Author Topic: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.  (Read 25793 times)

Offline Marco Polo

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      I never had any real plans to travel to Japan for our first trip of the year. Especially since the AJK’s hadn’t done it and left a TR for us to follow. The day this all started was like any other for me. Reading through the many blogs I follow along with DDF and I saw a post from Lucky about the new JAL F and wide-open availability from SFO. I read through it and thought nothing of it until later that day… Why not go to Japan. I had a large stockpile of AA miles from Citibank’s very generous summer of the Executive card and was ready to blow some.

     Since the new F class was flying from SFO, I started out by booking SFO-HND for 62.5k per passenger. Once I had that booked, I figured I might as well take the A321 from JFK and get an additional F product on the same award. My routing was now JFK-LAX-SFO-HND. The plan was to wait until the flight got closer and try and get on the direct flight to SFO. 

      Four months later and around two weeks out from the start of the trip, I started looking for SFO saver award seats from JFK. The pattern seemed to be that the saver seats would open a week before the flight. One week out, I saw availability for my flight and called AA to reroute me to that direct flight.  Due to the length of the flights and distance we needed to travel (with an infant), cutting out an extra leg was great. Now we were all set and ready to fly JFK-SFO-HND and experience two new F products for ourselves.

     The big day arrived and we were Ubering our way to Brooklyn to pick up some Pomegranate travel meals we had preordered. After running in and out we were back on the road to JFK. This is where the story starts getting a little crazy. As I was getting out of the Uber at JFK, I got a call from some 800 number… It was AA telling me my flight to SFO was delayed and I would miss my connecting JAL flight and had been rebooked. At this point I wasn’t sure what was really going on, just happy we came to the airport early.  We shlepped everything into the AA first class check-in and braced ourselves for the somewhat unexpected. We knew we were not going to make our original flight, but possibly we could make the earlier AA flight to SFO and be fine. We weren’t fine for that flight… Turns out AA had taken the liberty to book us on BA F to LHR and then on to HND. The complete opposite direction of what we were expecting to do. Instead of flying backwards over the Pacific, we were now going forward over the Atlantic. After some amazing service from Allison at the first class check-in and some frantic searching for the infant PNR, we had temporary passes for BA F and were heading over to Terminal 7 to check-in.

      Checking in at first class by BA was a little tedious but led to confirmation of a nice surprise I was told to look out for. We were booked into BA F on a revenue ticket, which would be earning us 150% of the miles flown when credited to AA. The miles earned, coupled with not having to pay the exorbitant fees to fly BA F made for a very pleasant itinerary change. Though we would not be flying the original airlines we were planning on, these would still be great flights.

      Once through security, we went to check out the Concorde room and made reservations for massages in the upstairs Galleries lounge. After a couple quick drinks in the lounge, we went upstairs to get ready for our complimentary massages and try to somehow get kosher food for our flights. Since we were booked last minute, there was almost nothing they could do for us on the first flight, but said they would try for the second leg. Now the thing with massages is, I am not really a “massage guy”. But a free massage before a long flight had me with the dumbest grin on my face the whole massage.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2015, 05:10:41 AM »
      Boarding for the flight was very hectic, but the First Class line along with about every tier of BA/OW status was not too bad. There was no separate jet bridge for F passengers, but being from the first ones on the plane made boarding easy. We were flying the 747 to LHR and were on the lower level. My first impressions were a little underwhelming, with the seats not offering much privacy, especially for an F cabin.  With the cabin full I wasn’t expecting the kind of service I had experienced on the Asian carriers I had flown, but this was even less than what I was expecting. With the Asian airlines, if you move, they are right by you asking if you need anything, here it took quite some time to get their attention. Though once you had it, they were very pleasant to deal with.

      As the plane was taxing to get de-iced, I was messaging with some DDF’ers who offered to “surprise us” with a possible alternate routing from LHR and possible different airline. With a possible routing through DXB, I got permission from the wife to grant that as an option on condition we had time on the ground and could give the kid a break from flying. When we landed in LHR and finally made it over to our original departure gate moments before closing, I finally connected to wifi and saw that we would not end up with a different routing. Though not for lack of trying and some interesting ideas thrown around (MH flights and routing through Cuba were just some that were mentioned). So off we were back into BA F, this time on a 777. 

      This flight had only half of the first class cabin full and there was another couple travelling with a child, which made things a lot less stressful for us. Our kid is great on flights, but there is always that fear he will get cranky and annoy the other passengers.  I am not sure if it is standard on the 777’s but there was no F seat in the back right corner (facing forward), not sure why, but it was just an empty shell and the kids actually played in that space. The privacy on this flight was night and day compared to the 747. While the 747 did not have anything to block you in, this plane had personal hanging storage, which acted as a shield and created much more privacy. While still no food for us, we had taken some chips from the lounge and found other things to snack on while onboard. Another “First Class Issue” I came across was the size of the lavatory. On all other carriers when flying F, there was a very spacious restroom, this one barely had room to put on your first class pajamas. The rest of this flight went along smoothly and before we knew it we were staring at Mt. Fuji through the window as the sun rose over Japan.
 
