Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Off on Our Jakarta Jaunt

Having flown SEA-JFK the previous day, and then spent an additional three hours at the airport sorting out our American Airlines codeshare boarding pass problems, we arose at the ghastly hour of 3 AM EST at the JFK Hilton (our suite upgrade was sadly underused) and caught a surprisingly crowded 4:00 AM shuttle (two vans were in use) to Terminal 8.

We breezed through a quiet TSA PreCheck security line and entered a deserted American Airlines Admirals Club fairly close to our gate, drinking some much-needed coffee before boarding for our 6:00 AM departure.

We flew JFK-LAX in Business Class on AA’s Flagship Service, an Airbus 321 with a rare three-class configuration. First and Business were full and Economy was empty. Our seats were true flatbeds and we made good use of them on the six-hour flight.

It was a terrific flight with excellent service, despite a significant delay for deicing and some noticeable bumps along the way.

Our Japan Airlines flight is delayed so we’re passing time sipping Mumm’s in the lovely Qantas First Lounge at LAX  that we first visited last year.

The friendly Aussie at the front counter (“I married an American woman”) pointed out that our Alaska frequent flyer numbers weren’t on our boarding passes, although most of them state Emerald, our OneWorld status that gets bus into classy joints like this one.

We told him we were thankful just to have any boarding passes, but we’ll try to get our numbers added. We’ll see how that works out.

So far so good, but we have a lot of flying ahead of us.

Updated: we’re departing early (1:30 AM) March 2 from Tokyo Haneda to Ho Chi Minh City on another JAL flight.

It was a decent flight 12- hour LAX-HND and a few hours of rest in the transit hotel.

The JL 777 Business Class has a 2-3-2 configuration and not all that much room, but we managed. How about that mood lighting?

The Royal Park Transit Hotel in HND Terminal 3 impressed us, and we would definitely stay again. We’re sleeping our way a few hours at a time along the trip.

After checking out, we visited the JL First Class Lounge, our second time at this beautiful lounge, very quiet at 12:30 AM.

Fortunately for us, it’s open until1:30 AM. At 12:45 AM we ordered soup and a beef curry, which arrived promptly. Our fingers slipped and we realized we’d mistakenly ordered FIVE beef curries on the app, but we managed to cancel it in time.

Then it was time to head to the nearby gate.The JL plane on which we’re currently flying HND-SGN is a 787 with a 2-2-2 configuration and angle-flat seats. We still enjoy the quiet and orderly Japanese boarding procedures, but that requires the co-operative participation of employees AND passengers.

It’s quite comfortable nonetheless. 

We have about a six-hour flight to SGN, where we again transit* to our SGN-HKG flight on Cathay Pacific.

The forms we filled out on the Visit Japan website helped us to speed through the transit line, even though it’s only required for those landing formally in Japan, which we’re planning on our return flights.

To transit Vietnam at SGN, we believe we need nothing but our passports and an onward boarding pass.

To transit Hong Kong (HKG), the main requirement is - get this - a photo of a self-administered rapid antigen test within 24 hours of the previous departure, with name and date written on it. We’ll complete those during our SGN layover.

To land in Indonesia,we’ve downloaded an app, and have paid for an e-visa on arrival. We have an online customs form to complete still. We’ve consulted the somewhat ponderous but authoritative IATA website, the same ones the airlines use.

Notwithstanding Phileas Fogg’s bold claim that the unforeseen does not exist, we still anticipate challenges on this expedition that we couldn’t have predicted, as of now, halfway between Japan and Vietnam, we can say truthfully that it’s still fun.

*Some countries allow air travelers to travel through their airports without formally entering the country through Immigration channels when it’s a connecting point between two other countries. That is described as transiting.

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