Our Compensation Clinic this week is about my recent flight in ANA First Class and as bad luck would have it the Boeing 777 had a malfunction with the inflight entertainment system that couldn’t be fixed for the entire duration of the flight.

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I had already reported about my redemption for ANA First Class in our Award Success series after I was able to redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Frankfurt-Tokyo last month.

Naturally with the excellent reputation ANA has (especially in First Class) I had high hopes and certainly wasn’t disappointed as far as service and onboard cuisine was concerned. I can honestly say that all these things were top notch.

Problems developed roughly an hour into the flight when the Inflight Entertainment System (IFE) started to muck around. Strangely enough I didn’t notice many problems in First Class other than the system restarting all the time which was likely done manually. This restarting turned into a loop of about 20-30 times before the crew decided to shut it down completely. In short, the entire plane has no IFE for the 12 hour duration of the flight.

What was even more annoying is that throughout these reboots all screens in First Class would suddenly flare up bright during the night flight. Also audio suddenly came on through the headphones in the higest volume so if you were wearing your headphones to get some rest good luck, suddenly you were wide awake. It was a total disaster and eventually I told the crew to shut the damn thing off because I’d like to sleep and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

I later on complained to the purser of the flight who ended up giving me a voucher to enter online for compensation purposes.

The voucher has a serial number that you have to enter on a specific website to register for compensation.

I didn’t see her giving the other two First Class passengers one of these which I don’t find ok. No matter if they complain or not, it should be given to them proactively.

The crew later apologized via the PA system to all passengers for the lack of IFE prior to deboarding in Haneda.

A day later I entered the details on the website which wasn’t a great setup. Yes, you can choose between the options listed on the voucher:

  • ANA SkyCoins (a monetary value currency valued 1 point / 1 JPY)
  • ANA Mileage Club Miles
  • ANA Travel Vouchers
  • Star Alliance Partner Miles

The problem is that it won’t tell you how much of each you’re getting when you make your selection which makes an informed choice impossible.

I initially selected ANA Miles because they are valuable and I’m actively collecting them anyhow through American Express MR and their own credit cards that also give 10% rebate for duty free.

I did however call ANA under the phone number listed on the voucher and was given the actual values for the compensation:

  • 30,000 ANA SkyCoins (worth 30,000 JPY ~ US$280)
  • 15,000 ANA Mileage Club Miles
  • 30,000 JPY worth of ANA Travel Vouchers
  • 7,000 Star Alliance Partner Miles

15,000 miles vs $280 isn’t a great value and they refused to increase it. In the end I asked them to change my compensation to the 30,000 Yen in travel vouchers which can be used for Duty Free Shopping and at ANA Intercontinental Hotels in Japan plus for ticket purchases. Considering I do a fair amount of Duty Free shopping with ANA and their Tokyo based duty free stores it’s as good as cash for me. The vouchers can only be mailed within Japan though which isn’t a problem for me.

Conclusion

I didn’t like not being able to use the IFE for the entire 12:40h flight but even more so I hated to be woken up all the time by the reboot process after I had already resigned myself to just sleeping. Technical malfunctions happen but it’s how the company deals with them that makes the difference.

I feel ANA should have done more for the passengers affected, especially the other two in First Class. It shouldn’t be necessary to complain about the situation to receive a proactive compensation and apology from the company but I guess that’s Japan for you. In all my years here I learned that the Japanese aren’t really good when it comes to actually compensating for issues unless you press hard for it. Every single one of the passengers of this flight should write in and request some compensation.

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