US Airways Club Charlotte
US Airways Envoy Class Charlotte to Paris
Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Star Alliance Lounge Paris
Air China Business Class Paris to Beijing
Air China Business Class Lounge Beijing
ANA 787 Business Class Beijing to Tokyo
Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport
Tokyo Narita Airport Hello Kitty Check-in
EVA Air Hello Kitty Business Class Tokyo to Taipei
EVA Air The Star Lounge Taipei
Taipei Airport Hello Kitty Gate
EVA Air Hello Kitty Royal Laurel Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Beijing (PEK) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Tuesday, October 15
Aircraft: Boeing 787
Seat: 3A (Business Class)
This was my first flight on the 787, so suffice to say I was really excited. Boarding took place through door 2L, and we turned left into the forward business class cabin. This aircraft was one of ANA’s regional 787s, featuring 42 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. There were four rows in front of the door through which we entered, and a mini cabin consisting of three rows behind the door through which we entered.
The entryway to the plane itself was somewhat grand — not as much as it was hyped when the plane was first introduced, I thought, but still nicer than a comparable aircraft.
I settled into seat 3A, where I found a light blanket waiting at my seat.
The seat featured a decent sized entertainment screen. To the right of the seat was a reading light and the entertainment controls.
That’s also where the seat controls were located, which were super basic, with just an “upright” and “recline” option.
Once I settled in the first thing I noticed about the plane was how big the windows are — they’re huge. They’re probably the same width as on other planes, but much longer vertically. There also weren’t any window shades, but rather just a button you could push to dim the windows (though that option was deactivated while on the ground).
Once settled in we were offered newspapers, magazines, landing forms, and slippers. No drinks were offered, as seems to be the norm on intra-Asia ANA flights.
The door closed right on schedule, and of the 42 business class seats only six were taken — easily one of the lightest premium cabin loads I’ve ever seen. We pushed back on-time, at which point the safety video began to play. I had placed my laptop bag underneath the seat in front of me, though as we taxied out the flight attendant placed it on the seat next to me and put a seatbelt around it, which I found rather comical.
Once at runway 1 we were number three for takeoff, and the two planes in front of us took off fairly quickly. Unfortunately about a dozen planes landed on the runway before we could take off.
At 3:15PM we were cleared for takeoff.
The takeoff roll was (not surprisingly) much louder than an A380, but perhaps marginally quieter than a 767 or 777. The coolest part of the takeoff was watching the wing flex, which was impressive.
The views on the climb out were gorgeous — it’s rare you get a day this clear in Beijing.
The inflight entertainment showed our flight time as being 2hr50min. The entertainment selection was rather good compared to what I’ve seen on other ANA flights, with a selection of movies and sitcoms.
As we climbed out the purser made a welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our arrival time of 7AM. Ouch!
Once we leveled off one of the flight attendants came around with the menu to take meal orders. Menus weren’t distributed, but rather she showed it to me, and there was a Chinese, Japanese, and Western option. They were out of the Japanese option already, so I ordered the Western option.
Service began with drinks and rice crackers. I ordered a Coke Zero.
After that the entire meal was served on one tray, and the main course and dessert covers weren’t even removed.
So the good news is that the shrimp, salmon, and prosciutto starter were fine. The same goes for the pretzel roll and dessert. The “steak,” on the other hand, was quite possibly the most revolting piece of meat I’ve seen since my LOT Polish flight from Istanbul to Warsaw earlier this year, where I was served “chicken.”
To finish off the meal I was offered some green tea.
So I love ANA in general. I find their first class product to be one of the best in the world, including the service, which is top notch. But their intra-Asia service just leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion, especially compared to Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Thai, etc. They serve everything on one tray, while almost all other carriers would serve multiple courses. Furthermore, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t remove the main course and dessert covers.
Service is also consistently extremely robotic on intra-Asia flights in my experience. They bring out the tray, they clear the tray, and if you want anything else you usually have to push the call button.
After lunch I took a quick walk around the cabin, including checking out the lavatories.
I know I’m easily impressed, but I really liked the lavatories in business class. They were bidet style toilets, which always make me giggle a bit. It’s also interesting to note that the doors on the lavatory don’t fold as is the norm on airplanes, but rather they slide inwards.
I eventually headed back to my seat and enjoyed the views out the window for a while.
I tried to recline my seat and nap for a bit, though the seat really doesn’t go back very far. It’s not even angled flat, but rather just reclines a bit.
As far as the window shades go, they had different settings based on how much you wanted to dim them. However, even when fully dimmed I didn’t find them as effective as the standard window shades, as you could still see through them a little bit. So while the concept of dimming is innovative, I don’t think the execution is amazing.
About halfway through the flight the captain made an announcement informing us of the typhoon we would be flying through, and that the seatbelt sign would shortly be turned on for the duration of the flight. Looking at the airshow it was pretty clear we were already routing around some weather.
Ever since my Royal Jordanian flight earlier in the year I get a bit apprehensive in bad weather. It’s not that I really get scared, but rather I just have flashbacks to that flight, which make me somewhat uneasy.
While the sunset behind us was beautiful, I was a bit startled when I saw the clouds ahead of us. It was getting dark at this point so I couldn’t capture a good picture, but the contrast was stark, to say the least.
Anyway, the turbulence wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, but rather we just hit a bit of light chop for 30 minutes.
At around 6:35PM we began our descent, and this is the point at which the weather started to get bad. We experienced quite a bit of turbulence all the way down to our landing, and touched down at 7:05PM on runway 34R.
We taxied to gate 58, which took about 10 minutes, getting us to our gate exactly on schedule.
Ultimately I didn’t find the 787 to offer a substantially different experience than other aircraft. I like the bigger windows, though don’t love the lack of window shades. Apparently the cabin pressure in the 787 is also supposed to be better, but since this was just a short flight it’s not something I picked up on.
I think the big innovation of the 787 isn’t for passengers but rather for airlines, given the cost savings it can provide. If it allows airlines to operate more frequencies at a lower cost then I’m all for it.
This particular flight was a standard ANA intra-Asia flight in terms of service. I’ve never been blown away by ANA’s intra-Asia service (in stark contrast to their longhaul service), and this flight was no exception.
I hope to try the 787 on a longhaul flight sometime soon.