Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I am sharing an around the world (mostly) First Class series of trips in this series. I have a strong affection for Lufthansa First class so that was my motivation for the beginning of this trip. The product is well documented and, as a whole, one of the best First Class experiences obtainable on points. Also, I get an inordinate amount of enjoyment trying to secure the space. The windows for partner redemption in LH premium cabins opens approximately 2 weeks prior to departure so you have to operate in that window to secure seats. Additional flights/seats may open as departure nears. This is good fun! For the return I already has the second leg of a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club redemption on ANA so I would ideally use LH to get to Tokyo to complete the circle. It didn't end up that smooth but a lot of fun was had along the way.
Booking the LH legs is a little tricky because you may find a North America - FRA segment but then no FRA - Asia segment to pair with it. That was the case with me. While I initially saw BOS-FRA open there was nothing to pair with it. Then, a few days later FRA-SIN opened however I wasn't thrilled about a BOS departure so I waited, hoping for something further west as a departure point. About 3 days out JFK-FRA opened and I caved, booking JFK-FRA-SIN. At least JFK would give me the opportunity to try the only LH F lounge in North America, so that was something. I departed not knowing how I would get from Singapore to Tokyo but I did wait list for SQ F SIN-HND. Those normally clear, right?
Courtesy of gcmap.com
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Journey to Narita and Narita Terminal 1 Observation Deck
According to My Flight Memory I have 140 takeoffs and landings at Narita Airport, so 70 visits. I'm just as giddy today as I was when i first visited 2010. I know it's not the newest, biggest or busiest but it's just a special place to me.
I used to only use JR trains in Tokyo and I have no idea why. Perhaps unfamiliarity with the other operators? Anyhow now I seem to only use Keisei on the Tokyo -> Narita runs. Again, I don't know why. Probably because I stay in Ueno quite often and it's just too easy not to.
I leave the hotel around 9am for my 17:00 flight. Did I mention I really enjoy spending time in Nartia?
It's a 4 minute walk from the hotel to the station.
There's a bakery in the station that's quite nice but I'm saving my bakery appetite for my favorite in Narita proper.
The Keisei Skyliner is clean, fast, and relatively comfortable. There are two stops on my journey today one rather quickly at Nippori, and then again at Terminal 2 before I alight Terminal 1
A scant 45 minutes later I am inside the Terminal 1 train station where I store my roll aboard in a locker and take the Keisei Mainliner back a couple of stops to Narita. I'll post some of my walk around town in a bonus section below. It was a beautiful day and I spend several hours walking the Omotesando, Temple, and park.
Returning to the airport with about 4 hours to go to departure I decide to pick up my boarding pass at the ANA F check in lounge.
Suites is the branding.
Swiss and United passengers traveling in First are welcome too. Not much longer for UA to be on this sign…
There's only 1 other passenger in the lounge at this hours so I am greeted immediately , offered a cold towel, and presented a boarding pass.
There is a private security screening checkpoint accessed through the back of the Suites check in lounge but I was going to stay land side to enjoy some sunshine and breath some Jet A.
Skyteam on the North Wing, Star on much larger South Wing.
Not a ton of action at this time in the afternoon so after a half hour I retrace my steps to security and immigration.
Star Alliance Lounge Hopping, Narita Style
My first stop is the United Club and Global First Lounge. It's a rather sad relic of a different Chapter in United's history but it has the best views of any Narita Lounge I have visited.
The elevator up from the United Club to the GF Lounge.
Much of the seating in this lounge faces the ramp and the 16/34 runway complex.
It's a great place to stop for a Perrier.
It's a First Class lounge so of course there are food and beverage on offer.
There are also a variety of other seating and work areas.
Refreshed from the iced sparking water I bid the pleasant lounge attendants adieu and continue the walk to the smaller, but usually less crowded, ANA Suite Lounge above gate 47.
After the gracious and charming greeting I am directed to choose a seat and offered a beverage. I will start this party officially with some Champagne. Ayala Champagne, to be specific. I've only seen this label in the ANA Suite lounges. It's a perfectly enjoyable wine.
A look around the lounge reveals that I and the few F passengers from SQ11 are the only inhabitants.
There is a buffet and a noodle bar for nourishment.
