Review: ANA New First Class Tokyo to New York

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Travel


For the final leg of my roundabout journey en route from the Maldives back to North America, I had the pleasure of flying ANA’s New 777 First Class, also known as “The Suite”, from Tokyo to New York.

This is a product I’ve been dreaming of trying out ever since it was first introduced in 2019.

Over the past few years, I’ve already gotten to fly ANA’s original 777 First Class, as well as ANA’s “The Room” business class on the same plane.

This would be my first time trying out ANA’s new-generation “The Suite” First Class product on a 13-hour flagship route all the way to New York, and I was extremely excited to discover how this world-class Japanese airline has taken things to the next level.

ANA New First Class – Booking

I booked my one-way flight on ANA First Class using one of the best sweet spots in the game right now. With only 60,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, I was able to lock in a one-way in First Class from Japan to North America.

This is truly an unbelievable sweet spot – as a point of comparison, a program like Aeroplan would charge 110,000 points one-way for the same journey, whereas with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, it’s barely over half that amount at 60,000 miles one-way.

What’s more, I earned these Virgin Atlantic miles by converting my Amex US MR points during a 30% bonus promotion. Points are normally transferred at a 1:1 ratio, but with the 30% bonus, I only redeemed about 47,000 Amex US MR points for 13 hours of First Class flying.

I’d say that this is one of the most compelling sweet spots for luxury travel that you can find in any loyalty program right now, and I’d certainly recommend snagging this sweet spot if you can before it potentially disappears in the future.

To get myself to Tokyo Haneda International Airport to board this flight, I had to first fly Japan Airlines business class from Bangkok. This flight arrived at 6am in the morning, giving me three hours of indulgence in the ANA Suite Lounge prior to my 10:20am departure.

ANA New First Class – Ground Experience

The ANA Suite Lounge is still relatively the same as what I remembered it from a few years ago. It was completely empty when I first arrived at 6am, but filled up with more passengers as the morning went on.

I spent most of my time in the lounge relaxing, catching up on work, and digging into a few bowls of udon noodles from the noodle bar.

ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo Haneda – Seating
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo Haneda – Udon noodles

This is certainly one of my favourite parts of transiting through Japanese airports. When hitting up the lounges, you’ll almost always find a top-quality noodle bar inside, and the ANA Suite Lounge at Haneda Airport was no exception.

I showed great restraint in limiting myself to only two bowls of udon, as I was keen on fully indulging in the Japanese meal service onboard ANA First Class in just a few hours’ time. 

After wrapping up my noodles, I took a shower in the shower room and freshened up to prepare for the long journey ahead.

ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo Haneda – Shower room
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo Haneda – Shower room

ANA New First Class – Cabin

At around 9:45am, I headed to the departure gate, where boarding had already begun. I quickly made my way onboard through the first set of doors on the port side of the plane, turning left to step into the First Class cabin.

This was no doubt one of the most modern First Class cabins I’ve encountered to date, and I was awestruck by my surroundings as I navigated to my seat. 

ANA New First Class – Cabin
ANA New First Class – Cabin
ANA New First Class – Cabin

Here onboard ANA New First Class on the Boeing 777, there are just eight First Class suites spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each suite has direct aisle access.

The suites boast sleek bronze walls with a sliding door to ensure total privacy. Dark wooden touches are used to elevate the suites’ interiors, with further pops of blue from seat cushions, ambient lighting, and massive entertainment screen to catch your eye.

What’s more, I was struck by the sheer size of the First Class suite – it was certainly one of the widest and most spacious that I’ve had the pleasure of calling home, and I spent quite a few minutes simply soaking in my surroundings as I settled into Seat 2A in the lower-left corner of the cabin.

ANA New First Class – Seat 2A
ANA New First Class – Seat 2A
ANA New First Class – Seat 2A

Couples who are travelling together would perhaps enjoy sharing the middle seats, and will certainly benefit from the improvements compared to ANA’s older First Class product.

The middle partition in the old product was stationary, whereas here in “The Suite” First Class, it can be moved up or down to enjoy the flight with your travel partner.

