After traveling around the world for three weeks, it was time for our final flight home to Washington, DC.
We landed in Tokyo after a very pleasant flight from Bangkok on Thai Airways. Since we were exhausted and it was a true overnight flight, we slept like rocks; I could have slept onboard that plane for another 5+ hours.
But we weren’t done traveling yet – we still had a 12.5 hour flight back to DC. We had a three hour layover at Tokyo-Narita, so we headed straight to the ANA business class lounge as soon as we landed.
ANA Business Class Lounge
ANA (All Nippon Airways) is a highly rated Japanese air carrier often ranked among the best in the world. Skytrax even ranks ANA as one of the 11 “Five-Star” airlines, so we had high expectations for both the lounge, service onboard, and the business class seats.
Apparently we weren’t the only people visiting the lounge that morning.
The ANA lounge also had a fun autographed model of one of their “Star Wars jets” with an R2-D2 design.
After a 12 hour layover in Bangkok, walking through the city for the day, and then flying overnight to Tokyo, we were in desperate need of a shower. Luckily, the ANA lounge had a slew of complimentary showers for business class passengers to use, and we didn’t have any issues reserving two of them upon arrival.
Our first impression of the lounge was that it was super sleek and updated. That impression was reinforced as soon as we stepped into our private showers rooms.
I knew ANA was a luxury airline with lots of bells and whistles, but these shower rooms blew my mind.
The rooms were simple, modern, and clean. My inner thirteen-year-old was also incredibly amused by the bidet toilet seat.
And the private shower rooms didn’t gloss over any of the finer details. They were cleaned each time between passengers and filled with a set of fresh towels and toiletries each time.
In a few other lounge’s shower rooms that I’ve used before, the shower itself was private, but the toilet, vanity, etc. were all communal. The fact that everything was contained in a private space was a huge bonus. And there was plenty of extra room for carry-on bags.
After feeling refreshed post-showers, we sat in the business class lounge for a few hours before boarding our trans-pacific flight to DC. The lounge was also tidy and sleek.
The lounge itself was open but quiet. Probably because it was still relatively early and everyone was still waking up. Despite the line at the check-in desk, there were still plenty of seats available and it wasn’t too crowded inside.
While we were still stuffed from the breakfast aboard the previous flight, the lounge also had a variety of different food and drink options. I sipped a few macchiatos, but there was also teas, beer, wine, and liquor. If it was later in the day, I might have done a mini Japanese whiskey tasting, but my better judgement meant that I stuck with coffee.
The lounge also had a small window offering cooked-to-order noodles. Similar to what we saw in Hong Kong, but much smaller.
We looked over our trip pictures, made the mistake of thinking about going to work two days later, bought a bottle of Japanese whiskey at the duty free store, and then boarded our Boeing 777 that would take us home.
The business class seats were in a 1-2-1 pattern. Taryn and I each had window seats along the right side of the aircraft.
Each seat had a large TV screen and a decent-sized ottoman area for passengers to kick their feet back and relax.
The business class amenity kit included a bag with slippers and a shoehorn (WHO STILL USES THIS THING?).
And a small bag including Neal’s Yard Remedies products (hand cream, chapstick, and “face mist”), earplugs, eyeshades, and toothbrush with toothpaste. It was a tad on the small side, even when compared to the Thai Airways amenity kit we received during our much shorter flight between Bangkok to Tokyo.
While it was small, it had all the necessities. I really don’t need five different kinds of lotions or a comb that I’m going to throw away.
Sure, the shoehorn and facial mist probably weren’t needed But while it’s nice to receive a bunch of small toiletries in an amenity kit, the honest answer is we ended up not using most of what we received. It’s a nice touch to receive a mini gift bag for flying in business class, but it’s also a bit wasteful. So the smaller ANA amenity kit was just right.
The seat also had a large side table area, and the entertainment system’s remote and seat controls were at easy reach underneath.
The seats all came with noise-cancelling headphones.
Beneath the seat was a convenient “shoe box.” I alway kick off my shoes and then have trouble finding them under the blankets, pillows, bags, etc., so this was a great feature to offer.
