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Flying from Tokyo (NRT or HND) to San Francisco (SFO or SJC). Options?

Flying from Tokyo (NRT or HND) to San Francisco (SFO or SJC). Options?

Old Sep 25th, 2016, 01:41 PM
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Flying from Tokyo (NRT or HND) to San Francisco (SFO or SJC). Options?

DH and I are flying from Tokyo to the SF Bay Area nonstop on or about October 1, 2017 using business class (saver, I hope) award tickets (miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards). I am trying to determine our options and get our priorities lined up to pounce the first day of availability, which I think is 330 days out. The UA site currently shows three non-stops per day (departure times are similar):

All Nippon 777-300 ER
UA 787-9 Dreamliner
UA 747-400

Is there a code share on another airline I should consider?

I'm hoping you knowledgeable flyers will help me find the best way to book our tickets (through UA, the Chase Portal, All Nippon, another way?) and the best business class experience on this route. If you need further information, please let me know.

When I asked a similar question about flying from SF to Europe last year, several of you made suggestions, and we ended up on a great flight. I'm in awe of your expertise and appreciate your input.
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Old Sep 25th, 2016, 02:14 PM
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Which miles? Are they UA miles?

For AA miles, it's easiest to book through AA even if you don't fly on AA but go on a partner. Dunno if that's true for UA, but usually it's easier to book through the miles program's sponsor than through its partners.
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Old Sep 25th, 2016, 02:52 PM
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UA miles
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Old Sep 25th, 2016, 02:58 PM
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We have AA miles also, but the website doesn't show any non-stop flights.

Here's something I don't understand: If UA and ANA codeshare (on UA metal), is it better to book through UA or ANA? Does one or the other usually offer the identical flight for fewer miles? Is there any advantage to booking with one or the other?
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Old Sep 25th, 2016, 03:53 PM
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Don't get "codeshare" confused with "partner" flights when using miles. You can redeem UA miles for any Star Alliance partner. "Codeshare" considerations only apply when you're paying money for tickets. So you can use UA miles for either ANA or UAL, both of which fly nonstop to SFO from Tokyo.

If you transfer your miles to UA, you'll have to book through UA; you can't redeem UA miles on ANA's website. You can also transfer Chase points to Singapore Airlines; you could then try to redeem your Singapore (Krisflyer) miles on either the UA or ANA flights, or on Singapore itself (they fly from Tokyo to LAX, you'd then connect to United for the hop up to SFO.)

Availability and the number of miles needed will depend on the airline to which you transfer your points. I would do a little shopping to see who has the best availability and who requires more or fewer points for business class awards.
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Old Sep 30th, 2016, 03:55 PM
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Given that choice, I would definitely take that ANA flight. I'll be able to tell you what it is like in April.
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 12:14 PM
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Updating to thank you for your ideas. And thank you Gardyloo, for straightening out my confusion between "partner" and "codeshare". I think I've unknowingly used the terms interchangeably forever. Duh.

I've been checking UA daily for availability. We want to fly the first week in October 2017, and that timeframe isn't available yet, so I've been educating myself so I can book ASAP when it does become available.

I had been searching Tokyo (both airports) to SFO and discovered a SFO-all airports choice. When I plugged that in, I found a nonstop ANA flight from NRT to SJC on the 787-9 which has excellent availability throughout Sept 2017.

If we do end up with an ANA flight, is there a way to get a seat assignment prior to check in? (Aside: when we went from SFO to Germany on LH, we were able to get prior seat assignments by joining the LH frequent flier club and using the LH locater for our UA-booked flight) I have read some creative ways to do this on Flyertalk when flying ANA booked on UA, but nothing seems straight forward. If anyone knows how to do this, please let me know.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 02:22 PM
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We had ANA flights booked through United last year. It is possible to use the ANA site to select seats, but it is very finicky about how you enter the information. I had some luck with the site (was trying to book seats for three people on three different reservations) but found it easiest just to call ANA.
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 02:32 PM
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Thanks, ms_go. Are you saying that you were successful in obtaining seats when you phoned ANA? Did you have the ANA locater number? If so, did UA give it to you?
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 02:40 PM
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BTW, how was the ANA flight?
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 02:49 PM
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Betsy, Here is a quote from my report on an ANA flight from NRT-SEA:

