Review: ANA 787 Business Class SJC-NRT

  1. Introduction: Tokyo and Two 787s
  2. The Club Lounge at SJC
  3. ANA 787 Business Class SJC-NRT
  4. Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Tokyo
  5. Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
  6. Activities in Tokyo
  7. United 787 Business Class NRT-DEN

 

Booking this flight was very simple. I had a stash of US Airways miles that I wanted to use, and a trip from the US to North Asia, which includes Tokyo, is just 90K miles round trip in Business Class. I had plenty of options to get to Tokyo since US Airways is a member of Star Alliance, including some nonstop flights, but I wanted to try the 787′s.

US Airways’ routing rules allow you to have either one stopover or one open jaw. I decided to make San Jose (SJC) my origin, flying nonstop to Tokyo (NRT), which was my destination. I then flew back to my home airport of Orange County (SNA) via Denver (DEN), so my route was SJC-NRT, NRT-DEN-SNA. This was all for 90K US Airways miles. Note I took a positioning flight on Southwest to get from Orange County to San Jose.

These flights were pretty basic, so I searched for availability using United’s website, which works well enough for these particular flights. After I found the ones I wanted, I wrote down the flight numbers and dates (I usually use Excel to keep organized), then called US Airways to book. The booking agent was friendly and knowledgeable, and booking was a breeze since I fed him the exact flights. Check out my guide to booking on Star Alliance here.

I received my confirmation email shortly after booking, and used the confirmation number to choose my seats on both ANA’s website and United’s. Booking award flights using US Airways miles really doesn’t get much simpler than this!

On to the review!

I decided to take some pics of the 787 after exiting the lounge since there was still a few minutes before boarding. It’s a pretty cool looking plane, and the best part has to be the wings. If you don’t already know, the wings have curves and flex that make it very unique among other aircraft.

 

The ANA 787

The 787!

After a few minutes, the announcement finally came that Business Class was boarding. I jumped in line with a bunch of the Asian businessmen and made my way to the plane. We entered from the second door and made a left turn towards the nose of the plane. I wasn’t expecting anything special, but I was expecting to notice some differences from a normal aircraft. It turned out that it looked like most other planes that you’d get on. The only big difference was the windows, which are bigger and don’t have sunshades that you can lower and raise.

The seating configuration is a 1-2-1 staggered seating, which provides a ton of privacy. It’s actually almost exactly like Asiana’s Quadra Smartium Business Class that I reviewed last year. I made sure to select one of the seats that was closest to the window because I enjoy looking outside every once in a while.

My home for the 11 hour flight to Tokyo!

My home for the 11 hour flight to Tokyo!

 

On the seat was a pillow and  a nice blanket wrapped in plastic. There were slippers and noise-cancelling headphones in plastic on the foot rest area. Unfortunately ANA does not offer an amenity kit in Business Class, but there were some goodies in the bathroom that I’ll show later. The seat controls were intuitive and worked as expected, and there was a power outlet right under the TV, which was a good size for watching TV or movies. The In-Flight Entertainment controller was next to the seat controls.

 

TV and Foot Rest

Plenty of room for the feet!

The pull-out table was pretty big with the side flaps.

The pull-out table was pretty big with the side flaps.

Seat Controls 1

Seat Controls 2

IFE Remote

IFE Remote

Plugs

All the outlets you’ll need…except HDMI.

Name-brand headphones! From a Japanese brand, of course.

Name-brand headphones! From a Japanese brand, of course.

The Sony noise-cancelling headphones were great and worked very well. One of the cool parts of the seat was the accent lighting on the table area next to my seat. There was similar lighting in the cabin above the luggage bins as well.

 

Cool lighting and great privacy.

Cool lighting and great privacy.

Cool lighting above. They turned it off when it was time to sleep.

Cool lighting above. They turned it off when it was time to sleep.

 

The boarding process was completed extremely quickly. It couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes for the cabin doors to be closed, which was great because I was hoping for an early arrival. I started to explore the IFE system as the plane pushed back, and the selection was decent but not fantastic. There were some new-ish movies like Oblivion and Iron Man 3, and a few good TV shows as well, which I suppose is plenty for the 11 hour flight.

