Off I trotted to the gate at Kuala Lumpur quite excited at flying on an A350-900 for the first time. The queue at the gate was long with no priority lane and on walking to the front to see what the delay was it was obvious… x-ray machines. I hate when they have x-ray machines at the gate. When I finally got to the front and went through there was another hold up at the passport check as they were sending people to the desk to the side. I was aslo sent to the desk to be told of an late aircraft change… it would now be an A330-300! Agggh! My last few flights were on A330s and I really wanted to be on an A350. If there is one thing that is certain when travelling… nothing ever quite goes to plan. Because of the change my 5A seat was switched to 1K… not a bad change for me as it turned out.
1K is what they call a “throne” seat. It is on the side of the aircraft where the seating down one side is alternate rows of 1 and 2. The rows where there is just one seat has the feet of the two behind on either side making space for a work-space… a lot of work-space each side and so when sitting in it it feels a bit like a throne.
I liked the seat except that because of the work-space between you and the window it makes seeing out a little difficult so if you like looking out you are better off on the other side of the aircraft in one of the single seats – where I was originally!!!
So, settled into my “throne” we departed but it was a departure like I have never had before!
All Hell Breaks Loose – Along with the Plates!
On a normal departure the aircraft lines up on the runway and there is a slight increase in engine power as the aircraft starts to roll and when the pilot is sure all is well he guns the throttes, there is a surge of power and we are off. Well, just as the surge of power came in, and I was pushed back into my seat, there was an almighty CRASH! from the galley just ahead of me. It was so loud I am surprised that the piots didn’t hear it and abort the take-off. He didn’t and we continued down the runway with smashed plates, hot food and all sorts all over the galley floor. Of course, you can see what is coming… when the aircraft reached flying speed the nose came up, we sailed into the air… and a combination of broken plates, food and equipment slid down the aisle past me and into the cabin!!!!
Well, it wasn’t pleasant with the smell of food and the apprehension of what will transpire. The cabin crew throughout this stayed put in their seats as you would expect for take-off. Eventually there was a “bing”, the cabin crew were released and the clean up started. It took the best part of 20 mins to clear up the mess during which we had no cabin service. The purser came and asked those in the first few rows if we were OK and to check if we had food or bits of broken crockery around us. This was all cleared up and normality resumed.
I was so tempted to start snapping away to document off this but I felt sorry for the crew member who should have checked that the locker doors were secure and so I just let them get on with the embarrassing task of sorting it out. After that the service was without incident but that was enough for one flight to be honest.
The rest of the flight was pretty similar to the Malaysian flight from Delhi with satay aplenty and good food. That was my last Malaysian Airlines flight for this trip and I would definitely fly them again.
If I was to describe Narita airport in one word I would say “disappointing”. I thought it would be ultra-modern as I would expect of Japan but although it was definitely all in good shape, and the Japanese seem to love efficiency in everything they do, it felt a bit tired.
Nevertheless, immigration and customs was quick and I found myself in the arrivals hall a bit bemused. There are a lot of signs and all of them seemed to have an English version but the sheer overwhelming volume of Japanese character writing makes it difficult to find the English. I was looking for the bus service to Haneda airport where I was staying the night and from where I was flying the next day and I could find any signs anywhere to help. Eventually I went outside hoping to find the bus stop and I did only to be told that I had to buy the ticket inside at arrivals hall. I bought the ticket (about £25) and ran back out to get the 7pm bus. The journey was about 80 mins and as the bus had wifi it gave me the chance to catch up with my wife back in Blighty.
Hanada Aiport and The Royal Park Hotel
Haneda Airport International Terminal was what I was expecting at Narita… ultra modern. The hotel was easy to find and so I checked in and collapsed after a very long but interesting day.
The room in the hotel was small as it was just a single room but in keeping with the modern feel of the airport it too was ultra-modern. Even the loo was electronically controlled and it filled and flushed automatically when you sat and stood. I loved it… not just the loo you understand… but the whole modern feel.
I showered and slept well ready for what will be my longest ever flight tomorrow – JL6 Haneda to New York… 13 hours!