Air Canada Boeing 787 Premium Economy Review



When flying between Vancouver and Toronto, there certainly isn’t a shortage of airlines to choose from. Following my Premium Economy flight with British Airways,  I decided to hop on board with Air Canada to review their Premium Economy product. I booked this fare through SkyScanner which is undoubtedly the best after its interface upgrade.

Originally when booking this flight, I was supposed to be travelling in the economy cabin. However when checking in using the Air Canada mobile app, it gave me the option to upgrade Premium Economy for $295 CAD.

Premium Economy passengers can check in using the Priority desks, usually reserved for Air Canada frequent fliers or Business class passengers. The morning of my flight from Vancouver, there had been a number of cancellations to scheduled services, meaning the queue for economy check in was full of people trying to get onto alternative flights to their destinations. Luckily for me, the priority desks were almost empty meaning just 10 minutes after arriving at the domestic terminal, I was through security.

Ac34 vancouver – toronto:

The flight I was booked onto, Air Canada 34, doesn’t start it’s journey in Vancouver. It is actually the long haul service from Sydney to Vancouver then Toronto. Today the Sydney to Vancouver sector was being flown on a Boeing 777 that was delayed leaving Sydney by approximately 3 hours; rather than delay the service onto Toronto, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was put onto the route.

Air Canada also implement a zonal boarding system, much like that of British Airways. Being in ‘Group 2’, I was on the aircraft in no time at all, and took to my seat 14A. Immediately I was very impressed with the modern look and feel of this cabin, something you would expect from an aircraft that is just under 2 years old. Already, this put it ahead of the British Airways Premium Economy offering on my flight to Vancouver.

Seat 14A (As indicated by the big pink bag!)

After settling into my seat and getting a few pictures from my window seat, I was offered a choice of orange juice or water as my boarding drink. Shortly after the Captain came over the PA and announced that we would have a short delay in departing Vancouver as we would have to be deiced. At 9.20am local time we pushed off the stand and taxied to a remote part of the airfield for deicing.

Departing from Runway 08R at 9.43am, we started climbing to our cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. The seat belt signs were switched of promptly after take off and a crew member came around the cabin to hand out our breakfast menu. This mornings options were either Pancakes or a Parsley Omelette. Unfortunately as I was the last to be served in the cabin, my first choice of Pancakes were all gone, leaving me with little choice but to sample the Omelette.

Before choosing from one of the many blockbuster films on offer to watch, I decided to wake myself up with a freshly brewed Lavazza coffee from the drinks service. Only the Brave (A brilliant must watch film that’s based on a true story) was my selection from the In flight Entertainment System. Watching on my Panasonic ex3 system, the latest addition to Air Canada’s IFE offerings, I was impressed at both the screen size and clarity of the image. Just as the film was reaching it’s mid point, breakfast was served.

The IFE system found in the Premium Economy cabin

The Parsley Omelette was accompanied by a chicken sausage, potatoes and relish. Also offered were fruit, yogurts and a warm bread roll with butter and jam. As appetising as the omelette looked, it wasn’t quite to my taste. Leaving the Omelette I enjoyed the rest of my breakfast. Much to my annoyance, the passenger seated next to me (who had ordered the last Pancakes dish available), decided to leave his breakfast after taking only one bite. It was only after long deliberation that I decided not to try and steal the remains!

Breakfast served in Premium Economy

As we reached the mid way point of our 3 hour 50 minute flight, I decided to stretch my legs and take a wonder around C-FGFZ, the 787-9 Dreamliner I was flying on. After being given a few odd stares when walking through Business class in my hoody and trainers, I went into the galley to find that the crew had laid out a selection of complimentary snacks to choose from. Picking up a Kit Kat, Bacardi and a Coke, I headed back to my seat.

There are 21 seats in the 787-9’s Premium Economy cabin. All with a legroom of 38″ and a seat width of 19″. Found at every seat are power ports that can be used to charge devices via USB or Canadian plugs. Most of the seats can recline approximately 7 inches, however row 14 is slightly limited due to the bulkhead located behind. Seats 14A and 14K do offer some superb shots of the Dreamliner’s wings and the General Electric built GEnx engines. With seat selection complimentary to Premium Economy passengers, it would definitely be my recommendation for anyone travelling with Air Canada in the future.

