NH008 Tokyo Narita NRT – San Francisco International SFO
STD-STA: 1725-0925 (+1)
Actual: 1750-0913 (+1)
Boeing 777-300ER JA723A
Gate 51 Seat 1K
Since the boarding gate was some distance away from the lounge, I left shortly after my shower and walked across the underground passageway connecting satellite No 4 and No 5. Boarding has yet to start when I arrived though it was not a long wait before they commenced with boarding.
Somehow the service onboard was the least memorable in this flight. For example, there was no hot towels during boarding. It was also a full flight up front today. It also took some time before any attendant came by to offer drinks and I got my aromatic kabosu drink while the Rimowa kit was already on the ledge by the seat. I was kind of surprised to find another Rimowa since I thought they were just offered on flights into Japan.
Other refreshed amenities includes the new pair pyjamas which was very well presented along with a cardigan and blanket on seat. Shortly after the crew handed out magazines and newspapers before chief purser came to introduce herself. Then the crew returned with the amenity tray which featured a lip balm, since none was given in the kit. I also grabbed a sock and each of the ANA original aroma. ANA might not give a very complete set of amenities in their kit but passengers should know they can almost get all the other amenities from the basket when they require them. And I think their amenities are very well made compared to ones provided by other airlines.
While the plane was being prepped for the taxi, the captain estimated an arrival time of around 9:25am, with an 8-hour plus flying time, and there was a slight delay. Though the boarding was quite efficient for what I think was a flight with healthy loads.
Upon take off, I noticed the supplied Sony headphones has a bent pin and I got a change. At this time, menus were presented and a short while later, drink orders were taken. Again, I have to point out that ANA First Class has one of the most extensive drinks menu I have seen and they serve Krug as the champagne, similar to Cathay Pacific First. So first order of the flight is to have that obligatory champagne as a celebration of sorts for taking to the skies!
The menu for the flight read as follow:
The first dish was a pre dinner amuse bouche of foie gras mousse, cheese and bean curd in miso flavour, crab legs with ikura, dried smoked salmon, and breadsticks. I always enjoyed these pre-dinner snacks and again this one lived to my expectations.
For my past flights I had the Japanese menu and chose the western menu this time round as I had enough of Japanese food onboard ANA and on my last week in Japan. Furthermore, I am a big fan of Japanese style beef and steaks, so naturally I wanted to try how ANA does the western meal on the First Class.
Caviar was served before the starter and it came with all the right accompaniments. Well it is not really First Class without caviar on the skies, I think. There was also a bread basket at the start of the service and I suggest asking for this bread platter when having the Japanese menu since bread is not provided for that course. One of the bread was a tea-flavoured bread which was possibly one of the most interesting and yet tasty bread I had!
The starter I picked was the sea bream which was alright and it was a large portion. Throughout the meal course, I requested the Mapple Juice ‘Chardonnay’ to be served with the meal and it was a really nice sweet drink! This was basically a seasonal beverage on offer that was a non-alcoholic grape juice. But it had a very distinct taste and leaves a very nice after taste.
A salad was served next and the stewardess got me all the 3 kinds of sauce to go along with it. It was nice of her to give me all 3 sauces. I liked the Japanese dressing most though all 3 salad sauce were outstanding even for the simplicity of the salad bowl.
I picked the beef cheek for the main course which I requested to be served with the special ale. I am not a big fan of the Kagua ale but the beef was succulent and tender. However because I was kind of bloated by all the food, I did not finish the beef cheek since I think it was too big of a portion.
The meal service was quite slow as it took some time for the crew to clear the dishes and some guests were already turning in to sleep so they had to make the bed as well. The full load sure made them busy during this flight since the last 2 flights in First I had was quite light in terms of load.
For dessert, I had the fruits platter and the fondant au chocolat. Both desserts were the highlight of the meal I think. This was actually the first time I finished my movie before the meal as I watched ‘Paranoia’. I did not really remember the movie but it just goes to show how unremarkable it was!
Watching inflight entertainment while having a great meal are two sinful delights that one could have while flying and ANA’s inflight entertainment on the First class is average even if it is not the world’s best. They did have a lot of Japanese selections which was quite good especially with the beautiful screen resolution.
After the meal service, the crew served petit fours and placed a bottle of mineral water by the side. There was also another hot towel service which seems to be the norm at the start and end of the meal. As I headed to the lavatory to change to the new pyjamas, I requested for the bed to be made. According to ANA, they did also have new bedding on the First Class and I did think it was slightly better even if the old one was as good. One thing I did not like though was the new pyjamas. I thought the older pair were more durable. Similarly I liked the older blankets supplied as I found them to be softer and lighter.
Got slightly more than 2 hour sleep before I was woken by heavy turbulence onboard and the captain had to calm passengers down stating the turbulence will not affect the safety of the aircraft. Returned to sleep and woke up 2 hours later as the crew prepared the cabin for pre-arrival service. I thought the cabin was quite cold the whole time or maybe I was just tired. When I woke up the second time around, it was already morning somewhere along the Pacific northwest as I got to see the first rays of sunlight across the horizon.
The crew member serving my aisle proceeded to ask me for my choice of drinks. Then I ordered the Ippudo ramen and the Pierre Herme croissant with a portion of the sea urchin. The sea urchin was too strong for my liking but I did enjoy the ramen and the croissant. For drinks I had more of the kabosu juice.
Prior to landing the crew reminded me to change to my clothes and she even reserved one of the lavatories for me but it was the smaller one and I decided to wait out for the larger lavatory with the foot rest on the floor.
I was able to brush my teeth and change into my clothes before settling back to my seat and just enjoy the rest of the flight into San Francisco. It was a cloudy day today and not much of a view to be had from the windows. In fact it was slightly turbulent during the descent and it was quite a hard landing too if I must say.
Arrival at SF in the early hours was not too bad but it was busy with many tourists arriving before us and there was a long wait for immigration. I always found it fascinating how some Japanese passengers were attended to by the ground staff upon arrival. I do believe they are officials or VIPs with ANA, since not all first class passengers get the treatment. It took probably 40 minutes to clear immigration which was better compared to the last time I was in SF where I waited like 1 hour and above. There was a problem with the baggage conveyor for the previous flight but luckily not a problem for the ANA flight though it did affect the Air China flight. Compared to my arrival at LAX, I thought the wait for immigration at LAX was shorter and SFO is perhaps one of the worst airports to arrive in the United States from an international long haul flight.
ANA is perhaps one of the best flying experience one could have when flying on a Star Alliance flight between North America and Japan. The only other airline that offers a better service is potentially Singapore Airlines which flies between Tokyo and Los Angeles utilizing their A380s. While on the overall, the flight was a very good one with some upgraded amenities, the crew on this ANA flight did not manage to surpass my past experiences on their First class which I attribute to the somewhat full cabin.