Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Trip Report: ANA New York JFK to Tokyo Narita Business Class flight 1009

Pros:
Awesome food (Ippudo Ramen!)
Toto Washlet in the lavatory

Neutrals:
Wifi available but it was expensive and buggy
Nice lie-flat seat but it was oddly lumpy even with the sleeping mat

Cons:
No personal air vents


Boarding
We started in the British Airways Galleries lounge. Seems like no matter who I fly with (Iceland Air, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and now ANA) this is their lounge of choice. It's decent. There's a dining room within the lounge but only One World top tier or people flying on BA First get to use it. 

The 777 has ANA's new "staggered Business Class" seats and was configured similarly to the Cathay Pacific 777 I took back in January – Business Class is split in two by a galley area and a door. We sat in the larger rear section. One advantage to sitting in the forward part of Business Class is that you don't have lots of people walking past you during boarding. Headphones, slippers, blanket, pillows, and an amenity kit were waiting for us at our seats.







Toto Washlet!


Dining

The flight leaves at 6pm and dinner was served as soon as we were aboard. We both chose the Japanese meal. Everything was fantastic. 











Green tea and chocolates

Sleeping

The FA offers you a sleeping mat to go on top of the seat. It's helpful, but I still found the seat hard and oddly lumpy. Despite that, I managed to get a good deal of rest. I'd brought my BA First pajamas with me and changed into those first -- I hate sleeping in my street clothes. 

They had a fairly extensive midnight snack menu and I'd heard that Ippudo was doing ANA's onboard ramen so I got a bowl of that. It was so tasty I had another bowl for breakfast :)



Wifi / Entertainment

Onboard Wifi for transoceanic flights is still somewhat rare. ANA's works for about 50% of the trip since it doesn't have coverage over the poles (and sadly the Wifi isn't smart enough to tell you when it's out of coverage area, it just silently fails). The Wifi is on a per-megabyte basis and is very expensive compared to domestic US Wifi pricing. Complicating matters is the fact that mobile phones have lots of options to limit data usage while on cellular networks, but very few to throttle usage while on Wifi. If I had to do it again, I would have my task in mind, buy the $6/5MB plan, complete my task, and then browse until my 5MB was out. Also, I would turn off all automatic app updating and FB video auto-play before purchase. I'm also not 100% sure that the Wifi is even smart enough to let you resume a session even if you've not used up all of your data credits (again, the iPhone will meticulously meter cellular usage, but not Wifi so I couldn't track this). 

The in-flight entertainment actually had some great travel shows about Japan and I ended up doing two of the things I saw while onboard. It also has seat-to-seat chat which was nice given how enclosed and private the seats are. 




Breakfast

I had more ramen and Dr. K has the traditional Japanese breakfast. Both were tasty. We landed on time around 9pm. Japan has several different railway companies and we rode Keisei's Sky Access line because it comes right into Ueno station near our hotel.

Ramen so tasty I had it twice!

Japanese breakfast

Keisei Sky Access

Final Thoughts

I love ANA – the food and service are tough to beat. I just wish reward seats with them were easier to come by. Finding two seats together on Aeroplan felt like finding a unicorn, honestly. What's odd is that the Business Class cabin was half-empty, which makes me wonder if ANA made more seats available as the date approached. A quick spot-check just now confirms: several dates this week and next with Aeroplan seats on the direct flight. This is good to know if I ever need a last-minute trip to Japan! (Aeroplan is an Amex transfer partner). 

Here's a link to how I did it

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