Sunday, March 3, 2013

HND to GMP with Japan Airlines First Class Lounge

HND to GMP with Japan Airlines First Class Lounge
Park Hyatt Seoul
ICN to NRT with Korean Airlines Lounge

Visiting Seoul is a requirement for anyone residing in Japan for an extended period.  The city boasts a wealth of cheap food and siteseeing while being within 2 hours of Tokyo.  At only 10,000 American Airlines award miles each way for a flight between Japan and Korea, this is one of the best mileage redemption values as roundtrip fares regularly run in excess of $500 when connecting from cities such as Sapporo and Hiroshima.

I flew from CTS to HND and transferred from HND's domestic terminal to the international terminal via bus.  Even though JAL and ANA both run 17 flights per day between CTS and HND, HND is actually a painful international transfer point as their international terminal is poorly positioned from its domestic terminals.

HND Japan Airlines First Class Lounge

HND and NRT are the only two airports with JAL First Class lounges, which is a benefit afforded exclusively to Oneworld Emerald members and passengers flying on international first class with a Oneworld carrier.  What's perhaps most intriguing is that JAL doesn't even offer international first class service out of HND, so this lounge primarily serves customers flying in first with American Airlines and British Airways, which are the only two Oneworld carriers that offer first class service out of HND.

The lounge is much smaller than any of the three JAL first class lounges at NRT, which is to be expected as NRT serves a wealth of international first class traffic.

Food offerings were similar to those of the NRT lounges, though the HND lounge gets the edge for offering better sushi and fruits.

Cold food offerings

Hot food offerings and appetizers
Salmon, unagi, and sushi rolls

The lounge lacked NRT's best amenity: free massages.  But since HND doesn't handle as much international traffic as NRT, the lounge was definitely a quieter environment.

HND-GMP flight

Haneda to Gimpo is by far the best way to get between Tokyo and Seoul as both airports are located near the hearts of their respective cities, unlike NRT and ICN, which are over an hour away by bus.  I figured that it wasn't worth paying 20k award miles each way for a 2-hour flight in a recliner business class seat, especially since I already get airport amenities equivalent to that of a first class passenger.

My emergency exit aisle seat, always the best seat in economy

The 767 was definitely an older mock up version with no AVOD.  Armrests were even fitted with cigarette disposers, which is something I haven't seen since the 90s.  This isn't quite the hard product that you'd expect on an international JAL flight, albeit only for 2 hours.

Seafood meal selection surprise
Tuna mayonnaise and one slice of sashimi over bread, topped off with canned fruit

After seeing the meal offering, I was substantially relieved that I had taken advantage of the food in the first class lounge.  My seafood meal pre-selection couldn't have fed a toddler, and it was significantly less appetizing than the standard meal, which consisted of wasabi rice, salmon eggs, and authentic Japanese side items.

Bottom line

Always take advantage of the first class lounge when you're flying in economy.  JAL doesn't seem to like entertaining much on one of their shortest international segments.  Nevertheless, Japan-Korea is still an excellent mileage redemption value.  Oh, and the HND first class lounge only had an inkjet printer and not a laser one, which is something that spoiled first class passengers will loathe.

Next: Park Hyatt Seoul

1 comment:

  1. Way to go after all the unsustainable sushi items.