IAD-NRT: UA or ANA?

Oct 6th, 2006, 09:03 AM
  #1  
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IAD-NRT: UA or ANA?

I'm flying to Tokyo in January 2007 (around 1/5 or later) from DC and am debating whether to book on UA or ANA. I can only afford a coach seat, but the price difference between the two carriers is negligible enough that I am willing to go with whichever one has more comfortable seats for tall people like me (I'm 5'9).

I know that ANA generally has better service, having flown to Japan on both carriers at various points in the past. I'd been hoping that the new 777-300ERs out of IAD would improve the seat comfort factor with ANA, but I read a post by emd elsewhere on this site that suggested that the pitch of their economy seats is too tight compared to UA's.

Also, any suggestions on seats to pick for those flights/routes? I've looked at seatguru.com, but most of economy seems pretty comparable. I'll probably ask for an aisle seat so I can stretch out my legs when no one is walking by.

Thanks.
germantour is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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if you are a 747, most airlines have a few rows of 2 seats in the rear....we like them because the window seat has a huge space between your seat and the window....good storage and also extra shoulder room...

i think i would be guided by the schedule that best fits my life and also the plane i like best....
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 09:36 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for your reply. There's no 747 as far as I know on the nonstops to NRT from IAD, so I think my choice is between 777 service on UA vs ANA. I don't yet have Premier status on UA in order to get Economy Plus seating, and am not sure how likely an upgrade request on an itinerary like 1/5 to 1/15, esp. on the outbound due to New Year's holiday traffic would be. I've seen on other posts that it might be possible to purchase a Premium Economy seat on ANA, but am not sure for tall people if that makes enough of a difference to warrant the extra cost (likely another $500?).

FYI, the rates I've been quoted from a Japanese travel agent we've worked with before in DC are $928 r/t on United, and $1023 on ANA, for basic economy for the dates listed above. Fares go up on 10/15 with ANA due to a fuel surcharge.

I have about 23K miles in my UA Mileage Plus account, but am not sure that it's worth purchasing extra miles to get an upgrade (plus I'd have to pay full fare economy for the coach ticket).

Advice from those of you who have flown this route often would be welcome!
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Oct 6th, 2006, 10:24 AM
  #4  
emd
 
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I think you are misunderstanding the options. If I am wrong, someone shoot me please.

There is only one nonstop from IAD to Narita per day and it is on a 777 plane flown by All Nippon, leaving at 12:20 pm and arriving Nartia after 3 pm the next day. You can purchase the ticket for that plane from either ANA, who flies and services the plane, or United on their site, because United has codeshare w/ANA. But there is only one plane per day, and it is ANA's plane.

All United flights that are flown by United on this route are non-stops.

So if you want non-stop you are on the ANA 777, reagrdless of whether you buy the ticket from ANA or United. Recheck the United website and you'll see the flight is flown by ANA.

When I flew that ANA flight in April I did feel cramped and the seat was uncomfortable. I am also 5'9", size 14. I was much more comfortable on the non-stop NWA flight the year before. That plane was a 747, and I took rhkkmk's advice and got in one of the rows in back of the plane with only two seats and the extra room where third seat should be. It was great having the extra room. I believe that other 747s have this feature, and it is great if you can get those seats.

I got invited to a preview reception in June put on by All Nippon in D.C. of their "new style" planes that are now flying the DCA-IAD route. The actual new coach seat I sat in at that event was nicer than the one I sat in on my April flight, because it was new, but it still seemed cramped to me and did not have a lot of padding.

Mrwunrfl on here did the calculation and pointed out that the seat room and I think pitch (he is better than me at the engineering specifics) of that ANA coach seat is the same as the NWA one I flew in 2005. Objectively, I should not have felt a big difference btwn the seats. But I really did, in a big way- the ANA seat felt more narrow and very hard and straight.

But of course, the nonstop part is a HUGE advantage, esp. on the way back.

