Final September, Mr. TT and I took benefit of an superior switch bonus by way of American Categorical Membership Rewards. On the time, it was attainable to switch Membership Rewards factors to Virgin Atlantic at a 30% bonus. Virgin Atlantic is considered one of our favourite mileage packages because it supplies loads of alternatives to fly in superb first and enterprise class cabins for pennies on the greenback.
In early March, we used Virgin Atlantic Flying Membership miles to fly to Tokyo, Japan on one of many prime three airways on the earth, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s flag-carrying airline. This airline ticket would have value over $22,000 every if we have been paying money. Learn on for a full assessment of our expertise.
Not solely can you employ Virgin Atlantic miles to e-book award flights on Delta Air Strains, however you may also use them to fly in firstclass on one of many prime three airways on the earth, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s flag-carrying airline. ANA doesn’t let you ebook one-way award tickets, so in case you are utilizing factors, it have to be for round-trip journey.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Membership has a zone-based award chart for journey on ANA, and the redemption charges are as follows:
Since Chicago is taken into account the Western USA, we have been capable of ebook our top notch flights for 110,00 Virgin Atlantic Flying Membership Miles and $341 of worldwide taxes and costs.
Nevertheless, due to the 30% Virgin Atlantic switch bonus from American Categorical Membership Rewards talked about above, we solely needed to switch 85,000 Membership Rewards factors to obtain the 110,000 miles wanted to e-book the spherical journey flight.
This was a completely unimaginable worth because it allowed us to recover from 26 cents in worth for every Membership Rewards level. These Membership Rewards switch bonuses are one of many the reason why we really feel Membership Rewards factors are superior to different transferable factors currencies.
You’ll be able to switch into Virgin Atlantic from Citi, American Categorical, Chase and Marriott, so there are many choices for incomes Virgin Atlantic Flying Membership miles. See our grasp record of airline switch companions for more information.
Discovering Award Area
You can’t seek for or guide ANA award tickets via the Virgin Atlantic’s web site. Nevertheless, usually talking, Virgin Atlantic may have entry to the identical award availability as all of ANA’s different companion airways. Due to this, we used the United Airways web site to seek for availability.
As soon as we discovered first-class availability on ANA as is pictured under, we referred to as the Virgin Atlantic Flying Membership at 1.800.365.9500 to truly ebook the flights. Each Mr. TT and I had nice telephone brokers that have been very educated and attentive. They have been capable of see the award area we have been seeing and booked the flights for us with the 110,000 miles in our respective accounts. In complete, every of our telephone calls solely took about 10 minutes.
We arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport (ORD) by means of a Delta flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) with about three hours to spare earlier than our flight. As a result of we have been flying on a Star Alliance top notch ticket, we have been capable of entry the brand new United Polaris Lounge situated in Terminal 1 close to gate C18.
This was handy as we have been departing out of gate C10, which was solely a brief stroll from the lounge.
The Polaris Lounge makes for a good way to start out a flight. Not solely does the lounge have a full bar with complimentary drinks, nevertheless it additionally has complimentary buffet fashion meals in addition to a full sit down restaurant in which you’ll be able to order off of a menu. As a result of Mr. TT and I had eaten in Minneapolis earlier than our flight, we handed on consuming within the lounge in preparation for the meals onboard our ANA flight.
The lounge can also be outfitted with showers and loads of seating to chill out or get work accomplished earlier than your upcoming flight.
We just lately visited the Polaris Lounge in Houston earlier than our Singapore Airways flight to Manchester England which had a lot much less visitors than the Chicago Lounge. This wasn’t a shock, since Chicago merely has extra routes providing first and enterprise class service on Star Alliance carriers.
After having fun with a number of mezcal Negroni cocktails and getting some work carried out within the lounge, it was time to go to the gate to board our plane. We departed out of gate C10 within the worldwide terminal.
Once we acquired to the gate, every class of service (financial system, enterprise, and firstclass) had their very own strains for boarding. As we obtained within the firstclass boarding line, the gate agent shortly came to visit to examine our boarding passes to confirm we have been in the correct line. Just some brief minutes later, we boarded the plane.
