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

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IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

My seat had a 17” LCD video display, a USB port, an electrical outlet that supported U.S. and European plugs, and a miniature keyboard and controller for the system.

In addition to a selection of movies, videos, music, and games, I found I could send messages to other seats (you can also block messages) but there is no guarantee of a reply because there is no incoming message notification.

My favorite part of in-flight entertainment is maps, and the Dreamliner did not disappoint.   There are a variety of views including total route, autozoom, and high-resolution, an autoplay function, and flight information is displayed at the bottom of the screen when you are in other areas of the system.  One thing I was disappointed about is that there are no cameras, such as the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental’s cloud camera, which shows several views from the tail and belly of the aircraft.

IN-FLIGHT SERVICE

We departed 24 hours and 30 minutes after our originally scheduled departure time but, as we left the terminal area, the aircraft received a water canon salute “shower of affection” from the airport’s fire department as we passed by and a small group of airport employees was waving goodbye.

Prior to departure, I was offered a choice of champagne or cold and very refreshing green tea.  Soon we were aloft and I settled in for the duration.

Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude, the in-flight service started with the distribution of a refreshing hot towel.  I was in the mood for white wine and one choice was the Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2009/2010 but I chose the Lugana 2001 Tenuta Laiolo from the Lombardia region of Italy.  This vintner practices organic viticulture and only harvests grapes from vines that are at least 25 years old.  It had a nice acidity with some notes of apple, and a pleasant finish.

When it came to the main course, I had a choice of a western-style meal that included a choice of beef or sea bream Provencal, but I chose the Japanese meal which started with an assortment of appetizers, kobachi (simmered octopus and bean curd patty), Sunomono (salmon with bonito-flavored citron vinegar sauce), Shusai (simmered Chilean sea bass and vegetables in a kombu kep broth), accompanied by rice.  For dessert, there was a choice of a mixed berry parfait, ice cream, or a cheese platter.

I was able to sleep for about four hours before getting up to do some work, a fact that did not go unobserved by the cabin crew.  A flight attendant immediately offered me the post-nap snack, and I chose hot udon noddles with dried sea lettuce and a pumpkin and corn soup.  Other choices included a Japanese meal set including simmered mountain vegetables in a soy sauce and grilled air-dried arabesque greenling.  A Western meal set comprised of a veal and mushroom stew with gnocchi was also offered.

I found the suite an excellent place to get work done as well.  I was able to have my smaller carry-on bag on the floor in front of the side table and the side table itself was very useful for keeping items such as my camera or iPad within reach.

After the snack, I decided it was a good idea to get some more sleep and that was just one press of the button away.

One thing I was very curious about was how well the electrochromic window dimmers would perform on a long flight.  My only experience with them up until now had been on two short domestic Dreamliner flights and both were in the daytime and not long enough to make any kind of judgment call.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cabin crew “closed” the electronic shades remotely and that this was more than sufficient to darken the cabin.  The windows themselves, although darkened, remained somewhat translucent, i.e. you could still see through them, but the cabin itself was bathed in a warm blue glow and almost every passenger was soundly asleep.

On my earlier flights, I didn’t have the opportunity to try the Toto Washlet toilet seat, which is installed in the lavatories in business class.  These toilet seats are very common in Japan but relatively unknown in the United States. The longer flight to Tokyo meant I would have an opportunity to try it. Jointly developed by Toto and Boeing, the seat had a built-in warm water washer and a separate control panel near the sink. It accomplished its mission nicely.

ARRIVAL

Not counting the initial delay, we left the gate 28 minutes late and arrived 23 minutes late but no one seemed to mind.  I was off the plane fairly quickly, luggage in tow, and cleared immigration and customs formalities shortly thereafter.

BOTTOM LINE

On longer flights, such as this with a duration of over ten hours, I have to look at several criteria when rating a flight.  These include comfort and service but how much work I was able to get done and how much sleep I was able to get in clearly play a factor.

One thing I noticed was how detail-oriented the cabin crew was.  When pouring coffee, should a small drop get where it did not belong and would not be visually appealing (such as on the rim of the cup), the flight attendant would wipe the rim off with a napkin before serving.  The flight attendants seemed genuinely interested in making sure that the passengers – including me – were having a most enjoyable flight and that really made a difference.

The fact that I was able to sleep well during a daytime flight (our departure time from Seattle was 1:15 p.m. local time) speaks well for the aircraft, the airline, the seat comfort, and the service.  I definitely felt less fatigued and I attribute that in great part to the new environmentals and high humidity level in the Dreamliner. That all notwithstanding, the excellent service from the cabin crew, the wonderful food, and the thrill of being on the launch flight made this a trip I will never forget.

Click here to continue to Page 3Virtual Tours – ANA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner: First Flight Seattle-Tokyo

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