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Week-end in Japan ! - AMS-DOH-HND/NRT-DOH-AMS (QR J 773/772/787) + HND-CTS (JL F 772)

Week-end in Japan ! - AMS-DOH-HND/NRT-DOH-AMS (QR J 773/772/787) + HND-CTS (JL F 772)

Old Jul 4, 17, 2:18 pm
  #16  
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Really nice TR palmanfr. Thanks for sharing ^^
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Old Jul 4, 17, 3:23 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Really nice TR palmanfr. Thanks for sharing ^^
Thanks ! I am glad you are enjoying it !
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Old Jul 4, 17, 3:50 pm
  #18  
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Chapter 6 : That was too short...!

From Tokyo bay, it took about an hour to reach Narita airport, and despite the fact QR flights depart from terminal 2, I wanted to have a look at some shops in terminal 1.Maybe that was just another excuse to visit an unknown airport ☺





A shuttle between terminals runs every 10-15 min and I reached the check in area for QR around 20.20. The QR flight departing NRT is actually one of the last flights leaving the airport so the terminal area was almost empty, with just a few people standing in line to check their luggage in.



However, being alone in the business class check-in line, it took me 15 minutes to have the boarding passes issued and my small checked-in luggage (a foldable duffel bag) tagged to Amsterdam. Security was reasonably quick, but it took forever to clear emigration procedures as only 1 counter was open and a few long haul flights were departing in that evening (note that QR business class passengers or One World Emerald passengers are NOT allowed to use the premium security from JAL in NRT – unfortunately…)



I immediately headed to the Japan Airlines First class lounge and by the time I reached it, was 21.00 sharp.




I was dreaming of taking a shower a that moment and asked the lounge attendant if I could book one, and she informed me that the showers just closed and that would not be an option. A real pity. I insisted a bit but no way to have one reopened. She attempted to call other lounges (AA ?) but could not reach anybody at that time. Anyway, long story short, I ended getting a disabled bath room to be used as a changing room…
Also, the attendant did not notice I was OW Emerald and I had to insist a bit to get access to the First class lounge.
The lounge at that late time of the day was almost empty and the sushi bar closed. Also, the buffet started to be removed despite the fact the last flight was departing an hour later.
















If I would have arrived 20 minutes earlier (or if the emigration and check-in procedures would not have taken 40 minutes) I think I would have enjoyed better this lounge as the space and design looked very nice, with tarmac views all across the lounge. It’s just that I did not have a lot of time to judge the amenities offered…

Considering this is an international first class lounge, I would rate it as following :
Japan Airlines Diamond First class lounge, Tokyo Narita terminal 1.
Buffet area / F&B selection : C+, it was late and lots of options were already removed.
Seating available : A
« Clean and comfy » : A
Extra amenities : B
Overall ranking : B

The boarding of the QR flight to Doha was announced at 21.20 and it took a good 10-15 min walk to reach the gate 81.


A separate lane for business class and status passengers was in place and access was strictly enforced. 2 jet bridges were connected to the aircraft.


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Old Jul 5, 17, 3:12 pm
  #19  
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Qatar Airways – QR807 – April 10th 2017
Tokyo Haneda Intl HND – 22.20
Doha Hamad Intl DOH – 04.10
Boeing 777-200 – A7-BBG – Business class seat 3K, window seat, front business class section.

Looks like the front cabin was already quite full when I boarded the aircraft. The business class cabin was arranged just like on the AMS-DOH flight with a 2-2-2 configuration, splitted across 2 sections, the first one in front of the doors 2L/2R and the second one behind, and just in front of the economy class.




My seat neighbour today would be a Japanese engineer who was going for work in Kuwait. Sleepers, a blanket and a thin pillow top mattress were already on the seat when I arrived and our flight attendant, a Korean lady, later came to introduce herself and provided us the menus, the Brics amenity Kit, and some pyjamas. She also took the order for the welcome drink.









Later on, the purser, a lady from Thailand, also came to introduce herself and inform us about the flight time. We pushed back a couple minutes early and taxied for 5 minutes before taking off.



