Tag Archives: lounge

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR

Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330  Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Westin Doha
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


At the risk of flogging a dead horse, SQ really, really, really needs an arrivals lounge*.

*(I know that Solitaire PPS members can use the First Class area of the Silver Kris lounge in SIN as an arrivals lounge, but that’s about it. Everyone else, be they First Class, Business Class or PPS members get nothing)

I get that they’ve probably looked at this before and some beancounter has come to the conclusion that it doesn’t make financial sense for them. And perhaps they’re right- SQ’s onboard product is so head and shoulders above the competition that people are willing to accept a relatively inferior ground experience. In any case, no other airline is operating an arrivals lounge in SIN. Also, I can’t imagine any businessman saying “you know what, I’m going to take United from SFO to SIN instead of SQ because SQ has no arrivals lounge”

Image result for united airlines dreamliner business class
UA’s non-stop SFO-SIN J product
Image result for sq a350 business class
SQ’s non-stop SFO-SIN J product

But an arrivals lounge is such a valuable amenity to business travelers for so many reasons

  • It allows them to maximize rest on the plane by taking breakfast on the ground instead of onboard
  • It allows them to freshen up and shower before heading directly for meetings
  • It provides a nice place to wait for colleagues who may be joining from separate flights
  • It allows people to sync their emails and sort out their admin matters before leaving the airport, rather than huddling in a coffee shop in the public area trying to find a signal

Case in point: the American Airlines arrivals lounge in LHR, which I made a beeline for after clearing immigration and customs.

The lounge isn’t difficult to find. Once you claim your bag and leave the secure area, just look out for the signs for lounges.

The AA lounge is located one floor above the arrivals area. You can take the lift or stairs up.

The pleasant agent checked my boarding pass and welcomed me to the lounge. The AA arrivals lounge isn’t just for AA flyers of course. You can access the lounge if you’re flying into LHR on BA, Qantas or Cathay Pacific long haul first or business class flights, as the access rules below show.

click to enlarge

The first order of business was to get a shower. I was a bit kancheong about this because morning is peak arrival time for transatlantic flights and I imagined there’d be a long queue if I tarried.

My concerns were unfounded, however. The showers area was deserted. I didn’t see a single other soul in the carnivorous corridors

And showers are in plentiful supply, 29 of them in total (sounds like a lot, but BA has an incredible 94 shower suites in its arrivals lounge!)

I should also note that there were no staff on hand to assign cubicles, but given that it was so empty it wasn’t really needed (I did, on the way out, bump into a rather surly staff member who saw me taking photos and asked if I was lost)

I settled on cubicle 27, just because there was no 42 (need to start inserting more Hitchhiker references in these posts…)

The suites are tastefully finished with marble (or marble looking) fixtures. There’s a thoughtfully-provided luggage rack (you’d be surprised how many lounges don’t have these in their showers), wall-mounted hairdryer and large, well lit mirror.

Compare the decor here to that which you’d find in BA’s arrivals lounge and you can see the difference immediately. BA’s showers remind one of a hospital ward

Image result for british airways lounge shower arrivals lhr hospital
photo credit: airportbliss.com

There was plenty of counter space to put your barang barang.

By default, toothbrushes and shaving kits aren’t provided. You have to request for them. I find that an annoyance, although minor. But at least they come in atas packaging

Amenities like cotton buds, mouthwash, shower cap and cotton balls come standard, however.

The coolest feature of the suite by far was the double door that allows you to send your clothes for ironing. Again, this makes so much sense. Business travellers coming off a long haul flight with crumpled clothes can send them off for complimentary pressing and hit the road running.

The double door is behind the entrance door.

Simply open the outer compartment and look! An escape room esque interior.

Hang your clothes there, lock the compartment again and press the button below for service.

Your clothes will be magically picked up, pressed and returned by the time you step out of the shower. And all without the need for human interaction. What a time to be alive.

I was pleased that AA was using the same brand of toiletries here as they were in the Flagship lounge at JFK. 

The shower itself is excellent with good water pressure.

After showering I went to explore the main lounge. It’s not a huge facility to be frank, but there were still plenty of empty seats to be had.

  

But you’re not here for the seats, you’re here for the food!

There are two components to the food options- a buffet, an an ala carte menu.

The buffet has all you need to assemble your own English breakfast

No one breakfasts like the English. Could have used hashbrowns though.

Lighter options like fruit, cereal and pastries are also available.

