Review: ANA 787 Business Class Beijing to Tokyo

Filed Under: ANA

ANA 906
Beijing (PEK) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Tuesday, October 15
Depart: 2:45PM
Arrive: 7:15PM
Duration: 3hr30min
Aircraft: Boeing 787
Seat: 3A (
Business Class)

This was my first flight on the 787, so suffice to say I was really excited. Boarding took place through door 2L, and we turned left into the forward business class cabin. This aircraft was one of ANA’s regional 787s, featuring 42 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. There were four rows in front of the door through which we entered, and a mini cabin consisting of three rows behind the door through which we entered.

The entryway to the plane itself was somewhat grand — not as much as it was hyped when the plane was first introduced, I thought, but still nicer than a comparable aircraft.

ANA 787 entryway

ANA 787 regional business class cabin

I settled into seat 3A, where I found a light blanket waiting at my seat.

ANA 787 regional business class seats

ANA 787 regional business class seats

ANA 787 regional business class, seat 3A

ANA 787 regional business class, seat 3A

ANA 787 regional business class, seat 3A

The seat featured a decent sized entertainment screen. To the right of the seat was a reading light and the entertainment controls.

ANA 787 regional business class entertainment controls

ANA 787 regional business class entertainment controls

That’s also where the seat controls were located, which were super basic, with just an “upright” and “recline” option.

ANA 787 regional business class seat controls

ANA 787 regional business class cabin

ANA 787 regional business class cabin

ANA 787 regional business class cabin

ANA 787 regional business class cabin

Once I settled in the first thing I noticed about the plane was how big the windows are — they’re huge. They’re probably the same width as on other planes, but much longer vertically. There also weren’t any window shades, but rather just a button you could push to dim the windows (though that option was deactivated while on the ground).

787 window

Once settled in we were offered newspapers, magazines, landing forms, and slippers. No drinks were offered, as seems to be the norm on intra-Asia ANA flights.

Landing forms

ANA business class slippers

The door closed right on schedule, and of the 42 business class seats only six were taken — easily one of the lightest premium cabin loads I’ve ever seen. We pushed back on-time, at which point the safety video began to play. I had placed my laptop bag underneath the seat in front of me, though as we taxied out the flight attendant placed it on the seat next to me and put a seatbelt around it, which I found rather comical.

Beijing Airport Asiana 767

Beijing Airport Air China 737 and ANA 787

Beijing Airport United 777s

Beijing Airport taxiing to the runway

Once at runway 1 we were number three for takeoff, and the two planes in front of us took off fairly quickly. Unfortunately about a dozen planes landed on the runway before we could take off.

Beijing Airport waiting for takeoff

Beijing Airport Singapore 777 landing

Beijing Airport United 747 landing

Beijing Airport Emirates A380 landing

Beijing Airport Air China A320 landing

Beijing Airport SAS A340 waiting for takeoff behind us

At 3:15PM we were cleared for takeoff.

Beijing Airport taking off

The takeoff roll was (not surprisingly) much louder than an A380, but perhaps marginally quieter than a 767 or 777. The coolest part of the takeoff was watching the wing flex, which was impressive.

ANA 787 taking off

The views on the climb out were gorgeous — it’s rare you get a day this clear in Beijing.

Climb out of Beijing

Climb out of Beijing

Climb out of Beijing

Climb out of Beijing

The inflight entertainment showed our flight time as being 2hr50min. The entertainment selection was rather good compared to what I’ve seen on other ANA flights, with a selection of movies and sitcoms.

ANA 787 regional business class entertainment selection

ANA 787 regional business class entertainment selection

ANA 787 regional business class airshow

As we climbed out the purser made a welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our arrival time of 7AM. Ouch! 😉

Once we leveled off one of the flight attendants came around with the menu to take meal orders. Menus weren’t distributed, but rather she showed it to me, and there was a Chinese, Japanese, and Western option. They were out of the Japanese option already, so I ordered the Western option.

Service began with drinks and rice crackers. I ordered a Coke Zero.

ANA 787 regional business class drink and rice crackers

After that the entire meal was served on one tray, and the main course and dessert covers weren’t even removed.

ANA 787 regional business class meal

So the good news is that the shrimp, salmon, and prosciutto starter were fine. The same goes for the pretzel roll and dessert. The “steak,” on the other hand, was quite possibly the most revolting piece of meat I’ve seen since my LOT Polish flight from Istanbul to Warsaw earlier this year, where I was served “chicken.”

ANA 787 regional business class meal

To finish off the meal I was offered some green tea.

