Review of ANA flight Chicago Tokyo in First

Airline ANA
Flight NH111
Class First
Seat 2K
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 13:05
Take-off 26 Apr 19, 17:25
Arrival at 26 Apr 19, 20:30
NH   #22 out of 131 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 186 reviews
socalnow
By GOLD 1674
Published on 8th August 2019

Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this report. This is the continuation of our trip to Vietnam that became a reality after a Cathay Pacific "mistake" fare that was honored. Feel free to visit the SNA-ORD report for more background on the planning, etc. Today was very exciting as it will be Jennifer's (lovely wife) first time experiencing an Intercontinental First Class flight and all of the bells and whistles that come along with it (lounge, priority boarding, etc.) We have traveled internationally quite a bit together and almost always in J but that was Delta (NRSA) so this is a whole new world that I am excited to share with her.


Routing

  • United Airlines First SNA-ORD Past
  • ANA First ORD-HND You are here
  • Peach Aviation Economy HND-ICN Not available
  • Vietnam Airlines Economy ICN-CXR Not available
  • Vietnam Airlines Business CXR-HAN Coming soon
  • Cathay Dragon Business HAN-HKG Coming soon
  • Cathay Pacific First HKG-JFK Coming soon
  • American Airlines First JFK-LAX Coming soon



United Polaris Lounge - ORD


OUr flight from SNA was on time and arrived at a "B" gate so we made the walk over to the "C" gates via the trippy neon tunnel. Unfortunately the soundtrack was different today and I missed hearing Rhapsody In Blue.  



Our ANA boarding passes were in the form of email messages with QR codes but they worked just fine as the UA agents scanned them. My experience is that is not always the case.


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The United Airlines Polaris Lounge concept is excellent and the three that I have visited (ORD, SFO, and LAX) have been exceptional Business Class lounges when compared to the offerings in any country and of any airline. When flying First Class from an airline's out station, like we are today, you are often left with a J lounge as the only option. When that J lounge is Polaris the letdown is minimal. In fact this lounge is superior to the ANA Suite Lounges at Narita in many ways.


Having only picked at the breakfast on the inbound flight we decided to enjoy the dining room early in our visit as to not ruin our appitie for the on board dining later that night.
First we had a look around the lounge so that Jennifer can become acquainted with the space.


Cubicle and open seating is available with ramp views if you so desire (I do!)



There's a prominent bar in the center of the lounge.


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The stars are aligned for a trip to the lavatory.



The expanded dining room was fully utilized when we requested a table but a party was just leaving and we were quickly guided to a cubicle style table. Open tables are also offered but I prefer the cubicle versions as to segregate conversations a little better.



The server for our area was excellent and quickly offered a menu and inquired about drink prefrences.


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The menu options.



There was a separate bar/drinks menu. I'm a cocktail fan and I'm always impressed with the thoughtful curation of the Polaris cocktail menu.



Jennifer opted th start with the Champagne and I opted for "The Vitimin C". Both presented well with our requested glasses of water.


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To dine we decided to share several of the small plates: Italian onion soup, warm zucchini noodles, and Parmesan gnocchi. 


The soup is presented in an individual gratin pan. This dish was well done with a crispy, bubbly gratinéed top.


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The gnocchi was not as well executed with a rather chewy texture. Flavor wise it faired better with some nice roasted veg. mixed in.


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The zucchini noodles, much to my surprise were quite well executed and maintained good texture. The confit tomatoes were bursting with flavor.


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We closed out the meal with a coconut crème brulee "pie".


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Overall it was a fantastic J lounge dining experience. The portions are small so we were able to experience a variety of flavors and textures without feeling too full. Again, kudos to United.


I neglected to get photos of the main buffet area but I did snap this other buffet area, next tot he dining room, that I had never noticed before. The waffle chips looks fresh, hot and delicious but I, somehow, refrained from indulging.


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We both wanted a shower before departing for the night so that was our next stop. As with my previous stays in this lounge there was no wait for a shower suite.


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The shower rooms are very spacious and well appointed.



We had a moment to relax in the lounge after bathing and prior to boarding so I opted to enjoy a taste of the WhistlePig rye. 


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ANA NH111 ORD-HND


We arrived at the gate as boarding was just underway and joined the correct lane.


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We were greeted at the L1 door by Osawa, the Purser on this flight. We were shown to our seats by Aki, one of two flight attendants looking after the F cabin today.


We selected 1K and 2K on account of the ANA seat design preventing any meaningful contact between passengers. This worked out well as the load was 4/8 leaving us with the entire G/K side of the cabin to ourselves.


