Summer was rapidly approaching and with it, the busy season at my practice. That meant I had just enough time to squeeze in one last scuba diving trip before I buckled down to hard work for several months. Now, where to go? I searched long and hard to see if I could use some of my CO
OnePass miles for the trip, but no luck. However, after the unfortunate disaster in Japan, several tickets opened up through Tokyo, including one to Palau! This was perfect as I have always wanted to dive there! Not only that, but I would also get the chance to fly two new airlines, ANA and Asiana. Having booked my ticket in business class I checked in frequently to see if ANA opened any First for reward redemption. About a week before the trip I got my wish. A trip on ANA First!
Soon enough it was time to go and I found myself at the United counters at CLE
. Since I had been here last they had moved across the room to right next to the Continental counters, soon to be merged into one.
Nothing special about a regional jet other than it was thankfully a short flight.
Now having arrived in the United warrens I made my way over to the international gates. Things were pretty slow this time of day and nothing else going on except an Ethiopian Air flight. I then made myself comfortable in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge which is also used by ANA. Not much special here, an ok selection of food, but not great. It did have a nice view of the tarmac which allowed me to see my plane land and taxi in.
Washington Dulles-Tokyo Narita
Soon enough it was time to board. I was met at the door and escorted to my seat, one of only 2 occupied for this flight. The FA
offered me a “relax suit” to change into, but I declined until after the meal. At first glance I was quite impressed with the space in the cabin and found the seat to be quite comfortable. Everything was very quietly refined and understated, no glitz and glamour here. The really nice part was that everything was truly functional and you could tell that a lot of thought went into the design.
Soon we were in the air and it was time for some Krug and ANA’s signature amuse. All very tasty.
Next came caviar before my choice of the Kaiseki meal. At this point we hit a patch of approximately 20 minutes of moderate turbulence. Enough to cause the captain to stop the meal service and ask the FA
’s to sit down.
Unfortunately, this distraction caused me to forget to take pictures of the menu or the first 3 courses of the meal. They were all fresh fish or sashimi and very very good! I did remember to take a picture of the last course though.
who was serving me seemed to be very curious about a westerner who was enjoying traditional Japanese food plus taking pictures of everything , so we got to talking. She was very nice and engaging and her English was spot on. When she found out I was going to Palau, she said she was very jealous as her husband had gone diving there without her and said it was very beautiful.
After lunch it was time to change into my “relax suit”. Upon returning, I found my bed made and ready to sleep.
ANA’s First suite is very comfortable and allows plenty of room to stretch. My only complaint was that they kept the cabin quite warm which I found most unusual. I got a solid 8 hours sleep and it was soon time for breakfast before landing. Once again I chose the Japanese course which was very well prepared.
Soon enough, we were landing in Narita and my ANA First experience was over.
Heading though security I made my way to the United First Lounge where I had a shower and a little food. The lounge was quite comfortable and had a great view of the runway, but the food wasn’t replenished very often.
I made my way from the lounge down and on board my next flight. After the refined comfort of ANA, United’s old First seat was a big disappointment. The cabin was worn and dirty and the seat was small and with relatively little storage. The thing that struck me the most was that there was so much unused space in the First cabin that they could have used to make things more comfortable. Anyway, the FA
’s were right on the mark, very friendly and attentive.
The meal, however, was awful. Having heard bad reviews of the bento box, I decided to try the sandwich. The bread was stale and the meat tough and stringy. It tasted like it had been sitting on the plane for a couple days. I don’t believe they served it in First! Yuck!
The sun had gone down by the time we made it to Incheon and the airport was almost totally deserted by the time I made it to the Asiana Business lounge. I had the whole place to myself for almost 2 hours before heading down to board the flight.
Unfortunately, for this flight I couldn’t get First and had to settle for economy. The plane was nice and clean, but the seat pitch seemed very tight and the legroom was taken up by a foot rest that was useless to me as I would have had to put my knees to my chest to use it.
