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Tokyo for the New Year: OS, TK, LX in Business Class

Tokyo for the New Year: OS, TK, LX in Business Class

Old Feb 24, 14, 10:10 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
Tokyo for the New Year: OS, TK, LX in Business Class

I booked this trip when US Airways was offering rebates for award redemptions made before November 30, 2013 for travel before March 31, 2014. Since I was offered a 25% rebate, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to fly business class to North Asia via Europe for only 67,500 miles. My final routing for the trip was SEA-ORD-VIE-IST-NRT-ZRH-VIE-ORD-SFO with the long-haul segments in Austrian, Turkish, and Swiss business class.

I'm still a little confused as to the forum rules for posting links to external sites, but the full report is posted on my blog, including a post about the booking process. I'll put links to the entire trip report in this post while putting the long-haul business class segments in additional posts in this thread, which is what I imagine most people are interested in. Hope that's okay.

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 24, 14, 10:34 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
After spending far too long trying to figure out a way to resize my photos so they don't take up the whole screen, I'm giving up. Apologies in advance, but I'm not going to reupload all of my photos again. If you want photos, you can find them in the links in the first post of this thread.

OS 66
Chicago (ORD) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, December 26th
Depart: 4:10pm
Arrive: 8:40am +1
Duration: 9h 30m
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 6A

Of all of the airlines I was scheduled to fly on this trip, I was initially most excited to fly Austrian Airlines. I had read that their catering, hard product, and service were phenomenal, and that it was one of the best business class products out there (they don't offer a first class product). As far as I know, they're also the only airline to advertise having a coffee menu, and a friend strongly recommended that I get a wiener eiskaffee from the coffee menu.

Unfortunately, in the month of December, there were service cuts to Austrian's product due to poor staff planning, so many of the things that I was looking forward to did not materialize on this flight. Specifically, the meal service was limited, there wasn't a coffee menu, and the service as a whole was pretty lacking. Anyway, on to the report.

My inbound flight to Chicago was delayed, so I unfortunately didn't have much time to check out any of the lounges in Chicago, as my flight was already boarding by the time I had schlepped my way to the international terminal and recleared security. This also meant that the cabin was mostly full by the time I got on board, which made picture-taking a little harder.

I was seated in 6A, and row 6 is probably the least desirable row for the window seats because row 6 is missing a window. The even rows also have the seat closer to the aisle while the odd rows have the seat closer to the window, but 6A was all that was available for a window seat when I had my seat assigned a couple of months prior.

The seat itself feels new, and there's a good amount of space per passenger. I appreciate having the "shelf" space next to the seat to place things throughout the flight, and you can use the small amount of floor space to place a small bag and not impinge on your own foot space. The seat controls were fine, although some of the functions felt useless (e.g. "massage" didn't seem to do much). The seat is essentially an air cushion, and you're supposed to be able to adjust the firmness or softness of the seat, but the controls didn't seem to work for me, and I would periodically feel the seat moving beneath me, which occasionally disturbed my sleep throughout the flight.

The in-flight entertainment screen was large, had good resolution, and was a touch screen that was easy to use; however, the selection was quite limited. There weren't very many movies, and even though they boast over 100 hours of programming, that's really quite limited in the airline industry (e.g. Etihad has over 675 hours of on-demand entertainment).

The table was a little tricky to use at first, because it's not particularly easy to take it in or out, but there were helpful instructions for the seat. The trick to lower the armrest is also key for sleeping comfort to make the seat feel a little bit wider, as it's pretty narrow as is.

Instead of the normal trolley service for the meal service which would generally offer about 6 choices for appetizers and 3 desserts, the menu offered two choices for appetizer and one dessert, and everything was served on trays. I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal to see what it'd be like. In general, Austrian takes pride in their food offerings since they're catered by Do & Co and they have an onboard chef, but it seemed more gimmicky than anything else, and the chef wasn't the friendliest person in the world.

I'll just go ahead and say that my VGML was pretty bad. Yes, I know I should expect these things, but I actually think that United does a pretty good job with vegetarian meals, and I was hoping that Do&Co would do an even better job. Anyway, the appetizer was a salad of iceberg lettuce, the entree was a mishmash of flavorless oversteamed vegetables, and the dessert was just fruit. There seemed to be very little effort involved in the creation of this meal. I'll also say that the meal service took a loooong time. I waited so long between getting my appetizer and entree that two different flight attendants attempted to clear my tray thinking that I had already finished my meal when I hadn't even gotten my entree.

