Flight-Report

Review of ANA flight Chicago Tokyo in First

Airline ANA
Flight NH111
Class First
Seat 2K
Flight time 12:00
Take-off 14 Feb 19, 17:30
Arrival at 14 Feb 19, 20:30
NH   #23 out of 126 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 165 reviews
Rewardflying
By SILVER 957
Published on 13th March 2019
photo nh111 cover

Initially this trip was planned for over the holidays but had to be rescheduled. Empowered by more award availability I proceeded to book one of those insane how cool on paper for flying all those awesome aircraft but in reality you are exhausted just looking at it itineraries.

photo first planned 1

So I tinkered. And doing so was fortunate, I'm out of ORD while the overseas leg was Korean Air leaving from JFK, hence the JetBlue leg. The original departure day was one of the numerous messy ORD winter days experienced this year and that particular B6 flight was delayed by 4 hours. It arrived at JFK 5 minutes after Korean Air departed. I would have missed the subsequent KE connection as well as the CX A350 flight and the dominos would have continued to fall. Some times things work out.

My tinkering resulted in this itinerary: (And I was still exhausted.)

ORD-HND ANA B77-300 First Class / United Polaris Lounge - this report


HND-HKG ANA 787-9 Business Class - to come
HKG-TPE EVA Air 787-9 Business Class - to come
TPE-HKG Hong Kong Airlines A350-9 Business Class - to come
HKG-DXB Emirates A380 First Class - to come
DXB-ORD Emirates B777 First Class / Emirates DXB First Class Lounge - to come


As any confessed avgeek would do the morning of a highly anticipated flight, they would check for the assigned aircraft to their flight. Todays’ aircraft would be JA789A, Star Wars BB-8!

photo nh111 aircraft bb-8

It had been quite some time since flying ANA in any class on any route in any of their aircraft. The last First Class flight was out of ORD. At that time the the Polaris lounge was under construction where the United First Class lounge was. So my ANA First Class lounge experience at ORD was this:

photo nh113 ord lounge 3

Fast forward to today and not only is Polaris open for business, it has been expanded since I first visited 18 months ago. Within months after opening United found they had a winner on its hands (go figure). The Polaris lounges are wildly popular and for good reason. They are comfortable, have private seating, are nicely decorated, with excellent food from either the buffet or with table service and you can rest in one of the private resting rooms as well as use the private showers and restroom facilities.

The lounge is located next to gate C18 which is in the middle of C concourse when you get off the tunnel escalator originating from B concourse.



When opened ORD had sit down dining arranged around the bar. There weren’t many tables available back then. So the expansion not only added more lounge seating, they created a separate dining area.

photo nh111 pol dining 1

This new dining area adds 9 tables.

photo nh111 pol dining 2

Parallel to the dining room are more seats. There are also some seats along the windows. These 2 photos essentially make up the addition to the existing club.

photo nh111 pol new room 1
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photo nh111 pol dining menu

Fortunately for me I was in the lounge at a slow time, my flight was 4:15 pm and the bank of outbound European flights doesn’t get into high gear until after 6PM. If you want to have a sit down meal in this lounge come early is my only recommendation. And you know, it’s worth it.

Why not start early? Generous too.

photo nh111 pol food 0

Anticipating a feast on ANA111 I chose the Vegetable Risotto. It was fabulous.

photo nh111 pol food 1

A brownie on a menu is like a bone on a dog’s menu. I want it.

photo nh111 pol des 1

A beautiful dessert, and delicious too.

photo nh111 pol des 2

The buffet had some interesting food items available as well.



No it wasn’t me who attacked the brownie tray.



