I think I have told you all, that in the beginning of this year I was very lucky to win flights to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways business class for two. They gave us one year to use the tickets, and since this trip came to us as a surprise, we ended up going to Japan at the end of the year. There were two choices for the route, either San Jose Mineta-Tokyo Narita or San Francisco-Tokyo Narita. Since San Jose Mineta Airport is very close to our home, we naturally chose that one. I also think that it is easier and nicer than the huge San Francisco International Airport.
Booking the tickets didn't quite go as we planned, and we actually even talked about skipping the whole trip. I called the ANA sales office and told them the situation; that we have two business tickets but we are a family of three. Since our daughter is 4, she wont go as a lap child anymore. I was hoping that they would help us figure out what kind of third ticket we should purchase, maybe even get it upgraded to business class. I gave the sales person the dates we wished to travel on, and waited for her to contact me back. It took two days before I finally received an email from her. A ticket for business class was over $5000 and economy was over $900. She also had changed the dates. Really? It takes two days for a sales office to find the same information that I can dig up from online in five minutes? I had of course checked these before approaching the sales office, so I knew that the day I asked for a travel date was much cheaper for economy than what she was offering. I could say I was a little disappointed by that.
After I told them that we are not able to purchase a business class ticket for this price, and we will buy one economy ticket, they offered us a discounted business class ticket with $2600. Yes, it was an great offer but still way too expensive for us so I had to decline. We wanted to just purchase one extra economy ticket on the same flight. The sales person made us a reservation but instead of giving us one economy ticket, she gave us two, and once again on a different date than I had asked for. So if I have two free business class tickets, why would I want to downgrade the other one to economy? I honestly started to feel like they are trying to make fool out of us in every way they can! After a pretty straight forward email exchange, we finally got our reservation done for two in business class, and I ended up just booking the economy ticket from online separately. I don't think it has ever been this difficult for me to make airline reservations, and when we a few days later got an automated message that our reservation had changed, I started purely seeing red! Luckily, it turned out that this reservation was the old one which was made for the wrong dates, and obviously had not been deleted. Amazing how bringing an extra paying customer into our reservation got everything so messed up. Never making that mistake again!
Finally it was our departure day. A very friendly attendant at the business class counter checked us all three on the flight, and told me that I am welcome to bring a guest to the lounge. That was nice since we had a lot of time until the flight, and we were able to have a light breakfast at the lounge. Our plane was a Boeing 787 where the seats are completely staggered. This means that you don't really even see the other passengers. For us this was not maybe the best choice, since I would have liked to sit next to my daughter, but I understand that for people traveling alone, this arrangement is perfect. In front of the seat, there were two racks for your things which also served as as extra leg space. The seat can be fully reclined into a bed. Above the racks there is an entertainment center and electrical outlets. The table folds widely and can be pulled close in to the desired spot.
When boarding, we got slippers (which later in Japan became very familiar to us), a shoehorn, and an amenity kit. The amenity kit had a facial mist, hand cream, lip formula, a toothbrush and tooth paste, ear plugs and eye mask. More toothbrushes and tooth paste were in the lavatory among some facial sheets and mouth wash. The lavatory was spacious since I was able comfortably fit in with my little daughter. Every seat had an extra mattress for sleeping, a pillow, a warm blanket and head phones. The best thing about this flight was absolutely the food and the friendly service.
There were two menu options for the flight, a Japanese menu and International menu. I chose to have the Japanese menu for both ways as my first hot meal, and the international for my second meal. The portions were beautiful, tasty and there was plenty of food. They also had a full wine list. During our ten hour flight they served two hot meals, and the passengers were able to order more food at any time from a special menu. This menu had everything from hamburgers to cheese plates to miso soup. We had ordered a kid's meal for my daughter, and that one also had a starter, main course and dessert. Way too much food for a little one, but oh, so delicious!
I was especially happy about the service my little daughter got on this flight. Ten points to our lovely flight attendees! They treated my daughter like any important business person, sometimes I wished they would have asked about her drink choices from me, not only from her. But it was nice to see how they took care of her on this long flight. They made her bed, chopped her food for her and propped her up with a pillow, so she could better reach her plate. Right before we landed in Tokyo, she also got a little goodie back with toys and cookies.
On our flight back home we didn't get to enjoy the lounge in Narita airport for long, but that's ok since they suddenly didn't allow me to bring a guest like they did in San Jose. Our flight was two hours shorter than the flight to Tokyo, and it was an evening flight, so we slept for part of the flight. .
It is pretty clear that the All Nippon Airways main focus group is business travellers. It seemed like more than half of our plane was business class. ANA also has a first class, which is even higher class than business among the economy and economy premium. ANA is also known for it's Starwars themed airplanes, and we happened to see one of them at Narita Airport. It would have been so fun to fly on that one! But we can only be thankful that we got to experience what we did. Our experience in All Nippon Airways business class was amazing! On my next flight I will be back in the "piggy section" like always.