Saturday, 14 September 2013

Flying ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner (TSA-HND) Part 1

Welcome to my trip report on my very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner ride! 



For my part 2, click here
After booking my flight to Taipei on TransAsia, I decided to fly to another city with a new carrier. I had a look at my options which included domestic flights. I can't remember who but someone mentioned about the 787 Dreamliner and I realized that ANA was flying this aircraft to Taipei SongShan. Checking the website for the airfare and I found a return trip ticket that cost around S$500 which was the lowest price. Considering that it was a 3 hour flight for both ways, I was willing to pay for it. I then decided on the dates before making my booking. My initial plan was to spend a week in Japan; few days in Tokyo and the other days in other cities, like Sapporo and Osaka. However, when Qualityhunters invited me over to Helsinki for the workshop, I could not turned it down. Instead, I would spend that coming weekend over at Helsinki. So my trip became like this:


NH1186 TSA-HND 29th August
AY74     NRT-HEL 30th August
AY41     HEL-ICN  2nd September
MM02    ICN-KIX  4th September
SFJ26     KIX-HND 4th September
NH1185 HND-TSA 5th September

About ANA's website

ANA's website is user-friendly and its one of the best out there. On the 'Manage the booking' menu, you have the basic needs and that is to key in your information and request for special meals and preferred seat. There is a 3D map of the seat which I find it to be very interesting and of course if you are using an Iphone or Ipad, you can choose the html version.

Another thing that I like about ANA's website is that it does the auto check-in for you. This means that once all your details are filled in. The day before your departure, it will check-in for you automatically. The website will sent an email to you notifying that you have check-in. So you have no worries about losing your seat or forgetting your flight's schedule. I find this to be very useful! Not many airlines have this feature.

                                                   



                        Works well on Ipad or mobile phones too!

The mobile application for ANA is excellent. It works perfectly and its user-friendly too. You are able to do everything you need on the website, on your palm, its that simple. Have to give credit to the airline for that!

Taipei SongShan Airport

On the day itself, I checked-out at 10 am and headed to the airport shortly after, it took me about half an hour to get there. I took the MRT from Shandao Temple Station and changed for the Wenhu line at Zhong Xiao Fu Xing station which took me to Songshan Airport. That was quite convenient and fast! Once I was there, I went to the ANA counter to check-in. It wasn't open so I grabbed some quick bite from 7-11 and waited excitedly for the counters to be opened. There was a self check-in counter, but I didn't want to use it as I wanted the proper boarding pass.




The self check-in counter for EVA Air, Uni Air, Mandarin Airlines, China Airlines, ANA and TransAsia. 



The terminal 1 and 2 are connected to one another. One is for International flights and the other is for the domestic flights.






                   
The airline proudly shows off the aircraft type to the passengers on this flight. The 787 banners are only displayed on this NH1185/1186. There are another 2 NH flights to Haneda, both being operated by Boeing 767-300ER. From what I heard, this flight is pretty popular and is full most of the time.

One observation I noticed so far is that the biggest aircraft that operates to Taipei Songshan Airport is the Airbus A330-300, the rest of the aircraft type is smaller. As far as I know, there isn't any 777 flights to this airport, don't think the gates are big enough to cater this aircraft type. I may be wrong though!




 My boarding pass: I was disappointed with it as I was expecting something nicer than this.





During check-in, I was told by the counter that there was a possibility that my flight could be delayed or cancelled due to a typhoon along the path of the route. Luckily for me, looking at the sign board, there wasn't any delay. The flight arrived on time and departed on time, I was just glad to be finally flying on this aircraft. The last time I was on board the Boeing 787 was on N787BX at the Singapore Air Show in 2012.

            `´¨                              
This model can be found on the 3rd floor of the building, you can find aircraft models of all the other airlines that flies here. That level leads to the observatory deck. So if you head to Taipei Songshan Airport, head to the level 3, there is a lift and staircase that takes you there. Its in between both terminals, you can't miss it as just outside of the lift, the wall is colorful painted with beautiful artwork depicting the airport.

Anyway, once my check-in was completed, I made my way to the international departure hall. A quick security check and immigration clearance and I was at the air side.



Quite a number of international flights departing around the same time as my flight.



Useful for those without internet access or laptop. 



Those 3 ladies standing at the counter is where the information counter is.



I was very excited to board the Boeing 787 for my very first time! 





Separate queues for the business and economy class passengers. 





Charging point at the tables. 



Overall, I find the air side at the international departure very pleasant. 








Gate 6 is a special gate, its the only gate with this interior and is used by ANA (Photos above), the rest of the gates are the normal ones. I guess ANA paid a bit more for this interior. Its pretty spacious and comfortable. What I like about this airport is its photography-friendliness. You can do some plane spotting at both land side (observation deck) and air side.



