Over the last few years, ANA’s fleet of Airbus A321neos has grown to over 20 airframes.
The airline uses them exclusively on domestic flights and they can be seen on routes connecting Tokyo with smaller cities around Japan as well as on routes between those smaller cities. That said, they also operate some of the frequencies on busier routes which mostly get widebodies.
While I have flown on the aircraft a number of times, this is the first time I decided to review a flight on it. Continue reading this review to see what economy class on the ANA A321neo was like on my flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka earlier this month.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Tokyo Haneda Airport
With the flight departing at 3PM, I left home around 12:30PM and made my way to Haneda’s terminal 2 which ANA uses for its domestic flights. Along the way, I helped a group of American travelers get off at the right terminal – they thought they had to go to terminal 1 as they were flying with JAL without realizing that JAL’s international flights actually use terminal 3.
Since I couldn’t check-in online (probably because the flight was part of an international ticket), I picked up the boarding pass for my flight from one of the check-in machines as soon as I got to the airport. Rather than giving me just one, the machine printed out boarding passes for my subsequent flights from Fukuoka to Seoul and from Seoul to Tokyo Narita on Asiana. The last one of those was the main purpose of this trip.
While there was a fairly long line at the regular security check, I was able to use a fast lane thanks to my ANA Platinum status. That one was empty, and so I found myself airside in no time.
As I still had some time until boarding, I went to one of the ANA Lounges where I got some work done while sipping some Pepsi Zero. The area near the lounge’s entrance was quite full but there was plenty of empty seats further in the back of the lounge.
I left the lounge at 2:35PM and headed to gate 67A at the end of the terminal’s southern pier. During the five-minute walk, I saw a dad with a child using one of the airport’s self-driving wheelchairs to get to their gate. I will have to try it out when flying with my daughter for the first time in a couple of months too!
Just as I got to the gate, boarding started. First, ANA Diamond status holders were invited to board. Then, group 2 consisting of Premium Class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members was called. With that, I got my boarding pass scanned and headed down the jetway.
At the aircraft door, I was welcomed by one of the flight attendants and offered a pair of earphones. Then, I headed down the aisle and settled in my left-hand side window seat 6A.
ANA A321neo Cabin & Seat
Like other ANA A321ceo and A321neo aircraft, the aircraft I was on – JA137A – was equipped with a total of 194 seats. That included eight Premium Class recliner seats in a 2-2 layout at the front of the aircraft and 186 economy class seats in a 3-3 layout.
In addition to an overhead reading light, each seat also had access to an individual air vent.
The legroom in economy class was fine but not great. While very compact, there was also an IFE (in-flight entertainment) system box under the seats in front, between seats A and B.
On the seatback in front was a nice seat pocket which, in addition to the standard full-width compartment, also had two smaller pockets for storing personal belongings.
Above the seat pocket was a tray table that folded in half. Above that were an IFE controller, a high-resolution screen, and a coat hook. The bottom edge of the screen was also home to a USB-A charging port and the audio output. Under each seat, there was a universal power outlet.
Departure from Haneda on an ANA A321neo
By the time the aircraft doors were closed at 3PM, the flight was almost full. Because of that, during boarding, the cabin crew made an announcement that people should store their luggage in whatever open space they find in the overhead bins, regardless of where they are seated.
At 3:05PM, an announcement introducing the crew members was made and the safety video started screening on the personal screens. We were pushed back six minutes behind schedule, at 3:06PM, and another five minutes later we started taxiing toward our departure runway.
We took off from runway 16R at 3:19PM. Shortly after take-off, some great views of Haneda’s runway 05 could be had. Rest of the views was fairly limited as the skies were very hazy and thus visibility was minimal. That said, some views of Tokyo as well as Haneda airport could be had.
Seven minutes after take-off, the cabin crew announced that we were expecting a 5PM arrival in Fukuoka and that seat reclining and tray tables could now be used.
Service Onboard a Domestic ANA Flight
Seatbelt signs were switched off 12 minutes after take-off. At that point, one of the flight attendants made an announcement saying we were expecting some turbulence around 4PM (about 30 minutes later) and that passengers should use the lavatories by then if necessary.
She also said that economy class passengers would soon be served drinks. In addition to listing the drinks available, she also mentioned that due to safety, small children and those traveling with them would not be served hot drinks.
A couple of minutes after that, another announcement was made – this time giving a heads-up to passengers that Mount Fuji could be seen on the left. That was only possible briefly, though, as we entered into a cloud soon after.
The drink service started at 3:43PM and, since I was in the second row of economy class, I was served the apple juice I asked for in no time. Other drinks that were available included hot coffee, consomme soup, green tea, and mineral water.
While the cabin crew was serving the rest of the row, one of the passengers in the row in front of me finished his drink. He was immediately offered a refill. More refills were offered about ten minutes later when the cabin crew went through the cabin to collect empty cups. I got a cup of green tea this time.
The drinks were served in a Demon Slayer-themed cup.
ANA A321neo In-Flight Entertainment System
As mentioned earlier, earphones were handed out during boarding and the aircraft was equipped with a decently sized high-resolution personal entertainment screen. The cabin crew also came to offer earphones once again, before the drink service.
In terms of content, the selection wasn’t too great. That said, considering the aircraft are only used on one- to two-hour domestic flights, just having an IFE system at all was more than welcome.
In addition to 10 movies (both Western and Japanese), some TV shows (including Demon Slayer), four live TV channels (CNNj, GAORA SPORTS, Nippon TV News 24, and Space Shower TV), music albums, and digital in-flight magazines were available.
There was also of course an airshow for those that preferred watching their location on a map and seeing information about the flight. It used the FlightPath3D platform which allows passengers to enjoy a variety of different views and zoom in and out of the map.
Additionally, the aircraft was equipped with downward- and forward-facing cameras. Given the weather, there wasn’t much to see on those during this flight, though.
ANA A321neo Onboard Wi-Fi
Like most other domestic ANA aircraft, the A321neo I was flying on was equipped with onboard wi-fi providing free internet access to all passengers for the duration of the flight. I did a speed test a few times getting speeds of anywhere between slightly below 1 Mbps all the way to around 4 Mbps.
In addition to access to the internet, it was also possible to stream content through the wi-fi too. The content selection appeared to be the same as that on the actual IFE system.
I connected to the wi-fi through ANA’s app on my cell but logging in through the ANA portal website (ana-inflight-wifi.com) on my laptop was equally smooth. Neither of the two methods required an email address – one just needed to accept the terms and conditions.
Arrival at Haneda Airport
Until the seatbelt signs were switched back on at 4:31PM, I worked on an article. At that point, we were descending toward Fukuoka through thick clouds.
As such, there were no views to speak of until 4:54PM when the landing gear was lowered and we passed over Ainoshima Island off the coast of Kyushu. Then, as we got closer to Fukuoka airport, we were offered some great views of the city.
We landed on runway 16 at 4:57PM.
It took another five minutes until we got to our parking gate 11 at 5:02PM. That brought the flight to an end 12 minutes behind schedule.
While disembarking, a video commemorating ANA’s 70th anniversary and highlighting some of the airline’s milestones over the decades was played.
ANA A321neo Economy Class Summary
While 737-800s are the more common narrowbody on ANA’s domestic flights, there are still many flights operated by the A321neo. As such, if you are flying on some of Japan’s less busy routes with ANA, chances are you might be scheduled to fly on the type.
The aircraft offers a decent onboard experience with free wi-fi and an in-flight entertainment system. The one downside of the aircraft was the slightly tight legroom. That said, considering the aircraft is mostly seen on flights that are one or two hours long, that’s not too much of an issue.