I'll find and top my report on that ANA reception and seat try-out that I did this summer for you.
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:34 AM
  #5  
emd
 
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Oh, one more thing--

The ANA 777 that I flew in April DID have a few rows in back of coach that only have two seats on the sides. We sat in those on the way back. It is a different configuration than the rows in back of 747s w/only two seats have; on the 747s the space where the third seat would be is on the window side and on the 777 it is on the aisle side. But we still got quite a bit of extra space there and I was able to use it for my small carry on and extra stuff during the flight as long as it didn't impede the cart and flight atendant coming down the aisle.

I assume that the ANA "new style" palnes flying IAd to Narita have that same configuration w/the couple of two seat rows in back.

If you can get one of those seats in back of the ANA 777 where there are only two seats and you are flying alone and can get the aisle seat in one of those rows, I'd go for it. For some weird reason www.seatexpert.com seat map of this ANA plane shows the seats as potentially having some disadvantage which they do not explain, but I sat there and there was nothing but a big advantage to having the extra space and only one person beside me. It was much less claustrophobic than the seat on the way over which was on the aisle side of a regular middle row.
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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UA is moving its JFK-NRT to IAD-NRT, so there will be two flights a day, one on NH, one on UA.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #7  
emd
 
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rkkwan, do you know when is that happening?
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Oct 6th, 2006, 10:41 AM
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I believe the new UA803 starts 10/29. Return UA804 starts 10/28.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:50 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the recent replies. As far as I can tell there are 2 options in January from IAD-NRT; one is on ANA (NH1) leaving 11:20am arriving 15:25 the next day, and the other is on UA803 leaving 12:20pm arriving the next day at 16:25. On the return NRT-IAD, the ANA (NH2) flight leaves at 11:10am and arrives 9:40am same day; the UA804 leaves at 16:55pm and arrives 15:25pm the same day. It could be that both are code-shared flights, but I'm pretty sure the NH1/2 are NH metal, and the UA803/804 are UA metal. I slightly prefer the UA times since they allow me more time in Tokyo on the return date, but basically I'd like to choose based on comfort.

Thanks to emd for the tips on that last row in the ANA777: I'll look to see if it's available. I think I'd prefer to avoid connecting flights, even if I could get a 747.
germantour is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:57 AM
  #10  
emd
 
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ok, I see that in Jan. the UA nonstop flights are available.

If I am understanding this correctly from seatguru, the UA 777 WW has a different config in coach. It is 2-5-2 whereas NH 777 is 3-3-3 (except those couple of rows in back). Right?
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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One additional question: my tentative reservation through the agent is in seat 31D on the outbound NH1, and in 43D on the NH2 return. As far as I can tell from seatexpert.com, 43D would only exist on a 777-200ER. So maybe ANA is not using the 777-300ER on all their routes. On the 777-200ER map, there are some rows of two-seaters on the window side in 54-57 on the right side of the plane, and 54-55 on the left. Is this the configuration that you flew, emd? Any recommendation as to which side is preferable? I'm wondering if the noise and foot traffic in the back of the plane would be bothersome though.
germantour is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Correction: meant to say that perhaps ANA isn't using the 777-300ER on all of their flights on the IAD-NRT-IAD route.
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Oct 6th, 2006, 11:49 AM
  #13  
emd
 
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Yes, my daughter and I were on the 777-200ER in seats 54A and C. I am noise sensitive and I noticed no noise (the galley back there is set back behind the middle row of seats and extends back to the part of the rear of the plane with no seats on either side; it is sandwiched btwn the back lavatories, and the flight attendants were very Japanese and quiet. We did not notice any problem w/lavatory traffic. But maybe if you are concerned about that, 54 H on right side is better, as on that side there is no corresponding lavatory behind row 55 since there are two additional rows of seats.

Do not stay in 43D unless you want a little baby in a bassinet in front of the person to your right in 43G!!! See that red "X" in front of that seat?
And if the flight over is a 777-200 then in row 31 you are going to be in a smaller cabin with 4 little babies in bassinets just 4 rows in front of you. "Got earplugs?"
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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Just spoke w/my travel agent and she says the seatmaps for ANA are being updated for the new configuration. So "43D" in the old style config will be something akin to 31 (I think) in the new. I asked about the back of the plane and she said that something on the aisle in row 54 (on the old map) is available, so she's going to change my seat on the return. She also said I could try to change it closer to the flight date, so I'll just watch for seatmap updates.
germantour is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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About noise on the 777. I have never flown on ANA's. But my experience on other airlines' is this...