At the end of the meal, I asked the chef if they had the coffee menu, and he said, "not on this flight", without any additional explanation. I later found out that others on Flyertalk had reported receiving letters detailing offers of compensation for the diminished service, but there was no such letter on board my flight and no flight attendants were forthcoming as to why there was diminished service. (I later tweeted my disappointment to Austrian, and they said they would investigate follow up, but it's been about a week and I haven't heard anything yet).

I put the seat into bed mode, and I found it to be pretty comfortable, although I can see how larger people would find issues with the seat. I'm a pretty small guy, and just lying down on my back my arms touched the sides of the seat, so I found it at times more comfortable to sleep on my side so I wouldn't feel the narrowness as much. The foot cubby would also be problematic for people with larger feet, as I occasionally felt constricted by the space. But it's a lie-flat seat, and everyone has direct aisle access, which is a pretty good deal in my book.

Two hours prior to arrival, they served the second meal. My VGML meal was marginally better than the first meal service, mostly because I got a pretty tasty smoothie to go with it. But the hot food itself was pretty flavorless and mushy, so I used the salt and pepper liberally.

All in all, this flight was a huge disappointment. The hard product was quite good–the seat is great for business class, and the in-flight entertainment screen is large and of good quality–but the service was seriously lacking in many respects. The meal service was disappointing, there was no coffee menu, and the IFE options were limited, but the service itself was also pretty terrible, as the flight attendants were almost uniformly unfriendly and inattentive. Nobody would take away trash at the seat, the meal service took forever, I never received refills on my drinks, when I would go to the galley to ask for something the flight attendants would ignore me until I literally had to poke them, and the flight attendants never engaged in pleasantries like saying "you're welcome" after I thanked them. And even though other people reported receiving proactive offers of compensation, there was nothing on this flight.
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 24, 14, 10:38 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
TK 50
Istanbul (IST) to Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Friday, December 27th
Depart: 5:15pm
Arrive: 11:15am +1
Duration: 11h
Boeing 777-300
Seat: 1K

I underestimated how far the gate was from the lounge, so by the time I made it there, it was already near the end of the boarding process. Boarding takes place in the door behind the business class cabin, so that means that coach passengers aren't walking through the business class cabin.

Turkish Airlines has their business class cabin in a 2-3-2 configuration, which means that not all seats have direct aisle access, but there are only four rows in the cabin, so each seat still feels pretty spacious as there's a lot of space between rows. This also means that it's relatively easy to climb over seats, so it was okay that I didn't have direct aisle access from my window seat.

While settling in, I was offered a pre-departure beverage. There was a blanket, pillow, and slippers already at my seat, and I liked the fact that the blanket wasn't staticky and felt cool to the touch since I often find airplane cabins to be overheated. We were also soon handed menus and a Godiva chocolate, although there seemed to be lots of frantic running around by the flight attendants. In general, the service appeared a little bit disorganized, as my seat mate and I had to ask for things like headsets from the flight attendants.

The in-flight entertainment service had a pretty extensive movie selection, but it was a little hard to navigate as the movie categorization was a bit odd. For example, "Miss Congeniality" was listed in Action instead of Comedy. But their selection was superior to that of Austrian which I had just flown.

The menu included a breakfast card to fill out as well as the dinner menu. There wasn't an option to say that you don't want to be woken up for breakfast, so you might want to say that explicitly to a flight attendant if that's the case.

After taking off, the lengthy dinner service began. First up came some mixed nuts, which seemed somewhat gratuitous given the amount of food on offer coming up, and those were soon followed by some amuse bouches of what I believe was a meatball, a fried cheese stick, and an eggplant tart.

Next up was the place setting and bread. I found the fake candle in paper to be a quaint touch. They then wheeled around the appetizer cart. I didn't partake in much, but one of the chefs continuously tried to push more food onto me. I did try to the soup, which I did not think was very good. For my entree, I selected the pasta with eggplant, which was edible, but that's about it. Finally came dessert, which was a little overly sweet but still tasty.

From beginning to end, the meal service took about 3 hours. And the pre-departure service started two hours prior to landing. I'm all for a good meal, but it might be hard to get a full night's sleep on these flights given the length of the meal services.

After the meal, I reclined my seat into bed mode. Turkish's business class offers fully-flat beds, and although there's not as much privacy as other business class products, the seats do feel spacious, and there's no restriction of the foot space in a cubby. While I felt that the seat could have used more padding, I found the seat to be quite comfortable for sleeping.

