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ANA Ambassador Report 1: San Jose to Tokyo on the 787 Dreamliner

The All Nippon Airways 787 Dreamliner Arrives back to San Jose Airport, ready to turn around for it's flight back to Tokyo Narita - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The All Nippon Airways 787 Dreamliner Arrives back to San Jose Airport, ready to turn around for it’s flight back to Tokyo Narita – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

This is the first in a multi-part series covering my trip from Seattle to San Jose to Narita to Hong Kong and back home as a ANA Ambassador. Note that my flight was provided by ANA, but all opinions are my own. 

Departing from San Jose’s Norman Y Mineta Airport (SJC) could not have been more of a breeze.  The weather was perfect, the check in area was quiet and security lines were nonexistent.  It was a great way to start off my flight to Tokyo.

I was about to embark on All Nippon Airway’s (ANA), first 787 service out of the US since the infamous grounding .  With boarding passes in hand, I was escorted to the gate by a member of the airport staff  where we could photograph the arrival of the 787 Dreamliner.

After being joined by other media, we grabbed the arrival photos from the sterile corridor and then headed up to the lounge.  The “Club at SJC” is the new lounge that opened the day prior to the first service that ANA operated out of San Jose back in January.  Unless you’re a business class guest (or Star Alliance Gold member) flying the one and only ANA flight out of SJC, the lounge will cost you an entry fee.

The "Club at San Jose" Airport Lounge is not a bad way to start your flight  - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The “Club at San Jose” Airport Lounge is not a bad way to start your flight – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The lounge was slick, spacious and nicely stocked with plenty of free and paid food & drink options (including some hot breakfast items). The main downside was the lounge did not have the best views as the main windows faced either the car park or the terminal.  But I was less concerned about the lounge views than I was about to fly on the 787 Dreamliner again.

After enjoying the lounge, I headed down to check in early to get some photos of the boarding area and the first passengers to board (of course I wanted to be right at the front).

Some airlines add some nice touches to special flights like this one and ANA did not disappoint. The VP of the America’s for ANA gave the pre-boarding speech and announcement before the boarding began.  Also, ANA staff were handing everyone a little handwritten note to welcome them on board the first 787 after the grounding.

The ANA Business Staggered Seat.  This is the "C" seat with the storage window side giving true Aisle access.  Chose "A" if you love a true window seat - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The ANA Business Staggered Seat. This is the “C” seat with the storage window side giving true Aisle access. Chose “A” if you love a true window seat – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Even though I had not flown on a ANA 787 before, I had previously been able to check out the aircraft when the ANA 787 first began service to Seattle [ANA started operating the Seattle flight with a 777 on June 1].

The “Inspiration of Japan” service on-board is the most recent product available to ANA guests.  In Business Class the “Business Staggered” seats are like a small pod that encapsulates you and provides a high amount of privacy.  Want the most amount of privacy?  Select an odd numbered row on the A or K seats as this has your seat next to the window and the storage areas on the aisle.

Airborne from San Jose Airport.  The 787's composite wing is already flexing just metres off the ground - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Airborne from San Jose Airport. The 787′s composite wing is already flexing just metres off the ground – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

As we departed the gate area the ANA & SJC Airport staff lined up to wave goodbye (an ANA company tradition for all departures) and then it was off to the runway.  After hearing those Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines spool up for take off, we climbed out of SJC and immediately the iconic 787 wing flex became evident.

The all composite wings on the 787, that allow quite a bit of flexing, are one of the features that I love most about the aircraft– those raked wingtip bring a smile to my face.  During the climb out (once the seat belt sign went off) people started getting up and there was quite a bit of socializing among the passengers and via the in-seat messaging system built into the IFE.

This is ANA's longhaul 787 seat configuration. Image by ANA.

This is ANA’s long-haul 787 seat configuration. Image by ANA.

Although ANA is well known for their Japanese cuisine, when lunch was served, I decided on the western menu. I figured I would try the Asian cuisine on the way back, since those are much better when catered from the home base.

Bonus: ANA Business Class Menu – San Jose to Narita

The meal was a multi-course feast encompassing an almost Asian/French fusion as my beef main course (not over cooked!) was offered with an Asian inspired Soy & Daikon Radish sauce. Add on an Ice Cream dessert and some coffee and it was a pretty satisfying meal.

