12 signs you’re flying ANA “Square” first class…

I just flew ANA’s 777-300ER “Square” first class (their newest product) from Chicago to Tokyo Narita, and I’m quickly realizing something. Longhaul flight after longhaul flight I’m proclaiming my flights to be among the best ever. And the more I fly certain airlines, the more I realize there isn’t just one best airline, but rather over a handful that are all in the same league…. at least in my opinion.

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And it presents a bit of a challenge, because I’m often asked by readers to recommend an airline between a few choices. While I always try to, that’s really tough to do since there are several airlines that are truly top notch, so pretty soon I’ll write a post about my “top,” unbeatable products.

ANA first class was once again spectacular, quite possibly unbeatable. The food, service, and seat are all virtually unbeatable. The entertainment is just “meh,” but that’s what iPads are for. The last time I flew them in first class was from Washington Dulles to Tokyo Narita, and that was in their old product, which is still very good.

So while I’ll have a trip report soon, I figured for now I’d provide a quick rundown of the 12 signs that you’re flying ANA “Square” first class, which perhaps will sum up what makes ANA so damn awesome.

1. “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that boarding will be delayed by two minutes today. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for flying ANA, a member of Star Alliance.”

2. The flight attendant came around with a basket of “leg refreshing sheets.” When I asked what exactly they were, she said “they are for refreshing your legs, Mr. Lucky.” Well that really explains it!

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3. You get one of these bad boys (yes, this is half of the reason I flew ANA, as my collection of Rimowa kits is now complete).

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4. You’re given a wardrobe to use on the flight. Not only do you get pajamas (which could double as a hazmat suit), but also a cardigan. After all, what kind of a barbarian would eat caviar in pajamas?

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5. Your seat has more mirrors than a Nordstrom cosmetics department.

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6. No fewer than three flight attendants come by and all introduce themselves as the purser, and no fewer than a handful of flight attendants come by and ask if “you want photo?” when they see you taking pictures.

7. You get to the runway and there are a few planes coming in to land, so you have to wait for a few minutes. After a few minutes the flight attendant (not the pilot) gets on the PA and says “ladies and gentlemen, we are waiting at the end of the runway and will take off as soon as the tower clears us. We apologize for the inconvenience.” Two minutes later the flight attendant gets on the PA again to announce “there are four aircraft ahead of us waiting to use the runway for the landing. Would you please wait for a moment. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

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8. The lavatory has a bidet-style toilet. Does anyone really give a crap, though?

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9. The entertainment selection makes you long for Lufthansa’s selection.

10. You mess with your seat controls during the meal service, and accidentally push the “Do Not Disturb” button on your seat. The flight attendant comes to deliver your next course, has a look of near horror on her face, and proceeds to stand there for a few seconds before deciding to return to the galley. Shortly thereafter she returns and says “I’m so sorry, but is it okay to disturb?” After pointing out I accidentally pushed the “Do Not Disturb” sign, she apologizes profusely and says “thank you for waiting” when serving the next course.

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11. When you go to sleep your slippers are pointed away from you, while when you wake up your slippers are pointing towards you.

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12. Prior to landing when you go into the lavatory to change out of your pajamas, the flight attendant intercepts you and says “I’m so sorry, but would it be okay if I gave you a new pair of pajamas to take with you, so they are fresh?” You’re so sorry?!?

Okay, and we’ll do one bonus, though this one is in the lounge.

13. An hour after arriving at the lounge an agent seeks you out and says “You are Mr. Lucky connecting to Bangkok on Thai Airways, yes?” I confirm I am, and she has a look on her face as if she’s about to tell me my flight is canceled. She continues “I’m so sorry to inform you, but there has been a change to your flight.” Well shoot — “okay, how long is the delay?” “Your flight will now be departing from gate 46 instead of gate 45. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Gosh, I love this airline!

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Comments

  1. The seat looks like it blocks the window view unless you lean very far forward. That is a design flaw to me.

  2. I flew with ANA from SIN-NRT a couple of years ago. The aircraft was fully boarded and we were ready to go, then the aircraft went ‘tech’.

    Fortunately, there was another 767 at the gate next to us which we were moved onto, and the flight proceeded as normal, albeit delayed.

    The cabin crew not only apologised once, but a million times, on the PA system and in person. As they were apologise to us, you would think they were apologising for the death of Lady Diana which the had personally been responsible for…. you could almost see a tear in their eye that they had somehow let us down.

    ANA has such great crew and such great service.

    I love the fact that you were offered a cardigan, I’m pretty sure we were offered a jumper though back then.

