As part of my Hong Kong status run, I returned home via Tokyo on ANA in business class. Here is my review of the product and service.
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- Shenzhen Day Trip
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- ANA Business Class Hong Kong Tokyo
- ANA Haneda Lounge Review
- ANA Business Class Tokyo-Haneda to Chicago O’Hare
WOW! I am not sure how many flights I have boarded from Hong Kong and around the rest of Asia. To say it’s been more than 100 is probably a reasonable guess. I have never, ever, in my life, ever, seen such an efficient, well-behaved boarding procedure. Ever. That includes departures from Tokyo. The priority/business class boarding was lined up single filed to the left, coach to the right.
It began exactly on time, nearly silently. Not a moment before, not a moment after. I watched the digital clock on the monitor turn to the precise minute and the line began moving. So… 10 out of 10 for ANA ground crew!
I had to include a short video of the mind-boggling execution.
Before I booked this flight I had checked out the equipment and knew that a 767 would feature an older hard product (seat). That’s fair enough, in fact, a US carrier on a red-eye flight lasting four hours may or may not have featured a similar product. Between LA and New York perhaps, but I am confident that outside of the west-east coast markets this type of service wouldn’t be offered. I have also flown a very rough American Airlines A321 trans-con redeye from LAX to Charlotte. The 16 first class seats (somehow my upgrade didn’t clear on that one) were standard, aged recliners, not the comfort class that ANA offered on this route. In a way, my years of domestic abuse made me feel as though the equipment, while dated, was still more than sufficient for a four-hour redeye flight with a one hour time change.
Luckily, I had no seatmate next to me, the cabin was about 70% full from my unscientific observations. These seats are great for couples traveling together, terrible for strangers. Getting up in the middle of the night is no problem for the passenger in the aisle, except getting stepped over in the middle of the night. And likewise for the window passenger, go to the bathroom right away to avoid an awkward and frustrated passenger trying to catch their winks in the middle of the night.
The cabin layout is 2-1-2 meaning that the middle seats, of course, have direct aisle access on both sides and no seatmates. However, those seats felt a little “on display” when compared to the groups on either side of the fuselage.
The service on ANA was excellent in terms of manners but there were a couple of areas that fell down. There was no status recognition as a Star Gold (United 1K) as I know other Asian carriers from oneworld make a point to address. As this was my first experience as a Star Gold on a paid partner ticket I was a little surprised by this. I also discussed with my row’s flight attendant that I would forgo the meal service (just one is offered before landing on this short flight).
She confirmed with me twice that I was declining anything from the menu almost as if she thought she would get in trouble if she didn’t bring me something. I made it clear that I just wanted to sleep, didn’t want to eat and was resting almost immediately after takeoff.
That is… until she woke me for the meal service. An hour and twenty minutes prior to landing on a four-hour flight (the equivalent of 4:40 AM). Out of a four-hour flight I got roughly two and a half hours of sleep before being woken up for a meeting I was clear I didn’t want. It was frustrating and a little surprising given how polished and precise the rest of their service appeared to be.
Touching Down In Tokyo
While this was in no way exclusive to ANA, landing in the land of the rising sun, while it was rising… was stunning. The approach snaked us across the outskirts of farmland, over the bay and lastly touching down in Tokyo. I could have been on any carrier when I touched down in Tokyo for that approach, but nonetheless, at least some of the advantage of flying with ANA has to be that the carrier hubs in Tokyo. We also arrived early which impacted my opinion of the carrier.
I expected a dated product and I got one. At the same time, I had an enjoyable (though, short) nap, what else could I expect. I wouldn’t race back to ANA to book this flight again, but if it was part of a connected itinerary as mine was, I would be perfectly happy flying it again. I would not, however, pay the high cash price of the fare (more than $1,000) that ANA was pricing it at – Cathay Pacific and JAL have a better product.