After 20 hours in Tokyo, it was time to head home. We decided to take the Narita Express to get to the airport. After paying at the kiosk, we headed down to the platform to catch our train.
We were in car #2.
Local trains passing by.
She left right on time. Gotta love Japanese punctuality.
1 hour and 24 minutes later, we arrived at NRT.
After getting off the train, we followed the signs to the terminal. Four flights of escalators later and we ended up in the North Wing. I saw the zone letters and realized that we were in the wrong side. I was looking for the Z zone since that is where you go for ANA F check-in, so turned back and made our way to the South side of the terminal.
I found you.
The agents waiting behind the doors came forward to greet us and assisted with the check-in process. Cold towels were provided which was awesome. They checked us all the way to YYZ but informed us that since we were flying to ORD, we would have to pick up our bags, clear immigration and then drop off our bags which was right out the immigration doors. I never had to do this before, so I was kind of worried that time would be wasted by checking in again in ORD but in the end, I was worrying for absolutely no reason.
We were handed our boarding passes for ANA and the connecting United flight to YYZ and then directed to take the entrance near the back to go through security and immigration. The entire process was done in 10 minutes. Once we were through, we made the long walk to the lounge.
Follow your nose … or the sign .. whichever works best.
Entrance to the ANA lounge. The First Class lounge is the inside right of the entrance.
An agent at the front desk welcomed us, scanned our boarding passes and directed to enter the lounge through the right side.
We were welcomed by the agent you see standing on the left of the hallway.
She said we could seat anywhere and we ended up sitting on the loungers next to the windows. These seats had a good view of the tarmac. She escorted us to our seats and ask us if we would like anything to drink - champers ofcourse! She quickly came back with cold towels - double awesome! She looked after us during our stay at the lounge. There were other staff members like her would who welcome F passengers and look after their needs. Most of the passengers turned out to be older Japanese men.
The decor felt slightly dated.
The self pouring beer machines.
The food buffet selection was not that great. This was more of a business class selection versus a true first class offering.
I forgave ANA for their poor food offering after eating the dessert - especially the Japanese cheesekcake on the top of the picture. WOW!
Not particularly appetizing.
The lounge also had a walk up Noodle bar where you could select from a menu. I chose the ANA Katsu curry - sorry I forgot to take a pic of the Noodle bar! As I mentioned before, the curry was decent - Coco Curry house was the hands down winner.
Finally, some pics of the tarmac.
ANA 787 pulling in.
Thai and AC pulled in shortly.
Our bird being prepped for the flight to ORD.
Before going to board our flight, we hit up the gift shops and scoring a few boxes of Kit Kat.
The ANA Suites Lounge is good but not great. There are two ANA Suite lounges at differnt points of the terminal but I read they are virtually the same. The service by the staff was great and its nice when the nice is quiet. When the lounge gets busy, the staff tends to be a bit hectic and that was our cue to leave. We headed to gate 54 where our bird was departing from. Gate Lice were already crowding/lining up and agents were going through to check boarding passes. We were requested to stand in the F/Diamond line - some people with families lined up behind us. Hmm.
Boarding was delayed by 5 minutes due to pre-boarding of passengers with wheelchair assistance and we waited in line for a total of 10 before boarding was finally called. F/Diamond passengers were called first and we quickly scanned through.
Left at the fork.
We were greeted by two staff members at the door and one of them escorted us to our seats. The F cabin has 8 seats in total - 2 rows of 4 seats. Both of us took the K window seats. The flight attendant helped Mrs.I to her seat, knelt down and offered her slippers. She even removed the slippers from the plastic cover and place them at Mrs.I's feet - Mrs.I was politely refusing the slippers as she was not prepared for this sort of attentive service provided by the flight crew. :)
Need more leg room. :D
While the cabin was cleaned thoroughly, there were signs of wear and tear.
The other seats in the cabin. We were 2 of 3 in F for the flight. :)
Looking down at J class.
The flight attendant helping Mrs.I earlier came by my seat and introduced herself and again welcomed us aboard. She asked if I would like a PDB and went with the usual. She also asked if I would like to change into PJs now and I accepted. Mrs.I went first, then the other gentleman and me last. She escorted me to the washroom, opened the door and closed the door when I got in. I did not take pics of the washrooms - it was the usual set up with the exception that both F washrooms had the Japanese toilet. No heated seat option unfortunately. When I came out, the flight attendant immediately took my clothes, hung them all on a hangar and hung it in the coat area behind my cube. Awesome service.
Touch screen seat controls.
Usual clunky TV controls and power sockets.
Decent headphones provided.
Looking across from my seat.
The awesome amenity kit.
Which turned out to a dud in terms of contents. Some contents were in the case while the rest was provided on a tray which the flight attendant brought over to us to select. The case is still a winner.
Boarding was done eventually and we were pushed back. As we were taxi-ing, the purser announcement that due to a delayed pushback and traffic congestion at NRT, we would be late arriving into ORD. Yay. :|
Getting into position to say bye bye. The purser came by and introduced herself - she welcomed us onboard and requested that we contact her in case we needed anything. Another thing to point out - the captain never came once on the PA to make the usual spiel. The first officer did come on the PA after take off and advised of a flight time of 11 hours and a delayed arrival into ORD. After that, all announcements were made by the purser or another member of the cabin crew.
Birds as we were taxi-ing.
All departing planes lining up for take off.
Yikes. Long line up.
Blurry take off pic.
After the seat belt signs went off, the crew got into action. We were presented with two menus in a thick book cover.
One menu for drinks, the other for food.
