamed rice, garnished with grilled rice ball
o Semi dried flakes yellowtail , served over steamed rice
o Cauliflower and crab chowder
o Pork cutlet sandwich
o Stir-fried scallops and squid in Chinese leek-infused broth with kinshinsai buds
o Special chicken and mushroom curry with steamed rice

POST-NAP MEAL
o Stir-fried burdock root and carrot
o Simmered mackerel with ginger
o Steamed rice or creamy rice porridge
o Miso soup and assorted pickles
o Accompaniment for steamed rice (Choose from four condiments)

POST-NAP MEAL
o Cured ham and Italian salami with two kinds of cheese
o Morning bread accompanied with flavorful domestic Hiruzen butter and a choice of three kinds of sweet spreads
o Selection of fresh seasonal fruit
o Plain yoghurt with green lemon confiture
o Crisp brown rice flakes with milk

Appetizers, main meals and desserts selected from our a la carte menu. We also have Western and Japanese cuisine course menus.


Champagne
KRUG GRANDE CUVÉE

Krug has earned its unrivaled reputation as maker of the world's finest champagne. Its GRANDE CUVEE-a blend of various wines from different years-is perfectly balanced, with notes of green apple providing a profound nuance. The effervescence spreads slowly in the mouth,revealing the wine's graceful acidity. The long finish highlights the ever-so-slight bitterness of fresh citrus. ANA First Class has offered this supreme champagne since its first international flight,.in 1986.
Pinot Noir / Pinot Meunier / Chardonnay

White Wine

Schug Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2007
Sonoma Coast California

Prominent winemaker and founder Walter Schug is known for his wealth of international vinicultural experience. Initial notes of yellow peach and pineapple give way to subtle toasted oak notes. Full-bodied alcohol fills the palate, leaving a powerful wake.
Chardonnay

Turnbull Estate Grown Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Napa Valley California

From a consistent producer of premium quality, estate-grown wines. This sauvignon blanc marvelously expresses the "terroir" of the Oakville district. Slight white rose nuances arise from notes of citron. The smooth, mildly acidic texture leaves a finish with traces of bitterness.
Sauvignon blanc

Guenoc Lake County Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Lake County California

A fragrance almost lighter than air, like a grapefruity wind blowing across a grassy plain. Pleasant acidity and faint bitterness of orange peel combine to form a dramatic taste.
Sauvignon blanc

Meursault 1er Cru Bouches Chères Ch&agraveteau Labouré Roi 2006
Cote de Beaune Bourgogne

From Labouré-Roi, one of the largest and most respected merchants in Bourgogne. Nutty notes intermingle with ripe apple. Its round, expansive taste and soft acidity accentuate the ripe fruit flavor profile.
Chardonnay

Red Wine

Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon Napa/Sonoma 2004
Napa Valley / Sonoma Valley California

Blackberry and cherry aromas dominate among nuances of sweetness.Has a full body and wonderful flavor profile,with balanced tannis that offset the high alcohol.
Cabernet sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz/Petit verdot

Château Pontet Canet 2004
Pauillac Bordeaux

From a château with wines comparable to "troisiemes" cru, favorably positioned opposite the vineyards at Mouton-Rothschild. Nuances of licorice and cedar chase aromas of blackcurrant and plum. A soft, well-constituted red with good tannins and balanced alcohol.
Cabernet sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet franc / Petit verdot

Cantena Alta Malbec 2006 Bodega Catena Zapata
Mendoza Argentina

A blockbuster malbec, from Argentina’s largest and critically acclaimed winery. Concentrated aromas with sweet notes of blackcurrant and plum. Tannins balance well with the hot alcohol to form a solid structure. A long, sweet finish brings out the massive volume.
Malbec

Chateau Dassault 2004
Saint-Émillion Bordeaux

A Grand Cru Classé from Saint-Émillion.
Amid the gorgeous scent of violets, sweet nuances of fruitcake gently waft in, giving way to a smooth mouthfeel and dense, yet soft, delicacy.
Merlot/Carbernet Franc/Carbernet Sauvignon

Dessert Wine

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2005
Sauternes Bordeaux

From a château with a distinct history of premier cru wines in Sauternes, the Mecca of sophisticated sweet white wines. Has a sweet, voluptuous perfume redolent of acacia nectar and mango. An ideal and harmonic blend of sweetness and alcohol. Its intense, full-bodied taste goes well with dessert and marries nicely with cheeses and richly flavored dishes.
Sémillon / Sauvignon Blanc / Muscadelle

Japanese Sake

Jungingokujo Mifuku
Junmai Daiginjo Shiga

From a traditional brewery in Shiga, a producer of gold-medal sake for two years running. Aged in cold storage for 24 months to bring out an enduring rice sweetness. Supple and clean.
Accompaniment: Caramelized freshwater willow minnow in sweet soy sauce

AKATSUKI Junmai Daiginjo Enshin-Shibori, KATSUYAMA
Junmai Daiginjo Enshin-Shibori KATSUYAMA

Shibori, the process of extracting unprocessed sake determines the sake’s purity and is performed by a centrifugal separator to ensure that any odd taste is completely eliminated. This is a crystal-clear sake of the highest quality.

