Review: ANA First Class Square Tokyo to Washington

After an extremely early morning bus ride from the Hyatt Regency Tokyo out to Narita, I proceeded to the very exclusive feeling ANA Suite Check-in facility.  Here, I was quickly checked in and whisked away to a private security line before I went on to clear immigration.  I relaxed for about an hour in the ANA Suite Lounge (review forthcoming) before making the short trip over to gate 42 to board my flight back home to Washington.  After about five minutes, a slew of gate agents finished swarming about and welcomed aboard First Class passengers.


An Around the World Trip — Oktoberfest and Asia


ANA (NH) 2
Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Washington-Dulles (IAD)
Aircraft:  Boeing 777-300ER
Seat:  2A (First Class Square)
Wednesday, October 15
11:05AM – 10:40AM
Duration:  12:35

As I entered the cabin through door 1L, I was immediately greeted by two flight attendants who escorted me to my seat.  At that point, I was given my awesome Rimowa amenity kit and pajamas.  I settled into the seat briefly before the flight attendant suggested that I go change into my pajamas… sure, why not?

Rimowa Amenity Kit

Rimowa Amenity Kit

The ANA pajamas were plenty big and were very soft and comfortable.  I returned to my seat and was immediately offered a glass of Krug champagne.

Drinking Krug in my PJs!

Drinking Krug in my PJs!

Yup, Krug… the good stuff.

ANA First Class champagne menu

ANA First Class champagne menu

As I enjoyed my champagne, I acquainted myself with the ANA Square suite.  It has an incredible amount of space for one human being, and I really did appreciate it.  The ANA Square has a very boxy feeling, but the finishes are all top-notch.  It features a massive, 23-once LCD IFE screen with a decent selection of content, just tons of leg room, and of course all the lights and plug sockets and controls one would want.  The only drawback was that the boxiness of the suite actually blocked the view from one of my windows.  No big deal… I survived.

ANA First Square, Seat 2A on the B777-300ER

ANA First Square, Seat 2A on the B777-300ER

Row 2 of the ANA First Class Cabin on the B777-300ER

Row 2 of the ANA First Class Cabin on the B777-300ER

Massive, 23-inch LCD Screen

Massive, 23-inch LCD Screen

Seat Controls

Intuitive Seat Controls

IFE Controls

IFE Controls

Cocktail Table

Cocktail Table

The new First Square product provided a TON of very private space.  Though there was not a door, the dividers of the square were high, and I could not see into any other suite at any time.

The suite was also equipped with some very nice, band new Sony noise-cancelling headphones.  I actually used these during the flight instead of my Bose headphones, and really enjoyed them.

Sony noise-canceling headphones

Sony noise-canceling headphones

The flight attendant was extremely attentive from the get-go.  She asked how my flight was from Shanghai (since I technically connected from there, with a 22-hour layover in Tokyo), and asked if I’d flown with ANA before.  I replied that I had not, but had flown first class on a number of other carriers.  At that point, she was pretty intent on ensuring that I’d leave the flight with the best impression of ANA possible.

Let’s just say she succeed tremendously.

There were only three of us occupying the eight first class seats in the cabin (there were Japanese businessmen in seats 1A and 1K), and I was informed that I was the only passenger who was drinking Krug, so needless to say, the refills kept coming.

Boarding was complete relatively quickly, and we taxied to the runway for our long flight to Washington.

Shortly after takeoff, the dinner menu was delivered along with a fresh new bottle of Krug.  I also asked for a glass of Suntory Hibiki 21-year Japanese whiskey — simply a treat at any time, let alone on a flight.IMG_9530

Though the flight attendant highly recommended the Japanese menu, I just did not feel that adventurous and instead ordered from the modern European menu.

Upon completing my order, my drinks were refreshed and a beautifully presented plate of canapés were delivered.  I can honestly say that I have no idea what it was, but it was very Japanese.  It tasted interesting, but just had a striking presentation.

A glass of Krug, a glass of Suntory Hibiki 21 yr and some canapés

A glass of Krug, a glass of Suntory Hibiki 21 yr and some canapés

Beautifully presented canapés

Beautifully presented canapés

Once I finished the canapés, my table was set with meticulous precision, as each piece of silver wear was gently laid on my table top and adjusted straight.

Table setting

Table setting

I opted to begin with the caviar service.  Instead of it being served from a tin with traditional garnishes, the caviar was presented impeccably atop scallops with a flake of gold.  Though different from I was expecting, it was simply delicious — easily the best tasting caviar dish that I’ve had.

