Lost in Translation: Kyoto

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Lost in Translation: JAL Business Class Los Angeles to Osaka

JAL operates its 787 with angled lie-flat business class seats from LA to Osaka.

Due to our flight delay, we had been given two $20 meal vouchers at check-in.  However, due to the free food at the lounge, we decided to buy a box of chocolates in the terminal to give to the crew.

Overall, service was impeccable, whether due to the half-empty cabin or our gift at the beginning of the flight.

Japan Airlines 69
Los Angeles (LAX) – Osaka Kansai (KIX)
Friday, May 27th, 2016
Depart:  4:33PM
Arrive: 8:39PM
Duration:  8 hours, 40 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 787-847 (JA-828J)
Seat: 8C (Business Class)

This particular flight featured JAL’s angled-lie flat business class seats.  While unfortunate for a modern aircraft, the seat was fairly comfortable.

For this flight, the menu read as follows:

The drink menu read as follows:

I had ordered the vegetarian meal in advance of the flight, so my starter began with asorted vegetables.

In contrast to the Japanese menu starter:

The next vegetarian course was grilled vegetables, along with a tomato filled with pesto.

The Japanese Kobachi bowls:

The main vegetarian course was pasta with tomato sauce and mushrooms.

The vegetarian desert was a cup of fresh fruit, somehow different from the banana compote on the menu.

To start our meal before arrival, the crew had prepared a thank you note in chocolate for the gift we had given earlier.


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Lost in Translation: The Qantas First Class Lounge LAX and KAL Lounge

As a bit of a reboot until things can be backfilled, I’m jumping ahead in trip reports to mid-2016.

As a oneworld Emerald, we were able to stop by the first class lounge at LAX.  Due to apparent lounge rules, it’s not possible to hop between the business class and the first class oneworld lounges in the Tom Bradley terminal.

Qantas Lounge LAXThe lounge features a large seating area looking inwards towards an atrium, a bar, and a sit-down dining area.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAX

The far end of the restaurant overlooks the security checkpoint and ticketing hall.

Qantas Lounge LAXQantas Lounge LAXAs our flight to Osaka was delayed, we sought out lunch from the restaurant which offered tasty (and complimentary) fare in contrast to the terminal outside or the Admirals Club in adjoining Terminal 4.  The lunch menu read as follows:

Qantas Lounge LAX lunch menuLunch service wasn’t quite ready to begin, so we wandered around the lounge for a bit.  Between waiting for lunch to start and the length of service of a three course meal itself (from appetizer to dessert took about an hour), this was not a quick bite before catching a flight.

I started with the spiced tofu salad, dropping the chicken.  My girlfriend ordered the salt and pepper squid.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAX Tofu SaladQantas First Class Lounge LAXAdditionally, we ordered a set of sautéed mushrooms in garlic butter for the table.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAX Sauteed mushroomsI ordered the casarecce with broccolini, chili, and parmesan as my main course.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAX

For desert, we picked the chocolate fondant with raspberries and marscapone.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAX chocolate fondant

Outside of the restaurant, though, the immediate, self-serve food offerings were a bit sparse.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAXQantas First Class Lounge LAX

It is possible to order from the restaurant menu while sitting elsewhere in the lounge:  We asked for a fruit plate from the staff and had one delivered to our chairs.  Nevertheless, I’m not quite sure where this would leave you if the restaurant was changing over from breakfast to lunch as it was when we first arrived.

Qantas First Class Lounge LAX fruit plate

With a bit of time to kill, we hopped over to the KAL lounge across the hallway using Priority Pass.  The lounge was a bit more crowded than the Qantas lounge, and the self-serve food less interesting.

KAL Lounge LAXKAL Lounge LAX KAL Lounge LAX KAL Lounge LAX KAL Lounge LAX KAL Lounge LAX KAL Lounge LAX

The KAL lounge, however, did manage to have plentiful outlets everywhere, thereby resolving one of my biggest pet peeves when traveling.

KAL Lounge LAX


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My 2014 Mile and Point Earning and Burning

In the tradition of this blog, it’s time to summarize where I went and how I got there.

I flew about 261k miles this year, up from 2013’s 228k miles.  Unlike last year, where most of those (90% or so) were revenue, roughly 98k miles were on award tickets (~62% revenue).  All but 75k miles were in premium cabins, but with the marked uptick in travel, this was a better ratio (28.7%) than 2013 (32.1%).

This past year involved 4 trips to Europe, 2 trips to Hawaii, 2 trips to Asia, 3 trips to both Europe and Asia (but does Anatolia really count?).

My award redemptions were numerous:

  • I went to Prague, Berlin, and Poland.
  • I visited Turkey cheaply thanks to Avianca.
  • I went to Japan with some predevaluation United and American miles.
  • I visited Taipei and Paris over the summer.
  • I went to Oktoberfest and Bangkok in September.
  • I booked a last minute trip to Europe in December.

I earned points and miles throughout the year:

  • I had about 77k EQMs on United, as the new PQD requirements deterred me from shooting for 1K.  I picked up about 50k redeemable miles on my United credit card, mostly from a mix of “every day” spend and some United purchases.  I would have managed Premier Silver without the waiver.
  • American finished at just over 100k EQMs, thanks in part to the 10k EQM bonus from spend on my Citi AAdvantage card (which earned ~140k miles between spending and the signup bonus).

Airfare spending continued its rise to 5.6cpm, up from 5.22cpm last year.  Hotel spending dropped, even as nights stayed roughly constant (82, down from 83), to $68.55/night from last year’s $84/nt.  Rental car spending nosedived from $2.2k to about $1.3k.

Last year, I predicted a few things:

  • More award travel.  26k to 97k miles is quite a jump.
  • Requalification for Executive Platinum and Premier Platinum.  Check.
  • Fewer hotel nights.  This didn’t pan out, although I didn’t requalify for SPG 50.
  • More credit card spending.  Check.

In 2015, I expect:

  • Total travel to drop and the fraction of award travel to rise.
  • Requalification for Executive Platinum.   Based on pre-3/1 earnings change travel alone, I would not be completely shocked to make Premier Silver on United.
  • I’m evidently bad at making predictions about hotel stays.
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Mistakes were Made: Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport

For my last night in Milan, I booked another night at the Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport hotel.  While my experience a few months prior was lackluster, the airport is really convenient for early morning flights.

This time around, I was upgraded to a deluxe room.

Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa

After checking in, I took a look at the club on the third floor, where a spread of snacks and beverages was available.Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan MalpensaThe next morning, I returned to the club for breakfast.  One of the TVs was playing news coverage that Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 bound for Milan had been hijacked.

Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan Malpensa Sheraton Milan MalpensaI finished my breakfast and walked over to the airport terminal, ultimately thankful that the media coverage of the hijacked flight didn’t translate into pandemonium at the airport.

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Mistakes were Made: Milan Revisited



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Mistakes were Made: Four Points Milan

For my night in central Milan, I picked the Four Points, located near Milano Centrale.

Four Points Milan

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Mistakes were Made: United Airlines Business Class Newark to Milan

Thanks to a United travel waiver for the Northeast, Wideroe was willing to make changes to the otherwise non-changeable mistake bookings.  Rather than try to call Norway, I gave their online chat a try: Wideroe Online ChatA few minutes later, I had a new ticket in my email and was ready to go.  A quick call to United and one systemwide upgrade later, I had a seat in the business class cabin.  Online check-in didn’t go so smoothly, though:

Online Checkin EWR-MXPThat’s not the message you want to see 4 hours before your international flight while it’s after business hours in Norway…  One lengthy call to United (and some fingerpointing between United and Wideroe) later, I was able to check in and obtain a boarding pass.

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Mistakes Were Made: An Introduction

Back in November, a small Norwegian regional carrier, Wideroe, stopped charging fuel surcharges on Star Alliance-operated tickets across the Atlantic.  Needless to say, the frequent flyer community pounced on the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars per round trip.

While I had previously visited Milan in October (thanks in part to Emirates’ fifth-freedom route between New York and Milan driving down fares), I found it hard to resist a $189 round trip, all-inclusive fare.


Originally, I had booked EWR-FRA-LIN/MXP-EWR, expecting to grin-and-bear two transatlantic flights in coach.

Thanks to some weather waivers in the northeast during the days leading up to my trip, I switched over to the nonstop to Milan Malpensa, rather than take a long layover in Frankfurt.

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Europe for the Holidays: Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to New York

Having been escorted to a waiting car from the lounge, we quickly drove along the terminal past Lufthansa’s various widebodies waiting to depart to far-off lands.


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