On the Ground: JAL appeals to business travelers through its well-served Executive Class tier, also known as Seasons. The airline’s efficient service, as well as its use of representative Japanese design and cuisine, begins after boarding passes are issued at JFK’s Terminal 1 with an invitation to visit the Sakura Lounge, a large, quiet room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the runways. There are six lounge laptops available to guests, along with several desktop PCs attached to free printers. Free WiFi is available for passengers with personal computers. A mid-day buffet is stocked with Asian snacks, including Japanese noodles, kelp wraps and various gourmet hot and cold teas, along with the standard American cookies, peanuts and finger sandwiches. I was comfortable in the soft, black leather chairs that faced the bank of windows. (28/30)
Pre-flight: JAL’s female flight attendants— exquisite-looking young women attired in impeccable, gray, no-nonsense uniforms with crisp collars and interesting-looking, wing-like hairpins that somehow remained in place during the 13-hour flight — offered Champagne and other beverages while the aircraft remained at the gate for about 30 minutes past the 1 p.m. departure time as a summer thunderstorm battered the airport. By the time skies cleared, JAL005 took its place in the long line awaiting take-off; it was 2:42 p.m. before we were wheels up. JAL’s novel Bird’s Eye Cameras, mounted on the front of and underneath the fuselage, provided a wonderful view of take-off and also were available throughout the flight on one of the personal video channels. (29/30)
In-flight: Although in-flight Internet access is not yet available on JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft currently flying the JFK–NRT route, I was perfectly happy being off-line for half a day and choosing among the 50 available videos, dozens of audio channels, the self-service Executive Class cabin beverage and snack bar (called Sky Gallery) and the Japanese or Western meals served during the flight. My kobachi lunch appetizer consisted of eight small dishes, including deep-simmered octopus and taro, eel teriyaki and cucumber, tuna sashimi and pike conger oshi sushi. Miso soup accompanied the freshly steamed koshihikari rice with deep-simmered beef cheek and soy sauce. Vanilla panna cotta and fruit cocktail followed. During the flight, I ordered a bowl of udon noodle soup and a Dean & Deluca ice cream sundae from the Anytime You Wish à la carte menu. Japanese sho–chu– beer and saké were also available. A full Japanese or Western-style breakfast was served before landing. The Bird’s Eye Camera offered excellent cockpit-view images of green rice fields and coastal fishing villages as we made the approach into Narita. (39/40)
The Experience: New Panasonic headphones, a 14-inch entertainment monitor, JAL’s comfortable Shell Flat Neo seats (about 58-inch pitch, 22-inch width) and an attentive flight crew make JAL’s 777-300ER Executive Class service to Tokyo a pleasant experience. Tip: Because of the 2-3-2 seating configuration, the airline tries to keep the middle seats free; reserve aisle or window seats as early as possible, as the 63-seat business-class cabin is often full.
Total Score: 96/100
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.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
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.
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.
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.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.