However, the shoe box was a bit too small for my size 12 shoes.
I then proceeded to look over the 14-page+ menu.
The menu was very impressive. There were three pages of champagnes/wines, a page of sake and shochu, and two separate four-course(ish) menus for both Japanese and international cuisine.
Because I wanted to feel fancy and haven’t really had Japanese food besides sushi and ramen, I went with the Japanese meal. Taryn picked the international meal since she doesn’t like cooked seafood, let alone raw seafood.
For the last time during our RTW trip, it was time for the requisite business class photo session.
The business class cabin was quite full, but it didn’t feel cramped.
We were seated in the second of three separate spaces within the business class cabin. There were first class and business class passengers located in front of our section, and there were also more business class seats behind the bathroom/galley area behind us.
We settled into our seats and prepared for our long journey home.
After takeoff, I adjusted the chair and kicked up my feet inside the cubby hole underneath the TV monitor. There was plenty of room for a big guy like me, and despite the shoe box fail, I could easily rest with my toes straight up the air. That would be good news for when I tried to sleep.
Soon the flight attendants hustled through the cabin and prepared for our meals. The tray table pulled out from underneath the TV, and the flight attendant neatly placed a white table cloth across the table.
As they passed out table cloths, the flight attendants also took drink orders. Since I didn’t try the whiskey in the lounge and it was (almost) noon, I decided to have a glass of Suntory Japanese whiskey on the rocks.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a complete amateur when it comes to Japanese cuisine. I’ll try anything, but I had no idea what to expect.
The amuse bouche came out first. You could call any small pre-meal snack an “amuse bouche” and its immediately going to feel fancier and more refined.
The cheese stick wasn’t as cheesy as I expected, and the small cup of potatoes/mustard was very… mushy. But the scallop was delicious.
After the amuse bouche came the Zensai, Otsukari, and Kobachi course.
I’m not going to pretend like I knew what anything was on the plate. The menu said these different courses included steamed monkfish liver, fried baby yam, yuba bean curd, and seared Spanish mackerel.
I can safely call myself an adventurous eater. But I learned after that plate of authentic Japanese delicacies that I’m not a huge fane of Japanese cuisine.
I’ll normally eat anything you put in front of me. Maybe it was the monkfish liver that did me in. Or more likely, three weeks of hotels and aircrafts had taken their toll, and my thirst for adventure was dwindling. In reality, I was also becoming sick, so maybe mushy raw seafood was a bad option.
For what is worth, the service itself was very smooth. I loved the dinnerware with Japanese designs. That’s to say that my dislike of the meal isn’t ANA’s fault; it’s more because of my personal preference.
After the Japanese whiskey, I switched to a glass of Sapporo beer to go along my main course.
The main course was much more to my liking than the appetizers.
The main course included grilled rockfish, chicken thigh, miso soup, rice, and Japanese pickles. Since I didn’t eat all of the previous course and was still hungry, I devoured this entire plate. No monkfish liver this time.
After clearing plates, the flight attendants wheeled out the dessert cart.
Maybe I’ve flown too many times in economy class, but I always love it when there’s a cart of food making its way down the aisle. Most of the time, business class flight attendants deliver food to passengers tray-by-tray. But I like seeing the different options and the anticipation as the cart rolls closer to my seat.
There were many different options, but I went with a walnut pastry.
While I admittedly chose the wrong menu and was disappointed that I used my ANA business class meal to learn I didn’t like Japanese food, Taryn was very impressed with her lunch.
It included a bowl of corn soup.
A side salad (normally including crab, but she asked them to hold the crab).
And the main course was ricotta tortellini with Parmigiano Reggiano.
She finished her meal with a chocolate mousse and coffee.
After finishing our meals, I tapped Taryn’s shoulder to tell her about my epiphany and dislike of Japanese cuisine. She said her meal was one of the best business class meals she had during the whole three week trip.
I evidently made a bad choice. Cue facepalm.
We still had over 10 hours of flying, so we decided to try to sleep on the plane. Our flight left Tokyo at 10:40am Japan time, but because of the time change, we were actually going to line in DC at 9:15am Eastern Standard Time. It’s kind of trippy actually “gaining” time after a long flight.