Cruising at 41,000 feet

As we descended into Toronto, the crew passed through the cabin to clear our waste and prepare us for landing. It was at this point that I felt my good experience throughout the flight was ruined slightly. I had asked the Cabin Manager if it was possible to visit the flight deck after arrival on stand, a request that was met with a short, sharp “No”. I am fully aware that flight deck visits are strictly on a request basis, but the fact that the Captain wasn’t even asked annoyed me.

The rest of the flight passed without incident and as we touched down at Toronto Pearson International, I was left feeling that the upgrade had been well worth the money.

When compared to a similar product such as the British Airways’ World Traveller Plus, It certainly leaves me with no doubt in my mind which airline I would choose to fly with when planning my next trip to Canada. BA however were spot on with the customer service, and certainly made me feel welcomed and valued as a paying customer. Ultimately when flying comfort has to be a number one priority, and that’s where Air Canada comes into a world of its own.

 

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British Airways Boeing 747 Premium Economy Review

The Boeing 747 will soon slowly begin to fade from British Airways’ fleet. They are due to be replaced by the newer, more fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner and in the not too distant future, the Airbus A350. During the winter season BA operate the 747 to Vancouver in place of the Airbus A380, giving me the perfect opportunity to get a hands on look at the Queen of the Skies.

No1 lounge terminal 3:

Prior to my departure from Heathrow, I had booked myself into the No1 Lounge in Terminal 3 as a nice relaxing way to start my trip. The lounge offers complimentary food, drink and Wi-Fi to all customers, as well as complimentary use of one of the few shower rooms that are on site. After my drive down from Birmingham earlier that afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to freshen up before my 9 hour 30 min flight to Vancouver.

The shower rooms themselves could not be faulted, all essentials such as towels and shower gels/shampoos were provided free of charge. My only complaint with this is the actual walk in shower itself, it seems the water temperature has only 2 settings: Boiling Hot or 3rd Degree Burns Hot! For anyone who was booked into the lounge in the near future and intends on using the showers, my advice would be to re adjust your hair or makeup in the bathrooms that are separate to these shower rooms as they can become very hot and humid when the shower has been running!

The Fish Finger wrap from the menu in the No1 Lounge

The complimentary meal options at the lounge were limited, I was given a choice between 4 cooked meals and eventually chose to sample the Fish Finger wrap. When served to me at my table overlooking Runways 27L-9R, one issue immediately jumped out at me, the portion size. Now, I know with complimentary food you can’t go In expecting a 5 course feast, but this really did look like something served from a kids menu at a fast food restaurant. With a limited selection of snacks from the self serve counters, the catering really does let the lounge down.

If I had not of booked this lounge at a discounted rate to that advertised on the website, I probably would not have booked it at all. I would however, recommend it to any passengers transiting through Heathrow T3, as those shower facilities are a god send.

BA85 LONDON HEATHROW – VANCOUVER:

Sitting in the waiting area of Gate 31, gave me the opportunity to witness British Airways’ new boarding process by inviting passengers to board by ‘Group Number’ as issued on their boarding card, in this instance I was assigned Group 3. It all worked without a hitch and the time between arriving at the gate and boarding G-CIVA, my Boeing 747-400 aircraft was minimal.

Taking to my assigned seat 15K (a seat that I had to pay £45 to pre book), I was immediately impressed with the amount of legroom a the the World Traveller Plus cabin offered. Seating in this cabin boasts an impressive 38” of legroom. Now the extra legroom is brilliant to have when flying, especially when that flight is long haul. Seat width however is something that needs to be improved in this cabin. Not being the smallest person in the world I found it difficult to sit comfortably in the old style seating with a width of 18.5”. The personal IFE remote is housed on the inside of the arm rest, and can become very uncomfortable when sitting for a long time as it digs into your thigh.

