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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.