ANA B747-400 (Club ANA) business class

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ANA has recently moved to Terminal 1 South Wing at Narita Airport, but when I flew from here it was still based at Terminal 2. I arrived at 0930 for my 1135 flight and quickly found ANA’s business class check-in area, which consisted of a large bank of desks, all dealing with business class passengers (and mostly empty). I had to pass my luggage through a security machine. This was straightforward for me but not for my colleague, who had to open his bag while staff searched through it until they found the offending item – a cigarette lighter tuckedinto a coat pocket. Check-in was fast and then a man briskly directed us through one of the many x-ray machines. Passport control was also rapid and then I was off up the escalator to the lounge.

LOUNGE Before its move to Terminal 1, ANA shared a lounge with other Star Alliance carriers. Now passengers can choose one of six lounges in Terminal 1 South Wing. These include the two existing United lounges (Red Carpet and United First International Lounge) plus four brand-new ANA lounge, two each for first and business class, with a combined seating capacity of almost 1,000. A total of 63 computers with broadband internet access are provided, and each lounge has showers with free shampoo, soap and towels.

BOARDING At 1050 there came an announcement that flight 201 would board at 1110 and 15 minutes later we were told that it was ready for boarding. I walked to Gate A63 and down the stairs to the gate to join the queue for first and business class passengers (much shorter than the one for economy passengers) and was in my seat (26D) by 1120.

THE SEAT The configuration on this three-class B747-400 is 2-3-2. The seat reclines to 170 degrees and has 165cm pitch and 65cm width. There is not a great deal of privacy between seats but luckily the cabin was barely half full on this flight and I had a row of three seats to myself. The in-flight entertainment was audiovisual on demand. This business class product isn’t new: on the airline’s 777s there have been improvements to the business class seat including a raised footrest to stop you sliding down, a privacy screen which slides across and arm rests that can be flattened to give extra width. These aircraft do not, however, fly on the London route.

THE FLIGHT Before taking off on this 11 hour 55 minute flight, staff handed out cardigans and copies of Japan Times. Slippers are already provided in the seat pockets (amenity kits were not distributed as this was a day flight). We left the stand at 1139 and were airborne at 1155. Staff handed round champagne and chilled green tea after several minutes, followed by a menu. I was hungry by this point but it was another 20 minutes before a snack arrived, which was cheese sticks with pieces of vegetable and an olive in tempura batter. I had intended to try the Japanese menu options but my head was turned by the pan-fried wagyu beef tenderloin with Chateau Duplessis reduction, which was a special dish as part of ANA’s 25th anniversary of international flights. However, everyone else must have had the same idea and the cabin attendant returned after 15 minutes to apologise that they had no beef left. I went instead for herb-crusted scallops with balsamic sauce followed by thyme-roasted jumbo mushroom and pasta with Italian tomato sauce. Both were well presented, and served with tasty warm plum bread with small dishes of olive oil and butter, and salt and pepper. I had expected the scallop dish to be hot but it was cold and the caramelised onions were a bit rigid, so I checked with the attendant that it was intended to be a cold dish (ie that they had not forgotten to warm it up) and she confirmed it was supposed to be cold. The pasta dish was good. For dessert I chose another anniversary special, the vanilla bavarois and peach compote with rosée champagne sorbet, which was lurid in colour but slightly tasteless.

After dinner I reclined into the bed position and settled down. As with most lie-flat-style beds I experienced a sliding feeling, but by manually tweaking the recline button I could raise the seat slightly to give me more grip. Although it was a day flight I was tired, and slept for around six hours thanks to the warm blanket.

The lights were switched on two and a half hours before landing and a menu of light dishes was available. This time I chose the Japanese option: salt-grilled masu (salmon trout) and miso-grilled free-range chicken with steamed rice and miso soup, which was served in attractive boxes.

ARRIVAL We touched down at 1442 local time, and reached our Terminal 3 Heathrow stand at 1451, 15 minutes early. We quickly disembarked and made our way to passport control. I tried to use the fast-track lane but was told that it was by invitation only, so I queued for the main desks (with other EC members). Once through (after about 10 minutes) I reached the luggage hall quickly to find my bag already on the carousel.

