Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Flying Singapore Airlines Business Class Tokyo to Los Angeles

On March 30, 2017 at 7:15pm, my family boarded the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER aircraft bound for Los Angeles (LAX) from Tokyo (NRT).  This was the second time we got to experience Singapore Airlines new Business Class.  We few Singapore Airlines Business Class from Los Angeles to Tokyo on March 16, 2017 and were excited to fly Business Class once more for our flight home. 

We arrived at the airport early so that we could relax and hang out at the Business Class lounge.  The regular line to check in for our flight was quite long.  
Since we had Business Class tickets, we didn’t have to wait in the regular line to check into our flight and drop off our luggage.  
Our Business Class tickets also allowed us to skip the normal airport security line and enter the Gold Track entrance.  
We definitely felt like VIP.

ANA Business Class Lounge Narita
Our next stop was the ANA Business Class Lounge, which our boarding passes gave us entry into.  
Inside, there are several different areas of the lounge.  There is a quiet “napping” room with large recliners inside cubicles.  
There is another area for private shower rooms, perfect for freshening up during long layovers.  The main seating area has plenty of comfortable sofas to relax in as well as desks to get work done.  
Free WiFi is provided for lounge guests.

The buffet offered plenty of cookies, snacks, yogurt, sushi rolls, noodles, and various hot dishes.  
There was plenty of self-serve alcohol and beer.
The sushi bar offered freshly prepared tuna, prawn, or salmon nigiri with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger.  
The sushi chef only served 2 pieces at a time, so we had to make several trips to get more sushi.  The sushi was very tasty and paired nicely with ice-cold Japanese beer. 
The noodle bar offered freshly prepared ramen, soba, udon and curry bowls.  
For an airport lounge, the ramen was surprisingly delicious.  We definitely went back for seconds.  The small soup bowls allowed us to sample the different hot noodle dishes.  Everything at the noodle bar was really tasty; probably some of the best airport lounge food we’ve had a chance to try.     
Singapore Airlines New Business Class
Boarding the flight was a breeze.  We sat in seats 11D and 11F, near the very front of the plane.  
As soon as we got settled into our seats, we were served champagne.  A stewardess gave our son a plush Star Wars BB-8 droid doll!  
He had no idea what it was, but he played with it nonetheless.
It was easy to get settled into our comfortable seats.  
The stewardess brought us warm nuts.  I started watching the rest of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.  I first started this movie while we were flying to Tokyo but didn’t get a chance to finish it. 

As expected, the dinner we had in Business Class was great!  My appetizer was beef satay with onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce.  
My wife got the marinated prawns, smoked salmon and salad with herb dressing.  
We both chose the Japanese curry beef as our main entrée.  We booked our meals in advance with Singapore’s Book the Cook program, which allows you to order from a special menu up to 24 hours prior to your flight in Suites, First or Business Class.  The Japanese curry meat was very tender and flavorful - I wish they offered seconds.  
I paired my dinner with a nice shiraz red wine.  We had lemon-lime sorbet with berry compote for dessert.  Although we were sitting in an airplane, it felt like we were having a romantic dinner. 

In the bathroom, you'll find an amenities kit with toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, shaver and more.
When it was time to get some rest, the stewardess came and transformed our seat into a completely flat sky bed.  We had no difficulty falling asleep on the lie flat bed in Business Class.  
Our lunch started off with an assortment of breads.  Then we were served parma ham with mozzarella cheese, tomato, arugula lettuce and balsamic dressing.  
We both had the delicious shoyu ramen that we ordered from the Book the Cook program.  The noodles, meat and soup were very tasty, flavorful, and made us feel like we were back in a ramen shop in Japan.  
For dessert, they served us green tea cake with chestnut mousse drizzled with vanilla sauce.  Mmm.
The next movie I got to watch was the Marvel movie Doctor Strange.  
It felt great to sit in our extremely comfortable seats, have unlimited champagne, watch in-flight movies, and reminisce about our trip.
We had a great experience flying with Singapore Airlines.  The service was top notch, the food was delicious, and the flight attendants went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and happy for the entire duration of our flight. 

The total cost of round trip Business Class flights for both of us came out to 263,500 miles and $169.26.   We had to pay 10% adult fare for our son's round trip ticket, which cost $432.66 (children younger than 2 years old pay 10% of full adult fare, which would have cost $4,326.60 if we didn’t book with points).  After flying in Business Class, it’s going to be hard to go back to Economy. 

Spending airlines miles instead of cash helps us keep our money going into our investments.  We are already thinking about where we want to travel next!

