ANA A321neo economy is surprisingly pleasant despite it’s faults

ANA A321neo economy is surprisingly pleasant despite it’s faults

Before reading this review, take every preconceived notion you have about ANA A321neo economy and push it to the side.

Yes, you’d be absolutely right in assuming that the seats are narrow and hard. You’d also be totally correct predicting the limited food and drink options. I get it. It’s not all that hard to assume the worst.

However, it would be foolish of you not to have a little more faith in Japanese service culture. Have you any idea how pleasant even the most basic economy class seats can be when the cabin crew actually gives a s**t about your well-being? 

Hiroshima, Japan (HIJ) – Tokyo, Japan (HND)
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Aircraft: A321-271N
Registration: JA147A
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Seat: 9K (Economy Class)

ana a321neo side view JA147A
ANA A321neo (JA147A) side view illustration by
nh684 flight track
Our route from Hiroshima to Tokyo / Haneda this evening as NH684.

My full review of ANA A321neo economy class from Hiroshima to Tokyo (HND)

Choosing an A321neo over a 767 or 787 between Hiroshima and Tokyo (Haneda) is a lot harder than than it sounds. This is a relatively high-traffic route requiring high density aircraft most of the time, but the 7:00pm A321neo option jived with my schedule the best. It was the obvious choice.

Arrival at HIJ

I love the Hiroshima Airport. It consists of one medium-sized terminal laid out in a way that just makes sense. Not only that, it’s the kind of airport where you can always show up 35 minutes before departure and make your flight without even breaking a sweat.

Hiroshima airport terminal
Back at the airport. So long Hiroshima!
SANspotter walking into Hiroshima airport with suitcase
Maybe I should check in for my flight first before I start saying my goodbyes…
ANA check in counter Hiroshima airport
Talk about convenient! Not only is there no line here at the ANA check-in counter, all of those friendly looking ANA employees look like they need something to do. Everyone wins.
Hiroshima airport ticketing hall
By the way, if you’re flying out of the Hiroshima Airport anytime soon, I highly recommend picking up a few last-minute souvenirs at one of those shops directly across from the ANA check in area. It may be your last chance to load up on squid jerky and oddly-flavored Kit Kats.
HIJ airport terminal inside
The security checkpoint is on the right. And don’t worry – they won’t even bat an eye at your newly acquired 20 kg crate of squid jerky.
Hiroshima airport departures area
It’s probably wise to think twice before rushing through the security checkpoint though. Once inside the departures area, you’ll see that it’s extremely small (and there’s not much to do).
SANspotter sitting in the departures area of the Hiroshima airport
I should probably listen to my own advice more often.
ANA A321neo arriving at Hiroshima airport
Here’s the A321neo that will be taking me to Tokyo this evening. I think it’s arriving from…Tokyo? I couldn’t be bothered to get up and check for sure.

The boarding process

I was starting to get worried about 20 minutes prior to departure. The flight was scheduled to depart out of gate C, but it was essentially void of any activity. Not only was there nobody in the waiting area, even the gate agents were missing in action. The hell? Thankfully, things started to look normal (chaotic) 10 minutes out.

ANA printed boarding pass
The deets for my flight up to the Haneda Airport this evening. I can’t understand half of it, but that won’t stop me from saying that ANA printed boarding passes look pretty cool.
Hiroshima airport gate C
Looks like it’s going to be gate C this evening. Where the heck is everyone?
ANA airlines boarding group 2 Hiroshima airport
Well, that didn’t take long. Welcome to NH684 (the businessman express). 
Hiroshima airport jet bridge
If I haven’t said it already, Japanese airport jet bridges are far more interesting than the ones we have back home in the US. This is sensory overload (in a way that I quite liked).
ANA A321neo boarding door
The congestion that usually happens at the boarding door is universal though. It’s basically the same **** here as it is back home.
ANA A321neo Business class seats
Business class. These look very similar to the seats found in Delta A321neo first class, don’t they? Try not to think too much about it though, since they’re exactly not point of this review.

The seats

The fact that color is the first thing that comes to mind when attempting to describe the economy class seats says a lot. Yeah, they’re really blue. So blue in fact, that it occupies my mind more than how generous the leg room is. Even more than the other useful features such as large video screens and power outlets. They’re really blue!