Caviar Course

Caviar Course

Caviar, smoked scallop and Miyazaki white sturgeons brandade gateau-style with lemon-flavored cream

Caviar, smoked scallop and Miyazaki white sturgeons brandade gateau-style with lemon-flavored cream

Next, I was offered an assortment of breads.  All the selections were very fresh and warm.  They went along great with the butter and olive oil.

Delicious bread

Delicious bread

Salt, pepper, butter and olive oil

Salt, pepper, butter and olive oil

The appetizer featured a duck ham with mesclun, persimmon and a carrot vinaigrette dressing.  It was… interesting, but tasty.

Appetizer Course

Appetizer Course

Uncured Kyo-gamo duck ham, persimmon and mesclun with persimmon and carrot vinaigrette

Uncured Kyo-gamo duck ham, persimmon and mesclun with persimmon and carrot vinaigrette

The salad course was delivered next.  I ordered the garden salad with the Kochu yuzu pepper dressing.  Again, it was delicious.

Salad course

Salad course

Garden salad served with yuzu-citron flavored parmesan cheese tuile, served with a Kochi yuzu pepper dressing

Garden salad served with yuzu-citron flavored parmesan cheese tuile, served with a Kochi yuzu pepper dressing

For my entrée, I selected a tenderloin of grilled Oita Bungo beef.

To say that I enjoyed my steak is an understatement.

This was not only the best steak I’ve ever had on an airplane — it was one of the top five steaks I’ve eaten anywhere.  

I know…. that sounds like hyperbole, but I swear, it was that good.  It was cooked to perfection, and was simply melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

The best steak I've had on an airplane, and one of the best I've had anywhere -- AMAZING!

The best steak I’ve had on an airplane, and one of the best I’ve had anywhere — AMAZING!

Grilled Oita Bungo beef loin with Ajimu wine imori-dani merlot wine sauce

Grilled Oita Bungo beef loin with Ajimu wine imori-dani merlot wine sauce

I declined the cheese plate in favor of a dessert that featured a wildly creative take on ice cream.  It was described as “Marron ice cream, milk ice cream and green tea-flavored biscuit harmony.”  Yeah, I don’t even know what that means, but it was outstanding. I enjoyed a pot of tea along with desert, and that was nice.

Marron ice cream, milk ice cream and green tea-flavored biscuit harmony

Marron ice cream, milk ice cream and green tea-flavored biscuit harmony

Tea!

Tea!

A trio of petit fours were delivered after desert, including a macaroon, a delicious mini cheesecake, and a chocolate truffle.

Petit fours

Petit fours

Service throughout the meal was impeccable – I have never experienced better service on a plane.

I was exhausted due to a late night out in Shinjuku the night before, so I requested that my bed be turned down immediately after dinner.  The bed was turned down nicely and was extremely comfortable.  I started watching a movie, but fell asleep pretty quickly.

ANA First Class Square turned down into a bed

ANA First Class Square turned down into a bed

Seat 2A turned down into a bed

Seat 2A turned down into a bed

After about eight hours of deep sleep, I awoke somewhere over Wisconsin.  I slept incredibly well, as the bed featured plenty of rooms with extremely comfortable linens and duvet.  The air conditioning was quite cool, which helped me sleep really well.

As soon as I awoke, the flight attendant offered me some coffee or tea, but I declined in favor of a Diet Coke.  With that, breakfast service commenced.

Once again, my table was set impeccably, but this time included an assortment of jellies and jams.

Time to eat again!

Time to eat again!

I started with a plate of fresh fruit.

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

A bowl of cereal followed.

Cereal

Cereal

For my breakfast entree, I ordered the deconstructed eggs benedict with smoked salmon.  Now, I’m not usually a fan of salmon, but it just worked really well with this dish, and was exceptional.

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Cereal

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Cereal

Delicious Salmon Eggs Benedict

Delicious Salmon Eggs Benedict

As breakfast concluded, we started our descent into Washington.  I changed back into my clothes and came back to my seat where I found the flight attendant with a fresh glass of Diet Coke for me.  She wanted to know how ANA compared to the other airlines I’d flown.  Specifically, she wanted to know how it compared to United since she noticed I had status with them.  That made me giggle a little… you can’t even compare ANA First Class with United Global First.  It’s not fair to ANA to lump them in the same conversation.