The legroom offered in World Traveller Plus was exceptional

The In Flight Entertainment offerings were impressive, with a range of the latest Hollywood blockbusters and TV series’ available to browse and view. The system did show it’s age however as the software was slow at responding and the screen was tiny when compared to rival products such as the Emirates IFE System. The noise cancelling headset came in handy, especially due to my seat’s proximity to the engines.

The IFE seat back screen

We pushed back from the gate on time, and taxied for 20 minutes down to Runway 27R for our departure. I was very surprised to find that when the throttle was pushed forward to being our take off roll, I wasn’t pushed back into my seat by the power of the engines as I have been in the past, especially when flying on the Boeing 757. Our climb out took us north passing over Coventry and Liverpool.

Once the seat belt signs had been switched off, the first inflight drinks service and small bag of Pretzels was provided by Jennifer, who was fantastic when looking after us in Traveller Plus. As we climbed to our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet and headed towards Iceland, the meal service began.

I had pre booked my meal prior to checking in online for the flight, this service is offered complimentary and allows you to guarantee yourself a tasty chicken or beef option. I opted for the Chettinad chicken with Tadka Dal and Coriander Rice. Passengers in Plus are treated to the same appetiser and desert as their fellow passengers in World Traveller, but get to choose from one of two main meal options offered from the Club World menus. Plane food doesn’t have the greatest reputation amongst fliers, but I can assure you that the chicken option on this flight will not leave your taste buds dissatisfied. For those with a sweet tooth, the Salted Caramel and Chocolate dessert is the perfect treat to enjoy whilst watching a film.

The Inflight meal offered to Premium Economy passengers

Following the meal I grabbed some sleep, but was woken about 90 minutes before landing by the crew handing out snack boxes. These contained a sandwich and biscuit, both of which I chose to leave and decided instead to sit back and take in the beautiful scenery we were passing over.

The descent into Vancouver was smooth and before long the bright lights of the city came into view. We touched down on Vancouver’s Runway 26R and pulled onto the stand at 1830, 40 minutes ahead of schedule. During disembarkation, I was lucky enough to be invited up to the flight deck by the First Officer for a quick chat and photo opportunity. I found out that British Airways intends to keep the Boeing 747 in the fleet for another 5 years before sending them off for retirement.

The World Traveller Plus Cabin Inflight

With a flight like the one I experienced, I can see why BA has become so attached to these aircraft. Their long range and large passenger and cargo capacity makes them favourites for flying to destinations such as Vancouver and Nairobi. World Traveller Plus itself is well worth the upgrade on a long flight, the exceptional service and smaller cabin size have certainly made me think about flying economy again. On a newer aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner I’m sure this cabin is unfaultable, that being said; I can’t take anything away from the unique charm of the Jumbo Jet.

 

Check out our BA Premium Economy 787 review to see how it compares!

British Airways B787-9 Premium Economy Review

When British Airways announced they would start to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the Heathrow-Madrid route I booked the inaugural flight for October 29th and couldn’t wait. I was, however, invited to attend the Inaugural JL42 flight to Tokyo which ultimately took priority.

I knew that I wanted to come back and try this route one day so on January 13th I was accompanied by James on BA460 to Madrid onboard G-ZBKN, a Boeing 787-9 model.

James joined me for today’s adventure!

My journey began in a strange way – I was unable to check in online because I had an ‘unmatched E-Ticket’. I, therefore, had to check in at the airport. I was worried that this would mean I was going to be given a poor seat but in actual fact, the flight was pretty empty so I was able to sit where I wanted – the Premium Economy cabin in seat 20K.

The airport wasn’t very busy at all and I was through security in under five minutes. I hadn’t been through normal security for a while at T5 as I had been using ‘Fast Track’ for most of my flights beforehand. I was really impressed with the speed at which we were airside.

Once through security I managed to kill time by having a bite to eat and heading to the Concourse C gates on the transfer train. Flying out of C gates can be very hectic and confusing at Heathrow but I found the procedure easy and care-free this time around. I organised pre-boarding to the aircraft for shots, went for a coffee and before I knew it we were ready to go.

