Tried & Tested

ANA B777-300ER business class

29 May 2014 by Tom Otley

BACKGROUND

On March 30, ANA switched its daily Heathrow-Tokyo flight from Narita to Haneda airport. It uses a B777-300ER, on which there are several different seating configurations – ANA has 19 of the aircraft in total.

CHECK-IN

Having checked in and selected my seat online, I arrived at Heathrow T3 at 1730 for flight NH278, departing at 1935. (From June 18, ANA will be in T2.)

Check-in is at Zone B. There was no queue and I picked up a paper boarding card as a back-up for the one on my phone.

THE LOUNGE

Until the terminal switch, ANA uses the No 1 Traveller lounge at T3 – in T2 it will use the Star Alliance one.

It was very busy when I was there, not helped by large swathes of seating being marked as reserved.

BOARDING

I went down to Gate 1 early. First class was called first, closely followed by business.

THE SEAT

This was a four-class aircraft, with 112 economy seats in an unusual 2-4-3 layout; three premium economy rows; eight first class suites; and 68 business seats (1-2-1) across three cabins – a two-row section (five to six), a main cabin (seven-17) and a four-row cabin (18-21), where I was.

On European flights, business seats in each row are slightly staggered forward and backward of one another, allowing room to stretch out when your bed reclines beneath the side table of the seat in front. I’ve seen versions of this seat before, but in this configuration it seems very spacious.

The side table is large enough to stack books and magazines on. The main table extends from under the screen, folds outwards with two side leaves and can be pulled closer depending on whether you are working, eating or need yet more storage space. It was firm for working on.

There is a place under the seat for your shoes, and under the footrest for a bag. The overhead lockers above the window seats were large.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) had a 17-inch touchscreen and a reasonable choice of movies and entertainment, although not exceptional. Wifi is available at various price plans.

Under the screen was a compartment with a USB port, an iPod connection and a universal power source. A three-pinned UK plug wouldn’t fit flush into the slot so I used a US converter.

My first pair of headphones had a strange echo in one ear so were replaced by the helpful attendant. Service in my cabin was swift and friendly.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

Some seats are further from the aisle than others – I would choose one of these, since you still have direct aisle access but are further from any potential disturbance (so, 18A and 20A, 19E and 21E, 18F and 20F, and 19K and 21K).

As this cabin is over the wing, you won’t get any views from window seats.

THE FLIGHT

We took off on time, with drinks offered and our orders taken, with the meal coming out about 30 minutes later.

There were two menus: Japanese and international. I went for the Japanese, which comprised an amuse bouche – smoked salmon, marinated vegetable, pancetta and zucchini boat; zensai – salmon sushi, simmered duck, marinated daikon radish; sunomono – marinated octopus and mozuku seaweed; kobachi – poached beef and vegetables; shusai – deep-fried seabass with broth; steamed rice, miso soup, pickles, dessert and cheese.

The food was delicious and the attention to detail impressive, as was the speed with which it was served.

I then got ready to sleep. The underblanket at first would seem unsuitable for lying on, having small ridges inside it, but it was actually extremely comfortable. The quilt was a nice design, with a pouch for your feet.

When fully reclined, the seat had lots of room. One arm could be released and folded upwards to create more room for your shoulders.

I got five hours’ good sleep, then a meal was served about two-and-a-half hours before landing.

ARRIVAL

We arrived on time and immigration was swift.

VERDICT

Very, very good. The attention to detail in the service and the products on board – from the bed cover to the huge variety of food – sets ANA apart from much of the business class competition.

The bed is comfortable for sleeping, although if you wanted, you could have spent the whole 11 hours eating and drinking.


FACT FILE

  • DEPARTURE TIME 1935
  • FLIGHT TIME 11hrs 40mins
  • PLANE TYPE B777-300ER
  • CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
  • SEAT WIDTH 19.4in/49.3cm
  • SEAT LENGTH 74.5in/189.2cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight between London and Tokyo in July ranged between £3,491 and £3,557 depending on flexibility
  • CONTACT ana.co.jp

Tom Otley


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