Browsing Tag: NRT

ANA Boeing 777. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ANA Boeing 777. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

Christmas has come a bit early for those of us that live in Seattle. All Nippon Airways (ANA) has recently announced that they will start service from Tokyo’s Narita Airport (NRT) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) a bit early this year.

Previously, ANA announced starting service between NRT and SEA using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner during the second half of financial year 2012 (October 2012-March 2013), but now they will start the service on July 25th using a Boeing 777-300ER. According to a press release, the airline, “has decided to launch the route ahead of schedule in order to capture passenger demand over the busy summer season.” ANA is still planning to change the route to a 787 Dreamliner later in the fiscal year.

The initial Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be configured with a total of 247 seats (85 business class, 162 economy). ANA will configure their 787 on the route with 158 seats – 46 business class seats and 112 economy class seats.

ANA currently operates eight US daily routes and Seattle will become the ninth. ANA will be the first airline to operate the 787 Dreamliner out of Seattle.

United Airlines, a Star Alliance partner of ANA, currently operates a daily flight from SEA to NRT using a Boeing 777-200 and some have questioned if United would reduce or eliminate their service. When I asked United about their future plans for the route, they replied with, “No changes planned.”

On Saturday April 22nd, Japan Airline (JAL) started their first flight using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Flight JAL008 lifted off from Narita, Tokyo (NRT) and then were met with a crowd at Boston Logan (BOS). Not only is this the first route, using the 787 Dreamliner, to the US, it is also the first time the aircraft has been put on a brand new route.

JAL’s first Boston flight was 100% booked and about 98% filled for the rest of April, showing positive demand for the new route.

JAL's 787 at Boston. Image from JAL.

JAL's 787 at Boston. Image from JAL.

“We are honored to see the 787 Dreamliner begin its first commercial service to the U.S. with the launch of JAL’s Tokyo to Boston route,” said Boeing Japan president Mike Denton, who was on the flight. “The 787 brings new levels of flexibility to airlines in their network development, and this is exactly the kind of long-haul point-to-point route the 787 was designed to fly. Congratulations to JAL and all their passengers participating in this exciting, pioneering flight.”

JAL took delivery of their first two 787 Dreamliners on March 26th and have announced their plans to operate the aircraft also from Narita to San Diego.

According to Bloomberg, the airline is also looking at using the Dreamliner on flights to Madrid, Berlin and Dusseldorf. JAL is also considering the possibility of re-opening routes using the 787 that were not profitable with the larger Boeing 777 from Nagoya and Osaka’s Kansai airports.

ANA's first 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) sits in the background at their second (JA802A) waits to take us for a ride.

ANA's first 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) sits in the background at their second (JA802A) waits to take us for a ride.

When I first started this blog a little over three years ago, I never thought I would be one of the first people to ever fly on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This truly is a dream (liner) come true.

A nice little rainbow surprise when boarding the ANA 787 Dreamliner. This is not a standard lighting configuration, but it sure is groovy.

A nice little rainbow surprise when boarding the ANA 787 Dreamliner. This is not a standard lighting configuration, but it sure is groovy.

Over the years, I have closely followed the 787, through its many ups and downs and I was honored to be invited to Tokyo to take an excursion flight around Japan. The night before the flight I received little sleep and was up at 4 am, like a kid on Christmas.

JA802A is begging to go for a ride.

JA802A is begging to go for a ride.

On Wednesday, October 27th, the 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) had its first revenue flight from Narita International Airport (NRT) to Hong Kong International Airport (HGK), but my experience was a bit different. Our flight was on JA802A, ANA’s second 787, which took off from NRT and experienced a 90 minute excursion, including flying over Mount Fuji — pretty rad.

We are on our way. Even though I did not have a window seat, I could see outside quite well. A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-400 at Narita can be seen.

We are on our way. Even though I did not have a window seat, I could see outside quite well. A Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-400 at Narita can be seen.

I had been on JA802A just a few weeks prior, while it sat at Paine Field, but this was much different. The energy being on JA802A with “real” passengers, when we are about ready to lift off was palatable. The flight contained some ANA VIP customers, representatives that ANA works closely with, the winners of ANA’s 787 photo contest and only four media representatives.

I was sitting in 9D, which is the inner aisle seat on the left side (SeatGuru.com already has its ANA 787 seating chart up), but I still had ample opportunity to look out the 787’s larger windows.

The plane will filled with a mixture of different people. I had seat 9D, which was the left side aisle seat.

The plane was filled with a mixture of different people. I had seat 9D, which was the left side aisle seat.

“Please be seated, we are about to take off,” never sounded so good. After a short taxi, the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines started to spool up and what a glorious sound. Do not worry, it stayed very quiet in the cabin, but you could still enjoy the unique sound that the Dreamliner engines provide.

