From Tokyo to Bangkok I flew an ANA 787-9 in business class operated by Air Japan. For this flight, I elected to embrace the Japanese menu in full and once again enjoyed a delightful ANA flight with superb service onboard.
ANA 787-9 Business Class Review
This trip was booked as part of my epic journey from Los Angeles to Bangkok using Aeroplan miles. Air Japan was once ANA’s charter division, but now operates a number of scheduled flights for ANA with a fleet of 80 Boeing jets. Onboard, I noticed no difference between Air Japan and “regular” ANA.
After a night in the terminal and several hours in the ANA lounge, I was happy to board my flight to Bangkok.
Tokyo (HND) – Bangkok (BKK)
Friday, November 5
Duration: 7hr, 15min
Distance: 2,852 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 3A (Business Class)
Onboard, I was greeted and directed to my seat. Loads were very low…there were 35 people traveling to Bangkok, including only five in business class. Everyone could have been upgraded to business class and there still would have been open seats…
ANA utilizes a staggered business class product for its Boeing 787-9, featuring 40 seats spread over a main cabin (rows 1-8) and mini-cabin (rows 9-11). I chose seat 4A in the larger cabin. Seat pitch is 62 inches and seats are 21 inches wide. In lie-flat mode, the beds are six feet long (72 inches).
Lumbar support and recline can be adjusted by push-button on the side console and a “do not disturb” sign can be illuminated as well. Next to the passenger service unit (IFE remote) is USB-A port, universal power port, and a jack for the headphones.
A pillow, duvet, and mattress cover were provided. I tried to take a nap, but could not sleep (I apparently slept far too well on the airport bench…).
The rear business class cabin remained empty:
Food + Drink
Over the years, I’ve been told I am greatly missing out by only ordering off the western menus when I fly on East Asian airlines. So for this trip on ANA, I resolved to try the Japanese menu, particularly on a flight departing from Tokyo.
Pre-departure beverages included a choice of orange juice or sparkling wine. A moist towel (packaged) was also offered.
This was the menu for my flight:
I pre-reserved a Japanese meal.
Japanese Cuisine 〜Washoku〜
Zensai (A selection of morsels)
- Kelp with herring roe, simmered red konjac in soy-based sauce, cucumber
- Simmered roasted chestnut in syrup
Simmered prawn in soy-based sauce
Roasted duck with salt
- Deep-fried ginkgo nuts Carrot
- Deep-fried sweet potato Bulbil and vegetables tofu
Reisai (A selection of chilled morsels)
- Seared sea bream with sesame soy sauce
Kobachi (Tasty tidbits)
- Marinated crab meat and chrysanthemum in sesame sauce
Shusai (Main course)
- Braised beef sukiyaki and grilled tilefish with salted rice malt [293 kcal]
- Steamed rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles
- Served with Sainokizuna (KINMEMAI rice) produced in Saitama
The flight attendant seemed surprised, but in a very good way, that I had pre-ordered the Japanese meal. I realize ANA has a western meal on most flights, even within Asia, for a reason, but assumed most travelers would prefer a Japanese meal. But the two Americans seated around me ordered off the western menu so I certainly wasn’t alone in my prior practice.
Every passenger received the same amuse bouche, a sesame and walnut breadstick as well as a pastrami turkey ham and sweet chili potato. All food was delivered covered in plastic or foil.
The appetizers arrived and I had to marvel at how beautiful the presentation was. Everything was carefully arranged with attention to the smallest of details, like eating at a fancy restaurant.
The roasted chestnut was tasty, but the highlight of the first course was the seared sea bream, which was so fresh and delicious.
Before the meal I resolved to eat everything placed before me, and I did.
With lunch I enjoyed Japanese sake, my first time trying it.
The main course included both braised beef sukiyaki and grilled tilefish. Both were tasty. I was too full to finish the miso soup.
Dessert included cheese, fruit, and a lovely “Emotion Mont-Blanc Ispahan” from Pierre Hermé (raspberry and litchi jelly, meringue, rose flavored mascarpone cream, rose flavored chestnut vermicelli, and sprinkled with crisped raspberries)…I paired it with a glass of Japanese malt whiskey.
Flight attendants distributed water bottles after the meal service.
Prior to landing, a snack was offered from an a la carte menu. Sticking to the Japanese theme, I ordered “ANA original curry and steamed rice.” The portion was huge! I ate half of it…and I understand why many consider this Japanese comfort food. It was very tasty.