But that also meant that it was nighttime in DC, and in order to better readjust our biological clocks, it would be best to sleep as much as we could on the plane.
I went to the bathroom to change into more comfortable clothes, and I was again amused by the bidet.
It’s one thing to offer it in the business class lounge, but onboard the aircraft, too? That’s impressive.
The flight attendants also arranged a self-serve snack area that included bottles of wine, chocolates, nuts, and a few small toiletries.
Walking back from the middle bathroom, you could just how many seats were in our section of the aircraft.
Taryn didn’t waste any time after the meal, and she was already sleeping by the time I found my way back to my seat.
It was time for me to turn my seat into a bed, too.
To the right of the seat, you’ll see a small mattress pad. It wasn’t much, but it was a nice addition to cover up the small gaps where the seat itself bent to form the different seating, lounging, and sleeping positions.
The soft comforter on top was the final touch.
Before long, the flight attendants turned off the cabin lights. This highlighted the subdued blue lighting outlining the side table area.
Like everything else in the seat, the blue lighting was also controlled with the touch of a button.
I slept for a few hours, but I could feel myself growing more congested. I avoided illness for the long RTW trip, but all that travel was catching up to me. At least it didn’t ruin our vacation.
I woke up and the plane had crossed over the Pacific Ocean into Canada.
Since I was stuffy and having a hard time sleeping, I figured it would be a good opportunity to try the snack menu.
I was determined to still try more Japanese food, and luckily, they offered something they translated as “Japanese pizza” as well as a bowl of pork ramen. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with those two options, so I tried one of each.
The Japanese pizza was fun and interesting. But that pork ramen though…
It was definitely the best food I had the entire flight. I wish I could have slurped up a bowl during my main meal rather than as a midnight snack. It’s fun having fine dining, but it’s also fun to have delicious comfort food when you’re not feeling the greatest.
I was still a little hungry but didn’t want to be too much of a fatty, so I then ordered a fruit cup and yogurt.
I still had a few hours to burn before we arrived into DC, so I passed the time by watching a few TV shows using the in-flight entertainment system.
ANA had a variety of shows to choose from. Because they offered entertainment in many different languages, the English options were relatively limited compared to what Emirates offered.
Had this been the first overseas flight during our trip, I would have been more than happy with the selection. But because many of the TV shows and movies that airlines offer overlap, I had already watched many of what was available. Not completely ANA’s fault (most passengers probably didn’t spend so much time flying in one month!), but still a little disappointing.
About one hour before landing into DC, the flight attendants passed out a simple but delicious breakfast. Both Taryn and I opted for the international breakfast with frittata and sausage.
This is exactly the kind of breakfast airlines should aspire to serve. Even after the midnight snack, I could have eaten another serving of that frittata.
Shortly after breakfast, we landed in Washington, DC, found our checked bags, and headed home still in a daze after crossing 12 time zones. Our crazy, three-week around-the-world adventure had come to an end.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the whole flying experience with ANA. The business class lounge and private shower rooms were a great first impression, and the lie-flat seats themselves were comfortable and spacious for even a big dude like me to comfortably sleep.
It’s hard for me to rate the food, because the Japanese cuisine was more of an experiment for me. I learned I’m not the biggest fan of Japanese food, but the rest of the food I tried (including the midnight snack and breakfast) was fantastic, and Taryn also enjoyed her non-Japanese meal. So I can’t fault ANA for that.
I would say the flight with ANA lived up to its expectations. ANA is a Skytrax five-star airline, and we heard great things about the carrier’s business class experience. It didn’t disappoint.
But because it was the very last leg of our long adventure around-the-world, we didn’t have nearly as much excitement and anticipation for the experience as we had for Emirates or Singapore Airlines. We were more interested in getting home than trying every single whiskey ANA had on its menu.
I would definitely fly ANA again, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone searching for a great way to book award flights to Japan. But do yourself a favor and dabble into Japanese cuisine before ordering the ANA four-course business class meal.
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