Entering the ANA 777-300ER Inspiration of Japan first class cabin – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
Airline: All Nippon Airways (NH)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Departed: Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
Arrived: Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Class: First Class
Seats: 1D & 1G
Length: About 14 hours
It seemed to happen every day for two weeks – I’d glance out my office window in Denver at about noon, just in time to see the contrail of a high-altitude wide-body fly by. Being the diligent AvGeek I am, I would check out my flight tracker phone app to find out what I just saw. The answer was the same every time: ANA Flight 173 – from Houston to Tokyo. It felt like I was being teased — I had first class tickets booked on that very flight for our upcoming trip. Seeing that plane in the sky, day after day, was just rubbing it in — today’s not the day. But that day would soon come.
Flying this route was actually somewhat of a last-minute change to our itinerary, in which Bangkok was our final destination. We had initially been booked trans-Pacific on United’s Global First service from Chicago to Beijing; however, a very short layover in Beijing combined with United’s poor on-time performance on the 747-400 was making me nervous. I had been keeping an eye on alternate routing when I found first class award availability on ANA and Thai Airways via Houston and Tokyo about three weeks prior to the trip. Yes, please! The Houston-to-Tokyo route is a new addition to ANA’s North American offerings, having just kicked off service in June.
Houston sees its first Hello Kitty EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER (reg: B-16722)
It is hard to be a part of modern society without at least having a basic idea that Hello Kitty exists. I really had my first true run-in with the girl (she is not a cat, apparently), when covering the new international terminal opening up at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. They have a Hello Kitty store there, and while I have seen some backpacks and other knick-knacks with her image previously, I had no idea of the scale, nor the culture that surrounds this global brand. I was a bit impressed.
Dancing with Hello Kitty — where else? In Texas!
When I was recently invited to cover EVA Air’s inaugural flight from Taipei (TPE) to Houston (IAH), with a Hello Kitty celebration, I still was skeptical of the power of the cat-looking icon from a country that is not even the airline’s own.
However, after not only experiencing the event, but also a 15-hour-40-minute flight on the Hello Kitty-themed plane, I have to say that I am starting to respect it, but maybe not for the reasons you might imagine.
For many, taking a ride on the 737 is nothing to write home about. How about flying on a 737-700 with only 44 seats in it? That spark your interest? Typically you will see the 700 with 128-140 seats, so that is a big change.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that they plan to start operating a business class-only 737-700 from Houston (IAH) to Stavanger (SVG) starting on August 20th of this year. The 737 will be wet-leased from PrivatAir and it will wear the SAS livery. According to their press release, the inside of the plane will offer, “SAS Long Haul Business Class concept on board… along with modern in-flight entertainment system and full-service meals and service.”