Where drinks are concerned, you have juices, soft drinks as well as a mini Moet champagne fridge.

Making your own mimosas was never this fun.

The ala carte menu is equally attractive, with freshly cooked items available.

I got the protein pancakes, which were presented very nicely.

Breakfast was had at a leisurely pace- I stayed in the lounge for a total of an hour, yet it never got very crowded (this was approximately 9am)

Finally, there’s a business centre in a corner of the lounge with printing facilities- useful if you need to print any last minute confirmations.

I found the AA arrivals lounge to be a very pleasant place to freshen up and grab a bite before heading out. There’s also a very serious value proposition for business travelers, and if you’re coming to London on CX anytime soon you should definitely check out this lounge.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: American Airlines New Flagship Lounge JFK

Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330  Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Westin Doha
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


I had a choice of flying directly from Boston to London via BA, but chose instead to take a 50 minute flight to JFK just so I could fly AA.

Why? Three reasons.

First, BA’s business class product is, well, bad. With high-density 2-4-2 seating it’s more akin to a dorm than a true business class product.

Image result for british airways business class

And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to this arrangement, even if it’s only temporary during takeoff and landing. Five minutes of eye contact is plenty, thank you.

Image result for british airways business class

But don’t worry! British Airways is launching a new business class product...in 2019.  BA is fortunate that its home base is the golden goose of air traffic. There’s no way it could survive having a product like this otherwise. In the meantime I’d give BA airline a wide berth. Unlike the squeezy 2-4-2 it gives its customers.

Second, JFK-LHR is one of the most lucrative business routes in the world, which means (BA aside) you’ll always find the latest airline cabins and products on these routes.  And why not. It connects two of the world’s most important cities with a high volume of commercial and leisure travel. AA has a 1-2-1 configured full flat business class 777 aircraft plying this route.

photo: AA

Third, and probably related to the second, AA has just opened its spanking new Flagship lounge at JFK. I know, I know. Lounges in the US are normally the very definition of average. My domestic lounge experience so far has been fruit, water/juice dispensers, biscuits, cheese and more fruit. And a paid bar.

But lounges for international customers are a much different proposition, and AA has been investing heavily in its lounge refurbishment program. The first of its new Flagship lounges is JFK, and that’s where I was heading, as soon as I cleared check-in.

Check-in at JFK Terminal 8 was a disaster. There were a grand total of 3 counter positions open for First and Business Class passengers, and a very long line. 2 of the 3 counter positions were having long, drawn out discussions with passengers who had missed their flights. The lady at the third counter disappeared to resolve something or other. Therefore, the priority line didn’t move at all for close to 40 minutes.

People around me were cursing, complaining and grumbling aloud. More than a few missed their flights. Common sense was in short supply amongst the counter staff- was it really worth it to make so many people miss their flights so they could re accommodate two?  In fact, one member of the staff was just waiting on hold on the phone, talking to AA customer service. It was surreal. The situation wasn’t made any better by people trying to join the lines around the side to cut into the queue.

Unfortunately, common sense was also in short supply amongst us, the passengers. For 40 minutes, no one thought of going to fetch the area manager (at least I can claim Asian shyness). Finally, someone did, and the manager pretty much said there was nothing he could do about it.

I arrived at the priority queue 3 hours ahead of time, and finally got attended to at the 2 hour mark. A subsequent complaint email to AA yielded this response.

We are disappointed to learn about the unsatisfactory level of service provided at our ticket counter in JFK as you checked in for your flight with us. Meeting the highest expectations of our customers is our primary goal and we are sorry we failed to deliver the level of service you expect and certainly deserve from us.

In an effort to enhance the service levels and to expedite the check-in process for our passengers, strict adherence to staffing levels and a more equitable allocation of personnel is indeed essential. Your observations with regard to the lines and shortage of agents available for assistance with check in at the counter have been reviewed with the Passenger Service Managers responsible for this area of our operation.

We value your opinion of our service and appreciate your business. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to address your valid concerns and to correct the service issues you mentioned. We look forward to serving you again soon.

In other words-

But enough of that- the new AA Flagship lounge awaited! The lounge is just after security, and confusingly is still labelled “Admirals Club”. FYI, Admirals Club is a different kind of AA lounge that is more akin to a domestic lounge in terms of experience quality. The whole reason AA came up with the Flagship Lounge concept was to try and create a differentiated ground product.

I made it up the lift to reception, where the lady on duty scanned my boarding pass. I asked her if the new flagship lounge had officially opened yet and she said no, but she’d give me a one-time exception and send me there instead of the Admirals lounge.

