Review: ANA First Class Chicago to Tokyo Narita

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, ANA

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I got to O’Hare roughly an hour before departure. I had spent the previous night at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and figured there was no reason to show up early.

Chicago O’Hare terminal one

Check-in is located at the far end of terminal one, and just about everyone else was checked in, so there were no queues. I was quickly issued my boarding passes all the way to Bangkok.

ANA check-in counter

ANA check-in counter

Terminal one

I headed to the elite security line, where the queue was fairly short, and from there took the underground tunnel to the “C” concourse. By the time I got to the gate it was 10:20AM, and boarding was scheduled to start at 10:25AM, so I just stuck around the gate.

Tunnel to concourse C

Concourse C

Gate C10 is fairly well set up for the ANA flight, as they have separate queues for business and coach class at one jet bridge, and then another queue for first class at the far left of the gate at another jet bridge.

Gate C10

My plane to Narita

There were only four first class passengers, and our documents were checked while we waited in line. At 10:25AM, when boarding was scheduled to begin, one of the agents got on the PA to announce a two minute boarding delay – “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that boarding will be delayed by two minutes today. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for flying ANA, a member of Star Alliance.”

Only at a Japanese airline!

Boarding queue

Sure enough boarding began at 10:27AM sharp, and I proceeded to board through door 1L.

First class boarding area

ANA 11
Chicago (ORD) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Tuesday, August 13
Depart: 10:50AM
Arrive: 1:45PM (+1 day)
Duration: 12hr55min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2K (First Class)

At the door I was welcomed aboard by one of the first class flight attendants, who escorted me to my seat, 2K. This flight was operated by one of ANA’s reconfigured 777-300ERs, featuring their new “Square” first class and fully flat business class.

First Class cabin

First Class cabin

First Class cabin

The first class cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration, spread across two rows, for a total of eight seats. While the seats are super private they don’t have doors, though I can’t help but think that they feel a bit like office cubicles (which actually isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion). One thing worth noting is that it’s really tough to look out the windows with the “Square” product, since you have to lean forward at least two or so feet to have a direct view out of the window.

View across cabin

When the flight attendant saw me taking pictures she immediately asked if I wanted my picture taken, and she was probably the first of about five flight attendants to ask me that. Gotta love their attention to detail and desire to anticipate needs.

My seat, 2K

My seat, 2K

As far as the seat goes, I don’t think I’ve ever had a seat with as many different compartments as this one.

To the left of the seat was a storage container for reading glasses or a phone.

To the right of the seat was the monitor for seat controls.

Seat controls

Immediately above that was another storage container with a mirror.

Seat controls and storage

Mirror and storage

To the right of that was the entertainment controller, the door of which had yet another mirror. Below that were the iPod and USB connectors, and below that was a 110v power outlet.

Entertainment controller

USB and iPod connectors

To the right of that was yet another storage container, which is also where you can place the headphones.

Waiting on the seat was a pillow and light blanket.

Pillow and day blanket

My one major frustration about ANA used to be that due to Japanese Aviation Regulations they couldn’t serve pre-departure beverages and the use of electronic devices wasn’t permitted on the ground. That has changed in the meantime, and now the service has to be one of the most involved out there.

The service began with pre-departure beverages, and I was given the choice between champagne (Krug, to be specific) and orange juice. I went with the former.

The glass was poured at my seat after the flight attendant presented the label to me.

Pre-departure Krug

I was then offered Sony noise canceling headphones.


After that I was offered both a cardigan and pajamas, though I have to say the pajamas felt more like a hazmat suit than pajamas.



I was then offered a Rimowa amenity kit, which the flight attendant was very proud to offer me, since she placed much emphasis on it being Rimowa (and the excitement wasn’t lost on me, because picking up this kit was half of the reason I wanted to fly ANA again).

Rimowa amenity kit

The Rimowa kit consisted of ear plugs, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and some Ginza toiletries.


