Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. In this series I will present a really fun round-the-world party including Lufthansa, JAL, and ANA. While these are all familiar and sought after experiences for me I was able to bring a friend along this time and groom a new airline geek and Flight Report follower. We visited some fantastic lounges, saw some wonderful cities and were spoiled with culinary delights and divine intoxicants the entire way.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Staying in Ueno makes the Keisei Skyliner the best choice for travel to Narita Airport. We arrive in the basement train station of Terminal 1 and take the non-stop elevator to the 4th floor. From there a short walk to the observation deck on the 5th floor. I spotted a Garuda 777-300ER, a couple of ANA Star Wars themed aircraft, an SQ 787-10 and an Air Asia X A330.
Having fulfilled my ritual on the observation deck we head back downstairs to check in for our flight. I am traveling in F and Mark in J. He was originally on F on the HND-LAX flight but deemed it was easier for him if we were on the same flight so he changed his booking when a J seat opened on NH6. We are able to utilize the Suite check-in for this transaction. It's a separate walled off space in the check-in lobby and there is never a wait. We are helped immediately and offered oshbori as the process is completed. The main benefit of checking in here is access to a private security screening team. I have never had to wait.
We start at the ANA Suites Lounge in Satellite 4 on the 4th floor above gate 47.
We are admitted to the lounge and escorted tot he seats of our choosing. We are offered a beverage and both Mark and I request water and Champagne. The beverages are promptly retrieved and precisely places on the table between us along with the oshibori. ANA offers the Comte De Brimont Brut Premier Cru.
Interested in a bite for lunch I have a look at the food options.
I make a plate to start.
We make a visit to the noodle bar as well. Kakiage soba for me and beef curry udon for Mark.
We decide to take a walk and lounge hop. We stopped downstairs at the J lounge but it was far too crowded for pictures. I managed a shot of the nice sake bar. There is also a live cooking station tot he right of the sake in the afternoons.
We also dropped in on the United Global First lounge for the great views. I suppose it will be closed at some point? There is a plan for a Polaris Lounge at NRT but it's no more than an idea at this point.
We were departing from 57A so we relocated to the ANA Suite Lounge at Satellite 5 for the short time remaining before boarding.
Beverages were offered and sparkling water was requested and delivered. We obtained seats by the windows with the best views.
Boarding time rolled around and an announcement was made so we departed for the gate.
A warm and deferant bow and an escort to seat 2K, already loaded with swag.
The seat and associated annoyances have been well documented by myself and others on this site.
Seat 1K would remain unoccupied so that would later serve as the bedroom.
The service is generous and kind right from the start. Extra amenities are offered as well as a pass for wifi.
Beverages are also offered and I request water with ice and Champagne. Unfortunately it's not the First Class Champagne but I can't give up the ritual of something bubbly in a glass before a flight in First Class.
I decide to change into the lounge wear prior to departure and I am escorted to the larger of the two F lavs. It turns out the flight attendants did not have a chance to straighten up between the last passenger to use the lav and myself. I found it in the most troubling condition. The apologies for the toilet paper not being properly folded into a triangle were profuse and , I believe, sincere. It's always staggering the level of detail and pride the Japanese take in virtually every task. I admire and envy this trait.
The bathroom is well appointed and is spacious enough to change clothes.
An on time departure ensues and we join the long queue for 16R.
Hazy sunset as we go feet wet.
The cabin is festoon with orchids.
Service starts with the oshibori and menu.
The menu and wine lists are fantastically large.
A look at the beverages for those who are inclined. There are some route specific wines and a huge selection of sake and soju and of course the Hibiki 21.
For your dining pleasure. Again, the selection is significant and very impressive.
I will always start with Champagne and canapes as it is a tradition that cherish. Today, as everyday in ANA F, the Champagne selection was special. The Krug 2004 is excellent and the small bites of food are both beautiful and unique in flavor and texture. The duck rillettes in the port dome with gold leaf stand out here.
Apparently the Krug 2004 was poplar as we drank it all before we got to the appetizer courses. Or is was reserved for a more important guest. I have no reason to believe this was the case. Anyhow in ANA F I will always enjoy both prestige labels so here comes the Taittinger Prelude. It's an interesting study to taste NV after a vintage Champagne. I enjoyed the Taittinger and found the creamy texture and minerality to be very satisfying.
The table is precisely laid for the main event(s) and selections are made from the bread basket. Dining with ANA is such an extravagant experience and the exquisite presentation is a significant part of the experience.
