アメックスが買収した LoungeBuddy の技術を使い、アメックスのアプリからこんな QR コードを生成します。
入場口では、この QR コード、搭乗券そして写真付きID（普通は免許証かパスポート）を提示すれば入場可能。
そんで、入ってみたら… あれぇ？ 広くなったって聞いたのに何も変わらないじゃん。
さすがは SF ベイエリア。プラチナカード® なんてみんなが普通に持っています。
さあ、お気に入りのテーブルのあたりに荷物を置いて… あれれ？ なんだこりゃ？？
まだ客がビッシリまで来ていないので、充分速い。下り 72Mbps 出ています。
ここって、セキュリティが厳しくなる以前、メザニンレベルにあった Red Carpet Club へ行く通路です。つまり、旧ユナイテッドのラウンジがあった場所を空港から通路ごと借り受けて、まるまるラウンジ化してしまいました。
「まだ時間ある？11 時 15 分になったらランチよ。こっち側は 11 時 20 分からよ」
これ、US Centurion だけでしょうか？ 相変わらず謎のカードです。
よくよく考えたら… ５月のバルセロナ行きも EWR 乗り継ぎだから、また来るかも。ｗ
This is Okoy-sensei (now Yamada Denki-sensei), who has been a black cardholder of AmEx since December 2002. You kindly reported on the renovation of the American Express Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (just for me, lol) and I am grateful.ReplyDelete
Oh, AmEx acquired a company with such an excellent technology that allows entry by generating a QR code from an app and presenting a boarding pass and photo ID. I wonder if my outrageously high annual fee has been used as acquisition funds for this. If so, as a longtime AmEx user, I'm happy (am I brainwashed by AmEx?).
Oh, I've seen a similar sight before. I can't remember the name of the airport, but it was probably a lounge related to American Airlines. When I boarded first class at the time, I was told at the check-in counter, "There should be other customers lined up in front of the lounge, but you can enter at once." So, what did that mean? When I went to the lounge, as expected, there was a line. If I hadn't been told in advance, I would have either lined up at the end of the line, or given up on entering. However, I was able to enter smoothly following the advice while being stared at by the people who were already lining up. I suspect that many of the people lining up were Priority Pass holders.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
We know you are a long time admirer of American Express, so this particular article is .dedicated for you, Sensei.
LoungeBuddy Inc. is a small IT company located in San Francisco, offering the ideas and know-how’s of airport lounge access opportunities. They are acquired by AmEx but they still have their own App on Apple or Android devices for finding lounge accessibilities. However, I am a bit skeptical about their profits because of the actual demands…
The worst ‘waiting in the line’ lounge access I saw was at Z-gates in Frankfurt airport… On March 30th, 2022 so about a year ago, I saw about a hundred people making a line for entering Lufthansa lounge.
【Lucullus Nero (FRA Z gates)】https://www.obakoba.com/2022/03/lucullus-nero-fra-z-gates.html
This is utterly insane and unacceptable. This world filled with idiots and beggars.
There are numbers of empty restaurants where serving better foods or beverages rather than air carriers’ lounges. I can’t understand way they are wasting their time to enter such poorly prepared lounges instead of killing their time with fill service at nice and quiet restaurants. Again, this world is filled with idiots.
There was wire and strange signs around your favorite corner, and upon closer inspection, it turns out that the corner had become exclusive to Centurion cardholders.ReplyDelete
I had a similar experience, although it was a little different. When my family went on a trip to Europe, we flew first class on a Thai Airways B744 from Kansai International Airport over Bangkok to Amsterdam. At that time, the airline had its own lounge for business and first class passengers, and we happily went inside. However, there was a corner with a sign that said "For First Class Passengers Only," but there wasn't even any wire around it, just a row of sofas. Despite my feeling embarrassed and hesitant, my children unknowingly lay down on the sofas (lol), so we reluctantly occupied the area with our family of four. During that time, I felt like we were being watched curiously by other passengers and couldn't relax.
