In Japan, standards for service and hospitality are set very high. According to the Michelin Guide, Omotenashi means taking pride in anticipating and fulfilling people’s needs in advance. This philosophy of Japanese hospitality is quite present throughout the country, and it gave me high hopes for a first class flight on one of the country’s premier air carriers, All Nippon Airways – ANA. We recently had the pleasure of flying ANA First Class from Tokyo (NRT) to Houston (IAH).
Pre-Flight Experience with ANA First Class
Behind a plethora of ANA check-in counters at Narita Airport sits a private ANA Suites Check-In reception area. The well-equipped area processes check-in extremely efficiently, and drops you out directly into a private security line. It took us all of five minutes to check our bags, zip through security, and breeze through passport control.
Inside the departures area, there are several airline lounges. The ANA First Class and Suites passengers are welcomed into an exclusive lounge to await boarding. Offering drink service, a hot and cold buffet, a fresh noodle bar, plenty of seating, showers, and massage chairs, the lounge is quite comfortable.
While I enjoyed the lounge, it was really nothing to write home about. I hate to sound like an elitist, but, compared to suites lounges of other First Class airlines, the ANA First Class lounge is lacking in luxury. It covers the basics of any lounge, but it doesn’t really compete on an international scale. My favorite parts of our pre-flight lounge experience were a fresh hot bowl of ramen, a 15-minute massage, and a personal carton of Haagen-Dazs cookies and cream ice cream.
Welcome Aboard ANA First Class
We were welcomed aboard our 777 aircraft and politely shown to our seats. The flight attendants were courteous and pleasant as described the features of the seat, provided drink service, and handed out amenities. They made sure to show us the pajamas and cardigan provided and offered to check to see if the lavatory was free for us to change. They even went as far as to hang our clothes up in our suites!
The Samsonite amenity kit is a miniature hard-cased suitcase containing the standard eye mask, toothbrush kit, earplugs, and a trio of facial products from The Ginza cosmetics company. Flight attendants also walked around with some interesting amenities including hydrating face masks, leg refreshing sheets, and a refreshing scent button.
ANA First Class Meals
The food on our flight was good, but it was the extensive drink menu that really stood out. We spent hours sampling the different champagne, wine, and sake selections. The Krug champagne was paired with a delightful set of small appetizers and it really shone when sipped alongside the caviar plate. I’ll admit, I’ve never enjoyed caviar before. It was actually good! The highlight was the Hibiki 21 year whiskey. While it is difficult to find in bars around Tokyo, the supply on our flight seemed to be endless. The medium-rare Hokkaido Wagyu was quite good and kept me full through a nice long nap.
A true ramen-noodle addict, I opted for a bowl of hot noodles mid-flight instead of breakfast. I just can’t get enough ramen!
ANA First Class Service
I can’t say enough about the service. It was truly top notch. I always had everything I wanted and never felt like I was bothering the flight attendants. After dinner, they quickly provided a turndown service. The lie-flat seat was covered with a cushion that really softened the seat and provided for a comfortable sleep. I would even go as far as to say that this was the most comfortable cushion, and therefore seat, that I have ever slept on in an airplane. Thumbs up to ANA for finding a superior seat cover!
How Can You Fly ANA First Class?
Thankfully, ANA is a Star Alliance partner with seat booking availability via united.com. United airlines is both a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner and they offer the most convenient website for booking award seats on star alliance airlines. If you don’t have one already, I recommend signing up for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card so you can start accumulating points towards free travel. Check out the post on my favorite travel rewards credit cards for the full scoop. You can book a one-way first-class seat from Japan to the USA for 80,000 miles.
What should you do while in Japan? Get ideas from my posts on visiting Japan!