No matter how many trips I make to the country I grew up in, the first wave of humidity, the first smell of an air-conditioned cab, the first sight of my parents’ 12-story apartment block, and the first taste of mom’s herbal chicken soup are never dulled by repetitions.
And prior to arriving at the metropolitan city of Singapore, I enjoy flying through the troposphere and time-zones while most people would cringe at the sound of a 24-hour journey across continents.
Instead of focusing on the Point A-to-B of traveling, I look forward to the alphabet of experiences along the way. And my preferred carrier for international travels? All Nippon Airways (aka ANA) without a doubt.
Pre-flight anxiety aside (you know, forgetting to pack essential items or waking up on the hour the flight took off), the stress of security check lines and pat-downs drains away the moment I stepped on board ANA.
Having travelled on a variety of airlines between United, Delta, Singapore Airlines, South African Air, and Emirates, ANA has a way of putting her passengers at ease. Southwest Airlines took second place with her casual and sometimes humorous antics.
Many airlines have much to learn from the Japanese, who are known for their hospitality and gentle persona. Common courtesy is a given for all service industry, so it is beyond the smiles and the ability to display apathy.
The flying experience, as stressful as it can be, has been made more enjoyable with a few simple touches employed by ANA.
ANA‘s soundtrack has become closely associated with her brand of comfort and hospitality. You hear it when you board the plane (and when connecting to a customer representative on the phone).
I am not an expert on the science behind the do-re-mi but ANA has the perfect melody that never fails to put me in a relaxed-frame-of-mind. Listen to it now.
TIP #1 FOR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT: Always have a pack of wet wipes and a 3 oz. bottle of mouth-wash on your carry-on. You will appreciate being able to freshen up on a long flight.
I also secretly grin with pleasure as I look forward to binge watching the movies I have chosen to skip the theatres for (and yes, I don’t need complex sound and projection system to enjoy in-flight entertainment).
Sadly, not all international flight has a personal entertainment console in Economy Class. I got a rude awakening a few years ago when I flew to Singapore on United. You bet that was the last time I flew with them internationally. ANA never disappoints with her slick console and movie line-up.
TIP #2 FOR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT: If you like to milk every minute of your movie and want to avoid being interrupted during take-off or landing, avoid seats at the emergency exit row as the personal entertainment system at those seats must be stowed away during those times.
For those of us flying economy with a high crew-to-passenger ratio, I would typically avoid pushing the call button.
The ANA crew members, however, survey the aisle often with trays of beverages and snacks after meal service.
A basket of fruits and snacks is also always at the service area for passengers to help themselves, and I have no problem with self-service.
TIP #3 FOR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT: Airline usually features an addition choice of food unique to its destination or its country of origin. Take advantage of that to try a different cuisine. And of course, enjoy free alcoholic beverages (on ANA) responsibly.
Details in Design
While the legroom in ANA’s economy class is wider than most American airlines, I also appreciate specific design details in the seat. For example, the USB and audio jacks are near the screen and not at the armrest. That allows me to place devices in the seat pocket without the cables being in the way.
In addition, the cup holder ring on the bottom of the tray holds my rum and coke if I don’t need the tray down. And when the tray is down, I can enjoy the Japanese cold soba and miso soup while my Chardonnay sits safely above.
TIP #4 FOR INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT: Pick an aisle seat in the middle section that usually has 4 seats. Passengers on the same row have the option of getting out on the other side if you are a deep sleeper. And if no one is on the same row during off-peak season, you just got yourself extra surface to lay down.
While long-haul flight is never comfortable after the fourth hour, getting into a positive mindset from the get-go is important for a transcontinental journey. Bon voyage!