Aviation News

June 3, 2013

ANA Resumes San Jose 787 Service, We Go For The Ride

The Boeing 787 is unlike any other aircraft, but to understand why, one really needs to experience it firsthand. That is exactly what I did on June 1st, as All Nippon Airways, or ANA, re-initiated 787 service from San Jose, California, to Tokyo, Japan. Yes, the 787 is back after a very public worldwide grounding, lithium-ion batteries and all. So, how is the ride on an ANA 787, and why is it different than any other aircraft?

By now, I’m sure most people have read all about the features that give the 787 the Dreamliner title. To name a few, there are the extremely large windows with electrochromatic dimming windows, the higher cabin humidity, lower cabin pressure, and LED mood lighting. Combined with some other features, the 787 is an incredible aircraft when you actually experience it, rather than reading about it.

This was my first 787 flight, so needless to say that I was quite excited. Upon arriving at San Jose International (SJC), I found it quite remarkable how many ANA personnel were on hand for the day’s flight. ANA was ready for this day, and every detail was being managed to go perfectly. After checking in, I headed up to the business class lounge. The lounge, which is shared with other airlines, is extremely nice for a relatively smaller airport like San Jose. Ample seating, buffet style food and drink offerings, free (actually high speed) internet, and shower facilities can all be found here.

Before boarding, a small speech was given, and just like that, it was time to get on board. While walking down the jet bridge, four ANA flight attendants handed out hand written cards, welcoming passengers onto their 787 Dreamliner and a big thanks from the SJC crew. That was an extremely personal touch, and must have taken quite some time to write out 110 cards.

What a nice personal touch!


Finally on board, everything I had read about the 787 suddenly became reality for me. The high ceiling at the entry way, the LED lightning, they are all features to make the aircraft seem larger than it really is. The 787 is not a very large aircraft, only holding roughly 150 passengers, but these features make it appear larger. Those big windows everyone always talks about? Yea, they really are that big…and then some.

There is no other aircraft with windows quite like this. Imagine the window on a CRJ200, now double it. Ok, now double it again. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit, but the windows are a big deal. Aside from how ridiculously large the windows are, the electric dimming function is something you need to see in action to understand how incredible it is.

Light vs. Dark

It only takes about a minute to go from clear to dark, but it sure isn’t instant like a good ‘ole window shade. But what is very interesting is that even at the darkest setting where light really does not get in, you can still see out to a certain degree. This is a great feature for those times where most of the cabin is sleeping, but you still want to look out the window. You can raise the brightness a tad, but not wake up 30 grumpy passengers by doing so.

After takeoff from SJC’s runway 30L, I settled into seat 9K and really got to know the 787 better. After accidentally setting the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) to German and figuring out how to change it back, I found some glitches in the entertainment system. While there is a very good selection of movies in multiple languages, the system had issues playing back movies in the correct language. It took a few tries to get each movie to play properly in English, but I eventually got them all to work. It turns out that I didn’t want to watch movies in Portuguese.

Om nom nom

No flight review is complete without drool worthy photos of the in-flight food, and ANA does not disappoint here. The menu provided in business class more resembles that of a New York diner rather than that of a flight. Passengers have the choice to order off a Japanese style menu, as well as international cuisine. The Japanese options ranged from eel to eggplant to swordfish, while the international menu gave the option of steak or grunt fish. I opted for the steak, which I found to be quite nicely cooked. For good measure, I ordered a bowl of miso soup and white rice, just to complete the meal. Throughout the flight, passengers can also order off of a “light dishes” menu, which I ordered some delicious ramen soup from, a dish I highly recommend.

The 787 is packed with more features that you may not have heard of before, smaller features that may go unnoticed. The lavatories, for instance, have a few small but very cool features. Nobody likes the high pressure flush of an airplane toilet, but Boeing has come up with a super low tech feature to keep the lavatory clean. When passengers wave their hand over the flush sensor, a rod pushes the lid so it slowly closes. Only when the lid is closed does the toilet finally flush. Very cool. Oh, and there’s a bidet. For the privacy concerned passengers, the only windows on the 787 with manual window shades are in the lavatories.

Side table with Tron style LED lighting

The ANA in-flight product in business class is extremely nice. All airlines give passengers in business class a blanket, but how many give out heavy down blankets with a slot for your feet so they don’t get cold? Not many! There are even pajamas for passengers who really want to make that lay flat bed feel like home. For those who actually want to get work on in flight, the tray table in the business class seats is the largest I have ever seen, and was incredibly sturdy. It could handle a 17 inch laptop with ease, with room for a drink or two. Really the aircraft is missing is wifi connectivity, which many other airlines are starting to adpot.

While you may not notice many of the 787s signature features right away, many of the other features on the 787 really do make it the Dreamliner. No single feature makes the 787 the next evolution in air travel, but when all the features are taken together, it really is a big stride forward, and did not disappoint. Stay tuned for more on this trip to Tokyo, including a transfer at Narita to Hong Kong, review of an ANA 767, and an epic helicopter ride in Hong Kong!

Amazing wing flew of the 787

About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz



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