ANA New First Class – Middle seats

If you’re a solo traveller, you’ll likely prefer the window seats, which certainly was my preference to ensure maximum privacy on this long-haul transpacific journey.

ANA New First Class – Seat 2A

ANA New First Class – Seat

Most of the world’s best aspirational flight experiences are known for one singular defining feature. Emirates has its shower, Air France its curtains, Singapore Suites the “double bed in the sky”…

Here on ANA New First Class? No doubt, it’s the ultra-high-definition entertainment screen, which dominates your field of vision as soon as you take up your throne.

At 42” in size, the screen spans the entire front wall of the suite, from the left edge all the way to the right. 

ANA New First Class – Entertainment screen
ANA New First Class – Entertainment screen
ANA New First Class – Entertainment screen

Not only does the screen feature stunning and crisp 4K resolution pictures, but it’s also extremely responsive, instantaneously following your commands via touch-screen or controller. 

I’ve yet to see any other in-flight entertainment system that’s anywhere close as cutting-edge, though I suspect many airlines will be racing to catch up with ANA’s offering here. 

Below this entertainment screen is an ottoman that’s fitted with a seatbelt, in the event that you wish to use it as a buddy seat when dining. Further below this is a thin storage space, large enough for a backpack or personal item.

ANA New First Class – Ottoman

Instead of popping out of a holder on the side, the tray table here on ANA New First Class is stowed at the far end of the suite under the entertainment screen. Upon being unlatched, it slides towards you along a series of rails on the side, and can also be folded into a full-sized table.

ANA New First Class – Tray table
ANA New First Class – Tray table

On the left side of the seat, the console by your fingertips offers some surface space and is home to the entertainment controller, which can be withdrawn for handheld use.

ANA New First Class – Surface space
ANA New First Class – Entertainment controller & seat controls
ANA New First Class – Entertainment controller

Here is where you’ll also find a set of electronic seat controls. The first row allows you to adjust the seat angle, sliding between upright, reclining, and lie-flat modes.

The second row allows for customization of the leg rest and back support position, as well as moving the entire seat forward or backward.

Lastly, a third row of buttons are linked to the various lights dotted around the seat, from the reading lights by your left and right shoulders, to the “dining-friendly light” at the front of the seat, to the overhead light that illuminates the entire space.

ANA New First Class – Seat controls

Along the lower edge of the console, there’s also a small dial that can also be used to slide the seat position back and forth. This is one of the more unique features offered here on ANA New First Class, and it was my first time encountering a control dial like this. 

ANA New First Class – Seat control dial

ANA’s new Boeing 777s are fitted with electronic blinds, which can be toggled by two small buttons just under each window or by the controls of the seat.

Just below the console are several storage spaces. Here is where you’ll find the power outlets, USB ports, and HDMI port, as well as a headphone jack.

ANA New First Class – Storage space
ANA New First Class – Storage space
ANA New First Class – Power outlet, USB port, HDMI port, & headphone jack

Moving over to the aisle side of the seat, you’ll find two sets of literature pockets: one up top and one down below. The one on top folds out, doubling as a vanity mirror.

ANA New First Class – Upper literature pocket
ANA New First Class – Upper literature pocket mirror
ANA New First Class – Lower literature pocket

At the top of the seat, you’ll find a reading light on both the left and right edges.

ANA New First Class – Reading light

Adjacent to the entertainment screen is a further storage unit, which I found to be a good spot to place a laptop, tablet, or something of a similar size.

ANA New First Class – Storage space near entertainment screen

Lastly, there is a garment cabinet nestled into the inner wall, which is equipped with a hanger that can be pulled out for keeping your street clothes snug when you change into your pajamas. 

ANA New First Class – Garment cabinet
ANA New First Class – Garment cabinet
ANA New First Class – Garment cabinet

The sliding doors are locked in the open position for takeoff, but can be manually (though not electronically) closed to create a fully private, enclosed suite in the sky.

ANA New First Class – Amenities

Upon taking my seat and being offered my choice of a pre-departure drink, I promptly helped myself to a glass of Krug Champagne, which I continued to sip on as we pushed back from the gate.

