(Tokyo, Japan) Wow. I’ve just flown across the Pacific on the world’s most advanced commercial jet– the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It is the only 787 currently flying out of the Bay Area (United’s 787 to Houston was only temporary), and the only transoceanic flight out of San Jose International Airport. And despite the recent concerns about the 787, I felt completely safe on this plane, as did all other passengers I spoke with.
Now I’m sitting in a Tokyo hotel loading up some great slideshow photos of the trip and recounting the flight. Some thoughts:
>I live in San Francisco, so I imagined that the 45-60 minute drive (depending on traffic) down to San Jose would be a pain– however, the quick and easy check-in, security and boarding process at SJC made up for time I felt I’d lost on the trip down.
>The windows on the 787 really are bigger (by 20%)– it’s the first thing you notice when stepping on the plane. Instead pulling shades up and down, window seaters can adjust the tint electronically– sort of like Transitions Lenses.
>Lower pressure and higher humidity in the 787 cabin are detectable– for one thing, your eyes and lips don’t dry out as fast. I’m not sure how to describe the feeling other than to say that cabin air just felt softer. And I felt better when I got off the plane.
>I felt slightly more vibration from the engines on this flight, likely due to the plane’s composite structure. Also, seat cushions seemed harder than average.
>The plane exudes spaciousness with higher ceilings and a wider fuselage– there just feels like there is more space, even in economy class. The extra-large business class section (46 seats) seems to take up half the plane.
>Seatback inflight entertainment screens are big– 17 inches in business, 11 inches in economy. Both classes have 160 channels to choose from.
>In business class, the BEST seats are odd numbered window seats, and even numbered center seats– check out the slideshow and you will see how a center seat on this plane is like sitting at the helm of Starship Enterprise. If you can put up with the commotion around the galleys and lavatories, bulkhead seats are the best of the best seats on the plane in terms of personal space.
>Inflight dining in business class blew me away– the food and drink menu is 24 pages long (!), well suited to both western and Japanese palates. (I went native and ordered off the Japanese menu…See the slideshow above to learn which was my favorite dish. Oishii!)
>The Dreamliner is relatively small plane: Only 158 passengers (46 business, 112 economy), which makes it the right size for smaller markets like San Jose. Compare that to a Boeing 747 which holds 350-400 passengers. End result? Boarding is fast and easy– it feels like a less crowded domestic flight.
>ANA’s roundtrip coach fares between SJC and NRT are about $1,500… Business class fares are in the $4,000 range, pretty much the same as Tokyo fares out of SFO. ANA is a Star Alliance partner, which means opportunities for earning and burning Mileage Plus miles on these flights.
>Finally, there’s a window in the lavatory– and the Toto toilet has a heated seat with sprayer– you’ve got to flip through the slideshow above to see it!
So whaddya think? Would you be willing to drive down to San Jose to give ANA’s 787 a try? If you live in the South Bay, will you be able to break out of your habit of driving to SFO to fly to Asia? Would you consider flying ANA to points beyond Tokyo? Please leave your comments below!
Disclosure: ANA covered the cost of my trip to Tokyo.