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ANA switches Singapore – Narita to 777-300ER, with First Class sold as Business

Boeing 787 engine woes mean ANA's 4-class 777-300ER is now being used to fly between Singapore and Narita for over 3 months

NH 77W First Class Side Trimmed (衛兵隊衛士)

A subtle switch took place this morning on Star Alliance carrier ANA’s Singapore to Tokyo Narita flights, with the daily service NH801/802 now operated by the long-haul Boeing 777-300ER instead of the 787-9 until mid-February 2019.

While ANA won’t bother to sell First Class tickets on this routing for such a short time period, some Business Class passengers will get the option to sit ‘up front’ in the 8-seat First Class cabin on these flights.

The switch

The ANA Boeing 777-300ER is used from its Narita hub on long-haul flights. Typical destinations include places like Chicago, New York and London. For that reason they are kitted out in a full 4-class configuration comprising First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy.

The regular Boeing 787-9 used on the Singapore route is a 3-class machine with Business, Premium Economy and Economy classes fitted.

Even on the 787, ANA doesn’t offer Premium Economy fares between Singapore and Tokyo, instead offering this small 21-seat cabin to select Economy Class passengers.

First in Business

In a similar fashion therefore, ANA isn’t simply letting 8 First Class seats per flight fly empty on this route – you can have a seat allocated in this cabin on a Business Class ticket provided you meet at least one of two basic conditions:

  • You purchase a ‘Full Flex Plus’ fare from the outset (or should I say hopefully your company does, as it’s not cheap).
  • You have ANA Mileage Club Platinum / Diamond status, or are a Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer.

Here’s how the seat map looks for example if you purchase a discounted Business Class fare on one of these flights:

ANA 77W Seat Map 1.jpg
(Image: ANA)

While if you book a Full Flex Plus ticket or hold sufficient frequent flyer status it looks like this:

ANA 77W Seat Map 2.jpg
(Image: ANA)

The First Class seats on ANA’s 777-300ER feature high walls in a square shaped shell, designed by JAMCO who also manufactured the Singapore Airlines 2006 A380 Suites and will supply the First Class seats on ANA’s upcoming A380s.

Business Class

In the worst-case scenario if you can’t secure a spot in the forward two rows, you’ll still get one of ANA’s very well rated Business Class flat-bed seats for the 7-hour journey.

NH 77W Business Class (衛兵隊衛士).jpg
Business Class on the ANA Boeing 777-300ER. (Photo: 衛兵隊衛士)

The staggered 1-2-1 layout in this cabin is popular with many airlines and allows direct aisle access for all passengers. The seat is the Zodiac SKYlounge product also used by Emirates in Business Class on its A380 fleet, though it has a slightly different layout there with couple seats at alternate middle rows, and a lot more ‘bling’!

EK A380 J Overview (Emirates).jpg
The Zodiac SKYlounge seat is also used by Emirates on the A380. (Photo: Emirates)

Aircraft and service

Before you get too excited, obviously you won’t get the full First Class service and catering in rows 1 and 2 – it will be the same as that offered in Business Class on these flights. Similarly in Premium Economy there is no service differentiation, as with the ‘regular’ 787 flights on the Singapore – Tokyo route.

NH 77W First Class Trimmed (衛兵隊衛士)
ANA’s eight First Class seats on the 777-300ER are spacious with excellent privacy. (Photo: 衛兵隊衛士)

ANA will use a 250-seat 777-300ER on this flight. It’s an overall 16% capacity increase on this service. Here’s how the configuration differs from the 787-9 it’s replacing:

ANA 787-9 vs. 777-300ER
787-9 777-300ER Change
First 8 + 25%
Business 48 52
Premium 21 24 + 14%
Economy 146 166
Total 215 250 + 16%

As you can see it’s not only a 16% overall capacity hike, but a quarter more Business Class seats are available on each service, including the 8 usually sold as First Class on this aircraft type.

Here are the KrisFlyer miles rates you’ll pay by cabin on the Singapore – Tokyo sector based on flying both Singapore Airlines and ANA.

KFtrans

KrisFlyer Redemption Singapore – Tokyo
SQtrans.png
Saver
NH.png
Saver
Economy 25,000 25,000
Premium Economy 32,500* n/a
Business 43,000 43,000
First / Suites 65,000* n/a

* Premium Economy and First Class are only available on Singapore Airlines 777-300ER flights to and from Tokyo Narita and Haneda.