ANA New First Class – Welcome Champagne

Prior to taking off, the flight attendants came by to offer me a tray of various in-flight amenities.

While a few of these items, such as the dental kit, ear plugs, and eye mask, are also included in ANA’s leather-bound amenity kit, there were other items like socks, warming pads, and “ANA original aroma” stickers that were only available via this amenity tray. 

ANA New First Class – In-flight amenities

In addition, I also found a set of a high-quality Sony noise-cancelling headphones and a water bottle waiting for me at my seat upon arrival. 

ANA New First Class – Noise-cancelling headphones
ANA New First Class – Water bottle

Also waiting at my seat was the signature amenity kit, which comes in the form of a very visually satisfying ANA Original Globe-Trotter Pouch. The colours rotate throughout the seasons, ranging from various shades of brown to blues – mine came in an old-school mix of beige and brown. 

ANA New First Class – Amenity kit

Inside the kit, I discovered a Shiseido “The Ginza” Essence Empowering skincare set, consisting of men’s face wash and day and night cream.

ANA New First Class – Amenity kit contents
ANA New First Class – Amenity kit contents

The crew also came by to hand out a pair of high-quality, stylish pajamas, which come in a two-tone grey colour palette and are made entirely from organic cotton. 

ANA New First Class – Pajamas & slippers

Of course, the last item that was awaiting me upon arrival was one of the most prized amenities on any Japanese premium product: the leather-bound in-flight menu. We’ll take a closer look through its contents later on in the review.

ANA New First Class – Menu

ANA New First Class – Bed

First up, as we took off and climbed to cruising altitude, I had realized that I was badly in need of some rest. 

I was extremely fatigued at this point in the journey, having taken a series of long-haul flights in quick succession, so I elected to take a nap first and then indulge in the meal service. 

Like any First Class product worth its salt, ANA offers dine-on-demand, meaning that you can choose to eat and drink anything you want anytime you want. I asked the crew if they could help set up my bed first, so that I could catch a few hours of sleep before starting to feast. 

As the crew completed turndown service at my seat, I headed to the restroom to freshen up.

ANA New First Class – Restroom

The restroom was in line with what you would expect in First Class onboard a 777. The space was neither the largest nor the smallest, with a large vessel sink and, of course, a Japanese-style bidet.

The ergonomic design of the sink allowed me to very comfortably wash up and brush my teeth without spilling water all over the place.

ANA New First Class – Restroom

The space was also well-stocked with amenities such as toothbrushes, face wipes, face towels, and full-sized bottles of “The Ginza” energizing lotion and moisturizing emulsion.

ANA New First Class – Restroom amenities

In a thoughtful design touch, the restroom also features a fold-down bench that partially covers the floor, allowing you to change out of your trousers and into your loungewear without having to touch the ground with your feet.

ANA New First Class – Restroom changing bench
ANA New First Class – Restroom changing bench

I then returned to my seat and prepared for bed.

The bed onboard ANA “The Suite” First Class is designed for elevated comfort, featuring the award-winning “Nishikawa AiR” mattress pad with a unique three-layer structure to disperse pressure and improve sleep. 

Furthermore, you’re provided with a soft down comforter, a duck-down pillow, and a blanket, with one side made of cashmere and the other organic cotton.

ANA New First Class – Bed
ANA New First Class – Bed
ANA New First Class – Bed

I helped myself to a cup of tea to sip on before I closed my eyes and slept soundly for the first six hours of the flight.

ANA New First Class – Tea
ANA New First Class – Tea

Night had long fallen outside by the time I woke up. At this point, I realized that we had already flown more than halfway across the Pacific, and that we only had about six hours left of the flight. 

That was barely enough time to try out all the food and drink I wanted to experience here on ANA First Class – so I quickly pressed the call button and got to work. 😉

ANA New First Class – Airshow en route to New York

ANA New First Class – Meal Service

Out of all the reasons I was looking forward to flying ANA New First Class, the onboard Japanese dining experience was by far the greatest motivator in checking this flight off my bucket list. 