I selected the lightly smoked cuttlefish and eggplant tartar curry and, of course, caviar. The Miyazaki caviar is really delightful in texture especially but also flavor.
A salad is offered next. The vinegar and onion dressing is robust.
The ANA corn soup is always a treat and is bright and fresh.
The Japanese beef always wins the day for me. Knowing this it came to choosing a wine. Yammamoto insisted I have some of each wine I was considering. First the Los Angeles route specific red, 2013 Duckhorn Merlot form Napa Valley.
Also the 2013 Petaluma Shiraz from Adelaide Hills.
Both of the wines were well crafted but at altitude I found the more assertive Syrah to win the day.
The beef is peerless. The menu listed light sauce raifort and it was indeed not like any raifort I have seen but for the better in that it didn't intrude on this dish. The flavor and texture of this meat stands alone quite well. The cookery perfect. Impossible for me to finish and unfortunate USDA regulations and societal norms prevent me taking the rest home!
Always pacing and saving precious digestive capacity for the full experience I enjoy the cheese course. The care in composing the cheese selection alone is extraordinary. Brillat Savarin, Rove des Garrigues, Mimotette. and Blue Des Causses anyone? Cows, goats, textures, and flavors abound.
I don't put much value on dessert if I'm honest but the yuzu citron sorbet and Kiyomi orange sorbet caught my eye and was a worthy venture. Both were clean, bright and light.
The marketing blurb on the wine list for the Tokaji Aszu piqued my interest so I requested some. This was anew experience for me and I was very impressed with the lushness, balance, and complexity of this wine. I think I would normally dismiss it as a "sweet wine" and have missed out.
Some pralines were also served.
After dinner and stemware was cleared there was but one task remaining: Cuddle up with the Hibiki. The 21 is such a rare drink for mere mortals so I continue to be amazed that it is available here.
The offer to have a bed made in an adjacent seat is accepted and 1K selected.
For me quality sleep is not attainable after such an indulgent meal but i did manage a few hours. I snoozed form the Chinook Trough to somewhere off the coast of San Francisco.
I used the larger lav in the night and apparently the main overhead light had failed. The cabin crew kept a flashlight lit to keep the lav in service.
Yammamoto greeted me quickly after I returned to my seat and offered something to drink. I was very keen to try the Unshi Mikan Juice. The mandarin is such a delightful citrus and the juice was sublime.
For breakfast I selected the poached egg with Iberico ham and Comte cheese sauce. It was a simple sounding dish that turned out to be so much more. Beautiful to look at and perfectly crafted.
A fruit plate was presented after.
Window shades were retracted to reveal a partly cloudy day on the California coast as we made our way down to LAX. we glide past the In-N-Out to a smooth touchdown on 24R. Taxi to teh TBIT is brief where we assume our position between a company 777 that left NRT an hour before us and a KE A380.
All Nippon Airways First Class Lounge
Tokyo - NRT
Los Angeles - LAX
The Ground Service: The Suite Check In Lounge is a nice way to start your interaction with ANA. Service is always immediate and personal. Oshibori and little bags of candy are offered. The direct path to premium security screening is welcome too.
The Lounge: The ANA Suite lounges are a notch or two below some other International F lounges I've had the pleasure of visiting. The lack of a proper a-la-carte dining room is probably the largest discrepancy. I find the beverage selection to be underwhelming as well. What they do offer is of high quality most of the time and the staff are eager to assist. Crowding can be an issue during the afternoon/evening departure bank.
The Cabin: The seat design is puzzling. To wall of the seats from viewing out the window and conversation in the middle seats in exchange for some tiny storage boxes is an odd decision. The comfort is good in both relaxing positions and bed positions. Having a separate bed on account of the light load is an extreme luxury.
The Crew: The purser Nishimura and Flight Attendant Yammamoto were extremely gracious and precise. All service was presented with the utmost in care and thoughtfulness. It's virtually a given that ANA will offer such high service levels in my experience, there is no other way.
The Food and Beverage: The quality, selection, and presentation in ANA First Class is really impressive. I find them ahead of their Asian TPAC peers in CX and SQ with only JAL in the conversation.
Overall: You might think the Rbix and I are having a completion as to who can review the same route the most frequently but I assure you that's not the case! I have such special experiences with ANA that I am compelled to share them. I only have two more LAX-TYO ANA F trips on the books so...
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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