Anyway, this also applies to the Centurion Lounge. They should at least make sure that the area is not completely visible to other visitors. Otherwise, it tends to become a "waste of space that no one uses." If the area is not completely visible to other visitors, from the perspective of those who cannot enter, they might think, "I wonder what it's like inside? It must be a really nice space. Oh, I want to have a black card someday!" (Or maybe not? LOL)
It's amazing that in America, when you give a tip, she says, "Oh, thank you. By the way, did you know this lounge is expanding?" Did they tell you when you entered if you had a black card?
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
The AmEx lounge in Buenos Aires accepts Gold cardmembers or higher* (*issued in Argentina. I don’t know if Japan or US Gold card holders try to enter) and then there are two exclusive rooms for the member of Platinum or Centurion cards. I entered Platinum room, but nothing so special from the rest of others. I couldn’t enter or see inside of Centurion room, but what I saw was; when Centurion member arrives, a receptionist guided them to the room and opened the door to invite. I saw the inside of the room for a second or two, then what I saw was luxuriously furnished upholsteries which is Nappa lathered ones. However, considering the situations inside of that room – all the people in the room are black card holders… that is very weird situation, isn’t it? I don’t think I can breathe properly in that room. That is totally a different situation compared to an offline meeting of Certain Card Holders. (LOL)
I remember your family trip to Denmark via South route. These days, because Siberia is closed for the airlines of Advanced Western countries, trip to Europe is more time-consuming experiences, I guess.
I found the guests in Centurion lounge rarely leave gratuities for servicepersons, but only for mixologists. In Polaris lounges I saw people leave some banknotes on the table as well as bar counters. This can be significant evidence which my big boss Mr. Okawa told me that Rich people became rich because they don’t use money. (lol)
Oh, so AmEx rented out the space that used to be the old United Lounge along with the corridor leading to it and turned it into a full-fledged lounge. Is this a testament to the "United Airlines sells anything that can be sold" that you often mention, or is it simply a bold move by AmEx? What is your opinion?ReplyDelete
By the way, your conversation is quite flexible when she said, "Do you still have time? We'll have lunch at 11:15." and you easily agreed to extend your wait time. Did you stay longer to cover the lunch for your report? Even so, if you can get such useful information with just a $5 bill as a tip... what would happen if you had given a $10 bill? (lol)
And there you are. That is the location of the former Red Carpet Club... Your deep insight is made possible because you are a Lifetime 1K member. Were you thinking something like "AmEx is using the place that United sold at a high price. I hope there are no curses" in your mind?
By the way, it's a bit strange that there are two separate "For Centurion Card Holders Only" spaces within the same lounge, and they are visible to anyone... AmEx, this is clearly the curse of United (lol).
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
That were great memories – before 9-11 terrorism happens, there were fairly less securities in the airport. Therefore, we can do farewell escorts for our coworkers just in front of the airport gates (as you know, there are no passport control when you leave USA), or Red Carpet lounges are located everywhere in the airport – one is on the mezzanine level, above the ticket counter. AmEx rented out exactly that place from SFO, arranged the connection to the existing lounge area. This is somewhat shocking for me because that curved corridor with watching down the ticketing counters is a déjà-vu for us as old and authentic members of Red Carpet Club. I am quite sure there are no curses remaining for American Express, but for Continental Airlines or Presidents Club members maybe. (lol)
Honestly replying about the amount of gratuities, I can withdraw 5, 20 or 100 dollar banknotes from Chase ATM. Therefore, when I withdraw cash, I usually get $5 and $20 notes and $5 notes are used for tipping. My behavior is a typical Americans, I think… therefore, no such thing 10 dollar bill.
And the decision I would spend more time is for this blog. Otherwise, I would enter better restaurant and have bacon eggs or sushi. :P
I personally curse United that they terminated the 2 million miler benefit – Lifetime membership for Red Carpet Club. But anyway, the new Polaris lounge overcomes everything to RCC and I can enter there most of the time these days, I am a happy camper. And if, if I achieve 4MM, even Polaris Lounge can be accessible for life as GS.
