Narita Lounges

One of the benefits of traveling on business is that it’s the only time I get to fly business class to anywhere. Aside from more space, it also means I can make use of the airline lounges.

Today I managed to get through immigration in time to spend almost an hour at the Cathay Pacific lounge at Narita airport. For me the best things about these lounges are the comfy seats and the free food and drink.

However, judging by the comments made by some fellow travellers, hardened business class types were none too impressed.

“This is the worst lounge in the world!”

– quipped a man near me into his mobile phone; he then chuckled before telling whoever was on the other end of the call that they’d made 500 million in India the previous day. I wonder if it’s cheaper to rent a seat in business airport lounges than actually employ a financial adviser.

Anyway, for my more modest requirements, I went in search of coffee and internet access. The former was a few metres away. The latter took a bit of looking around for. This lounge doesn’t have wireless or any customer access points, but it does have four aging PCs in cubicles, and as they are free, that was effectively a done deal.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a ‘Windows 98’ sticker on a PC, but there it was, on what I think was a Pentium 2 based NEC machine, sporting a whopping 192Mb memory and Windows 2000 SP4. Anyway, they each have an ISDN connection so I should be OK I thought.

There were two browser icons on the desktops: a Netscape one labelled ‘English’ and an IE one labelled ‘Japanese’. The IE was version 6.0x but amazingly, the Netscape browser was 4.76. After the nostalgia had washed over me I remembered why it’s not common now: it doesn’t do CSS and a whole host of other things and thus couldn’t render most pages as anything other than text and a few images, though it did manage to supply a usable Gmail page, but how secure it was is anyones guess.

I decided that I’d try to download Firefox but usually these things are commendably locked down; this one wasn’t locked down at all. I was able to download and install Firefox with no issues. At least I could read Slashdot more easily now. Just as an example, here’s a couple of small screenshots, and please, Cathay, use better browsers on your PCs – if only for the security of your customers connections if nothing else.

Netscape at Cathay

firefox at cathay

Also, thanks for letting me be able to use my USB clip disk!