I was then offered a selection of amenities from a basket, including a mask, socks, a comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a “leg refreshing sheet.” I asked the flight attendant what that was, and she said “it’s for refreshing your legs, Mr. Lucky.” Well thanks, that clarifies it!


Any ideas?  

Lastly, I was offered a menu and wine list, which was presented in a beautiful menu holder.

Menu folder

Menu and wine list

What was impressive about the parade of gifts is the great care with which they were offered to me. The flight attendant would bring everything to my seat wrapped (to show that it’s new/clean), and then unwrap it in front of me and take the wrapping with her. When I was presented the slippers the flight attendant removed them from the bag and placed them in front of my feet.

She insisted I change into the pajamas to be more comfortable, though apologized profusely that it would be a few minutes till the bigger lavatory was empty. Sure enough a couple of minutes later she came to my seat to escort me to the lavatory.

The first class lavatory on the refurbished 777-300ERs are pretty awesome, since they feature a bidet-style toilet.. The bathroom is also stocked with all kinds of amenities, and even has a “platform” you can stand on when changing so you don’t have to stand on the floor.

Lavatory sink



Bidet-style toilet controls

When I emerged from the lavatory the flight attendant insisted on hanging my clothes, and neatly placed them in the closet on the outside of the seat.

Closet for hanging clothes

During the boarding process no fewer than three flight attendants came by, introduced themselves as “purser,” and welcomed me aboard. Okies!

We pushed back right on schedule and taxied to runway 32R, which took about 10 minutes. During that time the safety video played, and the flight attendants did their pre-takeoff safety checks. Unlike US airlines that doesn’t just involve seeing if everyone’s seatbelts are fastened, but rather checking to see if the overhead bins are closed, which involved three flight attendants checking each bin to be sure they were properly closed. That always cracks me up.

View on pushback

Once at the runway we were first in line for takeoff.

Unfortunately there were a series of about 10 planes landing, so we had to hold short of the runway for about 15 minutes. Other airlines probably wouldn’t make an announcement in such a situation, or if they did the pilot would probably make it.

Not at ANA! About five minutes after we got to the runway the flight attendant got on the PA to announce “Ladies and gentlemen, we are waiting at the end of the runway and will take off as soon as the runway clear. Thank you for waiting.” Then maybe three minutes later she got back on the PA to announce “Ladies and gentlemen, there are four aircraft ahead of us waiting to use the runway for the landing. Would you please wait for a moment.”

Runway views

Inbound United flight

Inbound American flight

Another inbound flight

Sure enough, four planes later we were cleared for takeoff for our 11hr28min flight, at roughly 11:30AM.

View after takeoff

Climbing out

Climbing out

The views on the climb out were beautiful, including of Lake Michigan. Despite some thick clouds the climb out was smooth, and about 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

Views over Lake Michigan

Views over Lake Michigan

It’s worth noting that the entertainment system started working at the gate already, so I was able to browse the selection throughout the taxi and climb out.

Entertainment menu

Map and seat

Airshow upon departure

While the selection is somewhat extensive, the quality of the movies and TV shows leaves a bit to be desired. Eventually I decided to watch “The Big Wedding,” which was an airplane movie, alright…

Quality cinema

As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off drink orders were taken. I ordered a Coke Zero and glass of Krug, which was promptly served with a starter of breadsticks, salmon, some sort of mushroom, and pate.

Beverages and canapés

Along with that I was offered a hot towel.

Hot towel

Once that was complete the meal service began. The menu read as follows:



And the wine list read as follows:











To start I had the caviar, which was artfully presented. I love the blinis they serve it with, and snobs will surely love that they actually have caviar spoons.


Caviar course

After that I was served the avocado and crabmeat starter, which was really great.


Next was the salad. While it was simple with just feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers, everything tasted fresh and I really liked the tomato dressing.


For the main course I had the fillet of beef, which was served with gnocchi.