I see. You know I've been exploited not only by BMW but also by American Express for a long time, so you wrote this article specifically for me, thank you.ReplyDelete
I completely agree that it's hard to understand why about a hundred people would line up to enter a lounge, even if they have the qualifications or rights to enter.
It reminds me of a local department store called Tenmaya in Okayama, where during popular events such as the Hokkaido fair, a long queue of waiting cars is made at the affiliated parking lot. While shopping at Tenmaya might save on parking fees, the wait time is too valuable for me and I couldn't imagine doing it myself.
This is also something that happens during hotel stays, where if I head to the restaurant for breakfast, especially on weekends, there is a long queue. I assume most of the guests are those who have booked a room with breakfast included or have breakfast coupons, but if it were me, I would just go to a café outside the hotel.
Regarding the AmEx lounge in Buenos Aires, it's attractive that a receptionist guides and invites Centurion members to the exclusive room when they arrive, but from my own experience, it's also a little hesitant.
Before the pandemic, my wife and I participated in a day trip exclusively for Centurion members several times. The itinerary was usually to visit renowned temples and shrines around Kyoto, showing us national treasures “that are not usually open to the public” (it’s just platitudes…lol), and the temple staff would guide us after all the general visitors had left. While the content itself was enjoyable, it was also interesting to people-watch the other participants, many of whom came from Tokyo, and there were some strong ones who accompanied Kyoto's maiko. However, I couldn't help but think, "Ah, all these people have AmEx's black card, including me" and it made me quite uneasy.
So, as you said, the fact that everyone in that room is a black cardholder is not only very strange, but also a situation that I have experienced much before at the trips mentioned above. Yes, I agree that I probably couldn't breathe properly in that room (lol).
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
It is very interesting people really attracted by Hokkaido fair at Temma-ya. Exactly the same thing happened at any of department stores in Tokyo if they offer Hokkaido or Eki-ben fiars. I think the word Hokkaido is the key to the high quality yet affordable foods, or people enchanted with certain touching mood from Eki-Bento, I guess. But I won’t go if bunch of people crowded the fair.
If it’s buffet style breakfast, I attend early. Because of the least chance of cross contaminations as well as the best pictures for blog. Well… blog is the primary reason. (lol)
Within this year, I carefully pick IHG hotels whether they have club lounges or not. InterContinental Istanbul was under renovation and the alternative lounge didn’t offer breakfast, but I could attend the main breakfast dining. Therefore, I always went to breakfast buffet by 7 am so I don’t see many people gathering around maple syrup like ants.
The exclusive event for Centurion cardmembers sounds scary for me… Besides you and Masahiro-san, I only saw Centurion card at the hotel reception at Waldorf Astoria Tower in NYC. The card holder looked young – at his age around 40 or less, so he might be a good stock trader or a owner of startup company. But for me, it was fun watching the receptionist took care of him nothing special. It would be much more fun if she replied “Sorry, sir. We only accept Visa or MasterCard.” (lol)
When I transferred a large amount of AmEx MR points to China Airlines and took my family on a trip to Denmark through the South route, all of our family were all exhausted. Even now, with direct flights taking more than 14 hours due to detours over the North Pole to avoid flying over Russia, traveling to Europe is still a hard work for me.ReplyDelete
I see, so it seems that in American airport lounges, regardless of whether it's the Centurion Lounge or not, people don't usually give tips for just entering, but rather only give tips when they receive special services. I can certainly understand the reasoning behind your boss's statement, "Rich people become rich because they don't use money." The truly wealthy likely only spend money on things that truly have value, and avoid spending money on unnecessary items.
Speaking of which, "Red Carpet Club" is a nostalgic name. I remember seeing that name frequently in your early postings on a certain internet bulletin board, so it left an impression on me. At the time, it was abbreviated as "RCC," so at first, I mistakenly thought it meant "renal cell carcinoma(腎細胞癌)." I also initially thought that "ROM" meant "range of motion(関節可動域)."
