The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2018: Trip Planning
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge T3 SIN
SWISS Intl Airlines B77W Business Class SIN-ZRH
Cosmo Hotel Berlin
Westin Grand Berlin
The Intra-Europe Business Class Experience, 2018 Edition
Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class IST-AMM
Sheraton Amman Al Nabil
Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge AMM
Egypt Air B737 Business Class AMM-CAI-NBO
Tribe Hotel Nairobi
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class NBO-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class ADD-GRU
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport
Avianca Brasil A330 Business Class GRU-SCL
San Cristobal Tower Santiago
Air Canada B77W Business Class SCL-YYZ
Air Canada Express E175 Business Class YYZ-BOS
United Airlines B757 First Class BOS-SFO
W San Francisco
United Airlines B77W Polaris Business Class SFO-NRT
ANA B787 Business Class NRT-SIN
I didn’t really fancy the food served on my Polaris flight from SFO, so I was pretty hungry when I landed in Narita. I’d done my research though, and wanted to head for Sushi Koyotatsu, supposedly the best airport sushi.
It’s a small joint with perhaps 15-20 seats at most, but the majority of passengers will take their sushi to go anyway.
There are several sets available, and here’s the menu courtesy of Tripadvisor. I went for the Tokujou Nigiri which was JPY 4,800, or S$60, with an additional order of semi fatty tuna nigiri.
My nigiri set was excellent, with the fatty tuna the particular stand out. And yes, they serve real wasabi. Once you’ve had real wasabi, you’ll never go back to the playdoh stuff.
I popped into the ANA lounge for a few minutes, just for ambiance. I’ve reviewed it numerous times, so you can refer to any of those reports if you want to know what it was like. It’s a good thing I left early because gate 58B is very, very far from the main terminal.
The best thing about not flying out of US airports? People don’t crowd the departure lines well in advance of takeoff. After a long time in the States, it was surreal to see completely empty lines at the boarding gate. In the photo below it’s 4.28pm, two minutes before boarding starts (and it’s almost always on time in Japan, I mean this is place where the train company apologies for a train leaving 20 seconds earlier), and there’s no one rushing the gate.
Boarding started on the dot, with ANA Diamond cardholders boarding first, followed by passengers in business class and Star Gold members.
ANA’s 787s don’t have a first class cabin, but they do have ANA’s latest business class seats which are 1-2-1 full-flat. Alarmingly there is a version of the 787-8 that has angled flat business cradle seats, but fortunately I think that’s kept for domestic route deployment.
I’ve reviewed the 787 product several times before, but the key difference is this time round the cabin was virtually empty. This allowed me to take much better photos. I’ve never felt so unrushed to snap things in my life.
The layout of this aircraft is such that every alternate middle row you have a throne seat.
These are great because you have double the storage space, plus twice the attention (since you can effectively flag down any crew member in either aisle). You also have twice the privacy if you so want thanks to the fact that you’re shielded on both sides.
Here it is in all its throney goodness.
If you don’t snag a throne seat but get the row in front, it’s not that bad- the seat is so private you will hardly ever see the person next to you (this’ll be a problem for couples traveling together though). Check out that privacy divider, which is not retractable.
For seats at the side, you alternate with one seat closer to the aisle and one seat further away. Previous observations on ANA flights are that the throne seats disappear first, followed by the single seats away from the aisle, followed by the single seats closer to the aisle, and finally the two seats in the middle.
The bulkhead seats in the cabin are probably the best if raw storage space is what you want, thanks to the addition of this nook to the left of the IFE screen.
ANA aircraft are still using the last gen IFE controllers, but at least they’ve been maintained pretty well. There are a lot of gnarly controllers out there were the buttons have been eroded by oil, so much so that the ENTER button is just a discolored translucent patch.
The seat controls are easy to use and there’s a Do Not Disturb option too. Pressing the side light table engulfs the area in a subtle, Tron-ish blue glow.
By the side of your head is an easy full flat/full upright button for when you want to sleep or get up.
Flanked by not one but two coat hooks is the IFE screen.
In the small panel at the base of the IFE screen you can find the USB, iPod and Empower outlets.
The tray table slides out from beneath the IFE screen with a red latch to secure it in place. I was able to slip in and out of the seat quite easily even with the tray table fully extended. Someone of more considerable girth might find this a challenge.
Slippers are pretty much mandatory on flights to and from Japan, much less flights on a Japanese carrier. ANA has very comfortable slippers in its traditional blue, plus a shoehorn (presumably not for the slippers). Panasonic noise cancelling headsets are also on offer.