Shochu

Murao Shuzo MURAO
Sweet-potato Shochu Kagoshima

Unrivaled sweet-potato shochu made by Toshihiko Murao, a renowned distilling master. Traditional black yeast and fine sweet potatoes are distilled in large ceramic pots in the classic, time-tested manner. Its elegant, soft flavors give way to a lovely, round finish.
Accompaniment: Deep-fried fishcakes trio with wasabi soy dipping sauce

Satoh Shuzo SATOH MUGI
Barley Shochu

A shochu made from choice barley, from Japan’s most prestigious distiller, an artisanal perfectionist for more than 100 years. A deep, sweet flavor in a league of its own, with thick aromas redolent of slowly roasted barley.

Asahi Shuzo HINORYU ASAHI
Brown sugar Shochu

A shochu specially made from unrefined, estate-grown brown sugar, distilled on the island of Kikaijima in southernmost Kyushu. A pleasing taste with a gentle sweetness and full body well suited to the tranquil coral island whence it comes.

Plum Wine

KAKUTAMA Plum Wine
Kagoshima

First-rate plum wine brewed from the finest Japanese plums. Plums are steeped in 3-year-old genuine rice-shochu, where they mature for one year. This plum wine is barely filtered, giving it a lovely and full body and texture, and allowing the pure flavor of plum to shine through.

Aperitifs & Cocktails

+ Dry Sherry
+ Dry Vermouth
+ Campari Soda
+ Campari Orange
+ Spumoni
+ Kir
+ Kir Royal
+ Mimosa
+ Martini
+ Bloody Mary
+ Screwdriver

Whisky

+ Ballantine's Limited
+ SUNTORY Whisky HIBIKI 21 Years Old
+ Jack Daniel's Black Tennessee Whisky

Spirits

+ Gin
+ Vodka

Brandy & Liqueurs

+ Hennessy XO
+ Baileys Original Irish Cream

Beer

+ ASAHI Super Dry
+ KIRIN Ichiban Shibori
+ SAPPORO Black Label
+ SUNTORY

Non-alcoholic drinks

Soft drinks

+ ANA Original Drink - Aromatic KABOSU
+ Orange juice
+ Apple Juice
+ Grapefruit Juice
+ Tomato Juice
+ Coca-Cola
+ Coca-Cola zero
+ Sprite
+ Ginger ale
+ Sparkling mineral water
+ Still Mineral Water
+ Iced Green tea
+ Milk

COFFEE SELECTION

+ Blue Mountain Blend
+ Toraja Blend
+ Espresso
+ Cappuccino
+ Caffe latte
+ Caffe macchiato
+ Decaffeinated
+ Café au lait

JAPANESE TEA

+ Green Tea
+ Roasted Green Tea

TEA SELECTION

+ Assam [Silonibali]
+ Darjeeling [Darjeeling The First Frush]
+ Earl Gray [Breakfast Earl Gray]
+ ANA Original Flavored Tea [Sunny Spot]
+ ANA Original Flavored Tea [Soyokaze]
+ Relax Tea (Deep sleep Blend)
+ Refresh Tea (Awakening Blend)



For dinner, I decided to try several items from the Kaiseki menu. I don’t usually eat a lot of seafood, but found this to be very tasty and interesting.





The other items on the menu also sounded very good, but I was not really hungry, so I chose to stick with only the cheese plate and a glass of red.



Finally, the tarte tatine was delicious.



In retrospect, and having seen pictures of it in other trip reports, I should have tried the Wagyu beef.

After all this, the 21 year old Suntory Hibiki whisky just didn’t seem as amazing as the other one earlier in the lounge, although I am sure it was.

The overall impression is that the service here is definitely very good and attentive, but I would rate Swiss and Thai better. For example, while the other two bring a cart with food to the seat for passengers to choose from, ANA simply brings the plate itself. That makes a difference.

After dinner, I decided to put on the pajama I had been given, which, unfortunately, was far too small to be comfortable. They say they’ll possibly have larger sizes as of March. They do take back the pajamas at the end of the flight and re-use them, which is just as well as this one's not a keeper unlike the one on Swiss.

As the cabin was over half empty, the FA made up the adjacent seat as a bed for me. They put down a sleeping pad on the seat, and have a nice silky duvet to go over you. I slept a good six hours, only waking briefly to have a drink of water.



After waking up, I watched another movie, and had breakfast. They brought coffee first.



Then they brought some bread, butter, salt and pepper. The various little dishes all fit together on the tray, which looked very nice.

They then brought everything at once on one plate. It would have been nice to have a tray brought to the seat to choose from.



The AVOD on ANA is very good. The movie selections are ample and up to date, and there is also lots of other video or music to choose from. They have Sony noise cancelling headphones in F, which are of very good quality, and are very comfortable.

On the 777-300, the bathroom nearer the cockpit is almost twice the size of the one on the right side by the galley, which makes it more comfortable to change in. The bathroom features a changing pad that folds down from the wall, so you don't have to stand on the floor in your socks or bare feet.



Upon arrival at IAD, the flight attendants all lined up at the door, personally thanking each F passenger for flying on ANA. They also made quite certain that the F cabin was empty before letting anyone else leave the plane.

Unfortunately, since we had to then take a bus to the other terminal, there was not much benefit to being first off the plane. We waited a good ten minutes for all the connecting passengers to disembark before leaving.

The ride to the other terminal took about five minutes, during which the PA system on the bus screeched and crackled incessantly. Very annoying!

Last edited by okazon69; Feb 26, 11 at 7:03 am
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