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ANA – Tokyo, Japan (NRT) to San Francisco, California (SFO) – Flight NH8

Average flight on ANA

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ANA - Tokyo, Japan (NRT) to San Francisco, California (SFO) - Flight NH8 - ANA First Class review: ANA, short for All Nippon Airways is an airline based in Tokyo, Japan and is the second largest international airline in the country after Japan Airlines (JAL). Its domestic route is more extensive than JAL, however, covering the entirety of Japan and also operating smaller low-cost carriers. ANA's international routes include Korea, China, Southeast Asia, United States and Western Europe. (Click here to read our Tokyo hotel and restaurant reviews and click here to read our San Francisco hotel and restaurant reviews.)

For this flight, we flew from Tokyo, Japan (NRT) to San Francisco, California (SFO), First Class on Flight NH8 on December 17, 2008.

Check-In: Our check-in was relatively quick and easy but it was nothing special. Compared to the experience we had with Thai Airways, which was memorable, the check-in here was nothing to rave about. It was really not much different than checking-in at any other regular airline.

The Lounge: ANA shares the South Wing of Terminal 1 at the Narita International Airport with its Star Alliance partners; first class and business class passengers are thus provided with a comfortable and elegant lounge coupled with warm service.

The lounge is large and spacious with a quiet atmosphere and a motif that works around conservative colors of mostly blacks and browns. Black leather chairs and couches and dark chocolate chairs along the walls are neatly arranged. A black, brown and salmon colored carpet covers the entire floor and floor-to-ceiling windows look out to the runways. Over-all, the style is corporate Japanese with a minimalist sensibility and a classy outcome. As a result, however, the amenities are also minimal.

The lounge also has a small dining area that can accommodate about 15-20 people. Service was nice and welcoming. When we came in, they immediately greeted us, brought us cool cloths to refresh our selves, and took our drink orders.

Instead of Champagne, they offered a sparkling wine - Freixenet Cordon Negro from Spain. I've read somewhere that the Japanese have developed a taste for this Spanish sparkling wine, but for me, it was not at all impressive. They also offered low end liquors such as Smirnoff Vodka Red and Beefeater Gin.

For food, they had sushi that looked like it had been out for over a day - not appealing. There was also hot food to choose from: white noodles or wheat noodles with tempura, beans or vegetables. The noodle soup was quite tasty but not at all what I would expect in a First Class lounge, especially considering this was in the airline's international main hub.

If you want to experience a true first class, five star lounge, I suggest Lufthansa in Frankfort or Thai Airways in Bangkok.

First Impressions: The in-flight crew was very nice and welcoming. They showed us to our seats efficiently and helpfully. I liked the professional ambiance of the plane's interior which was mostly in grays and blacks; while the walls were a concrete gray color, it did not give off a gloomy feeling. Based on my first impression, I had high hopes for ANA.

The Cabin: The cabin had a 1 x 2 x 1 seating configuration with lie flat seats. The walls between the two center seats made it a bit difficult to carry on a conversation. Pillows, blankets and sleepwear were all laid out for us when we got on the plane. In-flight entertainment included an adequately-sized TV and Video on Demand.

The Flight (Service/Food/Drink): The flight attendants went around with a tray of amenities that included water sprays, hand creams, lip balms, and eye shades. I was disappointed to find that they did not give away toiletry kits consisting of luxury products, which is the custom in most other international airlines when flying first class. Instead, they came around with a small bag to put your items in. On the outside of the bag, ANA was plainly inscribed-as first class standards go, not very impressive.

ANA First Class offered up "a taste of autumn and winter," which included a selection of Asian and Western dishes supervised by Tsuyama, one of Tokyo's finest restaurants. Seeing that we were on an Asian airline, we decided to try the Asian fare, which ended up being more of a tasting menu. We thought it was a perfect way for us to experience a wide variety of Asian dishes.

The Asian menu included Simmered prawn, salmon-cucumber and cuttlefish; Snow crabmeat dumpling in a clear soup; Torafugu globefish sashimi (which was not very fresh); Snow crabmeat and chrysanthemum salad tossed with crab; Braised daikon radish and tender pork belly in light soy sauce (the best of all the dishes); and finally, Yellowtail fish teriyaki (which was almost as good as the pork). For dessert I tried the warm banana puff pastry with strawberry coulis-by far the best part of the meal. Overall, the food was nothing spectacular and was a huge disappointment.

Arrival: Our arrival at Tokyo, Japan (NRT) was on time and as the Japanese are well-known for, deplaning, going through immigration and getting our luggage was very streamlined and organized. It was as an efficient airport as I had ever seen.

Overall Impression I was very disappointed with ANA. I had high hopes for this Asian airline but everything from the service to the amenities to the food did not meet international first class standards and my personal expectations. My rating for this ANA flight from Tokyo to San Francisco is somewhere between bombastic and not.

Additional Information:
Flight Time: 8 Hours, 40 Minutes

Airline Partners:: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, BMI, Egyptair, Lot Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, South African Airways, Singapore Air, Spainair, Swiss Air, TAP Portugal, Thai Air, Turkish Airlines, United, US Airways, Air China, Shanghai Airlines. Other Airline Partners: Delta, Mexicana, SilkAir, Virgin

Airport Codes:
Tokyo - NRT
San Francisco - SFO

Be sure to read our Tokyo hotel and restaurant reviews and our San Francisco hotel and restaurant reviews.

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