In mid-2019, All Nippon Airways, which offers direct flights to Tokyo from nine different U.S. cities, rolled out new first- and business-class cabins designed by famed Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. Inspired by both Japanese heritage and Western design, the new cabins, dubbed "The Suite" and "The Room," respectively, have started flying between New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport on the airline's Boeing 777-300ER.
As of now, the new service classes are only available on flights to Tokyo from Frankfurt, London Heathrow, and New York City, though more routes should be rolling out soon. The airline, a Star Alliance member, also flies to over 50 other cities around the globe, serving a large portion of Asia and Europe, in addition to the U.S.
Arriving at JFK's Terminal 7, I didn’t have any trouble checking in and making my way through security. The airline's service desks are located in the middle of the terminal.
Due to ANA’s lack of a lounge at JFK, passengers are given preflight access to the British Airways Club Lounge, which includes an Elemis Spa. At 22,000 square feet, the lounge feels quite spacious with ample seating—which is good as it can be quite busy in the evenings, especially when catering to European passengers. Food selection in the lounge is a bit sparse, with only a few soups and finger sandwiches available during my visit. There is a bar serving beer, wine, Champagne, and cocktails.
Boarding was quick and efficient, with ANA finishing the process in about 20 minutes. The downside to the hurried embarkation is the lack of a pre-flight drink, though the flight attendants appeared with a tray of either orange juice or sparkling wine soon after take-off.
Cabin and Seat
Business-class onboard the 777 is arranged in a 1-2-1 staggered seat configuration, with dividers between the middle seats that you can choose to leave down if flying with a companion.
The cabin had four dedicated bathrooms, each with amenities like mouthwash, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. The toilets in the bathroom were like the ones you'd expect to find in Japan, with bidets attached. Designer Kengo Kuma brought a "home away from home" feel to the cabins, finishing the seats with three different wood finishes inspired by modern Japanese homes—rosewood and light and dark Japanese ash. The wood finishes give the entire cabin a high-end homey feeling worthy of being called "The Room."
The seat, at 38 inches wide, is more like a bench. This is great during waking hours because there was ample room to set down a laptop or other work for a moment. While resting, the extra room felt more like sleeping in a real bed.
Furthermore, the 13-inch footwell is not as narrow as other lie-flat offerings, either, giving you room to adjust your feet while sleeping and not feel constricted. When the cabin is in lie-flat mode, the bed measures 71 inches, which is suitable for many people, though anyone over six feet may have to bend their knees slightly.
The seat compartment itself is exceptionally private and feels like its own room. At the press of a button, the two-part door closes, one part horizontally and the other vertically. There is a tiny gap between the two, but the sense of privacy remains. For those in a window seat, the electronic window shades work at the touch of a button—one draws accordion blinds, and another draws a total blackout shade. Passengers are given two pillows as well as a Nishkawa-branded duvet with a mattress pad. I thought the duvet was very warm and comfortable but was disappointed I was not offered pajamas, even though ANA supposedly offers them in business-class—a rarity on international long-hauls these days.
The seat also has a closed compartment with a mirror where menus and information about the in-flight entertainment are kept, and there is just enough room in here for a book or smaller device. The tray table extends out from below the television. Measuring 24 inches wide and 15 inches long, the table is big enough for a medium-sized laptop.
The seat controls are located just below the table with presets for lie flat, dining, and fully upright. Directly below these switches are a series of very cool Panasonic branded light switches designed just for the airline. The airline says the lighting was inspired by natural sunrise, helping to improve comfort and convenience during sleeping, reading, and dining. I typically don’t even make use of lighting on a flight but found these to be easier on the eyes. Two lights are located on either side of the seat, along with one nearer the monitor for the tray table, and two more overhead lights.
Entertainment and In-Flight Amenities
Each business class suite is equipped with a massive 24-inch monitor that is the world’s first 4k offering in-flight. Right next to the monitor is a power outlet and fast-charging USB outlet, along with an HDMI port. While many may be using the included HDMI to hook up their laptops perhaps, I had wished I brought my PlayStation 4 for the long haul flight. An additional USB outlet is located on the armrest. You can choose to control the monitor with its touchscreen, or, when relaxing in bed, the included touchscreen handset is close by.
While the screen quality is unmatched, the in-flight entertainment certainly is. There were only a handful of Western movies available, but luckily, all were new releases. On my mid-November 2019 flight, I watched "Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home." Live television is also available, but the channels, too, were limited. You'll need a two-prong adapter to use your own headset, though the provided pair was serviceable.
Wi-Fi was available for purchase in time increments, with prices starting from $6.95 for 30 minutes to a full flight plan costing a quite reasonable $21.95.
A Globe-Trotter branded amenity kit was supplied which included an eye mask, toothbrush, earplugs, face cream, and lotion.
Food and Beverage
Perhaps not surprisingly, ANA really nails it with the food and beverage selection. As mentioned above, while there was no pre-departure drink, but sparkling wine was served shortly after take-off. Duval-Leroy Brut Réserve, which retails for around $41.99, was served during the flight.
For dinner, flyers have a choice between Japanese and Western meals. I chose the Western meal. The dinner started with a few amuses—chickpea canapés, celeriac salad rolled with smoked duck, and a grape and cream cheese pistachio ball. The appetizer was smoked salmon rillettes and caprese with prosciutto, followed by a warm corn soup.
My main course was a beautifully cooked fillet of prime beef with porcini and pancetta sauce. I paired the steak with Main Street Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. For dessert, tiramisu and green tea pudding were available, as well as a cheese course. A selection of spirits was also available, including a variety of quite good Japanese whiskeys, like Hibiki Harmony.
Throughout the flight, small bites were available, ranging from the corn soup as mentioned above to Japanese udon noodles garnished with mixed vegetable and shrimp tempura. One highlight is ANA's curry and steamed rice.
The only complaint? The timing and length of the dinner service. There was a significant wait time between each of my courses, and especially so before the main. Delays aside, the service was attentive and friendly.
The lack of service before take-off was a small downside, but it's not a terrible trade-off to be boarded and in the air that much faster. The meal service took longer than I would have expected, with each dish brought individually to each passenger's seat. I was able to watch a full movie in the time the meal service took. Given the length of the flight, it didn't exactly cut into my sleep time, though it could be a nuisance to those looking to fall asleep not long after take-off. Overall, throughout the course of the flight, service was friendly but reserved.
"The Room" really does feel like staying in a boutique hotel for the night—a big perk for a 14-hour haul. From the plane's entrance, which feels reminiscent of a lobby to the privacy and attention to detail of the cabin itself, everything is elevated to feel like you aren't even in a metal tube hurtling through the air. For better or worse, this carries over to other aspects of the flight—like the lengthy mealtime. The 4k monitor felt like an IMAX compared to other carrier's options, and I'm afraid it has spoiled me for life. Overall, this is one of the best business-class options out there at the moment.