"From Narita to Seattle we were on an ANA Boeing 787. We really disliked the seating. For one thing, all of the seats were isolated from each other, so there was no where we could sit and actually talk with each other. The assumption seems to be that everyone in business class is flying solo (or flying with a co-worker they would like to avoid) so that was annoying. But also, the seats were pretty uncomfortable for both of us. While they are lie-flat, sitting upright or inclined my back hurt no matter how I adjusted the seat. Food was mediocre, at best. Service was ok, but the English language skills of the ANA flight attendants was no where nearly as good as that of the Thai attendants. I had heard such good reports on ANA, we were really looking forward to this flight."
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 04:01 PM
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IIRC, I was able to get seats for two of us via the website but the third wasn't working (we had one business saver, one first class saver and one paid business ticket), so I called and confirmed all of them. I did have ANA record locators for our reservations. You should be able to find the ANA record locator at the top of your United reservation. I don't have an active itinerary with partner flights that I can check, but my recollection is that there is some sort of notation near the top to "click here" for partner PNRs. If you can't find that, you should be able to get it by calling United.

The ANA flights were fine. We were on 777s, not the Dreamliner. The 777s have a large business class section; out of Chicago, it was completely full, and it seemed like the crew was a little strained to serve the whole cabin. The business class cabin was only partly full on the onward flight to Singapore and the service was much more relaxed and attentive. The seats were a little "firmer" than I'm used to, but there are pads to put on them. My husband was in first...needless to say, he was quite happy!
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 04:01 PM
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Yikes, Kathie. I had read that the 787 seats were not very comfortable, but I was looking forward to the rest of the 787 experience. Maybe there'll be UA options on a day that we want to book. We can be a bit flexible.
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 06:36 PM
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You can use your United ticket number (starts with 016) at the ANA website. Your ticket number will be on an e-mail titled "eTicket Itinerary and Receipt for Confirmation XXXXXX"

http://www.ana.co.jp/asw/wws/us/e/
click on My Booking
on the right side, choose Search By: e-Ticket number
copy/paste your United ticket number into the box below

entering my Full name was tricky because I didn't pay attention to the example which shows that a person named David Scott Johnson should enter:

First(Given) name: DAVIDSCOTT
Last(Family) name: JOHNSON

Do that and you're in. There, I saw my ANA reservation info for my United ticket.

The info can't be changed online so I called an ANA toll-free numbere and was connected to an agent in Japan who spoke English well I gave her my ANA reservation number and she was able to assign the seats that I wanted (which I determined from the seatguru and ANA seat maps - using both so that I knew that the one at seatguru was accurate).

Then I went back to the ANA website and saw that my seat assignments were there and were correct (and still are).
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 06:51 PM
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ms_go was this your seat (777-300ER):
http://www.ana.co.jp/cont-image/comm...lang-multi.jpg
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 06:55 PM
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I think the answer is yes because I just noticed mr_go was in F which means (I think) it was a 77W and not 777-200
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Old Oct 4th, 2016, 08:07 PM
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Thanks, mrwunrfl. I'm hoping for a choice of flights, but if we fly with ANA, I'll know how to get a seat as soon as the flight is reserved.

Let me know how your ANA flight goes.
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Old Oct 5th, 2016, 04:28 AM
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Hi mrwunrfl! Yes, we were on 77Ws and those were the seats. I preferred being in a seat where the tabletop area was between the seat and the aisle (like the seat in front of the one in the photo). That provided a little more space between me and the aisle when I was sleeping.

And you're right, it was ticket number and not PNR that I used to access our reservations on the ANA site.
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Old Oct 5th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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There are 3 configurations of 77W business class. Two have 13 rows and one has 17 rows (the extra rows are rows 18-21). Today, my LAX-NRT flight in March has 13 rows. A week from now both ORD-NRT flights have 13 rows, so maybe you had the same.

My window seats each way do have the table on the aisle and the row is in location common to all three versions of the 77W, so I'm set.

I guess that since I had to call anyway that I did not have to go online. The agent can find me by giving my name and date & time and origin & destination of the ANA flight. But, still, I would want to go online to verify that what she told me was actually what is in the ANA computers.
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Old Oct 7th, 2016, 07:07 PM
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Thank you for your very valuable ideas.

I've been checking UA availability each day, and if the early October offerings mirror the early September flights, we'll have a choice between a saver award in business class on the ANA flights to SFO and SJC. I haven't seen availability on any UA flight. So is the consensus at this point, everything else being equal (departure/arrival times are similar, duration of the flights is the same, both flights originate at NRT, award is priced the same, etc), that the flight to SFO on one of the three versions of the 777-300ER would be a better choice than the flight into SJC on the 787-8 Dreamliner? I've read the posts that refer to the discomfort of the 787 seat, and am wondering if there's anything else I should be considering.
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