Flying ANA first-class has all the time been a factors and miles aim of mine. It is among the greatest values on the market and for me, it’s the good instance of utilizing factors for one thing I in any other case couldn’t afford. To say I used to be excited concerning the flight was an understatement.
The ANA top notch cabin on board the Boeing 777-300 feels very unique as there are solely eight seats organized in a 1-2-1 format. I used to be seated in seat 1K for our flight, whereas Mr. TT was proper behind me in seat 2K. There have been solely 5 others on board with us in first-class as seat 2D was empty.
Shortly after boarding, the implausible service began and we have been each provided champagne. In fact, we obliged. We have been additionally given pajamas and each food and drinks menus in order that we might have an opportunity to look it over earlier than it was time to order.
Each Mr. TT and I discovered the pajamas to be very top quality and we each wore them at some stage in our flight. I’ve been provided pajamas on numerous different flights and these blew all of them out of the water within the consolation division. After becoming them, the flight attendants took our garments and hung them up in order that they wouldn’t get wrinkled.
Whereas the aesthetics of the seat will not be something to write down residence about and the seat may simply be mistaken for an workplace cubicle, I can simply say that is probably the most snug seat I’ve ever been in on an airplane. Every seat is 33 inches large and gives 76 inches of pitch (leg room). That is greater than double what you’d look forward to finding in a daily financial system seat.
One disadvantage, nevertheless, is the exclusivity of the seat. Whereas it isn’t absolutely enclosed with a door just like the Delta One suites and even Qatar’s Qsuites product, it does supply a ton of privateness. In case you are touring with a companion and sitting within the center seats, don’t anticipate to have many conversations. Whereas the wall does open up, seeing your companion would require shifting ahead across the wall.
Equally, in case you are anyone who likes having a window view, the design of the seats alongside the home windows gained’t give you a lot in regard to views. Because of the design of the seat, you once more would wish to lean ahead to see out the window as you possibly can see under. Finally these are small issues and the consolation of the seat far outweighs these in my eyes.
If legroom is what you’re after, ANA firstclass seats haven’t any scarcity of it. To not point out an unimaginable quantity of space for storing. I used to be capable of match my backpack and footwear beneath the footrest. There’s additionally a drawer with tons of area that pulls out beneath the footrest. That is the place I saved my passport, pockets and a lot of different issues throughout our flight.
Now let’s speak about bedtime. After consuming dinner and having fun with a couple of drinks, it was time to get settled in for a couple of hours of sleep. Whereas I’ve flown in lots of lie flat seats earlier than, this was by far probably the most snug I’ve ever been in. After dinner, I acquired up to make use of the restroom and the flight attendant provided to get my mattress prepared. I fortunately obliged and once I returned to my seat, this was ready for me.
The flight attendant introduced an additional pillow, put down a mattress pad and offered a pleasant comforter. The footwells have been big and there was no difficulty in any respect getting snug. She even dropped off just a little tray of dessert treats.
Each the pillows and blankets added to the consolation. I usually don’t sleep nicely on airplanes – typically because of the sheer pleasure of the product I’m flying, and different occasions out of discomfort. I simply slept for about 2 hours in my cozy mattress. I needed to wake myself to assist ease the jetlag as soon as we landed.
The amenity kits offered on our flight have been from Samsonite and have been designed to appear to be a miniature hard-sided suitcase. Beforehand, ANA’s firstclass amenity kits have been from the excessive finish luxurious baggage model Rimowa, however they’ve been providing the Samsonite kits for a couple of years now.
Contained in the package have been the standard gadgets: earplugs, a sleep masks, lip balm, moisturizers, and compression socks. The toiletries contained in the package have been offered by The Ginza, a Japanese magnificence merchandise firm. I’m not an skilled on moisturizers or magnificence merchandise, however a fast Google search tells me that their stuff is fairly high-end based mostly on the worth.
Apparently sufficient, on our return flight from Tokyo again to Chicago, we obtain totally different amenity kits from Globe Trotter. The contents have been nonetheless offered by The Ginza, and I personally favored the look and design of this one a bit higher.
