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2011 wasn't a banner year for Japan, not to mention for any industry in the country. We saw the ripple effects of natural disasters throughout the aviation world with the Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami topping the list. What can be more indicative of Japanese pride, but to quickly rebuild stronger and better? Fortunately for us, airlines are towards the top of the progress.
· Peachy Keen
Last year we talked about the introduction of ANA's budget carrier based out of Osaka, Peach. With only 3 destinations, the airline will draw business passengers, eventually moving into the leisure market. Flights are taking off in March and tickets are already to purchase.
Happy Peach Fares have no baggage allowance or advanced seat selection but are quite affordable at around $175 return to Sapporo. If you need the sweet little perks, cough up about $75 more. Happy Peach Plus fares allow you to pick where you park yourself on the plane and some space in the belly for your luggage. With a bright purple livery and cabin, Peach is on our short list!
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Just because Thanksgiving has passed doesn't mean that travel will dwindle much; Christmas and other holidays are now less than one month away, and of course travel to wherever you're heading for them will start sooner. If you're heading home or on vacation, and you can't convince someone to come pick you up from the airport, we might be able to help.
Throughout December, we'll be adding more guides on how to reach airports around the world via both public and private transportation, but for now, here are six guides we've already got for you:
· London-Gatwick (just the Express train featured)
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Our shot of a JAL 787 being built at Boeing's HQ. Notice the lack of engines
It feels like just yesterday we were freaking out over the launch of the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, by Japanese airline ANA. Well, their rival JAL wants everyone to know that they've got some Dreamliners coming as well, and they're taking them overseas to the US of A, and soon.
Like April 22, 2012 soon. If you've been dying to try the new plane and have been waiting for a oneworld airline to fly it, or just to experience it in the spring, then JAL has some airfares that may work for you. It's not a "sale" so much since the prices aren't cheap: from $1,500 roundtrip in economy between Boston and Tokyo-Narita or $6,500 in business class. Buy it before January 31, 2012 for travel between April 22 and September 30, 2012. We're thinking it would make an awesome holiday gift...!
Here's all the details to make it happen.
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Everybody's talking Tokyo, and with good reason. The country is psyched to begin restarting tourism, autumn over there is magical, and the ANA 787 Dreamliner just completed her maiden revenue flight out of the city. So when you do take that dive and head to Japan, you'll likely spend some time in Narita International Airport. If you're flying United and holding a Business Class, ticket or Star Alliance status, then you'll want to know about the United Business Lounge.
We recently spent some time here after bumping ourselves up to Biz, and gave the sizeable lounge a good once-over:
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You've had a long flight, or maybe you're about to have a long flight, or maybehorror of horrorsboth. You've got some sizeable layover time at Tokyo-Narita Airport and you're desperate to have a shower, take a nap or work in peace and comfortor all three things. If you're flying economy you don't have the option to crash in a lounge, but luckily Narita is a large (and awesome) enough airport to offer Shower rooms and Day Rooms, and we just tried them out!
Our story involved a long flight to NRT from Bangkok, an 8-hour layover and another long flight back to the States in economy. Typically we'd enjoy the airport like an amusement park, but we were under the weather and sleepy. Although the day rooms may be reserved online up to one month in advance, we just walked in and plonked down our credit card for five hours in a single room.
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Last week we found ourselves way in the back of a United 777 flying direct from Tokyo-Narita to Seattle-Tacoma in economy class. Yes, believe it. Thankfully we scored an aisle seat, but that was about the only positive. Here's a little review of our experience:
What we liked:
· Seatback TVs! Holy crap, we weren't expecting that considering the United 777 on the way over (from SFO to NRT) didn't have them.
· Two square meals were served. Granted, the turbulence during the first one didn't allow for us to get up and grab our camera from the overhead bin, but it wasn't too bad. Chicken over rice.
· The flight left and arrived on time, so there's that.
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Following a harrowing last-minute upgrade and 11.5 hours in so-so Biz Class from SFO to NRT, we were finally ready to experience the updated seats and in-flight entertainment on United's 747 from Tokyo-Narita to Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi.
That may sound like a reasonably short flight, but nu uhthat's another 6.5 hours of flying, which makes it totally worthwhile to have a nice seat and a nice TV and a nice meal for this last leg of a very long, very tiring journey.
We've already dug into the meals here, so now let's discuss the finer points of the seat and service in Biz Class on this 747:
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Following a $600+ upgrade to Business Class, an 11.5-hour flight from SFO to NRT and some filet mignon, we were excited for a little more local fare on the 6 hour and 30 minute flight. And we got it. Kinda. If Trader Vic's-recipe dishes can be considered thusly.
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United's 777 from San Francisco to Tokyo-Narita in Business Class was a fly-by-night thing. Literally. It was a flight on which we upgraded at the last minute, boarded at the last minute, and everyone onboard slept for the majority of the 11-hour, 15-minute flight.
Since we've already detailed the in-flight meals, we'll keep our impressions of the seats and service quick and dirty:
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"The 'Grilled Shrimp Brochette' looks nice, but then so does the 'Saté Spiced Chicken!'"
No, you are not in a restaurant. You are 38,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean, sitting in Business Class on a United 777, and you've got a printed menu open in your hands. Hard to believe? Hopefully not, because that was us recently after scoring a last-minute paid upgrade.
We've begun by telling you how we got it, now it's on to the experience of the flights themselves. Key to the fun of chilling in biz is enjoying the actual plated meals, instead of a plastic tray of "fish or meat" in economy.
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DRUMROLL PLEASE! The first destination to get regular, scheduled service on the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be...Okayama, Japan! Why Okayama? Well, the airline with the pleasure of introducing the 787 to the traveling public is Japanese airline ANA, and after a few fun flights to show off the shiny new plane, she'll be put into domestic service between Tokyo-Haneda and Okayama.
Okay so this is literally yesterday's news, but we got a little wrapped up in the East Coast Earthquake drama, so chillax.
Finally, some dates: the very first scheduled flight will happen on November 1, to be immediately followed by the start of Tokyo-Haneda to Hiroshima service on the 787. Want to go international? You've got to wait a tad bit longer, but Tokyo-Haneda to Beijing begins as soon as December, with Tokyo-Haneda to Frankfurt kicking off the long-haul routes in January, 2012.
Here's the official schedule, straight from ANA:
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In Japan over the last few days, there's been a massive earthquake, tragic tsunamis and even a volcanic explosion, but the news gripping the world is that of their ongoing emergencies at several nuclear plants. Note the word "ongoing," as the other three big events happened and are done with.
It was reported very early this morning that Lufthansa isn't taking the nuclear crisis and release of radioactivity into the atmosphere sitting down (or rather, flying high as normal). The German airline has begun scanning their planes out of Japan for radioactivity, and though nothing above a normal level has been found, Lufthansa is taking precautions by removing the Airbus A380 from Tokyo routes and putting most Lufthansa flight crew up in South Korea rather than Japan.
In addition, the two daily Tokyo-bound Lufthansa flights from Germany will be diverted to other Japanese airports through this upcoming Sunday. Specifically, Lufthansa Flight 714 from Munich will head to Nagoya and Lufthansa Flight 710 from Frankfurt will land at Osaka-Kansai.