Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (26 in ANA's fleet with 18 on order and a further 36 787-8s in service)
Flight NH880, Sydney to Tokyo (Haneda)
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
ANA Mileage Club
Business-class, seat 1A
Nine hours and 35 minutes, non-stop
ANA (All Nippon Airways), which bills itself as Japan's "only five-star airline", operates daily overnight flights to Tokyo (Haneda), the Japanese capital's second international airport and most conveniently-located, from Sydney departing at 21.30 and arriving at 05.00, factoring in a one-hour time difference when this reviewer travelled.
Business class passengers are allowed up to two pieces not exceeding 32 kilograms. For Australians heading to Japan for snow holidays there is a business class allowance for free skis or snowboards of up to 292 centimetres.
The business class cabin interior, all pale blues, is a little over-lit when I enter, with the not entirely-pleasing colour scheme a contrast to that of other carriers which generally tend to opt for warmer hues. Pleasingly each seat, in a 1-2-1 and with pitch of 62 inches (157.5 centimetres) and a width of 21 inches (53.5 centimetres), has aisle access, meaning fellow passengers go undisturbed. Of course, the seat, with its practical, unostentatious features, includes the now mandatory for this class fully flat bed. One welcome feature is an oversized side table with a personal light.
Scoring one of the single-row seats, with easy access to the exit, makes for a comfortable journey. Business class seats are fitted with something called an "award-winning Air Cyclon bed pad". Whatever it is did its job as I slept through the night.
Due to the scheduled late-night departure and early morning arrival, combined with a domestic connection to Osaka, eating and sleeping (see below), rather than entertainment, is firmly on my flight agenda. But those wishing to pass the flight time with the latest blockbusters or classic movie won't be disappointed by the state-of-the-art on-demand system.
Kind, gracious, friendly and generally efficient, as we've come to expect from the Japanese, and no less than you might expect on a business class flight.
Due to its simplicity, Japanese cuisine is well-suited to airline menus. On this relatively late in the evening departure, the food seems to take an excessive amount of time to be served, leading to me to regret not having eaten before boarding. One of the flight attendants notices me nodding off and later apologies for the delay. When it does arrive, the food, accompanied by a premium sake, is delicious as expected on a Japanese airline, and nearly worth the wait. Dishes include a selection of "morsels" including tuna rolled with nori, dried beef, Japanese omelette with spicy cod roe and simmered chestnut in a soy-based sweet sauce. The main is braised sukiyaki-style with steamed rice followed by miso. If you love Japanese cuisine you'll love flying with ANA, though for those who aren't as partial there's a choice of international dishes.
ONE MORE THING
A major advantage of flying with ANA, with connections to more than 40 cities in Japan, is its convenient access to the much-loved Haneda Airport, Tokyo's much-lauded second international airport which is far closer to the centre of Tokyo than its far-flung counterpart, Narita.
Japan, with its understanding of service and manners, should have an airline to challenge the likes of Singapore Airlines. It's pleasing to see the ANA is flying a quality aircraft between Australia to Japan with one of its counterparts for years, having scheduled only its older planes to the route.
OUR RATING: ★★★★½