      Disembarking and going through customs was a very simple process and there was even a dedicated lane for those travelling with children to save you some time. (I would have liked an arrival lounge, but it seemed that without a connecting flight, there was nothing in the airport). Right past customs is the baggage claim and free luggage carts. Grabbing a cart I went to wait for my bags and as an F passenger, my first two bags were from the first five that came out. Then I started to wait. A small trickle of fear crept into my mind, but I pushed it off and kept saying to myself “another minute or two” to calm myself down. Then I noticed my wife walking towards an agent holding a sign with her name on it. Oh no. My bag and the car seat never made it out of LHR and the earliest it would come would be the same flight the next day. This made me more happy than sad. I had packed an extra set of clothes in my carry on and didn’t need anything from my bag urgently, but I would probably get some compensation for this trouble. I was told they would deliver the bag and car seat the next day to my hotel and that my wife and I would each receive 200 pounds (all I could think was “holy %^&$” over and over). Playing it very cool, we filled out all the paperwork and then proceeded to the BA check-in counter to get our money. When we go there, we were informed that we would also be getting 200 pounds for the infant as well (“holy %^&$!!!). We were given a BA Visa Debit card and PIN number to use at our leisure. This was the equivalent to a little over $1,000 USD and would most likely cover all of our planned trips and then some. What a crazy but fun/exciting start to our vacation.

       At this point, we were extremely exhausted and just wanted to get to our hotel. We got a day train pass and took two trains for about an hour to get to our hotel.  This was not a bad trip, especially not having to carry the extra luggage, but having a stroller and using the trains with all the stairs was torture. We will probably take a cab back (assumption based on time of writing (which happens to be the first day of the trip in hopes staying up will not make me insanely jetlagged) to save us the headache. We got to the hotel (Hyatt Regency) and went to check-in. We were booked under a Diamond account and was hoping to get early check-in (around 11), but was told the room wasn’t ready and to wait in the Regency Club. We went to the club and not long after sitting down, we had keys to our room.  The room itself was/is nothing to special, but it has a very nice bathroom and a great view of Mt. Fuji.

       After showering away all the travel of the past day or so, we headed out to do a little sight seeing and then the Chabad House and Chana’s Place for an early dinner. We had made reservations, as they do not have official hours and showed up a little early. The “restaurant” is more a small room with a kitchen behind a curtain, but do not be thrown off. We had one of the best meals we had in recent memory (and I am not just saying that because he hadn’t had a meal in over 24 hours) and probably the nicest of all the Chabad Houses we have been to in our travels. The chef kind of asked us if we liked chicken or salmon and then proceeded to just bring out food to us. We were started with a mini broccoli kugel and bowl of hummus and bread. Following this was Asian chicken soup and our main dishes. Dessert was also served, but we took it to go as we were very full and had ordered another meal for the next day as well. When the time cam to pay, the Rabbi said there was still no official pricing, but would 70,000 yen work (~$70). It did work for us. We then ran out of the Chabad house, back to the train and hotel before we completely passed out somewhere we didn’t know. At this point we can probably call it the end of one really long and confusing day. Between the flight changes and almost non-stop flying/being on a plane for over 18 hours with an infant, followed by missing bags… I’m wiped.


Maybe I’ll get to post tomorrows activities in as timely a manner as this got posted.

(Will probably add pictures once I get back from this trip).


To be continued…
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline HP58

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2015, 06:03:17 AM »
Love that you got £600 on the spot from BA for one day baggage delay... Lucky you!

Offline shauly

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2015, 06:14:22 AM »
Great report so far, I can't wait to read the rest!

Are you able to double dip on compensation and claim from the credit card company as well?

Offline HP58

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2015, 06:21:04 AM »
Are you able to double dip on compensation and claim from the credit card company as well?
Should be able to, provided the tix were booked with the requisite CCs. I doubt BA tells Chase or Amex that they compensated you. But don't you have to buy things and send in the receipts? I doubt MP went to Japan to shop for free stuff in the mall there... :D

Offline AharonInIsrael

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 06:52:55 AM »
Wow! Looking forward to reading the rest! Feel free to also just enjoy the trip and write the rest up when you get back :)

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2015, 10:50:24 AM »
Nice report, what do you have for the return?

Offline dealfinder85

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2015, 11:02:53 AM »
Are you able to double dip on compensation and claim from the credit card company as well?
oy some people are very greedy

Offline EnEl

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 11:07:01 AM »
There is something very enjoyable when reading your TR. Maybe write a book about your travels :D

Offline dealfinder85

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2015, 11:07:28 AM »
very good TR so far
how old is your child?

Offline srap

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2015, 11:14:20 AM »
Your details make it possible to live vicariously through your awesome report.  I guess that's what happens when you post while it's happening.  Looking forward to each installment...

Offline shauly

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2015, 11:14:46 AM »
oy some people are very greedy

Oh, please.

Offline EnEl

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2015, 11:18:57 AM »
Should be able to, provided the tix were booked with the requisite CCs. I doubt BA tells Chase or Amex that they compensated you. But don't you have to buy things and send in the receipts? I doubt MP went to Japan to shop for free stuff in the mall there... :D

Once they're there anyway, free IS free...

Offline DMYD

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2015, 11:47:48 AM »
Add some nice pictures to your trip please.

Offline yoruel

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 12:04:58 PM »
Nice report, what do you have for the return?

My heart races everytime i see this thread bumped.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2015, 12:56:47 PM »
Nice report, what do you have for the return?
My "return" so far is CX F to HKG on 1/15 and KE flights on hold for the 19th and 20th. Hopefully I can transfer in by the 17th before the hold expires and go that way. Otherwise, no idea yet.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2015, 12:57:56 PM »
There is something very enjoyable when reading your TR. Maybe write a book about your travels :D
Maybe a novel one day...

Thanks all for the positive feedback.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2015, 12:59:08 PM »
very good TR so far
how old is your child?
15 months and 25 flights deep already.
Quaerite et Invenietis.

Offline dealfinder85

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2015, 02:08:53 PM »
15 months and 25 flights deep already.
mine is the same age and is waaaaaay behind
hes up to 4 (without delta glitch it would be 2)

Offline EnEl

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Re: Getting To Japan Backward and Other Tall Tales from MP and Co.
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2015, 02:32:36 PM »
How is the jet lag with a kid that young? I am traveling oversees soon and have a kid close in age.