Right To The Point: ANA’s business class “The Room” is a stunning, massive seat and makes first class seem like an over-the-top splurge.
ANA went all-in when they redesigned their most premium airplane seats. Earlier this year, the Japanese carrier surprised basically everyone when they unveiled a new first class and a new business class seat, all at once.
The airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs are getting the reconfigured cabins, and they’re already flying between Tokyo Haneda and London Heathrow as of August 2019. And starting today, November 8, 2019, the new ANA business and first class seats are flying between New York and Tokyo.
ANA Event To Celebrate New First & Business Launch To JFK
To celebrate the launch of the new seats to JFK, ANA hosted an event in New York where everyone got to experience and compare the new ANA business and first class seats in the flesh.
My impressions are therefore not real world in-the-air, but only from a hard product perspective while on-the-ground. However, I got a good enough idea of both seats while also getting the opportunity to speak to the head of product development for each product (“The Room” and “The Suite”).
If you are looking for a full soft product review of just the business class seat, I suggest reading the review over at God Save The Points.
Side note: The seats were not onboard a plane, and the event was extremely dimly lit so unfortunately, photo quality isn’t great. The staged photos are from an ANA press release.
Comparing ANA First And Business Class
ANA ‘The Room’ Business Class Seat
The new business class seat is being called “The Room” and is supposed to make passengers feel like they’re in the comfort and privacy of their own living rooms at home. There’s a two-part closing door and partition as well as an incredibly wide, couch-like seat that is almost twice the width of the previous seat.
Seats and surfaces are upholstered in beautiful soft touch materials. Of course, this is to be expected since ANA worked with British design company Acumen and world-renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma for both the seat updates.
After sitting, lounging, laying, and sprawling out in ‘The Room,” I can attest to just how wide and comfortable these seats are.
My friend and I, both of average builds, could easily sit side-by-side and still have some space leftover. While these business class seats aren’t intended for dining together, I’m sure cabin crew wouldn’t take issue with you sitting with a companion to watch a movie. This also just goes to show how much space one person would actually have.
What’s amazing is that the entire surface of the seat is padded so you can sit in any configuration your heart desires — just please take your shoes off (it’s a Japanese airline after all).
In lie-flat mode, the footwell tapers slightly due to the side console and altering forward and rear facing nature of the seats. Since the seat is so wide, and footwell also not constricting, I didn’t find this to be an issue.
Now the biggest question of them all — is this seat better than the perennial business class seat all-star, Qatar Airways’ Qsuite? In a simulated environment on the ground, I would have to say this seat is just as good, if not better. It definitely feels wider, although there is no option for a double bed setup like the Qsuite offers.
ANA ‘The Suite’ First Class Seat
Jumping up to first class which is being called “The Suite,” ANA addressed one of the biggest issues of its current seat — the cubicle-style partitions that prevented easy viewing out the windows and talking to your seatmate.
Gone also is the rather blah-looking blond wood paneling. It’s replaced with rich greys and blacks and an overall more premium look. There’s privacy doors present here too, naturally. (British Airways is flying first class without doors and business class with doors on refurbished Boeing 777s, and that’s just plain weird.)
Now, to the star of the first class show. That has got to be the absolutely monstrous, 43″ 4K monitor that literally goes from wall-to-wall of the seat. Some might say it’s actually too big, but I thought it was perfect. Both the 24″ screen in business and the 43″ one in first are the largest in their respective categories.
There’s great lighting with multiple reading lights and seat illumination. I appreciated the redundant and easy seating controls as well. And storage abounds with nooks and crannies for all your stuff.
Comparing ANA First And Business Class: Thoughts
I first sat in business class in “The Room” and then a few minutes later, took the reins of first class with “The Suite” seat.
Here’s what I noticed almost immediately. I found the first class seat to be slightly narrower than the business class seat in the full upright position. Because the entire padded surface is a seating area and there isn’t a true armrest, I actually think business class is more spacious as a seat fully upright.
First class is definitely longer, wider, and more spacious once reclined and especially in lie-flat mode for your legs, but you don’t really notice this upon just sitting down. And since I’m on the shorter side (5’7″), even an apple-to-apples comparison in bed mode wasn’t that apparent.
In business class, I could easily see someone 6″ or taller easily fit and have space to spare.
So that begs the question, is first class even worth it? While this was just a quick hard product comparison and doesn’t include all the soft product differences (like better food and drink, personalized service, etc.), I probably wouldn’t pay extra (in cash or miles) for first.
That just shows how good the ANA business class seat is. You could even fool someone into thinking this business class seat was first class.
You can’t go wrong with either “The Room” or “The Suite.” The new business and first seats aren’t just beautifully designed, they seem extremely functional as well.
However, when it comes to this post — comparing ANA first and business class — there’s just no question that the new ‘The Room’ business class seat is just in a whole other league. And that’s a league that only Qatar’s Qsuite was part of until now.
‘The Suite’ as a hard product is definitely impressive, especially the 43″ 4K monitor that blew me away. Easy-to-use doors and storage was excellent as well. And small touches like multiple reading lamps, each with different purposes and lighting intensities shows how much ANA paid attention to the details. However, the overall jump from business to first, from a purely a seat perspective, isn’t that huge IMO.
I’d gladly fly in either class (and feel incredibly lucky to be able to compare both amazing seats) but if push comes to shove, you’ll find me in business, saving my miles for another trip.
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