If this is the first article on my blog that you've decided to read, maybe a few bits about me and my travel style would be helpful to set the stage. So here it goes.
I'm Jan, and I love traveling (ha, didn't see that coming, did you?). But that won't tell you anything interesting about me. What's more important is the kind of traveling I’m into. I know that these days, especially among younger folks (and I happen to be one), it's all about low-cost travel with a backpack. If that's what you’re looking for, that’s great, but there’s the door. That’s not what this blog is about.
For me, it's about blending adventure with comfort. I'm willing to pay extra for a good hotel, incredible food, and on all my travels I rent a car (I wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus). That’s why I like to put together travel hacks for you to help you travel without (most of) the stress related to travel.
But it's not like I'm mindlessly splurging money. I work hard for it, so good value is a crucial criterion for me. So, don't expect me to be ecstatic just because I can stretch my legs on a plane. I won't be raving about how everything was perfect and sun-soaked. On the contrary, I'll offer you an honest review, and if something doesn't meet my expectations, I'll certainly tell you.
We flew with Ana Airlines Premium Class from Kyoto to Okinawa to give you a true and authentic review
In this review, I'll share my 2023 journey in ANA's Premium Class on a domestic flight in their Boeing 777-200, flying from Kyoto to Okinawa. For such a short flight, it's quite a sizable plane, considering that there are 15 flights daily from Kyoto to Okinawa. As mentioned earlier, I'll provide you with my honest opinion, and most importantly, help you answer the question of whether it's worth those extra bucks.
Note: Since I flew a domestic flight, I only had the choice between the classic Economy class or the option to pay for the Premium Class. However, on international flights, you can usually choose from Economy Class, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class. I would rank the quality of the Premium Class somewhere between Premium Economy and Business Class.
Here are a few numbers to start with, so you know whether considering ANA's Premium Class is even worth it (definitely yes, if you don't want to go hungry):
Value for money: 10/10
That's my rating of ANA Premium Economy in a nutshell. And that’s all for this article, I hope you enjoyed it.
Just kidding! I know you're here for more than just a few numbers. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So, let's talk a little more about my experience:
One of the main advantages of ANA Airlines' Premium Economy is definitely the value for money. Similar to Austria’s premium economy, it has one "but"—the price changes based on various factors. Simply put, don't expect any logic behind it.
On domestic flights, the upgrade to Premium Economy could cost you around USD 50 per person for both flights (as in my case, lucky me), or it could be twice the ticket price. In the latter case, the value for money would be debatable.
Japan is great value for money... it was surprisingly cheap!
A fantastic tip: Have you heard about "Bid My Price"? If you have even a slight inclination towards gambling and betting, listen up. Bid My Price is a special program by ANA Nippon Airlines, mainly for international flights.
Imagine you buy an Economy class ticket and through this program, you have the chance to propose your price for an upgrade to Premium Economy. If your offered price fits, ANA Airlines will upgrade you to Premium Economy for that price. Isn't that awesome? Of course, it depends on several factors, like the availability of vacant Premium Economy seats and the price bids of other passengers.
If you've spent some time on my blog, you probably know that I enjoy good food. Well... the food was good, considering that you're on a plane. But not so good that you'd momentarily feel like you're in a restaurant (far from it).
The refreshments arrived within half an hour after takeoff and in super nice quality for such a short flight (under two hours). However, I've experienced only the morning flight, and the "lunch menu" is different.
What did we get? Two sandwiches and, of course, miso soup (after all, we're in Japan). When you think of a sandwich on a plane, you might imagine a soggy baguette in a plastic bag, right? But forget about that with ANA Airways. These sandwiches were actually good in taste and quality. After the meal, we were provided with mouthwash—I just love these little details!
You see the sandwich? It’s not like every other airplane sandwich. This one was actually really good!
Besides refreshments, during the flight, you can also order specific alcoholic beverages and snacks from the business class menu within ANA Premium Class.
Compared to Economy Class, Premium Class is way better because there you'd get at most some soup. I know, the flight only lasted two hours, so you wouldn’t starve, but at least you’ll be entertained for a while longer.