This confused me- it was well within my access rights to enter the Flagship lounge, as an international business class passenger on AA. I mean, if I were flying business class on a Oneworld partner carrier, or economy with a Oneworld Emerald/Sapphire card then maybe…but I thought my case was as clear cut as they come. So I just nodded and said thanks, but I’m 100% convinced she was wrong about that.

Turning left after reception sends you down a long passageway towards the Flagship lounge.

The official opening definitely hasn’t happened yet, as you can see from the presence of construction tape and cones within the lounge (why would you need cones? Is there heavy vehicular traffic in the corridors?)

That said, completed or not, the lounge is simply stunning. Lots of bright, natural light, full length glass windows giving a great view of the tarmac, classy furniture. Was this really an American airline lounge?

There were also numerous TV watching areas

There are several private work cubbyholes, some with computers and some without. All with powerpoints and USB outlets.

If you can’t snag one of those, don’t worry because there are plenty more individual seats where people can get work done.

If you fancy taking a nap, I believe I stumbled upon the nap room as well. It’s strange because all the lights were off at first, but when I opened the door and stepped inside the motion sensors turned on all the lights. Do you really want that happening in a nap room?

Again, no shortage of outlets. There were outlets in every arm rest, every wall. It was two cars in every garage stuff.

I also noticed a blocked off area that I presume will become the First Class dining room when the Flagship lounge officially opens. I think it’ll sort of be like TPR in Singapore, with a separate reception that only ticketed First Class passengers can get past.

Other more reputable bloggers have already been invited to review the new AA First Class dining experience, and you can read some reports on that here and here.

The common dining area has a combination of high chairs and communal tables

As well as regular chairs and private tables

And something I will just call the long bar (table).

I love the central display they have at the heart of the lounge with the wine and champagne selections. Because that’s where champagne should be. At the center of everything.

Even better, I like that they didn’t go for some cheap “California Champagne” Korbel or even a prosecco. They went with proper champagne. I think Bollinger is a very solid choice for a business class lounge, much more so for a US airline.

There was an assortment of other whites and reds too.

Elsewhere you could find a wide range of hard liquors

And a special make your own cocktail section with instructions on how to do an Old Fashioned.

There was a fancy coffee machine with a digital display.

And a soda dispenser with a digital display. Never has loading your body with sugar been more fun. I’m sure you could, with the right tools, hack that sucker to start playing Doom.

The fridge had beer, juice and soda. You know what told me AA didn’t go cheap on drinks? The fact that the water was in Aqua Panna  and San Pellegrino glass bottles, and that they had cans of San Pellegrino sparkling orange and lemon. No Dasani nonsense here. This was the life.

And to wrap it all up, someone had thrown a pile of veggies into water and called it healthy.

The food selection was just as impressive, with an extensive selection of hot and cold items.

There were two bread baskets and two soups available, one oriental and one western.

A selection of cold noodles, roast beef and other cold cuts.

A platter of grilled veggies plus these interesting little prawn cocktail shooters and lightly seasoned crabmeat with microgreens. Yes, microgreens are a thing now.

For the mains, there was baked salmon and chicken

Mashed potatoes and greens

What impressed me the most wasn’t just the quantity of food, but the quality too. The chicken and salmon were both cooked perfectly, unlike the usual dry chicken and salmon you’d expect from a mass cooked production line style buffet.

Yes, I tried to take Instagram worthy photos. That’s a much better picture of the prawn cocktail shooter and the crabmeat salad with microgreens.

The only fly in the ointment was the unadorned desert section. It looks like the deserts just weren’t ready for prime time. Protip for AA: when in doubt, serve ice cream.

Wifi speeds in the lounge were excellent. It could be because the lounge wasn’t particularly crowded when I visited though. The lounge has very solid work credentials, what with the abundance of power outlets, fast wifi and free flow of champagne.

Afterwards I wanted to check out the bathroom facilities. The lounge has a total of 8 showers, hidden behind a very ordinary-looking door.

I was surprised to see there was no receptionist at the shower area. Normally you’d expect there’d be a person there to assign cubicles, radio the cleaners to come when someone was done and manage a waitlist if needed. Just as well all 8 units were free so I had my pick of the proverbial litter.

I helped myself to cubicle 8. Because I’m crap at photography, I’m going to steal one of Ben’s photos from his Flagship Lounge review.

