ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan and Disney have a 5 year endorsement and marketing deal to celebrate the reboot of the new Star Wars movies. With the deal, ANA has decked out three Boeing jets with special Star Wars liveries. Their first jet was a brand new R2-D2 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, followed by a R2-D2/BB-8 Boeing 767 and now fresh from the paint factory, a BB-8 Boeing 777-300ER (77W). I was lucky enough to be invited to LAX on Monday to celebrate the arrival of ANA’s BB-8 jet flight from Haneda, Japan. Here are some pictures of the event and the arrival of ANA’s new Star Wars BB-8 jet.
BB-8 will be primarily flying from Haneda to Los Angeles until April 8th as NH106/105. Starting April 9th, BB-8 will be flying from Narita to Chicago (NH114/113), Houston (NH174/173), New York (NH104/103), Washington DC (NH2/1) and Singapore (NH801/802).
Scheduled to arrive at 5:55 PM, BB-8 couldn’t wait to get to Los Angeles and arrived 11 minutes early to a fantastic, early evening sunset and a crowd of adoring fans. Interesting note: BB-8 will sit at LAX for almost 7 hours before returning back to Tokyo Haneda the next morning at 12:50 AM. LAX/HND is the longest turnaround time for any ANA flight to the United States. Another side note: BB-8 is not a brand new jet. He’s actually almost 6 years old. Here’s a short video of the landing.
When R2-D2 was unveiled, some people complained that it was poorly designed and nothing special. You would be crazy to say the same about BB-8 though. I mean, just look at this face.
And in true Hollywood fashion, BB-8 himself flew in from London where he is currently filming the next Star Wars film to check out his new plane. I think he likes it.
After the arrival, we were allowed onboard BB-8 for a tour. Unlike the majority of ANA’s Boeing 777-300ERs, BB-8 is configured a little differently. BB-8 offers 4 classes of service: First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy (version 1 on Seat Guru). There are only currently 6 Boeing 777-300ERs in ANA’s fleet with this same configuration.
Up front, there are 8 open First Class suites in a 1 X 2 X 1 layout.
Behind First Class is Business Class with 52 flatbed seats in a staggered, forward facing, 1 X 2 X 1 layout. Each seat offers direct aisle access, 21 inches of width and 62 inches of pitch. However, unlike the other Solstys style seats found on Air Berlin or Alitalia, all seats are staggered from each other and there are no “loveseats” where the two center seats are directly next to each other.
As for the “window” seats, they alternate between a true window seat and an “aisle” window seat.
The true window seats are incredibly private but don’t feel claustrophobic at all. Whereas, the “aisle” window seats are probably a little too open and exposed for my preference.
Behind Business Class is a small Premium Economy Class cabin with 24 seats in a 2 X 4 X 2 layout. These are actual Premium Economy seats and not just standard economy seats with extra legroom. These seats are wider, have more pitch and better recline than standard economy seats.
And lastly, there are two Economy Class cabins totaling 166 seats. These seats are configured in a 2 X 4 X 3 layout. I’ve never seen anything like this before but I really like it. Look carefully at the center seats below. If you notice, there is a gap in between the 2 middle seats. That’s such a great design as it gives greater space in between the 2 middle seats and creates more of a “2 pairs of 2 seats” feel as opposed to a “set of 4 seats” feel. You know what I mean?
And of course, the 2 single seats on the left are great for couples traveling together and even people traveling solo. It’s nice not having to climb over 2 people if you are seated in the window seat to use the lavatory.
So here are the good and the bad news about BB-8’s Economy Class cabin. Good news is there’s 34 inches of pitch standard (hoorah for taller people). However, the bad news is (according to Seat Guru) the seats provide a hip crushing 16.5 inches of width. I wasn’t able to confirm this as I didn’t sit in the Economy Class seats when I toured the plane.
This really doesn’t make any sense to me. On other ANA 777-3000ER jets with 10 across (3 X 4 X 3), the seats offer 17 inches of width. I don’t know how this configuration of 9 across (2 X 4 X 3) offers less width for the seats. Where did the extra inches go? Wider aisles? I haven’t been able to confirm these numbers anywhere else (Seat Guru is pretty reliable though) but if it’s true, that’s not so good for bigger people. Ugh.
Now, there is only 1 minor complaint (if you can call it that) I have with BB-8. Unlike EVA Air and their Hello Kitty planes, BB-8 didn’t really have much Star Wars branding inside the jet at all. EVA Air did a heck of a job branding everything from the menus and safety cards to their amenities and toilet paper. Almost everything on EVA Air has Hello Kitty on it. Compare that to ANA’s BB-8, the only branded items were the flight attendant aprons, headrest covers, drinking cups and napkins. That’s it.
I feel like this was a missed opportunity and really wished they did a little bit more to show how special BB-8 was inside the plane. I also feel this way about Air New Zealand and their Hobbit planes but I digress.
Overall, this is a beautiful plane and I can’t wait to fly it one of these days. I’m such a huge AVGEEK and Star Wars nerd that events like these just make me smile from ear to ear. As a 5-star carrier, ANA is a top notch airline that provides a quality product. I have only flown ANA in Economy Class and I can only imagine how much better the experience would be in their premium cabins. Now, I just need to book a premium cabin ticket to see how the Jedi Masters like Yoda travel.
Curious about my travel experiences with ANA? You can read my reviews below.