ANA 787 regional business class green tea

So I love ANA in general. I find their first class product to be one of the best in the world, including the service, which is top notch. But their intra-Asia service just leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion, especially compared to Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Thai, etc. They serve everything on one tray, while almost all other carriers would serve multiple courses. Furthermore, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t remove the main course and dessert covers.

Service is also consistently extremely robotic on intra-Asia flights in my experience. They bring out the tray, they clear the tray, and if you want anything else you usually have to push the call button.

After lunch I took a quick walk around the cabin, including checking out the lavatories.

I know I’m easily impressed, but I really liked the lavatories in business class. They were bidet style toilets, which always make me giggle a bit. It’s also interesting to note that the doors on the lavatory don’t fold as is the norm on airplanes, but rather they slide inwards.

ANA 787 regional business class lavatory

ANA 787 regional business class lavatory

ANA 787 regional business class lavatory

ANA 787 regional business class lavatory

I eventually headed back to my seat and enjoyed the views out the window for a while.

787 wing view

I tried to recline my seat and nap for a bit, though the seat really doesn’t go back very far. It’s not even angled flat, but rather just reclines a bit.

ANA 787 regional business class seat reclined

As far as the window shades go, they had different settings based on how much you wanted to dim them. However, even when fully dimmed I didn’t find them as effective as the standard window shades, as you could still see through them a little bit. So while the concept of dimming is innovative, I don’t think the execution is amazing.

ANA 787 regional business class window shades dimmed

About halfway through the flight the captain made an announcement informing us of the typhoon we would be flying through, and that the seatbelt sign would shortly be turned on for the duration of the flight. Looking at the airshow it was pretty clear we were already routing around some weather.

ANA 787 business class airshow

787 wing view

Ever since my Royal Jordanian flight earlier in the year I get a bit apprehensive in bad weather. It’s not that I really get scared, but rather I just have flashbacks to that flight, which make me somewhat uneasy.

While the sunset behind us was beautiful, I was a bit startled when I saw the clouds ahead of us. It was getting dark at this point so I couldn’t capture a good picture, but the contrast was stark, to say the least.

Anyway, the turbulence wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, but rather we just hit a bit of light chop for 30 minutes.

At around 6:35PM we began our descent, and this is the point at which the weather started to get bad. We experienced quite a bit of turbulence all the way down to our landing, and touched down at 7:05PM on runway 34R.

We taxied to gate 58, which took about 10 minutes, getting us to our gate exactly on schedule.

Ultimately I didn’t find the 787 to offer a substantially different experience than other aircraft. I like the bigger windows, though don’t love the lack of window shades. Apparently the cabin pressure in the 787 is also supposed to be better, but since this was just a short flight it’s not something I picked up on.

I think the big innovation of the 787 isn’t for passengers but rather for airlines, given the cost savings it can provide. If it allows airlines to operate more frequencies at a lower cost then I’m all for it.

This particular flight was a standard ANA intra-Asia flight in terms of service. I’ve never been blown away by ANA’s intra-Asia service (in stark contrast to their longhaul service), and this flight was no exception.

I hope to try the 787 on a longhaul flight sometime soon.

  1. It was indeed a rare clear day in Beijing but the woman in the first pic nevertheless has a mask on. Is it a common practice of wearing masks onboard? Maybe she has a cough (or hopes to avoid one!)

    Surprising ANA outfitted this 787 for regional service (with chairs not fully reclining) when it’s ideal for connecting long haul cities where larger equipment doesn’t make sense.

    How shocking the food covers were not removed. 😉

  2. I showed my wife and my daughter one of these pictures and told them that in Japan they do not really use a toilet paper. I guess they already saved one roll of paper for our trip in Decmeber 🙂

  3. @Peter, masks in public places has always seemed to be particularly common in Japan, in my experience. Ride the Tokyo metro on any day, regardless of weather or season, and you’ll quickly lose count of the number of people wearing masks.

  4. Its pretty common to wear masks in Asian countries specially cities like Beijing, Tokyo etc. due to higher pollution levels. Sometimes I have seen many people just wearing out of habit no matter where they travel.

  5. @Andrew, thanks! I have seen mask-wearing before in Asia and it always makes me think they know something I don’t. 😉

  6. With 6 out of 42 seats taken, I am surprised they ran out of a meal option. I would assume they would cater more than 5 “Japanese” meals on Japan’s largest airline.

    Lucky, I am always impressed by people knowing the aircraft type just by looking at them. Some are obvious (380, 747, 787), but how can you tell the difference between a 777, and a 340 for example?

  7. @Ismael

    the 340 has 4 engines. The 777 only has 2. it’s the only single level passenger plane to have 4 engines.

