Monday, June 9, 2014

ANA adds three-class Dreamliner to U.S. West Coast routes

Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), the first airline to take delivery of and carry paying passengers on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, has begun operating a Dreamliner configured with three classes of service between Tokyo’s Narita Airport (NRT) and its U.S. West Coast destinations of Seattle (SEA) and San Jose (SJC). Compared to the two-class Dreamliners, there are some significant differences, especially in Economy Class.

The addition of a Boeing (NYSE:BA) Dreamliner with three classes of service came to my attention when I read a blog post by a person who, along with her husband, had ridden in Economy Class from NRT to SEA and pronounced it a “Nightmareliner.”

Since this was far from my experience in Dreamliner Economy Class, I investigated further.

“[ANA has] been operating the three-class B787s (Business, Premium Economy, Economy) since March,” Nao Gunji, an ANA spokesperson, confirmed to TheTravelPro in an e-mail. The planes currently ply the two routes to the U.S. West Coast between three and four times a week, though that “could be changed monthly as Boeing delivers more B787s to ANA.”
ANA Dreamliner

To date, ANA has taken delivery of 29 Dreamliners. The aircraft I flew in October 2012 was Number 14. The airline has ordered a total of 66 according to Boeing’s database of orders and deliveries.

What does that mean to air travelers? For Economy Class passengers on the three-class Dreamliner, it means a fair bit less room for the 10+ hour flights.

ANA operates three versions of 787 Dreamliner; two, two-class configurations and a three-class configuration. One two-class version has 42 Business Class seats and 180 Economy seats, while the second has 46 Business Class suites with generous work tables and direct aisle access from every seat, and 112 Economy seats. It is the second two-class configuration that I experienced.

Like the second two-class configuration, the three-class Dreamliner has 46 Business Class suites with generous work tables and direct aisle access from every seat, 21 Premium Economy seats and 100 standard Economy Class seats.

According to SeatGuru.com, the pitch– the space from the back of one seat to the back of the seat in front of it – of the economy seats on Version 1 of the two-class aircraft is 31 inches and 33 – 34 inches on Version 2. In both cases, seats are a rather generous 18.6 inches wide, and arranged in a two-four-two configuration, with a twist: the four seats in the center are actually two pairs of two with a bit of space between the pairs, meaning no passenger has more than one shared armrest. That bit of extra space can make quite a difference on long flights.

Economy class on the three-class aircraft is tighter. While still offering a pitch of 31 inches, the seats are only 17.2 inches wide and arranged in a three-three-three configuration. If you’re an average sized North American, you could find that arrangement uncomfortable for such a long flight.

Economy class seating
The three-class Dreamliner offers 21 Premium Economy seats with seats 19.3 inches wide – almost as wide as the Business Class seats – and 38 inches of pitch.

Because the different configurations all operate on the same routes, potential passengers need to take some extra steps when making their reservations to ensure they know which plane they’ll be on and how much space they’ll have.

One way, of course, is to book Premium Economy if it’s offered and pay the higher fare. But airline officials say that isn’t really necessary.

“The best way to avoid three-class B787s, if you would like, is to ask for the aircraft configuration for specific dates while booking the flight,” Gunji said, noting that can be done either through a reservation agent or the web site.

Book your flights carefully and I’m confident you’ll find the Dreamliner to be an amazing aircraft, as I did.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek 
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