After departure, we received another drink service, with some excellent warm nuts and I ordered the Japanese dinner, after having asked to the flight attendant if it was prepared in Narita, and not in Doha (the sushis made in Doha on the flight a couple days ago did not fully convince me…).



Just before receiving my order, an shrimp « amuse-bouche » was brought to us, and it was very good.



The table was set, like on the previous flights and I have to say I was very satisfied with my dinner choice. I later on opted for some ice cream as a dessert with some herbal tea. It was very nicely presented and the tea came with some Godiva chocolates.




The IFE was working fine, but I just wished it would have been more responsive, like on the dreamliner before. Note that there was no wifi on board.
As we were flying over China, and after a couple drinks and TV series, it was time for me to get some sleep.




The window seat I choose was giving quite some privacy once reclined, and you are less prone also to the aisle disturbance. I also slept more and better than on the previous AMS-DOH flight, which had a similar seat.
I attempted to install myself the pillow-top mattress as my seat mate was already in fully-reclined position and found it quite hard to place it, but somehow managed to get it installed. It provided a bit more comfort than on the previous AMS-DOH flight, but anyway, it was not as good as the dreamliner seat. Again, I just wished QR would use a real duvet blanket, and a thicker pillow…
I woke up over Pakistan and ordered some breakfast at that point. I opted for the waffles, which were good, but a bit too sweet for my taste. I came with the usual set of 3 breads, jam and butter, as always, very nicely presented. I then had some sliced fresh fruit.





The descent towards Doha was smooth, with some very nice views of the city by night, under a full moon.





Overall, It was a good flight, with good service onboard and excellent catering. The cherry on the cake would have been to get the new business class seat, or better sleeping amenities.
Cabin Crew : A-
Seat : B-
On time performance : A+
Meal and beverages : A. I really like to concept of « A-la-carte » whatever and whenever you want menu.
Overall experience : A-
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Old Jul 6, 17, 3:52 pm
  #20  
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Chapter 6 : Visit of the impressive Al-Mourjan lounge

We arrived at the gate 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, and the airport was almost desert at that time. I was looking forward to visit the Al-Mourjan lounge and get a shower…




Security clearance was immediate considering the low amount of people and I then proceeded upstairs to the lounge, also almost empty at this early hour.






Since this was the first time for me I visited that lounge, the fact it was completely empty was a good thing. It really showed the huge size of the premises. It is splitted into many different sections, with 2 restaurants, and business center, a family section, a quiet area with some resting cubicles, a prayer room, a smoking room and an entertainement area. You have also automatic storage lockers available for your convenience and indeed some very well maintained restrooms (there is always an attendant in the washrooms, which I find quite disturbing).












There is surprisingly no dedicated wifi, and you need to use the airport general guest wifi. All across the lounge, some artwork is present. You also have a lot of electronic tablets present near every seating section. After a quick tour of the lounge, I went to the shower reception and asked if I could take one. The attendant at the reception seemed quite bothered of this request, especially when I told him my flight was departing in 10 hours. After waiting 5 minutes, another employee showed me the shower room he just prepared and asked me if I needed any amenities such as tooth brush or razor. The shower room was very clean but extremely warm. The architect obviously forget to but a ventilation on each room so the temperature gets tropical very quickly. After this, I headed upstairs to the restaurant, which consist actually more of a bar and two buffets, one vegeterian, the other one not.


















I eventually went back to this lounge later-on, after my visit of Doha-city.
The other restaurant, located downstairs had some menus, on top of a small buffet. I visited this restaurant later in the day, so what is shown on the pictures represent the lunch offerings, while the pictures of the restaurant upstairs are from breakfast.




