- Trip Report Introduction: Korean Air & ANA First, and A Whirlwind Week in Tokyo
- Review: Korean Air First Class Lounge JFK
- Review: Korean Air A380 First Class JFK-ICN
- Review: Korean Air ICN New First Class Lounge and Korean Air Intra-Asia First Class
- Review: Hyatt Regency Tokyo
- Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Review: ANA First (“Suite”) Class Lounge NRT
- Review: ANA B777-300 First/“Suite” Class NRT-IAD
ANA has a dedicated Suite check-in area at Tokyo Narita airport, and we were able to easily find it after arriving on the train from the city. Not unlike other premium check-in areas, the space offers a calm serenity that contrasts with the noise and bustle in the rest of the airport check-in area. There is plenty of marble, lots of smiling agents, and a seating area.
Check-in was uneventful and within minutes we were directed to priority security screening, which the Suite check-in area directly feeds into. It’s definitely a nice touch and feels undeniably “premium” to not even have to enter the general terminal area to get to security. The priority security area was fairly empty and with no wait and in under five minutes we were through security and on our way to the first class lounge.
ANA has two first class lounges at Narita and they are more or less identical. We settled ultimately on the lounge near gate 41, which was closer to our departure gate. There is plenty of signage throughout the terminal that directs to the lounge. After following a few sets of elevators up (the business class lounge is located on the second floor while the first class lounge is on the fourth floor), we were greeted by a cutout of a Singapore Girl at the entrance to the lounge.
The lounge is actually not all that large and consists of several seating areas separated by ~5-foot high frosted glass barriers, a dining area, and a buffet and food display area. Additionally, there are showers, a smoking room, and some workstation desks with computers. While not crowded, the lounge was definitely busy during our visit, with about 30-40% of the seating being occupied. In terms of design, the lounge is by no means awe-inspiring like some other premium lounges out there, and I would argue even feels a bit dated and drab.
The seating areas have plenty of charging space as well as individual coat hangers, which is a convenient feature.
Within a minute of sitting down at a pair of seats, we were greeted by a server who brought warm hand towels and asked for our drink orders. I asked for some water and a Hibiki (no year on the bottle, alas), which the server brought over within just a few minutes.
One side of the lounge offers some pretty decent views of the tarmac, and I spent some time taking in the action.
I decided to grab a bite before our flight and headed over to the buffet area. While decently extensive, the quality of the selections was not quite on par with what an international first class lounge at a carrier’s home base should be.
In addition to a salad bar, some finger sandwiches, and a couple of small Japanese appetizers, there were a number of hot items, none of which seemed too appealing.
The liquor selection was pretty standard, though evidently additional alcohol that is not displayed is available, as evidenced by the several glasses of Japanese whisky the server ultimately brought me.
Additionally, there was a small selection of sushi on offer, though I found it to be inferior to that of the sushi that is hand-made in front of you in the Japan Airlines first class lounge.
The catering highlight of this lounge, as those who have flown ANA first class know, is the noodle station that is tucked in the corner of the lounge next to the dedicated dining area. There, a number of hot dishes are offered and made on the spot.
Orders are placed at the window and mobile paging buzzers like the ones used in restaurants are handed out to notify when food is ready for pickup. I ordered the chicken curry as I always do and was paged back to the counter in under ten minutes. I’ve found that ANA’s curry never disappoints, both on the ground or in the air (as noted in the next installment to this trip report). I didn’t remember to snap a photo before I scarfed it down, but it was, as always, delicious. My partner ordered some udon which she said was good but not great (seasoned pros will know to always go for the curry…).
The remainder of our time in the lounge was spent having a few more drinks (I, with my scotch and my partner with a mini-sake tasting) and getting caught up on email. The table service was attentive enough but not great and we found ourselves waiting for water and alcohol refills pretty regularly. As I mentioned earlier, the lounge never completely filled up, but it was busy at a steady rate and notably lacking in the lounge was any sense of privacy. There are semi-private cubicle-style workstations towards one end of the lounge, but they certainly wouldn’t be suitable for relaxing in.
About twenty minutes before our posted boarding time, we headed to our boarding gate, which was a short walk away. As we walked up to the gate area, my partner let out an audible gasp at the surprise that was waiting for us at our gate.
Much more of a Star Wars person than I am, my partner was ecstatic that we would be on ANA’s special edition Star Wars BB-8 plane. Up until this point we had both seen this plane quite regularly and had always hoped to get on it. I grabbed a seat in the waiting area while she feverishly snapped countless photos of the ride that we would be taking back to the US.
ANA offers a decent but nowhere near standout ground experience at its home base at Tokyo Narita airport. While the priority check-in and security are well-executed, the first class lounge leaves a bit to be desired. Though never crowded, the lounge can get busy and there are unfortunately not any good semi-private or private spaces for lounging or relaxing.
The food in general is average, while the noodle bar offers some better options. Given that this lounge is fairly “old” by first class lounge standards and has not undergone significant renovation, it is unsurprising that the lounge is fairly uncompetitive with other top-notch first class lounges. Given ANA’s otherwise fantastic first class product and the carrier’s seemingly continued commitment to the product, I’d venture to say this lounge will be significantly improved whenever it does get refreshed.
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