Main course

The flight attendant also came around with a condiment tray consisting of mustard, horseradish sauce, etc. I took her up on some horseradish.

Next was the cheese course.

Cheese course

Lastly for dessert was a warm chocolate walnut cake with vanilla ice cream, which was spectacular.


To finish off the meal I ordered an iced coffee, which was served with petit fours.

Iced coffee

The entire meal service took maybe two hours, and was flawless. I have to say ANA crews simply can’t be beat. On one hand as someone that doesn’t speak Japanese I find that the crews aren’t nearly as confident as you’d get on Singapore, Cathay Pacific, etc., where their English skills are excellent.

ANA crews I find are intimidated and reserved, but so obsessed with being attentive and on top of things that I really have nothing but great things to say about them. They must have been through the cabin literally every two minutes to offer me drink refills and see if I wanted anything, and were apologetic about looking after me at every turn.

Airshow after dinner service

Since there were only four passengers and we were in the four window seats, the flight attendant suggested that I have my bed made in seat 2G, the center seat, so I could use my seat as an office/relaxation seat. That sounded like a great idea, so I agreed.

Turndown service in seat 2G

After lunch I decided to try and snooze a bit, so headed over to seat 2G. The bedding on ANA is quite comfortable, not quite to the level of Cathay Pacific or Qantas, but still very good. There’s a “bare” mattress pad (which I found a bit odd), two pillows, and then a comfortable blanket. I slept like a baby for a few hours, thanks in no small part to the temperature the cabin was kept at.

Seat 2G

I woke up with about six hours to go to Tokyo Narita, just over the west coast of Alaska.

Location upon waking up

The small touches of the crew really show, as the light blanket I had on the other seat was folded, and the slippers that I had carelessly thrown on the floor were precisely positioned to point away from me so that I could slip right into them if I wanted to.

Pillow and day blanket


In terms of attentiveness ANA flight attendants seem to take a bit of a hybrid approach between Cathay Pacific and Singapore. At Cathay Pacific you won’t see the crew members in the cabin once between meals unless you ring the call button, and that’s designed to maximize your privacy. But as soon as you push the call button a flight attendant is there in less than 10 seconds. Meanwhile Singapore flight attendants seem to be through the cabin at least once every 10-15 minutes, even on a longhaul flight, and I feel like they think they’re failing you if you have to push the call button.

ANA is a combination between the two, as flight attendants naturally came through the cabin maybe every 30 minutes or so, but as soon as you pushed the call button they were there in a heartbeat smiling.

View upon waking up

I decided to have a midflight snack at this point. The midflight snack menu read as follows:


I ordered the udon noodles with chikuwa fishcake, which was great.

Midflight snack

I then decided to have some of the apricot cheesecake for dessert, and ordered a café macchiato to go along with it.



After having a snack I decided to walk back to the business class cabin and see how it looked, given that it featured ANA’s new business class product.

While the cabin was fairly full, I did have a chance to take a quick look at the seats, and I have to say they looked pretty comfortable.

Business Class cabin

Business Class seat

There was also a bar set up in the business class galley.

Business Class snack bar

Upon returning to my seat I decided to watch a few TV shows on my iPad, and before I knew it we were 90 minutes out of Tokyo Narita, right when the pre-landing meal was being served.

The menu read as follows:


The service once again began with a hot towel, and rather than ordering something from the light meal menu, I decided to order something from the earlier snack menu, specifically the summer vegetable keema curry.

Hot towel

It was spectacular, possibly one of the best dishes I’ve ever had on a plane.

Pre-arrival meal

For dessert I had some fruit, which for whatever reason was served with ice cream.

Fruit plate

About 80 minutes prior to landing the captain came on the PA to inform us that the seatbelt sign would be going on in about 20 minutes due to anticipated turbulence on the descent, which was the only announcement from him the entire flight.

About 60 minutes prior to landing I wanted to go to the lavatory to change, and as I walked up there the flight attendant apologized profusely that it was currently being used, and said she would call me when it’s ready.