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[div]I'll spare you my rant on the cabin design as today they were the best seats in the world. [/div][div]
[/div][div]Amenities including kit, pajamas, cardigan, and slippers were already positioned at the seat.
[/div]


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The kit is in a Samsonite branded box.



I shared with Jennifer my ritual of changing into the lounge wear prior to departure when possible. Oshio, the other excellent flight attendant, deemed there was sufficient time before departure.



The lavatory is well stocked with basic amenities.


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Aki made the rounds with beverage offerings as we made ourselves comfortable in our little apartments for the next 12 hours.


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I rarely need to utilize the cardigan as the cabin temperature is usually warm enough for my comfort.


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Favorite channel tuned in.


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Jennifer showing off her leg refreshing sheet from "the basket of many things" that Oshio passed for our consideration.


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We were off the gate more or less on time and made the trek over to 28R for a departure to the west.



The glare on the screen is rather severe but I enjoy the last bit of natural light I will see for nearly 24 hours so I enjoy it.


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English language literature has been pre-positioned on "our" side of the cabin. Attention to detail is a hallmark of Japanese hospitality and this is just another example.


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Service starts promptly with the oshibori.


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Osawa passes the menu and drinks list.



A light blanket is offered.


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Jennifer decided to relocate to 2G for dinner service.


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We both opt for the 2004 Krug to start.


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The wine is served with a beautiful selection of canapés: apricot and goat cheese, rosette of smoked salmon, foie gras mousse, and cheese pepper bars.


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Initial reviews are positive!


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Time for the main event.



Olive focaccia selected from the bread basket.


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The caviar service on ANA is always interesting. It's generally not served in the "traditional accompaniments" manner. Here the caviar is paired with a cauliflower mousse. 



Jennifer's fist caviar experience ended with a request for a different appetizer plate.


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The zucchini and burrata cheese roll with Parma ham was much more to her liking.


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The salad with Yama-wasabi, Japanese horseradish dressing was fine.


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The 2006 Charles Heidsieck made an appearance to taste next to the 2004 Krug. Both lovely but perhaps the Heidsieck  was more approachable.


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I'm always a fan of the ANA corn soup and this one didn't disappoint. Pacing is so very important in a feast such as this so I have to leave food on the plate. This confuses the Aki somewhat. I try to explain that I want to try everything, if only a taste or two. I'm not sure if the language barrier allowed for this to be conveyed.


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I enjoyed the beef main plate: Fillet of beef steak diane sauce with creamy mascarpone potato. I adore the 2014 Rindo. Again, just a few bites of the lovely beef with the beautiful wine elicited a visit from Oshio, who had been working the galley, to make sure the cookery was to my satisfaction and it absolutely was.  Not sure if my explanation of trying to save room to enjoy cheese and dessert registered.


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A 30 year old Tawny to enjoy with a selection of cheese is a rare luxury and one I fully enjoyed. I will say this was one of the weaker cheese displays from ANA. Often times there are various soft breads and hard crackers with chutney and fruit. This is the first time I have seen packaged Carrs crackers…



I opted for some simple ice cream and a cappuccino to close out this massive feast. Word around the cabin was the Warm blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream was lovely too…



After dinner I enjoyed some lounging with The Hibiki 17 and a film. Jennifer retired to 1G for a nap.


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Somewhere over the Northwest Territories of Canada I requested a bed made and it was setup in 2G.


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Even tough it was 8pm at home the early wake up call and alcohol sent me down for a nice long nap.


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I arose from my slumber about 2.5 hours remaining in flight. Jennifer had moved back to 1K to enjoy a film and I likewise moved back to 2K.


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Of course I wasn't exactly hungry but I couldn't resist the IPPUDO rich-tasting miso “DAICHI” ramen which I requested for a pre-arrival meal. While it's usual for ANA to serve the ramen with butter this is the first time I have seen packaged butter. This and the cheese plate make me wonder if there was a catering issue. I request a glass of chilled sake to enjoy with the soup noodles and accept the recommendation of Aki for the Jikon Junmai Daiginjo.


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The north wind direction had us touching down on 34R.


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Bonus: Wondering Around TOKYO HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - International Terminal


Bonus : Click here display
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Verdict

ANA

8.6/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering9.0

United Polaris Lounge

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

Chicago - ORD

7.9/10
Efficiency7.5
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Tokyo - HND

9.1/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

The Ground Service: The Boarding procedure had a dedicated First Class lane which is a nice consideration.

The Lounge: I find the United Polaris Lounges to be very solid J lounges. On our visit today we enjoyed tasting the small plates, curated cocktails, and Champagne. While the space is crowded in the peak afternoon European departure bank we were able to dine expediently and find seating as needed. I was particularly impressed with the service in the dining area as it was prompt, courteous, and energetic.

