The Five Yen of Happiness! Featuring Qatar Airways, British Airways… and Shinkansens
- I give in – I need a break (Introduction)
- To Heathrow and The BA Galleries North Lounge
- BA902 London Heathrow to Frankfurt Airport in Club Europe
- Bumbling around Frankfurt Airport with random #AVGeek spotting
- Meeting the A350 and the Air Canada Lounge
- Qatar Airways QR068 Frankfurt to Doha
- The joy of Hamad International Airport, and The Oryx Rotana Hotel
- Qatar Airways Flight QR812 Doha to Tokyo Haneda
- The Hotel JAL City Haneda Tokyo
- Shikansen Adventures to Hiroshima!
- Time in Hiroshima (featuring the ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima)
- Hirosihima – 70 years on
- A day trip to Itsukushima
- More Shinkansen fun to Kyoto (Featuring Kyoto Tower Hotel)
- A trip up to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
- Dinner with The real_jetsetr!
- The JR Central SC Maglev and Rail Museum
- Shinkansen to Tokyo
- The Strings by InterContinental
- Cheap evening – From the Tokyo Metropolitan Building
- The JR East Railway Museum, Saitama
- Shibuya nights
- Akihabara Days
- Gotta Catch them All! A few Pokemon Centres.
- Off to Narita
- Nartia Airport, The JAL Lounge
- Qatar Airways Flight QR807 Tokyo Narita to Doha
- Four and Half Hours in Doha Airport
- Qatar Airways Flight QR067 Doha to Frankfurt
- More time in Frankfurt
- BA8735 Frankfurt to London City Airport (Club Europe)
- And about that Five Yen Coin – The Sensoji Temple, Asakusa
Welcome to another long-haul trip report. And this one is going to be long. Coffee or wine is advised. Expect little focus on aviation when in Japan…. its more of a travelogue than a trip report. There’s plenty of planes… but also experiences. In other words, it’s a full fledged travel/trip report.
I give in – I need a holiday.
For those of us in the IT world – or in fact any industry, you know when to throw in the towel and recharge your own batteries… and I’ll be honest, I’ve been more on the edge some days than not recently.
Early June, I knew I needed a break of some sort. The question was what sort of break – would it be.
One Saturday afternoon I toyed with the idea of Tokyo for a break, and randomly plugged in some dates into Kayak.
In the beginning I was getting fares as low as £377 to Tokyo with Etihad. But as time went on, I decided I wanted to have a holiday – not just time on a plane going places.
No, I will not wash my mouth out with soap and water.
With Tokyo still in mind, I begun to play with the fare a bit more, stretching it out to a full week. The next fares that came in were on British Airways and Finnair – who were offering various routes to Tokyo for £421. A bit more, but not bad at all.
However, these fares fell apart when I looked at connections back from Frankfurt to the United Kingdom – the bottom line was when the plane arrived at Frankfurt, I’d miss the connection back to the UK and force an overnight.
I wasn’t keen on that.
The next fare up was the most interesting – and it was with Qatar Airways. Whilst the flights would be longer thanks to some long stops in Qatar, it opened up a variety of new equipment to me – the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777-200LR.
The price for that fare? £452.
The ticket would route me through Doha, and drop me off in Haneda, and pick me up again in Nartia.
I umm’d and ahhh’d about it a while. Normally when I go on trips, I have a purpose or something to do. This would be harder for me than a lot of trips… what would I do when I got there? Where would I stay? Would the language confuse me completely? Would I make an ass of myself… well more than usual?
In the end, I looked at my office workload. I looked at life. And decided “What the blazes”.
I was going to have a holiday. If I liked it or not.
Again, I turned to my seemingly usual booking agent Bravofly, who secured a ticket for me from Frankfurt to Tokyo and back via Doha.
The next step of the plane would be how to get back and forth to London. Sure, I could had flown directly to Frankfurt with Lufthansa – but they were asking for £300 for a return between Birmingham and Frankfurt.
So, there’s surely a better way to fly.
Thankfully, I had the Avios to make this work, and I combed through the availability – with an early morning departure from Heathrow to Frankfurt, and return into London City Airport. With lots of time in-between so it wouldn’t throw any connection into jeopardy.
Let’s look at a flight map at this point:
Breaking down the segments:
- LHR-FRA – British Airways Boeing 767 Shorthaul
- FRA-DOH – Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900
- DOH-HND – Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8
- NRT-DOH – Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR
- DOH-FRA – Qatar Airways Airbus A350
- FRA-LCY – British Airways CityFlyer Embraer E190SR
The next question was how was I going to get around in Japan? There are three options:
- Express Bus
Let’s throw this Express Bus thing out of the window and be done with it. I’m on holiday – not in the mood to break my back.
Flying would be preferred as it would had give me the chance to try out Japan Airlines on some domestic flights. Except the prices were nearing £125 for a return flight between Tokyo and Hiroshima.
Considering a JR Rail Pass was £150 – or £200 in the Green Car… flying made little sense to me this trip. I could be in comfort in high-speed tube on the ground – or crammed up in a higher speed tube in the air.
The other bonus was that if I wanted to divert from my “planned route” and “planned hotels”… I could (and I did!).
So a JR Rail Pass was ordered in Green Car… because with the miles I’d be doing on the Shinkansen, I’d need it.
In terms of hotels, there were a few things I wanted to do:
- Explore Hiroshima and tick off the one of the major acts second world war in the Pacific theatre
- Explore some shines
- Explore the Shinkansens
- And enjoy the madness that is Tokyo.
Therefore, I needed a crashpad for a night near Tokyo Haneda… and whatever. What “whatever” turned into turned into:
- The JAL Haneda Airport
- The ANA Crowne Plaza in Hiroshima
- Kyoto Dai-Ni Tower Hotel
- And (cheating) The Strings by Intercontinental in Tokyo (well – I had an IHG Ambassador voucher to use)
So, that was the plan. Baring my own stupidity, this should be a fun trip. There would be plenty of that… but that’s another matter completely.
And thus we have something that I actually love in travel – an adventure.
How much of an adventure? Well, you’ll have to hang around and find out.
And about The Five Yen of Happiness…
If you look at the header image, you’ll notice a five yen coin on my keyring:
This five yen coin has travelled with me around the world since my last trip to Japan in 2012. It’s accumulated a lot of happiness, but this five yen of happiness belongs in a shrine rather than on my keyring anymore. This is a chance to return it to give more happiness to others.
Welcome to Economy Class and Beyond – Your no-nonsense guide to network news, honest reviews, with in-depth coverage, unique research as well as the humour and madness as I only know how to deliver.