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Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
18Trip End May 01, 2012
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United Airlines Flight 78
Narita International Airport (NRT), Tokyo, Japan to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, NJ
Boeing 777-200 N78001 Gordon Bethune
Seat 8E (United BusinessFirst)
Distance: 6,724 miles
Duration: 12 hr 55 min
On this flight, I was able to secure an upgrade to BusinessFirst with a Global Premier Upgrade award. The BusinessFirst cabin on this 777 features lie flat seats and a large monitor for the Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) entertainment system. Before departure, flight attendants offer a beverage service and pass out an amenity kit.
After boarding is completed, the plane is pushed back from the gate and heads to Runway 16R/34L for departure. Once airborne, flight attendants prepare for the dinner service. On today's flight, there is a selection of beef tenderloin, herb chicken, grilled bass, or the Japanese selection, and I choose the Japanese selection. The first course is a selection of appetizers, including a pumpkin-coconut soup, sushi, and salad. The Japanese selection includes two courses, the first of which includes a small sampling of salmon roll and grilled chicken with perilla, and scallop with cod roe. The second course includes a collection of small dishes such as simmered chicken, sauteed pork and potatoes, and miso soup. I like how the Japanese selection includes a variety of dishes of smaller portions instead of the Western style entrees with a single dish. The Japanese pay great attention to detail and the steamed rice is wrapped as a small box. The dessert course includes a selection of cheeses and a made to order ice cream sundae with custom toppings. This is one of the most memorable meal services I've had on an airplane.
Satisfied after the excellent dinner, I watched a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory on the monitor as we cross the Pacific Ocean. Finally, I decide to move the seat to the lie-flat position and take a nap. Amazingly I was able to sleep uninterrupted for over 5 hours, which I haven't been able to do on previous long-haul flights (the lie-flat seats made the difference). Shortly after I wake up, flight attendants prepare for the pre-arrival service. The first course includes fruit and a crossiant and the main course includes either a tomato omelette, cereal, or the Japanese selection. I opt for the Japanese selection again and am offered a collection of dishes including sardine with cod roe, vermicelli with chicken, braised saury, Japanese omelette, and miso soup. Another delicious meal, too bad United doesn't serve this on domestic US flights.
As the meal service concludes, flight attendants prepare for landing at Newark. After landing, we deplane and head to the CBP hall for immigration clearance; the lines are long even for US passport holders. After claiming our luggage, my parents greet us at the arrivals lobby and my sister heads back home with them. I recheck my luggage for the final leg of this trip, a flight back to Houston.
Jet-lagged and groggy from the 13 hour flight, I head to the United Club and find that it is overcrowded due to all the international flights departing around the same time. After an hour, I head over to Gate 74 and board the flight to Houston.
United Airlines Flight 1205
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, NJ to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Houston, TX
Boeing 737-700 N39728
Seat 2A (United First)
Distance: 1,400 miles
Duration: 3hr 54 min
After a slight delay in boarding, I take my seat in the first class cabin (upgraded with the same award as the Tokyo-Newark GPU) and the flight attendants offer a pre departure beverage. We departed Newark on Runway 4R and banked to the left heading west as the sun was setting. I fell asleep right after takeoff and woke up just in time for the snack plate, which consisted of grilled chicken and pasta. After an uneventful flight, we landed in Houston on time and I drove back home arriving just before midnight. Starting the morning on the other side of the world in Tokyo, I was finally back home after a long day of travel.
The trip has been a memorable experience for me, as I crossed the Pacific Ocean from the eastern side in San Francisco and stopped in Hawaii, Micronesian islands, Guam, and finally reached Tokyo. While I enjoyed visiting all the stops along the trip, one of the most memorable aspects was flying the Island Hopper and approaching the small sliver of land on Majuro Atoll.