That curved corridor that was once used as the Red Carpet Club may have been somewhat shocking for you, but now that you have frequent access to the Polaris Lounge, which surpasses the Red Carpet Club, that's a wonderful thing. As a reader, I hope to someday see you achieve 4MM and become a GS, making full use of the Polaris Lounge.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
If the trip to Europe is super long haul for you, then please consider visiting California.
We do leave gratuities at the bar counter when we received alcohol beverages – 1-2 dollars for a beer or wine, 5 dollar note for Champagne or cocktails. This is what I saw at lounges in SFO – United Clubs, Polaris Lounge and Centurion Lounge. However, most of guests don’t leave banknotes on the coffee table or side table around the sofa. The dining room in Polaris Lounge is the exception, most of guests leave 5-10 dollar notes when they leave. But in Centurion Lounge, I saw more than half of guests tip for mixologists but nothing for servicepersons. I simply thought that not a fair for servicepersons, so I usually leave 5 dollar note on the table. Btw. I saw Europeans do lesser, usually no tip. Americans leave gratuities because we experienced slaves and we still have good amount of slaves (a.k.a. immigrants)
So… RCC stands for a type of cancer for you. I have some similar misrecognitions such as WTO stands for Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO is a successor to GATT these days).
Because my Japanese “common sense” got frozen about 25 years ago, I have some troubles when I visit Japan. 国電 or 国鉄 no longer available, 帝都高速度交通営団 is now Tokyo Metro and there are bunch of unknown lines like Namboku-line or Ooedo-line. ToYoko-side of Shibuya is totally a mess, it’s a wonderland.
I will achieve 3.1MM this year for sure. So… at 4MM, I would be way over 70. This means, the rest of my “Lifetime” itself is the key. (lol)
By the way, the design of the Centurion's base card face has not changed. Since last year, the annual fee has increased from 385,000 yen to 550,000 yen (both tax-inclusive) in Japan, and the metal card face is now available in a choice of three designs. The "design with leaves floating" that you saw seems to be the most popular, and my wife chose this one. As for me, who is a second-rate person who chooses Nissan over Toyota and BMW over Mercedes, I chose the geometric pattern design that is probably the second most popular. The third most popular design is the same black, inorganic design as the previous titanium card. If you are interested, I will show you the new designed metal cards, along with the new Prada IC chip bracelet that has been added for touch payments, when we meet in May.ReplyDelete
So, with the increase in the annual fee, they added:
・a choice of metal card designs
・a Prada bracelet
・Addition of high-end city hotels as Centurion-exclusive options for the Free Stay Gift
They tried to prevent cancellations due to the annual fee increase by adding these three things. The only thing that was attractive to me was the Free Stay Gift. Last year, my wife and I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo using this Gift, and luckily, it applied even on a Saturday, allowing us to enjoy a stay at this hotel. The hotel shows a minimum regular rate for weekend of over 200,000 yen. I chose to focus intentionally on the improvement of the Free Stay Gift as the only reason to accept the annual fee increase from last year.
However, there are also some quietly deteriorating automatic benefits, such as Marriott Bonvoy's automatic inclusion of Gold status, which has now been downgraded to Silver. By the way, the order of Bonvoy’s hierarchy is Silver < Gold < Platinum < Titanium < Ambassador, and this might be due to IHG's influence? (lol) AmEx had cards up to Titanium, so maybe a new Ambassador card might be created above the Centurion card? Even if such a card were to be created, I wouldn't be able to afford it anymore...
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
So, there are three designs for Centurion cards – leaves, geometric or inorganic… it is somewhat interesting American Express tries to give some fancy upgrades for their highest end products. This may be caused by the complaints that some black card holders demanded that pink gold card, which I wanted but not available for Platinum Card holders… AmEx needs flexibility that the account remains Centurion or Platinum but the tangible cardfaces can be green, gold or pink gold.
Yes, I would like to take a look at the modified black cards, please.
