Our journey to Hong Kong began with a direct flight from Houston to the Narita airport in Tokyo, Japan. Given that the flight is typically 14.5 hours (!), we used miles to upgrade ourselves to the first class cabin. Although we burned a lot of miles for the upgrade (60,000 for two for a one-way upgrade), it was absolutely worth it. This was our first experience flying first class on a long haul flight (6+ hours) and I am hopeful it won’t be our last. Hey, a frequent flier has to reap the rewards of earned miles somehow, right? To be clear, we would never dream of paying $10,000 to $20,000 for the privilege to fly first class for a similar trip. That’s ridiculous (to us).
In the end, our flight to Japan took just under 14 hours. Fortunately, the time flew by as John and I relished in our first class digs.
Although there many reasons why first class was incredibly impressive, here are five reasons why it was truly wonderful…
- Lie Flat Seats- Yes, our seats reclined to a completely flat position. I took full advantage of this amenity and slept like a champ. I also did a lot of reclining — very similar to watching TV in bed.
- Good Food — While the airline food wouldn’t earn Michelin stars, I must say that the offerings were really good. To my delight, they even offered gluten- free food that was actually edible. I enjoyed a nice supply of fresh fruits, water and salads throughout the flight. I also enjoyed my fair share of Blood Mary mix — sorry, guilty pleasure.
- Soft blanket/pillow — The pillow and blanket that United provided were really soft and comfortable. To boot, both were substantial enough to really use throughout the flight without fear of hurting my neck, freezing or worrying that either were going to scratch/irritate my face or skin.
- Entertainment — Although I came prepared with my iPad, I relied solely on the in-flight entertainment system to keep me busy. Throughout the flight, I watched 4 episodes of “Veep,” 2 episodes of “Law and Order,” 2 episodes of “The Borgias,” 2 episodes of “NCIS,” and the “Goonies.” I also did about an hour of work…in addition to brief naps. I also had in-seat power that made charging my tech tools possible.
- Silence — this may seem crazy, but the flight was amazingly serene. No passengers with hacking coughs, technology use without earphones or crying kids/adults. I think we lucked out with this one…but I will take it.
OK…one more thing we loved…the over-sized and clean bathrooms. The bathrooms never once resembled a marathon port-a-potty or roadside bathroom disaster zone. They were also large and had plenty of room for me to change in them. In case you are wondering, I dressed up for the flight (dress, tights and boots), but changed into yoga pants, Toms and a long sleeve top for the flight. Highly recommend — I was very comfortable.
Once we landed in Narita, we made our way to the United Club. The Club was well-appointed and stocked with snacks and beverages. I made a little snack of edamame and Coke Zero. When in Japan…
Our miles also provided us with first class seats on our flight from Japan to Hong Kong. Not surprisingly, we slept the majority of the way there. Once we landed in Hong Kong, we took the Airport Express (train) to our hotel. In 20 minutes (and only three stops), we arrived at the Kowloon Station. The Station is located at the base of the Elements Mall, and the Mall connects several hotel and office buildings. For this leg of the journey, John and I stayed at one of the adjoining hotels – the W Hong Kong. I’ll do a thorough review later, but for now…let’s just say the hotel was fabulous.
Upon arrival, we were upgraded to a very nice corner suite with a generous living area, bedroom and bathroom, and lined with oversized windows. As you might imagine, we were very happy with this arrangement. By the time we got upgraded to our room it was almost midnight. Once we get settled, we ordered room service, took His and Her sleeping medicine and drifted to sleep without setting our alarms. Dreamy!