Review – ANA First Class Chicago to Tokyo

Introduction

I had booked my mom on this flight about 4 years ago.  At the time, she had flown to Asia almost 10 times, but this was her first F experience.  She was under the weather then, so couldn’t partake in the champagne, but definitely loved the whole experience.  Back then, an ANA agent even escorted her off of her connecting flight to her ANA flight.  I had used United miles back then when it was cheap.  Still my best redemption of all time.  As I’ve gotten older and traveled more, I’ve learned that using my miles and points on my parents will always be a better redemption than my own.

 

Award Cost

This was a part of my Asiana flight and it cost me 180,000 ANA miles + ~$300 for a roundtrip F ticket to Asia.  I’ll discuss that later, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume this flight cost me 90K ANA miles.  I transferred miles over from AMEX Membership Rewards to make this happen.

 

United lounges at ORD

 

We took the redeye from Seattle and landed in ORD at around 5:00AM.  My wife was miserable and wanted to sleep so bad.  The United Polaris lounge wasn’t open yet, so we walked to another terminal and was able to get into the United Club lounge there.  My wife was sleeping on a bench before a rep came by and told her she couldn’t sleep laying down.  She then sat up and slept for a few minutes before that same rep came by again and told her to get her feet off the couch and muttered something about this being a “business lounge.”  Whatever.

By 7AM or so, the Polaris lounge opened and we walked back over there.  This lounge was smaller and had showers AND EVEN DAY BEDS!  We both took a day bed and slept until 10AM or so.  Our ANA flight didn’t board until 11AM or so.  IT WAS AWESOME!

 

 

During flight

 

When I first boarded the flight, it was a bit…underwhelming, meaning the hard product did seem dated.  The TV was small and there wasn’t a sliding door to close your “cube.”  However, they did serve my favorite Krug!  I’m guessing my wife and I drank them out of their 2 bottles because midway through the flight, they had to switch to the other champagne.  I think 5-6 out of the 8 seats were filled when we flew.  We sat in the 2 middle seats in the first row.  There didn’t seem to be a way to lower the partition between my wife and I, so if you’re the type that likes to look at your partner the entire flight, then this isn’t for you.

The flight did have WIFI.  I think it was around $20 for the entire duration of the flight.  I was kicking myself for not loading the Discover Miles card into my Lastpass since that card comes with $30 of inflight wifi.  I chose not to buy any WIFI and just watched movies.  I did like how the FA told me I could eat at any time I wanted versus being on a semi-set schedule like most airlines.  I didn’t get cute though and ate along with everyone else.  After I got done eating, I had the FA turn my seat into a bed with a mattress pad and all.  I didn’t have any issues sleeping on this flight unlike the Asiana flight.  The seat was comfortable and the cabin wasn’t too hot.

After a few hours, I woke up and had the ramen snack.  Then had the breakfast course as well.  Yes, I was being gluttonous.

 

Conclusion

The problem with this flight was that it wasn’t all that memorable besides the small TV and WIFI ability.  The service was good, but not as good as the Asiana service.  Food was good but nothing I’d write home about.  Oh yeah they also serve Hibiki 21 on the plane.  My wife is still regretting not drinking it on the plane because she thought we’d taste it at the Suntory distillery in Japan, which we didn’t.  Instead, she impressed the FA by polishing off a bottle of sake by her lonesome.  If I were to rank this F product to others, it’d probably be near the bottom (just above Asiana due to the Krug and WIFI, even with the small TV and weak Samsonite amenity kit.)

 

 

 

  • Nam Duong

    Yeah I paid $25 to cancel my mother’s ticket so she could try EVA instead of flying Air China and I still have to hear about it.. friggin 3rd world Asian mothers. My apologies also that Continental to Tokyo to HCMC isn’t around anymore either.

    • Miles per Day

      Wait, shouldn’t she be happier about that since Eva is better?