The Free Stay Gift sounds interesting but the delta at JPY165,000 is quite high. I expect bunch of Centurion cardmembers are degraded their card to Platinum.
When Amex Black Card has been rumored to unofficially disclosed, it came with all of highest status of hotel chains – HHonors, Hyatt, Starwood and IHG… now they offer some of those and the Luxury Hotel & Resorts are being degraded as well.
It doesn’t make sense to me that perks and rewards are degrading but the annual fee is raising again and again. I guess this is because they are still under crisis of bankruptcy…. Before and after the Lehman shock, their business went ill. They are still under recovering by selling unprofitable side-businesses and laying off employees. Amen.
Marriott voivoi Gold membership is another benefit to United 1K. Because the credit card issuer of Marriott is not only Amex but J.P.Morgan Chase. I have a right to make myself voivoi Gold but I stopped upgrading myself because I don’t stay at Marriott properties…
My wife and I have been staying at the Strings Hotel Tokyo InterContinental since the day before yesterday (my wife is still there). Thanks to the Ambassador weekend benefit, we only had to pay for one night out of the three we stayed, as one night was free and the other was paid for with IHG points. Although we didn't have lounge access, they upgraded our room by two grades, which was very much appreciated. What was especially great was the check-in experience. We arrived before 3 pm and there were quite a few people hanging around the front desk area. It seemed that they had already checked in but were waiting for their rooms to be prepared. Despite thinking that we would be waiting for a while, when we approached the counter, they said, "You're a Platinum Ambassador member, so we'll let you in your room right away ♪". Meanwhile, at the neighboring counter, a foreign guest was complaining, "Can't we use our room yet?". I'm always impressed by the treatment that IHG gives to its elite customers.ReplyDelete
Oh, in a previous comment I wrote that my automatic inclusion in the Centurion program through Marriott Bonvoy had been downgraded to silver, but that was a mistake. It was actually gold, and I had just forgotten to register.
It seems that people are attracted to the Hokkaido Fair not only at Tenmaya in Okayama, but also at department stores in Tokyo. Hokkaido and Okinawa are always popular travel destinations within Japan, but the power of the name "Hokkaido" as a draw for food is something else. I wouldn't want to live there in the harsh winter, but it's definitely a popular destination.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
Hope your trip to Tokyo was sufficient enough, more enjoyable.. I have enjoyed the peace and quiet as well. (lol)
IHG anticipating hotels, especially interContinental themselves, are highly treating their Ambassador and Diamond/Platinum guests. I am always receiving good services such as room upgrades as well as unexpectedly fabulous welcome amenities.
Also, because I have stayed Crowne Plaza Istanbul several times plus three more stays within this year, managers of reservation and customer relations became my good friends. Last April was the exceptions, stayed at InterContinental Istanbul. The guest relations manager was disappointed by hearing my April stay; I explained the award nights weren’t available on that period. Then, then, the manager said “Please let me know if you have any difficulties finding your room on us. We will find the best for you.” As a result, when I cancel the trip to Asian side and stay in Istanbul instead, they offered me my favorite room – highest floor in “Quiet Zone” quadrant building. Now I can’t betray this hotel so I brought a candy box when I visited Istanbul last time. The managers were really surprised by the small gift even I wasn’t staying at them, I received a very lovely thank-you letters from them. The relations with hotel and the guests brew spontaneously in this way, for example, without elite statuses of hotel chains.
If you visit Singapore, you would be surprised how the word “Hokkaido” is being featured for high quality, expensive in other words, foods in that tiny island. Most of ‘relatively’ expensive dairy products are coming with the word “Hokkaido” although I wasn’t sure where the milk came from, cakes and fruits are also Hokkaido featured ones. However, sushi and unagi are not featured with Hokkaido, Singaporeans are not that stupid. (lol)
I see, you make an effort to arrive at the restaurant or lounge early when having breakfast. If I were in a situation where breakfast was free, I would also try to arrive early.ReplyDelete
Through reading some of your articles and my own experiences as an IHG elite member, I have come to understand that being a Platinum Ambassador with lounge access would be the ultimate. I can also understand the background to your focus on lounge usage.
