No hype, no press releases or even influencers, yet there it was. Without warning, All Nippon Airways, better known as ANA, released a video of their new business class suite, which would be flying in less than a month between London Heathrow and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. When I saw a window to book myself on the very first flight from London, I pounced. I’m glad I did, because I called it before I even got off the plane.
This is now the best business class seat flying in the sky.
That’s a lofty claim, no doubt, but its one which I back with every bone in my body, despite being a huge enthusiast of the Qatar Airways Qsuite, the seat I would’ve previously voted as best by miles. It’s now second, but it’s time to dive into this extraordinary new seat, because there’s just nothing like it, at least not in business class.
From my initial coverage of the new ANA Boeing 777-300ER “The Room” Business Class, in which I declared the seat the best business class product currently flying, there were quite a few questions from readers on the blog, on Instagram and on Twitter. Before I drill down, I’ll get to a few of them.
— Gilbert Ott | GSTP ✈️🌴🌏 (@godsavethepoint) August 2, 2019
Question: Is the seat like Singapore Airlines old business class seat, which has to be flipped for bed and was narrow in the foot well?
Answer: No, it’s like a 100% better iteration which doesn’t need flipping.
Question: How does the new ANA business suite compare to the Qatar Airways Qsuite, it looks kind of similar to me?
Answer: The screen is bigger, the privacy door is bigger, the tech is newer and faster, the bed is wider and the storage space is equal at the very least, but probably also better too.
Ok, good chat everyone.
As I boarded the new plane, which left the Boeing factory only a week ago, I was most interested in seeing the faces of the frequent ANA travellers amongst me, and that pursuit didn’t disappoint. Nearly everyone oohed and ahhh’d, especially those who were expecting the standard ANA business class seat, completely oblivious to what they’d just landed by accident. They were blown away.
I asked the passenger seated next to me what he thought, to which he quickly remarked that he thought he was in the wrong cabin for a moment, and that this new seat looks and feels nicer than ANA’s previous first class offering, still in use on older aircraft. This cabin is sleek, it’s elegant, it’s even artistic and unlike any other cabin outside of perhaps the beloved Qsuite, it looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen – at least not in business class. And in first class, it would still look top class.
But as we know from the internet, looks can be deceiving. In this case, they were not.
All the talk of beautiful Japanese rosewood and ash was not just hyperbole. Kengo Kuma, Acumen and Panasonic nailed this to the highest magnitude, with textures, materials and tones which felt far more substantial and “hotel lobby” quality than many other seats.
It’s not often I say it, but I really felt that it was hard to do justice to the textures and colours found in this cabin via the photographs. If you think these photos are generous, I genuinely feel as if the cabin looks better in person.
I sat down in the seat and genuinely could not believe I was in business class.
Everything about it screamed bigger, better and more current than any cabin I’ve witnessed, even many which are considered brand new. For starters, the new Panasonic entertainment screen was in stunning 4K quality and offered 22”, which I believe makes it the largest in business class. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, I know some of you will.
In case anyone is waiting for a dramatic plot twist, the total lack of even remotely decent in flight entertainment programming was the only downside to this entire experience, so there – you got one. There were like three good movies, and 1.5 decent television shows. There are only so many times I can watch Anchorman, no matter how fantastic it is.
Glancing at the screen, I was immediately invited to pair my smartphone with the system, which I could then use as a controller for all the in flight entertainment. Handy, right? With plenty of plugs to keep me charged, I decided to, but found myself too accustomed to tapping or pulling out the good ole’ IFE controller. Perhaps in time my muscle memory will catch on.
In addition, I found at least two separate areas I could plug my headphones in, depending on how I was using the seat. This makes so much sense. Why be stuck to one headphone jack? Love this.
If I had to dream big, I’d dream that a future iteration of this seat would bring bluetooth headphone connectivity the same way the phone brings IFE control. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I’d be extremely excited to see.
I opened the vanity mirror to find a generous amount of storage space, but mainly a perfect hub for all things connectivity. USB ports, AC ports and all that jazz. This cabinet was so clever, the bottom third was cut out with a hinge, so that the cables could flow out without being impeded. I genuinely really appreciated my plugs not getting squashed. It’s the little things, you know?
As to other storage space, you could find plenty under the foot stool, or in the other 2/3 of the seat left empty from your seated position, or of course, the floor. I kept my laptop bag next to me on the seat for most of the flight, and hardly noticed it, even in bed mode.