  8. Yeah with only 6 passengers, I’m also surprised they ran out of the Japanese option. That steak looked HORRIBLE! I would have asked the flight attendant if it were edible!
    Glad to see you finally flew the 787! I’m looking forward to reading more 787 trip reports from you.

  9. @Ismael – A340 = 4 engines while B777 = 2 engines . . . and as for telling the difference b/w a 767 and 777, look at the read (main) landing gear . . . one has 3 sets of wheels on each side while the other has only 2

  10. Odd about the covers for the Western meal though when I flew NRT-HKG or the reverse on ANA regional C the Japanese meals are served with the bento boxes still covered. Perhaps they’re following that protocol?

    As for the “beef”, perhaps it’s a China-sourced cow, and China isn’t exactly known for steak.

  11. Do you really think the shades not being totally opaque is a flaw? I’d love to have the option of having it dark at my seat but still being able to know when we’re flying over beautiful terrain.

  12. For whatever it’s worth I flew this same route/plane in early Oct and like Greatmoosy said Japanese meal option was in a nice bento box – no foil cover. Also dessert was served separately.
    I also received the most comfortable pillow on a plane I’ve ever used and think the blankets were different from what you received (odd?).
    Interestingly the business class load was pretty much the same low number.

  13. Did this same flight last week. After taking my order the FA returned and asked if I would switch from Japanese to Western menu. I guess I look Western, but no cowboy hat that day. 😉 I politely declined. The bento box-like presentation included covers over everything. Sorry to say but it was quite tasty for an intra-Asia flight. Sorry to hear about the steak, surprising since the Japanese know what a good steak is.

  14. Lucky – if I can’t find NH F out of the US or Europe by now for departure between 11/22 and 11/24, should I give up and find an alternative, or will they release seats closer to departure? I am using USAirways miles, so changing flights after ticketing isn’t an option.

  15. @ mangoceviche — There’s definitely a chance space could open up, though ANA is hardly reliable about it. So I’d definitely book a backup. Keep in mind with US Airways you can change flights after ticketing (though there is a $150 fee), you just can’t change them after departure.

  16. Did you notice a difference in humidity levels? Supposedly that was also a Dreamliner selling point.

  17. If you fly out of Beijing on ANA, you can be pretty certain you can’t take off on time. Your plane has to wait and wait while other planes come and go. Some politics in the way.
    Anyway, it is wise to prepare yourself for a delay.

  18. I don’t think the plane was routing around some weather as much as it was routing around North Korea! While the airshow will predict a crows-eye Great Circle route transversing above Pyongyang, I’d be surprised if there was a pilot that would fly that. On a previous flight from Dubai to Osaka, the plane made two very obvious detours to avoid Iran and North Korean airspace!

    Interestingly, has anyone been on a flight that has transversed North Korean airspace? The issue of KAL007 comes to mind very vividly here as an example of transversing the ‘wrong airpsace’, even accidentally.

  19. When you take a long flight on ANA’s 787 Dreamliner, LIke the one I took from NRT to SJC. You’ll find the cabin way more comfy and u’ll appreciate the pressure and the moisture level. All business have direct row access, which I really liked.

  20. @ Lucky – I once used the Malaysia Airlines Chef on Call for my PEK – KUL flight. I ordered a steak, and all I got was a revolting meatloaf…

  21. The routing of Beijing to Japan has always been a strange irregular route due to the airways set and the airspace restrictions set in North Korean airspace, you should find the same when you fly to Seoul that the aircraft route will avoid certain areas.

  22. Just got off a lan 787 from Auckland to Santiago. Business seat 5f. Sound presure 89 db! Constant engine vibration from the rolls Royce engine. I felt the pilot altering the throttle postion to get rid of the vibration after my complaint. I went forward in the cab and sat in row 2 for a while and measured the sound at 81db. I will be avoiding this plane like the plague in future. In industry we have to supply ear protection if exposed to noise greater than 85 db but with this aircraft nothing is supplied. Absolutely terrible. Oh I fiorgot to mention a constant squeaking from the rear bulkhead un unison with the vibration. My “dream” experience certainly was a nightmare!

  23. I flew this same model with ANA and was not impressed. There is zero storage space around you in business class to set anything on. Seats are recliner only. Because I took a late night flight, there was no meal after take off, and they woke us up unreasonably early for breakfast, a grim breakfast at that, the type that leaves you torn between throwing up and just shaking you head. I later flew the same route on a Thai 787 and every aspect of the flight was better, including their lie flat seat. Thai also never overfed us though…

  24. I flew 4 segments on ANA in business US to Japan to Thailand. All four were Japanese meals, which were incredibly excellent. Never asked to switch my meal, even thought the flights were full.

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