The exclusive event for Centurion cardmembers is also a bit like "curiosity killed the cat" for me. Your experience of seeing a Centurion card at the hotel reception at Waldorf Astoria Tower in NYC is quite interesting. At least in Japan, I have never received any special reaction when showing my black card. Maybe it's because I live in a provincial city like Okayama. I also vividly remember in 2002, just after getting my Centurion card, being eager to use it and trying to use it to buy a limousine bus ticket at Haneda Airport, only to be told, "This card is not accepted. Any other card except AmEx is accepted ♪". I was so angry that I immediately complained to AmEx, and I'm not sure if it worked or not, but AmEx was eventually accepted at that ticket counter…
In my limited experience, it seems that the reaction is more likely to be positive in the United States. I still remember when I made a reservation for a day tour at the travel lounge in the Hilton on the island of Hawaii (which, I had noticed, had the AmEx logo displayed), and jokingly asked, "Can I use AmEx?" before presenting my black card, the person was surprised and said, "I've never seen the black card. Never, in my life before!" It's a story from a long time ago now.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
I think your morning starts early everyday due to your occupation… and that is another reason I can’t be in charge of healthcare services. I am too lazy to think someone else, especially in the morning.
Before receiving the annual lounge membership, when I book a hotel and if that hotel has club lounge, I contact reservation team if they can offer lounge access with some extra payments. This was the good starts with IC Athens and CP Istanbul. Both have club lounge and offered me the accesses with small payments – those were; 60 euro/night at IC Athens and 40 euro/night at IC Istanbul. Considering the breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails for two for everyday, this has worth paying such, IMHO.
There are so many black-colored credit cards because Centurion, so the real black card is now buried amongst the fake black cards… Amen. However, my JPMorgan card is so bling-bling and super heavy, the metal card sometimes receive attentions. This is okay in California or in Japan, but it is scary if I am traveling somewhere under high risk of thefts or burglaries. So, I carry “tappable” version of JPM card when I visit Europe or developing countries.
The acceptance of Amex is always the key. Therefore, I don’t carry tangible Amex cards anymore. Also, I do need at least one MasterCard when I visit Europe. I don’t encounter the situations at least five years so far but there are “EuroCard Only” merchants, I found them in France, Germany, Italy, Swiss and Spain. The EuroCard is MasterCard, so if I show MasterCard there’s no problem but if I show Visa cards, the salesperson damned and said “We only take EuroCard, sir.” Visa network is overcoming these situations now, but no significant progress seen with Amex. Instead, if I visit South America – Argentina or Chile, they love American Express much better than Visa/MasterCard, surprisingly. At the restaurants and cafés, you can very frequently find Amex sugar pots or checking envelopes. No wonder South America is another hemisphere of “America”!! (lol)
Yes, until I read your post on that online bulletin board, RCC was nothing more than a type of cancer to me. I was surprised to learn that it's an abbreviation for a lounge name at an American airline.ReplyDelete
My knowledge of trains has been stagnant since elementary school. The shinkansen only runs between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, with only two types of trains, Hikari and Kodama. West of Shin-Osaka is a treasure trove of limited express trains on conventional lines such as the Sanyo Main Line, and as a child I saved up my pocket money to ride the limited express train alone to Shin-Osaka. I still remember the words I used at the ticket counter, "One child ticket for the 9:16 limited express Uzushio No. 1 from Okayama to Shin-Osaka with reserved seat." I was able to easily calculate the one-way fare by mastering the "Japan Travel Bureau Timetable" and handed over 900 yen while saying these words. At that time, limited express trains were truly worthy of being called "special express trains." There were always a green car and a dining car attached (since it was a Ube-originating Shin-Osaka train, the travel time was only about three hours!), and the train configuration was luxurious.