  3. I love the list format — when I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be a Buzzfeed-style post, animated gifs and all (actually, that would be kind of awesome).

  4. i seriously busted out lmao a few times reading this. thanks alot for the morning laughs. ANA sounds awesome, I cant wait to fly them soon.

  5. I was thoroughly impressed flying NH just in C on a regional flight from PEK-NRT last year. The FA serving my side of the cabin came to each seat and personally introduced herself before we took off.

    At NRT I connected to a UA transpac flight. NIGHT AND DAY.

  6. Right on the money with this post!
    ‘I’m so sorry’ but this is possibly the most polite airline in the skies.
    I pushed my wine class over during light turbulence and the flight attendant declared a full-blown cabin emergency.

    JRL

  7. LOL. Great post. I’ve only flown NH regionally, but have always had a good experience.

    I’m curious, does NH use planes with the old F product in North America?

    MEOW

  8. Hilarious! But the bidet is awesome, and the Japanese have this right on. I have no idea why us Westerners are so uncouth on this? I mean let’s face it, if you put your hands in your own crap, would you just wipe it off with a tissue?? Hell no! You’d be scrubbing to hell with soap, water, detergent, bleach! And yet it seems a piece of paper is perfectly adequate to clean up other areas of the body. Give me a Japanese shower toilet ANY time of the day! (Though I guess EK is the best – after dinner poop followed by shower lol)

  9. I’m quite amazed you actually had cabin crew who spoke enough english to convey intention and meaning. I’ve not been in 1st on ANA but the J class attendants have suboptimal english skills.

  10. You’ve probably covered this elsewhere, but what is the best way/cheapest use of miles to fly the ANA squares? United miles? Amex points transfer? US Airways miles via Europe?

    thanks! looks like a flight I’d like to try.

  11. In terms of the apologies, it has more to do with Japanese culture than sincerity. They do that even if they don’t like you (more felt in a work environment though). It’s just how it is in Japan. Westerners and other foreigners who don’t know about Japanese culture are usually really impressed with this gesture, but if you ever lived or worked in Japan you would know that’s just an inherent nature of the Japanese culture.

  12. When do you find is the best time to book award seats in F on ANA? When I am searching for routes, it always sees to me that ANA is more scarce than others. Is there a window I should be looking like I do for Lufthansa?

  13. A couple of years ago, I flew in Square from FRA to NRT. The product was fairly new then. And I sweated out getting an award seat, which didn’t come up until a week prior. The amazing thing was I was the only person traveling in the cabin. Not only did they make up a different seat as my bed, but I could mix and match anything I wanted from the menu for my meals. It was quite the experience to have the whole first class cabin to myself for such a flight.

  14. @ MEOW — To the best of my knowledge JFK, LAX, SFO, and ORD always get the new product nowadays, while I think IAD still gets the old product sometimes (the new product is designated as “77W” while the old product is designated as “777”). It’s CDG and MUC that consistently get the old product, I believe.

  15. @ C Diddy — Best deal is probably using US Airways miles between the US and North Asia in first class (you can route via Europe in one/both directions if you want) for 120,000 miles.

  16. If you’ve ever worked or lived in Japan, eventually you grow tired of the faux, “robotic” politeness and yearn for some good ole american brashness

  17. @ heels05 — In my experience they only release space in advance for travel between January and March. Aside from that space seems to open up 1-3 weeks out at most, so the closer to departure you can book, the better.

  18. I was thinking the same thing after flying ANA in economy from SFO-NRT (and return) a couple years ago. It was by far the best economy product I’ve ever tried. Incredible food, awesome flight attendants – ANA is doing it right.

    While not first class, I am looking forward to my business class trip with them next month!

  19. I’ve flown them and will agree ANA really is great–possibly my #1 as well. But the level of apologizing, and the full on assault of over the top service is a little much for a westerner like myself. Haven’t tried the cube but it looks good to me. I just wish they’d break “character” once, just once and answer a question with something other than “yes of course.”

  20. @ Trevor — In the past I know they didn’t, but nowadays you can keep them both, I believe. At least they proactively offered.

  21. I’ve saved enough United miles for 2 of us to fly ANA first, now to plan for this time next year.

    How far out do you think seats will open up?

  22. @ Mikey — ANA is among the stingiest airlines when it comes to releasing award space, and only very rarely releases two seats on one flight. Traveling over summer makes it even tougher, so if they do release space it’ll probably be within a couple of weeks of departure at most.