Taipei Airport Plaza Premium lounge, Hilton Tokyo Narita hotel, and AEON mall Narita

Our family had a great time visiting Taipei, Taiwan.  We spent 5 days in Taipei eating, exploring and visiting family.  We stayed in the luxury suites of the Taipei Fullerton Hotel East.  I paid for $329.75 for the hotel stay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.  Since I had $274.30 remaining of my annual $300 Chase Travel credit, the net cost of our hotel stay was only $55.45 (329.75 – 274.30)!

For our flight back to Los Angeles, we flew Singapore Airlines Business Class.  Since we could only book Business Class flights from Tokyo to Los Angeles (and not from Taipei), I arranged for us to first fly free from Taipei to Tokyo on Cathay Pacific and then depart from Tokyo to Los Angeles on Singapore Airlines the next day.  This gave us one night to spend in Narita, Japan.

We grabbed free breakfast at our hotel before checking out and heading to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).

Plaza Premium Airport Lounge
Our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards provide us with Priority Pass airport lounge access.  We like to get to airports extra early so that we can enjoy our time relaxing in the lounges prior to our flights.  After checking in our luggage, we headed to the Plaza Premium Lounge at the Taipei airport.    
The Plaza Premium Lounge was extremely clean and quiet.  There are small enclosed booths for people to get private work done.  There are also large open tables for big groups of people to relax and eat.  High speed WiFi is provided for all lounge guests.  
We found a peaceful spot in the corner where we could set our carry on luggage down and enjoy some snacks and a light meal.  
Like most airport lounges, there are plenty of self-serve food and drink options.  
I made myself a latte from the espresso machine.  
This lounge also offered freshly made to order meals, which we really took advantage of. 
I enjoyed the marinated ground pork with rice so much that I ordered it twice.  
My wife enjoyed the vegetable soup with noodle. 
Our short 3.5-hour flight from Taipei to Tokyo on Cathay Pacific cost us 21,000 British Airways Avios and $33.  This was an excellent redemption of miles transferred from our Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  We snagged the bulkhead seats behind Business Class, which offered plenty of legroom to stretch out.  
While our son took his afternoon nap, we got to watch some in flight movies.  
We were served curry chicken for lunch.  
I’m glad we ate in the airport lounge because the airplane economy food wasn’t anything to brag about.      

Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport
Thanks to Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles, we were able to stay for one night at the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport Hotel for free.  I redeemed 11,999 miles for a $119.99 statement credit. 

Once we landed in Tokyo, we gathered our luggage and headed to the hotel bus stop area.  The hotel offers a free shuttle that picks up passengers every 20 minutes.  The Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel was about a 15-minute ride from the airport.  Check in was a breeze and thanks to my Hilton Gold status (complimentary from my previous AMEX Platinum card), we got hooked up with: upgraded room, free premium Wifi access, 2 free breakfast coupons at the Terrace Restaurant, and 2 free drink coupons at the Terrace Bar.
The hotel is shaped like a large C, with very high ceilings in the lobby, as well as a garden and waterfall in the middle. 
The room was nice and spacious.  Hilton provided us with a crib for our son to sleep in.  
The bathroom was large and nice.  
After getting settled in, we were too tired to leave the hotel to get food.  Inside the Hilton hotel, we were craving some Japanese food so we went to the Matsukaze Japanese Restaurant.  I ordered the all you can eat Japanese hot pot and my wife ordered the Japanese beef dish.  We were served freshly prepared sushi.  
The food was good but quite expensive at $95 for the three of us.  Ouch. 

It was nice to spend this last night relaxing and not doing any touristy activities.  After dinner we let our son run around the hotel grounds.  Here is our son checking out the wall of ramen noodles in the hotel convenience store.  
We slept very well in the comfortable and firm queen bed.  

In the morning, we grabbed free breakfast at the Terrace Restaurant (courtesy of having Hilton Gold status).  The breakfast buffet offered plenty of bread options, drink options, and American and Japanese cuisine. 

AEON Mall Narita
We had a few hours to kill prior to our flight and so we headed out to the AEON mall in Narita.  The AEON mall has plenty of shops, restaurants, an arcade and a supermarket.  You can easily spend several hours here shopping, playing and eating. 
Our son enjoyed running around and exploring.  
There are several kid friendly play areas throughout the mall.  He especially loved crawling around and playing with the soft building blocks.  
The Hilton offers a free shuttle service to and from the mall. 

When we got back to our hotel, we gathered our items and then took the free shuttle back to the Tokyo Narita airport.  Our vacation was just about over and we were ready to fly home! 
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