Being such a quiet flight, boarding was organised in a very relaxed manner and we took our seats ready for the flight.

I headed to the back as boarding began.

The Cabin:

British Airways have brought in an updated cabin for the B787-9 aircraft. It differs from the -8 model as it has a First cabin at the front of the aircraft instead of only ‘Club World’ (BA’s long-haul business class). The First cabin has 8 semi-enclosed suites which have been updated from the old First suite. The cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration and offers 73” of pitch and 22” of width. You can see the difference between old and new below.

 

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The Club section of the aircraft is split into two cabins. The first is a cosier one with only two rows (6 and 7) and the second is a much larger addition covering rows 10 to 13. The Club seats are laid out in the usual formation of alternate staggered seating over a 2-3-2 configuration. Each row has seven seats however, three are facing backwards. Each seat has direct cabin access but seats in the middle of the cabin (E seats) are ones to avoid at all costs. While sitting in this seat I felt a little claustrophobic and closed in which isn’t the feeling you want in business class. Overall the cabin has a really nice feel to it and if you’re flying Club I would definitely recommend getting a seat in the front cabin. The seat offers 72” of pitch (note that is only 1” less than First) and 20” of width.

The second Club cabin. A lot larger.

The next cabin is the Premium Economy cabin or World Traveller Plus as BA call it. The cabin is nicely laid out to feel cosy and at the same time very spacious. The cabin is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration and covers rows 16-21. The seat to avoid in this cabin is the window seat in row 21 as there is no window. My initial impression of the cabin was good: large seats with a spacious feel. As I sat down it struck me just how good the comfort really was. The 38 inches of legroom is plenty to stretch out your legs and is far better than the Club Europe product BA offer on their short haul fleet.

The Premium economy cabin

The seat recline is the best I have seen on a Premium product which may sound like a positive but I found it to have a negative impact. While most modern Premium Economy products have seat shells protecting the passengers behind when you recline, BA have opted not to install this. Seeing as the recline is so good, you can easily end up with a seat in your face. This is something other premium economies such as Air France and Japan Airlines don’t have. This disappointed me. It is possible to see this from either angle, however. If you need to sleep, the recline really is excellent. The footrest under the seat in front is a fantastic addition to the cabin, too.

Premium economy mid-flight. Very spacious indeed.

The final cabin on the aircraft is the economy cabin or World Traveller. This cabin is configured in a 3-3-3 layout and covers rows 30-43.

The economy cabin feels very big but at the same time very cramped. The 128 seats are crammed in a nine-abreast setup. The legroom offered is 31” which doesn’t seem too bad when compared to other airlines. The cabin did, however, feel tight and no way near as comfortable as the Premium cabin.

Less attractive and less comfortable in my opinion.

We pushed back and departed from runway 09R at 13.30 before banking right and heading through the Bay of Biscay to Madrid Barajas Airport. We began our descent at around 16.20 local time and landed on runway 32L at 16.51. The landing was slightly turbulent but it was a great novelty being able to complete a two-and-a-half-hour flight on a 787.

Mid-cruise – what a view

Service

Being a European flight, BA operated it just as they would an A320. The economy section was offered the usual buy on board products from M&S and Club was given a complimentary meal. The First cabin wasn’t used for this flight as it is only utilised on short haul when the Club cabin is overbooked.

I found the crew to be a mixed bag. A special mention goes out to both Arthur and Declan who were attentive and a great laugh. The cabin manager, on the other hand, came across as rude and easily irritable. This was disappointing and reinforced my opinion of preferring Euro Fleet crew.

Entertainment

One of the major perks of flying the 787 on short haul routes is the ability to use IFE (In-Flight-Entertainment). The screens are the same in both economy and premium economy which, in my honest opinion, was pretty poor. The screens had a decent selection of films, games and music but were poor in quality, slow and had terrible touchscreen responsivity. British Airways haven’t, unfortunately, rolled out WiFi on their 787 fleet so connectivity wasn’t available during the flight.

