Delta to Tokyo – 777LR BusinessElite Review Los Angeles to Haneda

by on June 15, 2011 · 21 comments

in Delta, Tokyo, Trip Reports

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Since my JFK to LAX flight got in almost 45 minutes early, I had time to swing by the LAX SkyClub and pick up a couple 300 Amex point certificates. Before  hitting the lounge, I took a look at the departures screen to check the status of my 1:10am flight to Tokyo Haneda, but was surprised when it wasn’t listed on the screen. Oh crap – was it canceled?

Uh oh - where'd my flight go!?

I headed to the lounge because they’d be able to give me the best information and the agent confirmed the flight was leaving on-time, but from terminal 6, which was connected via an underground passageway. I am definitely going to recommend that Delta include terminal 6 flights on the flight status screen to save people the momentary panic that their flight has been canceled. I’ve always flown into their main terminal, so I didn’t even realize they used an auxiliary one.

The LAX SkyClub was recently remodeled, so it’s still in tip-top shape and is one of my favorite SkyClubs. There is a business area in the front of the lounge and a large open-seating area in the back, with decent plane-watching views. The food offerings are the same veggies, hummus, olives, and cheese and crackers, but the beverages (including wine and spirits) are self-serve. The only disappointing part of my SkyClub visit was that the internet was down. This has never happened to me before, but Boingo was also down, so I assume it was a network issue. Nevertheless it was frustrating, but I was still able to relax for 20 minutes before heading over to terminal 6.

Front of the SkyClub looking back

Food/beverage area

Self-serve wine

Good beers on tap

Self-serve spirits

From the Skyclub, I took the elevator to the underground level and walked through a long hallway to Terminal 6. My first sight while taking the escalator to the terminal was exposed insulation in the ceiling, which was a little jarring. I know my home airport JFK Terminals 2/3 are in poor shape, but this was a whole other level of disrepair. The terminal itself was under construction it seemed and being past midnight, all shops were closed. Luckily I got there just as boarding was about to begin, so I didn’t need to kill any time in the terminal. BusinessElite boarding started first and I was soon on my way onto my first ever Delta 777LR.

I much prefer the underground rave tunnel at DTW

Um, am I in the right place?

Getting ready to board the big girl

I chose seat 7A for this flight on the advice of Flyertalkers. This is the last seat in the first BusinessElite cabin and as such, there is extra room and a more private feeling. I got a class of sparkling wine as I got settled and by the time the boarding doors closed, about 2/3 of the cabin was full.

My throne ... err seat for 11.5 hours

View down the aisle

Welcome gifts - amenity kit and slippers

Amenity kit with Korres products

While I generally don’t eat dinner at 2am PST (5am NY Time), as a full-time blogger it’s my duty to try out all aspects of a flight. I had eaten a steak on JFK-LAX, but that was 6 hours earlier, so I actually was starting to get moderately hungry. Since I was flying to Japan, I decided to go with the Japanese meal choice, which was a Japanese Chicken Skewer with scallop, boiled shrimp, seasonal greens and fishcake, with an entree of Salmon Misoyaki with steamed rice, pickles and miso soup.

Food choices

My selection - Japanese


Red wine

White wine

I was appreciative of the quick service once we got airborne, because I wanted to get a full night’s rest on this 11.5 hour flight. We were scheduled to arrive at Haneda at 4:50am, so I figured I’d be on a somewhat normal sleep schedule if I slept for the duration of the flight.

The first course was pretty substantial and I frankly would have been fine with it being my meal. The chicken skewers were as good as a piece of airline chicken on a stick can get (with a nice soy glaze). The most impressive was probably the scallop, which I was very skeptical of to begin with. However, it ended up being tender and not rubbery, like I’ve experienced with prior scallops on planes.

Is this the entree?!

Good stuff

The main salmon course came out and it took me a minute to figure out the presentation, but it seemed to be pan fried with the skin still on. The skin was not crispy as expected, but the dish was enjoyable – with a nice miso/soy sauce and fresh vegetables.

Missing the miso soup - it came after I took the picture

Weird looking, but good tasting, salmon

The dessert options were either a cheese and fruit plate or ice cream sundae. I opted for the cheese and fruit, so I could at least eat some fruit and it ended up being the same tray as the JFK-LAX flight, which was a good thing because the fruit was fresh and the cheeses smooth (I personally do not care for extra sharp cheeses). I did however flag down the flight attendant who was going around the cabin making customized sundaes. While I passed this time around, I ended up getting one on my return flight, so stay tuned for my thoughts on the final product.

Fruit and cheese tray

Ice cream party on a tray

After dinner I was pretty exhausted and decided to take my 2mg Lunesta and get ready for sleep. I changed into my British Airways First Class pajamas (which is my favorite in-flight sleeping outfit) – tip: the lavatory in the middle of the BE cabins is about twice the size of the forward lavatories, so it’s a much better place to change.