Even though I had flown ANA First Class previously, it was an overnight journey that didn’t feature the full meal service, and so I had some unfinished business when it came to this particular aspirational item. 

I kicked things off with another glass of Krug as I perused the menu.

I’d note that I thought this bottle of Krug had gotten a little stale (which makes sense as most passengers presumably finished their meal services hours ago), but I opted against asking the crew to open a new bottle – as there’d be many more bottles of other types of liquor to indulge in later on. 

ANA New First Class – Krug Champagne
ANA New First Class – Menu

The dining menu read as follows:

And the beverage menu read as follows:

In customizing my dining experience, I made most of my selections from the Japanese washoku set menu, but with a few items from the Western meal sprinkled in there as well.

We began with an amuse bouche, which consisted of some deep-fried tuna, marinated sea bream, eggplant tartar, and a foie gras roll. I particularly enjoyed the latter dish, its soft texture sharply contrasting to its unique rich flavour. 

ANA New First Class – Amuse bouche

After polishing off the amuse with a few sips of Krug, I opted for the caviar plate from the Western menu, which was presented beautifully in its original glass jar. However, it was also served with a type of accompaniment that I had never encountered before. 

ANA New First Class – Caviar

Rather than the typical blinis with crème fraîche, or even the more daring toasted brioche rounds with chopped onions and chives, ANA has elected to pair their caviar with a gelatinous red pepper and king crab mousse. 

It was certainly an interesting mix of flavours, and I found that the mousse somewhat masked the flavours of the caviar itself.

I think I still prefer blinis with sour cream, though I do applaud ANA for their creativity – and as a fervent seafood lever, I was never going to turn down a more creative interpretation of this First Class staple. 

Next up, the Japanese dining procession began in earnest, starting with the sakizuke and zensai courses (“a taste of things to come” and “a selection of morsels”, respectively) served on the same plate. 

ANA New First Class – Sakizuke and zensai
ANA New First Class – Sakizuke and zensai

Amongst the zensai, the beans & mascarpone tofu (third from right on the horizontal tray) were certainly a creative fusion twist on a largely true-to-form Japanese dinner.

On the other hand, the sakizuke of red clam and wasabi was lighter than I expected and could’ve used some soy sauce, but it did a fine job of opening my palate for the remainder of the meal.

At this point, I swapped my Krug for the Noguchi Naohiko sake, which I fondly remember from my flight on ANA’s “The Room” business class a few years ago. Indeed, as much as the Krug had hit the spot, I was also keen to try out an authentic drink pairing alongside my multi-course washoku meal.

ANA New First Class – Noguchi Naohiko sake

Next up would be the owan and otsukuri (“bowled dish” and “sashimi”, respectively) from the “If You Prefer” section of the menu – meaning that they may not be served proactively if you were to simply order the “Japanese dinner”, but are available as add-ons if you let the crew know.

(In my case, I absolutely did prefer, thank you very much.)

This section of the menu changes depending on the season, and on this particular springtime flight, I was presented with a soup of bacon wrapped in onion and seared bonito sashimi. 

ANA New First Class – Owan

I went ahead and devoured both – the clear broth was warm, inviting, and umami-laden, balanced out perfectly by the sharp ocean-inspired flavours of the bonito sashimi. 

ANA New First Class – Otsukuri

The food simply kept on coming. After this, I was presented with the nimono, kobachi, and the shusai (“simmered plate”, “tasty tidbits”, and “main course” respectively), all on the same tray, alongside steamed rice and miso soup.

ANA New First Class – Nimono, kobachi, and shusai

The kobachi – a sake-simmered abalone – was excellent, flavourful, and had a fun texture when eaten in the same bite as its citrus jelly toppings.

Meanwhile, the nimono – tofu patty with seafood – though still tasty, wasn’t overly inspiring and probably my least favourite out of everything I tried.

ANA New First Class – Kobachi
ANA New First Class – Nimono

After pecking away at some of these small side dishes, it was time to dig into the main course: a simmered wagyu beef sukiyaki, topped with a raw egg. 

