As of writing this review, Japan continues to be closed off to the world due to COVID. I haven’t visited Japan since 2018 and was itching to get a taste of my experience before when I flew Japan Airlines First Class back in September 2018.
With a beautiful refresh of their first-class cabin dubbed “The Suite”, I wanted to know how it compared to my experience with Japan Airlines back in August 2018. Carefully watching availability open up just weeks prior, I snapped a seat using my Aeroplan points.
My itinerary, was part of a larger one, consisted of the following:
- YYZ-LAX: Air Canada Business
- LAX-NRT: ANA First Class (The Suite)
- NRT-KUL: ANA’s [old] Business Class
The lounges in LAX were not notable to document so we’ll jump right into my review of ANA’s new first-class cabin dubbed “The Suite”.
If you’re looking for my biggest tips before flying ANA’s “The Suite”, then jump to the end to see my tips I learned from my trip! If you want to know how to book this flight for yourself using frequent flier points, check out ways to book ANA first class!
- Date of Travel: May 5, 2022
- Route: LAX > NRT
- Seat: 1K
- Type of Plane: Boeing 777-300ER
- Cost of Booking: 110k Aeroplan points and under $100 USD in taxes
Immediately upon boarding I was escorted to my seat. I sat in seat 1K, with the cabin having three other occupants.
In every first class experience I’ve had in the past, there would be at least one feature that would pop out and make me go “wow”. In the case of this flight, it would be the massive 4K Ultra HD screen in the first-class cabin.
At a massive 43-inch size with impressive color gamut, you’ll be hard pressed to not be able to ignore it. I let out an audible “holy shit” as I walked into the cabin when I saw the screens.
Upon seating, I was immediately served a Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve Champagne. I took it with glee, but my real aim was with the Hibiki Whisky that was onboard.
After spending a few minutes admiring the suite, a flight attendant came around and started offering a basket of amenities. These amenities include items such as socks, masks, toothbrushes, earplugs, and cleansing wipes.
All these items could be found either in the amenity kit or in the lavatories. The one item in exception was the Shiseido Lip Balm. I grabbed only one but thinking back, I should’ve grabbed more. Shiseido products are top of their class.
Also – there’s something about ANA’s simplistic design and use of blue on their products. I don’t know if it’s just me, but they’re designed so well! I went ahead and grabbed everything as shown below:
I immediately received my WiFi voucher for the flight and asked for an extra, in the event I needed it.
At the corner of my eye was the cutest amenity kit I’ve seen in all my years of flying various business and first-class cabins.
For flight segments heading toward Japan, you’ll most likely receive a light-blue colored Globe-trotter amenity kit.
For those leaving Japan to other destinations, you’ll most likely receive a black-colored Globe-trotter amenity kit. I honestly think the light-blue version is better, what do you think?
The amenity kit contained the exact same items as in the basket (eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush) with the exception of one item: a small “The Ginza” box of goodies.
The Ginza is a high-end brand of beauty products and the products within could easily cost over $100 USD.
Inside was a face lotion, cleansing cream, and a facial cleanser.
Just like outside the kit, even the inside had a beautiful design. I was already planning to use this kit in my future travels as I opened it!
Next is an included organic blanket from Tenerita. Tenerita is a high-end home goods brand in Japan (notice a pattern with all the brands so far? All high end). This is probably the most comfortable blanket I’ve ever felt on a flight.
I found myself inappropriately touching the blanket throughout the flight due to how smooth it felt on my hands.
Finally, you’re also given slippers with sleepwear. While you can bring the sleepwear home, the included cardigan sweater had to be left onboard. They felt rather standard and short.
During my whole pre-departure experience, the massive 43-inch inflight entertainment system (IFES) was staring me in my face. Even more, the 4K ULTRA HD setting was staring me in the face, reminding me how this screen is even better than the monitors that I use at home.
The suite had a beautiful wooden finish with some of the most spacious real estate space you’ll have on a plane.