Time to go…



to the gate. I tried to get a nice photo of Star Wars BB-8 but this is the best I could do. Even a clear shot would have been disappointing considering the condition of these windows.

photo nh111 plane 2

A better opportunity presented itself upon arrival in Tokyo.

photo nh111 plane 1
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photo nh111 ord 3

1545 it was. Apparently this traveler was allowed early boarding and decided to take a jump seat.

photo nh111 yoda 3
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photo nh111 cabin 1
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photo nh111 seat 1
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photo nh111 seat 2
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photo nh111 seat 3

Soon after I got settled I was joined in the cabin by Mr. Yoda.

photo nh111 yoda 1

Which prompted this tweet.

photo nh111 tweet

Not only was Yoda present on this flight, the boarding music was Star Wars theme and the Flight Attendants wore Star Wars smocks.

photo nh111 bev red 1

The Square as it’s called has plenty of storage. In addition to overhead bins, underneath the ottoman you can stow your computer bag / purse.

photo nh111 seat storage 1

I also noticed this tray which had escaped me before. It’s very narrow.

photo nh111 seat storage 5

My biggest complaint with this First Class suite are the fairly useless little cubby compartments that cover up the window. Although the IFE controller locked in place makes changing channels easier and you can watch yourself do it.



The biggest issue I have is with this beautifully large monitor is it’s antiquated and very difficult to see now that HD has become the norm. In fact I had to stop watching a movie because I couldn’t see it as many of the scenes were at night.



First order of amenity, a box of chocolates.

photo nh111 amenity vd choclates

Along with the pass around basket of inflight amenities such as combs, toothpaste, body sheets (whatever they are), at the seat was a hard shell ANA Amenity Kit, new style very comfy ANA pjs, and Sony Headphones that were excellent.



I went to the standard size 777 (meaning small) lavatory to change. ANA has a plate that is lowered down in front of the toilet presumably so you can stand on something sanitary when changing clothes. Notice the basin color.

photo nh111 cabin lav 1

I returned in time to view ANA’s new safety video. This entertaining video goes back to the Edo period and uses characters from the Kabuki theater. In fact they are portions of the video that were performed by actors from the current play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami.

photo nh111 ife 2
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photo nh111 ife 3

Time to go. Bye-bye ORD.

photo nh111 away they go

Shortly after departure, Mickey the lead Flight Attendant came rushing over and pointed out the window asking if I could see the rainbow. I hadn’t, pretty cool. Mickey and the other FA Sueshuke were very good attendants. Not the best as I had to constantly ask for water and they didn’t to the over top things like make the bed in a different Suite (there was no one in row 2 after Mr. Yoda moved on), but they were great anyway.



It’s time for ANA to shine.

photo nh111 amenit oshibori

Champagne and Amuse.

photo nh111 food amuse 1

How many airlines greet you with this first page in the menu binder?

photo nh111 menu food amuse

Champagne and Amuse, deconstructed.

photo nh111 menu bev champagne
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photo nh111 bev cham 1
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photo nh111 bev champ 2
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photo nh111 bev champ 4
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photo nh111 food amuse 2
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photo nh111 food amuse 3

Typically I like to sample the native fare when traveling on Asian airlines (others too). But today the Japanese Cuisine didn’t cause any excitement. I didn’t know what alfonsino was. Turns out the next meal in business class out of Haneda had this fish alfonsino. I loved it. Next time.

photo nh111 menu food jap

My first glance at the International Cuisine menu was the “from Japan” page where Wagu beef was being served. Yes! Then I corrected my mistake turning to the “from USA” page only to have a plain old filet of beef as the bovine served heading west.

photo nh111 menu food western

As luck would have it, 2 of the 3 appetizers contained items that I either can’t have or don’t care for, leaving little to decide, not that much was in question from the beginning. Sueshuke outdid herself with this setup and presentation.

photo nh111 food table 2
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photo nh111 food caviar 1
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photo nh111 food caviar 2
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photo nh111 food caviar 3
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photo nh111 food caviar 5

In an interesting twist this was not so traditional caviar presentation as evidenced by the lack of onion, egg, etc. The caviar was accompanied by something called a Parsnip mousse. The different textures is what stood out, creamy and gelatinous finished with the saltiness from the caviar. It was really, really good.

photo nh111 food caviar 4

Sueshuke cleared the empty plate and set up for soup and salad.

