After about six weeks touring a few countries around Asia, my 2019 summer vacation has finally come to an end and it was time to head back home to Canada. The routing for this return trip will be Manila to Narita to Seattle on ANA, and then Seattle to Calgary on Alaska Airlines.
Airline: ANA (All Nippon Airways)
Aircraft and Reg#: B787-8 Dreamliner (JA834A)
Flight Number: NH820
Class: Economy (Y)
Seat #: 17A
Flight Route: Manila (MNL) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)
Originally at the time of booking, I was supposed to fly ANA to Narita, then United Airlines to San Francisco and Calgary. This may be a more convenient choice since the layover times are slightly shorter, but after experiencing a horrible crew from Denver to Narita a few years back, there is no way I'm choosing United over ANA again on a longhaul flight. The price difference between that itinerary and this one is only C$140, which I believe was well worth the extra money. Check-In Experience
I arrived at Manila airport with just two hours before the flight was due to leave. The lines were split into Business Class, Economy Class and people who did online check-in. Since I was part of the latter group, I went to the online check-in lane. Based on the passengers, it seems most were Westerners and Filipinos flying to Narita and then connecting to other flights, mostly to North America. The amount of Japanese passengers were only about a handful.
Even though I was not yet in Japan, the Japanese experience was already starting to show. At the end of every lane, there was a staff member who would direct the passengers to an available check-in desk. I was directed to the online check-in desk where the agent bowed and greeted me in Japanese. I asked if the flight was full, and she said it is 100% full so no empty row this time. After check-in, the agent said thank you in Japanese and bowed again.
There was nobody in the immigration and security lane either as it was only the ANA flight departing at that hour. I was through in just 5 minutes. I then walked to Gate 108, where the Dreamliner was waiting for the passengers.Boarding and Departure
Before entering the boarding area, the ground staff would verify our boarding passes and check our seat numbers. ANA has also placed signs in the boarding area to inform the passengers where to sit. The people sitting in the rear Economy cabin were to sit in the front of the boarding area, while the people in the front Economy cabin were to sit in the rear of the boarding area. This is a good way of ensuring a smooth boarding process.
Notice the sign in this picture telling people where to sit in the boarding area based on their seat number.
At exactly 9:00AM, the announcement for boarding began. Business passengers, Star Alliance Gold and ANA Diamond members, along with people needing special assistance were invited to board first. When Economy Class boarding was announced, the people in the front section of the boarding area were called first. A staff member ensured that nobody from the rear section of the boarding area went to join the passengers sitting in the rear Economy cabin, and just patiently told them to wait until their boarding call has been made.
A quick shot of the Dreamliner. As of October 2019, ANA now uses the newer B787-10 on the Manila route.
Cabin Attendants were quick and happy to assist passengers in stowing their luggage. My seatmate arrived not long later, she was a Filipino passenger headed back to the US.
Just over 15 minutes later, it was announced that the doors were already closed. I looked at the time and it said 9:17AM. For a fully-loaded Dreamliner, this was one of the fastest boarding experiences I've had! From first boarding announcement to doors closed only took a total of 17 minutes.
Pushback was at 9:20AM, 10 minutes ahead of scheduled departure.
Taxi to Runway 06 did not take long as we were the only flight departing at the moment. Soon after, we were cleared for takeoff.Crew and Inflight Service
Soon after, the meal service began. The CAs handed out menu cards to the passengers."For today, would you like to have pork or chicken? I recommend the pork.
She told me. I went with her recommendation and got the pork with rice.
The taste was just okay, but the udon noodle side dish was excellent. For the drink, I opted for Kabosu juice.
The Cabin Attendants on this flight were exceptional and paid very
close attention to detail. Some of the passengers were sleeping during the meal service, and instead of leaving them behind they got out their notebooks and wrote down the seat numbers of the passengers who were sleeping. Sometime later during their walks around the cabin, they checked to see if the passengers were now awake. When they were, they approached them."Excuse me Sir/Madam, you were asleep during the meal service but we did not forget you. Would you like to have your meal right now?"
These crew members really put the customer first and cared about not just their safety, but their comfort and well-being as well.
Halfway through the flight, the crew dimmed the windows. Passengers can still control the window dimmer but it was only limited to half-tint or darker.
I then explored the IFE. It was the first day of a new month but since the aircraft flew in from Narita the night before, the IFE selection has not been updated yet. Still, there were plenty of good movies to watch.
I stood up to use the lavatory and handed my Flight Logbook to the cabin attendant in the galley afterwards. All my interactions with the crew are in Japanese as I wanted to practice my language skills after 5 years of studying it. They were very impressed and even complimented on my language ability.
I went back to my seat and the CA was walking around the cabin checking on the passengers. I asked for Japanese Sake
and snack mix, to which she was happy to give two packets.
After browsing the IFE and looking out the window, I briefly skimmed through the SKYSHOP magazine and found an ANA Flying Honu A380 for sale. Since I already pre-ordered duty-free items for my next flight, I decided to skip purchasing this item.Descent and Arrival
Seatbelt signs were switched on to prepare for landing. By this time, the plane was now over Japanese airspace.
There were many flights landing at the same hour, mostly flights from Southeast Asia and North America.
Arrived at the gate at 2:45PM, which was 20 minutes before scheduled arrival time.
After landing, my logbook was returned along with some ANA souvenirs courtesy of the wonderful crew onboard NH820.Conclusion
It was a wonderful flight onboard ANA. The Japanese experience started in Manila airport with the efficient check-in and one of the fastest boarding processes I've experienced. The crew onboard were excellent and always checked the cabin frequently if the passengers wanted anything. The meals were okay and the IFE selection decent. Overall, a pleasant flight and ANA continues to be my favourite airline to fly with.
NEXT REPORT: Tokyo-Narita to Seattle aboard ANA NH178 in Economy