Japan’s ANA is moving its Sydney-Tokyo flights from Haneda Terminal 3 to Terminal 2, and that’s good news for passengers on the Virgin Australia partner.
The move is part of ANA’s reboot for T2 international flights and a restart for its plan to transform Haneda Terminal 2 into a new international hub for the Star Alliance member in conjunction with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – plans which were dramatically halted in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.
Only a handful of international routes have returned to T2 – among them London, Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai – but from October 29 they’ll be joined by flights from Sydney, Singapore, Honolulu, Vancouver and all ANA flights to Europe.
So what does this mean for passengers on those flights?
If you’re transferring onto a domestic ANA flight which leaves from T2, ANA estimates you’ll save around 15 minutes.
More importantly though will be the departure experience from T2, which boasts better baggage drop facilities and security lanes plus the airline’s flagship ANA Suite Lounge and ANA Lounge.
These were actually opened in early March 2020, but only for a mere 13 days before Covid forced ANA to pull down the shutters until July 2023.
The first class ANA Suite Lounge is appropriately named after ANA’s Boeing 777 The Suite first class.
In addition to welcoming first class passengers, the ANA Suite Lounge is also open to top-tier ANA Mileage Club Diamond members and high-flying Million Miler cardholders who’ve clocked up more than two million lifetime miles.
The design interweaves traditional Japanese elegance with modern influences – for example, metal mesh walls inspired by iconic shoji partitions divide the lounge into several distinct areas, while the exclusive entrance on T2’s fourth floor features a traditional Japanese garden and ‘bamboo forest’.
Pre-flight dining options include a ‘live kitchen’ on the third floor, a noodle bar and a restaurant-style dining area with an à la carte menu.
A focal point of the ANA Suite Lounge is the bar, serving everything from barista-pulled coffee to cocktails and a seasonal selection of premium sakés.
Weary guests can make a beeline to the napping area with six day-beds and five semi-reclined chairs; there are also ‘booth seats’ for working, reading or relaxing in suite-style privacy.
Meanwhile, the sprawling ANA Lounge is the go-to for ANA’s business class and premium economy passengers, business class travellers on Star Alliance patent airlines and high-tier frequent flyers from its own ranks (such as ANA Platinum and Super Flyers) and Star Alliance Gold card-holders (although not Virgin Australia Velocity Platinums or Golds).
Such an extensive door list explains why the ANA Lounge has room for a staggering 900 visitors.
The expansive open layout is framed by tall windows offering tarmac views and plenty of natural light.
A more secluded area has 24 booths, some tailored for two guests, which wouldn't look too out of place in a modern business class cabin.
In line with the boost of T2 departures, October 29 will also see the ANA Lounge reopen its bar and live kitchen to complement the current buffet and noodle bar - although the live kitchen and bar will initially open only from 7.30pm to 12.30am, so they won't be an option for ANA flights departing from the early morning through to the late afternoon and early evening.
As of October 29, both the ANA Suite Lounge and the ANA Lounge will extend their opening hours from 5am until the last international departure from T2.
Still to come, however, is the return of the ANA Arrival Lounge at T2. This will hinge on more international ANA flights arriving at T2, which for now is quite a seperate issue to international flights departing from T2.
At the time of writing, most international routes which depart from T2 see their return leg landing at T3. And when the new wave of T2 routes take wing in late October, ANA says these will arrive at either T2 or T3.
“The scheduled arrival terminal will be displayed on ANA’s website 24 hours prior to the departure time” and confirmed two hours prior to arrival, the airline advises.
ANA hopes the time will be right to reopen the mint-condition T2 Arrival Lounge to first and business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers “in winter, towards the end of this year (or just) after the winter,” ANA’s Assistant Manager of Products & Services Planning, Miho Kato, tells Executive Traveller.
While boasting the usual arrivals lounge features such as private shower suites and light dining, a centrepiece of the ANA Arrival Lounge was a relaxing foot bath with views of the runway and beyond.
Additional reporting by Chris Ashton