Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007 Trip: I got a seat

Well, I got a middle seat on the A380 flight on the main deck.

See you in Sydney.

Christmas 2007 Trip:The A380 at the gate in Singapore Changi (SIN)

video

So, just because you cannot be here, I've made a video for you. The aircraft is being serviced at the moment at gate F31 in SIN.

Christmas 2007 Trip:The A380 - A picture is worth 1,000 words


Christmas 2007 Trip:Tokyo to Singapore: The journey

Note: This report is being sent from Singapore Changi airport. I found Internet access in Singapore for:

Plans available:1) S$6 per ½ hour2) S$8 per hour (+10mins bonus, total 70 mins)3) S$12 per 2 hours * Promotion valid till 31 Dec 2007. I chose option 3; the exchange rate is 1.42 to the USD.



Tokyo-Narita International Airport, Japan (NRT)


I left the Northwest WorldClub at gate 15 and headed for gate 32. It is pretty amazing that Northwest has at least three Clubs here. This just shows the scope of their operation. The Club I used has an Air France Salon right next to it. The two Clubs I checked out were nicely done and in my opinion are far superior to the ones in the U.S.


Just before I left the Lounge, a Korean Airlines A300-600 pushed back, an Air France Boeing 777-200ER arrived followed by an Alitalia Boeing 777. Prior to that the Aeromexico Boeing 777-200ER on which I arrived was pushed to a hard stand. As I walked to my gate, I saw a Continental Boeing 767-400 at the gate; it had just arrived from Guam. SkyTeam at work, I thought.


As I got to the ANA gate, I looked around the gates and now it is Star Alliance at work. I passed a United Airlines Red Carpet Club, but I have no credentials for it, so I did not even ask about it. Down the way is an ANA Star Alliance Club. At the gates were a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777; this one makes one stop in Bangkok I think on its way to Singapore. It was a choice, but got in at about 7:30p, too close to the 8:30p departure and would cost more. There were also, a few ANA airplanes, mostly 767s, an ANA Boeing 777-300 with a logo celebrating 10 years of Star Alliance, an Austrian Boeing 777 that came in from Vienna, Austria (VIE); I had missed taking that flight in last October when I visited Japan. As I boarded, a SAS Airbus A340-300 taxied in.


4 NH111 26DEC WE Tokyo-Narita, Japan (NRT) to Singapore (SIN) 763 10:40A 5:15P 26DEC JA603A


We pushed back at 10:38a; it took a little time for the engines to start though. As we pushed back, the safety video started. It was English, Japanese and Chinese subtitles plus hand signals all at the same time.


We had a minimal taxi time and takeoff was without delay as we were the only one in line for takeoff. As we taxied, there was a camera showing us what was ahead and once we took off, it showed what was below us. This is always cool to see.


The flight attendant made an announcement about what to expect for the flight. We would get a snack first and then have a choice of seafood or pork both served with rice. They also explained the document requirements for the flight once we arrive in Singapore including the fact that Singapore does not allow chewing gum into the country.


The entertainment system was activated and there was news playing on the main screens throughout the cabin. There were already headphones available in the glove compartment in the seat pocket in front of me. The entertainment system seems identical to the one on the Aeromexico flight and actually had the same issue where the movie would be playing once you got to the channel, but as I learned, pressing Stop twice takes care of that.
Channel 1 – Forward/Downward camera

Channel 2 – Airshow

Channel 7 – The Bourne Ultimatum

Channel 8 – Stardust

Channel 9 – Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Channel 10 – Crossing Over (Chinese)

Channel 11 – Take Me Out to the Snowland

Channel 12 – Talk, Talk, Talk (Japanese)

Channel 13 – The Burmese Harp

Channel 14 – Prison Free-for-All (Japanese)

Channel 15 – Eye In the Sky (Cantonese)

Channel 16 – Eye in the Sky (Mandarin)

Channel 17 – ANA Travel Navigator

Channel 18 – ANA Gourmet Guide

Channel 19 – 5 Minutes Chinese Lesson

Channel 20 – National Geographic

Channel 21 – Best Hit USA: Time Machine Special

Channel 22 – ANA Sound Shower (music videos)

Channel 23 – Travel Information (Japanese)

Channel 24 – Cabin Information (information about the passenger layout area and is about 0:55 long)
The Captain came on the PA, gave his welcome aboard and said that the flying time was 6:30; I think that was the amount of time left. He also said that our arrival time would be 17:15 local time in Singapore.