Note: I assume that if you fly on an international flight, the menu would be different. However, the quality should be comparable because in both cases, the food is prepared by ANA company chefs, who are apparently among the best in the world among airlines.
Maybe it's just me, but I feel that staying entertained on a plane is next to impossible. And I say that even though each of us had our own enormous screen (15.6 inches) and a variety of activities beyond just watching a movie. Thanks to the concepts of "Reading in the Sky," "Learning in the Sky," and "Watching in the Sky," you can read magazines and newspapers in digital form or visit an online educational environment (I didn't visit it, so I'm not sure what you can learn there).
There were plenty of things you could do during the flight. I loved the big screens and super cool stainless remote control
The selection of movies is massive, but the limiting factor was the time. The total flight duration is 1 hour and 40 minutes. And I’d rather not start a movie that I won’t finish.
Upon boarding the plane, you can take disposable headphones, which are probably the worst option because they're of low quality, and the idea of good noise cancellation is just wishful thinking. I wanted to say better than a poke in the eye, but in this case, I'm not entirely sure. But don't worry; as passengers in the Premium Class, you're entitled to headphones with optimum sound quality.
As a big plus with All Nippon Airways, I value the free Wi-Fi, available five minutes after takeoff and almost until landing. So, you can comfortably spend the entire flight scrolling on Instagram or other reading the Japan itinerary I’ve put together for you.
I would rate the flight crew 15/10. For me, the best experience so far on a short flight (and I have a long line of flights under my belt). Even before takeoff, the crew introduced themselves! You instantly feel like you're in an American restaurant or something.
This is how I imagine it when someone is doing their job exceptionally well. The flight attendants were extremely nice, constantly asking if everything was okay and if we needed anything. Not intrusively or annoyingly, just the right amount that makes you feel well taken care of.
From my experience, everything they say about Ana Premium Class is true
For me, service is really important for the overall impression, and not just when flying. I probably won’t be the only one who’s had an unpleasant visit to an otherwise great restaurant due to unfriendly staff. So, I give ANA Airlines a big plus for this.
Take a seat and fasten your seatbelt because we're now at one of the most critical criteria: the airplane seats. Let's be honest; the seats are the main reason why many of us are willing to pay extra for premium economy or business class, not just with ANA Airways.
The thought of being smooshed next to strangers who might smell, cough the entire journey, or take their shoes off during the flight (why, just why?!) is off-putting. It's the reason we're willing to pay sometimes a high price for a better experience.
The seat arrangement in ANA's Premium Class is 2-3-2, while the rest of the plane has a 2-4-2 arrangement. Thanks to this generous seating layout, you'll have a sense of ample personal space, something that doesn’t happen often in airplanes.
This is what plane seats look like in economic class...
And now, the seats themselves. As I mentioned at the start, don't expect everything to be great and sun-drenched, but this was indeed great and sun-drenched. You can easily recline and adjust your seat using the control panel.
The legroom is almost infinite. Well, I might be slightly exaggerating; the distance between seats is precisely 127 cm (4.16 ft), but with my 186 cm (6.1 ft), I couldn’t reach the seat in front of me. The maximum recline of the seat is undoubtedly much greater than in the normal Economy Premium, but still not for a fully flat nap. That's a bit of a downside for me because I have trouble with sleeping while sitting, but I understand that most people don't have this problem, so it doesn't affect my overall rating.
...and this is all the space and comfort my lovely girlfriend and I had on the Premium Class
So, the biggest advantage is the enormous legroom and spacious seats, along with wider armrests between the seats and broader leg support. It’s a bit like sitting on a reasonably comfortable couch, which is a significant improvement compared to the normal economy class.
Apart from great comfort, you also have access to a small tray table and a massive table that extends from the seat partition. There’s even a USB port and a socket for charging your electronic devices. The cherry on top is the personal reading light built directly into the seat's armrest—seriously, a great deal.
