By Kai-Chin Shih/ 13 AUG 2014/ TOKYOJAPAN/ talkairlines.wordpress.com
This is the third and final part of a three-part trip report. For the report on the new Star Alliance Business Class Lounge (by Air New Zealand) at Los Angeles Airport (ロサンゼルスのスターアライアンスビジネスクラスラウンジ), please click here; for the report on my flight from XNA (Bentonville/ Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport) to LAX, please click here.
Airlines: ANA (All Nippon Airways/ 全日本空輸/ 全日空)
Aircraft: JA717A Boeing 777-281/ER (ボーイング 777-200ER) (223-seat long-haul configuration)
Class Type: Premium Economy Class (プレミアムエコノミー)
Seat: 15F (First row in the class type)
Origin: Los Angeles International Airport – Tom Bradley International Terminal (LAX/ TBIT) (ロサンゼルス国際空港/ トム・ブラッドレー国際線ターミナル)
Destination: Tokyo Haneda International Airport (東京羽田国際空港)
Date: 26 July, 2014
ATD: 01:35 AM PST
ATA: 04:20 AM JST (+1)
After leaving the gorgeous Star Alliance Lounge at around 11PM, I took the elevator located inside the also beautifully designed Time Tower and made my way to the Great Hall. Almost all Asia-Pacific flights, including three flights back to the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, would be departing around that time. All I could hear while walking around was Taiwanese Mandarin, giving me an illusion that I was at Taoyuan Airport instead of LAX.
A Qantas Boeing 747-400ER, operating as flight QF16 back to Brisbane, was ready to push back when I arrived at the hall. The plane was not any ordinary Qantas 747. It was VH-OEJ, the FIFA World Cup 2014 Socceroos special livery jet and the former Wunala Dreaming livery jet.
Parked next to VH-OEJ was VH-OQE, an Airbus A380 from the same company. Named ‘Lawrence Hargrave’, VH-OQE was the 5th A380 delivered to Qantas. The flight would later operate QF94 to Brisbane.
Walking further down the South Concourse of the new TBIT complex, I finally got a chance to admire the ten columns that attracted every traveler’s attention. The columns, just like any other multimedia installations in the complex, were eye-catching, interesting and unique works of art. They were installed to showcase the art traditions and city views of different LAX destinations. When I was there, artworks featuring scenes of Tokyo were being displayed on the LED screens of the columns.
The new TBIT’s design was grandiose, impressive, and suited the city of Los Angeles perfectly. While walking down the concourse, I couldn’t help being stopped in my track to admire the architecture. The large amount of international flights parked at the terminal was also rather amazing, especially when a majority of them were the so-called VLA, Very Large Aircraft.
At around 12:30AM, I returned to gate 150 for boarding. Something noteworthy was that ANA counted Premium Economy Class passengers as Economy Class ones during boarding process. I didn’t remember this rule being enforced on my flight to Tokyo-Nartia from New York-JFK, during which Premium Economy Class passengers were boarded separately.
The boarding process was rather speedy and I was able to settle in my seat without hurrying. My seat, 15F, was located in the middle of the aircraft. I rarely flew non-window seats, and when I had to, I chose aisle seats. This was the first time I had a lack of both aisle and window access. Yet, since it was the first row of Premium Economy, the legroom was extremely spacious and I was able to get to the aisles easily or look out the window without making eye contact with other passengers.
After pushing back, the cabin crew started performing safety demonstrations. It was rather surprising how no safety videos were being played as every seat had PTV installed. Yet, it was amusing looking at real-life safety demos. At around 1:30AM, the plane took to the skies.
Due to the timing, ANA chose to provide passengers with light meal, which consisted of a banana, a sandwich, cookies and beverages, all in a paper box. It was a sharp contrast from my LAX-TPE experiences on China Airlines (CI), as CI offered two full-course meals on that route. Yet, I appreciated having little amount of food, as it was rather late and eating too much would’ve been rather uncomfortable.
After finishing eating, I took out the PTV, located in the armrest for the first row seats, and started watching movies. As mentioned in a previous trip report (NH9 JFK-NRT), ANA didn’t have a lot of movie offerings. Yet, most of the choices were rather decent and made my trip a lot more interesting.
Premium Economy Class passengers had the privilege of enjoying hot snacks between meals. There were choices of mini soba (instant) and porridge. A few hours into the flight, I ordered a bowl of mini soba. I always enjoyed having noodle soup during in-flight. A year ago, while flying China Airlines Business Class from Taipei-Taoyuan to Shanghai-Pudong, I had a bowl of Tainan-style Danzai Noodles for lunch. It was one of the best meals I had in the air. The ANA mini soba, though pretty much instant noodles, was tasty and comforting to the stomach. I regretted not also ordering porridge, as the passenger sitting next to me seemed to be really enjoying it.
About two hours before landing, breakfast was served. Instead of a meal box, breakfast featured a full course meal on a tray. The Japanese option, chosen by me, consisted of fresh soba noodles (different from the instant ones I had earlier), rice with salmon and vegetable stew, fruits, soup and tea. It was great having Japanese-style meal for breakfast as it was light, healthy and comforting.
About an hour after I finished the meal, the plane started descending into Haneda Airport. The arrival time was an extremely early 4:20AM. When the plane touched down, the sky was only half-bright. The advantage of the arrival time was that there weren’t any lines at the customs area and passengers were able to leave the airport quickly.
In conclusion, I had yet another great flight on this latest Skytrax 5-star carrier. The food choices and services offered by the flight crew were all exceptional as always. The Premium Economy seat, especially since it was in the first row, was spacious, comfortable, and allowed me to sleep very well while flying back to Tokyo. Thanks to ANA for this excellent journey! Really looking forward to my next flight on ANA!
There are two trip reports that leads up to this post. For the first part (American Eagle (Envoy) AA2913 XNA-LAX), please click HERE; for the second part (Star Alliance LAX Business Class Lounge), please click HERE.