                                   This is Japan Airlines Boeing 767-300ER 




My ride is here - JA815A, this is the aircraft that got my 787 logbook started! 





What a beauty she is , being prepared for departure. 



I flew on this Hello Kitty aircraft from Hong Kong to Taipei Taoyuan. 



As you can see from the photos that the weather was quite bad. It was raining quite heavily at that time and thanks goodness the flight wasn't delayed and we took off about 10 minutes after the schedule departure time.

                                 My very first 787 ride: JA815A


Photo: Jjss



Photo: ChinJH


My route: TSA-HND 

Miles: 1303 


Airline: All Nippon Airways (47th airline)
Flight: NH1186
Route: Taipei SongShan - Tokyo Haneda
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Registration: JA815A
Line no: 66
Engines: 2X Roll Royce Trent 1000
Configuration: C42 Y180
Delivery date: 30th September 2012
Gate: 6
Seat: 13K
FL:410
Departure time: 1330
Took off: 1340
Schedule arrival: 1730
Actual arrival: 1710
Runway departure: 10
Flight duration: 2 hrs 40 mins

When the announcement for boarding was made, passengers started queuing up and I was one of the first, as I was very anxious to board this beauty. The usual routine took place; business class and star alliance gold members got to board first; then followed by the economy class, section by section. Usually its the rear passengers in the Economy Class get to go first, but for this flight, it was the other way around.





The legroom space is pretty tight and it wasn't very comfortable. For a short flight like this, it was bearable.

The IFE system is not touched screen, not the most advanced system out there.



The infamous ANA's Economy Class seats - one of the worst in the market. The seat itself was hard and uncomfortable.



The crew were still welcoming the passengers in, while I was looking around.



My back was aching during the flight, and mind you this was only a 3 hours flight. Imagine if I was flying this aircraft from HND to SJO? 



A sneak peak at the Business class! It was full. 

I notice the difference between this and the older aircraft. The sign board display only shows the fasten seatbelt sign. The reading light and air ventilator are newer. 



One positive thing about this cabin is the comfortable 2-4-2 layout. The lady you see facing my camera is one of the cabin crew.



The airline has re-configured some of the Boeing 787 to the 3-3-3 layout. Sad for us, travellers. 


Most of the passengers were Japanese. 


The guy in blue is also an aviation enthusiast.



Thanks to him, I manage to get this photo. 

Checking out the toilet.

This is a new feature - the hand sensor to flush the toilet.



Once you activate it, the seat cover will automatically closed by itself. 


The basin 


I was very satisfied with my ride! 



The toilet door - I find it difficult to open without instructions. 



This lock system on this door had a problem, and it took me a while to get the door locked. Fortunately, with a bit of patience, I managed to sort it out. I prefer the old conventional door. 


The crew's working space





This crew's work place is located between the 2 Economy sections.


                       I caught my childhood movie - the Ghostbusters! Do you remember this movie? 




There is a drink holder - convenient for us. 



                             In-flight entertainment system 






ANA's IFE (In-flight entertainment)panasonic system is one of the common ones in the market, its the AVOD (Audio Video On Demand) system meaning that you can play, pause and skip your movie any time you want. What some passengers want is an IFE that is easy to use and also allow you to get familiarize with it almost immediately. I played around with the system and I find it to be efficient and easy to use. You have a selection of languages available for you and from there you choose whatever option you want to get yourself entertained if you are either a fan of movies, music or playing games. This IFE system has it all. Although it is not the most advance system out there, its good enough for long haul flights. The selection of movies are not a lot, but there are both the current blockbuster and the oldies, so you will be quite satisfied with the offering. 



                                  What's inside the seat pocket?


Headset - quality is average



ANA Sky Channel Magazine 



Post card 



Airline's in-flight magazine 



In-flight menu and disposal bag 




Safety Card 




The airline's fleet 


                 The electronic dimmed windows shade that everyone is talking about when flying on this aircraft.



The white button is to adjust it brighter while the black one is to adjust it dimmer. There are 5 LEDS light to inform you the brightness of the window shade. From top to bottom (Brightest to the dimmest) 





The size of the windows are bigger than other aircraft type and is really good for passengers like myself who can enjoy the view without the need to close the shades. Just adjust to the darkest setting and you can still see the world passing by. 



The window dim takes a while to change. 







See the difference in colours? The one on the left is in the dimmest mode. Unfortunately, my window shade was quite slow in changing. It took around 5 minutes from the brightest mode to the dimmest mode. 



For those seating at the bulkhead row, you get 2 windows. 





