Trip Report: San Diego, CA to Hiroshima Japan

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01. Introduction
02. United Club San Diego
03. United Airlines first class San Diego to San Francisco
04. United Club San Francisco
05. ANA business class San Francisco to Tokyo
06. ANA arrivals lounge Tokyo
07. ANA economy class Tokyo to Hiroshima
08. ANA economy class Hiroshima to Tokyo
09. ANA business lounge Tokyo Narita
10. ANA business class Tokyo to San Francisco
11. United Airlines first class San Francisco to San Diego

Every year my wife and I make a trip from our home in San Diego to Hiroshima Japan to visit her family. Her parents aren’t the traveling kind, so it’s up to us to make the journey to see them – which isn’t so bad because we both like going to Japan very much. It’s her home, of course, but for me (born and raised in the US) it’s culture shock in it’s largest form and I love every second of it. Besides, the airline and travel geek in me loves any opportunity to put life on hold for a bit and travel to a far away land.

We’ve done this trip countless times in the past, always on United Airlines or ANA, connecting in SFO and NRT. It’s actually quite difficult to get from to Hiroshima from San Diego on any other carriers or alliances – we’ve tried, but UA and ANA are the only two carriers that can get us into HIJ seamlessly without long layovers or the dreaded “NRT-HND shuffle”.

Having endured this trip too many times stuffed in the back of economy class, we decided that enough was enough and decided to do it in business class. I’ve flown lots of other international business class products in the past (most recently Club World on British Airways), but this was going to be a first for my wife. What better way to introduce her to the luxury of premium airline travel than flying ANA? We both really liked ANA’s economy product (compared to UA), so we were both really looking forward to getting pampered up front.

Here’s what our itinerary looked like:

9/21/13 UA662 San Diego to San Francisco
9/21/13 NH007 San Francisco to Tokyo (Narita)
9/21/13 NH3237 Tokyo (Narita) to Hiroshima
9/27/13 NH3144 Hiroshima to Tokyo (Narita)
9/27/13 NH008 Tokyo (Narita) to San Francisco
9/27/13 UA1453 San Francisco to San Diego

In the end, springing for business class was worth it (to us, anyway). It made all the difference in the world in terms of arriving fresh and ready to face the day, and overall comfort and convince as well. We might not always be able to fly premium cabins for these trips to Hiroshima, and having experienced this will make it all that much more difficult to go back to economy.