Sure enough a couple of minutes later she came up to my seat, said “thank you for waiting, the bathroom is now ready.” She insisted on carrying my clothes hanger to the lavatory, opened the lavatory door for me, and even locked the door for me from the outside.

When I emerged from the lavatory she was standing there and said “I’m so sorry, would it be alright with you if I took your pair of pajamas and gave you a new pair to take home with you?” Now, admittedly there’s a bit of a language barrier, so I assumed I misunderstood her. Did she ask if she could get me a new pair of pajamas, and apologize for it? Okay, this is Japan, you apologize for everything, so I assumed I did in fact understand her correctly, and of course happily agreed. A few minutes later she came by my seat with a new set of pajamas in a nice pouch. Simply unbelievable service. It’s also interesting because the last time I flew ANA the pajamas were for onboard use only, while now you seem to get one for onboard use and then a fresh pair to take with you.

Our descent into Narita was smooth, and we touched down right on schedule on runway 16R..

Descent into Narita

Views on descent

Views on arrival

Runway views

From there we had a quick taxi to gate 43.

Taxiing to runway

There are no two ways about it, ANA is spectacular. ‘Nuff said.

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  1. Is there no worthwhile lounge for *F passengers?

    I hate proprietary iPod cables…I think this is going away.

    And how did I miss that coffee menu? And that snack menu?

  2. @ David — Just the Global First Lounge, which certainly isn’t anything worth showing up at the airport early for.

  3. My first business class experience was on the “old” ANA business class (not fully flat) and that was enough to convince me I was hooked. I’ve now had a chance to fly biz (fully flat) and first class on other airlines (internationally) and I would say they are one of my favorite airlines as far as the total product. I look forward to trying their new first class.

  4. Awesome report Lucky! I’m not too familiar with the whole caviar spoon but from your experience, was ANA the only airline to serve the caviar with the appropriate non-metallic caviar spoon?

  5. Can you compare to JL F? I have read other reviews claiming their food and service is comparable if not better to ANA. Not to mention their new F looks pretty good. They also release more award space to partners where as I have not seen more than 1 F seat at a time for ANA.

  6. Would you say this level of service is an “ANA thing” or typical of all/most Japanese airlines (e.g., JAL)? I haven’t flown any of them, so I have no idea.

  7. Thanks for the great trip report.
    Any recommendations on which routes to check for this product or how consistently they open up F ~1 week out? FWIW, I didn’t see F award space on ORD-NRT for the next few days.

  8. Of course if you had been taking photos on a US carrier upon embarking you’d be writing this from jail now, because you obviously would have broken several “FAA rules”;-)We’re such stooges in N America!

    ANA is a great airline. No metal for caviar! Nice report.

  9. @ dsf — Hah, they’re just one of those airlines that doesn’t have Diet Coke. Makes me sad as well!

  10. @ WanderingEntrepreneur — Well I’ve flown ANA business class but only the old hard product. But if I had to guess, I’d say Cathay and Singapore would have the edge due to the hard product, and they’d be better than Thai and Korean Air. It’s a really solid product. Though I do think it’s first class where ANA shines.

  11. @ Peetyrd — I’ve flown Japan Airlines’ old first class product once and their new first class product once, and I don’t find them to be quite to the level of ANA. I think ANA’s meal service is a bit better, hard products are somewhat comparable, but based on my limited flights with them I just didn’t find the service to be anywhere near as spectacular and attentive as I did on ANA.

    For that matter, on both my JAL flights I kind of felt like I was being treated as a second class citizen, while I’ve never felt that way on ANA. But that could just be due to my limited experiences with both carriers.

  12. @ Juno — Well part of it is true of the Japanese service culture in general, whether you’re at McDonalds or anywhere else. It’s over the top and mostly insincere, but not necessarily in a bad way.

    But based on my limited experience I have found ANA crews to be substantially better than JAL crews, though many love JAL as well.