I also discovered the seat-to-seat messaging system. This was perfect since my friend decided to fly in economy. I could talk to the “common folk” without having to actually see them ;). The keyboard on the IFE remote actually sucked pretty bad – it was very difficult to type with. It was laid out like a QWERTY keyboard, but the buttons were so small that you had to be very careful when using your thumbs. And no, I don’t have fat thumbs.

 

Seat-to-seat messaging!

Seat-to-seat messaging!

You can tell my friend was enjoying economy...

You can tell my friend was enjoying economy…

 

After we pushed back and the engines were started, I looked out the window and saw the entire ground staff lined up and waiving at us. After a couple seconds of waiving, they all bowed, waited for the plane to pass them completely, then went back about their business. This was an awesome sight to see!

 

I wish I took a picture of the bowing as well, but this will have to do.

I wish I took a picture of the bowing as well, but this will have to do.

 

This was definitely a sign of so many things to come in terms of service and respectfulness from this airline and people I came across in Japan. It’s LOL-worthy to think of a US Airline doing something like this, because you know they never would.

I started playing with the window controls. Each window has two buttons to either lighten or darken the windows electronically, which is pretty cool. There were some issues with this though, as I’ll explain a bit later. It was hard to capture the darkened windows on the camera, so you’ll have to trust that it darkened almost completely (you can still see through a bit, but not much).

 

One darkened window and one "open" window.

One darkened window and one “open” window.

 

We received menus earlier and our orders were taken 30-45 minutes after takeoff. I was then brought a towel that I think was supposed to be hot but was actually cold, and heavily scented. I opted for one of the Western selections off the menu, and decided to go with the beef and veggies. It came with a salad, bread, and dessert according to the menu.

 

Coke Zero with lemon.

Coke Zero with lemon.

I don't recall seeing this on the menu, and am not entirely sure what it was. It tasted okay, I guess.

I don’t recall seeing this on the menu, and am not entirely sure what it was. It tasted okay, I guess.

My table was laid out with precision.

My table was set with precision.

This was the salad I ordered. It had scallops, shrimp, half a boiled egg, and some other stuff plus an "anchovy-flavored, mayonnaise-based sauce". The scallops and shrimp were great, but the rest was average.

This was the salad I ordered. It had scallops, shrimp, calamari rings, half a boiled egg, and some other stuff plus an “anchovy-flavored, mayonnaise-based sauce”. The scallops and shrimp were great, but the rest was average.

I got to choose warm bread from a basket, and it came with olive oil and butter. The ciabatta bread was really good with the olive oil.

I got to choose warm bread from a basket, and it came with olive oil and butter. The ciabatta bread was really good with the olive oil.

The main course, which was steak with either pancetta and tomato sauce or daikon radish soy sauce. I had the tomato sauce. The steak tasted fine, but reminded me of something I'd have in economy.

The main course, which was steak with either pancetta and tomato sauce or daikon radish soy sauce. I had the tomato sauce. The steak tasted fine, but reminded me of something I’d have in economy.

Dessert saved the meal. We got vanilla ice cream and mango sherbet. It came with a pistachio cookie that wasn't mentioned on the menu.

Dessert saved the meal. We got vanilla ice cream and mango sherbet. It came with a pistachio cookie that wasn’t mentioned on the menu.

 

The dinner service started about an hour into the flight. It took 15 minutes to get the first course after my order was taken. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but it tasted a bit fishy and I know there were mushrooms as well as a ball of mozzarella and a slice of tomato. It was a strange concoction. The next salad took another 30 minutes to arrive and was half good and half not so good. The scallops were actually very good, and I can’t complain about the shrimp. The calamari rings were very chewy (maybe I just prefer them fried), and I didn’t care for the sauce either. Bread, however, was good since it almost tasted fresh.

It took another 20 minutes after finishing my salad to receive my main course, a steak with veggies. The steak tasted alright, nothing special (though I suppose I can’t expect much on an airplane), but the taste reminded me of something I’d receive in either economy or in the forward cabin of a domestic US flight (gasp!). It was tender, though.

I finished my steak and my table was cleared quickly. I got my dessert, which was vanilla ice cream and mango sherbet with a pistachio cookie, within a few minutes. This was easily the best part of the meal. I suppose it’s hard to mess up ice cream! I know it sounds like a pretty bad review of the food, but honestly I don’t expect much from airplane food…even in business class.

