SQ 631 and Haneda ANA Business Lounge
The last leg of my flight was actually a break up of my original booking. Although no stopovers are allowed for a one way award saver ticket, there is an unwritten rule where you can top up USD $100 for a stopover. Is the $100 worth it? Here is the math for it:
LAX-SIN is 88,000 miles (+ USD $37.63) via NRT
LAX-NRT is 85,000 miles (+ USD $23.60)
NRT-SIN is 43,000 miles (+ JPY 2610)
It is quite clear cut that for additional $100 USD, it will save you 40,000 miles (which is almost an additional J ticket from Singapore to Japan!)
The tough part however, is the availability of flight and getting the right person on the other side of the phone that is willing to do it for you. Don’t be disheartened if you get rejected on your first call (they may tell you that stopover is strictly not allowed on saver ticket). Keep trying!
Now that we know the value of the stopover, I shall go back to my review. When you do stopover, do try to get your flight out of Haneda (instead of Narita) as it is more convenient to go to Haneda Airport and also there are more flights out from Haneda (making it easier to redeem). There are 3 flights out of Haneda and unfortunately only the morning flight was available at time of booking. I wanted to do the noon flight (as it was operated on the newer Airbus A350-900). Do avoid the red eye flight as it is operated on the older 777-300 (non ER) which uses the older angled flat bed which makes it less comfortable to sleep in.
As SQ631 departs fairly early, I opted to stay overnight in Haneda Airport so that I don’t need to rush the next morning. Check in was fairly straight forward and fast. To my surprise, there was no priority queue for the security check for Business Class passenger (I remembered that there is one in Narita). The priority queue is reserved only for First Class and Solitaire passengers (unless I missed a separate line for Business Class). Nevertheless, the regular queue moved pretty fast and we got through the security check and customs in less than 30 minutes.
There are 2 ANA lounges in Haneda International Airport. As time was short, I chose the lounge closer to our departure gate. The lounge is big but it was extremely busy in the morning! I took me at least 5 minutes before I got a seat. Food spread was pretty good and they have a made to order noodle bar which prepares pretty good soba and udon. The buffet spread is a mixture of Japanese and Western. The Japanese curry and the sushi were pretty good.
Soon, boarding announcement was made and we made our way to the gate. Our flight today was on a refurbished 9V-SWE (which was converted to the 77WR configuration with only 4 First Class Seats). Unlike the flight out of LAX, my flight today was pretty empty in Business Class and the First Class had 0 passengers. The same can’t be said for Premium Economy and Economy as both cabin looked pretty full!
I shall not dwell too much into the seats as these were reviewed on my previous post for my flight out of Los Angeles. As First Class was empty, I managed to get some pictures during the boarding process. Here are some pictures of the 2013 First Class cabin:
Comparing the 2013 seat and the 2006 seat
Design is fairly similar but the 2013 cubicle looks more modern (and feels more enclosed), not to mention a better TV (24″ 1080p vs 23″ 720p)
The flight from Haneda to Singapore took only 6 hours 11 minutes, hence only 1 meal was served (brunch). As it was not a full lunch service, there was no satay (sadly). I did the BTC while I left the selection empty for my wife. Although my BTC dish didn’t look too bad, I can’t say the same for the taste. The beef was about medium but the food temperature was bad. It was cold (which made the beef taste lousy). The Hanakoireki which my wife chose seemed worse (according to her) and it is probably lousier than the one I had from Los Angeles.
Being a short flight, there were no in flight snacks (other than warm nuts). I tried my luck with the ice chocolate again but alas, it was nowhere near as good as what I had on SQ11.
SQ631’s ice chocolate (left) looked so much thinner than the one I had on SQ11
After about 3 movies, we arrived in Singapore ahead of schedule. The flight was fairly uneventful and after being away for almost 3 weeks, I couldn’t wait to get home.
You get less storage compartments with bulkhead seats