  23. When did you book this flight and which miles did you use? I’m not finding any F availability for SFO or LAX on several dates in Jan-Mar or in next few weeks (when searching with UA’s site).

  24. wow – we just flew ANA F over Christmas last year and while we had a great flight, no cardigan or rimowa kit. The FAs were simply outstanding – not a great seat for travelling as a couple, however.

  25. why dont they bring this flight to lax where as far as I know, the largest Asian population on the west coast. we are stuck with the old crappy 777-200 with angled seats. really sucks

  26. @ choi — They do fly it on the Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita route. It’s just the Tokyo Haneda route that gets the 777-200.

  27. I flew ANA business class last month from NRT-JFK in 777 and they did not even have an amenity kit to give away. They just provided a basket to pick the stuff up. I found to be stingy on their part.

  28. ROTFL! You described ANA to a T Ben – my favorite airline for years if you’re flying up front. I flew ANA Square First NRT-JFK in May and after boarding when I handed the PJ’s back to the chief purser claiming I was too zoftig for them, she apologized a couple of times, disappeared and returned 2 minutes later with another pair and with a big smile said “these are for zoftigs” Couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

    Also had several ANA flights in first where the FA suggested to try ALL of the entrees on the menu… just amazing. Definitely not that carrier to fly if you’re on a diet 🙂

    Great post!!

  29. I found and booked my F seat late last week. Popped up randomly after I lost my first reservation (originally on OZ) waiting for SPG points to transfer. So in this case, the painfully slow SPG points transfer worked in my favor 🙂

  30. The moisturizer in your Rimowa kit is called “The Ginza” and it’s made by Shiseido; they were giving it out with purchase in the duty free shops in Narita last month.

    You needed to know this. 🙂

  31. ANA business (new product) from ORD to NRT was incredible. The service, food and seat were the best I’ve been on. It blew away Asiana’s new business product, and that’s saying something.

  32. You can keep the sleepwear, not the cardigan.

    A new business class amenity kit will be introduced next month.

    NH CAs’ English ability is adequate.

  33. “Thank you for waiting” – this is the sentence you’ll most hear at any Japanese service situation – even if you haven’t waited a second.

  34. Was persuaded by fellow FTers to fly ANA F on CDG-NRT earlier this year. The experience was excellent. The food presentation was definitely and quality possibly even better than SQ or CX. Crew definitely was overly apologetic.

    My only tiny complaint was the thickness on bed padding.

  35. I am flying ANA Business in October from LHR-NRT. Any chance I could use my United miles for an upgrade from business to first or do ANA not allow that? I do love ANA, one of my favourite business class products out there.

  36. @ Greg — If they open up first class award space then you can pay the mileage difference to upgrade, which would totally be worth it.

  37. That award space usually opens up around a week or two ahead then? I’ve never done an upgrade for a Star Alliance partner on United, think I just fill out some form on United’s website though. The Z class ticket is paid by work. Love your blog btw.

  38. @ Greg — Whoops, sorry, I assumed you were on an award ticket. If you’re on a paid ticket the only way to upgrade would be through the “Star Alliance Upgrade” program. The issue is that “Z” class tickets are excluded from being upgraded, unfortunately. Sorry I wasn’t clear!

  39. Actually J class tickets booked on ANA are allowed to be upgraded using MileagePlus miles. However, there is a co-pay of $600 plus the miles whereas with a J,C or D is just miles. The problem is getting a seat and they do not allow waitlisting. So you have to call back to try and snag the seat before anyone else grabs it. Also do not book the flights as a UA codeshare, it must have the NH carrier code (at least according to the Star desk at United).

    However, I priced out a A class ticket from NRT-JFK after my company booked Z class and the difference was $800 and confirmed immediately. Better than $600 and 30,000 miles in my opinion

  40. @ wpr8e — Whoops, you’re absolutely right. Didn’t see the exceptions to the C/D rule. That’s pretty cool then.

  41. @wpr8

    Ah brilliant, did you call ANA or UA to book the difference? It’s def an NH code as it was booked through our corporate travel desk (I live in London). $800 def seems worth it.

  42. @ Greg — You’d have to call United if you wanted to use United miles, and have them connect you to an agent that can help with Star Alliance Upgrades. Just keep in mind that can only be done if there’s confirmable first class award space. Otherwise there’s no way to waitlist or anything.

  43. Sorry, weird mistype. “Z” fares are upgradable with miles and co-pay.

    The catch is change fees. $450 United change fee plus co-pay adds up. I did it within the 24 hour cancellation policy and got GS to waive the change fees.

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