Considering this is a flagship business class lounge, I would rate it as following :
Qatar Airways Al-Mourjan business class lounge, Hamad International airport Doha.
Buffet area / F&B selection : A
Seating available : A
« Clean and comfy » : A
Extra amenities : A-
Overall ranking : A
This is a simply impressive lounge. This was without doubt the biggest airport lounge I’ve ever been, (maybe too big even) one of the most luxurious also (the only other one as good as that one which comes in my mind are the CX F lounges in HKG and indeed the F lounges of LX and LH in FRA and ZRH.
I really liked the way they organized the different sections to make it a bit more cosy, but still… it is a very big lounge. The « First class » lounge I visited later (actually the lounge for OW Emeralds) looks quite poor in front of that one.
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Old Jul 6, 17, 4:06 pm
  #21  
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Chapter 7 : Complimentary Doha-City tour...

Besides the world class lounge, one of the benefits when travelling on QR with a long transit in Doha is to be able to visit for free the city of Doha in an organized bus tour. To do so, you need to register at defined times during the day to the little Doha tourism office. For me, I needed to be at 6.00 at the tourism information desk, time when the terminal gets quite crowded. All you need is a passport and a connection with QR of more than 8 hours. You should know however that the tour is quite popular, and with only 40-ish seats per bus four times a day, you really need to queue on-time at the counter to secure a seat.



The tourism office offering this takes care of issuing a temporary 1 day transit visa. In my case, I misunderstood what needed to be prepared in advance and registered online (for free), for a transit visa of 96 hours to Qatar a couple weeks before my visit. The transit visa was granted after several days, but ultimately, if your connection is less than 24 hours, this is not needed if you JUST want to follow the tour.
After some waiting time at immigration (I did not wait that long since I was able to use the business class lane, but the other passengers of the tour had to queue at the regular lane), we were ready to start, with almost half an hour late. At 8.00, it was almost 35 degC already…
Here below are some pictures of Doha city. In our case, the bus stopped at the sea shore so we could take pictures of the skyline, then continued in the city (we did not stop) and ended at the souk Al-Waif, where we had about 45 minutes of freedom to buy some souvenirs before heading back to the airport (The last picture is the airport terminal for the royal family).





















Ok, you cannot discover really a city in only a couple of hours. But I think this was a good initiative from the local authorities to develop the tourism and also the airport as passengers in transit could benefit from this tour.
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Old Jul 7, 17, 12:51 pm
  #22  
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Since I was now landside, and had to clear immigration and security again to get into the terminal, I decided to re-enter using the first and business class facilities with another passenger I met during the tour.






Immigration and security were cleared in seconds as we were the only ones in the line… So that worked well

I wanted to invite this « new friend » to the Al-Mourjan lounge but it did not work out as I was the only one travelling in business class. Instead we headed to the « First class / Emerald » lounge where I could bring a guest.
This lounge is certainly much, much smaller than the Al-Mourjan lounge visited earlier. There is still a quite good buffet section, which would be just fine in most of the « secondary » airports, and the drink selection is very decent, but still, when you see the size and volumes of the Al-Mourjan lounge next door, the feeling of this Emerald lounge feels cheap and quite cramped between high walls, with no windows facing the outside.









Considering this is an OW Emerald frequent flyer lounge, in the airline main hub, I would rate it as following :
Qatar Airways First class lounge, Hamad International airport Doha.
Buffet area / F&B selection : B
Seating available : B
« Clean and comfy » : B-. It was clean, but it feels « cramped »
Extra amenities : B-
Overall ranking : B-. Furniture is nice, F&B offering is alright, but I’ve been to some much better Emerald lounges. Maybe my rating is not objective enough as I am comparing this one to the Al-Mourjan ?…

After this short hop to this lounge, I went to the duty free area, where some interesting souvenirs can be found and later back to Al-Mourjan lounge, the latter being certainly more crowded than in the early morning…





I was soon time to board my flight to AMS, gate A5…



The priority boarding was enforced at the gate thanks to a separate access line. Once the passport was checked, we had to wait for a couple minutes in a seating area before the jet bridge. The real boarding started shortly afterwards and I was greeted by a lovely gate agent with a smooth « Thank you for choosing Qatar Airways Mr palmanfr »

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Old Jul 16, 17, 5:51 am
  #23  
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Chapter 8 : Back home :-(

Qatar Airways – QR275 – April 11th 2017
Doha Hamad Intl DOH – 15.10
Amsterdam Schiphol AMS – 21.00
Boeing 777-300 – A7-BAV – Business class seat 3A, window seat.

