All Nippon Airways 845, NRT – SIN

NH_Logo

NH 845

NRT – SIN

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Premium Economy Class, Seat 15K

 

Prologue

Route_NH 845

Founded in 1952, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the underdog in Japan’s civil aviation industry. In the past 64 years, the carrier has grown from strength-to-strength in its challenge of rival Japan Airlines, with accolades including being the country’s largest airline today, its only Skytrax 5-star airline, a key member of Star Alliance and maintaining its independence and financial position. As ANA celebrates 30 years of international service since its first flight out of Japan to Guam in 1986, we join the carrier on a routine flight from Tokyo (Narita) to Singapore and experience the Japanese hospitality it is renowned for.

 

Check-In

ChkIn1_NH 845

ChkIn2_NH 845   ChkIn3_NH 845

24 hours prior to departure, we received an email notification informing us that check-in formalities for our flight had been completed. ANA offers this convenient service for passengers that have registered their passport details online, who may then bypass the check-in counters and only present their mobile phone as a boarding pass. Having a bag to check-in, we stopped by the bag-drop counter at Narita Airport Terminal 1’s South Wing. This was ANA’s home port and we were ushered to one of the many agents, who was friendly, courteous and professional. She confirmed our flight details, priority-tagged the bags and issued a paper boarding pass, all the while being cheerful and chatty. Detailed information was also provided to us on lounge access and directions to both ANA lounges.

 

Lounge & Ground Service

Lounge1_NH 845

Lounge2_NH 845   Lounge3_NH 845

Lounge4_NH 845   Lounge5_NH 845

ANA is one of a handful of airlines that offer lounge access to Premium Economy class passengers, who are invited to enjoy the facilities of the ANA Lounges in satellites 4 and 5 at Narita Airport. We opted to visit the latter as it was nearer to our flight’s assigned gate this afternoon allowing us to spend more time there and were not disappointed by our choice. An elegant reception area greeted us as we were warmly welcomed by the lounge agents and ushered into the main lounge area, which was bright and spacious with excellent tarmac views from the panoramic windows. Plenty of seats were available to passengers here and at a secondary area further in, although these were quickly taken as it got more crowded later in the afternoon with a bank of departures to North America. We chose a seat by the window with a view of the aircraft movements outside before getting something to eat from the plentiful food & beverage items available.

Lounge6_NH 845   Lounge7_NH 845

Lounge8_NH 845   Lounge9_NH 845

Lounge10_NH 845

Lounge11_NH 845   Lounge12_NH 845

The buffet on offer featured a mix of Japanese and international hot and cold foods, ranging from onigiri rice balls and beancurd skin sushi to finger sandwiches, salads and soups. Passengers with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed by the sweet puffs and pastries, complemented by a plentiful beverage selection of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, including fountain-dispensed soda, local sake and a machine-dispensed Asahi draft beer unique to Japan. We helped ourselves to finger food from the buffet, as well as a bowl of tasty udon noodles made-to-order from the lounge’s noodle bar, washed down with a glass of Suntory Hakushu whisky.

Lounge13_NH 845   Lounge14_NH 845

Lounge15_NH 845   Lounge16_NH 845

With a 7-hour flight ahead of us, we elected to freshen up with a shower before boarding. Shared with First Class passengers, the shower facilities are located just after the lounge entrance and comprises several spacious and clean shower rooms. We handed our boarding pass to the attendant on-duty who directed us to a vacant room, equipped with a Japanese bidet toilet, walk-in shower stall and premium bath amenities from Shiseido, where we enjoyed a refreshing hot shower with good water pressure and temperature.

Lounge17_NH 845   Lounge18_NH 845

Other facilities at the lounge included a business concierge service, which we observed was well-utilized by many business travellers.

 

Boarding & Departure

Boarding1_NH 845

Boarding2_NH 845   Boarding3_NH 845

Gate 51 was assigned for our flight and located just a short walk from the ANA Lounge in satellite 5. We made our way there just before the scheduled boarding time of 1625 hrs, where passengers had gathered to wait and begun crowding the gate area. The gate agents moved quickly to manage the crowd with regular announcements and separate lines for ANA Diamond tier members/passengers requiring assistance, Business Class passengers/Star Alliance Gold status holders and Economy Class passengers. Priority boarding began on-time and was strictly enforced, with the Economy Class line roped off until premium passengers had been boarded. We waited until the majority of the Economy Class passengers had boarded, combined with a light load this afternoon, made for a smooth walk down the jetway and onto the waiting Dreamliner.

 

ANA’s friendly cabin attendants were at the door to greet passengers, with the higher ceiling of the B787 and mood lighting creating a welcoming first impression. We made our way to the compact Premium Economy cabin just behind the second Business Class cabin and over the wings, settling into the very comfortable seat with a pre-placed pillow, blanket, slippers and headphones. In typical Japanese efficiency, the flight was boarded and doors closed within 20 minutes, which was one of the fastest boarding procedures we had encountered.

 

Seat

Cabin1_NH 845

Seat1_NH 845   Seat2_NH 845

Introduced as part of the “Inspiration of Japan” service enhancements in 2010, ANA’s Premium Economy seat is highly rated for comfort and functionality. Upholstered in the airline’s signature blue fabric, the seat offers a 19.3-inch seat width and 38-inch seat pitch as standard, together with a well-padded legrest, lumbar support and adjustable headrests. Being seated in the bulkhead row, we sacrificed the seatback storage netting for personal items but enjoyed a much greater seat pitch that combined with the aircraft’s larger windows to create a spacious cabin. A generous recline made this a very comfortable seat for the flight and we were able to feel well-rested throughout the journey.

Seat3_NH 845   Seat4_NH 845

In the shared center console, each passenger has a pull-out cocktail tray and an individual armrest from which the large table folds out from. These are thoughtfully lined with a blue non-slip coating which prevents items from shifting in-flight, with the latter also being sturdy enough to hold a laptop computer. Bulkhead seats also have their personal screens stored at the front of the center console, folding out at the push of a button.

Seat5_NH 845   Seat6_NH 845

Seat7_NH 845

Every seat also has its own electrical outlet, USB port and iPod connector. The outer armrest houses the remote control for the Panasonic eX2-powered inflight entertainment system and an adjustable personal lamp is conveniently located over the center console. This had 3 different intensity settings which were useful in a darkened cabin for lighting without causing disturbance to fellow passengers.

 

Crew

We are full of praise for the all-Japanese crew operating our flight, all of whom were polite, friendly, professional and genuinely happy to serve. Throughout the flight, they constantly made their rounds to check on the well-being of passengers and conduct hydration runs with water and green tea. Apart from going about their duties, the cabin attendants also took time to engage with passengers, seek feedback and thank them for flying with ANA which added a personal touch to an otherwise routine flight. Especially commendable was the crew’s English language proficiency, which was excellent for non-native speakers and eliminated any language barriers for non-Japanese passengers.

 

Meal

Amenities1_NH 845   Meal1_NH 845

Meal service for Premium Economy passengers is similar to Economy Class, but we found the food and drink onboard was excellent as is the norm for Japanese carriers. Meal service started with the distribution of bottled mineral water and a wet towelette, followed by a beverage run of soft drinks, juices, beers, wines and spirits shortly after takeoff. We opted to have the white wine, a fruity and aromatic sauvignon blanc from Spain that paired nicely to the tasty Japanese rice crackers offered.

Meal2_NH 845

Meal3_NH 845   Meal4_NH 845

Dinner was served an hour after departure, with a choice of Japanese or International meals. We chose the Japanese selection and were not disappointed by the catering standard ex-Narita. Our meal was a tasty combination of seasonal ingredients including shrimp, chicken, snow crab and bamboo shoots on rice. This was followed by coffee/tea service by the cabin attendants, served in cups marking the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake which happened 5 years ago in March.

Meal5_NH 845   Meal6_NH 845

Additionally, Premium Economy passengers enjoy an enhanced snack service between the first and second meal services. We requested for a vegetable tomato soup and soba noodles from a cabin attendant, both of which were promptly served. To accompany it, we also ordered a umeshu soda from the drinks selection, which also included Business Class sparkling wine, sake, shochus and ANA’s signature aromatic kabosu drink.

Meal7_NH 845

A second meal service comprising of a sweet bread with refreshments was offered 1.5 hours prior to arrival.

 

Entertainment

IFE1_NH 845   IFE2_NH 845

IFE3_NH 845   IFE4_NH 845

Amenities2_NH 845

Every passenger in Premium Economy has his/her own 10.6-inch personal screen, mounted on the seatback or folded out from the center console. This was a touchscreen unit providing access to the inflight entertainment suite, which on our flight comprised of a selection of movies, videos, music, games and informational programming. In celebration of ANA’s tie-up with LucasFilm for the “ANA Star Wars Project”, the latest movie from the Star Wars franchise was featured as the headline offering. The airline is also the only one in the world to feature the Millennium Falcon in its fleet line-up in the “Wingspan” inflight magazine, which also had interesting articles on Japan and international destinations on the ANA network.

IFE5_NH 845

We found the content of the inflight entertainment to be adequate for our 7-hour flight, but felt it may be insufficient on longer flights to Europe and North America that is also flown by the Dreamliner. A bonus with the B787 is its larger windows that offered panoramic views to complement ANA’s programming and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset at 40,000 feet along with the lights of the Philippines as we overflew Manila.

 

Arrival & Deboarding

Arrival1_NH 845

Flight NH 845 descended into a clear but humid Singapore, landing at Changi International Airport ahead of schedule at 2316 hrs due to favourable tailwinds. Following a short taxi to Terminal 2, the jet docked at gate E26. The cabin attendants moved quickly to curtain off the Business Class cabin to facilitate priority deboarding. We liked how all ANA flights have an arrival video screened at this time which made the wait to leave the aircraft seem shorter than it really is, by which time the crew had released the rest of the passengers and lined up along the aisle to thank and bid them goodbye.

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