Flying ANA Business Class From JFK-NRT

I recently had the opportunity to fly ANA business class on a work trip to Hong Kong. Here’s my review of the first leg of that trip (JFK-NRT):

The Seat

My flight was on a 773, which ANA arranges in a 1-2-1 configuration in business class.

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Since I was traveling alone, I wanted to snag a window seat for the increased privacy, and was fortunately able to grab seat 9A:

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Pro Tip: If you want the most privacy, opt for an odd-numbered “A” seat (5A, 7A, 9A, etc.) or an even-numbered “K” seat (6K, 8K, 10K, etc.). The staggered seating arrangement means these seats are right next to the window and away from the aisle, while their alternating counterparts are right on the aisle.


I found the seat to be very comfortable, and since I was off the aisle, it *almost* felt like a private mini-suite; I couldn’t see any other passengers while seated. I did find that it was a bit jerky in trying to move back and forth from the reclined position, but apart from that, the controls were very easy to use.

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I also appreciated some of the little features, like the closable compartment for storing small items (passport, wallet, etc.), as well as the fastest USB charger I think I’ve ever used. I usually find USB chargers take forever to make a meaningful difference on my devices’ battery status, but this one got me to a full charge as quickly as if I had plugged into a regular outlet.

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When fully reclined, your feet slide under the console of the person in front of you – it actually goes up to about your knees. At first I found this arrangement a bit awkward, especially as I moved around to find a comfortable sleeping position. However once I was able to get settled, it wasn’t really a problem. ANA also provides sleeping pads to place on top of your seat, though I didn’t find that this really made much of a difference.

ana-business-class-bed

Taking into account comfort, space, privacy, etc. I would rank ANA’s business class seat as one of my favorites and ahead of Star Alliance partners United, SWISS, and Turkish.

Food and Wine

ANA offers two menu choices for dining: a Japanese menu and an International menu. After taking a look through the menu descriptions, I decided to go with the Japanese menu:

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Menu Introduction

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Japanese Menu

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International Menu

For me, the appetizers were a bit hit or miss – but I readily admit that that’s likely due to my own palate and taste preferences vs. the quality of the food. Some items I really liked (such as the pickled vegetables), others not so much (such as the dried salmon). Across the board though, the presentation was very beautiful, and I really liked the dishes that each course was served in.

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The main course was outstanding (Spanish Mackerel). Hands down the best pieces of fish I’ve ever had on a plane – and it rivaled those I’ve had in some very nice restaurants as well. Moist, tender, delicate, flavorful – I was really, really pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

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The wine list featured several sake and shochu options, as well as a couple traditional reds and whites (one American and one European of each). I went with the Main Street Chardonnay, which I found to be rich, buttery and delicious (just how I like my Chardonnays).

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Later in the flight, I ordered off the light dishes menu. The Ippudo Ramen was calling my name, and it lived up to the prominent billing on the menu page!

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The ramen snack was key – because I ended up sleeping through the second meal:

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Despite having a few appetizers that weren’t really my thing, I did enjoy the food and wine overall. I wish it were possible to alternate between the Japanese and international menus, but I also get that they view them as holistic meals that shouldn’t really be separated.

Entertainment

Overall, I found the entertainment selection pretty thin and rather disappointing. There were still enough movie selections to get me through this first flight, but only just barely. The interface itself was fine, I just wish the selection had been more extensive.

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Service and Miscellaneous

ANA flies out of JFK’s Terminal 7 and uses British Airways’ Galleries lounge there for premium cabin passengers. It’s a nice enough lounge, and fairly spacious as well. Unfortunately, the Pre-Flight Supper is reserved for British Airways’ own passengers, so I was out of luck on that front.

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Onboard, the service was very friendly. Some people go absolutely nuts about the level of service provided by premium Asian airlines, and while the difference was noticeable, I didn’t think it was so outrageously exceptional that it alone would lead me to choose ANA over another airline with an “acceptable” service standard. I was pleasantly surprised that they offered me one of the First Class cardigans though:

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However, I was unpleasantly surprised by how mediocre the amenity kit was. It’s another thing I don’t care about all that much, but it was surprising given how quick they are to remind you about their 5-star Skytrax rating:

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One of the more interesting features of flight was in the lavatory. I’ll let the photo do the talking for me :)

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Overall Impression

Overall, I really enjoyed this trip and would definitely rank ANA’s business class experience at the top of those I’ve experienced so far. That’s not to say it’s the best across the board though – I still prefer the food on Turkish, for example. I would absolutely fly them again, but with upcoming changes to United’s award chart, as well as their revenue requirements for earning status, I’m not sure how it’s going to fit into my travel plans anytime soon.

Anyone else out there flown ANA business class? Was your experience similar to mine?


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  7 comments for “Flying ANA Business Class From JFK-NRT

  1. Iolaire McFadden
    December 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks for showing the Japanies menu. I get disappointed with the number of trip reports where I don’t see the national food featured, but rather a beef entree.

    • December 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Gladly! I had 2 long-haul segments and 2 regional mid-haul ones on this trip, so figured I would try both the Japanese and International menus for each.

  2. Mike
    December 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I notice you put ANA’s business class seat above Swiss Biz. What did you find superior? Not having flown either – given the style of seating – I would have assumed them to be the same.

    • December 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      I found it a bit more spacious – mostly up around the shoulders. They’re both staggered, but the seat style is different. I felt like I didn’t have any room to move in the SWISS seat.

      • Mike
        December 25, 2013 at 8:54 am

        Thanks for the POV Jason. Happy Holidays!

  3. December 24, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Ah, the infamous toilet / bidet combo. For my money, one of Japan’s finest inventions. The US Embassy has ones with heated seats, adjustable pressure / temperature / location nozzles…the works. Never have I felt so clean, and yet slightly violated.

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