Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that came into focus with two objectives, figure out a way to ride in the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites and take advantage of a soon to be devalued sweet spot in the United Airlines Mileageplus award chart. Let's talk about the Suites first. Singapore Airlines introduced "Suites" class ten years ago when the A380 entered service and it was quite revolutionary and remains a top First Class product. The airline is in the process of returning their initial A380 frames to the lessor and receiving new built frames from Airbus. They took this opportunity to remodel their Suites class and introduce a new product. In July 2017 the word on the internet was SQ would deploy these Suites initially on a SIN-SYD-SIN turn, namely SQ 231/SQ232. With this information I started searching for a saver award on either segment. I located a seat on SQ 232 for May 4th, 2018 and set out to build a trip around this segment. This was the SYD-SIN segment so I started building from SYD back home, ideally staying with Krisflyer as the currency and a single ticket to limit the cost. There was no space on SQ12 (SIN-NRT-LAX) or SQ8 (SIN-ICN-LAX) so I looked to Star Alliance partners for help. In the end I found SQ SIN-HND and NH NRT-LAX. I called Krisflyer and had the ticket booked quickly for 127,500 krisflyer miles and $183.90 SGD in fees. This was before the most recent SQ award chart devaluation. At his point the new A380 had not gone into service so the seating chart was showing the old product. I selected seat 1A as a place holder until more information was divulged about the new Suites configuration.
The second objective involved the excellent redemption value using United Airlines Mileageplus in Thai Airways First Class between HKG and SYD via BKK. Tickled that I finally had a reason to book one of these awesome deals to Sydney I checked the date I needed and the space was there. For 40,000 miles it was too good to be true and they "fixed" the award chart not long after I booked.
If you're keeping score I now have an itinerary that looks like this: HKG-BKK-SYD-SIN-HND; NRT-LAX all in Suites/First for a very reasonable sum of points. The final hole is LAX-HKG. If I have to be in Hong Kong I naturally think of Cathay Pacific as the preferred way of getting there and this case was no different. With low expectations I pulled up the BA Avios search page (a good way to search for Oneworld award availability) and searched LAX-HKG for the exact day I required to meet up this the rest of this trip and by some divine action the space was there. I had some of the Avios needed and transferred the remaining points from AMEX and even took advantage of one of those 40% bonuses that is offered from time to time. I would normally use Alaska Airlines to book CX but my orphan Avios balance, the transfer bonus, and lack of AS miles (or Starpoints to convert) I decided to use BA and pay the outlandish 150k redemption. Feeling quite smug, and with the entire trip booked, all I had to do was wait the excruciating 8+ months until it was time to travel.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
It's usually my first stop on any visit to what is probably my favorite airport.
A nice mix of traffic. Oh the KE 748 and EY 789 are so lovely.
Airline enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes.
Back in the terminal there was a moving show welcoming and thanking passengers for visiting Narita and Japan.
I make my way over to the South Wing of Terminal 1 to the ANA Suites check-in lounge.
It's a quiet facility where a boarding pass comes with an oshibori. I've visited a handful of times and the staff have always greatly outnumbered the guests.
ANA Suites Lounge(s)
I start my lounge visits with the Satellite 3 Suites lounge by the 50's gates.
It's the bigger of the two and my preferred Suites lounge as they have a nice row of comfortable swivel chairs that faces the ramp.
It was very quiet in the lounge at this hour and I was welcomed graciously and escorted to my seating preference and offered a beverage. My go-to order of Champagne and water. The Comte De Brimont was the wine on offer, a NV Premier Cru Brut.
I had a look around at the bites on offer, as one does in an airport lounge.
I opted for some kakiage udon on this visit. So very satisfying.
A visit to the shower before the overnight flight home. Very well appointed and the fan makes for a comfortable room.
As a gate is posted for my flight i note it on teh other side of the airport and near the Satellite 4 Suites Lounge by the 40's gates so I take a long leisurely walk over there. I walk through the North terminal and visit the Delta gates. My how things have changed from the busy days.
I spot a new friend.
Looking back at the lounge I recently vacated.
I repeat my usual order in this lounge. Note the SSSS. Given my wacky travel patterns I am truly surprised this doesn't happen more frequently.
I spend the remainder of my visit enjoying the ramp views.
Boarding time approaches so I head down to the gate. The secondary screening was nothing major and the staff seemed to be apologizing for having to even do it.
I am welcomed my name at the door and shown to my seat. My name was easy to guess as I am the only passenger in the F cabin for the flight. I am encouraged to occupy any seat however I stay with 2A, it's as good as any.
Pick a seat, any seat.
The seat is familiar and comfortable. The blocking of the window is an absolute nuisance. I take note of the amenities waiting at the seat.