Shall we start with the food menu first? The entire menu shows the selections for NRT-ORD first and then ORD-NRT.
The Japanese Set menu.
The drinks menu for all you alcoholics. :)
Yes, I'm sure the wines are "enchanting".
The flight attendant came by to take our dinner order and I went with the Japanese menu. She look surprised that I would select that option and asked if I liked Japanese food. Er … who doesnt? ;)
She also asked for my drink order and I went with the sake. I asked for her recommendation and she indicated to go with the Miyakanbai Junmai Gingo Sake as it was the lightest in taste. Deal.
Showtime. The amuse bouche, which was not documented on the menu. The flight attendant asked if I wanted chopsticks or a fork - I wanted chopsticks and she was surprised again. Yes, Westerners do know how to use chopsticks. :)
The brown roll was sliced beef stuffed with cream cheese, while the yellow ball tasted like mango. I did not know what to make of the mousse in the shot glass and the white jello but they were all tasty.
Next was the Sakizuke (on the top) and Zensai (bottom). I could not bring myself to eat the whole fish piece - the eye starting at me was enough to wuss out.
Next up - Owan - clam fishcake, marinated bracken and butterbur. I made the mistake of breaking the fishcake as it broke up into small piece rather than halves. Made it messy to finish but I managed it.
Moving on to the Otsukuri course - sashimi. I devoured the fish and left the rest.
The next three courses were all brought out together. The flight attendant asked if I wanted the steamed rice/miso course with the rest or after and I said to bring with the rest.
At 12 o'clock is the Kobachi course, Nimono at 11 o'clock and Shusai is smack in the middle of everything. The Shusai course was grilled trout and was over cooked - I barely ate half of it. The Nimono was the steamed tilefish and it was excellent - the salted cherry blossom leaf had a good flavour and it kept the fish moist. I honestly did not know what to make of the Kobachi, picked around it and didnt eat much.
Miso soup which is as good as it can be.
Finally, the dessert course - somehow I did not end up getting the Wagashi course but instead was asked if I wanted a dessert of the International menu. I went with the Croissant Waffle with apricot jam and vanilla ice cream. It was excellent.
The service took around 1.5 hours and the crew were discreetly watching us through the cracks in the curtains. As we finished each course, she would come out to take the plate and replace it with the next course - good pacing. At end of the service, I could not keep my eyes open due to the food coma. The flight attendant asked to notify her whenever I wanted to have the bed made and I asked it to be made now. She converted the seat next to me into a bed and I crashed for the next 7 hours or so. The total flight time was 11 hours, so I was happy I slept that long.
The flight attendant saw me taking many pictures through the course of the dinner and the bed. She offered to take a pic of myself and I obliged. She asked how the flight was so far and I commented that the service was excellent so far. She also asked if it was my first time on ANA and I said yes. I commend her for making the effort to speak with me but there were awkward moments in the conversation.
Two hours before landing, the flight attendant woke me up for the refreshment service and I woke up with a start - it was a really good sleep lol. I took a look at the menu and ordered the Croque-Monsieur and ANA original curry. Yes, I want moar curry. :)
Croque-Monsiuer. Dry but passable.
ANA original curry. Tasty but again, Coco Curry house was the winner in the curry wars.
Soon after the meal was finished, she asked if I would like to change back into my clothes and I said yes. She brought my clothes out of the locker - removed them off the clothes hangar, folded them and escorted me to the washroom. She handed me the clothes and closed the door. Attention to detail.
Descending into ORD.
Smooth touch down and taxi to Terminal 5.
We had to disembark via door 2L. The flight attendant looking after us during the flight escorted us to the front of the line - no stare downs or anything of the sort. We thanked them and made our way to immigration and it took around 10 minutes in total to use the kiosk plus speak to an officer. Bags came out 10 minutes later and our bags were first on the belt. Right after the immigration doors was the bag drop off - our baggage tags were scanned/dropped off and the lady informed to head to Terminal 1. After the quick train ride over to Terminal 1, we headed through security. I dont understand the different level in service between the TSA at Term 1 versus Term 5. TSA @ Term 1 - leave shoes and belt on, TSA @ Term 2 - take everything off and go through the body scanner.
Our United flight to YYZ was supposed to leave at 5.30pm but the FIDS indicated that it was delayed to 6.30p due to traffic congestion. Alot of United flights were delayed in terms of boarding and leaving the gate - ours was no exception. We began boarding at 6.15pm and push back was at 6.45pm. During boarding, the captain came on the PA and advised that traffic control changed pushback time to 7.30pm (collective groan) but she would try for earlier.
As we started pushback at 6.45pm, the captain came back on the PA to announce that re-negotiated take off at 7.30 but we would wait on the taxi-way until then. We did take off at 7.30pm and it was a bumpy ride all the way through. When approaching, the captain came on the PA to advise that we were in a holding pattern due to bad weather at YYZ (snow) and even though there was extra fuel, there would be a chance we would have to divert to Buffalo (louder collective groan).
15 minutes later, she came on and she requested to prepare for landing (collective sigh of relief). Touchdown at 10:40pm ET.
Home sweet home. We were just happy to be home despite being delayed 2.5 hours.
ANA Suite Lounge Satellite No. 4
Tokyo - NRT
Chicago - ORD
Final thoughts - what an amazing journey! Mrs.I was blown away by everything on the trip and was appreciative of all the work put into planning the trip. For myself, there were many highlights. In terms of comparing First Class flights - each airline had its own strengths. Cathay Pacific had great service but was not over and above what we experienced on Singapore Airlines while the service on ANA was unique and reflective on Japanese culture.
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