Premium’s entertainment.

Another major benefit of the Premium cabin is that you get USB plugs in your seat. This can be very handy for keeping you charged during a long flight.

Bonus points to Premium

 

Overall, I had a fantastic time onboard British Airways’ B787 aircraft and was really impressed with both the Club and World Traveller Plus cabins. I was less impressed, however, with the First cabin, which I thought was a nice improvement from the old cabin but still didn’t impress me as a First Class offering, and the economy or World Traveller cabin which was uncomfortable and seemed very cramped. The crew were impressive but the Cabin Manager really let them down with her attitude.

If you’re interested in flying a 787 but can’t afford to fly it long haul then fly to Madrid and experience the Dreamliner in all its glory. A fantastic aircraft and an awesome experience.

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Japan Airlines B787 Premium Economy Review

On October 29th, Japan Airlines increased their operations between London and Tokyo by adding a new direct, early morning flight. This time, however, it was utilising their state of the art B787-8 Dreamliner over the bigger, four class, Boeing 777.

The first departure with me onboard! Andy Caterall

LondonSpotter was lucky enough to be onboard this flight and be involved in the celebrations surrounding it. So here’s my story of the first ever JL42.

Lets hit it! Andy Caterall

The ticket I flew on was a premium economy option. This was something I was really looking forward to as I had previously reviewed other premium economy products in the 787 and this was to be a nice comparison.

Japan Airlines have a fleet of 35 Boeing 787s with a further four on order. These Dreamliners are a mix of -8 variants and the slightly longer -9 variant. Only eight of the 25 -8 models are equipped with the premium economy cabin. It was decided that these models would operate the London route. I flew onboard JA837A, a two year old aircraft, in almost mint condition.

JA837A was in perfect condition. Andy Caterall

My day began nice and early as I rocked up for the opening of the check-in counter for the new flight. I was proudly told by the check-in agent that I was the first passenger to ever check in at the airport for JL42. How exciting! I headed up the stairs and through security at Terminal 3, which I hadn’t flown out of in quite a while, to head straight off for breakfast.

Premium perks. First to check-in.

JAL make use of their OneWorld partner British Airways’ lounge in Terminal 3. The lounge resembles the galleries lounges at T5 and I  have to say I quite like these lounges. The food and drink on offer is usually very good. I was lucky enough to get chatting to the chief B747 pilot at Carglux over breakfast which was a lovely surprise.

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Gate 31 was the setting for the inaugural ceremony and JAL staff from both the UK and Japan were dressed up for the occasion. Two actors, dressed up as the Queen’s Guards, led the entertainment and people flocked to get a picture with them. After speeches from the captain, JAL Senior Vice President of Europe, Africa and the Middle East and an appearance from the Japanese Ambassador, the ribbon was cut and JL42 began preparing for its first ever LHR departure.

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The mood on the flight was definitely one of excitement as we boarded the aircraft. Each passenger was handed a bag of JAL goodies and wished on their way by dressed up JAL employees. I thought it was great how the mood wasn’t too serious and everyone had an enjoyable time.

So, onto the flight (literally).

Once boarding and ground prep was complete, we pushed back and departed runway 27R at around 9.50am after a long taxi. This began our 11 hour and 22 minute journey.

The first thing that struck me was the amount of amenities we were given in the premium economy cabin. On my seat waiting for me were slippers, a moisture mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, an eye mask, ear plugs, a warm blanket and a cushion. This really impressed me.

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Straight away after taking our seats the crew were round offering the daily papers. The first round was Japanese and the second was English. I took both before realizing I didn’t speak a word of Japanese. Oops. Once the crew had been round with the papers, they brought around the premium economy menu for the day. Although there wasn’t a whole range of choice, it was nice to see premium economy passengers being given a menu.

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Hot towels were also delivered around the cabin which is where the crew slipped up. All other crews I have witnessed will deliver the hot towels then return straight to the front of the cabin where they will take them back. I ended up binning this one in my empty coke cup. No big deal.

One place JAL really pleased me was through the snack options. As soon as we were seated, newspapered and hot toweled we were given a small unbranded bag of nibbles. They were amazing! During the whole 11 hour flight they stocked up a basket of them behind the premium economy cabin and I have to admit I probably took the majority of them. The other snacks were all Japanese bags of small bites and they were all excellent. This, too, impressed me.

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The premium economy seat is part of the ‘Sky Suite’ series cabin on the 787. The seat bears certain resemblances to the seat used by Air France on their 787 in that the seat itself is within a hard structure. What this means is that you can recline all you like but the person behind you doesn’t get a screen in their face. A great feature. I was at the front of the cabin which carries the obvious bonus of a having heaps of legroom. This was, I admit, a privilege. Being able to fully stretch my legs made the 11 hours a lot easier. While this was great, premium passengers behind me didn’t have it too bad off either with a very respectable 42” of pitch. You can tell JAL have put lots of work into improving this seat because of the little details they have added.

The fantastic premium cabin

The seats are equipped with coat hangars, cup holders, AC power points, USB power points, centre dividers (which give better privacy) and finally my favourite feature of all – the reading light next to your head. This little light has far more power than that from over your head and while it lights up your keyboard or magazine perfectly, it doesn’t affect your neighbour if they are trying to sleep. I used this lamp a lot and loved it. The screens in premium don’t disappoint, either. With 12.1” of width they are more than sufficient.

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Something that instantly struck me when I reached my seat was the interesting layout of the cabin. The rows don’t correspond at all and are, instead, in a staggered system. I’m not 100% sure as to the reason for this but it struck me as soon as I saw it. Nevertheless, the cabin is set up in a 2-3-2 configuration allowing plenty of aisle width. The seat is one of the best premium seats I have ever witnessed. The 42″ of pitch and 19.2″ of width provides all the comfort you’ll need for this flight. What really impressed me was the recline. When you push the little button on your seat, it rolls out into your bed. The seat doesn’t become lie-flat but it gives it a good shot by all means. This was something that surprised me but also one of my favourite things about the seat. The second button corresponds with the footrest. When held down, a footrest comes up which provides awesome comfort and is a great feature JAL have added.

The beautiful premium economy cabin.

The IFE was a choice between films, audio, games, news or flight map. I, obviously, went for the flight map and enjoyed the level of interaction the system offered. Toward the end of the flight I watched Top Gun and the beginning of Now You See Me 2. I thought the choice of films was a little disappointing and needed some updating. A huge win, however, when flying JAL is that onboard WiFi is available. While the cost may be considered a little high ($18 for the entire flight or $10 an hour) it makes a huge difference on such a long flight. I used the WiFi on my laptop to connect to my website and emails and on my phone to blog the flight live (which had tremendous feedback I was happy to hear). Having WiFi is a complete game changer for me as it meant I barely used my IFE and instead was connected for the whole flight.

Around 1.5 hours into our flight the food service began. Another perk of being at the front of the cabin is that you are served first! (I’ve learnt the hard way by being at the back on many occasions) The choice for our lunch was ‘Slow cooked Beef with Red Wine Sauce’ or ‘Chicken Curry’. I knew which one sounded more appealing, so went for it. “Number one for me, Arigato Gazaimas”

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It was served instantly and was occupied by a lot of sides. For what is basically an economy meal, it was really impressive. The best part was probably the added miso soup which was amazing! The side wishes were a varied choice yet complimented the meal greatly. Overall, not a bad meal at all. Pudding was delivered quickly after with a choice of green tea or coffee and Hagen Dazs Vanilla ice-cream.

After lunch the light went down as the sun begun to set over Russia. I decided it was time to crack on with some work but couldn’t help feeling the urge to go to sleep, just as the sun was. I quickly remembered it was 2.30pm and ploughed on.

As I was working my lovely crew member, Asuza, came over with the routing chart and facts from our cruise that the pilot had filled out for me. This was a really nice touch as I wasn’t expecting it at all. During the remainder of the flight she brought me some lovely udon noodles and some model planes from the shop. It was really sweet how attentive she was.