I woke up shortly before the breakfast service was to begin. I enjoyed the beverage selection and got a smoothie and some carrot juice, and the first course consisted of cheeses, olives, and some cold vegetables. For my entree, I had the scrambled eggs with toast, which was passable. When the chef came around with the bread basket, if I showed the slightest bit of hesitation, she would just load up my plate, so I wound up with a lot of selections from the bread basket.

Overall, the flight was comfortable, the in-flight entertainment was good, and the service was fine. While others I know have raved about the food on Turkish, I found the food to be okay with an extensive selection. I'd happily fly them again, and the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul is a treat.
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 24, 14, 10:41 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
LX 161
Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Zurich (ZRH)
Wednesday, January 1st
Depart : 11:15am
Arrive: 3:50pm
Duration: 12h 35m
Airbus 340
Seat: 11K

At the Narita airport, I used the ANA business class lounge, which I've already reviewed. This time, I used the lounge in satellite no 5 and not the main ANA lounge, and I preferred the satellite lounge because it was significantly less crowded than the main ANA lounge. If you have some extra time, I would consider making the walk to the satellite lounge for a more peaceful lounge experience.

Upon boarding the my flight, I was greeted by flight attendants wishing everyone a happy new year. For the most part, I enjoyed the service the most on this flight of my four long-haul Star Alliance business class flights, but this was largely because one of the flight attendants serving my aisle was very friendly and attentive.

I got a window seat on this flight, and this time, there was actually a window! Overall, the hard product is almost identical to the hard product on Austrian Airlines, except that the in-flight entertainment screen is smaller and of worse quality (but has a better selection).

Menus were distributed, which wasn't really relevant for me since I had pre-ordered the Japanese meal. Swiss offers a special Japanese meal only on the flights to/from Tokyo, so I figured I might as well get it. I think it was a good choice, as even the flight attendant commented on how good it looked.

The in-flight entertainment on this flight was a little odd. For one, we were all forced to watch Japanese news for the first 30 minutes or so of the flight. I think they made an announcement in Japanese to this effect, but not in English, as all the white people (and myself) were curiously poking at the screen and wondering why it seemed to be stuck on this random Japanese channel.

Overall, while the selection on the in-flight entertainment was decent once it got going, the screen itself was a little disappointing as it's pretty small and doesn't have great resolution. It's also not a touch screen.

Soon after departure, they handed out drinks and a quick snack.

While other people got western food, I was served the first course of the Japanese meal. The appetizers were okay, but it would've been nice to have something hot as everything on the tray was served cold.

The second part of the Japanese meal was quite tasty. The salmon was tender and covered in a tasty sauce. I wasn't fond of the soup, though, particularly when I spilled it all over myself.

For dessert, I decided to skip the cheese and get the mousse and some fruit.

Again, the seat is almost identical to the business class seat on Austrian, so I found it to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. Definitely lower the armrest (which I have not done in the picture) to give yourself a little bit more space.

I napped on and off throughout the flight. They had a lot of snacks available in the galley of both Japanese and Swiss varieties, and the flight attendants would periodically go through the cabin offering some of these snacks and beverages (e.g. ice cream, green tea, onigiri). I can see why they offered so many snacks, as the pre-arrival meal was not so much a meal as a very small snack. This didn't matter a ton to me since I had eaten continuously through the flight to try every kind of unknown candy bar (and a pack of cookies that should have been split amongst 4 people at least), but you should know that the pre-arrival meal isn't particularly substantial.

The easiest comparisons to make with this product are to Austrian's business class since the hard products are so similar and they're both a part of the Lufthansa group. Overall, the hard product on this flight is slightly worse than Austrian, but not meaningfully so. I thought that the in-flight entertainment selection was good, and significantly better than Austrian's, even if the screen is worse. There were also small things, like offering slippers instead of socks and having lotion in the bathrooms, that made me appreciate Swiss over Austrian. But the biggest difference between Swiss and Austrian that would make me choose Swiss over Austrian in the future was the service. On Swiss, the main flight attendant serving me was friendly and attentive and talkative and provided better service by himself than all of the flight attendants on my Austrian flight combined..It's amazing how much of a difference a single flight attendant can make.
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 24, 14, 10:46 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
OS 65
Vienna (VIE) to Chicago OHare (ORD)
Thursday, January 2nd
Depart: 10:15am
Arrive: 2:00pm
Duration: 10h 45m
Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3K

I had already flown Austrian Airlines Business Class across the Atlantic at the beginning of my trip, and I was generally disappointed by the experience. The lauded food and coffee service was lacking because the airline failed to plan its staffing appropriately, and the actual service provided by the flight attendants was indifferent at best. This time around, my flight had the full food and coffee menu, and the food was actually quite good, but the service was absolutely horrid, and several flight attendants need serious retraining.

