Review: ANA Premium Class 737 Tokyo To Nagoya

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, ANA

All Nippon Airways 493
Tokyo (NRT) – Nagoya (NGO)
Wednesday, May 29
Depart: 5:05PM
Arrive: 6:15PM
Duration: 1hr10min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Seat: 2A (Premium Class)

When we pulled up to the remote stand we proceeded up the stairs to the forward left door of the aircraft. ANA’s 737-800s have an odd configuration. There are a total of eight business class seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration. While that might sound fairly standard, the seats are unlike anything I’ve seen on another airline.


ANA 737 business class seats

ANA essentially has “shell” seats, so when you recline the front of your seat moves forward. It’s just a rather odd configuration, given that there’s almost an unnecessary amount of legroom. The seat also has a privacy partition, though it can’t be moved if you’re traveling with someone.


ANA business class seats 737

I also quickly peeked into economy, which looked perfectly alright.

ANA 737 economy seats

I was seated in 2A, the window seat on the left in the second row.


ANA business class seats 737


ANA 737 business class seats

The seat controls were to the left of the seat, and were all manual. You could control the recline and the legrest, though you really had to push hard to get anything to move.


ANA business class seat controls 737

The tray table folded out from the center armrest, and was large.

ANA business class tray table

There were also some power outlets underneath the center console.

ANA Premium Class power outlets

There were no personal televisions, though there were dropdown monitors for the safety video, flight information, and more.

ANA 737 overhead monitors

The overhead consoles also had individual air nozzles.

ANA 737 overhead console

Waiting at my seat upon boarding was a thick and scratchy blanket, though there was no pillow.

ANA business class blanket

There were also some slippers in the seatback pocket, which came with a shoe horn and shoe bag.

ANA Premium Class slippers

Then there were a cheap pair of headphones.


ANA Premium Class headphones

There was also a menu in the seatback — it didn’t seem to be specific to this flight, but rather outlined the service on all flights on which you’d find this aircraft.

ANA premium class menu

The flight was full, though boarding was still pretty efficient, with passengers being brought to the plane on three separate buses.

Remote stand boarding Narita Airport

Within about 10 minutes of settling in, one of the flight attendants came by our seats to introduce herself and offer us newspapers.

When boarding was complete, seven of the eight business class seats were taken, though the five other passengers were one family traveling together.

The door closed at 4:55PM, at which point the flight attendant announced our flight time of 52 minutes. At that point the safety video was screened, and five minutes later we began our pushback.

ANA 737 Narita Airport

We only had about a 10 minute taxi to the departure runway, and on the way there we passed both of ANA’s A380s — awesome!

Hi, Kai!

ANA A380 Narita Airport

Hi, Lani!


ANA A380 Narita Airport

At around 5:15PM we got to runway 34L, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff.

Taking off from Narita Airport

It was a pretty nice afternoon, and in spite of a smooth ride, the seatbelt sign stayed on for about 10 minutes.

View after takeoff from Narita


View after takeoff from Narita


View after takeoff from Narita

Once the seatbelt sign was off I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which was pretty basic, without many amenities (though it was very clean).

ANA 737 lavatory

I also tested out the seat to see how far it would recline. While it reclined a fair bit, the problem was that the base of the legrest couldn’t be pushed down very far. So if you’re over 5’6″ or so, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to use the footrest, in my opinion.

ANA 737 Premium Class seat recline

The crew turned on some entertainment on the overhead monitors.


ANA 737 Premium Class inflight entertainment

It also only occurred to me after the fact that ANA offers free wifi on domestic flights. Grrr, I’m annoyed I missed that.


ANA 737 Premium Class cabin

About 15 minutes after takeoff the crew passed through the cabin with a cart to commence the service. For what it’s worth, the menu and drink list read as follows (again, I don’t think this was specific to this flight, but rather is a menu that covers all the routes they fly with this plane):

Everyone was served the same meal for dinner. It was exceptional, especially for a sub-hour long flight.


