It was a little disappointing to fly a narrowbody Continental Micronesia United 737 between major hubs in Asia, but the timing worked well for my mileage run to Hong Kong. I flew to Narita on the United 787 from Denver, and had about 2 hours at Narita before continuing to Hong Kong.
The 737-800 that took me to Hong Kong.
After clearing transit security, which was efficient and polite (and so Japanese), I headed to the ANA Business Class Lounge which was nearby. On my last trip through Narita, I was flying First Class, so I was able to visit the ANA Suites Lounge. No such luck this time, but at a Star Alliance Gold, I could visit the ANA Lounge. There was a nice noodle bar, and a wide selection of other food and drinks. Of course, I enjoyed the famous beer machine.
Snacks (this is from my previous visit to Suites Lounge, but these options were the same)
I left the lounge to walk around a bit, and I did drop in on the United Club which was close to my boarding gate. Snack selection is excellent for a United Club, but not nearly as diverse at what is available at the ANA Lounge.
Narita is still one of my favorite airports. I’ve long been intrigued by Japan, and even though the airport isn’t nearly as modern or visually impressive as many other major international hubs (BKK, HKG, PEK come to mind), I still get excited about flying through.
After my quick stop at the United Club, I walked over to my gate, and despite arriving at the gate at posted boarding time, I was one of the last to board. So efficient! Both Narita and Chek Lap Kok have many widebodies, but unfortunately, I would be flying a boring old 737 on this leg. United used to fly this with wide bodies, but even after downgauging to a 737, they are discontinuing this flight soon.
United has a dedicated fleet of 737 that are based in Guam. These planes do not have Economy Plus, The 737-800 have only 14 first class seats (versus 16 or 20 on 738’s based on the mainland), and there is no in seat video. Interestingly, onboard signage for exits and the like is mostly English, with some Japanese, and occasionally some Spanish.
These flights are eligible for CPU, but the first class cabin was nearly full when I booked, and it was completely filled a few days before the flight, presumably with paid business class fares. I was fortunate to get one of the few seats with extra legroom, an exit row window.
There was a large crew, at least 5 flight attendants working the cabin. One aisle seat just in front of the exit row was blocked for crew. Service was very friendly, I believe the crew was based in Guam.
In terms of seat comfort, the seat was a little hard, and unlike my last flight the middle seat was occupied, and in this case by a large man, so it felt a bit tight to be stuck by the window.
Service consisted of a drinks being offered, including pretzels (like the old days in the US). Beer and wine is still complimentary on intra-Asia flights on United. Shortly after that service, a meal was served. Oddly, my special meal request worked properly for this flight. One of the flight attendants greeted me with my name, and let me know that my meal was loaded soon after I sat down.
The Hindu meal from NRT-HKG
The regular options were beef or pasta. My seatmates were looking (and likely smelling) longingly at my meal. It was a slightly spicy lentil and bean curry with cashews and rice. I was a bit surprised that it was served with a roll rather than naan, but oh well. There was also a small fruit salad and some vegetables.
There was a movie shown on the overhead monitors rather far from my seat, but I don’t recall what it was. I didn’t bother to watch.
We arrived into Hong Kong quite early. Fine by me, more time to enjoy my layover there. We taxied to the North Satellite terminal and boarded a bus to the main terminal. Thankfully the immigrations lines were short, so I was quickly on my way to the Airport Express train.
I was having a very difficult time finding a hotel for this Saturday night that was convenient and reasonably priced. I only had about 36 hours in Hong Kong. After several changes in plans, I booked one night at one of my all-time favorite hotels, the W Hong Kong. I stayed here before and I will not write another extensive review of this stay Given my long travel day and somewhat late night arrival into Hong Kong, I just wanted a place with easy access; and this hotel is just a few steps from the Kowloon stop on the Airport Express train, so it worked well.
I made this booking using one of the free nights from the special SPG promotion I earned. This was a great value to me, since rooms were selling for HK$3500 per night (more than US$450) or 20,000 SPG points for base level rooms. I used one of my Suite Night Awards and cleared into a Fantastic Suite. This is their lowest level suite, but more than 50% larger than standard rooms. Not quite as luxe as the Marvellous Suite my wife and I received on our previous stay here, but still very nice.
Staying at the W for my first night in Hong Kong was a bit of a splurge for this trip, but thanks to the promo I received it was free to me. I knew this hotel was a good location coming from the airport, and a decent starting point to get around and explore the city a bit.
My next post will discuss more of my layover in Hong Kong, and the return flight on a United 777 to Chicago.