photo nh111 food bread 1photo nh111 food bread 2

Next was the Corn Soup. SoCalNow had raved about this soup on his last (well one of the many last) ANA trip(s) so I was anxious to try it. He was correct about the rich corn flavor for sure. This bowl however was very thin, almost watery. It didn’t have any consistency. But as you can see the Krug is still going strong.

photo nh111 food soup 1
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photo nh111 food soup 2
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photo nh111 food soup 3
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photo nh111 food salad 1
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photo nh111 food salad 2

Everything was very good but I was having remorse for not ordering the Washoku as it’s so much more interesting and I’m sure Sueshuke would have allowed me to have the Caviar. But I didn’t and it’s time to say goodbye to Krug and head to red wine menu.

photo nh111 menu bev red wine 1
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photo nh111 menu bev red wine 2

What’s this? A United States Washington State red wine as your best First Class red? And a blend no less? I’m by no means a connoisseur but I would have expected a Bordeaux from France or a Cabernet from the USA. Ironically there was a documentary on the IFE about how they select their wines. It’s a pretty lengthy process and they examine hundreds of different wines. While I’m sure cost factors into their decision (this Canvasback retails for around $35), the wine still has to “pass the smell test”. Another test of a decent wine is how you feel the next day after too much of it and in this case, 12 hours in the air. Canvasback passed that test!

photo nh111 bev red 3

A little over-sauced but still a nice presentation.

photo nh111 food main 1
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photo nh111 food main 2
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photo nh111 food main 3

And the temperature was the rarest I’ve seen on a plane. The steak was very good.

photo nh111 food main 4

The Cheese Plate was served without request.

photo nh111 food cheese 2
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photo nh111 food cheese 1

Another documentary found on the IFE was about the history of their famous Suntory Whiskey, Hibiki.

photo nh111 bev hibiki 1photo nh111 bev hibiki 2

And the 17 year old version happens to be on the menu.

photo nh111 menu bev liquor

While not a hard liquor drinker, and when I did it was scotch. I ordered a glass.

photo nh111 bev hibiki 3

The smoothest tasting liquor ever.

photo nh111 food cookies

I’d asked to wait on dessert and then choose the Warm bread pudding along with some coffee. It was the lowlight of the meal.

photo nh111 food des 1

It wasn’t warm, it was more like a muffin. Time for bed anyway.

photo nh111 food coffee 1photo nh111 food des 3

ANA flight 111 departure and arrival times are great. It’s a late afternoon departure arriving early evening in Tokyo, around 8:30PM local time. Then to the airport Royal Park hotel (which is great) for a proper nights sleep before hitting the jetstream again.

So the plan was a short nap which was accomplished, I’ll spare the bed photos. Upon awakening it was time for something else.

photo nh111 menu bev mapple juice

A delicious juice, not too sweet and very refreshing.

photo nh111 bev juicephoto nh111 menu food anytime 1

As well as pre-arrival options.

photo nh111 menu food anytime 2

I ordered the Seafood Rice bowl which is kind of a chirashi.

photo nh111 food rice bowl 2

It had a variety of seafood including, seared tuna, uni roe (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe) as well as chopped avocado and tamago (egg omelette). It was excellent.

photo nh111 food rice bowl 1

As the old saying goes, when you’re having fun time flies.

photo nh111 flight path

For redemption information on this flight and how ANA stacks up to the competition click here.

The remaining menu pages for those interested.

photo nh111 menu bev coffee
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photo nh111 menu bev plum wine 1
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photo nh111 menu bev sake 0
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photo nh111 menu bev sake 1
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photo nh111 menu bev sake 2
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photo nh111 menu bev sake 3
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photo nh111 menu bev tea 1
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photo nh111 menu bev white wine 1
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photo nh111 menu bev white wine 2
See more

Verdict

ANA

7.9/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.0
In-flight Entertainment7.0
Meal/catering9.0

United Polaris Lounge

8.6/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering9.0
In-flight Entertainment8.0
Services9.0

Chicago - ORD

6.8/10
Efficiency6.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Tokyo - HND

8.3/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Luck of the draw Star Wars BB-8 made this an extra special flight. I have no issues taking ANA anywhere anytime. While they aren't the best they are consistent. They need to refresh the First Class cabins as the issue is with their monitors (and blocking the window!). Other carries have far superior screens. But I didn't fly them to watch TV (their content is outstanding), it's the ANA service and their food which has never disappointed that makes them a great carrier for premium travels. Finally the ANA flight attendants are polished, polite, fun and some of the best in the sky.

