Monday, September 3, 2012

Part 2: Tokyo to Taipei in business class

This is Part 2 of a multi-city trip to Asia last October.
Part 1: San Francisco to Tokyo
Tokyo to Taipei
Taipei to San Francisco

One of the benefits allotted on United Airlines award bookings is the addition of a free stopover.  Naturally, I chose Taiwan as my stopover due to my relatives.  So after touring Tokyo and the East Coast of Japan for 10 days, which included formidable stays at the Tokyo Park Hyatt and the Kanazawa Crowne Plaza, it was time to head over to Taiwan on ANA business class.
~66 lbs: heavy checked bag filled with gifts for my relatives.  I would have had to pay an overweight baggage (>22 kg) fee had I not been flying in business class.
ANA Lounge @ HND
Like entering a heavenly gate, the name says it all.
All travelers flying in first and business class on a Star Alliance carrier are invited to the ANA Lounge.  ANA is known for its international lounges that trump all lounges in the U.S.  The challenge here is whether to eat a good portion of noodles and sushi rolls in the lounge or to save my appetite for the plane.  If I were flying with a U.S. carrier, this would be a no brainer since U.S. carriers are infamous for lousy food selections.  Nevertheless, the ANA lounge food was too attractive to pass on, so I dug right in.
Too good to pass up
Inari, rolls, and onigiri
Soba soup
Since HND is the busiest airport in Japan and the second busiest airport in Asia behind Beijing Capital, you'd expect the lounge to be filled to capacity for a weekday.  But as you can see, it was quite the contrary as ANA doesn't believe in sacrificing seating space:
As if the food and seating weren't already good enough, the lounge also offered stunning views of the HND tarmac and the city of Tokyo.
HND to Taipei Songshan (TSA)
For short to medium-haul intra-Asia routes, carriers are known to skimp out on amenities and seating.  This definitely wasn't the case with ANA for this 4-hour flight.  With a 60" seat pitch and a video screen larger than the one on my LAX-HND route, these seats rank amongst the best for intra-Asia business class travel.
I think she's jealous.
When I viewed the menu options, I knew that I had ruined my appetite in the lounge.  As usual, I opted for the Japanese meal set.
By far superior to the lounge food; I should have known better.

This flight marks perhaps the only time that I haven't been able to finish my meal within the past 20 years, and I didn't even ask for seconds.  Amazing how a short-haul flight can have better food than a long-haul flight, but this is likely due to better catering at HND than at LAX.

While this flight segment was a complimentary addition to my award itinerary, it would have normally cost 10k and 20k award miles for economy and biz, respectively.  Normally, I would say that it's not worth expending twice as many award miles to sit in biz class instead of economy for a 4-hour flight.  But as always, there are exceptions to the rule and this is definitely one of them.  ANA never ceases to amaze me with their quality of service and food when slated against U.S. carriers. This route has also got to be one of the most convenient non-stop intra-Asia routes in terms of airport location.  HND is twice as close to the center of Tokyo as NRT, and TSA is in the drop dead center of Taipei, making your travel effortless.  If you have 20k United miles to spare, save them for this.

Next up: Taipei to San Francisco in business class

1 comment:

  1. that food looks almost as good as the stuff in nijiya's discount deli case.