The 787’s take off was a smooth experience and I didn’t feel pinned to my seat, like on many other aircraft. The sound and ease of take off, felt very similar to the A380 (but the 787 was a bit quicker). As we lifted off, the passengers clapped and cheered — we were off!

This photo does not do the wing justice. The bend is MUCH more impressive in person.

This photo does not do the wing  justice. The bend is MUCH more impressive in person.

I was really looking forward  to seeing how the 787’s wing looked from inside the cabin while flying. The good news is it looked as cool as I was hoping; the bad news was the photo does not do it justice. The wing had an unbelievable bow, like I have never seen before. Airlines really should put a sign at the windows over the wings that state, “The wings are supposed to do that.” I can’t wait to see what they look like in turbulence.

I should have drank more water before the flight so I could have tried out the bathroom with a window. Just took photos instead.

I should have drunk more water before the flight so I could have tried out the bathroom with a window. Just took photos instead.

The flight was only 90 minutes and that didn’t leave a heck of a lot of time. I was up and down the aisles taking photos and videos, checking the views outside, the lavatory with a view and playing around with the in-flight entertainment system. I could have been on the plane for ten hours and still wanted more.

Mount Fuji as seen from ANA's second 787 Dreamliner (JA802A)

Mount Fuji as seen from ANA's second 787 Dreamliner (JA802A)

So, the big question is, “Was it what you thought it was going to be?” Yes — the Dreamliner is an incredible aircraft that will evolutionize air travel for many passengers. On paper, I think the Dreamliner will help to revolutionize airline transport due to a large leap in technology, efficiency and cabin comfort, but for most passengers they aren’t going to notice all the changes — but that is not a bad thing.

Sticker on the Dreamliner! Don't worry ANA, I took it down :).

Check the AirlineReporter.com sticker on the Dreamliner! Don't worry ANA, I took it down.

For me and probably for most of you airline fans, the changes will easily be noticed. However, for the average passenger, they will feel the 787 just provided them with a great flight, but might not realize why.  When airlines moved from props to jets, it was quite obvious of large change, but it is not as obvious with the 787 Dreamliner.

Narita International Airport, as seen from the 787 Dreamliner.

Haneda Airport, as seen from the 787 Dreamliner.

All that being said, I firmly believe the 787 Dreamliner will be the new standard in world travel. It is comfortable, quiet and beautiful. I feel that this aircraft will make many frequent fliers change their top airline choices based on the Dreamliner product.

My first flight on the Dreamliner was unreal, but I can’t wait to try one of a real, “normal,” scheduled flight to put it to the real test. It is great to think that in only a few short years, these Dreamliners will be flying all over the world — a world that I am excited to experience.

After landing back at Narita, I really did not want to get off the 787, but they made me.

After landing back at Narita, I really did not want to get off the 787, but they made me.

SEE ALL 44 PHOTOS FROM MY FIRST BOEING 787 DREAMLINER FLIGHT

More Boeing 787 Dreamliner Stuff:
* Interior photo tour of JA802A while at Paine Field

* Jon Ostrower’s photos on his FlightBlogger site
* Photos and story from Ben M on USA Today
* Chris Sloan, Airchive.com/2C Media
* Video and photos from Guy Norris with Aviation Week

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 sits at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 sits at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

When talking airlines, I have heard over and over again that Singapore Airlines had the best international business class product and I recently had the opportunity to try it out. It was on flight SQ11 and SQ12 which is an Airbus A380 that flies to and from Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) with a stop at Narita (NRT) in Tokyo (disclaimer: I was able to fly at no cost by the airline to and from Singapore).

I am pretty big guy, around 6’1″ and 250lbs or so, which means I can truly appreciate a larger seat with a little extra room. Most business class seats do a great job of making me feel comfortable, but Singapore Airlines business class seats border on insanely big. They have a seat pitch of 55″, which is nothing to write home about, but they also have a seat width of 34″ — which is almost three feet. To compare, the international business class seat width on Lufthansa’s Airbus A380 is 20″ and All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300ER has a respectable width of 21″.

Singapore’s business class seats are arranged in a 1:2:1 layout, meaning every seat has access to an aisle. That eliminates having to trip over a seatmate in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Unfortunately I was not able to catch a window seat to or from Singapore, but with all the available in flight entertainment, who really needs a window anyhow (okay, I was disappointed, but it worked out).

Singapore Airlines sets up their Business Class seats in a 1:2:1 layout -- meaning everyone has aisle access.

Singapore Airlines sets up their Business Class seats in a 1:2:1 layout -- meaning everyone has aisle access.

