ANA launches “Inspiration of Japan” luxury in-flight experience

With the new motto “Inspiration of Japan,” Japanese carrier ANA (aka All Nippon Airways) is launching a new luxury flight experience, the like of which we’ve never seen.

When one thinks of Japanese hotels, supreme convenience comes to mind — the curtains on a switch by the bed, everything from dramatic lighting schemes to room service controlled by a touchscreen panel — and ANA is bringing that personal accommodation and comfort to flying with their seating.

In the video above, I’ll give you a tour of the various seating classes, including Japan’s first 180° reclining Business Class seats. With the new floor plan, all seats in Business and First Class are aisle seats. The plane will also be equipped with the world’s first in-flight rice steamer, designed exclusively for ANA, guaranteeing the freshest rice you’ve ever had at 30,000 feet.

I chatted briefly with Gary Weiss, ANA’s Director of Market Development about the changes.

Gadling: What’s the philosophy behind these new developments?

Gary Weiss: This is a long-range investment. A lot of carriers are re-trenching; cutting capacity and cutting corners. We decided to just go for it. 2010 represents a great opportunity, with the opening up of more slots at Narita and Haneda. If we don’t do it now, we’ll probably never do it, so we decided, “Let’s hedge our bets, get the best product in the sky going, and we should be able to retain a good yield.”

G: So, rather than cutting corners, you’re making your brand more luxurious?GW: Correct.

G: Is that in response to the economy?

GW: No, this has actually been in research in development since prior to September ’08. It was a good seven, ten year plan. We wanted to be first with some of these luxurious, innovative products — and I’m glad that we have the guts to take the risk.

G: How do these changes translate to your rock-bottom, Economy Class passengers?

GW: It’s the same idea. We actually made it bigger and better. There’s three more inches of seat pitch, the distance between the rows. That intrusive seat back doesn’t come into your face anymore — your neighbor in front of you won’t hit you in the head or close your laptop.

The first flights to include these new features will be the Narita-New York route on the new Boeing 777-300ER, commencing in February 2010. Keep an eye on the ANA SkyWeb for more updates.