Hello Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this review.
I got a bee in my bonnet to try the US-HND flights offered by the major Japanese carriers. Currently ANA flies HND-LAX and Japan Airlines flies HND-SFO. Seems like the reverse should be true with ANA in Star and the UA mega hub at SFO and JAL being Oneworld with AA having a large presence at LAX and the superb Oneworld lounges at TBIT. Anyhow, that's neither here nor there.
I started by finding award space on ANA LAX-HND in F so I built from there. I have always been keen to try the Thai 747 in first so long story short I managed to add ANA HND-PEK in J on the 787-9 (new type for me) and PEK-BKK on TG in the 747 in F. A call to Air Canada Aeroplan and a transfer of AMEX points while the patient AC agent held the seats and it was done.
For the return I pulled off a fantastic (for an airline nerd) routing of CX BKK-HKG in F(overnight at HKG), CX HKG-HND in F and JL HND-SFO in F. An AA F SFO-LAX flight competed the routing for 67,500 Advantage Miles.
I'm simplifying all the planning that went into these bookings. The outbound was dependent on the return being available, etc. It took a lot of time and continuous searches but that is much of the fun for me, so off we go.
The reports will be broken down as follows:
LAX Star Alliance First Class Lounge and ANA LAX-HND (First) (This report) ANA Haneda First Class Lounges and ANA HND-PEK (Business) (Coming soon) Getting TG'd by Thai Airways PEK-BKK (Business) (Coming Soon) Cathay Pacific Bangkok Lounge and CX BKK-HKG (First) (Coming Soon) Cathay Pacific The Wing and The Pier and CX HKG-HND (First) (Coming Soon) JAL Haneda First Class Lounge and JL HND-SFO (First) (Coming Soon)
I always plan in my mind to arrive at the airport early for these late night departures but in practice I have trouble leaving my home in a timely manner. If it was a matter of leaving the office then no problem…
I eventually arrive at the TBIT at around 10pm and, after check in at the ANA counter, I hastily beat a trail to the Star Alliance Lounge. I had never been to this lounge and perhaps in my excitement for the new experience I neglected to take any pictures of the exterior/entrance. A single person staffed the podium at the First Class entrance and in fact she provided most of the service in the lounge too. I was admitted into the compact but well appointed lounge.
This lone seat is the first thing you see in the entry area. On my way out I wanted to ask the attendant for a picture of me sitting there but she was nowhere to be found.
There is a seating area, dining area and bar/buffet area in this lounge.
I had saved dinner for the lounge so I assumed a seat in the dining area.
I was presented this menu.
Since there was only one staff (ocassionaly a second staff would drop food or come to replenish the buffet) there was a bit of a wait to put in an order. I did eventually and while I waited for the dishes I explored the beverage offerings.
With the champagne poured my trip was officially started. Soon the flatbread arrived. It was adequate. It appeared to be fresh made and not a reheated frozen item.
Next the server brought this prawn dish. It was lovely except that I didn't order it. She asked if I would like to try it while she retrieved the correct item from my order.
Finally he mussels. This was quite tasty with a rich and satisfying broth.
I had two other goals in my abbreviated stay here. I was keen to see the outside lounge area of the business class lounge and also have a shower. The shower was up first. There is a door that leads from the first class section to the business class section where the showers are located. I was led there by the first class lounge attendant. There was no wait and I had a shower in a clean but not especially spacious room.
Next up was the outdoor deck. It was night, and there had been rain off and on but the space was open and what a great space it is!
After enjoying and espresso on the deck I returned to the lounge for another glass of the Perrier-Jouet and a bite from the cheese board.
An ANA representative came to the lounge to announce boarding so I proceeded to the gate with a handful of other passengers.
The boarding area was busy but I was able to proceed to a first class lane and go straight aboard without hardly breaking stride.
I selected seat 2A. The seats are very private with many nooks to store away your small items. The downside is the window is partially blocked and that frustrates this avgeek. This being a dark departure and dark arrival I was not as frustrated as I normally would have been about the limited view.
The tethered but movable seat controls are made of heavy gauge metal. This thing has some heft.
The amenity kit is Samsonite branded replacing the Rimowa. Other amenities are offered from a basket and I can't resist taking a leg refreshing sheet' along with earplugs and eye mask. I was also presented with the fantastic ANA pajamas and cardigan zip up sweater which I adore.
Seemingly high quality headphones are also at the seat.
Beverages are offered and I request champagne.
Approximately 11 hours to Tokyo.
I enjoy the map feature showing our taxi over to the north complex for a 25R departure.
A powerful roll into the night sky and service begins with the oshibori.
The menu is distributed and, save the stellar champagne offerings, it's rather disappointing for this midnight departure.
I didn't capture the entire wine list, rather just the offerings I enjoyed.
The Krug to start, please.
I requested Perrier as well and the flight attendants made sure I never saw the bottom of either beverage.
The amuse is quite good on ANA although this one was rather plain.
While there is no doubt for me that Krug Grand Cuvee is an excellent wine I was excited to try the Palmes d'Or Rose. Beautiful bottle equally beautiful wine.
I was offered some nuts and accepted.
Not ready to sleep, and wanting to sample some of the legendary ANA service I ordered the Ippudo Daichi ramen. I love Ippudo Hakata style ramen and eat at a location whenever possible when I'm in Tokyo (also been to Osaka Ippudo). This was, according to the menu, a miso soup and I favor their tonkotsu. I guess this soup is more flexible for vegetarian application too. The noodle was also not the hakata standard but a flat wider noodle. The dish was fine but nothing special.
Underwhelmed by the food offerings I opted for the Hibiki and a bed.
I slept rather well for several hours and awoke as we approached Hokkaido.
Not be a quitter on the culinary front I went back to the menu and requested the angus beef cheese hamburger. This in and of itself wasn't very first class but with the lovely World's End Little Sister 2009 (Merlot/Cab Franc) it did me quite well.
I opted for the cheese plate next, it was…fine.
For dessert I requested the petits fours and coffee.
We landed at HND in the predawn darkness and were at the gate rather quickly. I took a couple of cabin shots as we deplaned.
Star Alliance Lounge First Class Section
Los Angeles - LAX
Tokyo - HND
ANA has only recently offered First on this route. Perhaps to be consistent with JV/partner UA's SFO-HND route or in anticipation of AA starting LAX-HND? I found this to be a less than first class experience. I have flown LAX-HKG departing at around the same hour and received a full supper service. This was business class (at best) food with a comfortable bed.
The lounge was fine for a US outstation but pales in comparison to the Oneworld first class lounge at LAX ore even the Emirates LAX lounge. The outdoor area is the only feature that sets it apart.
The service onboard was top notch, the wine exceptional, pajamas and bed superb, but the food offerings were lacking. I know that puts me in the minority of customers who would like a more substantial meal. Most want to sleep as much as possible and arrive in Tokyo ready for the day. I don't see why ANA can't accommodate both types of customers.
Thank you for reading and please check back for the next installment. Happy flying.
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