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photo credit: One Mile at a Time

I was surprised to see the toilet wasn’t…complete. If you know what I mean. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. Does anyone need lumbar support when on the can the way I do?

On the plus side ,the hairdryer had a cool glowing Tron-like light.

The shower amenities are CO Bigelow branded. C.O. Bigelow was founded in 1838 in New York’s Greenwich Village and is the oldest surviving apothecary–pharmacy in the U.S.A, as per their website.

The shower was decent enough, but the water pressure wasn’t as strong as I was used to. Maybe they were still sorting out plumbing issues.

I was genuinely impressed by what was on offer at the new Flagship lounge. It’s certainly above what I’ve come to expect from airlines in the US. Even if you’re not flying with AA, you can access the lounge when you fly with CX, as it has relocated to T8.

Here’s one last vanity photo, which I call harsh backlighting, random woman in corner of shot and rule of thirds impeccably observed.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: JAL Sakura Lounge Narita Review

Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330  Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Westin Doha
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


After landing in Narita, we had about a 9 hour layover until our JAL flight to Los Angeles.

The first order of business was going to the JAL check-in desks to make sure our luggage was transferred properly from MH88 to JL62. The counter staff checked our documentation, confirmed the transfer would be done and issued new boarding passes for the onwards journey.

With that done, the most logical thing next, of course, was to go Japanese fruit hunting.

There are numerous options to get to downtown Tokyo from Narita, but the most economical still remains the Tokyo Shuttle. Our round trip tickets cost JPY 1,900 each (S$23), about half of what it would have cost to take the Airport Limousine or Narita Express. Travel time is almost identical too at slightly over an hour.

I had read a lot about Sembikiya, which is supposed to be the Louis Vuitton of fruits. They have a flagship store near Tokyo station, about a 5-10 minute walk away.

I have to admit the place was smaller than I expected. For some reason, when I read “fruit emporium”, I sort of expected multiple levels of fruity goodness. But in reality the fruit section itself is a compact corner on the ground floor.

The fruits were beautiful, though, and the prices were eyewatering.

I finally settled on a bunch of $20 grapes. I mean, those who had tasted Japanese grapes told me fantastical things about them: about their texture, how they tasted like jelly in your mouth and carried you like Valkyries to Valhalla.

My mum will attest that I am something of a self-proclaimed grape connoisseur. I can tell by looking at grapes whether they will be crunchy or soft or sweet or sour. And my first impressions of these babies wasn’t great.

Then again, I told myself, I am but a philistine when it comes to Japanese fruits. Surely these transcend some other level such that my existing senses are ill-equipped to render pre-judgement.

So I popped one in my mouth and chewed. My colleague did likewise. We sat there chewing. And staring at the grapes. And chewing. Both of us glanced at each other.

I was the first to admit the emperor had no clothes,

She concurred.

By the time we polished off the batch, I had the feeling that either it wasn’t grape season or I’d just picked the wrong thing. Ah well.

The two of us really wanted to try another Japanese musk melon, but with the starting price at Sembikiya upwards of US$100 decided there was no way we were going to pay that. Fortunately, later on that day we went to a Takashimaya and found much more reasonably priced melons, as low as US$30

For lunch we stopped by Sushi Tsubaki.

You won’t find it on a lot of tourist lists but it’s up there with the best, and the lunch set is only JPY 5,400. Really, there’s no need to seek out “the best” sushi or the top rated things on Tripadvisor. You’re just setting yourself up for a lot of queues and disappointments. The baseline standard of sushi in Tokyo is so high it’s hard to go wrong.

Here’s our lunch. The courses are probably not in order.

 

Don’t feel obliged to “upsize” your set to one of the more pricey options- there was plenty of food and we were very satisfied.

It was just our luck that it started pouring and we didn’t have an umbrella. But the owner at Sushi Tsubaki was incredibly nice, he fished out one that someone else left behind and gave it to us. I shall return one day and give him back an umbrella. It would be more symbolic had I given him back the same umbrella, but as I write this AA has lost said umbrella. Sad.

We took the Tokyo Shuttle bus back to Narita and went directly to immigration.

If you’re looking for the JAL Business Class lounge you might be a bit confused when you see the exterior.

The signage outside says FIRST CLASS LOUNGE / SAKURA LOUNGE. It’s only if you know that JAL calls its business class lounge the Sakura lounge that you’ll know this is the right place. We eventually figured that out with some help from the information desk.

The lounge is divided into two segments. Business Class passengers turn to the right and head down the escalator to access Level 2, where the majority of the Sakura lounge is.