The appetizer was a snack pack of starch, regular rice, cashew items with your beverage of choice. The flight attendants came by and handed me a picture of the two meals with the descriptions in Japanese and English; I picked the seafood, which was a combination of different types of seafood; I know that one of them was fish. Both meals came with a chocolate cake, a roll, a 280ml bottle of water and peas plus a potato salad and a cookie.


The meal was quite good and they followed it up with an offer for white or red wines.
I looked through the entertainment selection and I decided to watch the Mr. Bean’s Movie.
I fell asleep at some point and awoke when we had half way to go, as I was still sleepy, I went back to sleep. My circadian rhythm is off; my body is in sleep mode as it is currently night time where I live.


I awoke again at 2:02 to go; local time where I started the journey on Christmas eve is 1:07a. I’d normally be awake anyways…The seatbelt sign was on for a while and when it came off at 1:57 to go, you heard a cheer come up from the cabin; I was also relieved as well as I really needed to go to the restroom.


I took the opportunity to check out the aircraft. There are two exits forward of the wing as opposed to being over the wing. The Economy class cabin is divided into two parts; the first part has five rows then the rest of the cabin goes from row 22 the Exit row to row 40. Economy class is 2-3-2; standard for a Boeing 767 and Club ANA Class is 2-1-2. Each seat also has a footrest in Economy class.


I also noticed that the entertainment system has an Interactive mode; this mode was disabled on the Aeromexico system. This mode basically allowed you to navigate the system differently, the sections are:
Movie

Video

Audio

Games (10 games)

Business & News


I found eleven additional programs under the Video section that I did not find when going channel by channel.
Simple is Best

Shoten

Suberanai Hanashi

Just for Laughs Gags

Frasier

Virtual Trip

Pingu

Baby TV

Santa Claus is comin’ to town

Around China

On the Road


With about 1:30 to go, we were served vanilla ice cream and juice, plus tea or coffee with a moist towelette in a plastic casing.



I started to run out of battery so I ended the transaction.



We landed on a cloudy afternoon in Singapore, but it was a beautiful sight to see teh city on landing. The beaches were awesome as well.



It was 5:05p when we arrived at the gate. I got my stuff together and departed the airplane.



Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN)



I headed for the Singapore Airlines Transfer Desk in Terminal 2 immediately. I had to take the quick train from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.



I took a number and was serviced efficiently after a few phone calls about the ticket, etc. I was then told to return at 7:50p to be possibly assigned a seat.



I don't think I will have an opportunity to blog again until I arrive in Sydney on Dec. 27, 2008 at 7a, but we will see.



Tick, tock...



I made a quick entry at a free kiosk just outside the Transfer Desk, to let you all know what is going on. I then walked around until I found some really cool desk for laptop users. They have power cables, typically every country is represented except Australia in terms of plugs. I then got wireless Internet acess for the following rates:

Plans available:

1) S$6 per ½ hour

2) S$8 per hour (+10mins bonus, total 70 mins)

3) S$12 per 2 hours * Promotion valid till 31 Dec 2007.



Before sitting down, I took a video of the plane at the gate not being serviced as yet. I'll add a photo as well.

Christmas 2007 Trip:I've arrived in Singapore (SIN)

Singapore Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN)

I just arrived in Singapore about 36 minutes ago. I've found a free public terminal to make this entry. I will try to find somewhere so that I can use my own computer. I don't have any Lounge access for any of the facilities at this airport so we will see how I get on.

