On the Ground: I arrived at LAX expecting the terminal to be lifeless before take-off for my midnight flight. I could not have been more wrong. The airport was buzzing, and the ANA counter had more energy than I do after a cup of coffee. I went to the business-class line and only had to wait a few minutes for the next available agent. I was checked in and given very exact directions on where to board. The staff was accommodating and excited to welcome guests on board the flight to Haneda Airport.
The boarding gate was a fair distance from security, so I went directly to the gate. Unfortunately, we had to be bused out to the aircraft, certainly not the fault of ANA, but it is always easier to board the aircraft directly from the airport. However, once on board with LAX behind, the true business-class experience began. (28/30)
Pre-flight: After boarding, I was happy to be sitting, knowing sleep was very near. The Boeing 777 business-class seat reclines 170 degrees to an almost fully flat position. Before take-off, the flight attendants explained the meal options to each passenger and requested our orders so they would be ready. Having already eaten dinner, I declined the meal and opted for sleep. (26/30)
In-flight: When I awoke, I called for a flight attendant and ordered dinner. I chose the Western meal of chicken fricassee with curry flavor, rolls served with Isigny butter from Normandy, and fresh seasonal fruit. The neat presentation of the Japanese always impresses me, especially 30,000 feet in the air, but I believe the presentation outdid the actual meal. (36/40)
The Experience: The service on board was very efficient. The greatest advantage to this Los Angeles–Tokyo flight was the fact that we were landing at Haneda Airport. Traditionally, all international flights have landed at Narita International Airport (NRT). ANA started this service on Oct. 31, 2010, and landing at the smaller airport closer to the center of Tokyo makes a world of difference after a long flight. Haneda was renovated last year to accommodate increasing traffic from overseas. When we landed, I went quickly through customs and found the sign for ground transportation. I bought my bus ticket for the ride into town — half the price of a ticket from Narita — and I was only 30 minutes from my hotel in Tokyo, versus an hour and 30 minutes from Narita. I waited in the ANA arrivals lounge until my bus arrived. The small lounge located after baggage claim serves small bites and beverages; it was the perfect refresher before catching my ride into town and starting a business day in Tokyo. The flight also landed early in the morning, allowing me to waste no time and make a full day of meetings.
Total Score: 90/100
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.