Japan 2018 – Seattle to Tokyo Narita

Monday 25th July 2018

It’s Monday morning, my alarm goes off and I have a needy cat annoying me. Must be the weekend, well not today. Today it is vacation. I get to spend some time taking a trip that my wife and I have been waiting to take for almost 4 years. The day was finally here, but yet I was excited but not overly so. Which is strange, but not really.

A lot to get accomplished around the house today before taking my first flight of the year and the first in at least 7 months. The morning went by quickly but not without its hiccups. I forgot to take a jacket to keep warm if needed (woops… hopefully won’t be a problem) and pretty sure i forgot to arm the house alarm. The ride to the airport was easy and the lyft took mere moments to arrive.

After making our way from our drop off point to check in, the wait took a few moments and we were checked in. It was super simple and our bags were right on the money in regards to weight. We took our boarding passes and headed off to security where we had no issue thanks to clear. Well that was meant to be the thing, however this is where I started to get hassled. Clear was stating that I did not have a Pre Check boarding pass. However I had one printed and a mobile boarding pass that both stated the same. After being verified by Clear they then dragged me in front of a TSA rep to get the same done (which is not meant to be the way) just to prove I am Pre Check (which I already knew).

So once into the line for the security I get stuck behind the family that doesn’t know what they are doing but I am stripped down ready to go in moments and then… wait. More waiting, lots of waiting. Finally get through and my Camera bag gets pulled to the side. No word all I hear is “Bag Check”. Just dandy! Doesn’t help that there was like no TSA agent listening to anyone so I had to wait over 10 minutes for someone to finally get to my bag. I waited more for TSA today for a bag check than I did at check in and clear. How is that even possible.

For my bag check they wanted to check my camera lenses apparently. Which I wasn’t aware was a thing for precheck. The guy working it was not that great either and I didn’t want him damaging anything. He asked me how to open the bag and I told him “I would prefer to do that” and he finally let me do that. He went for the lenses and I told him he better be careful with that or the TSA will be footing the bill for new equipment. Soon enough I was on my way and they still couldn’t find a complaint card to make a complaint about the poor service today. So that was convienient.

Next stop was the lounge, after a breif stop by work for a little bit. The Club at SEA was the required lounge to visit today and this was my first real visit. Holy Crap is this place small. Like REALLY small. This lounge is meant to have all the people who are flying international flights, which is crazy. It was like an endless stream of people coming into the lounge and it was rough to find a seat. The offerings were limited but I did not really want that much to be honest.

I made sure to relax a little, try to get into the holiday mood. I was dissapointed that onboard the flight today I wasn’t going to be able to sit with Heidi and to add insult to injury, an aisle seat because the true windows were taken. Not exactly my favorite way to start a vacation. Soon enough we escaped the lounge and headed off to the gate to get ready for boarding.

All Nippon Airways – NH177
Seattle Tacoma to Tokyo Narita
Boeing 787-8 (JA814A)
Business Class – Seat 7K

Boarding: 1250 (Gate S12)
Push Back: 1318
Take Off Roll: 1339 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1421
Touch Down: 1505 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down: 1511 (Gate: 208/29B)

Boarding came soon enough after what felt like a mountain of children boarded. I swear about ⅓ of the plane was preboarded. Thank god I was not down the back of the bus today because holy crap would that suck. Heidi and I were in the first half dozen or so Business Class passengers onboard and that was when we waved good bye to each other. When I got to my seat the person in 9A was settling in and he said hello, so I said Hi back. I let him know that if he didn’t want his seat to let me know, I would be happy to swap.

Then he said something I never thought I would be happier to hear. “My wife, she is in 7K, will you swap with her”. Win win on both sides!! They get to be together, and I get my window seat. Holy crap this would be the luckiest thing the whole day. I gladly swapped and also made sure to thank them several times over. Every staff member I spoke to after that started to thank me for swapping so the couple could be together. I was very happy to let them know it was not that big of a deal.

I got situated as the rest of the plane came walking past my seat and soon enough we were pulling off the gate. As we started to get ready to taxi all the staff lined up, bowed and waved to everyone. The traditional ANA departure… always a site to behold. The long taxi line out to the North end of the runway and as we went past I noticed two fire trucks having water cannon practice. Fun times!

We took off to the South and turned towards the west and back to the northwest as we started the long haul westward toward Asia. The service took a long time to get started and they handed out the wrong menu to begin with. Which must have been awkward… but still, I wouldn’t need to keep it because it would be the same on the way back. Since the service was so slow i started to watch the first of many movies for this trip to ensure that I kept myself entertained.

Lunch finally began with the canapes and drinks. Because we were leaving the USA it would have to be the western options. I would keep the Japanese options for the departure in two weeks time. So the western menu started with a Cajun prawn thing and some corn soup. The soup was delicious and Heidi agreed because I recieved a message through in seat messaging to confirm it. The main I chose was the beef and expecting it to come out tough when it was actually deliciously tender. The sauce was pretty spicy so that wasn’t what I expected. Finished off the meal with some cheese, the japanese dessert (because I didn’t feel like cheesecake) and some coffee.

After lunch I relaxed the seat back and kept watching my movies. After finishing up the 2nd movie it was time for some more coffee and some trip report writing. Trip report, coffee and a movie, felt like the good old days! I didn’t want to eat all of the food on this flight, it just isn’t that long and with the late start, well I wasn’t that hungry. So i decided to have some of the lighter dishes for the 2nd meal. Ramen, Ice cream and some fruit maybe? I dunno… too many choices.

It had been a pretty easy comfortable flight, getting away in Business class is always fun right? This could be the last long haul flight for a while in the front as well, So I would need to enjoy it.

The rest of the flight went relatively smoothly. As I watched the third movie around two and a half hours out they switched on all the lights (rather than using moodlighting) and got everyone up. It was a tad shocking but it was ok, since I had not slept anyway and kept a good amount of light trying to come through my windows anyway.

As the movie progressed and began to finish I started to choose something for the final service. I didn’t really feel like eating much as it was only a few hours since I had just eaten so I decided to eat the Ippudo ramen (which has always been a good choice on ANA). They did not dissapoint with a nice bowl (albeit not the special ippudo bowl) of noodles and broth for …. Dinner? Or was it lunch again? I dunno… so confused.

We started our descent relatively early but as with any approach into Tokyo they warned of turbulence. Thankfully it was not as bad as that night back in 2009 when it was the roughest approach I have ever had in my life. This time thankfully there was a few lumps and bumps but nothing out of control. As we approached Narita it was the usual routes past Narita township, the AEON mall and then over the hotels like the Hilton and touching down. We were a good 30+ minutes ahead of schedule.

What I didn’t expect on arrival into Narita was a bus gate. Usually the USA flights all get gates in the 50s, as they usually turn the plane right back around. Apparently not us today as we were headed to “Gate” 208. This would be only the second time I have had a bus gate in Narita and that was back in 2013 on the way back from Hong Kong. We pulled up, the crews took a while getting the steps up to the plane and then to hand over paperwork. But finally we were let off the plane and I was the second person off. You better believe I am going to step down and take some photos!

A quick bus tour around the ramp and we were let off at Gate 29B, the bus stop that would let us up into Immigration and Customs. This would be the real battle as you try to get a spot in what is usually the really long line. Today though both Heidi and I breezed through. There was no wait and all and in fact we were both helped in seconds. Last time we came to visit the process took almost 45 minutes for customs, today, no more than 3. We waited longer for our bags to come out than for immigration and customs combined! What I had scheduled to take at least an hour took around 20 minutes!