The presentation was downright mouthwatering. The egg, perfectly poached for just a minute or so to hold its shape, sits lightly over a bed of wagyu beef in a sweet broth of soy sauce.

With the gentlest poke of a chopstick, the sunshine-coloured yolk slowly cascaded over the sukiyaki, making for a delectable few slices of wagyu to go along with each bite of rice on the side. 

ANA New First Class – Shusai

The dish absolutely tasted just as good as it looked, and I gratefully slurped up every grain of rice along with every drop of the sukiyaki broth. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have finally experienced the very best that ANA’s in-flight catering has to offer. 

While the Japanese washoku meal is extremely impressive in its variety, the portions of each dish are kept to a reasonable amount, which meant that I still had ample room left in me for dessert.

To that end, I couldn’t resist trying the Cherry Blossom Mont Blanc, which I thought was a very creative combination of Japanese and Western influences blended into a single temptation.

The dessert was sweet, soft, and creamy, and went perfectly well with its accompanying raspberry sorbet, both elements of the dish melting in my mouth with a heavenly taste.

ANA New First Class – Japanese Cherry Blossom Mont Blanc dessert

I then also tried the Japanese kanmi dessert, which consisted of agar jelly, fruits, adzuki bean paste, and ice cream. Again, sweet and delicious, though in a more understated way compared to the Mont Blanc – I’d say I preferred this one a little bit more. 

ANA New First Class – Kanmi dessert

Lastly, I switched back over to the Western selections, finishing up the meal with a selection of delicate French-style petit fours.

ANA New First Class – Light treats

Now, although my appetite was satiated (for now), my thirst was still yet to be fully quenched. That’s because ANA’s beverage menu is arguably just as impressive as its meal service.

I ordered a cup of matcha to help me wash down the pastries, with a view of continuing to delve into the beverage menu as the flight went on. 

ANA New First Class – Matcha

By this point in the flight, we were smoothly flying over the Western United States, and daylight had just begun to break over the horizon outside. 

ANA New First Class – Airshow en route to New York
ANA New First Class – Views en route to New York

ANA New First Class – Entertainment

Let’s turn our attention back to the most defining element of ANA’s New First Class: the 42” ultra-HD entertainment monitor.

The ANA Sky Channel offers a selection of around 50 film titles, from Hollywood blockbusters to the latest Japanese releases, plus a handful of international flicks as well.

It has to be said that the movie selection on ANA isn’t very wide compared to other airlines, and the selection of TV shows isn’t much better, with few full seasons available.

ANA New First Class – Movie selection
ANA New First Class – Movie selection

The airline would certainly do well to expand its range of in-flight entertainment, as the current selection lags behind the competition and isn’t quite doing justice to the impressive hardware of the screen itself. 

ANA New First Class – TV selection

Longtime readers will know that I’m not usually one to watch movies onboard, but for this flight on this entertainment screen, I decided to make an exception and put on Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

ANA New First Class – Entertainment system

To its credit, the in-flight entertainment system does at least offer live television and onboard camera options. The onboard camera has a forward and downward view, and also shows the altitude and speed of the aircraft.

ANA New First Class – Live television selection
ANA New First Class – Onboard camera

ANA New First Class – Wi-Fi

ANA offers complimentary Wi-Fi for First Class passengers on these Boeing 777 aircraft. A card with instructions for connecting to the Wi-Fi can be found in your literature pocket, which will reveal the access code needed to connect.

The connection speed was very strong, allowing me to stay updated on social media, as well as to get some work done. Admittedly, though, most of my waking hours were spent watching the movie and making my way through the food and drink menu.

ANA New First Class – Snack Service

Now, usually when I’m flying long-haul, I prefer to break up my meals by first completing the main meal, waiting a few hours, and then making my way through the snack menu, taking another little break, and concluding with the pre-arrival meal.

On this flight, however, since I had napped for the first six hours and spent the next two hours or so indulging in the main set menu, my light snack and pre-arrival meal ended up blending together into continuous single sitting towards the tail end of the flight.

I kicked off this supersized snack service with some Japanese whiskey, opting for none other than Hibiki 21, the flagship beverage in ANA First Class.

