Review: ANA "The Suite" First Class
The second to final last leg of my 3 week stint in Southeast Asia would have me fly to Los Angeles from Tokyo Narita onboard ANA’s new “The Suite” first-class product.
This is a flight I have been looking forward to, and I was excited!
This was part of a larger Aeroplan booking from Singapore in ANA business to Vancouver via Los Angeles and Narita. It was a long 29 hour day of travel, but I was keen to make the most of it!
As the Los Angeles to Vancouver flight was Air Canada, the whole ticket would be subject to dynamic pricing, and unpredictable pricing at that. Accordingly, I couldn’t price out the ticket without first phoning Aeroplan and having the agent construct it piece by piece.
The ticket cost me just shy of 130 thousand points, and just above $100 in taxes and fees, slightly lower than I expected, given the Air Canada flight was nearly fully booked, and Aeroplan had to book me in fare class J, a fare class that represents the full cabin.
I’ve just landed after my early morning six-hour flight from Singapore. At the time of writing, Japan still has strict entry requirements, and those passengers transiting Japan had to stay on while those entering Japan were allowed to exit first.
In typical Japanese fashion, this was very organized, with the flight attendants walking the aisles and using iPads to guide passengers out of the plane in the proper order. However, despite being in Japan, many transiting passengers were eager to push their way out and try to deplane with the earlier group and were kindly told to wait. About 40% of the passengers entered Japan, mostly returning business travelers and some exchange students.
Boarding pass in hand, I passed airside security with no delays (Interestingly, if you’re coming from the US and transiting Japan, you do not have to do airside security). After security I was promptly deposited to ANA’s lounges in Narita - these lounges share the same door, with business class to the left, and first class to the right after entering. A quick scan, and I was escorted to the first-class door.
I was greeted in traditional fashion and offered seating choices. Naturally, I picked the window with apron views, and was offered a drink. Still groggy from my earlier flight, I asked for a cappuccino for now and booked my spot in the shower suites.
The showers are shared between business and first class passengers, and are down a shared hallway, outside the first class doors. The shower was nothing special, but offered a great place to recharge before a long flight, and had all the amenities you would expect - plus slippers!
Back at the lounge I dug into the food. The bar is entirely self-serve and has some snacks throughout. The ramen bar is back, where you can find sashimi, sushi, and ramen. You can order at the table or at the window. I couldn’t get the “at the table” ordering to work - no problem, it was fun to see the noodle bar work.
I started with a hakata ramen with pork. While it was being prepared, I had to have a Suntory beer from the automatic machine.
Round two was five-pieces of nigiri with a miso soup.
The food was fine. I’ll admit, I had higher expectations for the lounge and food and I think the lounge slightly missed the mark. It offered a nice, comfortable place away from the busy Narita (even now!), but it missed the glam or luxury that one might expect from other first class products. With that, it was time to board.
While I saw the line up forming for zone two, I made my way to the zone 1 line and inquired about the capacity. “Only one in first, it’s you” I was told. I was pretty excited to hear that, since yesterday there were three others booked in the cabin.
With that, I was invited to pre-board first, and escorted to the L1 doors where I was greeted by the first-class attendant and service director. I was welcomed aboard and offered any seat in the cabin, but stuck with my assigned seat, 1K, my home for the next 11 hours.
With a pre-departure champagne in hand, I poked around the seat. While this wasn’t the coveted Krug (that would have to wait until we were airborne), it was a great welcoming to the flight.
While the seat might look like it doesn’t have curves, and looks like a flat slab, the seat is incredibly contoured underneath the top mattress.
Also, endlessly adjustable, the seat could be customized for any position. In the suite you will find a closet with hanger, and the sliding doors.
Each seat had individual air nozzles and reading lights.
The middle seats are ideal for those travelling together as the middle partition can be lowered and adjusted.
The amenity kit, made in collaboration with Globetrotter, had everything you would need on a long-haul flight and some additional Japanese health items as well. I particularly enjoyed the refreshing eye mask.
Pyjamas are provided, as well as a cardigan.