I help myself to a couple of tastes from the buffet first, to enjoy with the Champagne. Nothing really stands out but I have a taste of each item.
Let's try something from the menu.
Having tired almost all of htem overt he last several years I opt for something new to me, the gratin.
I am given a buzzer that will alert me when the dish is ready.
The buzz indicates it's time to return tot he noodle bar to retrieve my dish. The gratin is quite nice but very rich. It's also molten hot so it must rest for several minutes before enjoying. I have few bites and am pleased with the dish. Some shichimi togarashi helps liven up a few bites.
My flight is departing in the 50 gates so I decide to relocate to the Suites lounge in the vicinity of my departure gate.
I spy some window cleaning on the walk over.
The South Wing Suites Lounge overlooks gates 53-55 and is a larger version of the North Suites Lounge. It's not nearly large enough as i have witnessed lines of people waiting to get in and only allowed to do so as someone leaves. Staggering for a "First Class" lounge. Anyhow I'm early enough for that not to be an issue.
The Business Class lounge is tot he left and Suites Lounge is to the right.
The same greeting and beverage offer ritual takes place here, as it did in the North Lounge. My responses to the queries are identical as well.
I pop over the Noodle Bar and request a bowl of the kakiage soba, on of my favorite dishes available here.
There's a nice bar along the window where you can sit and enjoy your noodles with ramp views. My kind of restaurant.
My ride to LA, JA732A, arrives.
The buffet contents are the same so I won't subject you to that again. Here's a look at the adult beverage selection. There was some Hibiki but it went fast.
The setting sun indicates that the time has come to mount the 700,000 lb engineering marvel that will deliver me across the pacific ocean in lavish style.
We're leaving from gate 55 this evening. The sadness of leaving Japan is certainly tempered by the excitement of an international long haul flight in first class.
Left turn on the jet bridge.
Seat 2K, a familiar perch.
This cabin would be 4 of 8 tonight. Always a treat to have a bedroom and a living room.
The seat is laden with the AMA F amenities including cardigan, sleep suit, amenity kit, headphones and slippers.
One of the welcoming and beaming flight attendants unwraps the slippers and positions them on the floor.
The constant reminders of the crisis at home.
I start of with some Champagne as I am settling in. It's not the same label that is offered in flight.
I didn't document all of the seat functions, compartments and controls but can show you the touchscreen seat position adjuster.
Asked if i would like to change before we depart I agree this is a good idea. I am escorted tot he lavatory and presented a hanger for my street clothes. The larger F lav is spacious enough to change comfortably. There is a fold down platform to stand on while you are bare foot or in socks.
The sleep suit is rather plain and lacks branding however it is very comfortable.
Back at 2K I am presented a portfolio containing both the food and beverage menus. I won't bore you (any further) with the details other than to say that the food consists of a Japanese path and a Western path and then a very good selection of a la carte items for any time in the flight. The wine list is highlighted by 2 prestige Champagne labels in Krug Grand Cuvee and Cuvee 740 from Jacquesson. You could close your eyes and point to something on this menu and probably not be disappointed. It's truly First Class.
Our departure and push back occurs on time. It is in this phase of the trip that I am reminded how much I dislike the Suite design that blocks the easiest viewing window. To enjoy the traffic and takeoff becomes a very difficult contortion act. The taxi today to 34L was fairly brief.
Service starts with my beverage of choice. Served in a standard wine glass to allow a more full appreciation of the aromas…or something like that.
Of course taking drink without food would be uncivilized so ANA have beautiful bites to pair with your aperitif. The amuse isn't spelled out on the menu so I'm not totally certain of the components. Anyhow they're gorgeous and a lovely accompaniment to the wine.
Shall we browse the IFE? Why this sounds like an interesting film… And no, you may not. I'm going to need it for the sumptuous meal in my immediate future.
After a couple of top offs of the Krug I finally surrender my amuse and get on with the show. The table is laid and the bread is selected.
The appetizer plate I selected would feature "gateau style of snow crab meat and Jerusalem artichoke, Iwate dried tomato vinaigrette with caviar." I wasn't expecting the caviar to be in a jar on the side but much appreciate this presentation versus being a dollop or two pre-plated. This was a very lovely dish with excellent texture. Applying a portion of the caviar to a bite of the crab was divine.
