At LAX, ANA (All Nippon Airways) operates from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. I arrived at the check-in counter at approximately 2:30 PM for my 4:50 PM flight and there were already a handful of people in line. Fortunately, ANA staffs their check-in counters appropriately and there were at least eight counters open for passengers to check-in, verify documents and drop off bags. Check-in was quick and easy and I had my boarding pass within 15 minutes of getting in line.
On October 11, 2022, Japan officially opened its borders for visa-free tourism but you do have to complete a health questionnaire and show proof of either a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of departure or a vaccine certificate with at least one booster. More information on the requirements to enter Japan can be found here.
Pro tip: At LAX, the security lines are not clearly marked. For regular passengers, after you receive your boarding pass, walk towards the end of the hall and make a right-hand turn to go up the escalators for the security check. But if you have CLEAR or TSA Pre, do not go up this way. Instead, head to the back of the hall and walk all the way to the left before going upstairs. This is the entrance for both CLEAR and TSA Pre. If you qualify, this will be a much better experience than waiting in the regular line.
For business class and Star Alliance Gold members, ANA contracts with the Star Alliance Lounge for their pre-flight lounge services. This is one of my favorite lounges in the Star Alliance network. The lounge is beautiful and spacious and the outdoor deck offers a great place to get some fresh air before boarding a long-haul flight. This is definitely a lounge worth showing up early for. You can read my full review of the Star Alliance Lounge here.
If you don’t have Star Alliance Gold status but you do have an American Express Platinum Card, you can use the American Express Centurion Lounge, also located in the TBIT terminal. The Centurion Lounge is small but the food is decent and the drinks are strong. It’s worth a visit if you have some free time.
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo Haneda (HND)
Depart: 4:50 PM (5:09 PM actual) on Monday, October 11, 2022
Arrive: 8:55 PM (8:13 PM actual) on Tuesday, October 12, 2022
Duration: 11hrs 4mns
Seat: 28G Economy Class
At approximately 4:20 PM, I left the lounge and made my way to gate 134. Boarding for our flight was delayed about 20 minutes but once it began, it was smooth and orderly. There were gate agents walking around, answering questions and directing passengers to their appropriate lanes. This is unlike the other airlines where the gate agents just stand behind the podium and let the passengers run amok. This made the boarding process extremely efficient and completely stress-free for everyone involved.
ANA has three different configurations for their Boeing 787-8 fleet. In this version, there are 184 total seats with three classes of service: business, premium economy, and economy. In economy class, there is a small forward cabin with just five rows of seats and a larger cabin behind it with 11 rows of seats. Economy class seats are configured in a 3-3-3 layout, offering 17 inches of width and 31 inches of pitch for all passengers.
Waiting at our seats were a pillow, blanket and a set of plastic headphones. The headphones were nothing amazing but they were much better than the disposable earbuds that other airlines give out nowadays. The pillow was a little thin and the blanket was long enough but not very wide.
The seat itself was decently padded but if you have sciatica issues or problems with leg numbness during flight, I highly recommend you get yourself one of these travel cushions to provide some additional comfort. When I’m flying in economy, I always pack this in my bag as it can be inflated in seconds and it does wonders for my seat comfort. You can check it out on Amazon by clicking here.
Each seat offers a personal entertainment system with on-demand, audio/video entertainment but the selection for western entertainment is pretty limited. For their “new release” category, there was only a selection of about 20 new Hollywood movies such as Elvis, Lightyear, Top Gun: Maverick, and the new Fantastic Beasts movie. The rest are Japanese or foreign cinema movies.
USB outlets and universal electrical outlets are provided at every seat. However, I found the USB outlet extremely inadequate for charging my phone. I would recommend using the electrical outlet below your seat.
Each seat is also equipped with a headrest and an elastic footrest. The elastic footrest is not the best design but for people with really long legs, it will do the trick. When reclined, the seatback reclines approximately three inches and the seat pan articulates forward, giving you an additional angle of recline (but it does reduce your knee space slightly).