Like all grown up children, or children masquerading as grown ups, I couldn’t help but play with the privacy door.
Rather than needing to manually slide each of the – not one, but two – door components, a simple sustained press of a button released the door. When it was time to open the door, this did require a manual slide, but it was quite easy and absolutely did not require an instruction manual. Though this being a helpful Japanese airline, ANA did include an extremely detailed and helpful one, just in case.
With the two elements to the door you could either enjoy the privacy of the main seat entrance being blocked, but leave open a partition for meal service or crew interaction, or totally close yourself off to everything. I kept it all open until meal service was over, and then closed it to the fully to enjoy the truly massive suite in peace. It’s not a piss take in the slightest calling this seat a suite. It really is.
Perhaps that’s because there kinda is one on both sides. The entire large surface you see was like a great big sun lounger, which could go anywhere from cozy reclined wide body seat, to fully flat bed in mere seconds. I worked on my laptop, I lounged, I slept and I never felt like I needed something to do with my elbows. It just works. Not needing to ever move while adjusting the full seat was brilliant.
The bed was so wide, I felt like I could’ve slept sideways across it.
When I say the entire surface goes into every position, I mean everything you see in the photo goes fully flat. Had I been shorter, I’m quite sure I could’ve slept sideways with my face in the window and feet at the door, or vice versa – it’s really that wide, and leaves no surface area unturned as far as bed coverage. I wouldn’t usually add photos of myself to a review, but as a 6’3” specimen in need of a diet, I felt it would do some justice to the sheer size of this new pacesetter.
If there was a stroke of genius in the design, it would be the generous angle with which you can bring your feet into the foot cubby. I never felt as if the seat was anywhere near as tight or as impractical as the old Singapore Airlines business seat, which is the only seat that’s ever looked anything like this. In fully flat bed mode, I could comfortably get my size 12’s in there from a variety of sleep positions with no feeling of awkwardness worth noting.
Speaking of bed mode, ANA didn’t let this seat fall flat on soft touches either. Nishikawa released a bespoke line of bedding, including mattress topper, high quality duvet and memory foam style pillows, of which each passenger receives two. I found the two pillows to work together in perfect harmony, while the duvet was just about right. Impressively, the mattress topper was sized to fit the entire bed.
I loved sleeping in this bed and found hours of comfort across a variety of positions.
Food, Service And Soft Touches
I’ve never met an ANA crew I didn’t like. It’s only natural that cultural differences will exist between East and West, and some people find the ultra professional nature of the cabin crew to be impersonal, but I would absolutely disagree. It’s just a symbol of respect.
Benjamin on the way out and the entire team on the way back made regular rounds to offer green tea refills (and sake too) and were always happy for an impromptu order from the anytime menu, which would be my big suggestion for the food portion of your flight. I love the service style offered by ANA, but this is personal preference.
As far as food goes, I’m the wrong person to ask, but I liked the food a lot. I generally avoid airplane food like the plague, always preferring to have a good meal on the ground versus any meal in the sky. However, I had a lovely sea bass on the way out from the Japanese menu and even better nibbles.
ANA has a dedicated webpage where you can see the complete food and beverage menu for any flight, which is a great resource. You can even download the PDF (nerd emoji implied).
For me, the star of the ANA food show is never on the main menu, it’s the anytime menu. The Ippudo Ramen, Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) and the Tonkatsu are just outstanding, and you can have as many as you want, whenever you want! I opted for sushi from Haneda Airport (a great call) over the main meal, but about 5 hours in, I needed a snack and the Okonomiyaki with the Tonkatsu were heavenly and paired ideally with the sound of Ron Burgundy’s voice.
Quite simply, if you gave me 20 more movies and at least 5 television shows worth watching, this would have been our first and only 100 out of 100. Because the limited amount of entertainment they did have was high quality and they offered both live TV and full flight wifi passes for $21, I only docked a point.
In my opinion, this is the very best business class “hard product”, which is airline geek for “things that are fastened to the aircraft”, and ANA continues to excel in flight service, catering and innovation. The new mattress toppers are great, the duvets are solid and the privacy in this seat is truly unsurpassed for business class. Im in awe, and even Ron Burgundy would say “neat-o, gang.
The seat is currently flying between London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda, and is expected to see wider long haul roll out to US destinations and beyond later in the fall. You’ll know you have the new seat if your flight changes from 52 to 64 business class seats.