Following is a testimonial and a first-hand experience of Salli Garrigan, Staff Writer at Premier Traveler Magazine.
The stress of a 14-hour flight can make people weary of travel to faraway places like Japan (I know it made me apprehensive), so finding an airline like ANA, which focuses on making such a journey not just comfortable, but downright enjoyable, is a real asset to this business traveler.
ANA’s Business Class Priority Line started things off right by alleviating the stress I normally experience at check-in and security. The airline operates just two daily flights from JFK, so the usual lines and congestion I’ve come across with other carriers was mercifully nonexistent; instead, I enjoyed a smooth, fast check-in. After coasting through security, I headed to the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge, where ANA Business- and First-Class passengers are welcome to relax prior to departure.
LOUNGE AND BOARDING
I was greeted by ANA’s ever-so-helpful (and smiley) representative, Robert Henry, when I entered the lounge. After he gave me a personal tour that revealed plenty of seating, fresh food (including sushi!) and a spa, I sat down and enjoyed a bowl of miso soup with a Bailey’s and coffee. When boarding for my flight was called, Robert escorted me to the gate, where I made use of the priority seating line.
On the walk over, he had told me that it takes ANA just 15 minutes to board all passengers on its planes, and he wasn’t kidding—the experience was incredibly organized and painless. I found my seat, gave the flight attendant my coat to hang up and then was given a refreshing glass of iced green tea before the plane began backing away from the gate.
The Business-Class cabin on this Boeing 777-300 features ANA’s staggered seating, which offers aisle access to all 68 passengers. The seat design ensured that I always had a place for all my belongings, thanks to convenient cubbies and storage spaces—I never had to perform a juggling act to figure out where to put my computer or Kindle when food and drinks arrived.
While listening to the Michael Jackson Classics String Quartet on the aircraft’s music channel, I surveyed the menu, eventually deciding on the Japanese option, which was curated by Head Chef Oliver Rodriquez at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. The highlights included broiled octopus with mustard and miso sauce and a grilled sablefish with soy-based sauce. The meal was expertly finished off with a decedent Pierre Hermé Paris dessert: vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream with raspberry sauce.
The five-course meal left me stuffed and groggy, so I reclined my seat to the full 180 degrees and fell into a deep sleep; it was easy enough to do beneath the fluffy down blanket provided.
When I awoke hours later, I decided to give the menu another peek. As soon as I opened it, a flight attendant appeared to take my order (just a coffee to help wake me up). A few moments after I finished it off, the crew announced that the plane was 15 minutes away from landing at Narita International Airport. My trip had been so comfortable that I was almost shocked that we were landing so quickly. Before I knew it, I had my coat in hand and was walking off the plane. When I descended to the luggage carousel, my bag was already there waiting for me.
Overall, ANA’s focus on service was apparent from the terminal to the jetway. But looking back, it’s the extra care they exhibited (such as touring me around the lounge or noticing as soon as I opened the menu) and attention to detail that really make ANA stand out on its own.
Premier Traveler Magazine