I was offered a pre-departure beverage and chose Austrian's cocktail, which was okay. I settled into my seat, and everything about the hard product on Austrian is slightly better than that of Swiss, as it seems a little newer, the screen is better quality (although the selection is worse), the screen is a touch screen, and the seat controls are nicer.

I started noticing deficiencies in the service almost immediately with the onboard chef. He was the meanest, least helpful crewperson I've seen onboard a plane in any class of service. He was extremely gruff and curt, and he was completely unwilling to engage in conversation. I overheard people asking him for recommendations, and he seemed exasperated that someone would even bother to waste his time. He would also tell passengers things like, "I'm just the chef on board, I can't help you with that", and not offer to find someone who could help.

Beyond the terrible service of the chef, no one else on the crew seemed to be at the standard of an international business class product. I had to ring my call button multiple times to get trash taken away, and even when I would ring the button and I would ask the person to take certain items, they wouldn't take everything so I'd have to ask someone else. If you needed to go to the bathroom during a meal service, they wouldn't get out of the way, nor would they make room for you in the galley. And I didn't get a single response to a pleasantry or a thank you.

Service aside, the food was actually quite good. The appetizers were all pretty tasty, to the point where I wouldn't mind paying for that sort of food on the ground. I opted to get the soup, which I'd say was considerably better than the soup that I tried in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and the chocolate dessert was probably the best dessert I've ever had on a plane. The entree was a little bit tasteless, though.

I was also able to enjoy the coffee menu. It seems more like a gimmick than anything else, but it can be a fun complement to dessert. (As an aside, I was a bad trip reporter and slept through the pre-arrival meal service.)

Overall, I really, really wanted to like Austrian given their great hard product and good food, but the service is the worst I've experienced in any international business class product. They have so much to offer, but I never felt the sense that the flight attendants were there to serve or make my flight more pleasant. I know that many others rave about Austrian, so perhaps I should chalk up my two bad flights to bad luck with crews.
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 24, 14, 11:12 pm
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: BOS/BDL
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 778
Nice report, well presented and a pleasure to read as always!
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Old Feb 25, 14, 1:39 am
Moderator: Trip Reports
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,299
Love the capsule hotel review.

Going to Tokyo shortly and have already booked my hotel, but am tempted to switch for the night for the experience.
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Old Feb 25, 14, 1:06 pm
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Location: East Coast
Posts: 10,109
Personally, I have always found it unacceptable how a small airline like OS cannot train its cabin crews better. Often, OS cabin crew and chefs are surly and unprofessional.
fly747first is offline  
Old Feb 25, 14, 6:59 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 59
Originally Posted by Pinned View Post
Nice report, well presented and a pleasure to read as always!
Thanks for the compliments!

Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Love the capsule hotel review.

Going to Tokyo shortly and have already booked my hotel, but am tempted to switch for the night for the experience.
It's definitely something to experience at least once.

Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
Personally, I have always found it unacceptable how a small airline like OS cannot train its cabin crews better. Often, OS cabin crew and chefs are surly and unprofessional.
Perhaps my experiences weren't as unusual as I thought.
efficientasianman is offline  
Old Feb 25, 14, 9:04 pm
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 71
Great report!

I'm also flying OS J in a few days to NRT, glad to hear that their food was good and the seats were decent, hopefully their service will be better than what you experienced

Silly question, if I'm planning to use the shower in the VIE lounge, do I need to bring my own towel?
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Old Feb 25, 14, 11:26 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Originally Posted by bszeto View Post
Great report!

I'm also flying OS J in a few days to NRT, glad to hear that their food was good and the seats were decent, hopefully their service will be better than what you experienced

Silly question, if I'm planning to use the shower in the VIE lounge, do I need to bring my own towel?
Thanks! The food was honestly some of the best food I've had on a plane, and the hard product is very good for business class.

For showers, I've never been to a lounge that hasn't provided towels (although they have occasionally been towels that I didn't particularly want to use).
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