I am checked in for the A380 flight (SQ221) to Sydney, Australia (SYD), but wont know if I get a seat until 40 minutes before departure; 7:50p. In the mean time, I will walk around, check the plane out if it is at the gate (local time is 5:41p) and try to find a Lounge or some kind of Internet access. I also need to charge the computer, so that will pose a challenge as well.

PS: The Blogger interface is in Spanish, I am guessing it is still remembering the settings from Mexico.

Christmas 2007 Trip:I got a shower...

Tokyo-Narita International Airport, Tokyo Japan (NRT)

I exited the airplane after saying goodbye to my new found friends. My goal now was to find a lounge and get checked in for my next flight either on Japan Airlines or ANA, not necessarily in that order.

I followed the signs to International Connections and had to clear security showing my ticket as I did do. My preference to Singapore is Japan Airlines, but I'd take ANA if I needed to do so.

As it turns out, we arrived in Terminal 1 and Japan Airlines is in Terminal 2 and since there is a NWA WorldClub in Terminal 1, that sealed the deal that I will take ANA.

I started looking for a Lounge and found two, but one opened at 1p and the other at 8a; it was now 7:30a.

My next task was to find a check-in counter for ANA. I saw the gate of departure and headed there and all the check-in counters I passed were not yet open and of course there was no one at the gate as yet.

While I walked, I found a place where I could get a shower for $5 or a room and a shower for $9 for an hour; so if push came to shove I could still have a shower for a minimal cost.

I walked almost the length of the Terminal and finally found a check-in desk. I presented my documents and within a few minutes, I had a window seat on the 10:40a departure.

It was now 7:39a so I still had time to walk back leisurely to the NW WorldClub where i arrived at 7:54a. They were not yet opened so I waited around; an agent saw me waiting and opened the door and welcomed me in.

I asked if there was a shower available and she pointed me to another club that had showers. As it turns out, the Club was right next to the gate where I arrived. I hustled over there entered and got the shower. This was one of the best showers I've had I have to admit.

I welcomed the opportunity to change clothing as well. Now I am ready for a the next 7 hours in a plane.

After the shower I had breakfast in the lounge. This is really a nice lounge with a good view of the planes lots of setting and a number of Macintosh for the Internet as well as complimentary WiFi. There was also ample reading material. I did notice that the Christmas tree was in a pile on the right when I walked in. It's only one day after, that was quick I thought.

I am also charging batteries as I am not sure when I will be able to do this again.

Next stop is Singapore where I will have about 3 hours to connect to the A380 flight assuming we arrive ontime. See you in Singapore.

Christmas 2007 Trip:Happy Boxing Day from Tokyo, Japan

Hello, just arrived in Tokyo; here is the most current report.

Tijuana International Airport, Tijauna, Mexico (TIJ)

I had to show my passport as well as my Transit card on my way into the jetway. I did not have my immigration form as the officer had taken it, so the agent had to ensure that I had a departure stamp; after searching a bit and with my help, he found it. By the way, I have to find a place to get a shower in Tokyo as when I get to Singapore, I won’t really have enough time to do so.

3 AM58 25DEC TU Tijauna, Mexico (TIJ) toTokyoNarita, Japan (NRT) 777 1:25A 645A 26DEC N777AM

As we boarded the flight, the chief purser, a lady greeted us and again told us which aisle to take to our seats. The Business Class cabin was a lot fuller this time around, but still not completely full. We actually boarded through the first door as opposed to the second one this time.
I made my way back to my same seat as I had a through seat. There were lots of new faces on this leg of the trip. I think that most of the through passengers were sitting in the rear cabin.

I noticed that I had a new blanket; I am assuming a new pillow as well. Plus there was a bottle of water (similar o the one I got from McDonald’s in Mexico City) as well as an amenity kit which had toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pair of socks and a blindfold all in a see through plastic zippered case. A nice touch I thought.

The nice young couple soon joined me again and we greeted each other. We pushed back at 1:41a for this 12:10 journey to Tokyo’s Narita airport. The right engine was started as we commenced our pushback and so were the safety videos. The same drill as before, except this time, the Japanese one ran to completion before takeoff.