Yes, you read that right. Premium Class at All Nippon Airways includes priority check-in, priority boarding, and lounge access. I know, so much extra for so little money.
Regarding check-in, there were no people at all, and the same was true at the security checkpoint. That means you don't waste time in lines but can spend more time in the lounge, just next door.
Despite all the comfort, speed and being prioritized by Ana Airlines Premium Class, I couldn’t wait to get here—to Okinawa. I will share my impressions with you in another article!
What's in the lounge? Well, apart from enjoying the view of the planes and having breakfast, you can also unwind there. The beverage bar includes taps where you can pour your own beer. Now, who could resist that? Let me not be all positive; I found two downsides in the lounge: no available snacks, and the toilets don't have heated seats (Japan, you’ve spoiled me!). I know, the horror!
Priority boarding, apart from feeling superior to the people waiting in line (I joke!), I don't really understand its benefits. Yes, you get on the plane before everyone else. But your seat is already chosen, and you still have to wait for the rest of the "normal" people to board.
Of course, it’s not just you who’s a priority, but also your luggage. That means that after landing, you’ll save time waiting at the carousel as your bags will arrive first. You’ll be exploring Okinawa while the economy folk are still waiting for their belongings.
Really? You want something more for this price? Greedy much?! Ok. It’s nothing major though, just some pleasant items that you get on the plane. In addition to the headphones I mentioned above, you also receive slippers. Sure, you won't probably use them on a two-hour flight, but on longer journeys, they might come in handy. And for those who want to take a nap, there's a blanket, an eye mask, and earplugs available.
From Kyoto we traveled to Okinawa and eventually we ended up back in Tokyo
I must say that ANA exceeded my expectations. For a short domestic flight, their Premium Class provides business class services for a minimal surcharge, around USD 50 per person for both flights. Which seems absurd to me; I can’t believe there were still vacant seats when I made my booking. The seats (I know, again about the seats) are somewhere between business and premium economy in long-haul flights. Priority check-in and boarding, along with all the associated benefits, are absolutely fantastic. So, for me, it's definitely worth the extra money, and otherwise, I wouldn't fly.
I can't say with certainty since I haven't tried all airlines yet, but it's clear now that ANA Premium Class is 5% better than Austrian Airlines Premium Economy (in my opinion). Overall, I can't imagine what more they could offer passengers for the price.
Yes, at most airports in Japan, passengers in the Premium Economy have free lounge access. That seems like a great advantage since most airlines do not provide lounge access to Premium Economy passengers, or if they do, they need to pay for it.
Differences between business and premium economy class will vary widely depending on the airline. You can tell a big difference at the airport between ANA Premium Economy and Business. In Premium Economy, you can avoid only a single line or, to be accurate, the luggage line, because upon landing, you get your bags first. In Business Class, you also get your bags first, but in addition, you have priority check-in and priority boarding, and you also have the option to disembark first from the aircraft.
The good news is that both passengers from Premium Economy and Business will meet in the lounge, but again, this is true for ANA, but not true for all airlines (I mention in my Austrian Airlines review that Premium Economy doesn’t get access to lounges).
On the plane, in Business Class, you have your own private “island” where you can lie down completely. In the Premium Economy, you are still doing better than in the economy, but you cannot lie down completely.
In Premium Economy on ANA Airlines, your food will be of fast food quality, compared to Business Class where your meal is prepared by The Connoisseurs, a group of renowned chefs.
So, the conclusion is that Premium Economy is for sure an upgrade from Economy, but you cannot compare it to Business Class, and you really need to check the airline’s website for the specifics, because what is true for one airline doesn’t have to be true for another.
If you take two sleeping pills before takeoff, it'll be a breeze to sleep in premium economy! Otherwise, not really. Seats in ANA Premium Economy are a downgrade compared to Premium Class, especially regarding the space between them. In Premium Economy, the space between seats is 97 cm (3.18 ft), which is 30 cm (1.2 ft) less than in Premium Class. And in Premium Class, since the seats aren't fully reclining, it’s challenging to get a quality nap (at least for me).
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