  13. @ Tim J — The only route where space seems to be released with any consistency close to departure is JFK-NRT, since it’s twice daily service, LAX, IAD, SFO, and ORD seem to just randomly get availability a few days a month.

    Soon ORD-NRT is going to be twice daily, which is exciting, since I’m sure it’ll translate into more award space.

  14. I remember from business classes that culturally the Japanese have an _extreme_ preference to the “best” item in a marketplace. Given that ANA is generally perceived as the better airline, JAL probably has to over-compensate to even remain competitive.

  15. Once again Ben – a great trip report. Will choose ANA over SQ, CX, JL or LH in first anytime – just monotonously perfect.

    BTW, any good caviar snob knows caviar spoons are not supposed to be metal to avoid imparting a metal taste 🙂

  16. Nice post. I’m on the same route in late November in Business. Unfortunately I’m on the late day flight in the old config 777-300er that has the lay at an angle seats,

  17. @de; he used Taca-Avianca miles; he mentioned it in the introduction.

    @rob; ideally the spoon should be made of ivory (that is real snob); bamboo spoon is nice, does not impart the metallic taste and is sustainable.

    You mention appetizer with avocado and crabmeat but the picture is tomato and shrimp. Actually the shrimp looks like something UA would serve.

  18. I’m flying SIN-HKG(CX J)-SFO(CX F) next month – your trip report now has me considering SIN-NRT(NH J)-SFO(NH F). Flights are available on the date I’m heading back to the US.

    But I’ve really been looking forward to CX F (744); only done it once before HND-HKG plus I would get 2+hrs in the Cathay Wing in HKG.

    Decisions decisions – what would you do Ben?

  19. Nice report! It’s certainly a super pleasure to read it!!!

    Lucky, do you happen to know if ANA business class award seats will be open a lot more towards the departure date? I am referring to in particular the intra-Asia flights such as from Guangzhou to Tokyo etc.

  20. @ Simon — That’s a toughie. Assuming SIN-NRT is on the ANA 767, I’d definitely stick with Cathay Pacific. SIN-NRT is too long of a flight in regional business class, in my opinion, when you could be doing first class on Cathay Pacific.

  21. ANA is my home airline, and I fly them almost exclusively…

    think I might be a tad spoiled now when it comes to customer service in the air 😉

  22. I flew ANA J a couple years ago on NH 9 from JFK to NRT. I had hoped for F, but only got J, in the new 77W

    Comfortable seats, attentive crew. the food was good (much better than their regional offering).

    As to the special cable for the iPhone, the time I flew they lent me one for the flight.

    Thanks for the review Ben, I am flying ANA F on 1010 in just over a month 😀

  23. Thank you for taking so many pictures and share with your readers. I am wondering is there any secret to take pictures in cabin? I really like to take some pictures but sometimes just so shy and am afraid it might not be proper behaviors in cabin? Or should I just ask in advanced and make it clear I am going to take pictures?

  24. We’ve flown ANA twice. Once from ORD-NRT in Business and then IAD-NRT in first. There was only my wife, myself and 1 other passenger in first. I ordered the souchu, since I had never tried it before. They kept refilling it (I guess to finish the bottle they opened or to keep me happy). I really don’t remember the rest of that flight.

  25. @ Shannon — I almost never ask and have never really had any issues. I just avoid using flash and try to avoid taking pictures of other passengers, but as long as I do that I can’t imagine a crew will have an issue.

    Sometimes crews will comment and say “oh, is it your first time in first/business class?” I’ll usually just say yes, and if anything it makes the experience even better since they want to make it as memorable as possible.

  26. @Lucky, do you ever see two ANA F seats LAX-NRT 6-11 months out? I’m burning my AA miles rapidly with my love for CX F, I’m gonna have to start using my United miles soon (or UR points). No surcharges on ANA booked as United awards, right?

    @Rami – my preference is mother of pearl.