  • Buckeyes1212

    Were you able to get into Polaris lounge at ORD with just your ANA F ticket? I thought the Polaris lounge was just reserved for business and first customers flying on United metal. This would be sweet if ANA F would get you in as I am taking that exact flight in September!

    • Miles per Day

      Yes. That’s how I got the pic of the day bed.

  • karlranck

    oh nice! I just took this flight the other way from Narita to Chicago on Sunday! That Hibiki 21 goes for $500+ at the Tokyo Airport and about $700 if you can even find it online. I was seriously considering buying it but glad I got to try it for “free” on the plane. I definitely enjoyed a few glasses 🙂 Great flight…I got a teal colored amenity kit though, I like your blue much better 🙂

    • Miles per Day

      Ah nice. I think my wife got the tan one as well. Maybe it’s based on gender?

      I bought a buddy that Hibiki21 in Ginza for about $300. I wish I had bought myself a bottle too and either drank it or resold it over here.

      • karlranck

        oh man, I wish I had known. I would’ve picked one up. I have a buddy going back in June, will have to convince him to lug it for me 🙂

      • Justin Fyles

        Was it at that awesome liquor store in the underground mall? That place is great.

        • Miles per Day

          Nah a place called BIG. Small shop across from the Ginza “mall.”

          • Justin Fyles

            Ah ok. I’ll check it out. Check out Liquors Hasegawa next time you’re there. Crazy good selection of local whiskeys and other spirits, even though it’s a tiny store in a mall.

  • Mark Ostermann

    It looks like you have the Ebags backpack. I just got one last month – I am liking it so far!

    • Miles per Day

      Yeah I thought it’d be too big, but it is surprisingly spacious and seems to be the ‘right’ size. Great to fit pamajas and amenity kits and duty free stuff.

  • Nancy

    I definitely agree with your sentiment that redeeming for parents is even better than redeeming for ourselves. I am booked SQ first for my mom SFO-HKG in August and I’m so excited for her to try it. I’ve never even redeemed first for myself (yet) but I’m just as excited (if not more) for my mom to experience it.

    • Nancy

      Also, out of the Asian F class you have tried, which is your favorite? Do you think ANA first is worth the 93K MR points (transferred to VA?)

      • Miles per Day

        Wait are you flying with her or is she flying alone? Don’t tell her ahead of time and let her be surprised when she boards and they escort her to her seat. If you’re with her, her facial expression will be priceless. I think ANA F for 93K MR RT is OUTSTANDING and I’d do it again. So far I like CX F the best, but I haven’t flown Korean or JAL F yet. Hope to by this Thanksgiving.

        • Kliff

          I’ve flown F on CX, JAL, Asiana, Korean, Etihad, Qatar, LH, Thai, AA, UA. No ANA (all reviews look underwhelming) and Emirates yet, although maybe later this year.

          JAL F is absolutely the best overall F. Obviously the seat isn’t comparable to Etihad apartment, but it’s right up there with every other airlines.

          The thing about JAL is, not only it has excellent Japanese service, but it offers amazing food and beverage selections. While most American bloggers only care about Champagne ($400 Salon), every other wine and sake are amazing and pretty much limited edition. Food out of TYO is absolutely amazing as it collaborates with 3 star Michelin restaurant:

          http://nihonryori-ryugin.com/en/

          Any American bloggers who criticizes food on JAL F either doesn’t fly out from TYO or they didn’t know how to order.

        • Nancy

          That’s a briliant idea! I’ll have to do that one day…but this time she’s flying alone so I told her. She said she could never go back to Y if she took F and told me not to book for her haha. So tempted by the MR/ANA deal now

        • borscht

          was able to book a RT F from LAX – NRT for 110k virgin Atlantic miles

          transfered 43k TYP during a 1.25x bonus and 44k MR during current 1.3x bonus for only 87k total

          • Miles per Day

            That’s nice. When was this? ANA space is somewhat hard to find, esp if you have 2 in F.

          • borscht

            I booked it yesterday for travel late dec to early jan