I enjoy a nice chat with the Flight Attendant. She is about a lovely as humanly possible and I swear that I have been on a flight with her before but we compare schedules and find that is not likely. Anyhow, I'm quite pleased to be here now.
I accept the offer of Champagne and ask for water as well.
A look at the map before we depart.
There's time before we leave the gate to change into lounge wear so I visit the lav.
We depart on time and I enjoy the views of traffic as we make our way to 16R.
It's finally our turn and we launch in a southerly direction.
Service starts with an oshibori.
The menu and wine list are full of opportunities. I didn't capture the Washoku menu, snack menu, or pre-arrival, it's so much. it's also the same menu as my last NRT-LAX flight.
The service for me starts in the same manner as always. I was pleased to see they boarded a Krug split (375ml) so I don't feel the pressure of drinking the whole of a full bottle :)
The canapes are delightful bites to have between sips of wine.
The show starts with the table setting.
I opt for the sea bream and shrimp with caviar appetizer having enjoyed it last time. It's quite beautiful still.
Rather than salad and soup I was keen to try another of the fantastically described appetizer dishes. The uncured duck ham and green pea flan with horseradish cream was the one that I had not sampled in previous flights. The presentation was perfect and the tastes and textures were all interesting and well executed. One of teh perks to being the only guest in F, there's no running out of anything.
In speaking with the FA I could tell she was keen on wine and so I asked her for a suggestion to pair with this duck flan. She suggested a Riesling so I deferred to her expertise. It was a nice glass with good minerality. It was from the "special" list only served on LAX and JFK flights.
I rearely deviate on this menu but decided to pass on the wagyu this evening and try the French lamb navarin with veg. I was expecting a stew but ANA's interpretation was more of a heavily sauces cuts of meat. Perhaps a deconstructed stew of sorts. It was stunning to behold and very tasty.
I couldn't deviate on the wine and broke with reason and chose a very new world Napa Valley Bordeaux style blend that I have become attached to after flying with ANA. The Kenzo Estate Rindo 2014 is such a beautifully crafted wine I cannot pass an opportunity to enjoy a glass or three. Every vintage seems to be as strong as the last.
The Rindo applies its strengths with the cheese course as well.
The sweets all sound captivating but I can't get past the vanilla ice cream and yoghurt sorbet with sour cherry madeleine and haskap sauce. I had no idea what a haskap was, either. Turns out they are packed with Phenols, Anthocyanins and Bioflavonoids so that's good. ;)
Antoher epic ANA F meal in the books and per International accords and such it's whiskey time. The Hibiki 21 is not to be missed.
I am presented the choice of 8 seats in which to assemble a bed and opt to rest straight across the aisle.
Making good progress across the pacific I'm quite restless an sleep is not coming. The FA suggests a snack to go with the Hibiki, as any good host does, and I agree with her suggestion of chicken skewers. It is served with a canister of togarashi and they are absolutely delightful nibbles between whiskey sips.
Eventually I get a few hours of nap in and wake as we're off the Northern California coast. I am offered breakfast and gladly accept as this is my last chance to be spoiled by ANA's culinary team. The table is set and breads are placed and yogurt is served. I ask for a cappuccino and a glass of the special "Mapple Juice Fuji" that is best expression of apple I've ever known.
I don't need food by any stretch but some fruit sounds too good to pass on and I'm a sucker for a benedict. How do they serve perfectly poached eggs int he sky?
There are some lovely views of the California coast as we head south.
We fly near the felons collection point known as Dodger Stadium.
Soon we're on the ground and taxi around the TBIT satellite and to our gate and park next to NH176.
All Nippon Airways First Class Lounge
Tokyo - NRT
Los Angeles - LAX
The Ground Service: The check in and private security lane are a nice way to start your journey. Immigration is through the regular channel and can be quite busy.
The Lounge: There were no lines of people waiting to get into the F lounge today so that is nice. I'm happy with a comfortable seat, great view, good wine, and some Japanese nibbles so I rate teh lounge rather high. It's by no means a top tier F lounge however.
The Cabin: Alone in F is rather exclusive. I'm very content in this seat as long as I'm not trying to look out the window. The bed is fantastic with a substantial foam pad and light soft duvet. The pillows are great too the buckwheat hull filling is fantastic.
The Crew: Stellar as I've become accustomed to. Beauty, grace, charm, and attention to detail.
The Food and Beverage: Here is where ANA really shines to me. The food quality and presentation is second to none. The wines are indeed interesting and high regard.
Overall: I know, it's another ANA F review but it's always a special treat to fly with them and in many ways they are the bar I use to rank other carriers.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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