Right. First attempt at a proper trip report for everyone. No pressure! Here it goes…
My travel buddy Andy and I have been many places but we’ve always talked about Tokyo for several reasons. We get buddy passes on Delta but the flights are always full. Andy has never been where I felt like I lived there when I worked for Northwest. Finally the conversation would go – ya let’s just do Europe….again. First world problems, clearly.
This was the image for me that pushed the conversation from “well at least we can go to Madrid” to ” ok fine we can make Tokyo work – it’s worth it!” Totoro worked! We would later stay in an airbnb apartment that was decorated with this little bugger. Signs like this are clear – you should go where your heart tells you to push yourself.
With any buddy pass (employee) type travel you have to be flexible – like stressful sometimes level. I flew up the day before at the crack of dawn from Mobile to Atlanta. I won’t even bother you with that mess. Our plan was to fly out the next day to Minneapolis (MSP) to catch a fight to Haneda, JP (HND). At this hour however, I was more excited to stay at the Renaissance Terminal hotel at ATL with a view like the one above. For an aviation lover is was paradise…a nice room after a hellish early am flight (without coffee) and planes taking off and landing just outside your balcony.
Here’s Southwest arriving from New Orleans.
So the following morning, another hellish flight to MSP. This time it was a middle seat in the back of a 757. I’ve honestly never been so cramped, but again buddy pass travel – I could put up with it given the fact that the total trip was under $800…at least for now. Plus we had time to store our bags and get outside a bit at MSP before the 12:30 flight to Tokyo.
In the fury of getting a seat (or not) at the last minute means that there aren’t many photos of boarding, or frankly much of anything from our flight out. We were so rushed to get on the plane that we just wanted to get going! I’ve put together what photos we have with some examples of what Comfort Plus entails with Delta on a Trans-Pacific flight.
Delta operates the 777-200ER between MSP and HND. This was my first time ever on a 777 and I was excited that Delta is still 9 seats across in economy – not the dreaded 10 that most airlines have moved to. We also scored seats not next to each other, but in rows where the middle seat was vacant. As we rushed on board I did notice rather younger flight attendants that were super friendly. This was shaping up very nicely and the fact that normally we would be in Business Class wasn’t an issue at all. Now if I could just keep my ass from falling asleep for the next 13 hours this would be truly amazing!
I didn’t get shots of the seats but these are from the same aircraft and they do look this nice in person. Comfort Plus on the 777 is a 3-3-3 layout with 35″ of legroom, pillow blanket and water bottle! at every seat. Each row also had dedicated overhead bin space. Even though we were the last to board in this “mini cabin” – the bin above my seat was completely empty. Passengers in the class also receive priority check-in and boarding.
Before we were even off the ground, a small menu “postcard” was distributed (no photo) with a timeline of the flight and when meal times were. Then the amenity kits came out. Everything was in tear off pouches and very smartly organized – you could put them in the seat pocket without taking up any room. Eye shades, ear plugs, dental kit, and sanitary wipes along with slippers. Now I tend to make my own amenity kits on any flight I take (whole article on those coming) but I was surprised here with the kit.
Oh and Comfort Plus – free booze! They even had proper bottles of Sake…although I’m pretty sure Andy drank most of them. Actually I’m totally sure as we chatted up the cabin crew and they confirmed.
Hot towels even came out! The crew did a fantastic job of lots of drink rounds and getting the food out quickly so people could sleep. My one complaint is that even though Comfort Plus is a dedicated cabin on the 777, they turn on every light like in Main Cabin every time they serve something. This did get annoying on a ultra long haul flight like this. In Delta One, they only turn on accent lighting to serve so you can sleep the entire time, if you like. I didn’t grab a photo of the menu, but it was pretty much your basic chicken or beef options along with then they would be served so you could plan your flight. That’s the thing with Comfort Plus – they charge as much as a true premium economy like on other airlines, but the food and service is basically the same as economy. I would have liked an upgraded meal or more alcohol options.
All that aside, the meal itself was decent and actually filling. I got the chicken which was decent and not salty. Side of shrimp cocktail and a salad with some condiments and the coldest hardest “roll” I’ve ever had. Honestly it was frozen in the middle but hey – less carbs. I won’t even bother you with the mid flight snack. It was a soggy “pizza” and an ice cream bar. I passed on both. After they cleared the first meal, another drink round where they were very generous with booze in general and made sure you had everything you needed – to go chill in the galley I’m sure!
Now for some entertainment and attempt at sleeping. I didn’t want to take photos of movies, etc. because of the flash but Delta has a great selection of movies, tv and games. Oh and they have wi-fi that actually works! All the way to Tokyo even! Hoorah!
After a disappointing mid flight snack, I actually fell asleep for several hours – even skipping the second service of another lunch before arrival into Haneda. I awoke to two things – this view on the moving map:
and the most painful lower back and bum ever. There isn’t much padding to the Comfort Plus seats for some reason. I noticed that Main Cabin seats actually had better padding! The service though made up for it completely. Since we had made buddies with the cabin crew earlier in the flight, they treated us like royalty and even talked of hanging out in Tokyo given that our apartment in Shinjuku was around the corner from the Hilton.
Top Tip: If you have chocolates or other candies that are unique – bring some for the cabin crew. It’s amazing how a small gesture for the crew can change their day.
Arriving at Haneda was pretty easy. Lines moved quickly and we were welcomed into the country after a photo and thumb print. The Japanese are very businesslike but some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. We were shown where to exchange money, get some sim cards, a Pasmo card and a vending machine (more on all of that in Part Two).
From Haneda Airport, the best way into the city is the Haneda Monorail. It leaves from both the domestic and international terminals and is quick, quiet and easy to get to Hamamatshucho station on the JR Green Line – from there you can get to anywhere in Tokyo quickly and easily.
After such a long trip – we dragged our luggage to the apartment we rented on Airbnb and decided we needed a nap and then some good Ramen!
We headed back to our place to check out the neighborhood and then get some rest to overcome what wasn’t the worst jet lag.
CONCLUSION: I’d give Delta’s Comfort Plus a solid 7 out of 10. The Priorities on the ground and with luggage, the seat pitch, free booze and dedicated cabin are all awesome. However, not upgrading the meals, drinks or the actual seat to a true Premium Economy is a downside to what Delta is charging.
There are good deals out there:
Here you can see that Comfort Plus is a few hundred bucks more than Main Cabin and that’s awesome value! Rule of thumb: don’t pay more than 30% over a Main Cabin fare for Comfort Plus and you’ll have a great experience and money left over for Tokyo…you’ll need it.
Thanks for reading this far…if you are actually still reading. Part two is being worked on now, which will be getting around Japan, things to do and some cultural stuff. Part Three will conclude with the return flight on American in Business Class.
Stay tuned for more and may travel be in your future!