Snacking is available during the flight with a number of options including a Ramen dish from one of Japan’s more popular Ramen house chains Ipudo, tubs of Hagen Daaz Ice Cream, soup or even a chicken BLT bagel.

Ice Cream, Cheese or Fruit?  It's hard to decide when its offered from a Cart by the ANA Cabin Crew - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Ice cream, cheese or fruit? It’s hard to decide when its offered from a Cart by the ANA Cabin Crew – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

After lunch, many passengers settled in to rest, but since this was a daylight flight and we would arrive late in the afternoon, my way of combating jet-lag was to stay awake.

This didn’t stop me from borrowing a pair of super comfortable pajamas (you have to hand them back no free souvenir unfortunately) that ANA offers to their Business class guests.  The power port and overly large tray table also allowed me to work in relative comfort during the flight.

The writer sporting the ANA Business Class pyjamas which unfortunately you have to give back at the end of the flight.  They are super comfy! - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The writer sporting the ANA Business Class pajamas which were super comfy! – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

If you intend on sleeping during the flight, the Business Class seat goes fully flat and the provides a blanket and pillow that are quite comfortable.  There are quite a few options with the on-demand audio/video system, but the selection for English options was not as extensive as other airlines — but there was enough to keep me entertained.

After another meal (I went with the Japanese option this time, figured it was a bit lighter) there was a bit more socializing with fellow AvGeeks prior to descent and arrival into Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

There wasn’t much pomp and circumstance for this service since it wasn’t really the first, but a re-inaugural of the previous SJC-NRT 787 flight. This flight felt like any other flight and on the 787, that is not a bad thing.

A lovely display of free candy, offered by an ANA Cabin Crew member, prior to arrival at Tokyo's Narita Airport - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

A lovely display of free candy, offered by an ANA Cabin Crew member, prior to arrival at Tokyo’s Narita Airport – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

We landed at Narita airport close to Terminal 1 allowing for a quick (for Narita standards) taxi to our gate.  Checking out the different liveries around the airport can cause some confusion.

You’re in Asia and you might expect to see a majority of Asian carriers.  Though you could be mistaken as Terminal 1 is also the United & Delta hubs for the Asia region.  You might see as many Delta & United  wide-bodies as ANA ones!

The First glimpses of Japan as we approach Tokyo's Narita Airport - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The First glimpses of Japan as we approach Tokyo’s Narita Airport – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

We disembarked the flight after a short 9 hour flight from the West Coast of the USA and all that was ahead of us was Transit security and the lounges of Narita Airport and this is where the real adventure began. But for those details you will have to wait until my next story.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

9 comments to ANA Ambassador Report 1: San Jose to Tokyo on the 787 Dreamliner

  • ANA, United, and Delta use Terminal *1* at NRT.

  • Blaine

    Who’s that jerk in the purple shirt??? :)

  • Jason B

    So what day was the actual flight? Your post is June 19 but as I’m reading this you’d be a coupe of hours from actually landing in Japan if your flight left on June 19 (PST).

    • Hi Jason. It was actually on the 1st of June and there is a link to the story about the actual resumption of service itself.

      Blaine.. not sure.. if I find him, it might not be a good sight since he ruined such a good photo of me :P

  • ddbtint

    Great report but please, and sorry for being pedantic but writers should know basic grammar, “could not of” makes no sense. “Could not have” or “could not’ve”.

    “To have” is a verb. “To of” is not. Errors like this betray those who “learn” grammar by what they hear versus, you know, that old fashioned thing called reading.

    Again, sorry for having to be the grammar police in an age when most people don’t know or don’t care.

  • Malcolm, It was great to meet you at SJC on June 1st. It certainly was a beautiful day for flying, especially on the Dreamliner.

    Besides ANA and the Dreamliner, SJC has another pride and joy – The Club at SJC. While visiting The Club, perhaps you didn’t get a chance to see the excellent views of the airfield and the Santa Cruz Mountains from the west side windows. I hope you are able to enjoy this vantage point the next time you visit us.

    We really enjoyed reading your account of traveling through SJC, and on the Dreamliner to Tokyo. Continued happy travels to you!

    • Hi Rosemary. The views were not to bad from that side but unfortunately we didn’t get to experience them from the west side as it was already full by the time we got up there after the arrival. We tried to grab space where we could all fit (since there was 3 of us) that was close to a power point, so we could do a bit of work, prior to leaving.

      Can’t wait to experience the club again in the future!

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