NH956 Beijing Capital International (PEK) - Tokyo Narita International (NRT)
Beijing airport is slightly unique in that Customs is situated before check-in. Luckily the hotel had given me the necessary forms at check-out which I had filled in, so it was a relatively quick progression through that little queue and it did make the check-in area more sane. Check-in was done within a few minutes and I was then through to the combined immigration and security queue (you do immigration and then immediately behind the desks is security) and the queues were horrible, taking about 20-30 mins to navigate.
Then it was the BGS lounge which is the nominated ANA lounge in Beijing, but it was quite busy so I was unable to take any photos without unfairly impinging on other people's privacy. The lounge offerings were OK and the lounge itself was just OK, nothing at all special but a nice place with free wifi to spend an hour or so.
As soon as I got to the gate, priority boarding was in evidence and I was straight aboard and into the business class cabin. The seat numbering was slightly confusing, with many rows missing. It went something like 1,3,5,7,8 ... and I eventually found my way to my allocated seat 10A, the penultimate row in seven rows of business class on this 767. The seats were arranged 2-1-2 with very adequate seat pitch.
However, I saw dismayed to see that the window in 10A doesn't exist - it must be where the wiring goes up around the fuselage and just blank wall is all you get. However I was thrilled to see the door closing with the business cabin less than half full - including the seats in front of me. I checked with the cabin crew and was happily allowed to move to 8A (the row in front) and had a full couple of windows to myself. Other than one or two couples travelling together, no single traveller in a pair seat at the side of the cabin had to sit next to someone I noticed - most of the single seats in the centre of the cabin were occupied however.
Pushback was on time with the ground crew forming a line and waving us off - something I had heard about for Japanese carriers. We taxied a long way to the runway and eventually took off - both runways were in use for landing and take-offs. The flight path was out into the Gulf of Chihli, then overhead Seoul in South Korea (with a slight detour on the way to stay well away from North Korean airspace!), out into the Sea of Japan, then over Nagoya and a left turn up the eastern coast of Japan into Tokyo, with wonderful views of Mt Fuji on the way!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Firstly a choice of drinks was offered and because of the early hour and feeling somewhat jaded from lack of sleep, I simply went for a Coke. Breakfast service on this flight was a choice of either Asian or International - I went for the latter, which was a main dish of pork sausages in a casserole type arrangement, with a salad, a croissant, a fruit salad and a dessert (yoghurt). I was offered another drink round with breakfast, and was persuaded to go for a cheeky early morning champagne (it doesn't take much!). Despite looking rather plain, the sausage casserole was actually very tasty.
The rest of the flight passed fairly quickly. I was constantly occupied by the view out of the window and the service was attentive, with a couple of visits by the cabin crew to see if I wanted anything else. We had a reasonably quick descent into Narita airport, with a bumpy final approach, but we seemed to land on a very distant runway and it took at least 15 minutes of taxiing before we arrived at the gate - eradicating our early arrival on the ground.
In conclusion this was a very nice flight - a comfortable seat, good IFE and service and food for a sector of such length.
ANA Business Class