I was also offered a fruit plate and cheese plate in addition to my ice cream, but I declined. After dessert, a coffee and tea cart also came around. I don’t drink either, so I again declined.

I will note the presentation of the food was fantastic. Every plate was laid down with care and as you can probably tell from my coke zero and the initial table setting. The flight attendant was extremely careful about the way items were put on the table, ensuring the words “Coke Zero” were facing me (she literally twisted the can slightly to ensure this), and placing the fork at a slight angle while making sure the “ANA” on the napkin wasn’t covered. The Japanese are very precise!

I decided to get some sleep after dinner and slept for about 6 hours since I woke up with less than 3 hours left in the flight. This is the best part about flying Business Class in my opinion – the flight passes by so quickly when you get a restful sleep! Unfortunately there were no pajamas, but I can deal with that.

The real bummer was that I decided to go to sleep a little before the cabin lights were turned off. I darkened my windows, but unfortunately they didn’t stay that way. Since these are electronic windows, the flight attendants have complete control over all windows, and for whatever reason they decided to put them all around 50% darkness after I’d gone to sleep. That was just enough for the sun to be shining directly in my eyes, which also made me feel warm. The cabin was darkened soon after, though. The bed was very comfortable, and the blanket was great. I’m something of a pillow-snob (if that’s a thing), and the pillow was probably the best pillow I’ve had in the sky.

 

I know it's not a great picture, but the windows are about 90% black, while the remaining 10% is the fact you can still sort of see through them.

I know it’s not a great picture, but the windows are about 90% black, while the remaining 10% is the fact you can still sort of see through them.

 

Anyway, I was actually a bit hungry after I woke up, so I decided to order a snack. I had already picked out the famed Ippudo Ramen from the snack menu so I was ready to go. I hit the flight attendant call button and someone was at my seat within 15 seconds, with a pen and paper in hand. I ordered the ramen and another Coke Zero and was told the ramen would take 10-15 minutes.

Ten minutes later I was given another cold, scented towel, followed by my ramen. The ramen was good…definitely better than a Cup Noodles or similar. It just seems like one of those dishes that’s hard to mess up (like ice cream), so I’m not sure what makes this stuff so much better than others. Maybe I’m just not a big enough foodie.

 

My Ippudo Ramen. It was good.

My Ippudo Ramen. It was good.

 

After I finished I waited a while, but no flight attendants were walking through the aisles since everyone was still sleeping. This was different from the main meal service when flight attendents were constantly walking up and down aisles, likely serving everyone at a different pace. Anyways…I wanted to finish up with some ice cream, which was also on the snack menu, so I decided to ring the call button again. Someone was at my seat in 10 seconds ready to take my order once again. I asked for the vanilla ice cream, and she cleared my table after writing my order.

The ice cream was from Häagen-Dazs and was on my table in 2 minutes. Unfortunately it was frozen solid, so I had to wait quite some time before I was able to eat it. It tasted as great as always.

 

Häagen-Dazs!

Häagen-Dazs!

Frozen...like a rock.

Frozen…like a rock.

 

By this time, the cabin lights had been turned on. About ten minutes after receiving my ice cream, and with about 2 hours until landing, I was asked if I wanted a meal. I declined since I’d just eaten.

The lavatory wasn’t anything special at all, except for the fact that there were some amenities inside. The toilet was standard, except for the fact that you flush it by waiving your had in front of a motion sensor. The amenities available were a toothbrush and toothpaste, a “Face and Body Sheet” and mouth wash. The lavatory itself was just as small as any other you’ve seen, but there were some fancy toilet controls as you might expect from a Japanese toilet.

 

Bathroom Amenities (toothbrushes go on the very left and were re-stocked often).

Bathroom Amenities (toothbrushes go on the very left and were re-stocked often).

I'm always too afraid to use these!

I’m always too afraid to use these! Why does the “soft” one look like more pressure than the others? And why can’t a male use the “front” spray? These questions must be answered!

 

I decided to watch an episode of “Sherlock” that I’d already seen and a couple of Big Bang Theory episodes with my 2 hours before landing. I also snapped a couple of outside shots that I think came out pretty well.

 

The famous 787 Dreamliner wing, Japanese style.

The famous 787 Dreamliner wing, Japanese style.

There's something cool about seeing clouds above and below...

