After an overnight stay at the Royal Park Hotel THE Haneda, I took the easy walk back to the main concourse to check-in for my flight to Kuala Lumpur. The hotel lobby and the check-in desks can’t be more than 100 meters from each other, which makes it the most convenient airport hotel I’ve ever stayed at.
The international terminal isn’t too large so I just wandered until I came across Cathay Pacific’s station. Check-in was very quick. However, after seeing the incredibly long line for security, I did have to go back and ask them where the priority check point was located. Apparently the regular line had completely obscured the entrance. Once pointed in the right direction I was through in under five minutes.
Most of the airport lounges in Haneda are to the left of security and upstairs. JAL and Cathay Pacific both operate some excellent lounges here for oneworld Alliance customers, and I’ll review the JAL first class lounge on the return portion of this trip. However, note that Cathay Pacific’s lounge closes temporarily in the evening. It’s open from 7:30 to 17:00 and again from 22:00 to 1:30.
Cathay Pacific’s lounge is decorated in dark wood tones with brass accents and a few scattered plants. It’s a very classic look and reminds me of the Andaz Tokyo, where I stayed recently. The amount of contrast with the large windows made photography more difficult than usual.
The lounge was still quiet when I arrived at around 8:30 for my 10:35 flight. If I hadn’t already eaten breakfast I might have chosen to take a seat in the restaurant to the left, which had many generously sized booths and a few staff circling through to take orders. I really liked the stools along the kitchen, giving it the feel of an upscale diner.
There’s also a noodle bar in the center of the lounge. At that hour I chose to take a couple pastries that had been set out buffet style next to the bar. My wife will tell you I’m a pastry addict, and these were pretty good for lounge food.
Finally, to the far right of the lounge is a bar and cafe. You can choose to be as formal as you want — ask a waiter to get your drink for you, walk up and sit at the bar, or use the self-service refrigerators for soda and water. After getting a cappuccino with my pastry, I went back later for a glass of Japanese whisky to enjoy from my seat by the window.
We had some great views of airport operations, and I spotted ANA’s 787 in the R2D2 livery. However, the Cathay Pacific 747 I would be flying on was out of site, behind pier.
Depending on how much privacy you wanted, there were options to sit in the back of the lounge, near the food and drink but with some privacy dividers and dim light that would make it easier to take a nap. I opted for one of the comfortable chairs along the window — each with its own lamp and table (with hidden electrical outlets). A wide range of seating options were available. Not just chairs but also sofas for group conversation and some tall stone tables for up-right dining by the noodle bar.
Finally, here’s a blurry shot of the business center. There were several large iMac computers with dual boot enabled, individual printers, and individual task lighting.
I realize this is just a business class lounge, but the quality of its design and the number of amenities put it on par with many first class lounges. I’d argue it’s the best business class lounge I’ve ever visited. Along with the proximity of Haneda to central Tokyo, this lounge would be a compelling reason for me to choose Haneda for future travel through Asia.
Fortunately many airlines are petitioning to add new flights from the U.S. to Haneda and also trying to get them scheduled at more convenient times. This irritates carriers like Delta, which has made connecting traffic in Narita a major part of its Asia strategy. But I have yet to find anything about Narita I actually like besides the more frequent schedule.