This report will cover the slightly shorter eastbound flight from Narita to O’Hare. There are 5 flights per day non-stop between these two airports (AA x1, JL x1, NH x2, and UA x1). NH also operates an afternoon flight that leaves the same time as the UA plane, but I had to be in Chicago by noon so this was the only flight that worked with my schedule.
When I hit transfer security and immigration, there was no line even though I was dawdling to get off my first flight. However, as soon as I got in line, a rush of people came in behind me. I quickly cleared immigration and was dumped into Satellite 5. I decided to just use the ANA Lounge at Satellite 5. It’s located up the escalators as you exit immigration.
The NH agent took my EY Guest Gold card and boarding pass, entered me into the system and then gestured for me to use the ANA Lounge side. This time, the agent didn't even flinch when seeing the EY card. Entering, I was met with a zoo. It was jam packed at the front of the lounge with all of the NH TPACs getting ready to depart.
I used my expertise to veer off down the side corridor to the wing of the lounge that is much quieter (although it lacks windows overlooking the tarmac).
Having only 30 minutes until my boarding time, I wasn’t there to take in the tarmac views, but to fill my belly before the long trip in Y with unknown catering. The food offering in this wing area is identical to the food available in the main sitting area (minus the noodle bar, which was very crowded). It’s not an overly impressive lounge offering, but it will do.
The deserted seating area. Each seat has a power outlet.
My first offering.
My second offering.
Just as I was starting my second plate, the agent came over the PA and announced that NH12 will start boarding in 5 minutes. I packed up my things and headed out towards my gate. The artwork in front of the lounge entrance.
Off to Gate 42.
Our nextdoor neighbor is a beautiful OS B772.
My bird today, a B77W, with a very appropriate registration “777.”
All Nippon Airways, NH 12 Equipment: Boeing B777-300ER [JA777A, delivered October 2006] Departure: 10:45 (ATD: 11:01) Arrival: 08:25 (ATA: 07:54) Flight time: 10:53
I boarded with business class using my EY Gold status.
Entering the beast.
Boarding with business class, a very warm “konnichiwa” boarding. I walk through the galley getting a couple more bows before making my way all the way through the main J cabin and the Y+ cabin back to the first Y cabin. Here is my seat for this flight.
The Y-cabin on this B77W is in the weird 2-4-3 configuration (really more like a 2-2-2-3 since there is a gap in the middle of the 4 seats). Some of the B77Ws that they use on other international routes like NRT-LAX are in the 3-4-3 configuration. The other key difference is that this cabin gets a 34” pitch, but the 3-4-3 cabin gets only 31”. So be careful when taking NH. Since the cabin hasn’t been filled yet, some more shots of the seats. I found these seats to be pretty hard; they lacked padding. My butt was already hurting during the taxi to the runway so I used the pillow from the seat next to me as a cushion.
As I said, the 34” seat pitch is very comfortable. The two middle seats in my row remained empty, the flight was around 85% full in Y so I got lucky. The guy on the other end of my row was taller than me and he still had plenty of space.
The footrest that folds down. I didn't use this since I’m not short.
The IFE and remote. Below the screen is the USB plug.
The tray table with foldout cup holder.
Seatback pocket. There is a smaller storage pocket in the front for small personal items.
The audio jack and recline button are both in the armrest. This armrest was made out of some of the hardest plastic I have ever felt. My elbows were actually sore from resting them on these armrests, very uncomfortable.
Preplaced in the seats on boarding were a pillow and blanket. These are the same ones that you get in Premium class on domestic flights.
Power outlet is located under your seat.
Welcome screen as the IFE starts up.
Our route today, it will be almost exactly 10,000km.
I found the IFE to have a good selection, including some classic Bond movies.
During boarding, the FAs also made a pass through the cabin offering newspapers and distributing the US Customs forms.
We pushed back right at our departure time. The taxi was fairly short and we were airborn with no wait. It was a bumpy rise out of Narita, which was expected given the bumpy landing at Narita in the last report.
A look at the seatback contents. The safety card for this B77W.
NH offers WiFi on its flights. You can get 15 minutes for free. I used that to check some e-mails midflight and it was a little slow, but something is better than nothing.
NH Sky Channel magazine.
The NH headphones for Y.
Shortly after leveling off, the meal service begins. Oshibori are distributed.
This was followed by aperitif service. A Sapporo and otsumami for me.
The menu card from the seatback pocket. Pretty generic for the meal listing, but they do have the full drink list.
The menu for this flight.
I went for the chicken (the Japanese option). The tray as received.
The tray revealed.
The main wasn’t up to NH standards visually, but I thought the chicken was good.
Soba noodles, tofu, and vegetables.
