Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) flies daily from Sydney and Perth to Tokyo using Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The Star Alliance carrier could soon become a close partner of Virgin Australia, so how does their in-flight service stack up?
|Route||Sydney (SYD) to Tokyo Haneda (HND)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 787-9|
|Class of travel||Economy|
|Route on-time performance||79% (my flight arrived on time)|
I booked this as part of a one-way United MileagePlus award booking from Rarotonga, Cook Islands to Hiroshima, Japan which cost 15,000 United miles + $116 taxes. If you were to buy a ticket, ANA normally charges around $950 return for an Economy airfare from Sydney to Tokyo.
Thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status, I was able to use both the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges in Sydney. Both are good, but I especially liked the range of buffet food and private work stations in the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge.
I headed to the gate at the advertised NH880 boarding time but they weren’t quite ready yet. Announcements were made every few minutes until boarding began in both Japanese and English, sincerely apologising for the slight delay in boarding “due to departure preparations”. In the end, the delay was so minor that we still pushed back on time.
The Hard Product
Like Qantas (and pretty much every other airline except Japan Airlines), ANA has gone with a 3-3-3 seating configuration in Economy on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. This means the seats are a bit narrow, but fortunately on this flight the middle seat was vacant so this wasn’t an issue for me.
I was hugely impressed with the legroom in ANA Economy class. Even in a regular Economy seat, the seat pitch is 34 inches! I’m tall but I could sit comfortably without my knees touching the back of the seat in front. Seriously, this seating configuration puts other airlines to shame!
The plane was new and immaculately clean. I appreciated the high-tech Japanese bidet toilet seats, which were even fitted in the ANA 787 Economy bathrooms.
The in-flight entertainment was excellent, with a wide variety of Japanese and English content including live TV. Wifi was also available for a fee, but I didn’t try it out as I slept for most of the overnight flight.
The Soft Product
I’ll begin by saying that the service on this flight was excellent. The Japanese cabin crew were so polite and eager to please.
As I was sitting towards the back of Economy, I didn’t receive my meal until we were almost over Cairns. But it was well worth the wait!
There were no individual menus, but in true Japanese style, the cabin crew had laminated cards with illustrations and descriptions of the meal options. I chose the Japanese meal, which was a tasty seafood curry, and it was served with many accompaniments. A full range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available with dinner; I chose the sake at the crew’s recommendation.
After dinner, we were offered cookies & cream ice cream followed by tea.
As this was an overnight flight, the lights were switched off around 3 hours into the flight and remained off for the rest of the flight. Before turning off the lights, the crew came around to offer everyone a bottle of water and a breakfast bag. This was in lieu of a hot breakfast served prior to arrival. These were the contents of the breakfast bag:
Something slightly more substantial would have been nice, but I completely understand why they do this. The dinner was very filling, so I wasn’t that hungry later in the flight anyway. And with a 5am arrival in Tokyo, this allowed passengers to maximise their sleep rather than being woken up two hours before landing (I’m looking at you, Singapore Airlines…)
Around an hour before landing, the crew did come through the aisle to offer drinks.
ANA Boeing 787-9 Economy Class
I was so impressed with the ANA service. ANA is generally a little more expensive than Qantas on the Sydney-Tokyo route, but in my opinion ANA is worth the premium. With that in mind, it’s hugely exciting to see that Virgin Australia will soon become a partner of ANA.