Flight 3/15: New York to Tokyo

This post is part of the Ultimate Flight Marathon multi-part series, where I review each of the 15 flights I take during 3.5 weeks of intense traveling.

Airline: ANA, which stands for All Nippon Airways

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It was a beautiful day at JFK –  it was almost a shame to fly out!

Date: May 11, 2016

Type of plane: Boeing 777-300ER

Duration of the flight: 13 hours, making it our single longest flight of this Ultimate Flight Marathon

Delays: We took off around 45 minutes later than planned, but were able to make up for it during the flight. So we landed only about 15 minutes behind schedule.

General info: ANA is the largest Japanese air carrier, which calls itself “The Inspiration of Japan.” When you enter the aircraft, they play this soothing boarding music that aviation blogger Ben Schlappig calls “the second classiest thing in the world.” The tune is really catchy and peaceful at the same time. You can listen to it here, but start from 01:50 as that’s where the music seemed to start onboard. Our flight was from New York’s JFK airport to Tokyo’s Narita.

What was special about this plane: The first and business class sections were huge compared to the economy! I guess there are a lot of business people traveling between New York and Tokyo, and less leisure travelers. Non-Asians were definitely a minority on this plane – there were only a few of us in economy. Most passengers seemed to be Japanese, and the announcements were always made in Japanese first.

Highlight: There was free wifi for 15 minutes! It’s available on all flights operated with B777-300ER or B767-300ER (202 seat configuration). You can buy access for about $20 for the duration of the whole flight.

Also, upon trying to recline my seat, I noticed something strange –the seat cushion that I was sitting on started moving forward while the seatback stayed put. This was monumental! It meant that reclining my seat didn’t bother the person behind me at all, and there was no risk of me breaking her laptop by reclining my seat too fast (nor of anyone doing that to my laptop, which is a constant concern for me on planes). The forward-moving cushion created a nice recline. The only thing was that I had a bit less space for my legs but it wasn’t a big change. I wish all airlines did this!

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Another highlight was flying over these snowy mountains of Northern Canada.

What I would do differently next time: Downloading some new episodes of TV shows onto my laptop could have been a good thing to do, as the in-flight TV entertainment options were pretty old. We had personal screens as is typical for long distance planes, but the pickings were slim: There was only one episode of Modern Family, which is my favorite show to watch while flying (in fact I’ve never seen it outside of a plane) and also only one of New Girl. And those episodes were from the first seasons of those shows! That’s pretty lame. There was also one ancient Friends episode. But at least the movies were more up to date – I watched Zoolander 2, which was crazy and hilarious.

Food served: Our plane left around noon, and soon after departure we were served rice crackers and drinks (including wine). About an hour later we were given a menu with two lunch options to choose from: grilled Spanish mackerel with miso paste, and beef and pork meatball with onion sauce.

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I ate my meal with chopsticks, and only realized later on that the fork and knife were hiding under all the other stuff on my tray.

As you can see, I chose the latter option and it was pretty yummy for airplane food. It was branded the “Western meal” and was served with bread unlike the other meal. But randomly the Western meal is the only one that came with a wasabi sauce pack. Everyone got a cup of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Right before landing we were served breakfast. The options were shrimp and baby scallop pasta with marinara sauce, and sautéed chicken with Chinese-style barbeque sauce. I took the chicken, which came with bread – indicating that this was the Western meal again. Well, I guess Chinese food is pretty standard in the West nowadays so that works. Haha. The taste was just okay.

Turbulence: Only minor. Already forgotten.

Price: This flight was part of a super cheap flight deal to Thailand that I scored a while back through Secret Flying (my favorite website!). We basically got a roundtrip from New York to Bangkok for $375, with stops in Tokyo both ways and Chicago on the way back. Strangely, this “roundtrip” finishes in Montreal instead of New York, so it’s actually an open jaw multi-destination ticket. Either way, it works well for us since Montreal has direct flights back to Guadeloupe.

Miles earned: This first section of the trip, New York to Tokyo, netted us 3,366 airline miles with Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. I chose to bank the points to Air Canada as our tickets were in booking class K, which earns no airline miles at all on Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer (my usual Star Alliance program of choice). Also, it would earn very few miles on United’s MileagePlus because United gives airline miles based on the price you paid instead of the distance flown. These types of revenue-based programs are no good when you fly long distances on discounted tickets (thus I don’t credit my flights to the programs of Delta, United and soon American Airlines).

Overall experience: Awesome! I would happily fly ANA any time. The 13 hours went by in a relative breeze and off we went to enjoy our 20-hour layover in Tokyo.

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The Sensoji Temple area was our main sightseeing destination in Tokyo.

 

 

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