CX450 TPE-NRT 25/APR B747-400, 2A, First

First Class turned out to be full on this segment, and while I was settling in for the sector to Japan, the lead flight attendant for the F cabin approached me. And she was indeed the girl on the cover of the customer survey I filled in earlier on. She was both pretty and charming, and when she asked me for my choice of drink and newspaper, I let her know that I had been told to expect her as the “customer survey lady”. We both laughed and she said that for some reason, dispatch never had her hand out these forms to the passengers… As this was supposed to be a lunch flight, I decided that some booze couldn’t hurt and subsequently treated myself to a glass of William Deutz bubbly instead of the usual pre-departure Cathay Delight. On this sector, I was offered both a menu and wine list (with the “Cellar in the sky” award on it):

Menu Wine cover Wine p1 Wine p2

Unsurprisingly, I went for the full deal, and the flight attendant seemed pleased by my agreement to try every course. As for the main, I had originally wanted to order the sautéed scallop, but after realizing that my appetizer would already include seafood, I ordered the lamb instead. While I was placing my order (and quietly thinking of the hundreds of people in the back who would later have to chose between chicken and pasta), we pushed back, perfectly in time. The distinctively Australian-sounding captain announced an early arrival into Narita due to favorable wind, and indeed we cruised at up to 1’116km/h according to the airshow. In this case, I would of course not have minded strong headwinds and some extra time in the cradle of comfort that is the nose of a CX 747…

Despite having to deal with a complement of 12 passengers, the flight attendants managed to provide a service that was personal, charming, yet swift and efficient. I am, especially in refined environments, a rather slow eater, and subsequently took a lot more time to finish my meal than my fellow passengers. The crew flawlessly adjusted to this. Soon after takeoff, while I was sipping another glass of bubbly and munching away on some almonds, my table was laid. The appetizer was served shortly after I had finished my almonds (that’s what I call attentive), and the bread basket appeared for the first time. In addition to the butter that is part of the normal table setup, little bottles of olive oil were also offered. I declined the offered white wine and just had some water with the tasty and, despite the wasabi, not too spicy starter. Shortly after I had been served the onion soup, the ISM (not the survey cover girl) came around to introduce herself, and we started chatting about airline design, cabin service and the good ol’ times in general. She was pleased to hear that there are still people my age who like to send physical letters every now and then, and she joined me in regretting that Cathay does no longer serve ZRH. Apparently, it was a crew favorite! The conversation went on for roughly 20 minutes, and the ISM said that she truly enjoyed it to speak to a passenger for a bit longer, as apparently most people are so focused on their newspapers or Studio CX that nobody would really be interested in chatting anymore. Really too bad, for it was good talking to her! Obviously, my soup had gone completely cold in the meantime, and without me saying anything, the ISM had somehow managed to subtly order a replacement, for precisely at the time she left me, another FA approached and replaced my bowl with another, steaming one! And it was tasty as well.

Next up – while the other pax were already having their coffees, was my main course. The lamb was okay, but not outstanding. The Shimeji rice and oriental veggies that I ordered as a side dish were well-prepared and not as overcooked and mushy as they normally are in the back. I chose to try the Tiganello with my food, as I had read good things about it on Flyertalk. And indeed it was very good, but unfortunately too cold. I had hoped that by the time I was having it, it would have warmed up a bit, but either no one else chose it before or they had to open a new bottle. Anyway, I felt that some of the flavor might have gone missing and made a mental note for the upcoming flights to announce my choice of wine when placing my order as to make sure that they could take the respective bottle out of the fridge. (Which in hindsight makes me wonder why they don’t make a point out of taking at least two bottles of each wine from the fridge in anticipation of demand?)

While I was waiting for my personal favorite, the cheese course, the ISM returned with a bunch of greeting cards and stationary sets “so you think of us when you write your next letter”. What a nice gesture, I will remember for sure, and now face the choice of SQ or CX writing kits for my airmail correspondence. But back to the things that matter, such as the cheese course! I was first presented the cheese board with about four different cheeses, and asked for my preferred ones. I requested a “selection” and some moments later was given a platter featuring four hunks of cheese, crudities, grapes, and some delicious nut bread. From a strictly visual perspective, the plate was overloaded. But I felt like overeating… ahem, overlooking this issue… A small glass of port, as suggested by the FA, carried me nicely through the course. Not wanting to spoil my feast by something as healthy as fresh fruit, I skipped to the dessert, which was unusual but not bad at all. The vanilla ice cream added some creaminess to the rather dry but sweet filo pastry. Worth mentioning was the beautiful presentation of this dish, complete with some chocolate powder on the rim of the dessert plate and a baby strawberry topping the ice cream scoop. Those Cathay girls sure take care of the little details!

I turned down the repeatedly offered digestif to round off my meal, but gladly accepted a freshly brewed Espresso. Having learned “the hard way” that the pralines won’t appear unless one asks for them, I did so and immediately faced the candy box choice. I went for the little square shaped pralines with the flowers on and was commended by the FA, as apparently that was her favorite as well. (Naturally, in the course of the remaining flights on this trip, I also sampled the other variants, always in addition to the flowery one! ). When my table was cleared, we were only about 30 minutes out of Tokyo, and I listened to some Beethoven music on the IFE to help me digest while the mighty 747 glad over the Japan coastline and descended over the rice paddies (I think) that surround Narita airport. We landed ahead of schedule and I bid farewell to the crew before disembarking as one of the first passengers.

Upon my last visit to NRT, coming from the same flight, immigration was packed and I had to stand in line for quite some time. This time, I rushed through the corridors only to find the immigration area to be completely deserted. I was processed immediately, exchanged some yen and then proceeded to the courtesy shuttle stop where the Narita Hilton bus picked me up.

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