If I had enough time and money, I would stock up on the cheapest boxed lunch (200 yen), and even if I didn't have enough, there was always an in-train vendor, so I would buy frozen mandarin oranges. It was such a fun and dreamlike time that it's hard to imagine the current impersonal train travel experience. After that, the shinkansen extended westward to Hakata, and Okayama became just another shinkansen station, while the Sanyo Main Line, which had so many limited express trains running, was reduced to a mere local line. My passion for trains and railways gradually cooled down.
I see, so by the time you reach 4MM, both you and I will be over 70 years old. Indeed, given our average life expectancy, the word "lifetime" itself may not exist for us? But well, dreams and goals are important in life no matter what stage we're at. Let's keep looking ahead! But if we look ahead, we might already be on the final straightaway? (lol)
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
For me, RCC is always an airport lounge because most of the big shots in our company are United customers, hence the administrative assistants used the 3 letters RCC verbally and on emails.
Shinkansen ends at Shin-Osaka… yes, that wasn’t a fun for me because if we try visiting Osaka we have to change at Shin-Osaka where was just in a middle of nowhere at that time.
My most memorable Japan domestic, long-haul trip was between Tokyo and Takayama when I was high school student. Though we were keen to enter good colleges, photo club guys planned to visit Hida-Takayama, and surprisingly the “always top score dude” joined the trip, no wonder he is a Kokutetsu nerd like you. (lol) So, we took blue train (I forgot which one was) to Gifu, and then changed to local train to Hida-Takayama. 2-3 nights stay in Takayama was a fun but the outbound journey by slow trains was the biggest fun. But for return trip, we took Shinkansen from Nagoya.
Before I leave Japan, there were JTB and JR timetables… I often bought the different ones and screwed up by the different layouts. Since then, I dislike timetables in such humongous pages but unbelievably thin papers.
And talking about eki-ben, my most favorite was Chicken Bento at Tokyo station. I found they revived due to high demands, but for me, the revived one is not my Chicken Bento. It was fun having that bento with unbreakable ice cream which additionally bought in Shinkansen. I also remember the Omusubi Kororing bento box from Okayama was a good one. If it’s still available I will definitely try it again.
Now I don’t pursuer 4 million miles… the rest of my lifetime is one of the reasons but I am simply tired sticking with one air carriers which does not serve the best in the air actually.
Unfortunately, my trip to Tokyo was over in a flash, even though I had a great time. We had a feast at the Strings Hotel's Italian restaurant followed by at the bar with five people, and spent quite a bit of money. Nevertheless, I charged everything to the room, so I'm likely to earn more IHG points (lol). My wife is still in Tokyo, and she has been to Ginza Mitsukoshi, Wako, and the Imperial Hotel Plaza, and even conquered Shinjuku Isetan. Today, she might be wandering around Ebisu looking for prey? So, I’m back home and subsequently, your peace and quiet time is over (lol).ReplyDelete
As you say, the relationship between hotels and guests can be built naturally without elite statuses of hotel chains. However, for customers like me who cannot use hotels that often, the AmEx automatic FSP elite qualification is a welcome benefit.
I noticed during my recent trip to Tokyo that on the outbound JAL flight, I was still able to board by touching my JMB plastic card, but on the return ANA flight, I had to check-in in advance via my smartphone and obtain a QR code to board. QR codes are also commonly used in cinema complexes, so it may be common to use them to board flights, but it's a tough world for analog people like me. Nevertheless, we have no choice but to catch up with the times.
Also, a JAL Sakura Lounge was opened at Okayama Airport. Although ANA had a premium lounge, only JGC or first-class passengers could use the JAL lounge, and if there was no first-class seating on a route like Okayama, I, as a customer without elite status, could not gain entry. Previously, my Centurion Card had automatic Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Diamond status, which allowed me to enjoy the same treatment as JAL's top-tier Diamond members. However, it's gone now, and even though a Sakura Lounge has opened at my local Okayama Airport, it's out of reach.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
I’m glad to hear your rejoining at The Strings was successful and productive.
