24 May 2019 - ANA All Nippon Airways have started flying their A380 "Flying Honu" between Tokyo Narita and Honolulu. I was among the first passengers to fly on this inaugural flight.
There was a gate ceremony including meeting the HONU mascot, Hawaiian music with a Hula girl dancing and short speeches from The ANA CEO and a city official. You can see all the ceremony footage on my video here.
AvGeeks from all over the world traveled to Japan (or Hawaii) to be on the first flight. ANA did not disappoint, as every first flight passenger received a gift at the gate before boarding.
Interior of The ANA A380
The interior was revealed in Tokyo last month, which I covered extensively on both my blog and a Youtube video. This report focuses on The ANA A380 Business Class flight experience.
My seat was 16D, an aisle seat towards the rear of the single large Business Class cabin. The seat is similar to the current ANA Business Class but I felt it was slightly wider and the padding was excellent. The cabin was spotless, as we were among the very first passengers on-board the brand new A380.
A boarding certificate was placed on the table, as well as an amenity kit with the date and flight details printed on the plastic cover.
I enjoyed sitting in this Business Class seat on ANA A380. I borrowed a pair of Flying Honu models from a Japanese enthusiast to take some photos.
Debuting a New "Hearable" Device
On this flight, ANA flight attendants are debuting the new BONX Grip ("hearable" device) to improve communications across the vast cabin of A380. They also wore a shoulder strap with an iPad device inside the cover.
Food and Beverage
It took almost 3 hours to receive the meal, which was very concerning for a 6 hr 40 minutes overnight flight; the crew did come round to apologise for the delay however. The design of a single large Business cabin did not help the service delivery time for those sitting in the back, like myself. The food was delivered in one single tray. Ironically, after 3 hours of waiting, it took me only 15 minutes (as I was getting very hungry) to complete my meal. Clearly there are lot of improvements and work needing to be done.
I chose the Japanese option, which tasted great. I think the meals on the A380 are slightly better than on other ANA long haul routes, such as my last one to Chicago.
The meal was well balanced with a bit of seafood, egg, vegetable, roast beef and a main course of grilled fish. My favourite bit was the Japanese red bean paste dessert with fruit and jelly.
Other Features and Cabin
The flight was completely full, with only a handful of empty seats. While waiting for my meal, I took the opportunity to check out some of the other features in the other cabins.
ANA offers a baby's meal on this route (in addition to a child's meal). We had a total of 13 infants on-board (info from my log book, signed by crew)
I also visited the ANA "Couchii" section and witnessed a family of 3 utilising the middle 4 seater seat. One Japanese blogger spent nearly $600 to purchase the 2 other seats next to his seat to form a "Couch" space.
IFE and Wi-Fi Internet
The touch screen IFE was very responsive and of a high resolution. There were 3 Live TV channels (2 news and 1 sports channel). In addition, the tail camera view was enabled on this ANA A380.
The same bedding products as on most long haul Business flights were offered in Business Class on the A380 Flying Honu. I enjoyed sleeping on the mattress, which was provided for additional comfort. The comforter, wrapped inside a pocket, was soft and added a "cool" texture. I slept for about 2 hours before being woken up 90 minutes prior to landing.
Below are the standard Business Class bathroom amenities.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was that there was no breakfast offered, after being woken up 90 minutes prior to landing. I was however told I could select any item from the light snack menu, on a demand basis. I ordered a sandwich and a serving of fruit and yogurt.
I could see some cultural differences presenting here, as most Western passengers were expecting a light continental breakfast (bread/fruit with coffee) while most Japanese passengers preferred to sleep in and did not want to eat.
The landing was really amazing; we were lucky that the morning was clear in Honolulu and we flew in directly over water. We were given a water cannon salute just outside the gate, as we arrived on-time at 8:30am. You can see the landing footage on the video here.
I really enjoy attending the inaugural flight events because the atmosphere is so different to a regular scheduled flight. As with most inaugural flights there is always a celebratory mood and I get to meet a lot of fellow aviation enthusiasts, who enjoy the same thing as I do. The ANA inaugural was more special and appealing because it is the last A380 (new) operator entering service with a very "themed" concept. ANA did indeed go out of their way to have themed special ceremony which made the event and flight extra memorable.
I think the hard product on ANA A380 Flying Honu is of a high quality, on par with most 5 star airlines offerings. The crew were under quite a bit of stress on this flight as it was a very high profile flight with lot of VIP's and media on-board. I hope once the crew are more familiar with the A380 the timing of the meals will improve. Otherwise the service was excellent, every request of mine was attended to and delivered in the traditional Japanese polite way.
I will next be flying back from Honolulu to Tokyo on ANA A380 First Class. I will be sharing this First Class experience with you in a separate review next week!