Engine noise is noticeably louder in the back than in a front cabin, but nothing objectable. I never have problem with bathroom traffic. On a longhaul flight with AVOD entertainment, people don't go to the bathroom all at the same time.

However, you may hear sound of meal being prepared in the galley, and you'll smell it. I'm more than okay with that smell, but a few of my relatives don't like it.

Another thing about sitting in the back of a long plane like a 777-300 is that if you hit turbulence, the tail shakes sideways. It can be unnerving to some that are sensitive to lateral movement. It's a different sensation to your normal shaking or up/down movement.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
  #16  
emd
 
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germantour, please report back on your experience as I also fly out of IAD and am very interested to hear how this goes for you, if you get to fly the new ANA plane and if so how you like it, etc.
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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emd
 
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One nice thing about being close to an ANA galley is that they actually have an "open bar" concept in the galley. They leave out fresh fruit, cookies, chilled yogurt, other snacks, OJ and other juices, and huge bottles of water that you are free to go up and get at any point in the flight while they are not serving meals. We liked being able to pop over to the galley for water and snacks.

This is making me want to fly ANA again! Movies on every seat back are nice too. And the flight attendants are so nice and friendly. I want to go.
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Oct 6th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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emd
 
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BTW, where does your screen name come from, germantour?
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Oct 7th, 2006, 07:08 AM
  #19  
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Hi emd, and thanks for the helpful message about the snacks in the galley. It's been a while since I flew ANA and I'd forgotten about that perk! My screen name is something I created this past spring when I was planning a conference trip to Germany and needed some advice on stops and hotel stays with my family afterwards. I owe the folks on the Germany/Europe board a trip report!! And I'll be sure to report back here too.

Thanks to rkkwan for the tips about sitting in the back of the plane. I remember in the past being bothered by the prep noise from the galley, but not so much the smell...except the coffee, which I'm always tempted to drink but try to stay away from to minimize jet lag. ;-) BTW, does anyone have any good tips for medication to help with that? I've heard a bit about Melatonin, and some people have mentioned Ambien. I usually take Benadryl at home to help me sleep, but that doesn't always knock me out for more than 4 hours.
germantour is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 08:58 AM
  #20  
emd
 
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Both times I have gone to japan I stay awake on the plane with no caffeine or alcohol and lots of H2O, take "No Jet Lag" homeopathic small tabs (two every 2 hrs while awake on the plane; I get them at Whole Foods and they are available online), then when I get to Tokyo I go to bed on Tokyo time at like 10 pm (really tired by then) and take 3 mg melatonin that night at bedtime and for the next two nights at nedtime to get my circadian rythym on Japan time.

I am a melatonin responder- it works for me, no doubt about it. I wake up the next day at normal Japan time (7-8 am) with no jet lag whatsoever, and I am immediately on Japan time for the rest of the trip. But some people do not repond to melatonin. I don't think it can make your jet lag any worse if you don't respond, it just doesn't work. Melatonin has a very minor sedative effect but mostly it works to reset your internal clock.

I do the same thing on way back, take No Jet Lag on flight every two hrs and take melatonin for first few nights at bedtime. At least that is what I did on 2st reutrn and I had no jet lag. Second trip I messed w/that (only took melatonin 1st night) and paid for it, had jet lag for about 4-5 days.

About the No Jet Lag. It is a homeopathic remedy so I feel it is safe, as homeopahtics only have very minute amts. of active ingredients (that is their premise, use of minute amts.) and it just isn't really enough for a negative dose-response adverse effect in my opinion. So if it works and helps, great, and if it doesn't, i feel for me it is no harm done. When I have goen to Europe, I did not use No JEt Lag and did not have as successful an experience as I have going to Japan w/No Jet Lag and melatonin.

There are many posts on here and in the Other Topics forum on here about melatonin and other jet lag prevention/remedies, if you search for them.
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