But your wife-san was released in downtown Tokyo alone?? …that might give you severe financial damage, I guess. But she might try discounts at the headquarter of Mitsukoshi. (One of my T colleagues was working at that department store… btw)
Yes, the point you mentioned about making stays better at “not time consuming” or “first time visit” accommodations is the one of the goal for the travel agents including American Express. They started their business with travel and cargo products, later on they added credit card business, as you know. Therefore, providing better travel experiences to their customers is the key to Amex, and this is what Amex differs from other card issuers. JPM Chase , Citibank Morgan Stanley and BofA Merrill Lynch are trying but can’t beat Amex at all because of their long history of being a Travel Agency, I think.
These days, QR code does everything… I thought I am still tech-savvy but I can’t use QR codes like Chinese people do. At least I have my iPhone with Clippers and Suica so I will be okay for a while. Oh, btw. I just read that Icoca will be available on iPhone and Android within this year. Congrats to your favorite platypus coming into your cellphone.
I briefly checked Priority Pass but no lounges available at OKJ…
LoungeBuddy, subsidiary of Amex, shows three lounges;
- All Nippon Airways Signet
- Japan Airlines Sakura
- Lounge Muscat
I can see those three lounges including a fruity one, but not sure how to purchase the one-time pass. I hope Amex Japan is knowledgeable enough about their subsidiary and give you opportunities to purchase one-time lounge access.
I cannot say for sure if everyone in my profession wakes up early, but based on my experience, when I was a new doctor, I was forced to work 24/7. I slept and lived in the hospital's on-call room for almost a year and only had New Year's Day off. It was even difficult to go home to change clothes, so I often asked friendly pharmaceutical company employees to buy me underwear and socks, and threw away my worn-out clothes in the trash.ReplyDelete
What was even more difficult was that patients and their families believed or expected that their doctor would immediately come running if the patient's condition worsened. I once planned a family trip to Hawaii, and my children were really looking forward to it. However, I was called into the hospital just before departure and was asked to explain a patient's condition to the family. I tried to explain it quickly, but they persisted and in the end, I missed my flight. I wouldn't even ask the family to pay for the cancellation fee, and I had to swallow my tears. What was even more painful was seeing the sad faces of my children. If I had the abilities of the amazing characters (Superman, Robin Hood, Spiderman, etc.) that are placed around that house in Singapore, I could have rushed to Hawaii even from there (lol).
According to your story, even if I don't have an annual lounge membership, it seems that when I book a hotel, if the hotel has a club lounge, I may be able to get access to it for an additional fee. I noticed a club lounge sign in the elevator hall of the Strings Hotel where I stayed this time, so I will try it next time. If I can get breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails for two every day for a relatively reasonable additional fee, that would be a good deal.
Yamada Denki sensei,Delete
As long as I know the medical doctors are getting up early, before sunrise, and start working.
Your ‘intern’ period sounds like a game programmer… at the headquarter of Sega, there were shower room in the basement so when I was talking with big bosses going with the parking lot, young girls and boys were going by, with a smell of soap. (lo) AT Sega of America we also had temporary sleeping rooms.
I am so sorry to hear about the sad story missing the vacation. Healthcare industry has severer situation for the workers… that is a typical Japanese working stances. If it were in the States, all of your coworkers would be prioritize your family vacation rather than your patients’ lives. Seriously this is true. That’s why the jury duty at the court doesn’t allow business trips for excuse serving, but family trips are accepted and excused.
My parents are working on completely opposite type of job. When I’m in the summer holidays, they were together because all of us are in elementary schools. (different schools, btw.) Therefore, my parents took me to Hakone or somewhere for 2-3 weeks every summer, giving me opportunities to encounter foreigners. Then, as a result, I became a foreigner! (lol)
Nothing goes wrong if you fail the negotiations of lounge access. Within IHG properties the chance of success so far is 100%, or even more. Once I got a lounge access, the reservation manager put me club floor so that the lounge is physically closer and even easier to access. This happened on IC Athens and CP Istanbul. But IC Yokohama didn’t give me anything besides room upgrades.