ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner First Flight Seattle to Tokyo Narita – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 3 October 2012
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The Boeing Dreamliner is the newest, sleekest, and most rarely-seen airliner currently in service.  If you want to fly on it from the United States, you currently only have two choices and one of them is ANA (All Nippon Airways) the launch customer for the program.

ANA initiated service from Seattle to Tokyo’s Narita Airport on October 1 of this year and will start a second route, from San Jose, California, in January.  My flight, departing out of Seattle, was the launch flight, and the steps I took seemed familiar as I entered the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and walked up to the ANA business-class check-in counter, but I’ll explain why in a moment.  There were seven people ahead of me to check in but the line moved quickly and the wait was only a few minutes, as was the check-in process.  The agent gave me the gate info and invited me to visit the Club International lounge, since I had plenty of time before boarding, so I proceeded to the security checkpoint.

The first- and business-class line for security was moving quickly and, as I had done the day before, I headed for the lounge.  The reason I was having all of these déjà vue moments was because my flight had been delayed 24 hours due to a broken cooling pump, but that was all behind us now and it was time to initiate Dreamliner service.

BOARDING

ANA invites business-class passengers to board first (there is no first-class cabin on ANA’s 787s).  I was one of the first to board and my seat, 11K, was in the second business-class cabin.  The two business-class cabins take up roughly 50% of the Dreamliner’s interior, with the main cabin taking up the remainder. 

Although this was not my first-ever Dreamliner flight, I took the opportunity to look around the empty aircraft and appreciate the many innovations, including the larger windows and the spacious overhead bins.

Soon we were buckled in and taking off.  It seemed quieter, something that continued throughout the flight. Indeed, Boeing says that the aircraft’s noise footprint can be as much as 60% less, compared to current aircraft. This is due to new engines, advanced acoustical linings, the lightweight composite materials, and a new, more aerodynamic wing.

SEAT COMFORT

As I settled in, I realized I had an entire overhead bin to myself.  I also found out that the bins, when open, are a bit low as I bumped my head almost immediately.

There is a total of 46 business-class seats arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 or 1-1-1 configuration.  Each ANA Business Staggered seat is essentially a private suite, unusual for a business-class cabin.  My seat afforded excellent privacy and I hardly noticed the other passengers.  The width of the seat was 21” and the pitch was 62”.

I found some interesting and unusual features as I set out to learn about the seat.  There was a hotel-like “Do Not Disturb” button that illuminated a small sign on the top of the suite.  The tray table pulled out from the seat in front of me, directly underneath the 17” video display.  Indeed, the suite was large enough that I could stand up and exit it with the tray table open (but not fully extended).  Other features included a coat hook and a cup holder on the side table.

The seat itself was fully adjustable and the controls couldn’t have been more clear.  In addition to buttons to move the seat forward and backward and a separate button for recline, there was a button for alternating between the bed and upright landing position as well, plus a lumbar support control.  The armest on one side can be moved down for greater comfort.

The seat was a true 180° lie-flat bed, and a rather comfortable one at that.  One of the things I noticed is that ANA did not go in for extra padding, opting instead for a more firm approach.  I was suspicious that it would be uncomfortable but my fears were unfounded and I fell asleep within minutes after going into bed and sleep mode.

Lighting was also fully adjustable. In addition to an overhead light, there was a side table light, a footwell light, and a small reading lamp.

I found a pillow, blanket, and slippers at my seat. ANA does not use amenity kits, but toothbrushes are in the bathroom, and they distribute a variety of useful products from ear plugs to eye shades once airborne.

The generous width of the seat was appreciated both when sitting and, especially, when sleeping.

Click here to continue to Page 2In-Flight Entertainment, In-Flight Service, and Virtual Tours

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