- Introduction: Tokyo and Two 787s
- The Club Lounge at SJC
- ANA 787 Business Class SJC-NRT
- Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Tokyo
- Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
- Activities in Tokyo
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!