4th August 2014 at 14:00 #586638
Anonymous4th August 2014 at 14:00 #586639
The business class reservation was made online in March 2014 for the flight in June 2014 using united.com.
I arrived at Tokyo Narita Terminal 1 South at 1.45pm for the 4.55pm departure. I had tried to check-in 24 hours earlier using the online system but as I have a UK Passport and a temporary US work visa, the system always rejects me and tells me to see an Agent at the Airport. I did this and was quickly processed.
I was then directed to the priority security which was completely empty so once I had gone through immigration, I was airside within 5 minutes.
United has a huge Lounge at Narita. The First Class Lounge is accessed via an elevator, whilst the Business Class Lounge is on the ground floor. There are two drink/food stations in Business Class and unlike their US Lounges, this one was entirely self-service with everything complementary. There was even hot food, though not on the scale of some of the European Lounges.
No announcements are made in the Lounge but there are several screens in order to check on the flight. Once the ‘Go to Gate’ message was displayed, I made my way to the Gate which was about 5 minutes away.
United board their passengers by 'groups' and at Chicago they have separate lanes for each group. This does seem a very efficient way of boarding rather than a scrum via seat number. As I was travelling in Business Class, I was in Group 1 and commenced boarding and took my seat, 15B on the upper deck. Once seated, I was offered a drink of choice from the bar and had a nicely chilled glass of the De Venoge Bleu Select Brut NV Champagne.
Amenity Kits and Menus were handed out and the Purser then took the Dinner orders.
The United 747-400 Business Class has 20 seats on the upper deck and is configured 2-2 with the usual front and rear facing seats. There are a further 32 Business Class seats on the main deck in two cabins, though 8 of ease are alongside the galley so are usually avoided if possible.
Whenever I fly on the 747-400, I always try to obtain a seat upstairs as it always feels much more private with really good service. As both toilets on this aircraft are at the front, it is probably wise to avoid the seats nearby.
We pushed back on time and after a short taxi we were airborne for the 11 hour 20 minute flight.
After about 20 minutes, the Captain switched off the seat belt sign and the flight crew began their service by offering hot towels before serving pre-dinner drinks along with the customary warm nuts.
The Dinner menu was as follows:
Appetizer: California sushi roll and smoked duck with pineapple-chile sauce.
Served with cucumber, tomatoes and croutons with a choice of creamy garlic dressing or sesame vinaigrette.
Mains: Tenderloin of Beef
Breast of Chicken
Hawaiian-style Fillet of Sea Bass
To Finish: International Cheese Selection served with grapes and Port
Ice cream with choice of topping
In addition, there was a Japanese alternative. This included appetizers of vermicelli in tomato cup, freshwater crab, tofu with sea urchin and jelly-wrapped white bean paste. This was supplemented with a main course of steamed cod with kelp, tofu, shiitake mushrooms and spinach, simmered eggplant, marinated radish and minced port, vinegared eel, cucumber and radish, miso soup with vegetables, steamed rice and Japanese-style pickles.
The white wines that were served to complement the meal were as follows:
• Rodney Strong Sonoma County Chardonnay 2011
• Au Bois d’Ardennes Pouilly-Fume 2012
• Fouassier Pere & Fils “Benoit Fouassier” Sancerre 2012
The following red wines were available:
• Bodega Piedra Negra Alta Coleccion Malbec 2011, Mendoza
• Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
• Chateau Argadens 2009 Bordeaux Superieur.
United has an excellent AVOD system so I watched a couple of films, before reclining the seat into a flatbed before a really good sleep. Being 6’4”, space is always an issue but the space on the United bed was one of the best. I was in an aisle seat as I like to move around and I was very fortunate that the person sitting next to me only exited his seat once shortly before landing. Having the ability the access the aisle unimpeded will always be a selling point for me.
About two hours before landing, we were served a choice of the following:
• Herb Omelette: Chunky tomato sauce, potatoes and pork loin.
• Chicken Teriyaki: Steamed rice, braised burdock and konnyaku, green beans and egg roll.
• Cereal and Banana.
These were served with a fresh fruit appetizer, yoghurt or savoury salad and fresh breads.
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We arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and quickly disembarked though we had a long walk to reach immigration in Terminal 5. We queued for only about 5 minutes before we were able to clear Immigration though we had to wait about 10 minutes for our luggage to arrive. As the flight had arrived on time and the immigration queue was non-existent, we were really pleased to be able to exit the airport so quickly.
In summary, a very comfortable long haul flight with United, with excellent service on the upper deck. The seat is superb and highly recommended for a long-haul flight though I believe that those airlines that offer access to the aisle for all will be a personal choice for me in future, if available. The Narita United Club was an improvement on the Clubs available in the US with enhanced choice of food and drink. However, on this flight there were no negative points at all. Well done United!
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