Continental BusinessFirst New York EWR Tokyo Flight 79 – Review

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I had been warmly greeted by several flight attendants as I entered the aircraft and the mood was cheery, which is the exception, not the rule, for air travel today.

An amenity kit and slippers had already been placed at my seat.  It included eyeshades, socks, mints, tissues, a hairbrush, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, and lip balm, among other goodies.

A pre-departure beverage was offered.  Since it was a long flight, I tried the Champagne, which was quite good.

Soon after we were aloft, the cabin crew began the in-flight dinner service.

We started off with warm roasted nuts and a drink and then the Japanese appetizer cart appeared.  I was offered a demitasse of Japanese clear soup with seaweed, egg, crabmeat paste, leek, and sautéed shrimp accompanied by chicken sate with a sweet chile lime mango sauce.  While this sounds rather complex, it came together nicely.  An assortment of sushi was also on the cart, accompanied by shoga (marinated ginger) and wasabi.

This was followed by a green salad with a creamy wasabi dressing and roasted pine nuts. Yum.

When presented with a meal choice that includes a specialty from the country I am about to visit, I usually order it and I was quite happy I did.

The Japanese meal included a wide variety of dishes.  One plate featured braised duck, Saikyo-style grilled prawn, salmon kelp roll, a small abalone, and yuzu citrus.  A simmered turnip with minced chicken sauce, shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms was nearby. Did I mention the snap peas, ringi mushrooms, and cod roe?  And let’s not forget tomato and crab salad or braised seabream with julienned leek, carrot, okura, and tofu.  There was a bowl of miso soup and, of course, steamed rice.

Even with this bounty, we were not done.  There was a fruit and cheese cart and a dessert cart.  I asked one of the flight attendants to save me a fruit and cheese plate until later, which I then enjoyed while watching The Help.

Given the length of the flight, there were two meal services.  Two hours or so before arrival, we were offered a breakfast-like meal, something I (and my seatmate) found a bit odd given that we were arriving at three in the afternoon.  Nonetheless, the Japanese option, which included grated radish with sardine, tuna salad, grilled salmon with Saikyo-miso marinade, a Japanese omelette, a taro potato with cod roe and cucumber with plum paste, Japanese pickles, miso soup, and steamed rise, was excellent and welcome regardless of the hour.

The scheduled flight time was 14 hours 15 minutes and our actual flight time was a little less.  I was able to sleep for a total of about seven hours, if not an all-time personal  record then definitely a record in the past five years.

My ability to sleep was helped by the quiet atmosphere in the cabin. The cabin crew seemed to try to be extra quiet when walking through the cabin and there was no audible galley talk resonating throughout the cabin.  Members of the cabin crew said excuse me several times when walking by, treating their presence as a potential intrusion on our space and doing their best to minimize it.


We arrived a few minutes early despite a late start, and BusinessFirst passengers were able to disembark first.  I hadn’t checked any luggage but I still needed to clear Japanese immigration and customs.   I happened upon a completely empty immigration line and was on my way to the Narita Express train (pictured) to downtown Tokyo minutes later.


This was my first Continental flight but also my last.  My flight left U.S. airspace as Continental 79 on 29 November but it technically arrived in Tokyo as a United flight as United-Continental Holdings was granted a single operating certificate by the FAA effective 30 November.

Having never flown on Continental before, I now see what so many people have been raving about. BusinessFirst is an excellent premium product and it is clear to me that it has earned its name as a true hybrid between first- and business-class.

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