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My husband and I have just embarked on our first ever around the world trip booked with ANA miles, most of it in Air Canada business class. This is a first in a series of posts I am going to write from the road. Our first stop is Tokyo, Japan. I’ve never been to Japan before, and, in spite of all the research and reading I’ve done before my trip, I really didn’t know what to expect.
This is also my first long trip, I’ll be traveling for 32 days so I am going into this with my mind and my heart open and I hope I learn a lot about the countries I visit and about myself. I’ll let you know how it goes and will try to recount the lessons I learn along the way.
How I Booked the Flight
ANA’s around the world tickets represent a great “sweet spot” in the world of travel rewards. My entire itinerary included visiting five countries and cost 115,000 ANA miles plus about $500 in taxes and fees.
ANA is a transfer partner of American Express and Membership Rewards points transfer 1 to 1 to ANA. Membership Rewards points can be earned with a few Amex cards, including The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Gold Cards. Both have generous welcome bonuses and great bonus spending categories.
Air Canada Business Class Maple Leaf Lounge
After a short flight from our home airport of Cleveland, the first stop is Air Canada’s lounge at Toronto Pearson Airport. Air Canada has two lounges in Terminal E: Air Canada Signature Lounge for first and business class passengers on cash tickets and a Maple Leaf Lounge for everyone else who’s eligible to access the lounge, including passengers with business class award tickets.
The lounge is big, airy and bright, but is starting to show its age. There aren’t as many electrical outlets as in other, newer lounges and the Wi-Fi could be a little temperamental. The lounge is not fully enclosed, so you could hear all airport announcements – not very conducive to work or relaxation.
One area has a huge TV tuned into a sports channel
Kids’ area has no toys, just kid-sized chairs and a big TV showing cartoons.
I really liked the quiet areas, especially the business center area. So early in the morning, there weren’t so many people there but because the lounge is so spread out, I think it wouldn’t feel cramped even later in the day.
When we arrived around 8 a.m. the lounge was serving breakfast. I can’t say I was overly impressed with the selection and hot foods weren’t really hot.
Alcohol isn’t served till 11 a.m. There are a few self-service beverage stations around the lounge with soft drinks, water and coffee.
Around 11 a.m. food was changed to a lunch buffet. This is also when they opened up the self-service bar and put out a few bottles of wine. We weren’t impressed with the variety and quality of lunch food either. The food looked better than it tasted.
One thing I really love about business class lounges are the showers. When you have a long layover or you have a long day of travel ahead of you, a nice hot shower is so refreshing. I am always surprised more passengers aren’t taking advantage of this amenity.
To enter the shower room, I had to get a key from the front desk. The shower comes fully stocked with towels and essential toiletries. It wasn’t the most luxurious shower, but it was very clean, and that’s all I needed.
Air Canada Flight from Toronto to Tokyo Haneda
Boarding and Cabin
Business-class passengers board in group 1 and because I wanted to take some pictures of the cabin, I was the first one in line. However, when my boarding pass was scanned, I found out that my seat assignment was changed. I was told there was an aircraft swap an hour before departure and the new aircraft had 28 business class seats instead of 40.
So my husband and I weren’t sitting together anymore. Not a big deal, but we’ve never flown in business class together, so it would have been nice to be seated together. When I inquired about sitting near my husband, I was informed, in a very unfriendly manner, that I was lucky to be in business class at all.
As it turned out I was downgraded to premium economy but someone in business class gave up his seat and switched to premium economy instead. I hope this passenger received a nice compensation from Air Canada.
I was also told that passengers with award tickets are the first on the “bump” list. I’ve redeemed miles plenty of times for business class seats and this was my first experience with a seat change due to the aircraft swap. My husband, however, was unaffected, so he kept his seat. We sat across the aisle from each other, and I ended up with a window seat but was glad I was able to stay in business class at all.
Other than this minor ordeal, the boarding process seemed orderly as passengers boarded by their assigned groups.
Business-class seats on this Boeing 777-300ER are wide with a deep footwell.
My biggest problem with the seats on this aircraft was how hard the cushions felt – I felt like I was sitting on a bench. When the seat is in a lie-flat position, the seat joints hit in all the wrong places and it was hard to get comfortable. The tray table doesn’t go all in under the TV screen, so every time I turned, I hit my hip on the tray table.
Don’t you sometimes wonder if product designers actually get to try their own creations in real life?
The inflight entertainment system had a good selection of American and international movies and the screen and the remote were very responsive.
There’s a decent amount of storage, including this little storage well.
I was happy to find slippers on board, which make moving around the cabin during a long flight so much easier. Even if the airline doesn’t provide slippers, I always bring a pair of hotel slippers with me, especially when I am flying economy.
The amenity kit included a standard assortment of toiletries, as well as an eye mask and a pair of earplugs.
Food and Drinks on Board
Before takeoff flight attendants passed newspapers and welcome drinks.
The lunch menu looked really good, and after the very mediocre food in the lounge, I was ready to eat!
I love scallops and I’ve never seen scallops served on the plane. I must say they were delicious!
The main dish, salmon, was really well prepared, perfectly cooked and very tender.
Flight attendants came by a few times throughout the meal to offer bread and to refill drinks.
Lunch was followed by a cheese and fruit course and then desserts. We were also offered port, liquor, tea and coffee.
I’d say Air Canada gets five stars for lunch service. Unlike their ground crew, the onboard crew was cheerful, respectful and polite.
About 90 minutes before departure we were served brunch and I chose the omelette option.
Arrival At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport
Our flight arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. Tokyo has two airports, Narita and Haneda. We flew into Haneda, which is the closest airport to the city of Tokyo. It only takes about 30 to 45 minutes by bus or taxi from the airport to most central hotels. We took an airport shuttle bus to our hotel in the Nihonbashi area which really is a great way to get into the city quickly and cheaply.
Despite some minor annoyances, I got to go to Japan, the country I’ve dreamed of visiting for a long time, in a comfortable lie-flat seat. I can’t wait to explore Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa, the three main stops on our itinerary.
I’ve traveled enough to know that on a big trip like this, something is bound to go wrong. And if almost being bumped from business class is going to be the biggest issue of this trip, I am fine with it! Let the adventures begin!
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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.