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Flight Reviewof ANA: JFK to Narita, Tokyo, and Narita, Tokyo to Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

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ANA 777-ER, which I took at JFK

Hi, everyone!  I am in Bangkok now.  I would like to review my ANA flights from JFK to Bangkok via Toky0, Narita.

ANA or All Nippon Airways is an airline of Japan, which was listed as 5 star airlines by Skytrax.  Here is the link to the page.

The airline is a launching customer of B787 Dreamliner with Boeing. I have been looking forward to flying with ANA because I have heard man good things about the airlines.

Ok Let’s start the review.

 

From JFK to Narita, the aircraft was B777-300ER.  The flight was scheduled to take off at 12:30 p m.  The flight was on time and the boarding procedure was very smooth.  They actually departed 1o minutes before the schedule time.

The ANA aircraft is equipped with state of art entertainment system.

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They aircraft provided a way more than enough legrooms.

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ANA flight attendants were always smiling, and it was absolutely a good example of Japanese hospitality.

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As soon as seat belt sign was off, they started to serve snack.  The snack was Japanese assorted crackers.  I choose to drink “KABOSU” drink, which is Japanese lime drink, and made especially for ANA.  Both the snack and the drink were wonderful.

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After about an hour and half, they started to serve first meal.  My choice was Chicken cutlet Milanese.  ANA’s food was delicious.  It was more filling than I thought it was.

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Surprisingly, they also served ice cream, as well!

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After the first meal, the lights became dim, and because I took sleeping med, I was already sleepy by the time I was done with the meal.

I guess about at the half of the flight, they served a sandwich as a snack.

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The way they seasoned it was really Japanese, and that made me feel at home.

Ok the last meal were served 2 hours and half before the aircraft arrived in Narita Airport.

My choice was scrambled egg with chicken sausage.  It tasted real good.!

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OK now, the second flight, from Narita, Tokyo to Bangkok!

 

The flight was actually on time.  They made an announcement that at the very moment of taking off, one of the passenger decided to not to get on board and cancelled his/her trip.  I never heard anything like that before, but I thought it was really interesting

The second aircraft was B-777-200, which was actually older that I thought it was going to be. But the seat were comfortable, and there was enough leg room.

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The service was excellent, and the ANA flight attendants were always smiling, as well.

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As you can see, unfortunately,  the entertainment system were rather old, and I had a difficulty operating it.  But I thought it was enough for 5 1/2 hours flight.

About an hour later after take off, they started to serve dinner. My choice was Japanese Hamburger stake.

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Although, ANA flight attendant recommended Japanese food, but to me this is a real Japanese food. I have not had Japanese style Hamburger stake for a while, so it was so satisfying.

OK, about an hour and half before the arrival, surprisingly, they served a danish.

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I was surprised that they actually gave out something before landing.

Overall, my experience with ANA was excellent.  I will take their flight again from Jakarta to Tokyo on the way back to the U.S.

So I am excited. Go ANA!

I will fly to Laos tomorrow, so I will do more reviews as of tomorrow, so check em out, and bon voyage!

 

 

“Halal Restaurants” open in Tokyo, Narita Airport

Hi Everyone, and for my Muslim viewers, I hope you are having a good Ramadan this year.

I wanted to share an interesting information.

At Narita international Airport, which is the largest international airport in Metropolitan Tokyo area, will open two restaurants which carry Halal food.

Two them of are certified by Malaysia Halal Consultation and Training.

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One is a Soba restaurant called KINEYAMUGIMARU.  The restaurant is located at Terminal 1 Center building, 5th FL.

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Entrance to Kineya Mugimaru

 

Another one is Tempra restaurant called TENTEI, which is located on the Main building 4th FL in terminal 2.

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Entrance to Tentei

 

In addition, I just found out that Narita Airport has Muslim Prayer Rooms.

I am so glad that Narita Airport is Muslim friendly now.

Well, as for me, I will be off to Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Hanoi,  KL, Bali, Tokyo, and Singapore in two weeks, so I will update my blog as I visit these cities.  I am so ecited.

So until next time, Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

How to ride the subway in Tokyo

tokyo_metro   Hi all!  Well, I am back.  I had to deal with many issues and it took a while for me to post a new blog. Well, here I am now.

Today, I want to talk a little about how to take a subway in Tokyo. If you know how to take a subway, most likely, you can go almost anywhere in Tokyo.

I was born in Tokyo, I so I do not have much anxiety taking subways, but even Japanese people who are from outside of Tokyo always tell me taking a subway in Tokyo is too complied.

Well,  it must be very complicated because Tokyo is such a big city, and there are 13 different subway lines running through the city of Tokyo.

Each subway line has its own “hub” stations which are connected with other subway lines, as well as to many different trains on the grounds which is owned by many private train companies, such as JR East, Tobu Railway Company, and Tokyu Railway. The entire map looks like this!

 

a8751e3db1a23b715150b23775309b7b   Shocking right? Well do not worry,  I will tell you how to take a subway step by step.     GET A SUBWAY MAP! Since subway system in Tokyo is too complicated, I recommend you to download subway map or obtain subway map at train station nearby you.

You can download subway map HERE!

BUT A TICKET

You buy ticket at the ticket vending machine at at the airport.  It is usually situated next to ticket gates.  It usually look like this.

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Ok, do you notice that you see the map above the machines?  The map will tell you the fare to your destination.

In Tokyo, subway are varies depend on the destination.  You need to buy the right fare to ride subways in Japan?

Do you think you can fake it?  NO I will tell you later why you can’t.

So how can you choose the right fare of the ticket.

Here is the screen of the vending machine.

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The machine will give you a choice to display in English or Japanese.  You choose English, and the rest follow the instruction of the screen,  Then you are good to go.

TICKET GATE

In order for you to get to the subway station, you need to get through ticket gates.  You insert the ticket yo purchased in the machine, and if there is not anything wrong, they will let you in.

The thing is you need to get through the gate at your destination to get out from the subway station.  I you did not pay the right fare, you are going to be stopped by the machine, and will be asked to pay the right are by the staff at the station, whose office is locate right next to the ticket gates on the way out.

The gate looks like this.

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 I guess you see the pink booth.  They are the customer service, as well as, where you will fix your are, if your are is short.

So now you are about to take a subway.  You may lost or wander in the subway platform, because it is so large.  I recommend you to follow the direction boards.  It look like this.

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Or like this… CA250188

 

You will get where you need to get to.   GETTING ON THE SUBWAY CAR Ok, you get to the platform, which look like this…

 

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SUBWAYS IN JAPAN IS SUPER PUNCTUAL If you know the timetable of the subway, you cal always get to your destination on time.  All the trans including subways, trains on the grounds and Bullet Trains are all punctual. You can also see how soon your train will come by checking the display above you.

 

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You do not have to worry about running late, because 99% of all time time.

But just in case, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR TOKYO SUBWAYS PLANNERS AND FARE FINDER.

 

STAND ON LINE BEFORE WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR TRAIN

You NEED to stand on line to wait for you to board on the train.  The line looks like this

(courtesy of Omiya Express)

As you saw on the Youtube video,  people will be on line while waiting.  When the trains comes, you will let the passenger out first, then you get in later.  This rule applies all the time, and as you saw on  Youtube, the rules are strictly  enforced.

 

BE AWARE OF “LADIES ONLY”  CARDS. There are some “Ladies only” cards among all the cars connected.

 

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For prevent women from groper, in Japan, Ladies only cares are available during the rush hours in subways of Tokyo. Gus, do not get in there, you will be in trouble.

 

 

NO CELL PHONE PLEASE!

Lastly, it is strictly  prohibited to use cell phone either in the car or in the platform of subways in Japan.  This rule is extended to most of the public transportation, maybe except taxis.

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TURN OFF YOUR MUSIC

In all the public transportation system, it is important to mind others privacy and secure peach.  Tuen off your music in the train car please.

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NO GROPING! (LOL)

Groping is a serious offense under the criminal law of Japan.

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OK, You got it? Now you can ride Tokyo subways like a pro.

I hope you will enjoy the ride with world’s safest, cleanest and most convenient subway.

I hope you have a good day, and Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be a IKI or Good Customer at Sushi Bar in Japan

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Sushi Chefs in Japan

 

When you go to Sushi bars in Japan, you may feel little different, rather confused, because there seems to be many rules and manners you should keep at Sushi bars in Japan.

Overall, in Japanese culture, people live within may unspoken agreements and rules.  So naturally, there are some unspoken agreement between customers and sushi chef s when you visit sushi bar in Japan.

 

For example, at sushi bar in Metropolitan Tokyo area, where Edomae  (meaning Tokyo style) Sushi or what we call “sushi” in America (Maki and Nigiri) originated from,  it is important for the people to keep their “cool,” or so called IKI.  Tokyo natives need to be IKI all the times, and that rule applies to the chefs and customers in sushi bars, as well.

 

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Kyo-Zushi from Kyoto

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“Kaisen” or sea food Chirashi Sushi of Kishi Sushi, Kyoto

In IKI spirit, people have to be generous and trustworthy.  Therefore, if you go to an established sushi bar, they do not have menu.  The chef provides the best he has for the day and the customer enjoy the best of all, and if customer is satisfied, they will pay.

Sometimes the bill is higher than you thought. But you need to pay up without asking, The logic of this is that you went to eat at the restaurant because you trust the quality and service of the restaurant.  And the chef is not supposed to rip you off.

SCARED?

Do not worry, many sushi restaurants in Japan welcomes foreign customers, and if you have some tips, you can be a IKI customer in sushi bar in Japan.

 

 

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President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at legend sushi restaurant  Sukiyabashi-Jiro (April 2014)

 

Here are some tips you may wanna know TO BE A IKI CUSTOMER:

 

1. Portions?

If you go to sushi bar during the lunch time, it may be easier for you to order lunch menu. For dinner, I would recommend you to order 10 PAIRS OF SUSHI.  (Remember, in Japan, sushi always comes with a pair, not a piece!)  You can also ask sushi chef to give you a small portion of rice balls.

Say “Shari Chisame De!”  It means I’d like my sushi rice portion smaller.

10 pairs should look something like this.

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2. What toppings of sushi should I start with and end with?

In IKI culture of Tokyo, it is recommended to order sushi by “Omakase.”  Omakae means menu of the day or a course assorted by chef.  People say, if you are IKI customer always  starts with EGG CAKE.  I sort of agree with them  because, taste of egg determines the skill of the chef.  I you feel funny with the taste, you can always leave the restaurant, and if you are IKI customer, you should do so to let the chef know that he/she is doing something wrong.

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Sushi with Egg Cake

Then, you wanna go on with WHITE MEAT, RED MEAT, RICH, and lastly, MAKI, to be a IKI customer.

For example, you can stat with Egg. Then go to Flatfish, Fatty Tuna, Eel, then lastly, dried gourd strips.

 

 

3. Ask the price of toppings

Even as an IKI customer, you can still ask chef approximate prices of the toppings, especially if the toppings are seasonable and you do not have any idea how much they are.

It is ok to ask!   Especially if you are not familiar with the toppings, you can always ask the chef for an idea. Communication with chef is a key to be a IKI customer.

 

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Communicatioin between chef and customers is a key at sushi bar in Japan. At one of the most well know sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Ginza Kyubey .

4.  Eat quickly!

IKI customers eat sushi as soon as it is served.  Freshness is important for sushi.  Also IKI customers do not stay at the restaurant for a long time.  IKI sushi customers usually spend 20-3o minutes at sushi restaurant and go.  Staying at sushi bar too long for nothing is totally against the law of IKI culture.

 

5. Eat with hand or with chop sticks?

Both of them are ok.

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Dipping sushi with fingers

 

 

6. Dip the topping side of sushi in soy sauce!

It may sound silly but there is a recommended ways for IKI customer to pursue when eating sushi.

Dip only the toppings in soy sauce, and put the topping side of sushi on your tongue.

Also, SO NOT EVER PUT TOO MUCH SOY SAUCE ON SUSHI!  This is a no-no for sushi master, and it really damages the sensitive taste of the sushi.

if you keep this rule, not only you are a IKI customerm but also you can enjoy the best out of your sushi order.

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How to dip sushi in soy sauce. Look at the amount of the sauce. Only little bit is always appropriate in eating Japanese food.

 

7. Refrain from smoking!

IKI sushi customer does not smoke in the restaurant because it bothers other IKI customers and it actually damages the taste of sushi.

 

8. Do not drink too much!

IKI customer go to sushi bar to enjoy the taste of sushi and communication with sushi chef.  Getting drunk is another no-no for IKI customer of sushi restaurant.  IKI customer will never get drunk and mess up other customers time and money at sushi restaurant.

 

9.  Do not wear too much perfume!

Again, combination of sensitive taste, smell of the food and the looks of the food is the three major elements of Japanese food on whole.  Wearing too much perfumes damages all those three elements.  IKI sushi customers will not dare to do so.

 

Got it?  Try these rules on your next trip to Japan, and I guarantee that you will be the coolest IKI sushi Customer in Japan!

Until next time, Bon Voyage!

 

LEAVE A COMMENT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash, Traveler’s Check or Card? Secure Your Money When Traveling in Asia

 

 

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RHB Bank and UOB Bank Currency Exchange At Changi Singapore Airport

 

Not only to travel in Asia, but also to any international destinations, you may wonder how you can secure your money while traveling in Asia?

“Cash, Traveler’s Check or Card?” is always the question when you think about securing your money while you are traveling in Asia.

In general, in most of the countries, it is pretty safe to travel.  But if you are not that lucky, you may be a victim of crime in overseas.

So the question is always, “cash traveler’s check or card?”  Which method is the best way to secure your money?

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Money exchange in Fascinating Kuta Bali, Indonesia.

 

CASH, TRAVELER’S CHECK OR CARD?

Which one is the best one to secure your money during your trip to Asia?

 

I,who is writing this article do not really know which is the best way to secure your money.  Cash, Traveler’s Check or Card?

So I decided to have comparison among cash, traveler’s check or card, and I picked up the pros and cons of Cash, Traveler’s Check and Card.

So Let’s have a comparison among Cash, Traveler’s Check and Card.

 

 

CASH

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Example of Japanese Yen

I believe, cash is the worst method among cash traveler’s check and card, to secure your travel money.

Among cash, traveler’s check and card, cash is the only thing that does not chose who they belong to.

If your source of money is only cash when traveling in Asia, you may be in a big trouble.

Just because that reason alone, I would not recommend you to bring all the cash when traveling to Asia.

 

 

Still you wanna carry your cash? There is  a way to bring your cash or even traveler’s check and card on you.

May backpackers bring passport neck pouch to secure their cash, traveler’s check or card, even their passport.

Usually, you can keep several of cards and passport together.  For some Japanese backpackers, this is a necessity.

I do not really like to carry travel neck puoch because it is not fashionable, and sometimes it is obvious that  you are carrying something important.  So it may attract a crime.  But many people told me it is useful.

So what if you lost your money and you do not have no cash, traveler’s check or card on you at all?

If you are U. S. citizen, go to nearest Embassy of the United States or Consulate of the United State.

FIND A NEAREST U.S. EMBASSY HERE!

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They will not lend you money, but instead, they may arrange your return flight to the U. S. and keep you safe within their premise.

They will also issue a one time only passport for you to back to the U.S.

Will you get mad that you cannot continue traveling? Remember,  without money, traveler’s check or card, it is impossible to continue your journey.  Your SAFETY is most important when in Asia, or in overseas.

Here is a GUIDE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS by U.S. Department of State.

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 ALSO, HERE IS THE LINK TO SAFETY BY YOUR DESTINATION by U.S. Department of State.

 

 

 

TRAVELER’S CHECK

I have an impression that the many banks and currency exchange places in Asia and the rest of the world stopped accepting Traveler’s checks.

Among cash, traveler’s check and card, traveler’s check is pretty safe way to secure your money while traveling in Asia and the rest of the world.

In U. S., you can go to your local back you have your account with, or at nearest American Express office to purchase traveler’s check.

I believe, in U. K. and throughout Europe, Thomas Cook Travelers Check is very popular.

Good thing about traveler’s check is that even if you loose it,  the issuing company, they can reissue your traveler’s check.

