ANA’s new A380 first class product represents a leap forward in terms of seat design and comfort. Add in ANA’s consistently superior service and excellent onboard menu and you have a winning product. Here’s my ANA A380 first class review.
I arrived at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport a few hours before departure and was treated to a remarkable display at the check-in counter. From the very moment of check-in, ANA set the tone for what would be a great day of flying.
At 10:45 AM, passengers inside the lounge were invited to board via a jetbridge connected directly to the lounge.
I just love the “Flying Honu” livery on this aircraft.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) 183
Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo (NRT)
Wednesday, July 3
Depart: 11:30 AM
Arrive: 02:45 PM+1
Duration: 08hr, 15min
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Distance: 3,819 miles
Seat: 1K (First Class)
I was first onboard and a trio of flight attendants greeted me. One escorted me through the galley and to my seat. Japan is a nation that loves to take pictures, so ANA is one airline I have no concern over taking pictures on. I used the moment to take a few pictures of the cabin before other passengers arrived.
ANA A380 First Class Suite
The first class cabin on the A380 is located upstairs in the front of the aircraft. It features eight suites with closing doors; two rows in a 1-2-1 layout. The cabin was lit with rainbow colored light and featured outer space-themed wallpaper. In that sense, it was not my favorite A380 design (that honor probably goes to Qatar Airways), but the suites are a big improvement over the older Square Suite product (on 777s) in that they maintain plenty of personal storage yet offer unobstructed views out the window.
The seat features bell and whistles including a multi-way seat adjuster, IFE remote, reading lights, multiple power ports, window shade controls, literature rack with vanity mirror, and again, plenty of personal storage. A closet with a pull-out rack allows for storage of clothes when you change into pajamas.
Waiting on my seat was a day blanket, amenity kit, pajamas, sweater, noise-cancelling headphones, shoe bag, and shoehorn.
After my first meal, flight attendants prepared my bed for a nap. New bedding plus a comfortable mattress pad also make the suite great for sleeping. Although Honolulu to Tokyo does not leave much time to rest, especially if there is no headwind, I still managed a 2.5 hour nap.
There’s a metal latch that protrudes into the sleeping area, but is covered by the mattress pad.
ANA A380 First Class Food + Drink
Prior to takeoff, a flight attendant offered water, Champagne (Krug), or orange juice on a tray. Of course the Krug is very nice, but I am surprised each passenger was not simply asked for their choices…the whole tray option reminded me of business class.
Prior to takeoff, a menu folder was distributed featuring separate food and drink menus. I took a few moments to examine the menu for the flight today.
We pushed back precisely on schedule and by 11:45AM were in the air.
Flight attendants offered another beverage plus amuse-bouche about 20 minutes after takeoff. Today’s selection featured:
- Ricotta, honeycomb, truffle paste, walnut tart
- Proscuitto and papaya, goat cheese, calamansi puree
- King crab, caviar, creme fraiche
- Cheese pepper bar
The entire western menu, including the amuse bouche selection, was “planned” by Ryo Takatsuka, a chef at Noe, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Oahu Resort.
I was not in the Champagne mood today, but since I planned to choose the beef filet for my main course, I ordered a glass of red wine. The 2014 Canvasback Cabranet Sauvingon from Washington State is not particularly expensive wine (about $32/bottle), but had an excellent taste.
Next, the table was set for lunch. With careful precession, a flight attendant arranged each item, including every utensil and even a toothpick.
Warm bread was offered, including an amazing sourdough roll.
Among the three appetizer choices, I opted for scallop and sea urchin gateau (cake) with cauliflower puree and truffle dressing.
The truffle dressing over the scallop was particularly tasting.
A salad with mesclun, cucumbers, bacon bits, and cheese served as a suitable palate cleanser.
Lunch continued with a bowl of corn soup, again brimming with flavor.
Finally, the main course arrived; Angus beef filet steak, radichhio and mushroom, and black pepper balsamic sauce. My mistake was in not asking the pepper sauce to be served on the side. Not only did it create a visually underwhelming appearance on the plate, but it overpowered the taste of the mushrooms and beef. The beef itself was cooked too much for my preference, but still a respectable medium and of good quality.
