Review of ANA flight Chicago Tokyo in First

Airline ANA
Flight NH111
Class First
Seat 2A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 13:00
Take-off 21 Oct 17, 17:30
Arrival at 21 Oct 17, 20:30
NH   #24 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 196 reviews
socalnow
By GOLD 2477
Published on 15th December 2017

Background:



Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I am sharing a short 2 segment trip in this installment of reports. The genesis of this trip was my fondness for the Delta 747 and the nostalgia for all the safe and comfortable trips she has delivered me on. Her days of Narita operations were waning and, for me, the Delta 747-400 and Narita are forever linked. So the goal was set, get to Tokyp and blast out of Narita one last time aboard this majestic machine.

A few details had to be sorted out to get this trip in motion. First, how to get to Tokyo? I started exploring my NRSA(Non Revenue Space Available) options and there were several. In doing my due diligence I also explored points redemption as well. I located the ORD-HND space in ANA F on and decided to jump on it. I booked using 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and setup the outbound for this trip and the return for a trip in January. The second detail was a backup plan in case the NRSA trip on NRT-DTW 747 fell apart. I also booked a HND-PVG ticket with UA miles as insurance to try for the PVG-DTW 747 if NRT seemed out of the question. The final detail was buying a ticket to ORD which I accomplished via UA.

Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:



United Airlines - LAX-ORD - 757-300 - First - No Lounge - Cash (No Report)
All Nippon Airlines - ORD-HND - 777-300ER - First - Polaris Lounge - Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (This Report)
Delta Air Lines - NRT-DTW - 747-400 - Delta One - Korean Air Lounge - NRSA
Delta Air Lines - DTW-DEN - MD-90 - Economy - No Lounge - NRSA (No Report)
American Airlines - DEN-PHX - A319 - Economy - No Lounge - Cash (No Report)
American Airlines - PHX-SNA - 737-800 - Economy - No Lounge - Cash (No Report)

United Polaris Lounge Chicago:



photo 20171021_090733

We arrived on time from LAX around 11:40am and parked at a C gate quite near the Polaris Lounge. I specifically mention "Polaris Lounge Chicago" in the title of this section as I don't want to cause confusion with all of the other Polaris lounges in the United system… This would be my second visit to this lounge and, come to think of it, I haven't been to any of the others. As this was my second visit my picture taking is light. I will have a more thorough review in a future report. Most of my visit this time would be spent sleeping. Departing LAX at 05:30 meant requesting an Uber from my Orange County home at 03:30 which in turn meant a 03:00 wake up call.

Before sleep time I took a bite of lunch with a view.
photo 20171021_095544
Fried chick sandwich as interpreted by Art Smith.
photo 20171021_100128
Aviation cocktail "Latin America Inspired"
photo 20171021_100150
The meal was very tasty and service was acceptable. The lounge is quite crowded so service can involve a wait.

I requested a nap room and I was led directly to a resting space. In addition to the amenities in the nap room I was offed a blanket from a warmer.

Why can't it be flat? At least it has direct aisle access?
photo 20171021_104422
Side table.
photo 20171021_104454
Eye shade, chocolate, and aroma therapy spray.
photo 20171021_104459
Slippers.
photo 20171021_104506
"White noise" machine.
photo 20171021_104511
Another view of the couch.
photo 20171021_104520
Lighting controls.
photo 20171021_104534
View from the nap room.
photo 20171021_104526

I slept a solid 3 hours which was a great boost to my energy and my ability to enjoy the luxury of travel in ANA First Class. I am a huge fan of the nap room amenity in this lounge.

Next order of business was to secure a refreshing shower. Again, no wait.

Shower stall.
photo 20171021_125212
Bench in the shower.
photo 20171021_130010
Rain shower head.
photo 20171021_130020
Sink.
photo 20171021_125157
Towel compliment.
photo 20171021_125206

After a nap and a shower I was absolutely rejuvenated and starting to feel the excitement build for the upcoming immersion in Japanese hospitality. As boarding time was approaching I decided to sit for a snack and a cocktail.