These ANA Boeing 787s feature a quieter cabin, LED mood lighting, overhead vents and larger windows and overhead bins. The windows are 30 percent larger than traditional windows and are electronically controlled. No more plastic window shades here. The bathrooms are also bigger and are equipped with TOTO washlets, which provide users with a warm water bidet function. I must admit I was not brave enough to try the bidet function but I’m sure it’s wonderful. The aircraft also boasts a lower cabin pressurization system that enables passengers’ bodies to absorb more oxygen and thus, leave the plane feeling more refreshed.
Once all the passengers were boarded, we then pushed back from the gate and made our way to runway 24L for our 11-hour flight to Tokyo. Approximately 30 minutes into the flight, the seatbelt signs were turned off and the flight attendants came around to distribute a packaged wet towel. A beverage service and a package of Japanese snacks were served about 45 minutes into the flight. A small selection of alcoholic beverages such as sake, beer and wine were provided free of charge during the meal service.
Dinner was then served about 1.5 hours into the flight. Individual menus were not provided but the flight attendants did hand out laminated picture menus to help you decide. On this flight, there were two options for dinner: salmon and hamburger steak. I went with the hamburger steak and it wasn’t bad (but it wasn’t great either).
The main dish was on the small side but it was served with a bunch of side dishes, which I appreciated. The sides included edamame, cold soba noodles, potato salad and ham, corn salad, and a bread roll. It was a very odd combination of side dishes.
Haagan Dazs vanilla ice cream was then served for dessert. This was the best part of the meal.
After dinner, the cabin lights were dimmed and I settled in for a movie and a nap. In between meals, the flight attendants walked the aisles frequently to offer passengers snacks and water. WiFi was also provided on this flight but I didn’t connect to it to see how fast or reliable it was. You can purchase three hours of WiFi access for $16.95 or a full flight pass for $21.95.
If you find it hard to sleep on airplanes because your head bobs back and forth, I would recommend this GoSleep 2-in-1 travel sleep mask. I know it looks weird but trust me, you will get a more restful sleep with this mask than with any other sleep product. Especially on planes with limited recline, the GoSleep travel sleep mask will gently support your neck and head and prevent your head from bobbing back and forth during sleep. When I use this, I find that I sleep longer and wake up more rested without any neck pain.
About 2 hours and 45 minutes prior to our descent into Tokyo Haneda, the cabin lights were turned on and the flight attendants prepared for our second meal. An hour after the lights were turned on, the flight attendants then came around with another wet towel and menus.
For our second meal, the options were either meat rigatoni or seafood Mexican rice. I know. I was a little skeptical of the seafood Mexican rice also so I went with the rigatoni, which was served with a bean salad and a muffin. As expected, my second meal wasn’t great (or bad) either.
After the second meal, our trays were cleared from our tables and the flight attendants prepared for our arrival a full two hours before landing. I really don’t know why they started the second meal so early but it felt very premature.
ANA Economy Class Bottom Line:
Overall, I can see why there are so many mixed reviews of ANA’s economy class. The entertainment system is lacking and the catering isn’t the best. I was also confused by the flow of the meal services. The first service seemed to start very late; whereas the second service started way too early. That being said, I thought the seat was above average by economy class standards and the flight attendants were friendly and attentive. ANA doesn’t provide the best economy class experience by any means but I think they are a perfectly acceptable option for travel to Japan and beyond.
Have you flown ANA economy class lately? If so, please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
The other posts in this series include:
- Japan is open for visa-free tourism! Here’s what you need to know before going.
- American Express Centurion Lounge at LAX
- Review: ANA Economy Class, Los Angeles to Tokyo Haneda
- Review: Hilton Tokyo Bay, an official Tokyo Disney Resort hotel
- Review: Disney Ambassador Hotel, an official Tokyo Disney Hotel
- Beginner’s guide to visiting Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
- Review: ANA Lounge Tokyo Haneda
- Review: ANA Economy Class, Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles