Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Christmas Special: End-of-Year Winter Vacation to Japan in December 2014 ~ Section 6

Welcome to the sixth section of my 2014 Christmas special report detailing my end-of year winter vacation in Japan in December 2014. This will be the final segment of the entire 2014 Christmas end-of-year special holiday report. There will be a total of three focus topics that will be covered in this section of the holiday report, where the airport limousine bus journey back to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), together with the return flights to Hong Kong and eventually back to Singapore will be covered.

Part 1 ~ The Airport Limousine Bus Journey To Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

After spending 13 very enjoyable winter days of shopping, food, snow, roads and railways in Japan, it was finally time to head back home to Singapore. On the early morning of Monday (22 December), we all woke up at six o' clock after having a well-earned good night's rest. The first thing we did was to have a nice, hot shower and change into our attire for the day before heading over to prepare the last remaining segments of our baggage in preparation for the return flight to Singapore via Hong Kong.

For the return trip back to Singapore, we would be flying with Cathay Pacific on flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong, which would be scheduled to depart Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) at 10.45 a.m., and arrive at Hong Kong International Airport at 3.05 p.m.. After arrival in Hong Kong, we would have a layover of 1 hour 10 minutes before we would connecting to Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore, which would be scheduled to depart from Hong Kong International Airport at 4.15 p.m., and arrive at Singapore Changi Airport at 8.05 p.m..

I was very lucky as I had asked the hotel to arrange tickets for an airport limousine bus to take us to the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) at 7.40 a.m. on Wednesday (17 December). Soon enough, at around 6.25 a.m., my dad came over to our Room No. 2602 with a hotel porter, who had larger baggage from my parents' Room No. 2601 already loaded. While our baggage was loaded and taken down to the hotel lobby for safekeeping, we took the elevator to the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor, where my mum was waiting. While we were in the Executive Lounge, we had a light buffet breakfast before our limousine bus trip to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).


The view of my Room No. 2602 shortly after both my younger brother and I woke up at the break of dawn

The view of several downtown infrastructure in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, from my Room No. 2602 as dawn begins to break over the city

The interior of the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright winter's early morning

The self-service buffet breakfast counters in the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

A platter of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, sausage, bacon and potato fingers for myself in the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

A mug of hot cocoa for myself in the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After having a mid-sized buffet breakfast in the Executive Lounge on the 37th floor, the clock was finally showing 7.20 a.m.. Since our airport limousine bus bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) would be scheduled to depart in 20 minutes' time, we packed away our belongings and took the elevator down to the main hotel lobby, eventually arriving there at 7.25 a.m.. While my mum went to return the room keys and check us out of the hotel, the rest of us went outside to the hotel entrance, where two hotel porters were waiting with our bulky baggage.

With my mum meeting up with us outside the main hotel entrance, our pre-arranged airport limousine bus bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) finally arrived at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 7.35 a.m.. While the hotel staff helped to load our baggage into the bus baggage hold, we quickly boarded the bus with our tickets checked by the driver. Once the clock struck precisely 7.40 a.m. sharp, the bus door was closed, and we finally departed the Hilton Hotel Tokyo for an early morning airport limousine bus ride of 1 hour 10 minutes to the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).


The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a cold early winter's morning shortly before we departed for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The interior of the lobby lounge in the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a cold early winter's morning shortly before we departed for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

The 7.40 a.m. airport limousine bus bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) waiting outside the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

The interior of the 7.40 a.m. airport limousine bus bound for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) during the boarding process at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Finally departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo
















Bypassing Palette Park in Odaiba on the Shuto Expressway to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)


Bypassing the Oi Depot housing the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen rolling stock on route to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) via the Shuto Expressway













Finally arriving at the drop-off and pick-up point located below the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)

Part 2 ~ The Flight To Hong Kong

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 543
From: Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) (HND / RJTT), Tokyo, Japan
To: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH), Hong Kong
Aircraft: Boeing 747-412
Registration No.: B-HKU
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 16K
Date: Monday, 22 December 2014

After spending approximately 15 minutes of relaxations and plane-spotting at the passenger resting area located near Gate No. 114, the clock was finally showing ten o' clock. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong would commence in 15 minutes' time, I immediately grabbed hold of all my belongings and rushed over to Gate No. 141. The entire walk linking from the rest area near Gate No. 114 to Gate No. 141 taking no more than approximately five minutes.

Soon enough, I finally arrived at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 141 at 10.05 a.m.. Looking at the number of waiting passengers in the passenger waiting area at a Gate No. 141, I could see that Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong would have a rather full load today. Today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong would be operated using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, with the registration number B-HKU and powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines.

B-HKU was initially delivered to Singapore Airlines as 9V-SMV on 22 December 1993, and it flew for Singapore Airlines for 13 years 6 months until it left the Singapore Airlines fleet on 25 June 2007. Cathay Pacific then purchased this aircraft a month later on 25 July 2007 and gave it its current registration. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 21 years old today. However, the airline is expected to retire its remaining Boeing 747-400s in passenger service by the end of fiscal 2016.


The departure information screens located near Gate No. 146 in the International Terminal at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon









Our aircraft for today, B-HKU, being serviced at Gate No. 141 in preparation for her regional early afternoon return trip back home to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong

A closeup of B-HKU being serviced at Gate No. 141 in preparation for her regional early afternoon return trip back home to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 141 shortly before boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong commenced

After spending just five minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 141, the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 bound for Hong Kong were finally made at 10.15 a.m.. The First & Business Class passengers, along with the Asia Miles & Marco Polo club members and special needs passengers, were called out to board the aircraft first. While my family was making their way to Gate No. 141, I decided not to wait for them and board the aircraft first, as I had my boarding pass already in hand.

Walking along the jet bridge to Door A, I was finally on board B-HKU just in good time for a 10.45 a.m. departure. At the front door, two friendly flight attendants warmly welcomed me on board and showed me to my seat in the Business Class cabin. The Business Class cabin we would use on this regional flight to Hong Kong would be the long-haul type of Business Class cabin arranged in a herringbone configuration. These seats were introduced in 2007 following the delivery of the airline's new Boeing 777-300/ERs.

However, due to negative passenger feedback of the herringbone seat being too narrow and confined, the airline re-introduced a newer and more conventional long-haul Business Class seat on its newer long-haul Airbus A330-300s and new Boeing 777-300/ER deliveries, with the existing fleet of the newer aircraft also being re-fitted with the newer long-haul Business Class product. The herringbone type long-haul Business Class seats are still available on the Airbus A340-300s and Boeing 747-400s, as of 1 December 2014.

Soon enough, my family finally joined me on board at 10.30 a.m., approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled departure timing. Stowing our belongings in their respective storage spaces, we settled down in our assigned Seats No. 14K, 15K, 16G and 16K respectively for the regional afternoon flight of 5 hours 20 minutes to Hong Kong. The flight attendants then went about their pre-flight routines of distributing free newspapers and pre-departure drinks to the First & Business Class passengers. To commence, I decided to have my normal pre-departure glasses of champagne and orange juice first to settle myself down further.








Gate No. 26.

Cathay Pacific Flight 543 Score Report

Seat: 20 / 20
Food: 15 / 20

After disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 543 from Tokyo (Haneda),

Part 3 ~ The Flight Back Home To Singapore

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 711
From: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH), Hong Kong
To: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
Aircraft: Airbus A340-313X
Registration No.: B-HXB
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 17K
Date: Monday, 22 December 2014

After clearing the connecting flight security checkpoint at Hong Kong International Airport, the clock was finally showing 3.05 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore would commence in 40 minutes' time, we immediately went to check the departure flight information board to see which gate number our connecting flight bound for Singapore would depart from. According to the departure flight information board, Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore would be scheduled to depart at 4.15 p.m. from Gate No. 70. Boarding would also commence at 3.45 p.m., approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure timing.

