ANA's 25 Years in San Francisco: A Flight Through Milestones and Memories Exploring the Journey, Team Spirit and Customer Connections that
Define ANA's Presence in "The Golden City"

2023 / 12 / 08

In the latest installment of “A New Chapter of Flight” series, we embark on a global journey to commemorate the milestones at various gateways. Today’s flight brings us to “The Golden City”, where ANA marks 25 years of non-stop service between San Francisco and Tokyo this month.

On December 1, 1998, ANA began operating flights connecting San Francisco and Narita. A quarter century later, ANA now operates daily flights from San Francisco to both Narita and Haneda.

From left to right: Sumiyo Martin;
Kazunori Kato, San Francisco General Manager; and Masa Ikeda

To celebrate this significant milestone, the ANA San Francisco team held a commemorative event on December 1 with festivities such as a small gift for each departing passenger and decorations both at the check-in counter and gate.

We sat down with Sumiyo Martin, San Francisco airport station manager and Masa Ikeda, sales manager, to learn more about the history of ANA’s service in San Francisco and what motivates the SFO Team.

What makes San Francisco unique compared to other gateway cities?

Martin: San Francisco (SFO) serves as an important gateway for passengers connecting to and from Asia, and our joint venture with United Airlines ensures a seamless process. At SFO, passengers arriving from a domestic United flight can easily connect directly to their ANA flight in approximately 10 minutes. The collaboration between ANA and United Airlines has significantly streamlined the passenger experience flying from the United States to Asia through SFO.

Ikeda: With numerous major tech companies in Silicon Valley expanding to Asia, the demand for transpacific flights from the US has increased over the years. Due to ANA’s close proximity to this area and many connections throughout Asia, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in their growth.

How would you describe the ANA San Francisco Team?

The ANA San Francisco team.

Martin: Tight-knit, motivated and dedicated. We’re always bonding and encouraging each other as a team.

Our team organizes “ANA SFO Waku Waku Events” fostering frequent engagements in team bonding activities. In the past, we’ve come together with staff and their families to throw BBQ parties in the summer and even to watch baseball games where Shohei Ohtani was pitching!

Within the SFO office, we continue to maintain a culture of appreciation, offering words of encouragement such as “Good job!”, “Great idea!” and “Thank you!” to express our gratitude to each other.

Ikeda: Highly motivated. I think the team’s success comes from the teamwork and collaboration between the local sales team and the SFO airport team. In fact, the entire team is what motivates me to push forward and I am incredibly proud and fortunate to work with them.

Are there specific customer interactions that stand out to you?

Martin: I joined the ANA SFO Team in 2000 as a Customer Service Representative and very vividly remember 9/11. The inbound flight that day diverted to Vancouver, leaving passengers departing to Japan stuck at SFO airport.

At the time, I was five months pregnant standing at the check-in counter assisting passengers from early in the morning to late at night, helping stranded passengers get to their intended destinations safely.

After that day a passenger reach out to me and said, “Thank you, and also your baby, for working tirelessly all day and night.”

These words left me with tears in my eyes, touched by the passenger’s kind words and relieved that they were finally safely home.

Ikeda: I joined ANA in 2000 as a Sales Representative at the ANA SFO sales office. Over the years, we have faced numerous challenges, but also have grown a lot as a gateway and seen many different faces.

One of our passengers shared their thoughts with me, “everyone at ANA SFO knows me and is always so nice to me. Why would I bother looking for another airline? I am committed to flying with ANA!” It left me incredibly grateful for their support. Moments like this are possible because of our team’s dedication and strive for excellence.

Do you have any final messages to share?

Sending off a departing ANA aircraft
on December 1, 2023

Martin: The ANA SFO Team hopes to be the forerunner of the ten destinations ANA serves in the Americas by increasing our quality of service by gathering passenger feedback and optimizing flight operations.

I have been in the Bay Area for over 20 years and I have never gotten tired of the San Francisco charm. From local wineries in Napa, to the spectacular Yosemite, there are limitless possibilities for activities to do near San Francisco.

Whether you are flying through San Francisco or visiting, the ANA San Francisco team looks forward to welcoming you soon!

Ikeda: We are truly in a great market filled with opportunities, and building a team to support that market is very important to us.

From the pandemic, we learned that the business environment changes dramatically and rapidly. With many different airlines operating from the area, we want to be in the forefront for those looking for an incredible experience.

We look forward to welcoming you aboard soon!