Once I was back at my seat I pressed the “bed” button and in about 15 seconds I had a 180 degree lie-flat bed. There was an empty seat across the aisle, so I ended up stealing the pillow and blanket and putting one blanket down on the flatbed as my mattress pad and once my eyemask was on and earplugs in, I stretched out and enjoyed my flat cocoon and the distant whine of the 777 engine working hard to get us across the Pacific. I’m 6’7″ and I could lie totally flat without having to worry about my feet going into the aisle. Before long, I was off into sleeping pill enhanced dreamland and enjoyed a solid 7 hours of sleep.

My bed with two blankets and pillows

View of the aisle while lying down

Seat controls

I awoke about an hour and a half from arrival, so I decided to just stay up and get breakfast. I generally find eggs on planes to be disgusting, so I opted for the granola breakfast, which ended up being pretty substantial. I’m used to airlines half-assing breakfast, so I was happy to get good granola, yogurt and ripe fruit (besides the grapes, which I always find unappealing on planes).

Breakfast of flying champions

The seat faces the aisle, so watching the window requires you to twist your neck, which I found a little bit annoying. However, the scene outside the aircraft was worth it. We made a smooth approach to Haneda and the pilot gently glided us onto the runway as the sun was rising. Japan doesn’t participate in daylight savings, so the sun rises around 5am and sets around 7pm, which at first helped me to adjust to the time zone, but eventually I would end up being exhausted by 8pm.

Pacific sunrise

Overall, my first 777LR experience was pretty solid. The service was attentive and friendly, although the crew knew I was there to review the product, so take that for what it’s worth. The food and comfort of the seat were better than expected and I remember thinking, “I’d totally be comfortable taking this to Sydney” (which is one of the other routes Delta flies this model of plane). Now, Delta just needs to release more 150,000 mile roundtrip awards to Sydney and I’d be a happy camper!

My first 777LR

To read about my arrival at Haneda and first day in Tokyo, click here.

Full disclosure: My flights and hotels were comped by Delta and Hyatt respectively but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

This is one installment in my series on my trip to Tokyo. You can find my past posts on the trip below, including:

My Trip to TokyoMy Initial Thoughts on Tokyo

Tokyo Day One Part One – Arrival at Haneda, Meiji Shrine, and Harajuku

Tokyo Day One Part Two – Shibuya, Park Hyatt Spa and Tokyo Hands

Tokyo Day Two Part One – Walking Around Shinjuku and Tokyo Hands

Tokyo Day Two Part Two – A Tale of Three Very Different Dining Experiences

Day Three Part One - Inside Access to Tsukiji Fish Market and Tuna Auction

Tokyo Day Three Part Two – Sushi at 6:30am, Tempura and a Night Out in Shinjuku

Tokyo Day Four – Jetlag Blues, Relaxing at the Park Hyatt and Hanging at the Delta SkyClub at Narita

Delta to Tokyo – 757 BusinessElite Review – JFK to LAX

Delta to Tokyo 777LR BusinessElite Review LAX to Haneda

Delta to Tokyo – 747 Upper Deck BusinessElite and Economy Comfort Review Narita to JFK

Park Hyatt Tokyo Review

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Sergey

    Very good review! I have one question – I’m flying in business class on award ticket to Prague on Delta and then to Kiev on Chezh Airlines. Will I have an access to business lounges during my layovers (in ATL, Prague and in Kiev, final destination)? If yes, does this rule work if I fly in coach on some segments? My return flight will be from SVO to PRG on Aeroflot in coach (since no business seats were available), then from PRG to JFK on Delta in business.

  • The Points Guy

    @Sergey- you will have access to the lounge on all legs of an international business class ticket (whether award or paid). You may have to show them you are on a transatlantic business ticket at SVO, but they should let you in the lounge

  • capitalsfn

    I managed an opp-up to 6D on the way to Haneda last Thursday. Wasn’t expecting that as a lowly Silver! Definitely a nice experience, though I wasn’t blown away by my steak.

    I actually managed to get upgraded from MSP – LAX as well, but struck out on the way home on Sunday/Monday morning. Maybe I’ll have more luck as a Gold, now that I’ve flown the required international flight to get to Gold. I wonder when that (and the double miles for flying 6 segments) will post.

    Thanks for the heads up on the HND fares, what a great trip!

  • CrankyScott

    I am flying this route on Friday, will be my first lay flat Delta experience. Appreciate your great review so I know what I have to look forward to ;-) Thanks for taking time to document things.

  • Nick

    Ditto on the low mileage awards to Sydney! I saved my miles for three and a half years to book two biz tickets for me and my wife from MCO-SYD in November and was actually thrilled to get each for 240,000. Needless to say, we’re stoked for the trip, and this review only enhanced our anticipation!!!

    (On an unrelated note, I’m currently sitting in BHM after getting diverted from ATL. Those summer thunderstorms and their impact on air traffic are some of the only things I dislike about flying Delta!)