Thank you Mr. Captain

Around two hours before landing, the lights came back up and another hot towel was delivered and not collected. Our final meal tasted fantastic but was an odd one. It was hard to know if I was in the time zone of Japan (around 4.30am) and if so why was I having breakfast? Or if in the time of the UK (8.30pm) why was I having an omelet for dinner? Nevertheless, I thought the omelet was fantastic, as was the sausage on top. The meal was accompanied by a mango and vanilla Yeo Valley, always a good choice, a croissant and some fruit (which I ate with my chopsticks to impress the Japanese woman next to me). While this service seemed a little strange because of timing, it was great meal service.

Really good meal

As we began our descent I filled in a landing card (worrying that the border guards wouldn’t like that I was only in the country for a day) and gazed into the distance at the tiny glow of light of the following day.

We packed away, cleared the floor and experienced one of the most amazing approaches I have ever witnessed including the sunrise, Mount Fuji, Tokyo, and the morning ships.

A beautiful view on approach

Once we had landed I stayed behind to thank the crew for their amazing service. It had been an incredible flight with JAL with almost no hiccups one would expect on an inaugural flight.

JAL outshone any competition in my eyes with almost flawless service, an overwhelmingly comfortable cabin, inflight WiFi, and good food.

The premium cabin had fantastic levels of comfort for such a long flight and I couldn’t recommend it more to you all. A fantastic cabin by a fantastic airline.

Great comfort onboard

Well done and congratulations Japan Airlines!

 

A massive thank you to Andy Caterall for letting me use his pictures. He’s a photographer at LHR and you can check out more of his pictures on Instagram.

Want to read about JAL’s Economy Class? Click here to see why it is the BEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD.

disclaimer: this trip was provided by Japan Airlines

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Norwegian B787-9 Premium Economy Review

If you’ve been reading my delivery reports recently, you’ll know that Norwegian are receiving B787s at a rapid rate. They currently have 32 on order but that will most likely be rising in the future. I flew one of their 787s on DY7016 – New York JFK to London Gatwick – in Norwegian’s ‘Premium’ cabin to see what they were offering.

Norwegian have both B787-8 and B787-9 Dreamliners in their fleet. The -8 variant has 32 premium seats and the -9 has 35. I flew on G-CJUI, a 787-9 model that was delivered to Norwegian in April 2017. The aircraft is setup with 42 rows – the first 5 rows are fitted with ‘Haeco model 3050’ premium seats in a 2-3-2 configuration and the following 37 with economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The comfort of the premium cabin really impressed me

The Premium seats offer a generous 46” of pitch and 19” of width. The legroom offered is actually the most you will find on any premium economy product on any airline behind Open Skies who offer an inch more. This gives you an idea of the generosity of the product. This compares to the economy seats which offer only 31” of pitch and 17” of width. My seat for the transatlantic flight was 3J.

The 787 Dreamliners boast a complete overhaul in onboard product from the old aircraft people are used to flying. Ranging from windows with automatic dimming to a state of the art cockpit, the 787 really is how the next generation of flying will look. The flight deck is similar to that of the B737MAX which I flew a few days earlier in terms of automation.

The flightdeck during ground preperation

The aircraft is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines which generate a whopping 74,000lbs of thrust each. With that said, they are some of the quietest engines in the industry, thanks to noise reducing chevrons fitted to the rear. The aircraft has 3 galleys and nine toilets. The toilets are also fitted with mood lighting which automatically changes when the doors are locked and unlocked. The crew rest is fitted at the rear of the cabin above the rear galley.

The Trent 1000 engines that power the aircraft are one of the most silent in the industry

Premium passengers are treated to complimentary lounge access at available airports. One of those airports is New York JFK. Norwegian used to use the Korean Air lounge but have recently moved to the Alitalia Lounge at gate 3. I’d heard mixed reviews of Korean Air’s lounge but was eager to find out what the Alitalia lounge offered. The lounge offers complimentary WiFi which I found a little slow at times. There is no hot food available, just sandwiches and salads from the fridge, crisps and other light snacks and quite a wide range of soft drinks and alcoholic beverage. The lounge windows offered a view of a few gates and it was nice to watch the sun go down and some evening departures.