ANA A321neo economy class cabin
Economy class. The intensity in which he’s checking to see if there’s a life vest under his seat has me concerned. What does he know that I don’t?
ANA A321neo economy class row 9
Row 9. The near perfect alignment of the window has me quite pleased considering that I’ll be sitting next to it today.
ANA A321neo economy class seats
Ok, yeah, this is probably a little bit too much blue for my liking, but I appreciate the effort to stay on brand. It’s definitely unique!
ANA A321neo economy class leg room and under seat storage
Leg room is decent. Not only that, there appears to be more than enough space under the seat in front of me for a bulging 20 kg crate of squid jerky.
SANspotter ANA A321neo economy class
Dang it. I wonder if they’ll let me run back into the terminal really quick to get some last minute souvenirs?
ANA A321neo economy video screens
Oh – the video screens in these seats are humongous by the way. And glossy AF. 
ANA A321neo economy class seats
The verdict? A very limp thumbs up.

Departure from HIJ

Seeing the weather take a turn for the worse just before departure is never good. A storm was brewing, and it was looking sketchy, but we pushed off the gate anyway. The only thing I was disappointed about was the fact that they never turned off the cabin lights. Getting juicy pics (and video) was impossible thanks to all the glare on the windows.

ANA A321neo pushback from gate HIJ
I do believe we are pushing off the gate now.
ANA A321neo economy ready for taxi Hiroshima airport
There’s not much to see once you push off the gate at the Hiroshima Airport though. Most of the action is inside the aircraft (as long as you can accept sleeping passengers and the safety video as “action”).
ANA A321neo taxi to runway Hiroshima airport
The action continues.
SANspotter looking out the window ANA A321neo economy
“Why they gotta leave the cabin lights on?” FYI, cabin lights cause window glare (which prevents getting good pics and video of the departure). This results in a less exciting review, the reader riddled with disappointment, causing him or her to return to my blog. I’ll become a failure, lose everything, and be forced to live in a clapped out ‘92 Toyota Corolla parked in a sketchy part of town. *sigh*
ANA A321neo takeoff from Hiroshima airport
Said window glare. To make matters worse, notice my stunning inability to lock focus on the money shot. I’m ruined!
ANA A321neo takeoff from HIJ
Have I mentioned my feelings about the cabin lights yet?
ANA A321neo wing and winglet
Then, at the most excellent moment, Mother Nature came through spectacularly. Redemption!

In flight entertainment

There’s a lot to like about the in flight entertainment in ANA A321neo economy class. The seat back video screens are relatively large by economy standards, and they seem to feature the same UI (and content catalog) as what you’ll find on long haul aircraft in the ANA fleet.

It’s not perfect though. The video screens are extremely glossy – so good luck watching anything in direct sunlight.

ANA A321neo economy in-flight entertainment home screen
Here’s the home screen for the video entertainment system. Sorry, I’m not feeling adventurous enough to choose anything but English tonight.
ANA A321neo economy in-flight entertainment main menu
The main menu looks nice. But if they knew me at all, they would be recommending Minions and Guns N’ Roses instead of Quantumania and Spitz. Swing and a miss!
ANA A321neo economy video entertainment screens
Yup – it’s the same full (glorious) catalog of content that I recently experienced in ANA 777-300ER economy.
ANA A321neo external video camera
There’s even a forward facing external camera as well! At the very least, it’ll be nice to have advance notice if we end up plowing into the side of Mount Fuji.
ANA A321neo economy in-flight entertainment system remote control
Have I ever use the word ‘slick’ to describe an in-flight entertainment system remote control before? This definitely qualifies.
ANA A321neo economy complimentary earbuds
I ain’t got no positive words for the cheap (but complementary) earbuds though. I highly suggest bringing your own.
ANA A321neo economy USB power and audio jack
Those of you who end up bringing your own headphones will be happy to know that you’ll have both a USB-A port and a 3.5 mm audio jack to work with. Multiple holes FTW.
ANA A321neo economy glossy video screen
Oh – you might want to bring a matte screen covering as well. Unless you’re trying for artsy-fartsy social media pics of course…

Food and drinks

This being my third ANA economy flight in the span of a week, I knew that it was unwise to expect much in terms of in flight service. They haven’t exactly impressed me in that regard.