The business class seat used on this aircraft was the same one as on the previous flight and the first flight of this trip. This time, I decided to opt for a window seat, on the left section of the cabin.


The onboard service was very efficiently provided by a young male FA from India, while the purser on this flight was a Russian lady. They both introduced themselves to each passenger (in « blocks » of 2), but you could clearly see that the speech from the purser was sort of « robotized », while the male FA was more « friendly », but still very professional. She also informed us about the flight time and expected arrival time in Amsterdam.
Food and beverage menus were handed, such as the usual Brics amenity kit. A bottle of still water was also included in the dedicated compartment inside the armrest.



The flight itself was fairly uneventful, as I was already pretty much familiarized with the seat.
Shorly after take off, I felt having a glass of red bordeaux wine and it came with some excellent warm nuts.


A small amuse bouche (I don’t remember what it was though) was also served shortly before the lunch/dinner (my body did not remember which meal that was ☺).


I opted for the cheese plate to begin and then the classic arabic mezze. Both were pretty good, as expected.


It appeared that my seat mate was an Indian diplomat leaving in Den Haag and we had very interesting discussion during the meal and for almost two hours. Add this to a small nap and a movie, and it was time to approach Amsterdam.
About an hour before landing I wanted to get some ice cream and they were out of. I then opted for the fruit salad but the purser later came to inform me they were also out of those, and offered me instead the hazelnut tart. The tart was good, but very very sweet and heavy. I did not finish it.


I typically like to keep the paper menus as a souvenir when I travel business or first class, and this flight was no exception. While usually it is not an issue, this time the purser was quite reluctant to let me take those back home, but she eventually accepted. Those being just paper menus (would have been the same with a magazine for instance) , I am not sure why she did not want to let me keep the menus as a souvenir…


We landed about 20 minutes late, at the thrid runway of AMS and we taxied for a good 25 minutes to the gate ! (It felt forever). Add a good 15 min walk to the Immigration control and luggage claim and I was outside the terminal shortly after 10 pm.

A pretty good last flight overall. I slept a bit better being on a window seat than on the AMS-DOH leg, maybe the glass(es) of wine helped a bit ?... I think that the cabin crew had a lot of work during this flight as I was consistently seeing the 2 FA running in the cabin. The purser did not seem to be as « stressed » as the others…

Cabin Crew : B+
Seat : B
On time performance : C
Meal and beverages : A-. Great catering ex-DOH. I wish my dessert choice would have been available…
Overall experience : B+

Last edited by palmanfr; Jul 16, 17 at 6:16 am
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Old Jul 16, 17, 6:17 am
  #24  
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Conclusion...

Conclusion :

For a lot of "normal" people, which includes most of my friends, relatives and colleagues, travelling is a pain, especially by plane and just the idea of flying more than 8000 miles for a week end is nothing to be considered. Mentioning to them that I did such a journey to renew a frequent flyer status on top of living my passion for aviation and travel is simply crazy and unrational for most of them !
I have to confess that I thought a minute about that (well... after having booked my tickets though !). Unrational maybe it is, as I am now travelling less often than I used to (hence this mileage run...). I can only assume that at least some of the FT readers had the same minute of doubt as I had !

But I am glad I did it and this was certainly a great experience. I personally really enjoy visiting Japan every time I have the chance to go there. Some would say that it was quite some travel for 4 days only, but it was totally worth it in my opinion. I just wished I would have stayed longer, especially in Hokkaido, and visit Hakodate for example… Next time maybe ?