So, I told her the truth:  it was the best I’ve experience in first class that I’ve had to this point.  Better than Lufthansa.  Better than Asiana.  Better than Korean.  Better than THAI.  Not even in the same stratosphere of the US carriers.

The cabin was prepared for arrival, and our long (but not nearly long enough) flight across the Pacific was over, as was my two-week trip around the World.

Descending down to Washington

Descending down to Washington

The Verdict…

How would I describe the experience in a word?

Spectacular.

The 12+ hour flight on this new, ANA B777-300ER will surely serve as the benchmark to which I compare any future flight.  The whole experience was outstanding, from start to finish.

How I Booked It…

As previously mentioned, this flight was one of the segments on a US Airways First Class award ticket from North America to North Asia, with a stopover in Europe.

 

17 Thoughts on “Review: ANA First Class Square Tokyo to Washington

  1. Are those awards still bookable?

  2. Flown this segment a few times. In terms of international first carriers I’ve flown I’d rank:

    Cathay, ANA (almost tied with Cathay though), Emirates, Lufthansa, BA, United.

    • I’m dying to fly Cathay in F. Have flown them multiple times in business class. They’re next up on my list! If it is even or better than ANA, I’ll be thrilled.

  3. Jennifer on November 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm said:

    They have had some really impressive fares from LAX ($~3000), so you might want to bite the bullet and earn miles on United before the large changes to Mileage Plus coming in 2015. (Miles, class of service bonus, elite bonuses, etc.)

  4. Hi Sean,

    I’m flying this same route in about 3 weeks and staying at the Hyatt Regency. Any tips or things I should keep in mind concerning the hotel? How early do you suggest leaving for that flight? I was going to take the Narita Express, but maybe I will consider taking the bus since there will be less traffic. Nice read.

    Thanks!

    • I took the Narita Express to the hotel and the Airport Limousine bus back to Narita. The good thing about the bus is that it picks you up from the hotel, so you don’t have to navigate to and around Shinjuku station with all your bags. Costs are comparable. Overall, they both take about 90 minutes, though the bus can take longer if there’s traffic. I had an 11am flight and we took the 7:30am bus. I’d recommend leaving the Hyatt Regency at least 3.5 – 4 hours prior to your flight. The HR is a fine hotel — I do like the location in Shinjuku. I’ll have a review up on it in the coming weeks or two.

  5. how far do you have look for this route or any other routes with ANA F to open up ?

    • It’s available somewhat frequently. I just ran a search on United’s website, and NRT-IAD was available several times in the next few weeks, and once or twice per week a few months down the road. It’s a shame that United now charges a crazy amount of miles for this though.

  6. Can you redeem your itinerary with us airways originating from Asia instead? So Asia to Europe stopover to North America and back? Or does your itinerary has to originate out of N.A?

    Thanks.

  7. I just flew LAX – ICN on Asiana’s A380 First Suite and back from Narita on ANA’s First Class Square. I would say that the Asiana’s new Suite on the A380 is superior to ANA’s 777 Square. The A380 is just a superior plane – smoother, quieter. Beyond Asiana’s A380 hard product, nothing much really impresses me. Asiana’s ground services outside their First Class lounge in ICN are weak or non-existent. Its like they have no budget or just stopped caring.

    ANA’s First Class food is levels above Asiana. I just had nearly the same dinner and breakfast you had on ANA and just about component of every item was surprising and superb. ANA offers much more choice in dishes and snacks – more than you can eat! ANA’s First Square Lounge at Narita, while far less crowded, has about the same food choice (but bigger kitchen single dish menu) as their huge business lounge in 5. I have to say, the fried chicken and fries served in their business lounge (also at breakfast) is awesome – but not served in in their first lounges

    • I agree that the food on ANA was just outstanding. My experience on Asiana in first was on the 777 old product — I haven’t gotten to try their new suite yet. I enjoyed it, but felt ANA was superior.

  8. Willy Wong on November 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm said:

    Nice report. NH is one of the best carriers out there.

  9. Tomiko Fumita on November 18, 2014 at 4:01 am said:

    I am Oita Prefecture of staff that are responsible for the distribution of Oita Bungo Beef.
    I am deeply appreciate to the comments about your Oita Bungo Beef.

    If you have opportunity, also received come to Japan, I think if you can eat the Oita Bungo Beef.

    Thank you…

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation