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Monday, September 17, 2007

JL5063 - Toyko Narita to Rome

It's with great relief that this flight is with JAL's code-share partner Alitalia and we'll be in an Alitalia plane.

We're deposited by the bus at Terminal 1 this time and as we were leaving the bus and it is the end of the line, I noticed that the only person remaining was asleep so Paalo, with much subtlety, stamped his feet on the floor as he walked past. It did the trick as the sound startled him - he followed quickly behind once he realised were he was.

Weather wise, it's another hot and sticky day so we quickly head into the closest entry point and that sweet air conditioned atmosphere and gather our bearings in there. Finding a terminal map we are soon headed in the right direction. As I've mentioned before, yes the Alitalia check-in is pretty much as far away as you can get from our present position.

One of our ideas to come early was for the shopping the other was to avoid those queues and the queues here were looooong - it's interesting to note that they were screening the baggage before people are even checking in. As we only had hand luggage and we're in possession of the magic business class tickets we are once again, directed to the the priority line.

The priority line suffers a a bit of a hold up as the "obnoxious American tourist" and her four brats live up or is that down to their reputation. All hell broke loose once she was given her tickets and a torrent of abuse spewed forth from her foul mouth as she dropped f-bombs at the rather young women behind the counter. No-one deserves that type of treatment. It's obvious that she was after the seats in economy with more legroom but those are the seats that are given on a priority basis and not just because you want them. To give you an idea how much of a stink she kicked up, she was at the counter when we arrived and there were five people in front of us. She was still there, now ranting to the supervisor about the tickets by the time we were served and issued our tickets.

We left relieved that at least she wasn't on our flight but feeling sorry for anybody who had the misfortune to sit next to that thing are her spawn.

From here it's the normal procedure, customs, immigration and security scans - unlike here in Australia, the computers don't have to be removed from their cases but our jackets have to be scanned. It's all very quick.

Without anything else to do we head to the lounge to check it out - we've been given access to Virgin Atlantic's The Clubhouse and we are most impressed.

It's not a huge space but it's the first lounge where it is a la carte - all the food is made fresh to order. We fortify ourselves with a couple of banana smoothies before heading back out to check on the shops. It's not much past 11 and our flight doesn't leave till 2pm so we have time to kill.

Unfortunately there's not that much on offer and I find it quite surprising that there isn't a larger selection. Obviously they figure that electronics will be purchased in Tokyo itself. I do buy a limited edition Givenchy perfume that is only available in Japan, it's called Jardin d'Interdit.


The Clubhouse:

the menu

Purely to satisfy our curiosity we order a couple of the light bites on offer.

I have the Chicken Caesar Salad

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and Paalo finally settled on the Japanese plate

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The plate consists of Rice ball with Japanese pickles, grilled Spanish mackerel, egg roll, pickles and miso.

The Japanese plate was especially impressive and we've got to hand to Sir Richard, it's the best lounge experience we've ever had.

The flight:

Boarding was supposed to start at 13.20 and we dutifully meander over in time only to find that boarding hasn't started. It's soon announced that due to "cabin issues" boarding will be delayed. As time ticks on, more and more people are arriving and getting more and more anxious. After about 20 minutes boarding finally starts.

After the cramped and hot environment of yesterdays flight we are lead into nirvana - space galore. Paalo is most impressed that he can't even touch the seat in front of him with his feet!

With the delayed boarding we have missed our slot so end up waiting on the tarmac for a gap - it must have been a small gap because we're onto the runaway as soon as the plane that has just landed has turned the corner.

Since this is a 13 hour flight they will be serving two meals. Our first is a bit of surprise - we won't just have a tray plopped out in front of us, it's actually silver service.

table setting



With my nuts I had a glass of 2006 Masottina Chardonnay while Paalo had the 2005 Quota 29 which is made from Primitivo.

pasta"

Our first course: Semolina medallions au gratin with cheese fondue and mushrooms and Sardinian Gnocchi in fresh tomato and basil sauce.

You're given the option here, you can have one or both and it's served to order.
Those semolina gnocchi are so good I'd order them in a restaurant.

Second course:

fish

There's a choice here of Stewed Perch fillets with braised vegetables

mixed grill

and Mixed Grill with Vegetables

Not as good as the first but still pretty good for airline food. Unlike the Qantas flight, they don't have the problem of running out of dishes, as we see fish dishes heading back into the kitchen and new mixed grills coming back out.

Next up is fresh fruit and cheese:

grapes and strawberries

cheese

To finish up some little cakes to go with our coffee

chocolate and vanilla

lemon meringue


After the meal, the snack bar is opened up and there's basically drinks and snack items on offer for you to help yourself too. I couldn't resist getting a picture of this

parmigiano"


With a few hours to go before landing, dinner is served. No silver service this time, it is presented as is.

smoked turkey
Smoked turkey with grana pandano

salmon
Salmon fillet browned in lemon sauce

salad
Mixed salad leaves with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar - we had the bottle of extra virgin olive oil on the tray but neither one of us had any vinegar.

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Even with the delays and strong head wings the pilot has managed to land us dead on time.

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