There was also a light blanket and a sleeping mat. I don’t believe my last SIN-NRT flight had a sleeping mat, so i was good to see it on offer this time round.
Pre-departure drinks of water or sparkling wine (not champagne, ANA saves that for the air) were served. ANA and United have a pretty close partnership, but unfortunately it seems ANA has picked up one bad habit from United- pre-departure beverages in plastic cups. Come on, guys…
The crew also distributed bottles of water.
The business cabin ultimately went out with barely four people, which was a surprisingly light load given the volume of business traffic you’d imagine goes between Singapore and Tokyo.
After take off the crew came by with menus.
The post takeoff drinks were served together with pre-packaged rice crackers and something intriguingly called “fried pasta snack”. This turned out to be something like tomato flavored twisties. I always thought it strange that ANA doesn’t offer nuts at all, but I’m guessing these are more traditional Japanese snacks.
For the main I went with the Japanese option. The zensai starter dish consisted of: fried wrapped lily bulb filled with minced chicken, jellied cod roe, kombu kep with herring roe, salmon rolled with daikon radish in vinegar sauce, simmered black beans in syrup on skewer. This was accompanied with snow crab meat and garland chrysanthemum with bonito-based ginger sauce, and fry simmered millet wheat gluten and simmered omi konjac in soy-based sauce.
This is probably as authentic as Japanese dining in the air gets, but my Japanese palate is probably too basic to appreciate it.
The main was disappointing. I mean, the rice was fantastic, Japanese rice always is and always will be, even when up in the air. But the cod was…bad. It was lazily smothered in what seemed like mayonnaise, but was later revealed to be butter flavored soymilk sauce.
I had healthy fruit for dessert. Go me.
ANA’s IFE system is called Sky Channel, and the entertainment selection is fairly comprehensive.
There are a lot of recent movies available.
I tried to finish watching Blade Runner 2049. This being Japan, all the naughty bits were covered with righteous pixels, be they real life…
Or in statue form.
Sadly the Japanese airlines have not brought the country’s proud gaming heritage to the skies. How far away do you figure we are from modern gaming console quality graphics in IFE systems?
I paid the bathrooms a visit before taking a nap. Let’s get one thing out of the way- the B787 has the best toilets in the world. Where else can you take a whiz while staring at the clouds beneath you?
And no, you don’t even need to turn your head. The window is directly above the toilet. I suppose if you’re the type who sits down to pee you can’t really enjoy the view. Ah, manhood. If you’re the squeamish sort and worry that a flock of passing birds might see your ding a ling (I’d be more worried about them getting sucked into the engines actually) you can always press the button to darken the window.
I always snap a shot of this when I fly on a Japanese carrier- the good ol’ buttsprayer. Say what you will about the Japanese, but a society which believes in good butt hygiene can’t be all bad.
The sink is automatic, and ANA doesn’t really stock any fancy amenities in its bathrooms.
I returned to my seat, put the bed flat down and laid out the sleeping pad. ANA has quite a nice setup for sleeping- I didn’t get the PJs (I didn’t even know ANA gave out PJs in business class, could they have accidentally shown the PJs from First here?) but I had the blanket, pillow and the Nishikawa Sangyo Air Cyclone bedpad.
Just then, a passing stewardess helpfully informed me that I’d been putting the sleeping pad the wrong way up for every single ANA flight I’ve been on. How embarrassing.
After a short nap, I just had to try something from the snack menu. ANA offers the following dishes on the NRT-SIN route
- Pastrami pork and cheddar cheese hot panini
- ANA original curry and steamed rice
- Kayanoya vegetable dashi soup
- IPPUDO Soraton ramen
No prizes for guessing what I got. On Jakarta and KL flights, ANA serves a non-pork based broth for obvious reasons, but to Singapore you still get porky goodness. I thought the noodles could be firmer, but it’s always important to remember the constraints of serving anything at 30,000 feet.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. Before landing, the crew came around with sweets and postcards. I got one of the BB-8 plane.
Disappointing catering on this flight aside, ANA has a great business class product and one that you shouldn’t think twice about flying. Considering that flights to Japan cost exactly the same whether your redeem your Krisflyer miles for SQ or ANA award seats (43K miles one way J), you might fancy trying this product out the next time you head over.
And that brings the 2018 RTW trip to its conclusion! I hope the collection of new trip reports on SWISS, United Polaris and Air Canada, among others, have been useful, and if you fancy planning a RTW award trip of your own, be sure to come down for the Miles Masterclass on the 7th where we’ll cover the steps in detail.