Without wasting anymore time, we grabbed hold of all our carry-on belongings and rushed across the entire airside of Hong Kong International Airport to Gate No. 70, with the entire over to the Hong Kong International Airport Shuttle Buggy counter to arrange for one shuttle buggy to take us to Gate No. 70. Paying our airport shuttle buggy fare, an airport shuttle buggy finally arrived at 3.10 p.m.. With the staff loading our baggage onto the buggy, we finally departed the main airside for a short airport shuttle buggy ride of 10 minutes to Gate No. 70 on the other side of the airport terminal building.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the passenger waiting area adjacent to Gate No. 70 at 3.20 p.m., which was in good time for boarding to commence in 25 minutes' time. Judging by the number of passengers at the passenger waiting area near Gate No. 70, I could see that Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore would be almost filled to the brim today. However, an announcement was made that due to technical ground issues and late arrival of connecting passengers, Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore would be delayed by approximately 20 minutes, with the new departure time scheduled for 4.35 p.m..

Today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore would be operated by an Airbus A340-300 aircraft, carrying the registration number B-HXB and powered using four CFM International CFM56-5C4 engines. B-HXB was initially delivered to Cathay Pacific as VR-HXB on 20 June 1996 as the second Airbus A340-300 and the sixth Airbus A340 for the airline, until it received its current registration number on 13 September 1997. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 18.5 years old today.


The Hong Kong International Airport Shuttle Buggy that would soon take us to Gate No. 70 in the main airside



A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367, registered B-HNQ, being serviced at Gate No. 36 in preparation for her late afternoon regional journey to Japan as Cathay Pacific flight CX 500 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

Finally arriving at the passenger waiting area located near Gate No. 70

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-343X, registered B-LAG, being serviced at Gate No. 68 in preparation for her late regional afternoon journey to central Japan as Cathay Pacific flight CX 532 bound for Nagoya (Centrair)

Our aircraft for today, B-HXB, being serviced at Gate No. 70 in preparation for her regional late afternoon journey to the Republic of Singapore as Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore

A closeup of B-HXB being serviced at Gate No. 70 in preparation for her regional late afternoon journey to the Republic of Singapore as Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore



A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-343X, registered B-LAZ, taxiing to Gate No. 69 after arriving from her long Southern Hemisphere journey from the Commonwealth of Australia as Cathay Pacific flight CX 134 from Melbourne

The passenger waiting area near Gate No. 70 shortly before boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore commenced

After spending approximately 45 minutes of anticipated waiting by the passenger waiting area near Gate No. 70, the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 bound for Singapore were finally made at four o' clock. All the Business Class passengers, together with the Asia Miles & Marco Polo club members and special needs passengers, were called to board the aircraft first. Clutching onto our belongings and boarding passes, we rolled up at the front for the boarding process to commence smoothly.

Walking via the jet bridge to Door A, we were finally on board B-HXB at 4.05 p.m., which was in good time for a 4.35 p.m. departure. At the front door, two flight attendants warmly welcomed us on board, and showed us to our seats in the Business Class cabin. Stowing our belongings in their respective storage spaces, we settled down in our assigned Seats No. 16D, 16K, 17K and 18K for the late afternoon regional return flight duration of 3 hours 50 minutes back home to the Republic of Singapore.

The Business Class seats we would be using were the same configuration of herringbone long-haul Business Class seats, like the segment from Tokyo (Haneda) to Hong Kong. The flight attendants then went about their usual pre-departure routines of distributing the free newspapers and pre-departure beverages to the Business Class passengers on board. In order to commence with, I had my usual pre-departure glasses of champagne and orange juice and sat back while awaiting pushback from Gate No. 70.






The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs illuminated during the boarding process at Gate No. 70 at Hong Kong International Airport




Gate No. D34.

Cathay Pacific Flight 711 Score Report

Seat: 20 / 20
Food: 20 / 20

Part 4 ~ The Closing Sequences

Not long after disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 711 from Hong Kong at Gate No. D34, everyone walked through Concourse D at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 to the escalators to both the arrivals and immigrations area in the main airside.

Overall, this has been a very pleasant and enjoyable end-of-year winter vacation in Japan in December 2014, and one of the best Japan trips I have ever had in so many years. I shall always be happy to travel to Japan again annually when the opportunity comes. Thank you for taking the time to read this year's Christmas special report, and I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the report. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas 2014 and Happy Holidays! Lastly, but definitely not the least, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2015 and a pleasant blogging experience!