The seats are the following:
- 38 inches (96.5 cm) wide
- 76 inches (193 cm) pitch
- 76 inches (193 cm) bed length
There was one thing that was immediately apparent: the massive width of the seat. When I flew Cathay Pacific first class back in 2018, I was completely mesmerized by the massive seat width of 36 inches. It could easily fit two relatively skinny individuals’ side by side!
ANA’s “The Suite” now currently has the largest seat width in the market of 38 inches and let me tell you – it is WIDE! Being able to spread your legs and arms is a massive luxury in aviation in general.
The seat material felt luxurious and rather new when compared to other first-class experiences like Etihad Airways. On the other hand, Oman Air’s first-class cabin seat material was superior to this.
There are several storage compartments throughout the suite. First, we have one near the tray rest area by the screen.
Under the IFES you’ll find the area to rest your legs as well as a large area at the bottom to store several items like your shoes.
What I really like about this bottom area is the rather short wall stopper that ensures items are secure at the bottom. Upon liftoff, my shoes would’ve gone flying if not for this wall.
There is another storage compartment on the wall opposite to the door. I stored my amenities here as pictured.
Finally, beside your seat is another storage compartment. This area houses all the outlets including an HDMI port, USB, earphone jack, and power outlet.
The seat controls are rather straightforward.
What’s interesting is that there are two ways to control the windows. Each window has its own button to control itself or there is a “master” button that controls all three nearby the seat controls.
To the side of your seat where the door is, you’ll find an odd spot for storing papers. Opening it reviews a mirror!
Each seat has its own personal clothes rack storage enough to fit a single shirt. While it is extremely small, you can always ask the flight attendants to store your clothes elsewhere in the cabin (they have proper sized lockers).
Finally, the bathrooms had Japan’s signature bidet. If you haven’t experienced bidets, I highly recommend you give them a try – it will change your toilet experience.
I’ve been informed several times prior that ANA’s first class actually has a superior Western menu as opposed to a Japanese menu which sounds odd given, they’re a Japanese airline.
My goal was to compare the culinary experience of the Japanese food on ANA first class to Japan Airlines first class to see which was better.
I chose the Japanese menu and asked to also be served a caviar plate from the Western menu. You can find the PDFs of the menus online directly on ANA’s website. Simply choose “Dining/Drinks” from the tabs and scroll down to search for the menu.
Unfortunately, my goal of trying out the Hibiki 21 had failed as this specific route only carried the Hibiki 17. If you’re looking for the Hibiki 21, ensure you’re flying a New York, Frankfurt, or London route.
However, one plus was the Hibiki 17 was served in a cute glass container you can keep as a souvenir. I was able to have multiple throughout my flight, so they made for nice souvenirs.
First was the amuse.
I also received the caviar as requested. I was hoping they’d keep it in the tin so I would know which brand it was from but alas, I was happy to have caviar.
I was given my sakizuke (starter) alongside the zensai, a selection of morsels.
My favorite of the bunch would be the starter, the sansho leaf miso elevated the squid and clam (the dish on top).
I gave myself a try at the Talisker 18 as well as the John Walker & Sons King George V. They weren’t bad but I definitely preferred the Hibiki 17.
Finally, the remainder of the items came out. I love the presentation of how the dishes were placed on the plate. They took care in beautifully placing each ingredient on each of my plates.
For dessert, I had the matcha adzuki bean jelly.
Afterwards, I asked for a few more items to try out the menu, as much as my stomach could hold.
First was the Owan – steamed sea bream with cherry leaf. This soup was refreshing given how light it was.
I had the IPPUDO rich-tasting miso DAICHI Ramen. This was pretty standard.
For dessert, I asked for the strawberry crumble tart with vanilla ice cream on the western menu.
To balance the sweetness, I asked for the ITO Matcha. It was essentially raw matcha and if that was too bitter, you could chew on the light sweets included.
After my nap, for the final meal before landing, I asked for a few more Japanese items.
First is the simmered white konjac noodles & spicy cod roe with grilled gold striped amberjack with sakiyo miso.
