The Long Way to New York: Trip Planning
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Singapore
Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class SIN-BKK
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa, BKK
Thai Airways B747 First Class BKK-HND
Getting from HND to NRT
ANA First Class Lounge, NRT
ANA B77W First Class NRT-ORD
United Club ORD
United B767 Economy ORD-EWR
Visiting the US Open
Sheraton New York Times Square
Hilton New York Midtown
Wingtips Lounge JFK & Delta to DC
Exploring Washington DC
Element New York Times Square West
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, JFK
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites JFK-FRA
Lufthansa Senator Lounge FRA
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites FRA-SIN
The bus from HND had arrived at NRT Terminal 1 with slightly under 2 hours to spare. Terminal 1 at NRT is where all the Star Alliance carriers congregate.
ANA has a special First Class check in on the far side of Terminal 1. Much like SQ’s special check in area in Changi Airport, this is just a more private place to do the formalities, not really a place you want to hang around for long.
The First Class check in area is open to passengers travelling on ANA, Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss or United, but interestingly not Singapore Airlines (which operates First Class on flights to and from NRT)
I like the minimalist design of the area. A lot of empty space, standing counters for both staff and passengers. You really don’t linger here. you “do the needful” (how’s that for a shout out to my readers in India) and get out of there.
I mean you could sit in these very nice leather armchairs and stare at the wall if you wanted to.
But really your goal is to egress through that small exit on the far side of the photo above.
Once through there you have access to a priority security screening queue (which, it should be noted, is not the same queue as the Star Gold priority line. This is 2 checkpoints dedicated just for users of the ANA First Class check in facility. After that, it’s downstairs to immigration (which is a combined line, there is no special immigration queue for ANA First Class, Star Gold or the general populace), which I cleared very quickly thanks to my APEC card.
Past that and you’re headed to the lounge. ANA operates two lounge facilities in NRT Terminal 1 at Satellites 4 and 5. Both lounges are more or less the same, with separate sections for First and Business Class passengers. Satellite 5 opens slightly earlier (630am) than Satellite 4 (700am). Also, Satellite 4 has the Star Wars arcade game that I enjoyed so much on my previous visit.
I was at Satellite 5 today. My first destination was the shower rooms because the hypochondriac in me was wondering when was the last time Thai changed its air filters on its ageing 747s.
ANA does not have separate shower suites for First Class passengers. Both Business and First Class share the same facilities. The difference is that First Class passengers get a special Shiseido set of bottled toiletries to complement the single use packets available in the shower.
ANA’s shower suites have their own loos with those wonderful Japanese bidets that confirm again the Japanese are light years ahead of everyone else. I do wish SQ would create individual shower suites instead of having the showers smack in the middle of the toilet, but maybe (maybe) we’ll see that when they finally finish the overhaul of their SIN lounges to match the “home” concept.
The lounge itself has great views of the tarmac. I saw one of ANA’s many 787s. The airline is going to face a major headache with the 787 as they seek to replace faulty turbine blades across all 50 787s.
The First Class lounge is definitely a lot more spacious than the Business Class lounge and less crowded. I remember back on my RTW trip when I was flying J with ANA I could barely find a seat to sit down during peak periods. The lounge was currently perhaps a third full.
ANA has a few static displays scattered around the lounge to remind you of things you can buy onboard
And status you can aspire towards. These are the luggage tags issued to ANA one million milers.
On to the food- I wasn’t unduly blown away by the F&B options. I find the food in ANA lounges to be very basic, and it’s really a let down given the rich and storied food culture that Japan has. You’d think this would be a great opportunity to display a bit more of that.
There was a selection of prepackaged snacks
A cold item bar with salad leaves and sandwiches
Some Japanese cold snacks
A selection of Japanese pastries
As for hot items, there was a strange take on Western food (steamed veggies, sausages and bacon)
Japanese omelette (which was still moist and liquid on the inside. I was very impressed)
Some steamed egg cakes and salmon
And there was very excellent Japanese rice, as you would expect from any Japanese carrier. I love the cult status to which Japanese elevate rice, I really do. It perhaps rivals my obsession with pasta.
There was also the noodle bar, a mainstay of the ANA lounges. You can get ramen, udon and Japanese curry with rice here.
Drinkswise, there was the usual selection of soft drinks, the self pouring beer machines and a good choice of liquor
Unlike the Business Class section, the First Class has champagne available.
It was 9 in the morning but I figured I was on vacation so…
I start to wonder if this is the single defining moment I will point out to my AA sponsor some years down the road. “I knew I had a problem when it was 9am and I still wanted champagne…”
The lounge had the same business facilities as the one in Satellite 4. The only other difference I could really think of is the lack of a dedicated sake bar in Satellite 5
I think SQ and ANA are much alike on the ground. They’ve got a solid offering no doubt, but clearly their strength lies in the air (I will say that SQ’s overall First Class experience on the ground still edges ANA thanks to the presence of The Private Room).
With about 30 minutes to go I left the lounge and headed for the boarding area. I’d flown ANA’s First Class product before but was eager to see how the experience this time round would measure up…