There’s something cool about seeing clouds both above and below…

 

Summary

This was a great flight in terms of service and seats. The seat is great for sleeping, and while this particular aircraft didn’t have the “new plane smell” anymore, it was still pretty cool to be on the newest plane in the sky. The food wasn’t great, but again…I don’t expect much from food on an airplane. The food at the destination or origin is always going to be better so I don’t really complain that much about it, but it’s definitely better than an economy meal would be.

All in all, I would highly recommend flying ANA’s 787 in Business Class if you have the option. A great bed, great service, and privacy in the seats. You really can’t ask for much more.

ANA flies the 787 from San Jose (SJC) and Seattle (SEA), so try to route through those airports if you’re attempting to catch this plane. You can see ANA’s full 787 route information here.

 

Up next, my review of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo!

Comments

  1. Great Review!

  2. how full was the plane and how full was BC?

    • Travel Summary says:

      According to my friend, there were dozens of empty seats in Economy. Business Class probably had 4-6 empty seats (note there are two Business Class sections on the plane).

  3. “I jumped in line with a bunch of the Asian businessmen…”

    Puzzled why you had to qualify it with “Asian.” If you were traveling to, say Denver, on United, would you have said, ” I jumped in line with a bunch of the white businessmen” or “European businessmen”? You were on a japanese airline going to Japan. What did you expect? And this: “The Japanese are very precise!” So all Japanese are precise? Another stereotype perpetuated by a fat-fingered OC American. Very typical from te OC. Can’t see beyond color or race.

    • Travel Summary says:

      A little judgmental, aren’t we? I called them Asian because they’re Asian. That’s not stereotypical at all. It’s descriptive, actually.

      And I also stand by me saying that they’re precise. Just like the Swiss. And Germans make quality cars. And Americans are fatter than most of the world.

      Funny that you say it’s “typical from the OC”, which actually is stereotyping the OC if you didn’t know. I live here and am a minority, and have absolutely been victim to racist comments.

    • Some people are looking to be offended. They wake up in the morning and aren’t happy until they have something to complain about. Don’t waste your time on them.

    • Travel Summary says:

      +1. If anything, I complimented all Japanese people!

  4. Join the club. They call me an animal, but in reality I am a parrot. Higher intelligence.

  5. I often end up on planes with American businessmen…occasionally a German or Italian businessman. And, yes, even Asian businessmen. Each is only categorized in a ‘group’ because nationality or home origin is a valid descriptor.

    Great trip report!

  6. the cold towels are quite common during the warm season in Japan. Occasionally one gets a hot towel during summer months though depending on the venue, and the best analogy I can think of is tea: Whilst ice tea seems most refreshing on hot days, hot tea seems more formal/traditional at times. Moreover hot drinks are indeed served in some warm climate cultures to counter the effects of heat.

  7. Like to see you do a comparison on your 787 return flight with UA, although it will be the same aircraft and technology, my guess is it will be a drastic difference in service and guess relation between the two airlines. hope you ll touch this subject on your next report.

    • Travel Summary says:

      I’ll definitely do a comparison in my report on the UA one. And yes, it was drastically different. I know it’s pretty much common knowledge to book an international carrier over a US one, but the difference here was so night and day. ANA all the way!

      • how come there is no anemity kit ?

        • Travel Summary says:

          I don’t know, they simply don’t offer one here. There are plenty of amenities offered (both in the bathroom and in a basket available when the cabin lights were out), but they just don’t offer a kit here. Their first class kits are fantastic though if you can swing through ORD.

  8. How did you manage to select your seat on the ANA website?

    • Travel Summary says:

      Go to the ANA website, click Reservations, then View Reservations/Purchases. Type in your flight info and you’ll be able to pick your seats.

      • This feels like a bad sign. I tried using my eticket number from United and I got this error message “Selected reservation cannot be confirmed.”

        I guess I’ll be calling United soon. Any ideas?

        • Travel Summary says:

          I would contact ANA first to see if they can see your ticket. If they can see it then you’re golden, and you can ask for your seat assignment while you’re on the phone with them. If they say there’s a problem, THEN you should contact United.

  9. Nice review, took that flight 2, great food. Not so good IFE compare to Asiana since i have no intention of sleeping on a plane. Never knew that the noodles r good, guess i’ll have 2 try it out next time<:

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