After a sweet ride on ANA First Class and a couple of hours feeling like the King of the Castle in the ANA Suite Lounge at Tokyo Haneda, I boarded the regional flight onboard ANA business class that would be bringing me to Beijing.
All Nippon Airways | NH961
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Cabin: Business class
Route: Tokyo (HND) to Beijing (PEK)
Date: Sunday, February 18, 2018
Time: Departing 9:25am and arriving 12:35pm
Duration: 4 hours 10 minutes
ANA uses a variety of aircraft on their intra-Asia routes, and this particular morning flight between Haneda and Beijing was operated by a Boeing 777 widebody. This is the same equipment that’s used on the airline’s long-haul routes, and so rather curiously also comes with the First Class suites that I had just enjoyed not too long ago.
I’m pretty sure these seats weren’t available for booking on this short regional flight, but nevertheless it was interesting to see as I walked through the First Class cabin on my way to my business class seat.
For this flight, I had picked Seat 12K, the window seat located roughly in the middle of the business class cabin. I find the ANA business class cabin to be quite stylish, although on this particular aircraft the seats were showing a few signs of wear and tear.
ANA’s business class seats are arranged in a staggered configuration, which means that the window seats alternate between being closer to the window and closer to the aisle. Most people will find the seats closer to the window to be a better choice, since they’re a lot more snug and offer more privacy.
Taking my seat, I first took note of the 17” touch-panel LCD entertainment screen in front of me, as well as the footrest located underneath.
A feature of staggered business class seating is that you tend to have quite a satisfying amount of usable surface space at each seat, since there’s typically a “console” that houses the footwell of the seat behind you. That’s exactly what I enjoyed here on ANA business class.
Most of the seat’s remaining features are scattered around the console. Tucked in the corner is the in-flight literature pocket, a small storage box, and a cup holder, while the reading light and headphone jack are also located along the seat panel here.
Then you’ve got the seat and entertainment controls located flush against the small vertical surface of the console facing you. The seat controls had text descriptions describing what each button was for, which I think helps make the controls more intuitive to use.
Within closer reach, you’ll find a simple alternative set of seat controls that allows you to easily raise and lower the seat back.
Adjacent to the entertainment screen, there’s a small coat hook that’s good for hanging a garment or a backpack during the flight. Meanwhile, the tray table slides back and forth from a small compartment underneath the entertainment screen.
The more I looked around, the more I found myself really digging the cabin’s aesthetics. Something about the electric blue seat finishes against a more understated navy-and-grey backdrop really hit the spot for me.
The flight attendant stopped by my seat to hand out the in-flight menu, addressing me in Mandarin. The flight was about half-full, and most of the passengers seemed to be Chinese tourists, so it made sense that the flight was mostly staffed a with a mostly Mandarin-speaking crew.
Speaking of the crew, I had heard excellent things about the quality of ANA’s service aboard their business class, although sadly I didn’t experience much of it on this flight. I felt a little rushed by the flight attendant who was taking my order, and there was also no welcome drink offered during the boarding process. Furthermore, throughout the rest of the flight, the crew barely interacted with me throughout the flight besides dropping off my food during the meal service.
While this aspect of the flight was disappointing, it wasn’t too big a deal for a quick regional flight on which I mostly slept, and I’m sure the service is a lot more up to scratch on ANA’s long-haul business class product.
As we began our taxi and takeoff, I was feeling quite sleepy and so decided to close my eyes for a quick nap. I woke up as we were reaching cruising altitude in the skies above Japan, and the crew was passing out light snacks. I do love Japanese rice crackers, so I enjoyed munching on these while waiting for my meal to arrive.
I had opted for the Japanese meal, which turned out to be quite delicious. Throughout my overall experience with ANA – both in the air and on the ground – not once did I find myself disappointed with the food or drink, which I found was one of the areas in which the airline really excels.
There was a bento box consisting of small bites such as deep-fried shrimp, simmered fried tofu in a soy-based sauce, steamed chicken in a wasabi sauce, and fermented yellowtail with turnip.
The main course consisted of simmered mackerel in a daikon radish sauce, which was actually quite similar to the pre-arrival meal I was served on my earlier flight in First Class. I thought the presentation was excellent; in particular, the steamed rice was served in a small “pocket” that you’d get to unfold by yourself.
In terms of beverages, I had some Chinese Tieguanyin tea to go with my food, while I followed up the meal with some of that delightfully smoky houji-cha – Japanese roasted green tea.
Since there was a full day of family get-togethers scheduled upon my arrival in Beijing, it was only natural that I’d use the remaining two hours or so to catch up on some sleep.
In lie-flat mode, ANA’s business class bed isn’t the widest nor the plushest, but my exhausted body didn’t care: I remained fast asleep until I was awoken – a little brusquely – by the flight attendant telling me to put my seat back in its default position in advance of landing.
One glance out the window and the Beijing smog was unmistakeable. I looked out the window watching the buildings fly by as we made our descent into Beijing Capital International Airport.
It was dreary and grey, sure, but it was home. And it was good to be back.
ANA business class provided a satisfying end to the 20 hours or so I spent in the company of the Japanese airline. Once again, ANA excelled in the food and drink department, and the hard product was also very impressive, although I’m sure the airline tends to use their older widebody aircraft on their regional routes, and so my seat was showing a few signs of wear and tear.
What could’ve definitely been improved on this flight was the service. As much as it pains me to say it, that might’ve had something to do with the predominantly China-based crew, who – for the time being – aren’t typically known for the warmth and attentiveness you’d expect from a leading East Asia airline. I certainly hope to have a better experience in this regard on my next flight with ANA in business class.