Related

4 Comments

  • Comment 492793 by
    socalnow GOLD 837 Comments

    Greetings Mark and thank you for sharing this report on one of my favorite experiences in the sky, ANA First Class. This is the best Valentine’s Day celebration I’ve ever heard of.
    “As any confessed avgeek would do the morning of a highly anticipated flight, they would check for the assigned aircraft to their flight. Todays’ aircraft would be JA789A, Star Wars BB-8!”
    -Lucky duck. I’ve done the same tracking many times to only be denied. BTW, the picture below this text is formatting weird for me, very blurry.

    “If you want to have a sit down meal in this lounge come early is my only recommendation. And you know, it’s worth it.”
    -I agree, United have done a wonderful job with the Polaris lounges, once they manage to open them. Your risotto and brownie look great.
    “Even a clear shot would have been disappointing considering the condition of these windows.”
    -Not sure if you’ve heard but it has been a difficult winter in the Midwest. 😉
    “Apparently this traveler was allowed early boarding and decided to take a jump seat.”
    -It’s not uncommon for airlines to let those who need additional time to board early. Remember, "when 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not".
    “First order of amenity, a box of chocolates.”
    -This is new!
    “As luck would have it, 2 of the 3 appetizers contained items that I either can’t have or don’t care for, leaving little to decide, not that much was in question from the beginning.”
    -Which two and what are the aversions?
    “The different textures is what stood out, creamy and gelatinous finished with the saltiness from the caviar. It was really, really good.”
    -Quite striking to look at too.
    “SoCalNow had raved about this soup on his last (well one of the many last) ANA trip(s) so I was anxious to try it. He was correct about the rich corn flavor for sure. This bowl however was very thin, almost watery.”
    -But that essence of fresh sweet corn is so well captured.
    “The smoothest tasting liquor ever.”
    -It’s quite a thing The Hibiki. The 21 was the Hibiki de rigueur until the last couple of months. We’ll see what they’re pouring by the time you use the return portion of the ticket!
    It sure looks like you had an enjoyable time with ANA. I agree that the culture of service combined with the food and beverage offerings make some happy flying.
    Thank you again for sharing and happy flying.

  • Comment 492960 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 441 Comments

    Hello Christian, glad I could rekindle some of your favorite ANA experiences.

    BTW, the picture below this text is formatting weird for me, very blurry.

    It was a thumbnail and here blown up looks terrible. I'll try and find a full size.

    -United have done a wonderful job

    I'm typing from the floor as I never ever thought I'd see United and wonderful in the same sentence from your, regardless of lounge or air!

    -Remember, "when 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not".

    He did move a little slow.

    “First order of amenity, a box of chocolates.”
    -This is new!

    No, VD special.

    As luck would have it, 2 of the 3 appetizers contained items that I either can’t have or don’t care

    -Lobster doesn't sit well, Ham not a fav

    But that essence of fresh sweet corn is so well captured.

    -Much agreed

    Thanks for reading! Still working on changing that special trip date....

  • Comment 493269 by
    YGeorgeW 70 Comments

    Hi Rewardflying, thanks for the flight report!

    ANA seems to always provide a great, consistent flight. I'm glad you got to experience one of the Star Wars jets. It's too bad they don't go all out like EVA and make everything Star Wars themed. Just curious, what specific songs were they playing during boarding?

    Thanks again!

  • Comment 493629 by
    Rewardflying SILVER AUTHOR 441 Comments

    Hi YGeorgeW, Thanks for the note. Good point on Eva. I agree it's a half way attempt, but fun nonetheless. I really don't remember the particular song, just knew that it was a Star Wars song.

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