I recently answered a question on Flyertalk, and thought I’d share the insight here as well.
All Nippon Airways has a really fabulous first class product. Their seats/suites are getting a bit dated, their current generation first class product went into service in December, 2002. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a nice bed with ample privacy and is legions beyond many other carriers’ first class offerings. And of course they’re rolling out a new first class, I haven’t kept up on the timetable.
But they really shine with their meal offerings. They have I believe the best food in the sky, and certainly the most extensive snack menus. And while some don’t like their amenity kits I’m a huge fan. They give you an empty bag and bring around a basket of amenities. Take what you wish. On my last first class segment the basket was left out for the full flight in an empty seat.
ANA first class award seats are really hard to come by. Before the current new product was standard – it didn’t go live in the Washington DC market until spring 2006 — ANA first class was really easy to get. Then things went totally dark, occasionally you’d see first class award space in the days leading up to flight but that was pretty much it. The pattern the last couple of years has been different, though. There’s plenty of advance space available on certain routes during the wintertime.
That patterns appears to be continuing itself out into the future.
Sadly there’s no more first class in the Tokyo-DC market, that was one of the easy flights to get. But Chicago-Tokyo is just as easy. I pulled up several dates with two first class award seats available, I didn’t check JFK or San Francisco or Los Angeles but it’s worth checking those as well.
So the tip is, if you want to fly ANA first class, Chicago-Tokyo in January and February is a pretty good bet.
Sadly, you my readers will nab these seats and then they’ll be gone. There won’t be any left for me, and I won’t be able to use them to impress my award booking clients.