In one of many strokes of excellent service the flight attendant asked if i would enjoy some red wine with my beef main and offered to open and pour the glass at this time so that it might be more optimal in breathing and temperature when the main was served. She didn't exactly use those words in her proposal but that was the intent of her message.
While we're discussing the optimal enjoyment of fermented grape beverages how about we have a go at the Jacquesson Cuvee 740 with these beautiful appetizers. I was familiar wiht this wine from a previous ANA flight and was happy to have occasion to enjoy it again.
I inquired as to whether she had another portion of the "Uncured Kyo-gamo duck ham and persimmon composition style with herb sauce" and, as luck would have it the answer was yes. This is essentially duck prosciutto and the combination with persimmon was excellent.
Some salad greens are offered next.
The corn soup is always a tasty treat. So sweet and just the essential flavor of corn.
May I please present the "Grilled fillet of wagyu beef with Iwate "Aki Queen" raisin sauce flavored with brandy." It's cooked as close to medium rare as you can on an airplane and it's extraordinary. Unfortunately the first courses are so appealing that I broke my "just a taste" rule and ate to much before even arriving at this beef nirvana. The robust Rhone GSM was a lovely companion to this fine expression of bovine brilliance.
I will forge onward as I am a professional. I skip cheese for no reason. Fromager D'affinois 5 Poivres, Cesar Regalis, Mattonella di capra and Grana Padano DOP Cravero are represented here. Three sheeps milk cheeses and one cow, all beautiful. Baa, baa, baa, moo, as they say. No, no one says that.
We've made it this far, might as well see the sweet. Hiraizumi golden baumkuchen with vanilla ice cream. Wisely served in a delicate portion.
This was really a very memorable airborne culinary journey and I was very impressed with all aspects of this decadent feast.
I can't leave without my 21. The Hibiki 21 is a lovely dram and this is the only place I will get an opportunity to quaff such a special whiskey.
An offer to prepare the bed next door is graciously extended and accepted so that it will be there when I fall.
I tapped out in the mid-pacific and had a necessary snooze, a couple of hours in duration.
Upon regaining consciousness I return to my set and am quickly offered service. Some water seems appropriate now.
I would like to taste my way through many of the "Dine Anytime" menu items but it's not really possible. I settle on the Ippudo 'Soration' tonkotsu ramen. Ippudo is one of my all time favorite ramen shops so I cannot resist. It's a deeply flavorful bowl for something that is probably reconstituted on board.
I enjoy a film and drop in and out of nap. I'm told we are nearing our destination and it will be the last call from the kitchen. I opt to have a look at the western breakfast set and a cappuccino. While the eggs are beautifully poached I'm not able to get into the dish and only manage a bite or two.
The cabin undergoes the arrival routine of stowing beds, clearing dishes, and changing back into street clothes. I enjoy the views into LAX although with considerable discomfort from contortion.
These east-bound T-pac flights are just too short.
Bread, and other Narita stuff.
The walk from the Keisei Station across the street and through the JR Station leads to the Marond Bakery where I first fell in love with savory Japanese baked goods.
The selection is tremendous.
Back up the stairs and through the JR station again you will eventually reach the main shopping street of Narita Village. It's a really pleasant stroll past sweet shops, eel restaurants (all manner of restaurants really) and pickle purveyors.
The Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a great place to walk and enjoy beautiful architecture and gardens.
Head back up the hill and into the Keisei Station and back to the airport. A lovely way to spend a few hours and get a good workout with all the hills and stairs.
All Nippon Airways First Class Lounge
Tokyo - NRT
Los Angeles - LAX
The Ground Service: I enjoy the exclusivity of the private check in lounge and security screening.
The Lounge: Lacking in wow factor but adequate in other amenities including food, showers, and beverage. The crowding is an issue.
The Cabin: Free my window! Otherwise I'm comfortable here.
The Crew: Japanese grace and precision personified.
The Food and Beverage: I'm not sure I've enjoyed the food more on any flight I've taken. The quality and variety are exceptional. Two beautiful Champagnes to enjoy. There's very little room for criticism.
Overall: ANA excels in the food and beverage program as well as gracious and genuine service delivery. They are perhaps not as strong in lounge and ground service. That said I am already anticipating my next opportunity to enjoy time in the pointy end of one of their mighty 777-300ERs again.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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