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Review: ANA Economy Class NRT to SEA on Boeing 787

When I went to scan my boarding pass to get on this flight, the machine angrily beeped at me, as I was supposedly pre-chosen to have a pat down prior to boarding. As far as I could tell, there were only three names on this list of passengers to get extra security.

I had called a couple of months prior to the flight to pre-select a seat, and I’m very glad that I did. The 787 that I flew had a three-class configuration of business, premium economy, and economy, and I was seated in 20C, or the exit row aisle.

ANA 787 Seat Map
ANA 787 Seat Map

For this configuration, 20BCHJ are definitely the best seats in economy. Because of the exit row, there’s nearly limitless legroom (okay, maybe not quite as much as the unlimited leg room on row 9 of the old UA 757 planes, but it’s plenty of legroom). The window seats aren’t ideal as the exit door slightly encroaches on the space of the window seat (not as egregious as the window exit row seats on UA’s 747 in economy), but if you value leg room over seat width, you should still consider the exit row window. My rowmate in the window seat started complaining to the flight attendant about his slightly encroached space because of the exit door and loudly proclaimed that he had the worst seat in the whole plane and should be given a seat in the premium economy section because of his Star Gold status. Needless to say, he did not get very far with the flight attendant.

Exit row seats
Exit row seats

Walking through the plane, business class and premium economy had very, very light loads, while economy was almost completely full. But it was a little shocking to see how small the economy section of this plane is. Since half of the plane is dedicated to business class and there’s also a premium economy section, the economy section seems tiny compared to any other wide-body jet I’ve been on.

The middle bathroom in the economy section is quite spacious, and should definitely be your first choice of bathroom if you’re seated in economy or premium economy. The bathrooms featured toilets with advanced functionality, as is common in Japan.

Spacious for an airplane lavatory
Spacious for an airplane lavatory considering that I can take this picture

Service was good and attentive for coach, and I pre-ordered VGML meals for this flight. The first meal was some sort of veggie patty with rice, while the second meal was spaghetti with a red sauce. Both were unremarkable but not bad.

VGML #1 on ANA
VGML #1 on ANA
VGML #2 on ANA

The real “fun” on the flight came upon landing. We had made good time and the captain said that we were going to arrive in Seattle about 30 minutes early. Well, we get to Seattle, and the captain then says that we need to go into a holding pattern since there’s heavy fog at Seatac airport. After holding for an hour, the captain says that we need to divert to Portland to refuel.

So we land in Portland, and we’re sitting on the tarmac, and no one knows what’s going on. We sit on the tarmac for about 2 hours, and the flight attendants are trying to do their best to provide people with snacks and water, but there just isn’t much food left on the plane (which is why I was super glad to have taken some onigiri from the Korean Air lounge in Narita). Then, the captain announces that there’s a maintenance issue and that they need to fly a mechanic down from Seattle since no one in Portland can work on this plane, and it’ll take 2 hours for the mechanic to arrive in Portland.

At this point, I think they realize that they need to let everyone off the plane lest they get fined for leaving passengers stranded on the tarmac, so we end up “clearing” customs and immigration at Portland, but none of the checked bags come off the plane, so it’s not really going through customs. They tell us to be back at a certain gate in about 2 hours, so I head off to the Alaska Air Board Room in Portland to grab a snack and wait it out.

Finally, I head back to the gate at the prescribed time, and the maintenance issue has apparently been fixed but they never refueled the plane, so we still had to wait for that. And then they finally bussed us all out to the middle of the tarmac where our plane was waiting, we get on the plane, and we fly the 30 minutes or so up to Seattle. It ends up being a 7-hour delay, and when we get off the plane in Seattle, we don’t go through customs.

Gorgeous day in Portland, but ANA's 787 shouldn't be there
Gorgeous day in Portland, but ANA’s 787 shouldn’t be there

Anyway, the 7-hour delay on Thanksgiving wasn’t ideal, and ANA doesn’t really seem to handle irrops very well in terms of communication with passengers and compensation (i.e. there is no compensation for a maintenance delay), but the in-flight service is good, and I personally enjoy the 787 (well, maybe not so much if they’re prone to maintenance issues). My sinuses feel less dried out after spending a long time on a 787 than on other jets, and I like the oversized windows.


  1. Thanks for this review. Coincidentally I am flying ANA from Seattle to Tokyo on this same aircraft. I have reserved seats 20H and 20J, which are the exit row seats on the other side of the plane. I booked my flight through United with miles, and when I booked it, I though this was a 787-8 with a 2-4-2 configuration, which would have been ideal but when I went to the ANA website to select seats I was disappointed to find it was the 3-3-3 configuration. My question to you is, did you find the proximity to the toilets a problem? Where there a lot of people standing around in that area waiting for the toilets?

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