When taking a 20 hour flight twice in one week, there needs to be a decent collection of entertainment. Singapore Airlines came through, giving each passenger easy access to a better-than-average selection of movies, tv shows and music all on demand. You are able to recline back and still easily view the 15.4″ screens.  I did end up having a few issues during my flights, where the entertainment system would tweek-out and restart on its own or cause my movie to stop for a bit. This happens to be a common occurrence since I have a knack of causing entertainment systems to crash. For some additional fun, there were quite a few “real” game options that you can play with other passengers, like Tetris and Battleship, but never got around to trying them out.

When it becomes time to sleep, the seats fold flat, but it requires you to stand up and fold the seat-back forward. The manual process was decided on to save the weight of additional mechanics, but it can be a bit annoying when you are about to fall asleep and you have to get back up to make the bed (yeah I know, life is rough). It is all worth the effort — I was able to sleep comfortably for about 7 hours on the flight home.

There were so many meals served on my flight to Singapore and back, with multiple courses, I am not even sure what this was. But I know it was good.

There were so many meals served on my flight to Singapore and back, with multiple courses, I am not even sure what this was. But I know it was good.

If you decide to sleep, you risk missing a meal or two — which would be a shame.  Because of timing, I enjoyed three different dinners on the way over and two lunches and a dinner on the way back. My first meal started with parma ham and ginger-infused pear, char-grilled vegetables and balsamic dressing. Then the the main entree was seared beef fillet with port wine sauce, mushrooms in spice cream and dessert was New York cheese cake ice cream with cherry compote. Yes, a lot of fancy names, but it actually tasted quite divine.

Just when I thought the formal meal was done, here came a cart with cheese on a cutting board. You tell them what you want and they will cut it up, served with fruit and even  a glass of port. Each meal has multiple courses and by the time the cheese cart rolls around you are pretty full.  If for some reason you are hungry during the down times, there is still a “light bites” menu available, where you can get anything from noodles, to sandwiches to even a Krispy Kreme doughnut (only from LAX to NRT).

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous there is also an Asian option including seasoned kelp, grilled fresh water eel braised in egg and pike eel roll with kelp.  I normally love trying different food, but was not in the right mood. It is always nice to have a drink while dining and if you become thirsty, no worries, you have eight pages of drink options to choose from including the classic Singapore Sling.

Singapore Airlines has different lighting modes for different parts of the flight on the A380. This purple was my favorite.

Singapore Airlines has different lighting modes for different parts of the flight on the A380. This purple was my favorite.

Singapore Airlines is very proud of their Singapore Girl brand of service and on board my A380 flight there were 23 flight crew. Something I didn’t notice on the way over, but learned while in the Singapore Airlines Training Center, is that the flight attendants have different ranks. Although their uniforms have similar designs, there is a variation of color based on seniority. The majority of men and women serving you will sport the color blue which is entry level. Green are the lead flight attendants in charge of a section and reds are chiefs in charge of each deck. On the A380 there will be one person in charge who sports purple. It became a game to try and find one of each color (hey, it is a long flight).

This is a new flight for the airline and was started on July 1. Singapore Airlines also operates a non-stop from Los Angeles to Singapore using an Airbus A340-500. Why would anyone take the longer trip with a stop in Narita? First, the non-stop flight (SQ37 and SQ38) is the second longest flight in the world and takes about 18 hours. That is a long time to be locked in a aluminum cylinder and some people might be willing to make the trip longer to have the ability to split up the trip with a short stop in Narita. Also, the non-stop flight only has business class seats, so if you are looking to fly first class or economy, the A380 flight is a must. If you are flying business class, the A380 product is similar, but the seats are wider compared to the A340. Probably the most important reason for airline geeks is the ability to fly on an Airbus A380 vs a more common A340.

These seats are so wide. The seatbelt comes up in the middle of the seat and they give you a pillow to fill space.

These seats are so wide that the seat belt comes up in the middle of the seat and they give you a pillow to fill space.

The first leg of the flight from LAX to NRT was about ten hours before a 1.5 hour lay over in Narita. Flying business class gave me access to the business class lounge, but it was a bit annoying having to get off the aircraft, go through security at Narita, before starting the boarding process.

Los Angeles becomes the eighth destination in Singapore Airline’s network to operate the Airbus A380. They were the first airline to operate the world’s larges airliner in October 2007 and they have clocked around 128,000 flying hours on more than 13,000 flights. The airline currently has 12 A380s in service and seven more on firm order. It is definitely worth the extra time to try out the A380 product and if you are flying economy, you still have a shot to fly on the upper deck.

Now, the bar has been set high. Have you flown in business class seats that you have found to be what you consider “the best”? If so, please tell me about your experience in the comment. Also be sure to check out my other photos of the flight including first class, the lay-flat business class seats, and my seat neighbor who was wearing cowboy boots.