Takeoff was smooth and swift; I noted that the TV monitor said 514’ as the elevation; a drastic difference from the 7,348’ at which we started in Mexico City.

We are having a little chop as we head off the coast of Long Beach and toward Malibu at about 30,000’.

About ½ hour after takeoff an announcement came on about documentation for Japan that we will receive shortly.

The Captain came on at 2:47a and made an announcement as we continued to experience rough air as we made our way up the northern California coast line. He said that we had to leave 34,000’ then to 30,000’, then 29,000’ and finally 28,000’ as that is smoother. He said that we would fly to Anchorage, AK then to Petro (something) in Russia then to Sapporo, Japan before making our final descent into Narita.

We are expecting a delay of twenty minutes (arrival time is 6:24a) as we have a very strong headwind for most of the flight, he continued. Forecast for Tokyo at arrival is overcast skies with a temperate of 8C; local time in Narita is +15 hours from Mexico City and +13 hours from Tijuana. As he finished up his speech in English the turbulence ceased. Then the Japanese agent came on and translated what he said.

The flight attendants then came through with the immigration forms as well as a menu which highlighted a midnight service and breakfast.

Midnight service
So that you can rest during the flight, our flight attendants will offer you a Light Meal Service.
Later, if you wish, you may choose from a variety of refreshments available in the rear cabin.

Breakfast

Appetizer

Seasonal fruit plate

Main Course
Chicken enchiladas, dressed with Poblana sauce and cheese, offered with refried beans
Or
Rice omelet with tonkatsu sauce
Muffin

That chicken enchiladas really sounds great. The flight attendants then handed out a Tokio guide which was only available in Spanish.

The light snack turned out to be a cold 6” turkey and cheese sandwich with lettuce and a Nestle Crunch bar. The Airshow now predicts our arrival time to be 7:10a. That really cuts into my valuable ground time. Oh, the system is only Video on Demand as there is no way to interact with the audio at all.

Oh, I did talk with the guy who was next to me a bit and found out they are married for 6 months and this will be his first time to Tokyo, they would be staying for a week; this after many moments of silence and smiling a lot.

Movies started about 3:27a Tijuana time; we were just passing Cape Mendocino just north of San Francisco, CA with 10:33 to go at 32,000’. The system seemed to work properly this time as when I changed channels the movie was not playing, it only started once the channel was selected.

I fell asleep with about 10 or so hours to go and with 4:24 to go and at 9:20a TIJ time Dec. 25, we started to almost butt the Int’l dateline, so our day became Dec. 26; our arrival time was now estimated to be 6:45a, so this means that it is now 2:21a on Dec. 26 at the dateline. This is a bit confusing.

With 4:10 to go, the crew handed out hot towels; a much needed refreshment. I was already up and about having done the morning things when you wake up at 11:30a on Christmas Day in your time zone. Enchiladas are on their way; yeah!!!

The breakfast was great, but kind of odd since it was so early in the morning local Tokyo time and also local Tijuana and even Mexico City time. After breakfast, I finally watched Stardust, listened to some retro music; I then decided to watch Ratouille and fell asleep before it got finished.

I was awoken when we started our descent into Tokyo by the guy next to me as it was time to get the cabin ready for landing.

We landed smoothly and as soon as we did so, everyone was in a mad rush to put their jackets on and you could hear the seatbelts clicking throughout the cabin. I shook my head in dismay. As soon as we slowed down somewhat, people started getting up and opening the overhead bins. I motioned to the ones closest to me and they sat down. The flight attendants were also in the cabin trying to get everyone seated. One kid decided he would not listen so I shouted to him in English to sit down; he did and gave me a stare. I did not care really, as the last thing I wanted was for us to make a sudden stop and he comes crashing down on someone. I am not sure why there was such a rush to get off the plane. As it turns out, our taxi time was 16 minutes! As we stopped short of the gate, he got up and jumped about four rows only sitting down when the flight attendant made yet another announcement.