  • rmerc

    i agree with everything you wrote. i just did the LAX-HND leg (still here) and the LAX lounge is awesome. i got to enjoy the economy comfort for a discount $60 thanks to GM status which i started to focus on since April. they posted the double miles right away and my DL account is starting to be respectable to earn a few flights this year.

  • 2mg on FT

    capitalsfn June 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I managed an opp-up to 6D on the way to Haneda last Thursday. Wasn’t expecting that as a lowly Silver! Definitely a nice experience, though I wasn’t blown away by my steak.

    How did you get an opp-up? I’m flying later this week and would love one of those!

  • capitalsfn

    Re: the op-op, I just showed up and they called me up front and told me that they upgraded me. I was very pleased, particularly after a groggy hike through the endless white tunnel (that thing is super eery. i think there are automatically closing fire doors in it too, so they have signs about not separating yourself from your family around where the doors close. very creepy). They had a whole stack of tickets for people; it looks like they upgraded a lot of us for that flight.

    My understanding is that operational upgrades (op-ops) only occur when they oversell the main cabin and need to make room, so they’ll upgrade people based on status or whatever. I should have checked the coach section to see how full it was, but I was going to take advantage of the biz class and get as much sleep as I could. Coming back, they upgraded some people as well, but I wasn’t one of them. Coach did seem full for my return.

    Best of luck getting the upgrade, but everything I’ve read makes it sound like its pure luck. I’m sure status comes into play once they have to upgrade people, but you still need to have the oversold situation first.

  • 2mg on FT

    Well, I had the opposite experience. I paid for the new EC seats and they were throwing everyone into them (for free). I would have happily given up my EC seat for Biz Elite :-) Keeping my fingers crossed for the return, but my HND is WIDE open so I’m sure they’ll keep me right where I’m at!

  • Usachan

    I agree, the full flat bed is a nice place to sleep solidly on board, I flew SIN to NRT on the same aircraft in the past. Thank you for the great review. How did you get the amenity kit? Did you ask the cabin attendant for the kit? I am hoping to read the additional wonderful review on your return trip (HND – LAX) in near future. I am interested to know the accomodation at Haneda in addition to the meal service on the flight.

    Thank you.

  • LA Diamond Guy

    LAX is my base as a Diamond traveler. Let me leave a comment in the hope that a Delta exec may read this comment. First off, LAX Sky Club has the least customer service oriented staff lineup at the check-in counter in the country (Boston is the best in my opinion). There is one gentleman in particular that is there consistently in the mornings during the week who is persistently angry at the world. Delta should literally record these folks to ensure customer service quality and standards are upheld. A rude Sky Club agent is the worst way to start a travel experience with Delta.

    Let me add that the tunnel between terminals 5 & 6 is just spooky. The Delta Sky Club should offer a transportation service for members…I have walked it many times and never seen a soul. Terminal 6 is an absolute embarrassment and chaotic (no PA, no Delta flat panel displays, etc)….at least they are trying to remodel it.

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  • EF

    I flew Delta BE from Haneda to DTW in early March just days before the earthquake. We had the old style seats (I believe it’s the 777ER which has ex-NWA seat arrangement) which I specifically chose over the LR, because there were 3 of us, one a minor, and we wanted the 3 center seats.

    Our cabin was 80% empty, and so was the Economy Cabin, which I put down to the newness of the route. Water bottles, slippers and that same red cylindrical amenity kit you had were already in place upon boarding. We had a friendly crew and great service, partly probably because we were so few passengers. (First time this happened to me in BE: FA was walking around with a fruit basket, asked my young daughter if she wanted an apple, and then went away to cut it up before coming back with apple slices neatly arranged on a plate.) Although the seats were the standard “old” style business seats which don’t quite go flat, I love Delta’s new full size pillows and soft duvets, and with an extra pillow from across the aisle it was very comfortable. I noticed one or two FA’s were able to nap discreetly on empty seats too. I thought the food was greatly improved from past BE experience. I remember in particular the granola was pretty good, and there were several kinds of tea to choose from.

    I wish I could give rave reviews to all my Delta BE flights but this flight was more the exception than the rule. Just days before, a male FA in BE, during meal service, had asked me “You gonna eat?” before “dumping” my meal on my tray.

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  • Dealzon

    I’m 10/11 on upgrades thus far this year on Delta as a Gold. Much much lighter flying this year (in retrospect, wasted the MQM a bit by moving to Gold, should have just rolled them over).

    I think as most people would tell you, if you have flexible schedule its relatively easy to pick the route/flights that aren’t elite heavy.

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  • Carlos Solivan

    LAX Sky Club sucks, and so does Delta. Fly Cathay Pacific, or Korean Air Airbus, you will feel the same. Delta is trying to give the Asian traveller the same service they are used to from the asian airlines, but Delta is failing. I rather fly a asian airline instead. Cheaper too.

  • Chris

    If you’re traveling with a companion on a Delta 777LR in Business, would you recommend Seats A/B (or C/D) or Seats B/C?

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