  27. @ beachfan — Almost never. Sometimes (rarely) I’ll see two seats from New York to Tokyo some months out, but almost never out of Los Angeles.

  28. Thanks Ben (#32 response) – I checked ExpertFlyer and 4/8 F seats are already reserved on NH8 NRT-SFO, yet only 1 reserved (me!) on CX870 HKG-SFO 🙂 Good call.

  29. Ladies and Gentlemen, this sounds like a winner.

    Thanks Ben, I made up my mind, and will choose ANA F over J for my next flight to Asia.

  30. Flew this route in first class earlier in the summer and I was blown away. This is the first time I have flown first class and I am now spoiled. Thanks to you and some of the others in the travel blog business this flight was on points and I am looking forward to taking others.

  31. A good review. A few comments:

    The sleepwear (that you wore) is yours to take home; however, since you only had a half-load in F, they were able to give you a unused fresh set. The cardigan stays on-board.

    I agree that the design of the First Square seats leaves something to be desired — was it really necessary to block out most of the view? I still prefer the old F at times, but the details of the new suite have grown on me (e.g. larger table, more storage, wider screen, etc.).

    Interesting you were served Krug on the ground; I was served some kind of sparkling wine in SFO.

    You say the CAs are “intimidated”, but I think they’re just reserved as a cultural matter. Combined with the fact that English is very much a second language for them, to a non-Japanese speaker they seem very subdued compared to their SQ or CX counterparts. If you talk to them enough, though, they do open up (especially the ones with more experience, and especially in Japanese). The service does tend towards the obsequious, but that’s bog standard in Japan.

  32. did you try the leg refreshment sheet? i know when i flew ANA’s business, the “refreshing scent card” – a curious little spongy cube attached to a flat business card actually had a strong fragrance. the mouthwash in a soft package felt dangerous for the more uncoordinated among us (ie me) and the refreshing face wipe was pretty cleansing and menthol-ly.

  33. Their snack menu is much more extensive than what most other airlines seem to offer. Especially compared to some of the snack menus you showed us for SQ or Cathay first…

  34. Always thought NH was very possessive about their PJs and insisted on collecting them so nobody would leave with a pair. Appears they’ve had a major change of heart…must give their F a try next year once I’ve topped up my MP account…AC/AE raised the cost of F awards beyond realistic levels last year so it’s J awards with those miles.

  35. I had the same experience as you had in NH F! Really loved their attention to detail and the way they apologized for every single thing!

  36. Hi Ben, over the next year I can only find 1 F seat at a time on NH 11, but I need 2 F seats. If I book 1 seat, might ANA open up a 2nd seat later on? Thanks.

  37. @ PK — Yep, there’s certainly a chance more space opens up closer to the departure date, though it’s far from a guarantee.

  38. First of all, English is not my first language, so I apologize for my writing.. (by now, maybe you can already tell that I am a Japanese? haha)

    Second, as a Japanese, it is nice to see someone enjoyed Japanese service. So your report made me happy.

    Well, I am writing this because I am afraid that you never figured out what the leg refreshing sheet was and didn’t try.. It is something like this.

    They usually has rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and other stuff in them. You put it on your calf or back of your foot. Soon after you put them, you will feel coolness and feel like that waste products in your body is being absorbed into the sheet.

    I hope you tried the leg sheet. I live in Chicago and sometimes buy them in Japanese grocery store paying a lot more money than I would pay in Japan (since they are imported… )

    Do you go to Japan often? If you find this chocolate, please try. They might have them at the airport. Blue box is original and the best. My American coworkers always ask me to bring them back.
    If not, any “Nama” chocolate would be good. They will melt in your mouth…

  39. Well, I just realized they have stores in NY. However that blue box costs $18!!!!! It was about $6 years ago in Japan.. I got excited thinking that I can get them here too, but I don’t think I will buy… Too expensive…

    If you go to Japan, please buy some for me….