VERDICT A slightly tired-looking business class product but still comfortable, with excellent personal service and a punctual arrival.

PRICE ANA operates a daily non-stop service from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita from £756 in economy and £3,087 in business. For reservations call +44 (0)1494 733 488;

Sarah Maxwell

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ANA B747-400 (Club ANA) business class

First impressions I arrived two hours before my 1900 departure on All Nippon Airways flight NH202 from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita. At first I could not find my check-in desk at Terminal 3. The board indicated zone D but after being directed to zone C, I eventually asked at the ANA desk and it turned out to be zone B. There was only one person at the business class (ANA Club) check-in counter; the economy class had a queue of around 20. I requested an aisle seat but there were none available. I then went to the fast-track security where I had to queue for around 10minutes. 

The lounge ANA’s shared Star Alliance Red Carpet lounge is signed as United Airlines. Check-in staff told me that when the flight was called I was to go to Gate 15. The lounge is quiet and spacious with plants sectioning off different areas for reading, TV, internet booths and desks. The lighting is gentle and the temperature a cool relief after the main terminal. The lounge was busy but I found a place to sitby the window on a leather sofa. There were the usual snacks and drinks available and a good selection of newspapers and magazines.

Boarding ANA operates a daily non-stop service from London Heathrow to Tokyo.The flight was called in Japanese first, estimated boarding 1830. The queue at the gate was long but I saw first one man leave it and disappear around the corner, then another. A member of staff appeared and walked up and down the queue saying something in Japanese. I thought I heard “fast track” and so I stepped out and asked. She checked that I was business class and then let me through.

The seat This Boeing 747-400 has 75 business class seats (2-3-2 configuration,some upstairs). The seats have 65cm width, 165cm pitch and recline to170 degrees (lie-flat style). My seat was 24K by the emergency exit,useful in economy, but not so in business. For one thing, I did not have the handy built-in pockets for my shoes and water bottle (usually on the back of the seat in front) or a hook for my jacket (which was hung in a wardrobe) or the useful pocket large enough to store a laptop computer.

The seat has an adjustable recline, head and foot rest as well as a massage function and lumbar support. There is a power point at the seat as well as a personal light, which can be directed. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) audiovisual on demand screen comes out of the armrest and can be twisted to avoid light reflection. 

The flight We had boarded by 1845 but at 1915 there was an announcement that there would be a slight delay in take-off because of an electrical fault. We sat in dim lighting for a while and eventually took off at 1936. Once airborne we were offered green tea or Champagne and olives and canapés of Palma ham with tofu.

At 2030 dinner orders were taken (I chose the Japanese meal rather than the western alternative). A few minutes later a flight attendant asked if I would mind having the western dinner as they had fallen short on the Japanese. She was very apologetic.

Dinner was served on blue tablecloths with metal cutlery at 2050. The flight attendant apologised once again and thanked me for my co-operation. Starter was warm squab and porcini mushroom ragout-filled crisp filo pastry and garden salad; it was rich and tasty but the pastry was a bit limp. The main was excellent: pan-fried beef tenderloin with fontina and horseradish sauce with ball shaped carrots and sprouts. Dessert was apricot tart and vanilla ice-cream.

After dinner chocolates and liqueurs were offered and then at around 2200 we were left alone. I slept on and off for around three hours (I could have slept longer but was lured into the IFE and watched two films). I found that when the seat was fully extended I tended to slip, but when I adjusted the lumbar support the angle helped. I found the most comfortable position lying on my side. There was no one sitting in the aisle seat next to me, which made the flight even more comfortable. The service was excellent and just before landing we took a light meal. I had Japanese noodles, which were delicious. We landed at 1554 local time.

Verdict An excellent service. The staff were attentive, polite and friendly and always on hand. Although we were slightly delayed on the outward journey we were well informed and we landed only nine minutes late. The return journey a few days later was perfect and I had the Japanese meal, which was superb with a great variety of fish dishes and a chance to have the noodles again. We arrived back in Heathrow half an hour early.

Price All Nippon Airways operates a daily non-stop service from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita from £699 return in economy, and from £3,120 return in Club ANA. For reservations call  +44 (0)20 8846 0250;

Felicity Cousins

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