Ever since ANA revealed its new “The Room” business class seat, I wanted to try it. Having flown in and really enjoyed Qatar Airways’ QSuites, I knew “The Room” would be equally as good if not better. As such, I was excited when I found an itinerary for my return flight from Europe to Japan back in September 2020 that included a flight from London to Tokyo on one of the airline’s refurbished 777-300ERs.
With a few months of delay, here’s my review of the flight. Continue reading to see what “The Room” is like as well as what ANA’s long-haul business service in the COVID-19 era is like.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at London Heathrow
After arriving from Vienna onboard an Austrian A319, I proceeded through security check into the departure hall of Heathrow’s terminal 2.
While my ANA flight was departing from gate B44, all of the lounges in that area of the terminal were closed due to the pandemic. As such, I spent the majority of my 10-hour transit in the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge in the A-gates area, the only open Star Alliance lounge in the terminal.
Overall, the lounge was OK. While nothing to write home about, it offered a decent selection of seating and definitely made for a better place to spend a better part of a day in than the terminal itself would have. That said, because of COVID-19, there was no buffet or self-service drink area. Instead, the lounge staff was making rounds around the lounge, offering guests food and drinks.
As my flight was scheduled to board at 6:30PM, I left the lounge at around 6:05PM and, through an underground walkway, headed to the B-gates area. The walk was very enjoyable since the entire walkway was lined with photos showing the history of London Heathrow airport.
Not long after I sat down next to gate B44 where the flight was departing from, an announcement was made confirming the expected boarding time.
At 6:25PM, preboarding started. About ten minutes later, regular boarding followed. In addition to the typical passport and boarding pass check, passengers were also requested to disinfect their hands before boarding.
ANA 777-300ER “The Room” Business Class Cabin & Seat
Onboard, as soon as I settled in my seat, one of the flight attendants came to welcome me and to explain the seat layout. She also mentioned that my seat was facing backward and that if I wanted to, I could change my seat to a forward-facing one. I politely declined that offer and went on to explore the seat.
ANA operates 777-300ERs with two types of business class seats – standard staggered seats and “The Room” suites which it introduced fairly recently.
As mentioned in the introduction, the reason I picked this flight was, actually, to try “The Room.” It was the business class product I was the most excited about trying since flying Qatar Airways’ QSuites a couple of years back, and the seat did not disappoint. In fact, it is now by far my most favorite business class seat out of the one’s I’ve flown in.
The aircraft I was on was equipped with 64 “The Room” business class suites spread across three cabins. The first business class cabin, located between first class and the aircraft’s second pair of doors, contained two rows of four seats in a 1-2-1 layout. The second one contained ten rows for a total of 40 seats. Finally, the third cabin was equipped with four more rows.
While the rows of single seats alongside the windows altered between backward-facing seats closer to the windows and forward-facing seats closer to the aisle, the pairs of seats in the center section altered between having two backward-facing seats closer to each other and two forward-facing seats apart from each other, each right next to the aisle.
My suite, 19K, was a backward-facing window seat. The main feature of the suite was, of course, the seat which was so wide that two people could sit on it comfortably side-by-side.
On the panels to the left side of the suite, there were two reading lights, a coat hook, a pocket with a safety card, the audio output, and a USB port.
On the right side, there was a large counter with some enclosed storage above it. Besides being able to fit some books and smaller items, a USB port, a power outlet, and a mirror could be found in the storage compartment as well. There was a pair of reading lights and an audio output on this side of the suite as well.
The counter also housed seat controls and the IFE controller. In addition to buttons allowing one to set the seat in some preset positions, there was also a dial for recline control.
As for the suite’s door, it consisted of two parts – a privacy partition that extended upwards and the actual sliding door. While there was a small gap between the two parts, the door provided more than enough privacy and was high enough.
Considering that the door parts are rather heavy and have to be moved manually, it wasn’t as easy opening/closing them as it could have been, though.
One last thing I will mention here before going back to talking about the actual flight is that the windows had electrically controlled blinds.
I will share my thoughts about how the seat was in the fully reclined position later in this review.
ANA Long-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Upon boarding, two pillows, a duvet, a mattress pad, a Globe-Trotter amenity kit, a headset, and a pair of slippers were waiting on the seat.
With everyone onboard, the aircraft doors were closed at 6:50PM. At that point, I was the only person in the third business class cabin, and the overall load wasn’t much better. At 6:55PM, five minutes ahead of schedule, we were pushed back. Around the same time, I was offered a choice of sparkling wine or orange juice for a welcome drink. I went with the latter.
We took off just a few minutes later, at 7:07PM. Because of the steep angle caused by, I assume, the light load, and the fact that my seat was facing backward, it was one of the most enjoyable take-offs that I can remember.
Seatbelt signs were switched off about 15 minutes after take-off. At that time, an announcement explaining the entry procedures in Japan was made and the cabin lights turned warmer.
Another ten minutes later, one of the flight attendants brought me a set of immigration documents. Shortly after that, she returned with an alcohol wipe and a bag for throwing it away.
ANA Long-Haul Business Class Dinner
The dinner service started about half an hour after take-off. First, a wet tissue, drink menu, and meal menu were provided. Because of the COVID-19 situation, the meal menu was a piece of A4 paper rather than a proper booklet.
Not long after the menus were brought, the cabin crew came to take my drink order and, within a minute, brought the Pepsi Zero that I asked for.