Headphones are Sony WH-1000XM3s. I found these to be quite comfortable and provided excellent noise cancellation. Being Bluetooth headphones, I could also pair this to my phone and listen to music.
I had my order taken and was told they loaded enough food for me to try everything.
The two set menus. Choose from Japanese or Western, but the attendants will likely let you mix and match. I elected to have the full 11-course Japanese menu, with two items from the Western menu to complement it - the caviar offering and the Wagyu beef.
With the good stuff poured, let's do this.
Amsue bouche and Japanese starter.
Jumping over to the Western menu, an interesting way to serve caviar, sandwiched between smoked salmon and marinated flounder, topped with orange and citrus dressing.
Up next was the sashimi which was to die for. Corn soup was served next, and was a nice break from the meals. The disappointment was in the Wagyu beef. It was overcooked, and, while not rubbery, it was covered in sauce and overdone. With the meal service taking a long time (due to me ordering a lot), I asked for the next courses to be served as one.
The food was sublime.
On this route to Los Angeles, ANA does not stock the coveted Hibiki 21, and at nearly $2000 a bottle, it probably makes sense to not. Instead, they serve Hibiki 17, and even offered me some "to-go" bottles as a souvenir. The Sake loaded was enjoyable, and I took a break midway through the meal service to conduct a sake tasting.
ANA’s First class customers have access to free and unlimited WiFi throughout the journey. I found speeds to be very acceptable, allowing me to send off a few emails and to share some pictures with friends over Facebook messenger. It became spotty a few hours into the flight as we passed through the Pacific ocean, but this spottiness was only for a short time.
ANA’s in-flight entertainment, called Sky Channel, has a wide range of movies and TV shows, from Japanese to Hollywood options.
I found the offering to be great. Someone could easily find enough content to keep themselves busy on this flight, but the real highlight was the screen.
At 43-inches wide and bolstering a 4K resolution, this is the best in the sky, period. It takes up nearly the entire front of the cabin, and barely has one-inch bezels. The screen was a large competitive differentiator to me, and really contributed to an incredible flight. When it was time to sleep, and the cabin attendant dimed the lights, it felt like a private home theater.
I found myself getting lost in the inflight map, and the onboard cameras were a nice touch on the 777 when taxiing and landing.
After trying to get some work done to feel better about the massive amount of food and drink I had just consumed, it was time to sleep.
The cabin crew prepared the lavatory to change into pajamas and stored my clothes. While changing, the amazing flight crew made up seat 2K, just behind my booked seat to be my bed.
The 777 has two front lavatories, exclusively for First class passengers - seriously, the flight deck didn’t even use them.
The seat is topped with a soft mattress pad and made up for comfort. I found the sliding doors to be functional. These doors felt the complete opposite to British Airways new Club Suites, and actually provided some privacy.
I had a good four hour nap on the flight. It was a great sleep. Being first-class, the mattress is uninterrupted, and your body and feet can move freely.
I awoke about two-hours outside of Los Angeles to a cappuccino and some ice cream - the cabin crew recommended it.
You can have the best hard product and best food and drink on an airplane, but if the service doesn’t match, you won’t have a great flight.
I can say that this flight had excellent crew. I was made to feel welcomed right when I stepped foot on the plane and enjoyed every minute of it.
The Japanese hospitality was kind and attentive, without being overbearing. I had my privacy when I needed it, but also found the crew anticipating and being eager to help throughout the flight.
As I look out the window coming into Los Angeles, sipping a cappuccino, I reflect on what was one of the best flights of my life.
The crew was fantastic and made me feel welcomed throughout. They were attentive and kind. Amenities provided were thoughtful, and I enjoyed using and experimenting with the Japanese health products provided at the beginning of the flight.
The hard product is class-leading. The seat is comfortable and endlessly adjustable and the screen when paired with the sliding doors made my suite feel like a private movie theatre.
While there were some hiccups in the food - notably the Wagyu, which was a disappointment, the interesting way to prepare caviar and sashimi made up for it - the delicious Krug was a great touch as well.
Without a doubt, this was an amazing flight, and I’ll be sure to book any ANA F, new seat, or even old, if one comes available.