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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

MR Trip Report Part 1: On to Bangkok

Busy waiting area LAX
I knew that the start of this trip would be the longest since it involved a full work day on top of an evening drive from San Diego to LAX.  Normally rush hour traffic makes things pretty unbearable, but I chose to wait until later evening and was glad I did.  It took me about 2.5 hours to drive up via the 5 and 105 - thankfully getting into LAX Lot C was easy (my chosen lot when I have to fly out from there).  The shuttle ride in, though, took a long time - I guess I've never flown out of LAX so late (1:00am) but traffic was at a standstill between terminals.  And lines to check in were long - when I finally got to the desk it took 15 minutes to check me in.  I started to get a bit worried since my itinerary was unique with so many segments, but after a bit I was off and ready to go to the gate.  Security was ok - lines were long (and I still don't understand why PreCheck was closed...maybe due to the late hour?).  Upon getting to the gate I also missed out on $500 vouchers due to the flight being oversold - couldn't change up my complicated itinerary as it was.  I was upgraded to first class for the initial flight to DFW and after boarding promptly fell asleep.

We arrived to DFW about 30 minutes early - I had time to take a quick walk before heading to the gate to check in.  I inquired about upgrading but passed on the 25,000 mile/$350 co-pay to get to Business Class.  I could make it in Main Cabin Extra.  :)

In-flight needs an upgrade!
The flight to Narita went without any incident - service was smooth and fast, and the flight overall was smooth with little turbulence. I was a bit surprised that American uses an older aging 777 for this flight - hopefully they upgrade it to a newer plane soon.  The entertainment option made me chuckle at how ancient it was.  I slept about 6-7 hours of the 13 hour flight, which for me was a record.  My seatmate was an active US military member (Navy) who was on his way back to Tokyo for another tour - found out he was part of the PR team (he didn't specify which area).  He was impressed by what he called my "power sleeping" in economy...I had a good chuckle about that.  I was a bit worried though when we took off - he got out a mask and cleaning equipment and used it liberally throughout the flight.  I've been teased in the past about how I am not afraid to use hand sanitizer on planes, but this guy...he was meticulous.  Besides the mask and sanitizer, he also had wipes and wiped down everything.  All his utensils, the seat, the tray, the top of each can of drink...I found myself watching and guessing to myself to see what he would handi-wipe next.  We talked for a bit about his service, my trip, etc - he was a great seatmate for the flight and we shared mutual best wishes upon landing to NRT.

Shakura Lounge NRT
Transiting in NRT was easy.  A quick right turn into a bag scanner and I was on an through to my transit gate.  Since I had some time before the next flight, I quickly asked about lounge access and was directed to try the Shakura Lounge near my departure gate.  I was pretty happy overall with the options - no shower, but great food choices and very quiet.

My next flight was to Bangkok on a new airline and plane type for me: Japan Airlines and the 787!  I was very excited to try out the 787 - for all the hype we read about, I wanted to see for myself whether it was warranted.  Right away I noticed the cabin pressure changes - the air was much more humidified and not as dry.  Plus I really liked the seats and new windows - when taxiing you can see the entire travel path and runway lineup.  I had a seatmate at the window who kept falling asleep near/on my shoulder - otherwise, it was a relatively quick 7 hour segment to BKK.  I took the opportunity to get another 3.5 hour nap in as we flew.

Upon arrival it was late (11:15pm), so I needed to find my place of stay: The Louis Tavern Transit Hotel and Dayrooms.  I booked this via Kayak.com and admittedly was a bit nervous when I did.  Reviews were mixed online from most people about noise levels and privacy, but the cost point was good so I gave it a try.  I'm happy to report that it was a very pleasant stay - no noise issues, a clean bed, and the shower was adequate.  Finding the hotel wasn't too difficult either - upon arrival to BKK, don't go into the formal arrival/customs area - just transfer via a short escalator and bag check point to the 4th level in Concourse G. 

Time for sleep!

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