FAs also offered some snacks like mixed nuts and fried pasta.
I concluded the meal with Häagen-Dazs ice cream for dessert.
The flight attendants onboard were lovely, though very much by-the-books. For the pre-arrival meal I did ask if the Greenland herb-encrusted halibut was available. I was met with a totally blank stare and told I could only order off the snack side of the menu. I clarified, asking if there happened to be any leftovers that would be thrown away and was again told I could only order off the right side of the menu (my question was never answered).
I do wonder if there was any left and if so, were they just thrown away. Not a big deal, because it allowed me to try the curry, but my double meal game doesn’t work on ANA!
Attentive throughout the flights, the flight attendants offered each passenger a bag of candy and handwritten note just before landing:
Wi-Fi + IFE
The system on this 787-9 appeared a bit older and slower than on my 777-300ER flight from London to Tokyo, but included the same content of:
- Movies – about 50 choices, so not as much as on other leading carriers
- TV shows – also a more limited library
- Live TV
- News – recent Japanese as well as BBC news broadcasts
- Duty free
- Moving flight map
Noise-cancelling headphones from Panasonic were waiting at each seat.
Wireless internet was available for purchase, at three pricing tiers:
- 30 minutes – 6.95USD
- 3 hours – 16.95USD
- full flight – 21.95USD
Perhaps the greatest IFE was the views out the window. It was a beautiful day for flying. Take a look at the army of parked Thai aircraft on the ground at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
No amenity kit was offered, although a flight attendant did come around the cabin with a basket, offering amenities including:
- eye mask
- ear plugs
- toothbrush + toothpaste
Slippers and a shoe horn were also provided.
The lavatory was spotless prior to departure and spotless prior to landing, the two times I used it. I would expect nothing less on ANA. The toilet had a bidet.
This was a great flight on one of my favorite carriers. The service and food onboard was top-notch and the journey from Tokyo to Bangkok flew by. While I greatly prefer the 777-300ER over the 787-9, for a “regional” flight, the lie-flat seats in business class were comfortable and I look forward to flying ANA again soon.
If you’re hooked on Japanese Curry, there are several places in LA to enjoy it. Coco Ichibanya in West LA is pretty good. Hurry Curry (better) will be re-opening up in Santa Monica this year after closing their Sawtelle store last year.
Hurry Curry has been my go to. I had no idea the Sawtelle location closed though. Was last there in the spring. They also have a location in Seattle, or did pre-Covid.
The crew usually eats all leftover Business or First class meals. This is taken to the extreme by US carriers who have told me nothing more was available after I asked for a second main course, only to be seen later on carrying the meals to the back to feast on. One time I even caught the same FA on Delta who had insisted “they only load one dish per passenger” eating a Business class meal in the galley. But also on other airlines who would usually serve you as many dishes as are available during the meal service, the crew will usually eat the rest or already discard it (as opposed to waiting till the end of the flight to discard everything). You can try asking during the first meal if they can save you a halibut to have for breakfast. Some will do it if the workload is low.
You must have the complete opposite luck of Matthew, who seems to be able to get a second meal on just about every flight he takes on a US carrier.
This is the second time I see you skipped the wasabi. Not a fan?
Guacamole, yes. Wasabi, no. 😉
Do you also not eat horseradish? What about spicy food in general?
I like wasabi nuts…I’ll just never forget witnessing a dare in high school in which a guy gulped down a huge dollop of wasabi and was throwing up 45 minutes later. I’ve never been able to eat wasabi since then.
But I do like horseradish, spicy salsas, and hot peppers.
Oh, and you are holding your chopsticks incorrectly. You should have much more separation between the two sticks.
Great review as always! Do you pay for extra iCloud storage or do you use another service cause you have to probably store a lot of photos!
Thanks! I have close to 200K photos and do use iCloud plus local back-ups.
Whoa! 200k photos is crazy! Thanks for replying!
I checked…281K. Perhaps too many…
What was your degustatory impression of Ichiro? Was the verrine dessert memorable?
I’m not a professional drinker so it just tasted like whiskey to me.
Dessert was tasty, but I’ve had better. Would have preferred a simple tiramisu.
Great review. Man that’s a boatload of food and you wanted seconds! Holy smokes!
