For Westerners, it is sometimes difficult to understand destinations in Southeast Asia are as far apart as they actually are. I was surprised to find out the flight from Tokyo to Bangkok was seven hours long. This particular flight is sold through a few different Star Alliance partners and has different flight numbers associated.
The flight is operated by ANA (All Nippon Airways) and was a great experience! Flight UA 8003 or NH 849 is a long haul flight from Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). It leaves Tokyo at 12:05 am and arrives in Bangkok at 5:00 am. The journey is 6 hours and 55 minutes long.
We took this flight after flying 13 hours from Chicago to Tokyo. Prior to that experience, our longest flight was about 9 hours, making this flight a long haul in our minds. Although it left at midnight, it felt like 9:00 am to us with the time change and after having slept a full night on the previous flight. Because of this, the superior service experience offered by ANA made this nearly seven hour flight seem short and easy. The remainder of this post will highlight our positive experience on this flight and what strategies we used to have the best flight experience.
Flight UA 8003 is the operating number if booked through United Airlines. The same flight can also be booked through multiple Star Alliance Partner Airlines including the operator All Nippon Airlines. The flight number is different when booked through other airlines. For ANA, the number becomes NH 849. This flight left from the 2F section of the Haneda Airport, gate 143.
The plane is divided into First Class, Business Class and Economy seating. The flight offers the following food and drink services: snack mix and beverage, beverage refill, morning meal (choice of two options), and coffee and tea service.
The Economy section of Boeing 787-9 we rode on was divided into a three – three – three seat configuration rows in slight offset. Each seat is equipped with a screen, removable keyboard/remote, cup holder, tray table, foot rest, and back of seat net storage area.
Seating Layout. We flew on the Boeing 787-9. You can see a variety of layout variations on SeatGuru’s website. The version we flew on had two lavatories in the back. The economy section ends with row 42. We chose seats in row 37 and 38. With the three – three – three configuration and five members of our family, we selected three seats together on the left window and the aisle seat and center seat of the section across the aisle. These were seats 37 A, B, & C as well as 38 D &F.
I am a believer in sitting toward the back of the plane and once again, this strategy served us well on this flight. You may want to read my article on why sitting at the back of plane is easiest for families.
Seat Amenities: I found the seats themselves to be quite spacious for economy seats. The seat pitch (distance from the top back of the seat in front of you to the top back of your seat) is 34 inches. From the moment we sat down, it felt we had plenty of room compared to other economy experiences. The seat width is 17.3 inches which is one of the widest economy seats I have experienced. Each seat included a USB power outlet for charging. One of my favorite features of this airplane is the foot rest for each seat. The foot rest must be upright against the bottom of the seat in front of your seat, but can be pulled down to provide a comfortable place to rest. My husband found the foot rest to be difficult for him to use and our six year old couldn’t quite reach his foot rest.
Seat Recline: ANA has a unique seat recline as well. I must admit that I did not get very accustomed to it, but think it’s a great concept. They call it a fixed back shell design. The concept is that because the back of the seat doesn’t recline into the person behind you, you do not impact the amount of space they have to utilize. When you click your recline button, your seat bottom actually slides forward giving you the same feeling as the back reclining. The headrest on the back of the seat also adjusts up and down. ANA shows many of these features in detail on their website.
Food is important to me in general – options, flavors, presentation, etc. You can, of course, pack your own snacks for yourself or picky eaters, but it is really nice when the offerings on an airplane are both diverse and delicious. When I first realized we were flying on a Japanese airline, I feared my pickiest eater wouldn’t care for anything they served. ANA impressed me with their offerings and we found some items he really did like.
Snack and Drink Service: About 30 minutes into our flight, we were served two packaged snacks including mini chocolate chip cookies and a tasty savory pretzel mix. The drink cart also came through at this time. They offered various juices, milk, sodas, and wines for no fee. I believe you could purchase a cocktail, but I didn’t see anyone doing so. Each person was also served a water bottle.
Morning Meal Service: ANA is the only airline where I have received a menu with my choice in economy class. There are two options for each meal service. One tended toward Japanese cuisine while the other was more Western. For this meal, ANA served either a Whitefish option or Omelet with sausage, biscuit in a ratatouille sauce. We all chose the more Western option. The other impressive detail about the meals is the amount of side dishes. These options were served with a green salad and Italian dressing, a dinner roll with butter, shrimp salad, and fresh fruit.
ANA offers a kid specific section of the entertainment menu with games, movies, and shows. They offered headphones, but we like to plug in our own to get the right fit for everyone. There is a full keyboard removable remote that can be used to navigate games and the menus.
I really appreciate when the airline has an interesting flight safety video because it engages the kids so they listen and are distracted from the fact electronics cannot be used until we are in the air. ANA’s video features a geisha and samurai acting out the various rules and regulations.
For adults, there is a variety of movies available in English and other languages. There are fewer English options than American based airlines, but I would estimate at least 20-25 English films. I watched Peanut Butter Falcon on this flight, which was an excellent movie. We dozed a little since it was dark and nighttime hours for most passengers.
ANA is well thought of in the industry for their service and they did not disappoint. We found the attendants all to be extremely kind and helpful. The handheld keyboard is very convenient, but also makes it a little too easy to call an attendant which my six year old did shortly into the flight. The attendant who replied just smiles and leaned over to turn off the call, no sign of frustration. There were ocassions when they didn’t have the beverage remaining on their cart and they just took note of the order and brought it back soon after. The service interaction was delightful and easy even with some attendants spoke service related English.
Each seat included a packaged blanket and small pillow.