This is just a brief trip record of the flight from Chicago to Tokyo. As the only operator that has two daily flights between these two cities, ANA has its morning Chicago departure one arrive at Narita airport while the afternoon departure one arrives at Haneda at night. The two planes swap at Chicago airport. I arrived at the airport pretty early, even much earlier than the counter open time. There were several benches in front of ANA's check-in counter and it was actually quiet at 6 am on this side (ANA and Lufthansa share one counter in terminal 1 at the far corner), but you could see many United's passengers come inside the terminal and it was way too crowd on the United's side. Check-in procedure was smooth, and one ANA's staff (not United, which is in charge of ANA's ground service in Chicago) was going through the line and distributing the Christmas boot tag on the suitcase. It was really a cute one. The day was just Christmas, but the entire terminal was just full of chaos and hustle as usual. The security line was endless just as any day here, and TSA people were rude as hell too. It took me about one hour to go through the security and identity check, and the hell continued in the bathrooms of the boarding gate zone jamming with people. These very few little bathrooms in terminal 1 were really overwhelmed all the time.
Glimpse of empty ANA's check-in counter (this is actually ticket counter, the check-in zone was just right on the left)
Today's aircraft was JA788A, which had a renewed Inspiration of Japan interior with 8F, 52C, 24PY and 166Y's configuration. This is probably the best economy seat in the industry now. With the 2-4-3's layout, you have much convenience to either sit alone or with different numbers of companions (Japan Airlines's renewed 772 had 3-4-2's configuration and I think these are the only two that are using it). Each economy seat has the most generous size of all airlines, with the longest pitch 34 inches, and the widest width ~18.5 inches (34 in pitch are available on all ANA's 77W and 789, Japan Airlines' all 77W, renewed 772, all 788 and all 789, Korean Air's most long-haul aircrafts. Asiana Airlines and Eva Airways usually have 33 in pitch). Another fantastic feature of the seat is that it has fixed back, which means you won't be bothered by the guy who reclined the seat all the way back in front of you to make your eyes be way too close to the screen and shrink your legroom, and at the same time you don't need to feel guilty while you want a better posture for a nap. The boarding gate was C10, which ANA uses every time. Going through the gloomy jet bridge, ANA's cabin attendants greeted to every passenger at the entrance. Didn't get a chance to see First Class, but Business Class's loading was only like half-full. The economy was full without any empty seat. Push-back was on time, though take-off was delayed about 15 min due to O'hare's air traffic control (arrived at NRT little earlier than scheduled time).
ANA just made some special meals available from this month. I pre-ordered sea food meal for this trip. The normal meal's menu is still available on ANA's web (go to Service by Class then go to Economy and scroll all the way down to find the menu, remember to change the date in the URL), but ANA's US departure's normal meal is unchanged for like several years, and not comparable to the one from Japan-departure's at all. The sea food meal was actually not bad. The entree was shrimp with scallop and the breakfast was scrambled eggs with fish. As usual, there were many mid-flight snacks available in the galley, and most of them were brought from Japan. Beverage selections were broad, though I got Kabosu all the time. Cabin attendants were very kind, friendly and professional, and after the light was dimmed they went through the cabin very often to collect trash and distribute water. The lavatories were clean at all times, with lotions available. However, the toothbrush was not provided, at least not just put there for passengers to use (usually they'll give economy passengers toothbrush, ear plugs and eye mask on request, but I've never asked).
This is the lunch served. Before that there was a mixed snack and beverage service.
The service procedures just got changed several months before this flight. The most evident thing is there's a new mid-flight sandwich, which was distributed with lights on. But it is really too tiny, personally I really don't think it's needed as there were so many nice foods available in the galley, and the additional procedure just bothered the cabin attendants and also the drowsy passengers. But on the other hand, I don't mind to get one extra sandwich, and I got tuna, which had an SF sign on it. Another thing is hot towel service was canceled, with the normal wet towel instead.
Overall this is a very pleasant trip. Outstanding service, wonderful cabin, and good meals. Definitely recommended, though Japan Airlines does offer better economy food on its long-haul flight. However, except it's Japanese friend, ANA beats every other carrier between US and Asia.
Chicago - ORD
Tokyo - NRT
ANA: Cabin: excellent, the best seat that is in use now Cabin crew: excellent, friendly and hard-working Entertainment: good, though movie selection was not as much as Cathay Pacific, etc Meal: seafood meal was good
Chicago O'hare Airport: Check-in: United's staff did check-in, good Anything that was not managed by airlines: horrible
Narita Airport: A very good airport with friendly people and high-efficiency
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