ANA 737 Premium Class meal


ANA 737 Premium Class meal


ANA 737 Premium Class meal


ANA 737 Premium Class meal

I’m not sure what exactly everything was. There was a card with a description (I assume?), but it was only in Japanese.


ANA 737 Premium Class meal description

The crew first presented everyone with the meal, and then offered drinks. I figured I had to order the “champagne” to see what they were serving, and compare it to the 2004 Krug I had on my flight from Chicago.

Initially when I looked at the menu I saw that they were offering Nicolas Feuillatte and Veuve-Olivier Brut. Either sounded good to me, though I was rooting for the latter, based on the description of it being “sassy and drinkable,” which is also how I’d describe myself. Okay, at least the sassy part…

Well, suffice to say I was disappointed when I was served “CHIC Barcelona Cava.” It was… borderline undrinkable. I should have known this was being served based on the menu, but I didn’t get that far in my reading before I ordered.


ANA 737 Premium Class sparkling wine

Just as I finished the meal the seatbelt sign was turned on, around 5:50PM. At this point we were well into our descent.

View approaching Nagoya

To my surprise, the crew asked if I wanted another drink. I ordered a coffee, which was brought to me in a cup with a lid, along with an earl grey cookie.

ANA Premium Class coffee & cookie

The earl grey cookie was tasty, and I love the fact that ANA has “to go” cups. It’s so nice to be able to sip on your drink while descending and looking out the window, and this is something I wish other airlines would offer as well. What a great concept, especially for such a short flight.

The views on approach continued to be great.

View approaching Nagoya


View approaching Nagoya


View approaching Nagoya

Our flight time ended up being a bit longer than expected (about an hour, rather than 52 minutes) as we were vectored out over the ocean and had to hold there for a bit. This made for some incredible sunset views.


View approaching Nagoya


View approaching Nagoya


View approaching Nagoya

We touched down in Nagoya at 6:15PM. From there we had a short two minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked next to a Solaseed Air 737.


Taxiing Nagoya Airport

Nagoya Airport

We were excited to get a good night of sleep after a long travel day!

ANA 737 Premium Class bottom line

Domestic flights within Japan are unlike anywhere else for a variety of reasons. While train travel is the most popular way to get around Japan, there are markets where trains aren’t feasible, and in our case we were landing at Narita, so a connecting flight was the fastest option.

While ANA’s Premium Class seats are weird, we had a great flight — the seats were at least spacious, service was friendly, and food was good. One innovation that I really like is how ANA has to-go cups, so you can sip on your preferred beverage as you descend, which especially comes in handy on flights this short.

If you’ve taken a flight within Japan, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. I did premium class on the ITM-HND route and had a wonderful meal. I was blown away by the efficiency and quality for such a short flight

  2. I’ve always thought of intra-Japan flights as a great use of miles/points, between Avios offerings and United redemptions as well. Any color as to why you spent cash?

  3. @Lucky, I’m not sure why you were expecting Nicolas Feuillatte or Veuve Olivier, when the menu states that the former is only available on Haneda-Itami, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa routes, while the latter would be replaced by the Cava starting in March. You flew in May.

  4. I travel around Japan for leisure, usually by air, a few times a year. The configurations vary greatly, as many 787s are still tested for a while on domestic flights. If you think your meal was good, you must have been lucky, Lucky! Domestic as well as International Premium Cabin food has seriously been deteriorating for quite some time. Nevertheless, Star Alliance works best for me, and RTW tickets are the only way I can afford these trips. On another note, try sitting on the HK side when flying west from Tokyo. This way Fuji can be seen when she is not being shy. Conversely, choose the AC side when flying east to Tokyo.

  5. Starting from right to left on the menu you ate

    Rolled omlette
    Canola/Rape flowers you probably know as cima di rape
    Duck in miso
    Some kind of stewed beef
    Something that features chestnut in a Dutch style but there’s a kanji I can’t read so no sure on that one
    Pumpkin
    Red pepper
    Snow peas
    Prawn
    Tofu skin
    Sea urchin with what I think is a fish
    Eel sushi

    In the other box
    Stewed daikon with tofu skin
    Pickled plum rice
    Inari sushi

    Delicious

  6. @andy

    Whilst Japanese premium cabin airline food might not be much above your average train station bento* it is so far ahead of Mordy other carrier’s option. Not least because Japan leads the world in boxed lunches that don’t need heating an stewed dishes that work well in your typical aircraft oven.