Meal distribution was done with a drink service, so another Sapporo for me.
The FA then gave me a cup of miso soup (only the Japanese meal gets miso soup).
Real cutlery aboard NH, but I just used the chopsticks.
After the meal service, trays were cleared and ice cream was offered. As anyone can guess, it is Haagen-Dazs. The real cutlery actually came in handy since I kept my spoon to make this a J dessert on CX :)
As ice cream was distributed, the FAs also made passes offering coffee and tea.
Meal service ended here (about 2 hours into the flight) and the cabin was plunged into darkness.
About hourly, the FAs made passed through the cabin offering drinks from pitchers (they would alternate tea, coffee, and water). Samples of the offerings from various points in the flight.
A trip to the lavatory. Plain and clean, but there is some lotion in there (the same that is offered in AA's J amenity kit!). Leaving the lavatory, the FA from my row was standing there. She seemed a little cold when I addressed her in Japanese during the meal and so I just used English with her. I tried talking to her again, but she couldn’t understand anything I was saying in Japanese. She eventually said in English, “I’m sorry, I’m Korean, I can’t speak Japanese well.” Oops. I apologized and ended up talking to her a bit because this was interesting. Turns out, NH puts their Chinese and Korean FAs that normally do ICN-NRT or PEK/PVG-NRT routes onto the NRT-America routes because their English abilities are usually better than the Japanese FA’s English abilities. Interesting factoid.
I watched the IFE until the halfway point as we enter the US for the first time.
I went to the galley in-between the two Y cabins. There were snacks and fruit laid out as well as ‘self-service’ drinks. I use ‘self-service’ loosely since every time I went back there to get some water, an FA would immediately ask me what I wanted and poured a glass for me. The crew on this flight was generally good for the front Y-cabin; they were all smiles and friendly. There was only one FA from the rear Y-cabin that was a ??? (Monique), I came out of the lavatory and saw her looking grumpy when some lady was standing in her way in the galley so I steered clear of her. My midflight snack.
I tried my best to nap until the next meal service, which started near Saskatoon.
Aperitif service of orange juice was offered. No other option.
Our menu for breakfast.
I went for the salmon, here is the tray as delivered. This tray is smaller in size and has a fruit cup and yogurt.
The main. It was really good for a Y meal. Egg and salmon on top of rice.
A cup of hot green tea with my meal.
After the meal, coffee and tea were offered again.
The last hour of the flight was spent just resting my eyes. We eventually began our final descent into ORD.
We did a fly by in order to land from the east.
Our zig zag arrival and the GPS seems to be off a little bit since our gate isn’t in the middle of the grass.
The landing was smooth and the pilots announced we would be arriving at Terminal 5, but reminded passengers that the return flight will leave from Terminal 1. That was interesting that they assumed most people on board were Japanese residents returning on NH. Deplaning, the Y-cabin FAs gave warm goodbyes while the J-cabin FAs just mumbled bye as they were cleaning. Interesting to see the different perspectives of how they behave in front of their cabin's passengers and other passengers, just a reminder of how the service can often be fake.
Off the jetbridge and into America.
Immigration was deserted and I had no wait to use automated passport control. I was into the baggage claim in no time, but it was a 20-minute wait before the bags started circulating. I will leave off this series here as I was collected by my driver. Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the rest of this series!
ANA Suite Lounge Satellite No. 5
Tokyo - NRT
Chicago - ORD
A strong performance by NH on this TPAC. The seats aren’t as comfortable as other carriers, but a 34” pitch is rare in Y these days. Good catering and crews. Great on-time performance landing 30 minutes early. When compared to what the US carriers offer on these routes, there really is little comparison. For *A people, NH beats UA any day of the week if you can deal with the language problems.
Cabin comfort: Luckily got a B77W in the 2-4-3 configuration with a 34” seat pitch. Seat comfort isn’t the greatest, very hard. The armrest is also very hard and uncomfortable and that’s not something I normally notice. No seatmate, so plenty of space to stretch out.
Crew: The 4 FAs that were in my cabin all looked like they were in good moods and interacted with passengers (they always take special care of the elderly, and that’s something you don’t see on US carriers). Awkward moments initially with the Korean FA, but after we worked through that issue, she was very friendly. No major complaints.
Meal and catering: I thought the meal trays were full enough for the length of this flight. The quality and quantity are both superior to what UA offered on the KIX-SFO flight I just had. Drinks were offered almost hourly mid-flight by FAs in the aisles. The galley had a full selection of drinks and snacks.
Entertainment: Newspapers offered and standard seatback literature. The IFE is a little bit on the older side, but a good selection overall.
On-time performance: We left the gate right on time and landed about 30 minutes early.
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