I had a work trip to Hong Kong in June, and I asked the people booking my ticket to put me on the new ANA nonstop from Mexico City to Tokyo-Narita. This flight launched earlier this year with ANA’s 787 Dreamliner, and is one of the only options to get to Asia from Mexico City without transiting the US (which requires early departures and long layovers). Luckily, the ticket got booked into a fare class that’s eligible for mileage upgrades, so I was able to use 28,000 ANA miles (transferred from Membership Rewards) to upgrade from Economy to Business.
I flew the reverse in economy in May coming back from Tokyo, so I was excited to see what business class would be like on this flight. The flight departs Mexico City at 2:20AM and arrives in Tokyo around 6:30AM the next day.
At the MEX Airport
I wasn’t able to print a boarding pass online for this flight. I arrived at MEX just before the cutoff time for checked bags, so there was no line at the ticket counter (but even if there had been, there was a separate checkin line for Business Class and Star Alliance Gold customers). Checkin was fast and efficient, and I was on my way to security in just a couple of minutes.
Since both of the Star Alliance lounges at MEX (Avianca and United) were closed at this hour, my boarding pass indicated that I could access the Grand Lounge Elite, a 24-hour Priority Pass lounge. The lounge was so far away from the gate though that by the time I went through security and had my immigration paperwork processed, it wasn’t worth trekking down to the lounge before the flight started boarding. I bought a big bottle of water (since there’s nowhere to fill a reusable bottle with drinkable water) and waited for boarding to start.
ANA’s 787 has a staggered configuration where the left and right sides alternate between window and aisle seats, and the center alternates between two side-by-side seats and a “throne” center seat with tables on either side. I opted for a window seat, since that provides the most privacy (and I like looking out the window, though in row 11 my view was obstructed by the wing and engine).
The business class seat is fully lie-flat, and comes with a mattress pad, light blanket, and a pillow. There is a large side table as well as a large tray table that slides out from under the entertainment screen. One issue I quickly noticed with this seat is that although there is a lot of storage space, it’s mostly unstructured – there is plenty of room to place items on the side table, in a large cubby underneath the footwell, and next to your own seat and the seat in front of you, but there are no pockets or compartments other than a flip-out bottle holder, so you basically just have to pile your belongings on the table. Between the headphones and amenity kit they provided, my own headphones, my water bottle, and whatever snacks I was enjoying at the time, this space was often crowded.
The 17” touchscreen has a decent number of entertainment options, and after sleeping for the first half of the flight I watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (One interesting note: although there is some Spanish-language content on the entertainment system, there is no Spanish interface. There was an information card in Spanish explaining how to navigate the entertainment system, though I didn’t read it to see how useful it was.) There is a flap underneath the screen that folds down to reveal a USB port and a universal power outlet, and the flap serves as a convenient place to park your phone while it is charging. ANA’s 787 does not offer in-flight internet.
Food and Beverage
With this flight’s late departure time, there is no scheduled meal service until about 8 hours into the flight – perfect timing if you ask me. There is an extensive selection of food available upon request, which I took advantage of a few times. I wasn’t able to snap pictures of most of the food, but at various points during the flight I ordered a mushroom udon noodle soup, a tofu cream soup, a small cheese plate, and rice crackers. The menu was a bit confusing at first since it is in Japanese, Spanish, and English, and there are separate sections for Mexico-bound and Japan-bound flights – unsurprisingly, the food options departing Japan are a bit more interesting.
My vegetarian meal included steamed asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots with a red sauce over rice, a cup of fruit, a dinner roll, and some toasted corn crackers (horneadas). The vegetables were decent but nothing special, though the rice was surprisingly well done for an airplane.
On the beverage side of things I tried Umeshu plum wine (with soda water and ice, at the flight attendant’s recommendation), cold green tea, hot roasted green tea, and two of ANA’s signature drinks: a hot herbal tea blend and Aromatic Kabosu, a cold citrus drink with honey.
Arrival at NRT
The flight arrived at Narita on time, and it took little time to get to the transfer security checkpoint. There weren’t many connecting passengers, so after I chugged my water (since there was no where to pour it out), it took less than two minutes to clear security. The terminal was a ghost town when I got downstairs – at one point, I was standing at an intersection of three corridors and couldn’t see anyone else in any direction.
ANA’s Satellite 5 lounge opens at 6:30am – one of the only things open at that time – so I made a beeline for the lounge and then went straight for a shower. After freshening up, I settled down in a corner of the lounge and caught up on some emails. The food in the ANA lounge is pretty solid – throughout the day they have 2-3 hot dishes (at this point it was chicken wings, scrambled eggs, and bacon), two soups, two kinds of onigiri rice balls, inari, sushi rolls (that day’s was salmon and mayonnaise), and a wide variety of sodas, teas, sake, beer, and wine. Most importantly, there is also an all-day noodle bar featuring three kinds of udon/soba, two curry dishes, and pork ramen. Some of the food items rotate on a monthly basis. No one is in danger of going hungry or thirsty in this lounge!
I left the lounge about an hour before boarding to do some shopping, and ducked into the United Club for a few minutes. It’s also a bright and spacious lounge, and while it has better food options than most United Clubs (including sushi and sashimi, scrambled eggs, tater tots, rice crackers, bread and cheese, and traditional Japanese desserts), it is definitely not as impressive as ANA in either selection or quality.
Stay tuned for the second leg of this trip, NRT-HKG in business class on an ANA 767!