I thought I was a pretty seasoned traveler however I have to tell you I never thought to ask for another meal. Don’t know why…. I guess I just figured it was like eating at a restaurant although you’re not paying for it (but obviously you are). More like a cruise now that I think about it.
Why the front instead of the more cozy back?
I love the ANA curry. They even serve it in the first/business lounge.
Did the plane have air nozzles?
Next post: “One night in Bangkok Makes a Hard Man Humble”
Matthew, you consistently have great picture quality in your reviews, but those pictures of the ANA seat with the dimmed windows were STUNNING. Admittedly the windows were probably at their darkest setting which might’ve stopped you from sleeping, but amazing amazing photos.
Thank you. And these are on the iPhone 12. Imagine what the 13 would have done.
The first pics are so well taken i actually thought they where renders. You wrote first pasta instead of fried pasta btw.
ANA FAs are not programmed to offer items that are not from the appropriate menu.
On UAL’s Polaris, they ask what your first and second meal choice is on longhauls. The Kieseki option is what most passengers want, including me. I tell them I’ll just skip the meal if they don’t have it. It’s always great having been prepared in Japan. Obviously, the crew likes it too.
In this case, I am surprised there was not an extra Greenland halibut though I felt the FA truly did not understand my question.
Some Japanese don’t like saying “no”, so they will go out of their way to give you the same answer without actually saying no, by gracefully avoiding a direct answer.
So it’s very possible she understood your request, but was telling you “no” in her own way.
The word “no” (iie) in Japan is considered harsh or even rude, and is not generally used in customer settings. Instead, you’ll get a sucking of the teeth and an apologetic facial expression followed by a non-answer or a re-direction. It’s also possible the FA’s working knowledge of English is limited to specific in-flight conversations and the “are there any leftovers” chat strayed into unfamiliar territory for her.
She likely understood your question, but her extensive ANA FA school training taught her to always stick with the menu program. They cannot sway from this rigid system. It’s like trying to get into their Suites lounge on a round-trip first class ticket, but it is not allowed because your next inter-Asia flight is only offered in business class. It is impossible.
Wow- must say, the sight of all those Thai planes makes me quite sad. BKK used to be such a bustling center of tourism and business… now, the logical end of authoritarian hysteria. This isn’t going away, and keeping what it is a gorgeous, hospitable country in a draconian economic depression is quite stupid at this point. The same can be said for so much of the world- Covid is endemic, becoming seasonal, and vaccines are waning and more akin to a regular prophylaxis (if one chooses it, all the better)
This is also the same as the long-haul seat on most of their fleet. Still a perfectly good hard product even on long-haul! The interiors on the 787-9 are a little nicer looking than the 787-8s (and presumably non-refurbished 777s).
Air Japan also operates some old 767s though which are not nearly as good.
If you had to choose between ANA 787 or United 787 LAX to HND biz class, which would you select?
NH without a doubt for the superior food and service. Even the western food on NH is better than all U.S. and most European airlines.
I do prefer the UA Polaris seat to this one, but half the UA 787-9 fleet is still the 2-2-2 B/E Diamond.
Hi do you know Korean airlines business class ?? because never see on your blog .Maybe one day you will. My best .DIDIER.
I look forward to flying Korean Air once the A380 and 747-8 return to U.S. routes.
Why on earth would a Japanese airline on a Tokyo-outbound flight give passengers polluted Thai water?????? I’ll tell you what, that’s the culprit which caused a little problem for Steve and I since our last trip to Bangkok.
Did the boys go with you? I know Seth and Dillion don’t like staying with Karen Wurlitzer when you are gone (though I guess Justin doesn’t mind)
You are so lucky. Noguchi Naohiko Sake was only served in first class before.
I last flew ANA J the December before the Wuhan Flu exploded. You really should watch some of ANA’s Japanese cultural videos. There is one on safety in Japan that is particularly amusing. In it two gaijin discuss bringing a knife to Japan for safety. I wonder when the current regime of innumerate safetyism will end and Asian countries will fully reopen.
Matthew: I was too full to finish the miso soup.
Also Matthew: *proceeds to have dessert, cheese and whiskey*
For the picture…
LOL. I always love your posts. (:
Matt – re: Greenland herb-encrusted halibut
1. Yes typical Nippon robot service style
2. Also airline FA’s have issues with serving reheated & leftover meals from the 1st service. Especially if it’s been more than 2 hours or so.