View of the bar from the dining "booths" along the wall.
photo 20171021_133250
Another look down the bar and to the private liquor storage cabinets for the frequent visitors.
photo 20171021_133255
I requested the beef carpaccio.
photo 20171021_133515
Beautifully presented and a perfect light snack.
photo 20171021_133449
This time I enjoyed the European version of the Aviation Cocktail. A well balanced and crafted drink.
photo 20171021_133520

As wonderful as this lounge is I wasn't the tiniest bit apprehensive to leave it and snuggle up with the premium ANA experience. If United does truly commit to this level of service and amenities in the Polaris Lounge system then major kudos are due. It's as good as any Business Class lounge in my experience.

NH111 ORD-HND



The departure gate was a scant 80 meter walk from the Polaris Lounge and I arrived as boarding was already underway. I joined the First class/ Premium queue and was aboard JA777A in a minute or two. I was greeted at the door by Kuroishi, the Lead Purser. I was shown to seat 2A. The only other passenger in F today was in 1K so this was a truly private and exclusive cabin today.

The seats arevery private and have pently of pros and cons. My number one complaint is the ability to see out of the window.
Center seats.
photo 20171021_150459
My seat.
photo 20171021_150502
Across the aisle.
photo 20171021_150534
Entertainment screen.
photo 20171021_150009
My perch for the next 12 hours.
photo 20171021_150020
Kit and Sony headphones.
photo 20171021_150704
Noise canceling.
photo 20171021_150736
A dedicated headphone storage compartment.
photo 20171021_150836
Touch screen seat controls.
photo 20171021_150842
The seat controls can be detached from their mount.
photo 20171021_150850
Entertainment controls.
photo 20171021_150917
A welcome beverage is offered and I request Champagne and water. i find it odd to give a water bottle and not a glass.
photo 20171021_150954
I am offered pajamas and escorted to the lavatory to change. There is no waiting with a 1 to 1 lav to passenger ratio.
photo 20171021_150050
Orchids.
photo 20171021_150059
Toothbrush, mouthwash, and moist towels.
photo 20171021_150101
Sink.
photo 20171021_155507
Bidet.
photo 20171021_155511

Pajama top.
photo 20171021_150156
Pajama pants.
photo 20171021_150200
Back at my seat one of the flight attendants offers a basket of additonal amenities. I make a few selections out of curiosity and courtesy.
photo 20171021_151727
There is a handy drawer under the ottoman.
photo 20171021_151757
Departure is on time and some great spotting in the evening light.
photo 20171021_153624
Queen of England.

ME 2.
photo 20171021_154434
Powerful GE90 departure.

A look around my semi-private cabin.

An oshibori is offered and aperitif order taken.
photo 20171021_155751
Surprise.
photo 20171021_160815photo 20171021_160853
The menu and wine list are distributed.

I still get excited over canapes. This course is nothing remarkable but I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from sipping the Krug and nibbling on these tasty treats. It's a definite nod to the halcyon days of intercontinental travel.
photo 20171021_161356photo 20171021_161409
Goodbye Saturday.
photo 20171021_161427
The table is precisely laid and bread is offered.
photo 20171021_164744
The precision.
photo 20171021_164747
The whole setting.
photo 20171021_164940
Excellent bread is a Japanese requirement. The Japanese appreciation of all things French sure pays wonderful dividends for all of us.
photo 20171021_164949
A beautiful caviar topped starter is presented first. It's a crepe filled with avocado and crab. I prefer a traditional caviar presentation but I take a bite or two.
photo 20171021_165038photo 20171021_165046
Being that there are only 2 of us I inquire if I may have the other starter as well. Of course it is delivered straight away. It's a pleasant enough lobster and scallop atop a seafood/aspic terrine of sorts. I take a small sample. Must pace ourselves now… I will add that I asked that a small portion of each dish, throughout the meal, be served but I don't think they bothered to alter how it was catered. I understand that would be difficult and perhaps not offer the best presentation possible.

The salad is offered and I have a look. I nibble a baby rabbit size amount. The dressing was Japanese in style and very good.