While I had planned to order cheese, I was so stuffed at this point I went right for dessert, a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. It was perhaps the best part of the meal! I ordered a cappuccino with it and found it to be fairly weak.
As if that was not enough, I was also offered cookies and a Godiva chocolate truffle:
Overall, I had a better meal out of of Chicago in ANA first class than out of Honolulu. Still, ANA does western food better than most western carriers and I greatly enjoyed the meal overall.
After some rest, I was really not all that hungry, but wanted to sample a couple more dishes for purposes of this review. While ANA offered lunch to everyone at the same time after takeoff, the remainder of the flight was dine-on-demand…lights were not raised nor were passengers asked to eat at a certain time.
First, I ordered a vegetable cannelloni with dried tomato polenta. I ordered vegetarian pasta on my last ANA flight and found it spectacular, but the pasta was quite disappointing today. The carrots in zucchini inside the cannelloni were flavored by a sweet sauce that really overpowered everything. The mashed sweet potatoes were also an odd accompaniment. I did not finish the plate.
Next, I ordered a cheeseburger…more so to see how ANA’s would compare to Lufthansa’s then because I was hungry. The cheeseburger turned out beautifully and is a real winner on the snack menu.
I rounded out the meal with a bowl of fruit and another cappuccino, this time a double shot. Notice how the FAs tried to create the “Flying Honu” livery in the latte art…I loved the effort.
I’d say ANA has a great food and drink menu, but I’ve historically had better meals out of other stations.
Oh, can I just defend myself here for one moment? I was the only 外人 (Gaijin) in the full cabin and the three Japanese passengers sitting in row one with me also ordered off the western menu. All three. Don’t ever feel compelled to try the Japanese menu just because you are flying a Japanese airline…I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.
ANA First Class Pajamas + Amenity Kit
A blue Globe Trotter amenity kit resembling a suitcase was waiting in my suite. Contents included an earplug toothpaste, eye mask, and beauty products from The Ginza.
Prior to takeoff, flight attendants offered additional amenities form a basket:
Also waiting in each suite was a gray sweater. Pajamas were distributed prior to takeoff and I asked for an XL, thinking smaller Japanese sizes. That was a poor choice, as the pajamas were far too large for me. In fact, I’m 6’1″ and should have ordered medium…
ANA First Class IFE + Wi-Fi
A large IFE screen was not as technically advanced as Emirates’ 777-300ER in first class, but a wide selection of movies, TV shows, live TV, games, and music was available. The flight went by so quickly by the time I had taken my nap sandwiched by two meals there was no time left…
Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided for first class passengers and I did take advantage of that. Webpages loaded well and at 10Mb/S down, I found the internet very serviceable.
Sony noise-cancelling headphones worked well.
Finally, the 380 Flying Honu-themed safety video was a bit of in-flight-entertainment itself…
ANA First Class Lavatory
Lavatories on a Japanese airline are clean enough to eat off the counter…I say that as a great compliment. I used the lavatory twice during the flight and it was simply spotless each time. There’s even a little stand you can stand on when changing clothes do you don’t have to touch the (clean) floor. Additional amenities and real towels were available.
ANA First Class Service
Service onboard was wonderful. The ladies working first class were caring, kind, and diligent. I was addressed by name, drink glasses were kept full, and there was not a single service slip-up. Yes, there was a bit of an English barrier (as a general comparison, JAL FAs always seem to speak better English) but shame on me for not speaking a word of Japanese…the FAs were fabulous.
And while they did not know I was a travel blogger, they certainly noticed I loved this aircraft. One FA prepared a little gift bag for me, which I thought was a very nice touch.
We landed ahead of schedule to stormy summer day at Tokyo Narita. As I left the aircraft, I noticed dozens of passengers were taking pictures of their aircraft. Everyone is proud of the new A380.
Express lane passes for immigration were provided to first class passengers, which saved me at least 45 minutes. The immigration hall was PACKED at this mid-afternoon hour.
My expectations were not exceeded on this flight because I had better food last time around. Still, this was a very, very good flight with a great new suite, superb service, and tasty meals. I wholeheartedly recommend ANA’s latest first class product.