ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner Tokyo Haneda to Okayama – My First Flight and Review

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FIRST FLIGHT

My initial Dreamliner flight from Tokyo to Okayama left the gate promptly at 7:30 a.m. and taxied to the runway.  We were number eight in line for takeoff and soon were airborne.   For almost all of the crew members, including the cockpit, it was their first commercial flight on a Dreamliner, as it was for most, if not all of the passengers.

Takeoff was fairly quiet, and, unlike the roar that accompanies the takeoff of an Airbus A380, the engine sound was more of a whoosh than anything else.

Once aloft, it was time to explore the aircraft and its numerous innovations.

The most noticeable innovations were the very large windows, which had an electrochromic dimming feature instead of shades.  The windows, which were at a higher eye level, made the cabin seem much more airy and gave passengers a better view of the horizon.

Another area of innovation is cabin pressure and air quality.  The Dreamliner’s internal pressure is set to 1,800 m (6,000’) altitude instead of 2,400 m (8,000’), the norm on older aircraft.  The higher cabin pressure is possible in part thanks to the use of composite materials.  Relative humidity is maintained at 15% instead of 4%, also possible due to  the use of composites, which don’t corrode like metals.  Cabin air is provided by compressors that don’t use engine-bleed air, thereby increasing efficiency.  Air quality is better thanks to HEPA filters that remove airborne particles, a gaseous filtration system that removes odors and contaminants, and a system that removes ozone from outside air.

As we boarded, the mood lighting was set to a cool blue, which remained throughout the flight.  The effect of the lighting combined with the elegant blue “inspiration of Japan” ANA signature interior, was stylish and high tech at the same time.

My flight was almost completely full.  Only a handful of the 264 seats were unoccupied.

CABIN AND SEATING

For a short-haul configured aircraft, the business-class seats, arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, were very impressive.  While they were not lie-flat, they reclined quite nicely and had large privacy dividers separating adjoining seats.  The long-haul 787 will have what ANA calls “Business Staggered” seats, which are more suite like.

In the main cabin, seats were arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration and were very comfortable as well.  The seatbacks did not recline; instead, the seat cushions slid forward and the seatbacks tilted downward, providing a similar effect.  This means that the seatback never intruded into another passenger’s space. While there were two middle seats in the center section, there were also two armrests and a slight separation, a nice touch that gave a little bit of extra personal space and an almost 2-2-2-2-like feel (albeit without direct aisle access for the two people in the middle seats).

Each seat in the main cabin had two cupholders; one for when the tray table was in use and one for when it was not.  This was particularly useful when I used the tray table as a desk and made it less likely that I would spill my drink on my laptop

Business-class seats were 21.5” wide and had pitch was 59”.  Seats in the main cabin were 18.6” wide and had 32” pitch.

The pivoting overhead bins were very easy to open and move to make it easier to place one’s bags inside.  It was possible to place items into and remove items from a bin without stepping into the aisle.

One of the lavatories had a window (also with an electrochromic shade).  The toilet had an automatic flush feature and the faucets had sensors.  One toilet had a Toto Washlet as well.

Passengers I spoke with seemed very satisfied with seat comfort, despite the fact that the flight was nearly full.

Bhieng Tjoa, president of Optience, a software company that supplies solutions to the chemical process industry, was on his first 787 flight as well.  He told me that the feeling of flying on the 787 was “even better” than the Boeing 777.  He cited roomier/higher ceilings, better lighting, larger windows, and better storage as the main factors that impressed him   “For a smaller plane to provide a feeling as [if one is ] in a bigger plane  [like the] 777 is very comforting,” he told me, adding that the 787 simply feels better compared to other, similar-sized aircraft.

Click here to continue to Page 3 – In-flight Service and Technology and The Flight

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