The airline with the best average rating is Singapore Airlines with 8.7/10.
The average flight time is 9 hours and 48 minutes.More information
Greetings flight report community and thank you for stopping by this report.
I've read about mistake fares but have always been too late to the party. That trend reversed as I sat in my den with my laptop on 12/31/18 and, as I often do, surfed over to one of my favorite miles and points blogs to see a post about some rather incredible airfares ex. Vietnam, in first class too. For fun I pivoted to an OTA website and sure enough, these fares were still live. I picked some random days and a few clicks later the tickets were purchased. Jennifer and I would be taking two trips to Vietnam and we were ecstatic. Please visit this post to read more about the planning and the first trip.
This series of posts will cover the second half of the mistake fare ticket. On this trip we added a visit to Laos and the enchanting Luang Prabang.
After a lovely stroll down memory lane (Narita Omotesando and Naritasan Park - see tourist bonus for pictures) we returned to Narita Airport Terminal 1. Jennifer indicated she wanted to look at a few of our favorite shops for items for our boys and all I needed to say was, "you know where to find me."
The weather conditions were less than optimal for photos. Additionally the time of day was also a bit of a lull traffic wise but I'll never skip a trip to the observation deck if it's open.
TR899 taxiing for departure to Taipei (TPE).
IJ253 taxiing for departure to Tianjin (TSN).
SU265 departing for Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO).
Eventually shopping was concluded and we went downstairs to check in. The ANA Suite Check-In is a useful amenity with no waiting and a dedicated security screening post.
Oshibori and hard candy are offered during the check in formalities, as well as a map to the gate and lounges. We have hand carry luggage so the process is very quick for us.
We were the only passengers at the security checkpoint so there was no wait. Immigration is another matter. NRT is implementing automated gates where you open your passport to the photo page and the scan is compared to biometric data of you standing there. This worked well for Jennifer as she has a relatively new passport with the standard number of pages. I have a 7 year old passport that has added pages so it doesn't lay perfectly flat on the scanner. I knew right away this wasn't going to work but the airport staff assisting me wanted to try repeatedly. Finally he relented and I went to join the manual queue, the line only growing as we stood there trying to make their tech work.
It was a 4 minute walk to the Satellite 5 Suites Lounge.
We were quickly admitted and shown to the seats of our choosing.
The staff in the lounge offer to bring you your first drink so we both opted for Champagne and water. These were delivered promptly with oshibori. That also marks the end of table service, at least for non-Japanese speaking guests.
We're among the first to arrive so the lounge is very quiet. I've reviewed this lounge more than a few times and while It's a fine space I believe it's due a refresh/upgrade. The refurbished JAL F lounge in Terminal 2 is now way ahead of this space (review coming soon). Anyhow, let's have a look around at how this lounge presented on this visit.
Ample comfortable seating options.
The furniture is rather drab and uniform.
The noodle bar for made to order items.
A buffet with neatly portioned snacks, canapés, salad bar, and desserts.
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Breads, soups and hot dishes.
Self serve bar.
Feeling a little puckish we visited the buffet. The Champagne on offer was Eugene III, not very memorable or first class.
I selected a few small bites from the buffet and placed an order at the noodle bar. The pork rillettes with braised purple cabbage and the pate de Champagne with uncured ham were both super rich and tasty.
Our buzzer sounded and we gathered our dishes from the noodle bar. Jennifer chose the ANA signature curry.
I opted for the kakiage soba. Hearty buckwheat noodles in a light dashi with a clump of tempura veg., my usual order.
I will compliment the lounge for the wide angle ramp views it affords.
During much of our stay I was listening to the fifth and deciding game of the 2019 NLDS (National League Division Series - American Baseball) My Nationals* won in dramatic fashion in the 10th inning and Champagne was in order. (* - Any team playing the Dodgers is my team) I always get a kick of listening to baseball games overseas. The contrast of the familiar sounds in unfamiliar surroundings intrigues me.
The last order of business before departing was shower time. The lounge no longer sends you home with the gift of travel size Shiseido bath products. A bit of a disappointment. The shower suites are spacious and well stocked with amenities. The little touches like a clock and the fan are very helpful.
Refreshed and ready to fly we make the short walk to gate 55 and board in the first group.
We were welcomed at door L1 by Nanai Hori and Chief Purser and sown to seat 1K and 2K by Fukura, the flight attendant who did much of the service on our side. The ANA Cube is well reviewed here and is absolutely comfortable and private but that comes with downside of poor window views and inability to converse with a traveling companion.
Plenty of little storage compartments as well as IFE and seat controller.
A peek-a-boo window view, as they say in the real estate business.
The cabin is 4/8 today allowing for our beds to occupy 1G and 2G for added luxury and flexibility.
Fukura unwrapped the slippers and placed them on the floor. A very traditional and thoughtful gesture.
The Sony headphones and amenity kit were pre-positioned on the shelf below the video monitor.
I never got around to opening the kit but I do find it quite handsome. YGeorgeW found it to be among his favorites on a recent ANA flight.
Good quality, over-ear, headphones with noise canceling.
