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ANA Boeing 787 Business Class Review Manila (MNL) To San Francisco (SFO) Via Tokyo (NRT)

SimpleFlying logo SimpleFlying 8/14/2022 Simple Flying Staff
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  • All Nippon Airways
    IATA/ICAO Code: NH/ANA
    Airline Type: Full Service Carrier
    Hub(s): Tokyo Haneda Airport, Tokyo Narita Airport
    Year Founded: 1952
    Alliance: Star Alliance
    CEO: Yuji Hirako
    Country: Japan

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I had not been on ANA in years and had fond memories of their Boeing 787s (ANA was a launch customer of the 787 when they first became available). I was looking forward to enjoying Japanese hospitality and perfection for my flight.

ANA Business Class - Ground Experience at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport has earned a reputation for its chaotic and inhospitable environment. However, this is usually associated with the 'older' Terminals 1,2, and 4. I was convinced my flight would be departing from Terminal 1 (it used to, and the information I googled was indicting this too). I was a little late for my flight, and to my dismay, I was at the wrong terminal. Just grab the 'AirTrain' right? Well not in Manila - it was a 15-minute taxi ride to Terminal 3 - in fact, it was longer than getting from my hotel to Terminal 1!

Terminal 3 seems brand new and had just short lines for the few departures that morning. Check-in was rather abrasive but quick, and I was on my way to the "PAGSS Lounge". The lounge is also available for Priority Pass members and was crowded, and the breakfast spread did not look inviting. Instead, I spent the little time left at a coffee shop with some decent espresso and a pastry.

ANA Business Class Review Manila (MNL) to Tokyo (NRT)

ANA uses a 787 lie-flat business class configuration for the flights from Manila to Tokyo. It is a great configuration for these regional flights!

The flight attendants seemed friendly but withdrawn, and despite the only 75% load in business and economy, nowhere to be found really.

The Japanese and Filipino crowd was rather quick to get in their seats, and after an endless amount of passenger announcements, we pushed back and took off right from the gate (so it seemed).

The seats themselves feel like a generation behind most business class seats. I felt a bit cramped (lengthwise and in width) for most of the flight. The seat folds into a lie-flat position easily.

I was hungry and excited to see the Japanese food I remembered so fondly. I completely forgot - I had added a 'seafood' preference when assigning seats online.

The crackers looked - well, like economy food.

Maybe it was me being overly picky, but the food had too little taste, and the portion size was too small. It was definitely edible but not the sushi feast that I had in my head :)

Our flight was otherwise very quiet and had minimal turbulence. I fell asleep rather quickly and woke up for our descent into Tokyo. Tokyo had just been hit by a hurricane the day before, and I was expecting a bumpy ride into the cloudy skies. However, that was not to be, and we just had a slightly faster than usual landing.

Once parked at the gate, we were instructed to stay seated. Tokyo airport now requests all passengers that were terminating in Japan to leave the airplane first. This took about 30 minutes, and transit passengers (like me) simply had to wait until that was done.

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ANA Business Class - Ground Experience Narita International Airport

After leaving the airplane and dodging the many hazmat suit-equipped airport workers, we were led to a security check. Initially, it had a long line (I estimate 30-45 minutes) but once I uttered the word 'business class,' a new line was opened, and everyone from our plane just cut into this line.

Japan had just greenlit the sterile transit (with no PCR tests), and the airport still seemed to adjust to the fact of having transit passengers again after a long time. It all seemed very 'un-Japanese' and improvised.

About 75% of airport facilities are still closed, including my favorite Sushi restaurant that looked like it was left in a hurry, and nobody ever came back to close it up properly.

The main ANA Lounge was open, and I made my way hoping for some more Japanese culinary treats. I was not prepared for the crowds - it was incredibly crowded with every seat taken and passengers hastily trying to fill up on food as well. Given the hot and humid weather, the air conditioning also must have given up, and it was easily one of the most annoying lounges I have ever been to.

I made my way to the gate extra early to escape the crowds, and only a few passengers were present at the gate - making me excited about a flight that wouldn't be full.

ANA Business Class Review Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO)

When boarding started, the crowds were menacing, and it was clear this would be a completely full flight again. My seat had changed, and I was now in the last business class seat, surrounded by some hungry babies and toddlers right next to me.

The interior of this 787 looked exactly the same to me compared to the aircraft from Manila to Tokyo.

I asked for a different seat, and to my surprise, a double seat in the middle (this is a 1-2-1 configuration) had opened up.

Boarding would take longer than expected, and we accumulated a 45 delay at the gate. However, I learned from the captain that this would be a quick flight with string tailwinds, and we would be in San Francisco in under eight hours likely. I used to do these flights from Japan to the US West Coast quite often, and that usually meant quite heavy turbulence (because of the winds).

However, once airborne turbulence was minimal for most of the flight despite the strong tailwinds.

The dinner service came out rather quickly (I was still on my seafood pre-ordered meal).

Again I felt the catering looked great but was lacking in taste and the portion size was rather small.

To my surprise, I was very tired and fell asleep again right after dinner (at around 5 PM body time). The seat was clearly too small for a long-haul operation. While it was great for the shorter flight, it felt much too small to be comfortable on this long journey.

After just about two hours, I was awake again and couldn't sleep again. Being so close to the pantry was not a great idea as the flight attendants kept using the space right next to me for storage. The constant opening and closing of the latches and the catering and post-catering operations were loud. If you are really tired, you sleep through it, but otherwise, it is tough to din enough sleep.

Rather unexpectedly, I fell asleep for the breakfast service again.

ANA Business Class Review - Conclusion

I had high expectations for this business class flight, and those were only partially fulfilled. I still like the cabin layout, and I think the catering is one of the ANA's strong suits typically.

The Tokyo airport ground experience was not great, though, and will need time to recover.

I would still fly out ANA again but would not seek it out necessarily.

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