With higher demand and a larger market in general, many Asian carriers fly wide body jets on regional routes. As a result, you don’t see the small “First Class” cabins you find on domestic US routes or the middle-seat-blocked-off intra-Europe business class. Instead, you’re likely to get a pretty big cabin, with seats that have slightly better legroom than what you would see in domestic First Class. (Perhaps it’s due to fierce competition, or perhaps it’s purely operational, some carriers even fly internationally-configured aircrafts on regional hops.)
I was recently on a regionally configured ANA 767 for my short flight from Tokyo to Taipei, connecting from my United GlobalFirst flight from Washington-Dulles.
This is the fourth installment from my latest trip reports to Asia in First Class. See also:
- Part 1: British Airways Galleries Lounge Washington-Dulles
- Part 2: Lufthansa Senator/Business Lounges Washington-Dulles
- Part 3: United Global First Lounge Washington-Dulles…”Are You a Spy?”
- Part 4: United Global First Washington-Dulles to Tokyo-Narita
All Nippon Airways (NH) Flight 1083
Tokyo (NRT) – Taipei (TPE) | Boeing 767-300ER
1740/2015 (3 hours 35 minutes)
Business Class | Seat 3D/7G
The plane was at a remote parking location so boarding was done through a “gate” that led to a shuttle. Business class passengers theoretically got to go through first, but while I boarded the shuttle early, I was also consequently stuck in the back. This meant that I was one of the last to leave the bus, and thus one of the last to board the plane.
ANA’s 767-300ER Business Class had a 2-1-2 configuration and I selected a middle seat, 3D, in advance. The middle seat had a huge side compartment for storage, and there was a fleece blanket placed on the seat waiting for me. Headphones and slippers were also waiting in the seat-back pocket.
Shortly after I settled down the flight attendant came by and informed me that the cabin would be less than half full. She offered me a window seat (well…two, since the seat next to me would stay empty for the entire flight) and asked if I wanted to switch. I obliged and was directed to takes seat 7G.
The menu was also in the seat-back pocket and was actually a thick booklet. It contained three months worth of selections for both directions of the flight. It took quite some time to find the applicable menu for the flight I was on.
The cabin was extremely spacious, especially because we took off with only about 25% of the seats occupied.
As it seems to be customary on ANA flights, no pre-departure beverages were served. However, the flight attendant did come by to take my dinner order. They did not speak very good English (then again, I don’t speak any Japanese), but they were extremely polite, with a huge smile on their faces with every interaction. I find this to be true with most Japanese flight attendants…super refined and professional in their service.
At exactly 5:40, the boarding door closed—gotta love Japanese airlines for their punctuality. While taxiing to the runway, there must have been at least three different flight attendants that came through the cabin to make sure the doors on the overhead bins were secure. The ground crew were also waving goodbye outside the plane which I thought was very cool.
We had a slight delay and didn’t take off until 30 minutes after scheduled departure time. The screens showed the view from the nose of the wing.
I changed into the provided slippers and I like that ANA provides slippers even on a 3.5-hour daytime flight…and also the fact that they provide a shoehorn as well. SHOEHORN. Who would have thought? (I’m looking at you, Cathay Pacific, for taking away the shoe horn from the First Class amenity kit).
The TV was stowed beside the seat and while the on-demand selection was extensive, the quality of the display was very poor.
The were no amenities kit distributed, but the bathrooms were stocked with an ample supply of toothbrushes, mouthwash, and “body refreshing sheets” (whatever that is). Right after the double chime, the flight attendants closed the curtains that separated business class and economy. From what I could see, coach was close to 100% full.
Meal service began about half an hour into the flight and I was brought a glass of water, something I asked for before we departed. I took out my tray table and the flight attendant literally gasped, looked utterly shocked, and then repeatedly bowed and thanked me for “taking out the tray table.” I was equally shocked, especially since just hours ago I was just yelled at by a flight attendant in United GlobalFirst’s…”everybody’s tray tables out!“
Two different snacks were served prior to dinner: rice crackers and a Japanese snack mix.
One thing I didn’t like was how tiny the glasses were. They must have been less than three ounces in capacity and I felt bad that I had to constantly ask for a refill. There were two options for dinner and I went with the international choice.
Kurhidori – Treats to pair with Sake
Sea bream sushi
Grilled sea urchin and squid
Burdock root rolled with simmered beef
Firefly squid marinated with soy sauce
Otsukuri – A selection of sashmi
Shusai – Main Course
Stir-fried various ingredients and steamed chicken with salt-based onion sauce (293 kcal)
Steamed rice mixed with bamboo shoot
Wagashi – Classic Japanese sweet bites
Pounded cake with sweet potato paste
Soft-dried beef with cabbage and fennel salad
Sauteed seafood with sakura-shrimp in saffron flavored sauce (325 kcal)
Rice flour bread
Yogurt mousse with berry sauce
Once my table was cleared, the flight attendant stopped by and asked if she could have permission to serve me dinner. Permission? I happily said yes and she brought out my selection. Meals were brought out on individual trays.
I loved every part of this meal, though I was too full and didn’t sample any of the bread. The appetizers was paired perfectly, with the cold beef dish and the slightly tangy salad really creating an exciting combo. The main course had very good flavor and the saffron cream did not mask the fresh taste of the seafood. The yogurt mousse was very delicious, with a generous portion of berries.
Throughout the meal service, there was at least one flight attendant circulating around the cabin, looking left and right, seeing if anyone needed anything. …and I don’t mean that she was coming from the galley to the passenger area every few minutes—she stayed in the cabin during the entire meal service. I felt like I was in grade school taking an exam while a proctor walked up and down the aisle, except here the “proctor” was smiling.
As we began our descent, I saw an amazing sunset right outside my window and I couldn’t resist snapping a picture.
Prior to landing, the flight attendants came around asking (individually) if anyone would like a pre-arrival beverage and then proceeded to distribute hot towels. Two more flight attendants walked by and they each individually thanked everyone in the cabin for flying ANA.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with ANA’s service. Their hard product was very good for a regional market, with comfortable recliner seats and excellent amenities. Their soft product was phenomenal as well—I don’t recall seeing a single flight attendant not smiling throughout the entire flight, and even though they didn’t speak much English, it was clear they were eager to please. This was a wonderful flight, and I can only imagine what it would be like flying ANA internationally.
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