I say majority, because confusingly enough, the lounge has a completely separate dining area on Level 3 with a staircase and lift leading up. I said in my review of the MAS Golden Lounge in KUL that there didn’t seem to be any sort of segmentation within that lounge. Well, JAL had gone to the other extreme- the only food available in the lounge was on Level 3, with big signs asking people not to take food out of the dining area. The rest of the lounge on Level 2 was for seating, and although there were drink bars, there wasn’t any food areas.

Before I explored the dining area, however, I wanted to get a shower first.

The shower rooms are on the 2nd floor with the main lounge in the very minimalist “Relaxation Corner”

This area also had a spa, but the complimentary appointments were fully booked for the next 2 hours and we wouldn’t be able to get one before flying.

As was the case in the EVA Air lounge, the JAL showers work on a card basis. You’re issued a keycard that serves to open the door to a particular shower suite.

The suites are nice enough, nothing fancy but clean and dry. Note that you have to request items like a toothbrush and razor (unlike the ANA showers where everything you could possibly need is already waiting for you in the shower)

The bathroom amenities weren’t anything special, sadly. Or even if they were, they didn’t get any branding justice.

It was at this point I realised my waterproof shoes weren’t that waterproof, and my socks were soaking wet. I managed to dry them out somewhat by leaving them facing the hairdryer blowing full blast. I was quite proud of how domestic I was.

After my shower I went to explore the dining area. As mentioned, the dining enclave is separate from the rest of the lounge on the 3rd level.

This is a large-ish area (maybe 100+ seats) with both individual and communal tables.

All tables have power outlets and USB charging ports.

The ambiance of the dining area is nice enough, with full length windows overlooking the tarmac.

In one corner of the dining area was the buffet section, which had a solid selection of hot and cold items.

Hot items included Japanese hamburger patties

Dumplings of the pork and prawn variety

Simmered beef and onions

And amazing, amazing Japanese rice. I cannot emphasize enough how obsessive Japanese are about rice, and I for one am glad. Rice is at the heart of any dish, and I’m the kind who boycotts restaurants because they can’t get the rice to water ratio right. No worries here, as the rice was fluffy and spot on.

There were a few garnish stations as well

And one Japanese and one Western soup.

There was the usual assortment of European pastries that the Japanese seem to love

And the ubiquitous salad bar

Where drinks are concerned, there were juices, milk, isotonic drinks (for whatever reason), sodas

And a selection of white, red and sparkling wines. No champagne.

I got myself a seat at one of the communal tables.

The food was very high quality. However, the internet was not. It was even slower than the MAS lounge. For a country like Japan, this was totally unacceptable.

I wasn’t sure about what the policy in the States would be towards fresh fruit, so I decided it was better to split the melon we bought from Takashimaya now.

I approached the staff and asked if they could help us cut the melon, only to be politely rebuffed. I was confused at first, then realised that the lounge was probably subject to some sort of food hygiene licensing standard, and couldn’t serve any food they didn’t themselves prepare or source. Or maybe they just didn’t want everyone seeing it and wanting some.

So I got a butter knife from the buffet and did it myself. Sure enough, as soon as I sliced it, a Japanese man approached me and inquired where he could get a melon.

The melon itself, however, was disappointing. I suspect it wasn’t ripe enough, because the flesh wasn’t soft and sweet like the previous few melons I had.

Melon finished, I headed back down to explore the rest of the 2nd floor. It wasn’t unduly exciting- there was a lot of seating, some drinks counters and nothing much else.

If you need to get some work done, there’s a fully-equipped business centre with printing and fax facilities. Apparently faxes are still a thing in Japan. Who knew.

As mentioned, there isn’t any food on the 2nd floor, but there’s a good selection of drinks including everyone’s favourite automatic beer pouring machines.

I think the biggest question for me would be: how does this lounge measure up to the ANA lounge?

ANA has a slight edge over JAL in that it has a counter that does freshly prepared udon and rice bowls (I guess freshly-prepared might not be the right term to use insofar as all the food is probably already cooked, the chefs just portion it out for you), has fully-equipped shower rooms (vs JAL’s arrangement where you have to request for items) and much faster wifi.

However, JAL has complimentary spa treatments (if you can get a slot), and call me crazy, but I think their rice is better than ANA. And as we know, that’s all that matters.

I left the lounge and headed to the boarding gate early, eager to see JAL’s Skysuite product.