For example if your travelers check is American Express traveler’s check, you can visit or call your nearest American Express  Traveler’s Check office to report the loss and reissue your traveler’s checks so that you can keep on traveling.

Even you need to pay about 2 % of the fee to purchase traveler’s chekcs, among cash, travelers check and card, this is the distinct part about traveler’s checks.

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American Express Currency Exchange Counter at Birmingham Airport, U. K. 

 

The can about traveler’s check is that, in order for you to check your traveler’s check, you need to bring your passport with you.  Basically, they take any IDs good on international levels, but most of all the time, unfortunately passport is the only good ID when you are in Asia, and in overseas.

 

 

CREDIT CARD

Finally, it is time for CREDIT CARDS.  Among cash, traveler’s check and card, CREDIT CARD seems to be the most popular ways to being your travel money on you while you are traveling in Asia or the rest of the world.

Surprisingly, you can find ATM anywhere you go in Asia, and mos of all the time, you can withdraw your money on ATM suscessfully.

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ATM machine in Yangon Myanmar

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ATM Machine in Tokyo, Narita Airport

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ATM machines in Jakarta

You can also bring your prepaid card or Bank  Debit Card with Master or Visa logo on it, and you can use it at ATM machine in your destination.

I know that American Express has debit card, as well and I can be used in Asia and overseas, as well.

You can also make a travel debit cards.

Travelex is famous for currency exchange, but they also have travel money  or card called Cash Passport.

This card is not available in the U. S.. but in countries,such as, U. K., Japan, Australia and Canada, you can make Cash Passport, load your money on your card, and use it as credit card and debt card.

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Bank of America Travel Rewards Card with chip  and pin (see above the card number starting with 4000)

I noticed that in South East Asian Countries, such as, Singapore and Malaysia, if you want to withdraw your money on ATM machine, your card need to have a chip and pin on it.

 

So what if your card does not have “chip and pin?”

Don’t worry, you can always do CASH ADVANCE at any bank that deal with Visa, Master or American Express.

Overall, I would say CARD is the best way to secure your travel money among cash, traveler’s check and card.

So, cash traveler’s check or card, which ever your travel money method is, enjoy your trip and Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United vs. Delta: Which is better when you fly from NYC to Tokyo?

There are two airlines of the United States which have flights directly from NYC to Tokyo.

There are two other airlines that fly directly from JFK to Tokyo, which are Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA.)  But here this time, I would like to have a comparison of our own, two of the three major airlines.

HUB AIRPORT United Airline’s hub airports are JFK and Newark International Airport. But for the flight to Narita Airport, Tokyo, they fly from Newark. So if you live in Manhattan and Jersey, taking United should be more convenient, location wise.

As for Delta, their hub airport for long haul flights is JFK.  The airport’s accessibility is pretty good if you like in 5 boroughs.

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JFK Terminal 4

For your information, just in case, you need to transfer between  JFK and Newark, there is a shuttle bus service available for your convenient.

AIRCRAFT United Airlines flys with Boeing 777-200.  Average age of United‘s 777 is 11-13 years old.

Classes of services are United Business First, which is the airline’s Business class.  Coach class cabin is divided into two classes by United Economy Plus and Economy Class. Economy Plus seats have ore leg space then Economy Class. But the in-flight meal is the same.  Here is a seat configuration of the aircract.

 

CLICK HERE for UA 79 seat configuration.

 

As for Delta, the aircraft they use for Tokyo bound is Boeing 747-400. Average of their 747 are about 20 years.

They can still fly 747 because, the airline use its privilege to have another hub in Narita Airport, where they pool many aircraft to make  connections to other Asian destinations, such as, Seoul, Beijing, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

United Airlines does the same at Narita to connect their flights from Main Land U. S., Guam,  Honolulu, Hawaii to other destinations in Asia.

As for maintenance of aged 747, Delta is depending on Narita Airport. Narita is famous for having a state of art maintenance system for aircraft, to fix any isses that caused their rather 747’s. Delta operate Tokyo flight with three classes, Business Elite, Economy Cmnfort, and Economy Class.

