I have wanted to compare ANA Business Class and first class to my experience on JAL, especially after my amazing recent experience on JAL first class from Tokyo to Chicago. Finally, earlier this summer, I got to try ANA business class and JAL business class on a recent trip to Japan. And I must say that ANA business class lived up to the hype!
Booking an ANA Business Class Ticket
I booked this about two weeks in advance of my trip. This was very rare –it’s tough to find award availability in general in May and June.
I was looking at the Aeroplan site and found availability on several Air Canada flights from San Fransico SFO that connected the same day to a single ANA seat available on the daily YVR-HND run, ANA115. This flight came once earlier in the week and then went away. The second time I saw it, I didn’t hesitate and booked immediately.
I decided the best schedule would be to fly to San Francisco via Delta in the morning, then connect to one of three Air Canada flights to Vancouver. Although I wanted to choose the B737 Air Canada flight that left around 1 pm, this would not allow me to review the Maple Leaf Lounge at YVR. So instead, I chose the Air Canada Jazz CRJ900 route.
Meanwhile, the ANA flight was the real target of this trip – I would be trying the ANA B789 on the outbound and making a direct comparison to the JAL B789 Business Class product on the inbound.
I finally booked and chose an Aisle seat in the back of the second Business Class cabin.
ANA Business Class Check-In & the Ground Experience
Serendipity struck when I was checking in. I checked in online, through Air Canada, 24 hours before the first flight leg.
However, when doing so, I noticed several new Seat availabilities on the second flight – and got super lucky as Seat 1A was available.
This conceptually looked like an excellent seat, and it’s usually reserved for preferred or premium passengers or available for an extra fee. It just happened to be available when I checked in – I grabbed it immediately and was so lucky I did. I ended up getting the best seat on the whole plane.
The Ground Experience
As I was arriving in Vancouver, there was not much to report in terms of the experience at the airport. I came off my previous Air Canada Jazz CRJ900 flight from SFO to YVR. I transited Canadian customs before making my way to the Maple Leaf Lounge. Moving through YVR was pleasantly seamless this time around.
The Maple Leaf Lounge and Boarding
I will be fully reviewing the Maple Lounge in a later post, suffice to say it lived up to expectations.
ANA Business Class Boarding
One of the standout features of Vancouver YVR, whether by design or accident, is its very airy feel. This translated into a boarding experience that was smooth and stressless!
Although boarding was slightly delayed, it still went off without a hitch in a timely manner. First, the crew spent about ten- or fifteen minutes loading passengers needing extra assistance. The flight had many elderly and families with children on board.
Following that, the crew went through a very brief Zone 1 and then to Zone 2 for Business Class. I was one of the first to board and got time to check out the Business Class cabin on the plane.
The ANA Business Class Cabin and Seats
Since I was one of the first in the cabin, I got to take some full shots of the cabin before it became too busy. Even though the hard product is older at a glance, it felt pretty new and maintained well.
The cabin featured an attractive grey décor, and remarkably everything seemed spotlessly clean.
I also spent about 5 minutes chatting to the flight attendants and had an excellent conversation with one.
One of the things I really appreciate about ANA is that they also ask whether you want to be served in English or Japanese.
The décor was understated and classy featuring:
- ANA Blue lighting during the night time.
- LED lights changed between orange and blue
- B787 auto-dimming window shades, very balanced
- No blue light on the seat edge.
ANA Business Class: Seat 1A
Seat 1A is the front bulkhead seat in business class and one of the most private on the aircraft. While I could spend ages describing it, a picture speaks a thousand words more often than not.
Al Nippon Airways B789 Business Class Seat 1A. I Loved this seat! Very private feel at the very front of the plane, probably this seat and it’s counterpart in the second cabin (1A, 9A) are the most private seats on the plane.
Two and a half full windows. It’s a bit annoying that the last window is also shared with the rear neighbor – in this case he wanted the windows dark on his side, and I wasn’t able to get better views of the engine during the flight.
Tray table comes out the side of the side table. You have to physically pull it out, and it slides in a 90 degree manner to the side.Tray table also didn’t feel that sturdy, supported only on one corner and thus the left
The Controls are just below the main seat surface and feature five separate functions.
- Seat firmness
- Do Not Disturb button
- Back and Forth
- Sleep Mode
- Landing and Take-Off Mode
The ANA Business Class Amenity Kit
I would not be raving about the ANA business class amenity kit. The kit comes with an array of Shiro products. One thing that caught my attention is that it seems ANA gives out two different amenity kits these days.
The amenity kits are this light Blue product on westbound flights coming from North America. However, this is changed to a completely different, green-style amenity kit on the eastbound flight. Comically both kits contain the same products, so why have a change for the sake of change?
Amenity Kit Contents
- Eye Mask
- Face Mist
- Lip Balm
- Ear Plugs
The Inflight Entertainment & Wifi
The IFE onboard was excellent. The touch screen is bright and massive, making navigation a breeze.
In terms of picture quality, I found it to be very high quality, with sharp images that were not grainy.
I also found that the touch screen is very responsive, and the system as a whole was very fast.
While the aircraft does feature Wi-Fi, I had to ask the FA to scan a QR Code. I was disappointed that there is no Free WiFi Code for Business Class. Instead, you have three paid options to choose from:
- $6.95 for 30 min
- $16.95 for 3 hours
- $21.95 for Full Flight
I choose the full flight option. However, the connection was nothing to write home about. It was particularly choppy and slow, especially over the Pacific.
Once boarding was complete, we pushed back from the gate and were on our way. The take-off roll was incredibly smooth and quiet. I would say it was probably one of the most “boring” take-offs I have experienced.
Meal and snacks – more than one on long flights
Soon after we were airborne, the meal service began. Mixing things up a little as I tried Western cuisine on one of my Westbound flights, I now will try Japanese cuisine going INTO Japan.
In terms of dinner, I was in for a treat; this flight was departing at 4:45pm and chasing the sunset all the way to a 7 pm Arrival in Tokyo. Thus, it would be an entirely daytime flight, with two dinner services (one timed to Canada and one scheduled to Japanese time).
I was offered some Sake, which I tried, and the ANA signature drink, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
The first course consisted of two servings:
- Mushroom Mousse Tarlet – a bit bland and tough to eat, felt very artificial, and not super fresh.
- Apricot Wrapped in Coppa Ham – this was tasty and well done.
After that came the Second Course – Appetizers
- Zensai (Morsels)
- King Crab Meat * Broad Beans – this tasted horrible, ugh. I don’t know why it was so bad, but it had a really rough, sewage-like aftertaste.
- Surf Clam with Vinegar Miso Sauce
- Lobster tasting start, tough midway, rough aftertaste. I wanted to get rid of the taste quickly.
- Kobachi – Tasty Tidbits
- Marinated Scallop in Soy-Based Sauce – this was okay, neither great nor bad. Tasted pretty good and a bit sharp-sweet.
- Otsukuri – Selection of Sashimi
- Seared Tuna – excellent, tasted amazing, very fresh.
- Kelp cured Sea Bream – also tasted excellent and amazing, supremely fresh.
The Main Course consisted of Miso soup, grilled trout and rice with Japanese pickles.
Dessert was fresh fruit and a selection of cheese.
Overall, the presentation was great, but the food I noticed was much fresher coming FROM Japan rather than from Canada. Is this a surprise? Not really. Food tends to be better when it originates in the airline’s home country.
Later on, I was offered a snack. I chose to go with the Ippudo Ramen, something I’d tried on a previous flight. This comes with spicy paste and seaweed on the side, which I added into the mix. I was already pretty full, but this was delicious.
ANA Business Class Sleep Mode
I decided to have a nap midway through the flight. In the end I sleept like a baby for about four hours. I Woke up to the cabin being fully lit and prepped for the final meal service. Ironically, the cabin felt incredibly cold this time – usually, Japanese airlines keep it extremely warm. But I was honestly freezing when I woke up.
The experience was great and featured:
- One firm mattress pad, which I thought was quite comfortable, and added a little extra padding to the seat.
- Slim comforter. I think if the flight was kept warmer, this would have been sufficient. However because the flight was freezing, I felt this wasn’t enough – I definitely woke up in the end, because I felt cold.
- One pillow, which was very comfortable.
Overall the Seat was firm and comfortable. I could touch the end of the seat well in lie-flat mode, but it wasn’t too short either. More seat space than room. But not as much as the old-style B777-300ER seats that ANA has on that plane.
I’ll note once again that Seat 1A (and its counter 8A 9A in the second cabin) is one of the most private and secluded on the aircraft, especially good if you need to sleep during the flight or get work done with few interruptions.
ANA Business Class Restrooms
I mainly checked out the smaller restroom to the front. It was relatively small and came equipped with a couple amenities including:
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Facebody Sheet
Landing Meal Service
The landing meal service was not as elaborate as the main service. However, it was tasty and delicious; the meal included:
- Simmered Pork Belly
- Chinese Cabbage in Soy Based Sauce
- Shusai (Main Course)
- Salt-Grilled Mackerel – super delicious
- Steamed Rice
Arrival at Tokyo Haneda
As we approached Tokyo, I noticed we took a very circuitous into Haneda. Without a doubt, this was one of the craziest landings I’ve experienced into Haneda, as we were circling around Tokyo for a while and came in curving over the bay. We came in from the SouthEast and curved into runway 23, which runs NE – SW.
The entry process in Japan was much more straightforward this time, with Immigration and, finally, Customs. Overall, it took about 10 minutes to go through the entire process.
This was helped by the fact that I didn’t have any checked baggage, so everything went smoothly and efficiently.
Overall, this flight was immensely enjoyable. I would not hesitate to recommend ANA business class to anyone, even though it lacked some finer touches that would have taken it from excellent to outstanding. It was still an incredible experience that I am looking forward to repeating sometime soon.
- Excellent Seat – this was just as good as the old-style B777 seat I had on ANA earlier this year.
- Extremely private.
- Lots of storage space
- Large TV
- I actually like the ANA old-style seat more than I like The Room. Quite Ironic, as The Room is very celebrated, but there’s something very nice about the way ANA set up their older cabins.
- Excellent, very attentive service. Had four different FAs serving at different times on the flight.
- Some parts of the food were underwhelming. I don’t think this is ANA, as much as it’s whatever catering company ANA is sourcing from abroad. Consistently, the food quality is much better
- The headphones are decent – I think they could be a more comfortable “over the ear” type, rather than just on-ear.
- Cabin was kept extremely cold mid-flight. I’m going to let this one go, though – it’s quite uncommon for Japanese airlines to keep the flight cold, it’s usually too warm.