The view from the lounge

I sat down with a light dinner and did some work. While the lounge is a nice way of relaxing before a flight, it is nothing special.

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Once the cleaners were finished I was allowed free access onto the aircraft to photograph the cabin and meet the crew.

 

 

Our scheduled departure time was 23.00 but we were delayed during boarding and finally pushed back 20 minutes late at 23.20 – nothing major and handled very well by the cabin crew. After boarding, I was offered a drink and given a set of headphones by Louise who was operating as one of the two premium crew for the day. We took off from runway 22R at 23.50 and were offered another drink shortly after.

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We began our cruise at 39,000ft before ascending to 41,000ft until we hit the western point on Wales where we began to descend for arrival into LGW. The cruise was smooth apart from some very heavy turbulence over the eastern point of Canada. Dinner was served 50 minutes after takeoff at 12.40 New York time. For dinner, I was given a choice of ‘Savory Grilled Chicken Breast’, ‘Rich and Tender Grilled Beef Filet’ and ‘Seared Shrimp Basted in Creamy Lemon Beuree Sauce’. The meals in Premium are still served in Norwegian’s standard boxes. I would love to see a plated meal introduced to Norwegian’s menu. I went for the beef, seeing as I had chicken on the MAX trip up to New York.

Dinner is served

The meal was well presented and tasted good. I was, without a doubt, full for the rest of the trip. After the meal service, the whole cabin was offered tea or coffee and a choice of either Cognac or Bailey’s. This was a really nice touch.

Premium seats are fitted with flip-out IFE screens which come out of the middle arm rest. The screens are bigger than those in economy class and have a good selection of films and TV programs available. I really enjoyed the different maps that were available to use during the crossing and had these up for most of the flight. The IFE also has a nice feature which allows you to order drinks (complimentary for premium passengers) and snacks.

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Charging points are included in the premium seat which allows to work on the go. This compares to the economy product where there are two plugs per three seats.  The 787s haven’t, yet, been fitted with wifi which is a shame. I’d love to see this coming in the future.

Around an hour before landing  we were offered breakfast. I have to say I thought the breakfast was superb. I wasn’t expecting anything major for breakfast but was greeted with a really nice mix of food. My breakfast included a bread roll, slice of parma ham, ball of cream cheese, two slices of cheddar cheese and a selection of fruit pieces accompanied by a coffee. I was really impressed with the breakfast.

Breakfast was the best meal of the flight I thought

Perks of flying premium include a complimentary blanket, headphones, unlimited complimentary drinks, dinner, breakfast, pre-boarding and access out of the aircraft before economy passengers. Thanks to a good flight time we landed at 11.09am on runway 26L at London Gatwick, thus making up for the delays at JFK. Disembarkation was handled professionally and premium passengers were speedily whisked off the aircraft.

The premium seat offered by Norwegian is a cheaper option than most premium economies. I selected a random date in summer 2018 to compare prices. A premium economy fare with British Airways from LHR-JFK on July 17th will set you back £1707. On the same date, a Premium fare with Norwegian will cost you £502. Being a lot cheaper, you would expect Norwegian’s premium service to be a lot worse than that of its competitors but I didn’t find that. I found that I had a surplus of legroom (46” – more than any of its competitors in London) and enjoyed complimentary drinks throughout the flight. A premium fare also gives you the flexibility of taking two checked bags onboard, seat reservation and fast track access at selected airports. Upgrading to Norwegian’s premium fare from a basic economy fare, on my selected day in summer 2018, will cost you £140.

The comfort and value of the Premium cabin really impressed me

Norwegian’s premium seat offers better levels of comfort at a very competitive price and that should be taken advantage of by all you keen travelers.

Disclaimer: This trip was provided by Norwegian Air.

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