 

CLICK HERE for DL 172 seat configuration.

 

Delta pre- flight instruction video

(Courtesy of Delta)

 

SERVICE On both Delta and United Airlines service to Tokyo, Narita, they will serve Lunch, Snack and about 2 hours prior to arrival, they serve light breakfast.

All non beverages are free in all classes.  Alcohols are free in Business Class and in Coach class Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase.

 

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Delta In-flight meal from Guam to Narita

MILEAGE PROGRAM United Airlines‘ Mileage Program is called United Mileage Plus.  You can be awarded for free travel as low as 10,000 miles. I am a member of this program, and I like it, because it is easy to earn miles not only by flying, but also from staying at associated hotel all over the world, by using credit cards and car rentals, etc.

The mileage will not be expires as long as there is at least one transaction on your account. So it is easy to keep it.  I also think United let passengers to earn miles with less restriction, and their minimum mileage for free travel is very low.

You can also earn mileage from Airlines that participate Star Alliance.  Star Alliance is the largest airline alliance of  the world, and some of the members are Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, ANA All Nippon Airways, Lufthansa and Air Canada. So that makes it easier for you to earn miles.

 

 

As for Delta Airlines, their mileage program is called Delta Skymiles.  You can earn miles by staying at associated hotels and by spending money on Credit Card partners, such as, Delta American Express Card.

With Delta, there s no blackout dates. many seats are available for fewer miles.  But you have to spend little more miles to get free ticket to Tokyo.

As Delta is participated in and also a core member of world airline alliance, Skyteam.  Skyteam is consists of 20 airlines from all over the world, such as Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, Korean Airlines, and newly added Garuda Indonesia. You can earn miles by flying those airlines for Delta‘s free airline ticket.

 

 

PRICE I have an impression that United is always providing cheaper fares to Tokyo from the U. S. overall, but it may vary.  As I check the price, sometimes Delta has better deal on connecting flights via LAX.

The average of round trip is around $1,200 on low to shoulder season, and for peak season, it will go up around up to $1,500.

I usually compare price by checking webpages, such as, Google flights, TripAdvisor, and Kayak. For the flight from the U. S., especially for Trans Pacific flights,

I have a feeling that Google flights have better deal and more choice. It is simply fun to play with airfare search engines period.   Well, I hope the information I provided today will be a use for your next trip to Tokyo, and further to other Asia regions.

Have a good one everybody and Von voyage!

Taxis in Japan: “Do not open the door by yourself、let the driver do it for you!”

 

 

You may have a chance to take a taxi if you visit Japan.  Taxi’s in Japan are rather expensive, but very comfortable and safe.

Click here for taxi fare calculator in Japan.

Services provided by taxi drivers are excellent.  They always use meters.  They are very polite.  They always ask passengers the route they use to take them to the destination, and if they know the short way to the destination, they always make a suggestion polity.

But most distinctive about Japanese Taxi is that that the doors of taxis in Japan are AUTOMATIC.

Meaning, you do not open and close the door by yourself when you get in and get off the car.

Let’s see the YouTube video! (Courtesy of CZero Productions and Video Ariane)

Yes, it is not magic.  It opens and closes automatically.

Here is how the inside one of the taxi in Japan. (courtesy of Ruth Jarmam Shiraisi)

Did you like it?

If so, when you come to Japan next time, enjoy your ride with Taxis in Japan!

 

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Inside a taxi in Japan.

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Taxis in Tokyo day

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Taxi stand for smaller sized taxi smaller taxis are cheaper. Shinjuku Station, Tokyo

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Sign that taxi is for hire, Tokyo, Japan

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Taxi by night, Tokyo Japan

Taxis are parked as drivers wait for customers on a road in Tokyo

Taxi on the line the pick up passengers Tokyo, Japan

And lastly, please enjoy one of my favorate sights, Shinjuku At Night!

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Shinjuku at Night

 

 

See the link below to reserve a taxi for you when in Tokyo.

NIHON KOTSU

HINOMARU TAXI

KM TAXI

TOKYO MUSEN (Japanese language only)

CHECKER CAB

EDS Expert Drivers Service for hire a taxi for city tour and for your transportation in Tokyo