To finish off my final meal for the flight, I got ANA’s signature curry with rice and some fruits.
After my meal, I asked to have my bed setup. As my neighboring seat, 1G, was empty, the flight attendant setup my bed there as I freshened up in the lavatory.
A feature in business and first-class cabins that not many people talk about is flight attendants are more than happy to let you have another seat to sleep in, providing there are any available.
For traveling couples, there’s a division between the middle seats. While not as intimate as Qatar Airways QSuites or Singapore Airlines Suites, the 38-inch pitch seats ensure you’ll be comfortable regardless.
At approximately 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm), my feet could barely reach the end of the seat. The tray table made it rather comfortable if you wanted to watch shows on your tablet or laptop while lying down.
The bedding included a Nishikawa bed pad with two included pillows. While extremely comfortable, it could not compare to Cathay’s First-Class superior Bamford’s thick mattress and pillows.
Unfortunately, I did not have an HDMI cable to take advantage of the big screen.
Prior to landing, the purser confirmed my immediate connection to Kuala Lumpur and not to rush as the team on the ground was well aware of my progress.
As a final gift, I received a cute handwritten note labeled as a boarding certificate, to commemorate my trip. I thought it was a cute touch and definitely a great souvenir to keep.
My overall review of ANA’s first class in “The Suite”? Just wow.
After seeing pictures of ANA’s old first class and experiencing their new “The Suite”, I walked away completely impressed.
The hard product, from cabin finish to insanely large seat width, made the journey much more comforting. While I admit nothing was revolutionary, ANA went ahead and made upgrades in every possible way, improving the seats, the suite, and WiFi. These all add up to a superior experience.
The soft product: the flight attendants were extremely pleasant, and I had one that was extremely strong in English – making for great conversation.
The food was absolutely amazing and the Hibiki whisky never fails to deliver. They took great care in carefully preparing the food and presenting them in a beautiful manner.
If I were to compare ANA first class to Japan Airlines first class:
- Hard Product: Hands down ANA is the winner as Japan Airlines hard product is rather dated
- Soft Product: Tied – both have excellent flight attendants providing you excellent Japanese hospitality. They’re the best in the industry without question.
- Food & Drinks: I can only speak to the Japanese food in particular and not western foods – Japan Airlines is the winner. ANA, while their food was absolutely amazing, Japan Airlines Japanese culinary dishes continue to hold my spot as the best inflight meal I’ve ever had to experience.
How I Booked
There are two ways I recommend booking ANA first class: either with Air Canada’s Aeroplan or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
I booked with Aeroplan as I needed to connect down to Southeast Asia. Virgin Atlantic does not allow more than a single flight on your itinerary without increasing the point cost if you want to connect.
If you are fine with just booking a single flight, Virgin Atlantic would the superior option as its single handily the best sweet spot in the whole frequent flier miles community.
For my flight, I flew from LAX to NRT. The pricing (in miles) would be the following for a one-way trip:
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 110k miles plus less than $80 in taxes
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 55k miles plus less than $200 in taxes
After trying out ANA’s “The Suite”, there were a few things I wish I knew beforehand to maximize my experience. I hope these become of value to you when you try them out:
- Hibiki 21 is only served on New York, Frankfurt and London routes: this whisky is near impossible to procure for the average person, so ANA first class is one of the only ways to try out this amazing drink
- The Japanese menu is better on routes leaving Japan: the menu onboard included dishes on the opposite direction of my flight. I noted that the Japanese dishes were much more expansive on the flight leaving NRT
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more: if you want extra amenities, the team onboard is more than happy to provide you with them
- Bring an HDMI cable: if you’re looking to watch something on the massive 43-inch screen, bring an HDMI cable to connect to your device
- Be strategic with your stomach: if your objective is to eat as much as you can, then doing some research beforehand on which dishes and drinks are on board can help you maximize your consumption of the things you want. I would’ve avoided dishes that were also available to the business cabin, like the ANA curry with rice