  40. Hey Lucky. Planning on doing this exact flight (and then going to Australia) to get rid of my remaining UA miles.
    Had a couple questions:
    1) In general does ANA do equipment swaps? I’m holding the same flight on the 777-300ER, which I believe is the only one that has the new F, and want to make sure I get the best product.
    2) It seems like they only release 1 seat far out, is that true? And if so, any chance we may able to get another one close in? I’m flying NYC-ORD-NRT, so JFK-NRT would work also.

    Thanks for your help!!

  41. @ Lucky – if seats are available in both rows (1 & 2), which one should I pick or it doesn’t matter?

  42. @ Ivan Y — It doesn’t really matter, though my personal preference is for row two so you have a better overview of the cabin.

  43. @ Lucky – thank you! Due to work had to forgo my HKG & SIN trip (CA F & CX F) and scramble around trying to rebook awards – ended up changing to NH F & JL F ORDNRT in Sept/Oct for 5-6 nights in Japan.

    One more question – if you were taking your mom to Tokyo, what hotel would you choose? My mom may be able to come along 🙂 Westin or Grand Hyatt would be available with possible suites* but there are so many other high-end hotels, it’s hard to pick.

    * — For my dates, GH doesn’t show Grand Suite King available but has Grand Exec King / Twin options. Do you know if Diamond cert can be used on those?

  44. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for taking the time to write your experiences in First Class with your excellent photos. It is a great read! Our son has me booked from Chicago to Haneda and I am excited about experiencing the trip. I believe there is an ANA lounge that unfortunately I will not be able to use when I fly to the States as I will be flying economy. I thought there might be something similar when flying out of Chicago, but only a global lounge was mentioned that you did not use. I was thinking of going early to the airport if there was a place I could sit in comfort, but I will have all the comfort I need on the flight. Really appreciate your account of your trip! Arigato!! John

  45. @ John — You can indeed use the United Global First Lounge, which is near the departure gate. It’s nice, though I wouldn’t arrive especially early just to experience it. Enjoy the trip!

  46. Thanks Ben and that is exactly what I was hoping you would say as I never really asked you in question form. At least I know there is one and near the departure gate. I am sure I will take a peek in as it is the first time to fly in such luxury! Appreciate the quick reply.


  47. Hi Ben,

    Reading both your reviews or ANA and JAL first class, they both seem to have amazing products. I need to get from the US to Tokyo in the distant future. Taking out miles and price which airline would you recommend I fly in first class? Which airline do you think has a better first class?

  48. I am not sure which is better Ted as I have never flown JAL First Class, but I just flew back from Chicago to Narita First Class thanks to the generosity and love from my son. It was a First Class experience as noted in this blog and one I will never forget from check in to picking up my luggage at Narita! Thanks Ben for taking the time to write up your blog about your First Class experience with ANA. You included about 75 photos. I took 127. I could not stop clicking my digital camera shutter.



  49. I’m flying from my home in Shanghai to Chicago this month, I normally fly SQ first/suites over to Europe and, as I previously lived in HK, used to take the SQ flight from HKG to SFO when heading east. The thought of flying United, AA or one of the Chinese carriers filled me with dread. I’m glad I read this review….ANA first it is. I’ll put up with the short hop in business to Tokyo and I’ll definitely be taking the Japanese menu not the western option.

  50. Perhaps many Americans feels ANA is great based on terrible service that you are used to flying America based airlines… What ANA first class provides is considered average in Asia. There are many more Asian based airline that are much better – SQ, OZ, CX, etc etc…

    What’s most important is airline staff’s attitude where Asia based airline is so much better than America based airline (ok there is exception for Chinese airline….)

  51. I am surprised more people aren’t bothered with this suite’s design and the inability to easily lookout the window. One of my favorite things about flying is sitting in a comfortable seat while watching the clouds the world pass below.

    Is there any explanation for why ANA did away with two of three windows in each suite? And has anyone seen more complaints about it?


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