There’s no bling to be found here, but if you’re searching for luxury and refinement – you’ve hit gold. All Nippon Airways (ANA) First Class is an exceptional way to fly, from curbside to customs. It’s not the newest offering on the market, yet the small touches keep it amongst the tippy top, in a very competitive landscape.
On a recent flight out of Tokyo, we put their seat, service and amenities to the test – and with true first class offerings – there’s a whole lot to love.
It took no longer than three minutes to realize that this is a truly exceptional way to fly. After struggling to find the “Suites” check in desk, we consulted a roaming ANA Narita airport agent.
The agent immediately insisted upon personally escorting us to the Suites Check In area, located nearer to security checkpoints, to the right of the terminal if facing in. Just walk straight past all the desks, head right and the look left.
Located behind an automatic glass door sits the lovely, well staffed ANA suites check in area. Personable staff members promptly completed procedures, while offering a hot towel. As any traveler can imagine – this is a fabulous (and hygienic) way to start an airport experience.
If you ask us, the hot towel ritual is a detail which arguably costs ANA very little, but creates a lot of good will.
After clearing the private security channel for First Class passengers in a time rivaling a Usain Bolton 200 meter run, we were greeted in the “Suites Lounge”. The space is reserved solely for first class passengers and top tier All Nippon Airways frequent flyers.
A lounge staff member promptly greeted our party and found a desirable seat location to our liking. Within moments of seating we were again offered a hot towel and beverage of our choosing. Two restaurant quality iced lattes later, we were very impressed.
The ANA Narita Suites lounge is a bit of an enigma. While nothing stands out as truly exceptional from a design standpoint, the crowd control, lightning fast wifi and rotation of culinary offerings make it a wonderful place to pass time.
The lounge features a steady rotation of buffet treats, with light Japanese dishes, sushi, fruits, pastry and appetizer selections. Wifi connectivity speeds consistently offered 25MBPS upload and download or better, which is shocking – in a good way.
Wines, beer, spirits and tea are plentiful – but if you ask us, it’s worth waiting for the flight. The lounge selections are perfectly nice, and the coffee happens to be outstanding, but on board, ANA offers a wildly exciting array of choices with which to imbibe.
After a boarding process which will leave you nothing short of frustrated on your next (non) All Nippon Airways flight – we were on board, and within minutes – so was the rest of the plane. How can it take only 20 minutes to board a fully laden Boeing 777 when it takes an hour to board a regional jet elsewhere? It’s no wonder why travelers adore Japan.
First thoughts: what a seat. Understated, wide, padded, private and very livable. There’s no door to be found, but you’d struggle to see another passenger without standing and peering. Storage space is certainly no issue here. A dizzying amount of space can be found at eye level throughout the seat and under the foot rest.
On our particular flight, there was hardly any time for a drink before take off. Settling in gave way to our one gripe of the ANA experience, and it’s one – likely shared with all passengers on board. ANA’s in flight movie selection felt particularly light, especially for the longer journeys which many of their flights entail. To ensure amusement beyond the (far too drinkable) Krug, Bring your iPad?
ANA publishes menus in advance, so if you’re flying First Class with the airline, preview their menu. ANA famously serves Hibiki Suntory 21 Year Old Whisky in First Class, which we believe is presently the most opulent spirit offered on any airline. At $500+ a bottle, it’s a rare treat and utterly drinkable in the air.
Even with a 10 hour connecting flight immediately prior, sleep on this flight left us very well rested and “The Ginza” amenities left us looking somewhat the same. Our only complaint from this flight – we wished it to be longer. After a treat of a meal, 5 hours of sleep felt like robbery. For this experience – the longer the flight, the better.