Service and Eating
Let me simply come proper out and say the ANA top notch eating and repair was completely superb. Earlier than takeoff, a flight attendant got here to my seat to introduce herself and ensure I had every thing I wanted (together with a glass of champagne). She additionally delivered a scorching towel which there was no scarcity of all through the flight.
The flight attendants have been seen all through the flight and each time I acquired up to make use of the restroom they got here and arranged my area and even made my mattress once I was within the lie flat place. Definitely not crucial however a really good contact that I used to be impressed by.
Relating to ANA first-class eating, you sometimes have two choices. You possibly can take the worldwide (western meals) or Japanese delicacies monitor. Mr. TT determined to take the Japanese delicacies monitor whereas I opted for the worldwide fare.
Each meals began with a scrumptious appetizer consisting of apricot and goat cheese, a rosette of smoked salmon, foie-gras mousse canapé with a number of cheese and pepper sticks. To not point out a scrumptious glass of 2004 classic Krug champagne. When you aren’t conversant in champagne, this retails for over $300 a bottle.
For my subsequent course, I acquired a plate of shrimp and scallops gâteau type served with a inexperienced pea sauce. To say it was scrumptious is an understatement.
Subsequent up was a standard backyard salad served with a scrumptious Japanese horseradish wasabi dressing. I used to be an enormous fan.
Subsequent up was a pureéd corn soup that was easy and scrumptious. At this level I used to be operating out of room for my essential course.
For my essential course, I had a selection of a Wagyu beef filet, Sautéed Chilean seabass, Veal or a vegetable cannelloni. I opted for the wagyu beef filet and I’m glad I did. It was extremely flavorful and completely medium uncommon.
At this level, I used to be utterly stuffed however I couldn’t flip down dessert. So I opted for the cappuccino mousse cake and espresso. I used to be additionally provided a glass of glowing sake (subsequent to the espresso) and a glass of Hibiki 17 Japanese Whisky (subsequent to the water). In the event you aren’t accustomed to whisky, these things retails for about $169 to $200 within the US, if yow will discover it.
On ANA’s New York, Frankfurt, and London routes, they serve Hibiki 21 (whisky aged 21 years) which is even rarer and costlier.
As talked about above, Mr. TT took the Japanese delicacies monitor and stated all of his choices have been scrumptious as properly.
ANA’s first-class seats are outfitted with lovely high-resolution leisure screens. These shows have been sharp and enormous sufficient to see even within the lie flat place. They have been loaded with an ideal choice of films together with numerous new releases I loved (Bohemian Rapsody, A Star is Born, and The Greenbook). Between the onboard leisure and the meals, it made the 14 hour flight appear fast.
In contrast to the screens onboard Singapore Airline’s enterprise class, the display is each a touchscreen and could be managed by the wired distant.
The WiFi service on board was common at greatest. All first-class passengers got a card for a free 100MB of WiFi entry. As you possibly can see on the cardboard they name this the “full flight plan.” It lasted a bit of over two hours and the speeds weren’t nice.
Since I used to be in the midst of one thing when my 100MB expired, I bought one other 100MB for $20. It labored for in all probability one other 45 minutes or so after which I utterly misplaced connectivity someplace over the Pacific. I later came upon from a Thrifty Traveler reader that the flight attendants provides you with as most of the WiFi playing cards as you need. I ought to have requested earlier than paying the $20, so don’t make the identical mistake I did.
Usually talking, I don’t ever anticipate a lot out of WiFi on worldwide flights and this was about my expectation.
I liked my first expertise in ANA firstclass and may’t advocate it sufficient if Japan is in your journey bucket listing. The seats are extremely snug, the service, meals, and drinks are prime notch, and it is among the most snug beds within the sky. That is certainly one of my favourite Virgin Atlantic factors redemptions up to now and I can’t wait to ultimately fly the product once more. Properly accomplished ANA!
Subscribe to our Publication, like us on Fb, and comply with us on Twitter & Instagram
Editorial Observe: Any opinions, analyses, critiques, or suggestions expressed on this article are these of the writer’s alone, and haven’t been reviewed, authorised, or in any other case endorsed by any card issuer.