    JAL international definitely beats ANA but I can’t comment on domestic as I haven’t done ANA domestic.

    *train station bento are pretty damned good if not a patch on a bento prepared by a restaurant. Top tip if there is a really fancy Japanese restaurant you want to try but can’t afford it – see if they do a bento.

  7. Not sure flying to Nagoya is quicker even from Narita.

    Figure one hour to JR Tokyo on the Narita Express and then 2 hours on the bullet train to Nagoya. So that is 3 hours to downtown Nagoya.

    Whereas after your transfer/wait time for the domestic flight and your travel into Nagoya from the airport, I bet that was 3 hours as well.

    Now, if you were going to Fukuoka or Nagasaki, you’d have a point.

    Nagoya is a nice city though, relaxed and under-rated.

  8. @stvr JAL/ANA would never allow partner redemption on their donestic F.
    I think only international paid F will put you on domestic F.
    That being said, upgrade by cash for domestic F has fair value.

  9. @Tom chances are flying would be cheaper than the shinkansen, especially on the nozomi trains they are ridiculously expensive for a means of public transport.

  10. I like that Ben’s forced to have Japanese meal since there was only 1 option hehe. Can’t believe he went for the western option on his first class flight to Narita, what a waste.

  11. @Eddie: I try to respect people’s choices, they have that right… but I totally agree with you. I always go for the national cuisine of whichever airline I’m flying!

  12. JetBlue offers to-go cup drinks before landing. I routinely get a to-go cup of coffee on transcon red eyes just before landing, even in Y.

  13. I saw Kai and Lani being ferried last week from the ANA first class lounge. On my flight to ORD, the FAs gifted me with Lani gifts, which included a die-cast model, a cardigan type top, Lani Sakura key rings and a Lani pen! I was like a child sitting in my cubicle!

  14. That was a fun review of a short flight; the coffee + earl-gray cookie upon desecent was a nice touch. That Soloseed livery is handsome

  15. JW,

    Yeah, maybe, although every time I have been to Japan I have had a JR rail pass so the rides are effectively free (not on Nozomi though).

  16. Interesting review.

    Normally I fly JAL domestically (At least twice a month). Lately however, as I have United Club, i’ve been taking ANA (lounge access). Domestic flying, especially in premium cabin, will of course utilize the domestic configuration (except out of NRT…. Usually); and it will be perfect for the typical Japanese business person (Which makes up a fair amount of their top tier passengers). I strongly recommend JALs widebody domestic service out of NRT as you will have lie-flat seats and the mid-range international widebody configuration (JL3007 (777/767) & 3009 (787)).

    ANA however, tries to gear itself on a western/foreigner-oriented service (which is interesting) whereas JAL focuses or at least up until this point has been focusing on the Japanese top tier clientele. There is no comparing Japanese domestic flying with any other type of short-haul domestic flying Stateside; this mainly due to the fact that most flights under an hour would be operated on a CRJ where youre only offered water with no premium cabin lol

    Now, about the to-go cups & pillows…. (If youre from the States) Did you know that FARs (CFRs) prohibit passengers from holding any type of service item during landing? So that is something you will never see Stateside unless the FAA changes those regulations (CFR 14 – 135.122)

    Next time, ask for the pillows. ANA & JAL normally stow them in the bins above the bulkhead or somewhere in the forward part of Economy.

  17. They serve a meal on a 52 minute flight? In China, you will be of great luck to be able to grab a bottle of water on boarding… CAAC regulations dictate 50 minutes’ no-service period, so rip.

  18. Hi Ben. Always a pleasure to read your reviews. LifeMiles will not accept my LHR-HND/NRT-HNL booking on ANA’s first class even though it comes up as a possible itinerary on their site. Any thoughts about this?

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