As for the meal service itself, first, an amuse-bouche consisting of salmon, olives, mozzarella, and tomatoes was served.
Then, one of the flight attendants came to take my order. Three choices of main were available:
- Beef fillet steak with morel sauce
- Sauteed whitefish with Puttanesca sauce
- Potato and onion frittata
I ordered the steak, and, not long after that, the flight attendant came to set up my table and brought the appetizer, a prawn and vegetable salad with Marie Rose sauce. The appetizer (as well as the amuse-bouche and main) was served covered. A few minutes later, another flight attendant came with a bread basket from which I chose two pieces. The steak was served about 20 minutes later.
Both the appetizer and main were quite good.
After finishing the steak, I asked for another can of Pepsi. For dessert, I decided to have some fruits. A bit later, one of the flight attendants also came to offer Haagen-Dazs ice cream, but I was already full and so I skipped that one. Instead, I asked for a cup of blended herb tea.
Unfortunately, there were no cakes or similar offered as part of the dessert service.
Sleeping in “The Room”
Around 9PM London time, the window blinds were automatically closed and the cabin lights were turned off. Around the same time, one of the flight attendants brought me a bottle of water.
Being ready to sleep, I turned the seat into a bed. While taking some photos of the seat in its lie-flat position, one of the flight attendants approached me to ask if I also wanted to take some photos of the area near the aircraft entrance to which I said yes.
This area featured a large screen that was showing some stock footage and a self-service drink area with water bottles.
While out of my seat, I also paid a brief visit to the lavatory. The toilet was, like on ANA and JAL’s 787s, equipped with a bidet seat. Basic amenities including toothbrushes, mouth wash, and body wipes were available in the lavatory as well.
With more parts of the aircraft explored, it was time to get back to my seat and get some rest. Lying down in the suite, I was quite amazed. While there was a footwell, it was large enough to allow for comfortable sleep. The top half of the bed was incredibly spacy. As spacy as the Cathay Pacific first class seat, for example.
The one thing that I found interesting was how low the seat got once in the lie-flat position. That, of course, had no effect on how comfortable the seat was to sleep in, though.
All in all, I managed to sleep uninterrupted for about five hours.
Cruising to Tokyo and Using the Onboard Wi-Fi
I woke up at around 10AM Japan time. Immediately, one of the flight attendants came to ask if I wanted something to drink and eat. I asked for a glass of orange juice and yogurt, both of which were brought within a couple of minutes.
At this point, I decided to turn on my laptop and get some work done. The onboard wi-fi was fast and well priced:
- 30 minutes for 6.95 USD
- 3 hours for 16.95 USD
- Full flight for 21.95 USD
Considering that there were only about four hours of flight time left at this point, I decided to go with the three-hour package.
Once I was done with the juice and yogurt, one of the flight attendants came to collect the glass and trash and ask whether I wanted anything else. I asked for water and was offered either a glass or a bottle. I went with the latter which was brought together with some snacks.
ANA Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast
The breakfast service started, ironically, around noon Japan time when one of the flight attendants came to offer a wet tissue and take the breakfast order.
Being offered a choice of either a cheese omelette with sausages or something from the “Light Dishes Anytime” menu, I went with the former. The latter included chicken tikka panini, corn soup, vegetable soup, ramen, and some snacks.
The breakfast tray included a yogurt, two pieces of packaged bread, and the main, of course. While the breakfast was OK, I left most of it on the plate as I was not too hungry at this point.
After clearing the tray, I was offered a drink. Once again, I asked for a cup of herb tea.
Arrival at Tokyo Haneda Airport
With the breakfast finished, I relaxed and slept for about an hour or so. Around 1:40PM, one of the pilots announced that we had about 50 minutes left in the flight, that it was 25 degrees Celsius and cloudy in Tokyo, and that we were going to start our descent in 15 minutes.
A few minutes after that, biscuits and pralines were offered.
Around the time that the seatbelt signs were switched back on at 2:19PM, the flight attendant that was in charge of the cabin I was in brought me a few postcards, a deck of playing cards, and a card with a thank you message, saying that she noticed I was taking a lot of photos and figured out I was an aviation enthusiast.
What a nice touch!
Throughout the descent, I watched ice hockey on one of the Live TV channels on the IFE system. The IFE system, by the way, was slightly better than ANA’s older generation ones, but I still found it to be subpar in terms of content (especially non-Japanese one) compared to other major airlines.
We landed at Haneda airport’s runway 34L at 2:34PM. A few minutes of taxiing later, at 2:38PM (just three minutes behind schedule), we parked at gate 147 of Terminal 3.
After getting off the plane, I navigated through a number of “stations” where my paperwork was checked, a saliva sample for COVID-19 test taken, and the result provided, before being able to get through immigration and customs.
Surprisingly, the entire process took a bit more than an hour, much less than the two to three hours that I was expecting.
That was enough time for ANA staff to get everyone’s luggage off the carousel and onto individual trolleys, and even to attach a thank you message to some of the suitcases. Another nice touch to end the flight!
ANA 777-300ER “The Room” Business Class Summary
As mentioned earlier, “The Room” is by far the best business class seat I have flown in and, arguably, the best business class seat in the world. The extremely light load also resulted in personalized and very friendly service and a private jet-like experience (I did not see any other passenger during the entire flight).
That said, the meal quality was average (partly caused by the modified catering due to COVID-19) and the IFE content was subpar.
All in all, though, it was an excellent flight that ranks among my most memorable ones.