The food was quite good and I enjoyed the nice hot meal in Asiana Economy much more than the meal in United First.
Bleary eyed and exhausted, I finally made it to Palau and checked in to my hotel.
What followed was two weeks of fantastic diving plus a visit to the famous Jellyfish Lake and a trip to see the battlefield at Peleliu.
Continental/Air Micronesia 892
Unfortunately, the flight from Palau to Guam left very early in the morning, so at midnight I staggered out of my hotel and to the airport. Nothing new here, regular Continental service and a light breakfast.
After getting off the plane in Guam, I first had to clear immigration. What a mess! Only 2 agents for the US passport line and everyone worrying that they were going to miss their tight connection. After getting through immigration I then had to clear security again which took forever. After that it was on to the President’s Club Lounge to see if ANA had opened up any First seats on the way back. Now here is what I love about Continental. I asked the agent at the lounge if he could help me with this and he immediately stopped what he was doing and spent 10 min on the phone with reservations to see if he could get me the spot. Unfortunately, ANA didn’t open up any more seats, but the lounge agent deserves big kudos for his customer service!
Now began my day of kids in business class. After settling down in my seat, a mother with her infant sat down beside me. Oh no, I thought! I was going to try to get some sleep. Fortunately, that was the best behaved baby I’ve flown with as the wasn’t a peep for the entire flight
Tokyo, Narita-Chicago, O’Hare
My connection in Narita was only 1 hour, but thanks to typical Japanese efficiency I was at the gate with 15 min to spare. Soon I was onboard and in my seat.
I was lucky and had the 2 window seats to myself. My impression of the ANA business class seat is not favorable. It was quite narrow and if you had the privacy divider up, my shoulder was resting on it. I am not a big fan of 777’s that are 2-3-2 in business. The worst part was that the leg rest only came down to mid-calf which leaves you with the choice of it digging into the back of your leg, or putting your knees up so they almost touch your chest. Probably the worst design I’ve seen.
As the plane filled up, I found that my companions across the aisle were a mother and 2 small children who proceeded to jump up and down on the seats for nearly the entire flight. Mom did nothing about it and all the FA
’s could do is hand out earplugs and give apologies to those around the kids.
Soon we were up and away and it was time for some more food.
Service was great and the food excellent. Unfortunately, they ran out of the Japanese course, but the steak was quite good. The best part was the mango parfait, probably one of the best desserts I’ve had ever.
After dinner it was time for sleep, which was not great as the seats are angled flat, the footrest was far too short, and the kids next door were playing on their slide…I mean seat
After tossing and turning for a couple hours, I got up and decided to have a snack and watch a movie. I flagged down a FA
and asked for a bowl of udon and a Coke which were brought quicky. The TV
is one of the small kind in the armrest, but was adequate. The video was AVOD and had an average number of choices. I watched the Green Lantern.
Soon enough it was breakfast /lunch time and I chose the one plate Japanese course which was quite good. The braised ox tail was fantastic, fall off the bone tender. It even came with instructions on how to eat it
All too soon we were in Chicago and it was time to say goodbye to ANA.
Nothing special here. I made it through customs quickly and took the train over from the international terminal. Not enough time for a Red Carpet Club visit, and was very disappointed that the Chicago airport doesn’t have free WiFi! The flight was delayed 30min due to a mechanical issue, which was unfortunately discovered after we had boarded. The crew kept us appraised and we were soon on our way home.
I was very lucky to be able to fly on several great international products. ANA’s First is excellent with phenomenal service and food. ANA’s Business is lacking in the hard product, but makes up for it with great service and food. United’s old First product is pathetic and the catering for the short flight was awful. Pretty pathetic when you see what I got in F on Continental and Y on Asiana for similar length flights. However, unlike some other reports, I found United’s people to be friendly and engaging. All in all, a great trip none the less. Thanks for reading and until next time, keep flying!