Hibiki 21 retailed for around US$500 per bottle a few years ago when I had first flown ANA First Class, but as of now, it’s upwards of US$1,000 a bottle. Inflation, they say… 

ANA New First Class – Hibiki 21 whiskey

Naturally, I couldn’t let the opportunity to sample one of the world’s finest whiskeys go to waste.

I helped myself to two glasses over the remainder of the flight, sipping my way through its strong, smokey, and nutty flavours, savouring the fine stuff slowly alongside many different types of food.

ANA New First Class – Hibiki 21 whiskey
ANA New First Class – Hibiki 21 whiskey
ANA New First Class – Views en route to New York

The first of those many types of food? Another bowl of udon, just as delectable as what ANA serves up on the ground. This time, the soft and tangy noodles were accompanied by a deep-fried beef cutlet, which certainly added to the already strong umami flavour of the broth.

ANA New First Class – Udon noodles

Of course, one item from the snack menu isn’t quite enough to maximize, so I opted for a second and third.

The chirashi bowl was certainly the highlight, and I thought it was quite a unique dish to consume onboard an airplane, reminding me of fresh flavours of Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.

Just like everything else on this flight, it was a wonderful reminder of the flavours of Japan at a time when we still can’t visit freely.

ANA New First Class – Sweet corn soup & chirashi bowl
ANA New First Class – Sweet corn soup

The sweet corn soup, on the other hand, was the same dish I had had just a few months ago on an ANA 787 business class flight, so I didn’t think it was all that special. 

Shortly after my trio of snacks were withdrawn, the crew hurriedly brought out the pre-arrival meal. Again, this would be a traditional washoku Japanese-style presentation, although this time, it was entirely presented on one tray.

ANA New First Class – Pre-arrival meal

In the middle, you’ll find a simmered monkfish main course, which was perfectly seasoned with a very light flavour. I particularly enjoyed the interactive nature of this meal as I chipped away at a few pieces of fish and wrapped it with rice using the provided seaweed packets.

ANA New First Class – Simmered monkfish

The main dish was served alongside a bowl of miso soup and a ramekin of natto, which is Japanese fermented soybeans with mustard and soy sauce on top. Natto is certainly an acquired taste, but if you enjoy it, it’s another novelty to be served on an airplane for sure.

ANA New First Class – Nato
ANA New First Class – White rice

Along with this, I ordered a glass of iced cappuccino in order to give myself an energy boost prior to our 9am arrival in New York. 

ANA New First Class – Iced cappuccino

Lastly, a quick comment about the service I experienced here on ANA First Class. I’d characterize the service style as attentive, friendly, and deferential, on par with my expectations coming into this flight.

Only one of the crew members was comfortable enough to converse in English; however, this crew member was keen to engage in conversation, taking great interest in my photography and videography and also remaining very patient as I continued to order more and more items to be delivered to my seat.

I wouldn’t say that the service level was so flawless and extraordinary that it blew me away and made a permanent lasting impression, but the crew still gets solid marks for their performance in making this flight an outstanding experience.

ANA New First Class – Views on approach to New York
ANA New First Class – Views on approach to New York

Conclusion

ANA has certainly made sweeping improvements to their First Class product with the introduction of “The Suite”, as part of their recent overall revamp in premium cabins.

The modern and sleek suites are incredibly well designed, offering a tremendous amount of space and width. With the addition of privacy doors and an industry-leading 42″ entertainment monitor, the ANA New First Class suite might well be one of the most comfortable products in the sky. 

Moreover, I was most eagerly anticipating the dining experience onboard this flight, and it certainly did not disappoint.

The food and beverage menu onboard ANA First Class is a near-perfect demonstration of authentic Japanese flavours, with a dash of unique and creative culinary twists that will keep any discerning diner on their toes. 

Stepping off the plane in New York, I felt delighted and satisfied to have finally tried out the ANA New First Class experience after several near-misses in the pandemic-stricken years since its introduction.

I look forward to flying the product again in the future, hopefully en route to or from Japan at a time when its borders are open for tourism once again. 

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