Corn soup was offered next. Why not have a taste? It's really quite sublime. More thin than I would imagine but the flavor was of pure sweet corn. As if they put and ear of corn in a juicer.
photo 20171021_172753photo 20171021_172746
Teh pacing and service was impeccable throughout this onslaught of food. It was if she learned how I took a few bites and sipped on some wine and was ready to move on. We might have been communication telepathically. Yeah, that's probably the explanation.
The main was nicely cook wagyu beef and every bit as rich and decadent as you would require in a superior grade of beef.
photo 20171021_173325photo 20171021_173640
To accompany a moderately priced Rhone blend of mostly Grenache. It was a successful pairing to meat dish.
photo 20171021_173529
Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! Always a lovely offering with ANA. Perfect temperature, lovely accompaniments. I don't recall the port that was served. I don't think I was wowed by the impression.

photo 20171021_175556photo 20171021_175614
I will always have a look at the dessert but I was not moved to enjoy more than a bite or two of this pear tart. As beautiful as it was. A cappuccino made an appearance as well.

photo 20171021_184644photo 20171021_184651

Dining with ANA is such a beautiful experience. The quality is well above average and the style and pace of the service is impeccable. This crew especially imparted a sence of true gracious hospitality that I find most enjoyable.

A tradition not to be missed is the 21 year Hibiki on board ANA First. This is the height of luxury and enjoyment for me. This special dram served in this environment ticks many of my "happy place" boxes.



Soon the days' indulgences catch up with me and it's time to enjoy the ANA aroma and retire to my bedroom in 1A. Oh to star gaze from be at 34,000 feet.

photo 20171021_1936350

It is not difficult to drift of to never never land. I take a nap for an couple of hours but when I stir I force myself awake as, ultimately, I am here to enjoy ANA and not the inside of my eyelids.

Some ramen is in order. An the fact that it is Ipuddo is rather amazing. I have a long love affair with this ramen establishment having enjoyed their soup at several locations and taken out of town guests there for the experience.



I ask Kuroishi about what beverage to take with the ramen. She knows my patterns and suggests souchu.

photo 20171021_205201

This is a rich and satisfying bowl. The fact that they serve it with butter and Kuroishi suggests adding the butter to the dish makes me want to hug her. I refrain. As much as a diverted flight would make for an interesting Flight Report… The sardines over rice with roe sounds too interesting not to have a look at…so I do!

But not before having a look at the "other" Champagne boarded today. My goodness it's lovely too. My first time trying this cuvee and while it's not as assertive as the Krug it is a very nice wine and could understand someone preferring it.

photo 20171022_021601

Today's catch.
photo 20171022_023103photo 20171022_023119

Another go at a nap and some movie viewing and we were approaching the island. It was last call for a meal and of course I had to have a taste of the Sacchetti. It was served with a lamb ragout so I was powerless to resist.

The table was laid again. I stayed with the Jacquesson since she opened the bottle for me…I have a duty.

photo 20171022_024058

The pasta dish was fairly remarkable for coming at the end of a 12 hour flight. It was very tasteful and the pasta even had a nice toothsome texture. Of course the presentation is exquisite.



As we are tidying up for landing I enjoy and espresso.

photo 20171022_031546

Kuroishi brings me a lovely postcard and origami to commemorate the experience today. It's a lovely gesture but this type of flight will be remembered for a long time. The quality of the hospitality combined with the, food, beverage, and sparse passenger load make this one of the more perfect experiences i can imagine on an airplane. I have a heavy heart when it comes to an end (insert gluttony joke here).

photo 20171022_035048
See more

Verdict

ANA

8.9/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering9.0

United Airlines United First International Lounge

8.5/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Services8.5

Chicago - ORD

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Tokyo - HND

9.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

The Ground Service: Noting special as a connecting passenger at ORD.

The Lounge: I am truly impressed with the Polaris Lounge. It is unlike anything I would associate with United Airlines. It is a victim of its own success in that it fills to capacity. But the food, beverage, nap area and showers are all very good.

The Cabin: Why oh why do they block my window? Other than that i find the Square Suite to be an excellent product in all seat modes. Having four of the squares to myself was nifty too. The bidet lavs are a fine enhancement too.

The Crew: I really respond to the Japanese service style. I found a fantastic group of professional and genuine flight attendants that exceeded any expectation I arrived with.

The Food and Beverage: Oh goodness there are too many delectable morsels to sample in this cabin. I tasted a lot of them. Very high marks for selection, taste, and presentation.

Overall: Look, I don't pretend to be unbiased. The way the Japanese airlines execute First Class service is just spot on with my sensibilities. Yes, I arrived not having showered on board or mingling in a lounge at 33,000 feet but I still had a genuinely First Class experience.

Thank you for reading and happy flying.

Information on the route Chicago (ORD) Tokyo (HND)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Chicago (ORD) → Tokyo (HND).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is ANA with 7.9/10.

The average flight time is 12 hours and 41 minutes.

  More information

10 Comments

  • Comment 422956 by
    pititom GOLD 10294 Comments

    Thanks a lot for sharing this nice experience !

    This Polaris lounge is light-years from any United lounge I have ever experienced. Actually, I was cautiously avoiding them ;) But this one seems well worth a visit.

    Onboard, the seat looks a bit aged. The suite is very privative, but while the envelopping cubicle makes sense for the middle seats, I don't understand this design on the windows seats : it reduces space and hides a window. It looks very confortable but only one window in First Class is a bit frustrating ^^

    The catering, on the other hand, is truly impressive. Not only it looks delicious but the aesthetic of each plate is high-quality ! By the way, I am one of those preferring Jacquesson over Krug ;)

    Very nice report, thanks again :)

    • Comment 423525 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 926 Comments

      It is a privilege to see your comments Pititom, thank you.

      "Onboard, the seat looks a bit aged. The suite is very privative, but while the envelopping cubicle makes sense for the middle seats, I don't understand this design on the windows seats : it reduces space and hides a window. It looks very confortable but only one window in First Class is a bit frustrating ^^"
      -Yes, and as Rewardflying points out the window is blocked to provide various compartments that could either be eliminated or located elsewhere.

      "By the way, I am one of those preferring Jacquesson over Krug ;)"
      -I am leaning in that direction myself. Pending further research, of course ;)

      Thank you and happy flying.

  • Comment 423067 by
    Rewardflying GOLD 466 Comments

    Hi Christian, another excellent report. As Pititom remarks just above, the catering truly does look impressive.

    his would be my second visit to this lounge and, come to think of it, I haven't been to any of the others.

    -Good one, Just like all the Polaris business class seats everyone thinks they've been on. I assume the extension was not complete when you visited, in fact I'm not sure it's complete now. They did a nice job. Maybe you should try the real Polaris seat?? You might like it....

    Your conclusion says it all. This must have been a fabulous trip.
    The Lounge, Agree
    The Cabin, Agree. At least you got a photo of a beautiful sunset. I'm not a fan of the Square either. All those little useless compartments blocking the window.
    The Crew: I love how they present you with a personalized note. Slippers waiting upon entry?
    The Food: Surprised you didn't go the kaiseki route, although Wagyu is not your everyday meal either.

    So the PJ's, did they change them, they look different. Are they still kind of scratchy?

    Thanks for the nice report. My guess is there's an SQ report coming soon!

    • Comment 423526 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 926 Comments

      Greetings Mark and thank you for the comment.

      "Good one, Just like all the Polaris business class seats everyone thinks they've been on. I assume the extension was not complete when you visited, in fact I'm not sure it's complete now. They did a nice job. Maybe you should try the real Polaris seat?? You might like it...."
      -Let's not get carried away... I guess United is just following the new way in the US. Branding and marketing hype trump anything substantive. ;)

      "So the PJ's, did they change them, they look different. Are they still kind of scratchy? "
      -They are the same as I can remember. I have not had scratchy ANA PJs.

      "Thanks for the nice report. My guess is there's an SQ report coming soon!"
      -I wish, May is the only SQ I have on the books.

      Thanks again Mark and happy flying.

      "I'm not a fan of the Square either. All those little useless compartments blocking the window."
      -I'm sure an update to F is in the works but my fear is that it will surly result in either eliminating the cabin on some aircraft or at least reducing the seat count. So, I will take a flawed ANA F seat over very rare to no access to an ANA F seat.

  • Comment 423219 by
    757Fan 565 Comments

    Great report! ANA F looks excellent - thank you for sharing. The food, presentation, cabin, all look incredible!

  • Comment 423427 by
    Razza_Pr 205 Comments

    Greetings, Socalnow, and thank you for this FR.

    The Polaris lounge seems pretty impressive for a US lounge. Beef carpaccio & aviation cocktails sounds like something you'd expect at a seaside hotel bar if I'm honest; maybe that's where they'd expect you to feel like?

    "The departure gate was a scant 80 meter walk from the Polaris Lounge and I arrived as boarding was already underway."
    -Meter? Are you sure you're American? ;) :P

    "The seats arevery private and have pently of pros and cons. My number one complaint is the ability to see out of the window."
    -Unlikely to change anytime soon, unfortunately. NH's J is already pretty competitive, though I think for F they wanted a seat which can offer flexibility of replacements/repairs in case one breaks down?

    "i find it odd to give a water bottle and not a glass."
    -Maybe they just want you to read what's written on the bottle?

    "Bidet."
    -Best amenity offered by Japanese airlines. EK/QR can only dream!

    "Queen of England."
    -God Save the Queen! BA & KL might well be the last two major airlines to operate the Queens of old. Not sure how to feel about that other than nostalgic..

    "This course is nothing remarkable but I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from sipping the Krug and nibbling on these tasty treats."
    -Smart move by NH to offer champagne in a white wine glass. The aroma is preserved more, and hence the taste is also enhanced! Also, those paper napkins look like they're made of recycled materials.. are they? If so, kudos to NH for the green initiative!

    "The dressing was Japanese in style and very good."
    -Seems like Wafu dressing? Pretty common in Japanese restaurants.

    100% of the pastries served on board look beautiful! Amazing level of care and respect given to each and every dish presented before you.

    NH F certainly looks solid. Tokyo-based premium class flyers are certainly spoilt for choice with JL & NH at their disposal.

    Thanks again for a lovely FR. Cheers!

    • Comment 423530 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 926 Comments

      Greetings Razza_Pr and thank you for leaving a note.

      "Meter? Are you sure you're American? ;) :P"
      -Ha. It's true, American, but I try not to advertise such these dark days...

      "Unlikely to change anytime soon, unfortunately. NH's J is already pretty competitive, though I think for F they wanted a seat which can offer flexibility of replacements/repairs in case one breaks down?"
      - I also fear any changes to the F cabin would result in fewer seats. They are very premium heavy airplanes. ANA alone offers 24 F seats/day on LAX-TYO.

      "Not sure how to feel about that other than nostalgic.."
      -Yes, I agree it's nostalgia. There are far better flying machines from a passenger perspective than the 747. But it's an icon..

      "-Smart move by NH to offer champagne in a white wine glass. The aroma is preserved more, and hence the taste is also enhanced! "
      -Indeed. Perhaps this was noticed by passengers as they mention on the wine list that the Krug is served in this manner with this specific reasoning.

      "Seems like Wafu dressing?"
      -Probably correct. Definitely had soy sauce in there.

      "Tokyo-based premium class flyers are certainly spoilt for choice with JL & NH at their disposal."
      -So true. With both 777-300ER fleets having large 8 seat F cabins.

      Thank you again Razza_Pr and happy flying.

  • Comment 423682 by
    dreamweaver888 73 Comments

    What an exquisite flight and a delightful review to read, thank you! It seems that NH's F class is among the best, save mainly the suite wall design. The UA Polaris lounge looks leagues better than what that carrier has had in the past.

    • Comment 423683 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 926 Comments

      Hello Dreamweaver888 and thank you very much for the comments. I suppose the blocked window is a nitpick and only us avgeeks who push our faces up against the window give it any mind. Thanks again and happy flying.

Login to post a comment.