Overall, I find this feature useful. Its different from the standard window shade which you use your hand to adjust it by either pulling it down or up depending on one's preference. Using this system, you can adjust it to the dimmest mode and still able to see what's going on outside, which is a good thing. But for a nervous flyer who is sitting on the window seat, that might not be a good thing. He or She might prefer to not see anything at all, but then they can choose to seat elsewhere, the aisle or the middle section of the cabin would suit them better. As for me, I give this a green light just as long as it doesn't break down on me. Imagine - flying in a day and having the system down -  that would definitely affect the rest of your flight. You won't be able to watch your PTV due to the glare from the light outside. Another thing I like about it is the ability to adjust the brightness to what you like, you can't do that with the standard window shade. 

Overall, I am happy with this system and I am looking forward to see the newer generation aircraft with this wonderful innovation from Boeing. There may be some that disagree with me - well, its all down to individual's preference. So if you get the chance, fly on one and experience it yourself. You would then know whether you like it or not.



                                In-flight meal: Japanese selection



I had a choice between this or the international one. I can't remember what was the international one, but I picked this instead as I am a big fan of Japanese food.  This meal consist of pork chop rice , with cold seafood snack and vegetable plus lotus and Yam mooncake. I find it to be quite satisfying even though its not the best airline food I eaten so far. For my beverages, I had green tea and Coke. 

In-flight experience

The aircraft pushed back slightly behind schedule, but I was glad we were on our way. I was afraid the weather would delay our flight and if that had happened, it might jeopardize my short stay in Tokyo. Fortunately, everything went on schedule. The rain was pouring but we proceeded to runway 10 for a powerful departure to Tokyo Haneda Airport.


The engine started quite loud (Not as loud as the GE90 though) and the flaps made a strange sound while being configured to its take off mode. Apart from that, the Roll Royce Trent 1000 which is quieter than the Roll Royce Trent 800 engines on the 777, lifted us off the ground in no time. It was a powerful take off and the cabin noise was acceptable. 

Taking off in the rain wasn't turbulent, in fact the most parts of the flight was smooth. I was busy snapping photos and playing with the electronic window shade for the take-off to the cruising flight level, like a kid playing his new toy! The ANA crew were very accommodating with photo-taking of the cabin, so that made my life easier.

My seat mate was a Japanese girl, and she was curious about my excitement. I explained to her and she became interested in what I do. We didn't chat for long though as we went back to our own program.

There were regular announcements from both the flight and cabin crew and it was done in Japanese and English. 


Here are the photos of the window shots 

The Hello Kitty aircraft was also departing the same time as ours but we pushed back first. 




Taxiing to runway 10 didn't take long. 



Almost there! 





Off we went! 











The weather was great in Japan but on the return flight, it was a different story.








At this time, we had started our descend. This seat position is not ideal for window shot, as the wing covers most of outside view. 









Landing in Tokyo Haneda was a smooth affair. 







Touched down and we took around 15 minutes to taxi to our gate. 







For good window shot photos, I would recommend the rows behind the wing (Check out my part 2 of the trip report). Initially the weather was crap, but after take off, the ride to Tokyo Haneda was  smooth. We landed in Tokyo in very pleasant condition and managed to catch the sunset. 


The 2 hours 40 minutes of flying went past very quickly! I didn't feel it was enough to enjoy the 787 experience. The Japanese crew had done a great job taking care of the passengers in both Y and J class. The seat product however was a let-down. It is definitely not the airline's strongest point. For regional routes like this, it is still bearable. However if I fly long haul and have to spend most of the time on this seat, I would not be looking forward to it. 


The rainbow mood lighting - popular with passengers. 



The legroom space at the bulkhead seat looks decent. 







Few shots of my seat 








Took some last minute photos before leaving the aircraft. This was the only time that I experienced the rainbow lighting. I wanted to take the cabin shot, but there were too many passengers around so I thought maybe I do it on the return flight.


Thanks for the ride, JA815A! 



                           Making my way to the immigration. 



First time at Tokyo Haneda, I was filled with excitement walking towards the immigration. However, I didn't quite enjoy squeezing myself on the train later on to the hotel, well that is another story!

My rating:

Website: 9/10

On-ground service at TSA: 8/10
In-flight service: 8/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Cabin Ambiance: 10/10
Aircraft: 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Food: 7/10
IFE: 8/10
Overall rating: 86/100

Conclusion

The last time I flew with a Japanese Airlines was with Japan Airlines, I had an excellent experience with the airline. My expectation before the flight was high and it didn't disappoint. Personally, I feel that the Japanese are very good at public relation and once again this flight of crew were professional yet courteous through out. Seeing them smile when walking pass them or being served by them made me feel at home. For the price I paid, it was certainly worth it even if the hard product disappoints. So if you guys are interested to fly the 787 Dreamliner, ANA is definitely recommended. As the airline is introducing more routes for this aircraft type, it will soon be common especially in Asia. You won't have to search high and low for it.


For my part 2, click here

Hope you enjoy this trip report!

Cheers,
Charles 

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