True to form, they were relatively stingy with the food and drinks on this flight to Tokyo. All we got was a beverage in a neat little paper cup.

ANA A321neo economy paper cup
Why am I not surprised that this the same cup you saw in my ANA 787-8 economy review?
ANA A321neo economy paper cup aircraft illustration
Actually, it’s not the same! This is a different aircraft illustration than the one you saw earlier – which leads me to believe that there’s an entire series of these things (and you’re darn right that I want to collect them all).
SANpotter drinking water ANA A321neo economy
It sure as heck didn’t make my water taste any better though. Oh well.

Seat comfort

There’s not much I can say about the comfort of these seats in a way that doesn’t make them sound bad. The truth is that they are perfectly acceptable economy class seats for short flights. Padding is minimal, but the extra legroom makes them feel better than they actually are.

ANA A321neo economy row 9 seats
Yes, these seats are comfortable – but apparently not enough for me to muster the energy to position my thumb in the ‘up’ position.
ANA A321neo economy seat recline button
Seat recline is minimal. Just about as minimal as my hopes are that they’ll turn off the cabin lights (so I can nap in peace).
ANA A321neo economy adjustable headrests
I’m diggin’ the adjustable headrests though. They actually make a difference!
ANA A321neo economy sidewall
Should I tap him on the shoulder to let him know that the headrests are more comfortable than the wall?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about these seats is that I found them to be slightly less comfortable than what you can find in IBEX /ANA Connection CRJ-700 economy. Mainline aircraft are larger than regional jets, but they aren’t always more comfortable.

The descent and arrival into HND

Those darn cabin lights. Just as it was for our departure out of Hiroshima, the cabin crew left the lights on for the full descent and landing. My efforts to get decent pics of Tokyo on the way down were squashed like a grape on a busy sidewalk.

ANA A321neo interior cabin lights and window glare
When you’re trying to take a picture of Tokyo, but you end up taking a picture of yourself taking a picture of Tokyo instead.
ANA A321neo landing at Tokyo Haneda airport at night
I tried my best. Welcome to Tokyo!
ANA A321neo taxi to terminal two Haneda Airport
You know what? I don’t even think I cursed once about the window glare during the taxi over to Terminal 2. The scenery at the Haneda Airport is that impressive.
ANA A321neo economy taxi at HND
Most of the time at least. Looks like we’ve entered into a bit of a dead zone here…
ANA A321neo tail terminal 2 Haneda Airport
Thankfully things got interesting again as we pulled up to the gate at Terminal 2. ANA A321neo’s are hawt!
ANA A321neo economy aisle
Not only that, I think I’m really starting to come around to the idea of all the blue here in the economy class cabin. Yeah, it took an hour, but they finally got me!
ANA A321neo economy class seat backs
I really need to get off this plane before things get awkward (and I start using words like ‘sexy’)…
SANspotter Tokyo Haneda airport jet bridge
The fact that I’m all flustered here at the end of the review speaks volumes about how much I enjoyed this experience. Well done ANA!

Finally, it’s worth noting that we arrived at HND exactly on time. This was especially important to me as I was making an international connection back to the US (in ANA 777-300ER premium economy), so I needed all the time I could get. At least I didn’t have to deal with taking the Haneda to Narita transfer bus (a process which sometimes takes hours).

Pros and cons of economy class on the ANA A321neo

Perhaps the best thing about the ANA A321neo is that they are used primarily for shorter regional routes. It’ll be rare to have to spend more than a couple hours at a time on one, so economy class will be perfectly fine (unless you’re unusually picky).


  • Leg room is decent. At no point did I feel the need to take copious notes about how uncomfortable I was.
  • While the video screens aren’t perfect (see below), they are fairly large. And bright!
  • The cabin crew is fantastic (even in economy). You can expect them all to be happy, energetic, and highly proactive.


  • The video screens are extremely glossy, which makes watching content difficult in bright sunlight.
  • Onboard service will be limited on most domestic flights. You’ll be disappointed if you expect anything more than a small beverage.

Comments (4)

  1. William

    August 11, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      August 11, 2023
  2. Peter

    August 13, 2023
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      August 13, 2023

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