While the old business class seat on the 772/773 was ok, the counterpart on the 787 is one of the best I tried (until the new Q-suites, which I am looking froward to trying one day…), the service and food was in par with a first class experience, and the Al-Mourjan lounge in DOH was simply impressive. To make it a perfect experience, I would have liked better sleeping materials, such as a comfy pillow and duvet (as said before, the duvet and pillow used on LATAM 787 business class is a reference, in par with some first class products).
The food and drinks selection, both on the ground in DOH and in the air were very good and when compared to let’s say… BA, QR clearly plays in a different category ! (although, I found the catering in C has improved on BA on my last LHR-JFK trip a couple months ago…)

When considering the price paid vs the amount of avios, and especially BA tier points earned, this trip also gives a great mileage run.
For 639 euros RT paid on QR, i earned 20518 Avios and 540 Tier Points.
Add this to the 120 Tier points and 2300 Avios earned on the JL domestic flights for 299 Euros, this final ratio becomes 1.42 Euros / Tier Point, and a requalification for one more year of Emerald benefits on OneWorld.

Hope you enjoyed reading this trip report as much as I enjoyed this journey ! I hope to be able to write some more about some recent experiences in the near future, including a trip to easter island and a comparison between the LH 748 and the new LX 773 First class products on a previous trip to Asia !
somemale likes this.

Last edited by palmanfr; Jul 16, 17 at 9:15 am
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Old Jul 21, 17, 4:17 pm
  #25  
 
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Wonderful TR! Love the photos and gives me an idea of what to expect in the domestic lounge for our upcoming trip.

Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
During the meal service, I noticed that my seat mate was asking the crew for some sort of stickers and was taking pictures of those and the meal tray. The flight attendant noticed that I was puzzled by those stickers and came to me 15 minutes later with some and explained to me that those were representing the different provinces of Japan, and that some were collecting those (that’s the way I understood). I found it funny and exchanged some with my seat mate… If someone knows more about those, I would be interested to know more…

Here's an article talking about the stickers:
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610250012.html

The four large characters is Japan Airlines in kanji-日本航空 (Nihonkōkū), with the prefecture name and shape at the top. I had no clue about the stickers on my first domestic JAL flight! One of the CA's handed out the stickers to us midflight and made my wife's day.
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Old Jul 21, 17, 7:49 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by rustykettel View Post
Wonderful TR! Love the photos and gives me an idea of what to expect in the domestic lounge for our upcoming trip.



Here's an article talking about the stickers:
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610250012.html

The four large characters is Japan Airlines in kanji-日本航空 (Nihonkōkū), with the prefecture name and shape at the top. I had no clue about the stickers on my first domestic JAL flight! One of the CA's handed out the stickers to us midflight and made my wife's day.
And if you collect the entire set, you will receive get a special one too. But that promo has ended couple of weeks ago.
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Old Jul 21, 17, 8:18 pm
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by JALPak View Post
And if you collect the entire set, you will receive get a special one too. But that promo has ended couple of weeks ago.
Are CA's still handing out the regular stickers or has that ended as well?
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Old Jul 21, 17, 8:25 pm
  #28  
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Originally Posted by rustykettel View Post
Are CA's still handing out the regular stickers or has that ended as well?
That I am not sure. They used to hand them out even before that promo. If they still wear that prefecture badge, I would assume this is still ongoing.
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Old Aug 1, 17, 7:46 am
  #29  
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Originally Posted by rustykettel View Post
Wonderful TR! Love the photos and gives me an idea of what to expect in the domestic lounge for our upcoming trip.



Here's an article talking about the stickers:
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610250012.html

The four large characters is Japan Airlines in kanji-日本航空 (Nihonkōkū), with the prefecture name and shape at the top. I had no clue about the stickers on my first domestic JAL flight! One of the CA's handed out the stickers to us midflight and made my wife's day.
Wow thanks for the explanations rustykettel ! Glad to hear you enjoyed reading this report !
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Old Aug 3, 17, 9:03 am
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by palmanfr View Post
Which brings me the following question : Why on earth do you indicate this is a final call if you still did not start the boarding process ?
I think the official answer to your question is that they want to make sure all the passengers are at the gate when they start boarding rather than in the duty free or taking pictures of the teddy bear. However, I find the ground staff at DOH to be some of the most incompetent on the planet. In dozens of transits through DOH I can't remember one which went smoothly.

It's such a shame that the ground experience is so bad when the in-flight experience is (usually) fantastic.

Last edited by BobBHX; Aug 3, 17 at 9:44 am
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