Note that even though SIA and ANA redemption rates are the same, the taxes and fees are higher for ANA flights – at S$124.70 from Singapore to Narita in Business Class on top of the miles needed, compared with S$47.30 for an SIA redemption.

It’s not permanent

These flights will operate on the 777-300ER from today (29th October 2018) to 8th February 2019, a period of just over 3 months. Given the choice though, ANA would rather not be doing this. It’s not because of high demand but because of the well-documented issues which persist with the Rolls Royce engines on the Boeing 787 fleet.

Rolls-Royce Engine (Rolls-Royce).jpg
A Trent 1000 engine. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)

In a nutshell – cracks are being found during inspections in compressor blades long before their design life limits. These aren’t the big blades making up the fan at the front of the engine like in the picture above, but smaller ones you can’t see every day further inside which are only periodically inspected.

These issues are becoming a headache for several airlines worldwide, and ANA is arguably one of the hardest hit with a fleet of 66 such aircraft in service. As recently as July the airline had to cancel nearly 300 Boeing 787 flights, over a third of planned 787 domestic services. The situation later worsened and in total over 1,000 of ANA’s Dreamliner flights were canned over the last four months.

Other airlines like Air New Zealand, Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have been forced to retain or revive older aircraft, or lease in capacity from third party ACMI providers.

Analysis by MainlyMiles shows that 14 of ANA’s 787 fleet, more than 1 in 5, is currently grounded having not flown for two weeks or more (more than a month in most cases). A further two 787-9 aircraft appear to have stopped flying in the last week.

These issues are forcing the airline to jostle the fleet allocation around to cover the maintenance work on the 787s, and in this case the Singapore route ‘wins’ for a few months with the 777-300ER taking over.

Singapore isn’t the only affected route, selected ANA flights from Tokyo to Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Jakarta will see other aircraft types replace Boeing 787s over the next couple of months, while double daily Tokyo to Los Angeles flights with the 777-300ER will be scaled back to once daily until 8th February 2019 to allow for aircraft allocation on the Singapore route.

Carriers opting for the General Electric (GE) engine on their Boeing 787s, like Qatar Airways, Qantas and United, have not been affected by the issues. The GE engine type powers nearly two-thirds of the world 787 fleet, somewhat limiting the global operational impact of the Rolls-Royce problems.

The schedule

Here’s how ANA’s flights to and from Tokyo Narita are scheduled for the rest of the northern winter season. Note that NH803/804 continues to be flown by the Boeing 787-9 operated by ANA subsidiary Air Japan, while NH801/802 is the service operated directly by the airline, which is switching to the 777-300ER until February.

29th October 2018 to 7th February 2019
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
NH804 SIN0040 – NRT0830 789 Daily
NH802 SIN0635 – NRT1430 77W Daily
NH803 NRT1650 – SIN2325 789 Daily
NH801 NRT1805 – SIN0040* 77W Daily

* next day

From 8th February 2019
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
NH804 SIN0040 – NRT0830 789 Daily
NH802 SIN0635 – NRT1430 789 Daily
NH803 NRT1650 – SIN2325 789 Daily
NH801 NRT1805 – SIN0040* 789 Daily

* next day

NH 777 Wide (Masahiro Takagi)
777-300ERs to the rescue! An ANA aircraft departing from Tokyo Haneda. (Photo: Masahiro Takagi)

Summary

If you’re lucky, this may be your chance to experience ANA’s First Class on a Business Class fare or redemption ticket. If not, you’re still getting a great seat and redemption availability should improve significantly during the period the 777 is operating this flight.

NH 77W First Class (GSTP)
You might secure a First Class seat on ANA’s 777-300ER between Singapore and Tokyo. (Photo: God Save the Points)

If you have a Business Class booking on NH801/802 between now and mid-February next year, log on and check whether you can switch your seat assignment into rows 1 and 2 – the ‘First Class’ cabin.

Meanwhile issues with Rolls-Royce powered Boeing 787s continue to plague several airlines, though occasionally it does bring us these little ‘perks’.

(Cover Photo: 衛兵隊衛士)

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