The final flight on the ultra cheap ANA economy fare from Washington, DC to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was a red eye. It was scheduled to depart Tokyo, Japan (HND) at 23:30 and arrive at 05:10. After the airport change from Narita and the long stay in the ANA Lounge at HND, I was ready for a ride on my favorite sky chariot.
I left the ANA lounge at 23:05 for the short walk to Gate 107 where NH 885 was boarding. Even though I was flying in economy, Silver status with United, ANA’s Star Alliance partner, let me board without delay through the Priority Line.
My seat,12K, was a bulkhead window seat on the starboard side in the first row of economy.
Economy seats are arranged 3-3-3. According to SeatGuru, the economy seats on this aircraft ar 18.6 inches wide and have 31 inches of pitch.
Seat width did not seem as generous as SeatGuru advertised but was not an issue because the middle seat was unoccupied. Sitting next to an unoccupied seat or two greatly improves the comfort of any economy seat.
The flight pushed back right on time at 23:30. While taxing, the FAs dimmed the cabin lights. Many airlines do not do this even though it is a good safety measure to precondition eyes to a low-light environment in case of the need to evacuate in the dark.
The flight departed at 23:46. Flight time was estimated at six hours and 22 minutes to travel 3,331 miles to KUL.
I love 787s
The best attribute of the 787 are the large windows that dim without closing the shades. Each window has six different levels of dimming from none to almost complete blackout.
Even on the darkest setting, an exterior view is available. The windows can also be controlled by the FAs. They will set them on the darkest setting during cruise and eliminate dimming for takeoff and landing.
787s are also great planes because of the higher cabin pressure, 6,000 feet msl. That is 25% higher cabin pressure than most other aircraft. The humidity is also higher. Higher pressure and humidity make for a more comfortable flight and lessen the effects of jet lag.
Bulkhead Seats – Pluses and Minuses
Bulkhead seats can be great and then there are other bulkhead seats that are terrible. Delta 737-900 first class bulkhead seats come to mind under the terrible category. The best thing about bulkhead seats is no one can recline into your space. That can be important to those who want to work on a laptop in flight. The biggest potential negative is legroom.
On this version of the 787-8 ANA stagers the seating in the bulkhead row in economy. The seats in the middle section have more legroom than the seats in the sections by the windows. The extra room is nice for stretching out, but it comes with a cost. Other passengers tend to view the space between the passengers and the bulkhead in the center section as an aisle for their use in crossing from one side of the plane to the other. I find that very, very annoying and avoid these seats because of it.
I selected the bulkhead window section on this flight knowing that legroom could be an issue. Legroom was restricted, though not overly so, and having an empty seat beside me was helpful in avoiding feeling too cramped. ANA economy seats have more recline than U.S. carriers which added to the comfort of the seat. Also, the bulkhead provides some opportunity for stretching one’s legs a tad.
Bulkhead seats have the tray table in the armrest. This reduces seat width a hair. Video screens also are stored between the seats and swing up for viewing. That’s great for being able to position the screen at the perfect angle for viewing. But these screens must be stowed for taxi, takeoff, and landing which reduces viewing time.
Being in the bulkhead row right behind business class let’s one see how the other half lives. That can be a minus and/or a plus.
Boeing 787s are known as the Dreamliner. On this red eye, for me the emphasis would be on “dream” as I had not had a decent sleep in about 24 hours. There would be little in the way of service on this red eye anyway.
AT 03:21 KUL time and 930 miles from the destination, the FAs began the pre-arrival service with wet towels. The meal followed 10 minutes later.
I had the whitefish and green tea. There was not much fish in my meal but the whole thing was very tasty and all I needed at that hour.
About 40 minutes before landing, the crew sprayed the cabin with an insecticide required by the Malaysian government. The FAs recommended covering the nose and mouth. I have no idea what chemicals we were being exposed to.
The flight landed without further incident at 05:15 local and parked at the gate at 05:24.
This ANA 787-8 flight in a bulkhead seat was pretty enjoyable as I managed to sleep most of the way. I was fortunate to have an empty set beside me which no doubt added to my comfort. The flight reinforced my positive views of the Dreamliner as I arrived in Kuala Lumpur feeling reasonably fresh even though I’d been travelling from the U.S. for over 24 hours including the layover in Tokyo.