The "basket of many amenities" was passed and I feel pressure to select something. I opted for the lip balm, ANA Original Aroma (I use it on the pillow) and the 100mb free wifi card. I never attempted to connect.
Pajamas were offered and a cardigan was available as well. I rarely use this.
A drink was offered and I selected Champagne and water, as usual. There are two constants in the flight report world: Atco will order the beef and I will request Champagne and water for PDB.
Fukura asked if I would like to change before departure and I took her up on the idea. She made sure the lavatory was clean and that the mat to stand on was folded down. She was waiting after to hang my clothes.
No changes to the ANA sleep suit for some time. That's fine with me, it's soft and comfortable.
Additional lavatory amenities.
We pushed back at 16:02, 3 minutes ahead of schedule and taxied to runway 34L for takeoff. The captain announced a short 9:18 flying time.
The omnipresent oshibori marks the beginning of dinner service.
The menu and wine list is presented in a bound folder.
The Washoku menu. I love the sound of most of these items but I know there will be a few that don't match my palette. Therefore, I'm too chicken to request this experience. YGeorgeW ordered the Washoku ex IAD and it looked lovely.
The Western options. I can't pass up the waygu.
A fantastic array of snack items.
Light Dishes Anytime seem to be pre-arrival meal sets.
The sake, shochu, wine and spirits list is impressive.
It seems I should have developed a taste for shochu by now but it hasn't happened.
A choice of prestige Champagnes.
A 30 years old port.
One of my favorite parts of the ANA meal service. The Krug and the canapés . The bottle(s) are full, the flight is new, and there is a wonderful culinary adventure directly in from of me. I queued up the Seth Rogan movie Long Shot for some light entertainment during dinner.
A very pretty foie-gras ball with teff. At the time I had no idea what teff is. I suppose I should have used that 100mb wifi card. Now I have learned: Eragrostis tef, also known as teff, Williams lovegrass or annual bunch grass, is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to the Horn of Africa, notably what is today modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. Thank you Wikipedia.
Table cloth laid and tools arranged, the wine is topped up, and the appetizer is placed.
Many kinds of seafood and marinated vegetable crudites with caviar.
It's beautiful and bursting with flavor. I'm old fashioned when it comes to caviar though, and would prefer a traditional accompaniment.
An artfully plated salad.
As timeless as the ANA Original Curry the corn soup is as fantastic as ever.
I first enjoyed this wine on ANA and have really coveted it ever since.
I think I was going on and on about it so Fukura thought we should have a picture together.
Is that a sexy piece of cow or what?
Served with whole grain mustard and horseradish.
Perfectly cooked for me. Absolutely stunning.
In case you were wondering Jennifer did it correctly on this flight.
Let there be cheese. ANA presents it beautifully.
Dining with ANA is such a joy. The service is spectacular and the quality of the food and wine is exemplary.
The 17 year old Hibiki made an appearance for relaxing times. I must of been in some mood because I queued up the Cohen brothers directed masterpiece No Country For Old Men. Javier Bardem, my goodness.
My bed in 2G stood ready to catch me when the time came.
The Suntory time was going along so well I decided I need a nibble to accompany the Hibiki. The karage did the job well.
I did eventually succumb to sleep and managed a few hours. I woke just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and moved over to my upright seat. The ever vigilant Fukura was there directly with an oshibori and offer of something to eat or drink. I selected a cappuccino, water, and the Ippudo "Soraton" ramen.
It's absolutely phenomenal for what I have to assume is an instant soup base.
Working our way down the coast of California and towards an end to this magical adventure.
Turning for the upwind leg, DTLA in view.
We must look might good from down there.
Holding for departing traffic on 24L.
Long taxi over to the south complex.
We hopped the Keisei Line from Terminal 1 to Keisei Narita.
A sharp looking Skyliner being prepared to return to Keisei Ueno via Nippori.
Keisei Narita Station is at the top of the hill in town so it's a downhill walk to the Nartasian Temple and Park.
A quiet Thursday morning as we make our way down the Omotesando.
Lovely day in the park.
On our way back up the hill we stopped for a beverage.
The Ground Service: The Suites check in is a nice feature and really sets the tone for a first class experience.
The Lounge: I mentioned that it has fallen behind the competition. We enjoyed our stay and all of our needs were met.
The Cabin: I wish I could see out the window more easily. The comfort of the seat for lounging and sleeping is excellent. While the mattress pad is fantastic and substantial the bedding itself is a bit light on luxury.
The Crew: This was a senior and more reserved crew. All of the service was flawless but it lacked the personal connection that changes a flight from good to fantastic.
The Food and Beverage: I am of the opinion that the ANA and JAL are in rarified air when it comes to onboard catering and wine programs. The quality and care that goes into each dish is impressive. It's a delight to eat and drink with them.
Overall: We had a magnificent time with ANA. Half of the F cabin was ours to enjoy and we very much did. I will echo YGeorgeW's view that booking ANA First Class, specifically through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, is the best value in the world of points redemptions.
Thanks for coming along on this series of flights and leaving any feedback along the way. See you next time and happy flying.