The Cabin: The cubicle design of the seats is unfortunate. There is no configuration where you can easily have a conversation with a travel companion or even look out the window without contorting your body. That said, they are perfectly comfortable for lounging and convert to spacious comfortable beds. The product refresh underway in ANA First Class is most welcome.

The Crew: Gracious and detailed in the traditional Japanese service tradition. There was not special connection or remarkable moments otherwise. That's not a criticism by any stretch, just an observation. Of course my lack of Japanese language skills prevents me from having nuanced or in depth interactions.

The Food and Beverage: Always top notch with ANA, in my experience and this flight held to that expectation. Multiple "prestige" champagnes, 30 year port wine, Hibiki 17, and, boutique Napa red, are the beverage highlights for me. The food side is somewhat "safe" when compared to some of the JAL First offerings but the quality and selection are quite good.

Overall: Objectively this would not rank as my "best" First Class experience except that is most certainly was. Sharing the experience for the fist time with the love of my life was pretty fantastic. I was quite relieved that she was absolutely tickled by the whole experience as well. Hopefully that goodwill will power us through the next two red eye and early morning flights in Y.

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.

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7 Comments

  • Comment 515359 by
    757Fan 520 Comments

    Wow. Everything looks amazing which seems to be the norm with ANA F!

  • Comment 515913 by
    Andyw 26 Comments

    I see the new first Class seats being introduced on the London to Tokyo route has a change so that it is less like a cubicle and you can actually see out of more one window. This is is a definite improvement.

    Your only eating some parts of each meal still strikes me as odd and wasteful. Spread it out more or ask for a smaller amount for each.

    • Comment 516427 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 855 Comments

      Hi Andyw and thanks for the note.

      This is is a definite improvement.

      -I too am looking forward to the new cabins on ANA. The J cabin looks fantastic and F has the improvements you mention.

      Your only eating some parts of each meal still strikes me as odd and wasteful. Spread it out more or ask for a smaller amount for each.

      -I've certainly tried that at times but often get confused looks or the standard portion anyhow as many items are catered in individual portions.

      Happy flying.

  • Comment 516397 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4837 Comments

    Sharing an exceptional flight like this with a spouse of close friend makes it that much more special and exciting! I know I always enjoy flying so much more with good company.

    Fully agree with your assessment of the Polaris lounge...it's a fantastic J lounge. But it's not quite the personalized experience you'd expect for first.

    "The Ground Service: The Boarding procedure had a dedicated First Class lane which is a nice consideration."
    - Sad that that's the extent of the effort made for F on the ground, aside from check-in probably. It seems this is a consistent problem among Japanese carriers...the very basic or non-existent ground services. One would expect personalized white glove treatment from a Japanese carrier, but both JAL and ANA seem to be very basic on this front.

    Other than than, the lackluster ANA ground services are more than made up for with in-flight treatment and product, except for the awkward design of the cubicle seating, of course. The presentation of the catering is exquisite and the champagnes are top notch...truly a first class experience! And of course, Japanese hospitality makes it that much better!

    Kind of jealous you've now been on multiple trips to Vietnam! Being half-Viet I haven't been a single time in my adult life. Maybe one day I'll take my blond-haired blue-eyed child to introduce him to his Asian heritage, haha.

    Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful report! I am, of course, expecting a lovely Vietnam tourism bonus in upcoming reports!

    • Comment 516432 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 855 Comments

      Greetings Kevin DC and thank you as always for the thoughtful comments.

      Sad that that's the extent of the effort made for F on the ground, aside from check-in probably.

      -It is odd. I've flown LH F from ORD a number of times and the LH rep comes to the lounge to walk you over to the airplane and boards you discreetly in advance of the other passengers. That's F service.

      Kind of jealous you've now been on multiple trips to Vietnam! Being half-Viet I haven't been a single time in my adult life. Maybe one day I'll take my blond-haired blue-eyed child to introduce him to his Asian heritage, haha.

      -That will be a wonderful and important gift to give your child. Do you have any family or local connections in country?

      I am, of course, expecting a lovely Vietnam tourism bonus in upcoming reports!

      -We loved Nha Trang! I dumped a bunch of "local fare" into the CXR-HAN report. I hope it is satisfactory. ;)

      Thanks again and happy flying.

      • Comment 516467 by
        KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4837 Comments

        That will be a wonderful and important gift to give your child. Do you have any family or local connections in country?

        Unfortunately, no. Any of my Vietnamese family that are still living are all in France. One of the main reasons I've not visited. I've been meaning to do a trip with my mom, since she lived there in her youth before moving to France. Now it'll have to be a multi-generational homecoming of sorts

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