Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8407 times:
Having been inspired by some of the recent trip reports from Japan, I planned to spend almost a week in Japan in September, meeting up with a friend in Tokyo, and we would then fly from Tokyo Haneda to Osaka (Itami) with ANA (773), from Hiroshima to Sapporo with JAL (MD90) and from Sapporo back to Haneda with JAL (772).
This trip report is for the Hiroshima – Sapporo sector, perhaps the most memorable because it was my first flight on a MD90 and with JAL from and to airports that I’d never visited before.
Japan’s airports are amazing. There is simply no other word to describe the facilities available to those who love aviation. Thank you Japan!
Date: Fri 21 Sept 2007
Route: Hiroshima (HIJ) to Sapporo (CTS), Japan
Airline: Japan Airlines JL 3401
Aircraft: MD90 – JA8063
Flight time: 1:40
The day of our flight dawned hot and hazy. Hiroshima International Airport (HIJ) is some distance from the city centre. However, there is an efficient and frequent (air conditioned!) bus service that operates to the airport and it’s inexpensive.
Within 45 mins, we had arrived at the modern and spacious terminal. Some interior shots of the terminal follow. Signs are clearly marked and there is a nice selection of shops and eateries landside.
The departures board showed most flights were domestic with Tokyo Haneda being the primary destination. Our flight to Sapporo was perhaps the only non Tokyo flight on JAL that day.
There are limited international flights from Hiroshima, mostly to Korea, China and Taiwan.
There was no queue at check in for our flight JL3401 although we did encounter some strange looks when the lovely JAL check in agents worked out that we were flying to Haneda via Sapporo. "Surely these Westerners must be mad" they were thinking? "We have several non stop flights to Haneda from here….why are you going via Sapporo"? I can only imagine what they were thinking.
Needless to say, we felt that they had never seen this before because it required several JAL check in staff to work out how to generate a baggage tag that said HND via CTS (although our tag actually ended up reading HND via SPK). Can any of our Japanese friends explain why New Chitose Airport in Sapporo seems to have two codes – CTS and SPK? At one point on the flight, I had a terrible premonition that we were going to end up landing at another airport in Sapporo (ie Okadama perhaps?!!)
By the time my boarding passes had been issued, a gaggle of check in staff were admiring the baggage label making me somewhat self conscious but otherwise, it was all fine. Lots of smiles later and we were done. With our boarding passes in hand (window seats for both sectors), we proceeded to the observation deck.
Like the other airports in Japan we had already visited, Hiroshima (HIJ) had a large and open observation deck giving a great view of the proceedings. Having said that, the airport was fairly quiet in comparison to the busy airports of Tokyo and Osaka that we’d just visited. The airport is surrounded by lots of hills which gives it a very picturesque outlook.
A long view of the observation deck with a China Eastern A320 and China Airlines 737-800 being prepared for their next flights.
Close up of B-6106 being prepared for her return flight to China.
Soon after we arrived, there were a couple of arrivals/departures to/from Tokyo. The China Eastern A320 departed, and I was greeted with my first sighting of a Bangkok Airways (Siem Reap Air) A320, which had been christened, “Samui”.
After a couple of hours on the deck (it was extremely hot), our JAL MD90 arrived. Here she is rolling out and taxiing to the terminal.
We left the deck and proceeded through security, which took next to no time at all. The gate area was spacious enough, with more shops and opportunities to buy food. It wasn’t long before we were ready to board.
A boarding call was made in Japanese and English and I was so excited to be flying on my first MD90. Practically bounding down the jetway, we were the first two passengers to board and were greeted with warm smiles from the all female JAL cabin crew.
This was the view from my window seat. JAL MD90s have very strange row numbering. There were a couple of rows of business class seating but the first row of economy was Row 13! Economy was a 2 – 3 configuration. The seats were extremely spacious and comfortable for the 1 hour 40 min ride up through the western portion of Honshu and into Hokkaido. The cabin was immaculate, the windows were large and I had a good view of the leading edge of the port wing.
Our flight today was full. Not a spare seat anywhere. I had a middle aged Japanese lady next to me who seemed to be surprised to see a Westerner as her seat mate. She proceeded to ensure that she had her packed lunch readily accessible for consumption after take off, but otherwise hardly moved throughout the flight.
During pushback, the second ANA flight from Tokyo that we’d seen that morning had just arrived.
Our taxi to the single runway was short and before long, we’d started our take off roll. It was extremely quiet. Good bye Hiroshima and thank you for a great visit.
It’s really clear how mountainous the terrain is around the airport on these departure shots.
Our climb out was steep and powerful and we were on our way.
What follows are some pics taken enroute as we headed initially toward Wakasa Bay and then over Toyama Bay in central Honshu. The captain did come on the PA and give us some technical information, in both Japanese and English which was very helpful and informative.
Inflight service was short but sweet. Absolutely no food was served on this flight at all, even though it was 1 hour 40 mins long. Cabin crew served drinks only and I had an apple juice. My seatmate, clearly having done this flight before, proceeded to eat her gourmet luncheon of sandwiches and other assorted snacks from the comfort of her seat!!! One of the cabin crew later came down to give me a copy of a daily English language newspaper, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the news was largely US-based, and whilst I enjoy reading about what’s happening in the US, it’s nice to know what else is going on in other parts of the English speaking (and non English speaking) world.
After next to no time, we were flying to the east of the city of Hakodate, on the southern portion of the island of Hokkaido, which you can see in the distance from this pic.
A few minutes after passing Hakodate, we commenced our descent toward Sapporo and this pic shows us at the point of crossing the Hokkaido coastline during the descent.
I was sad that the flight was coming to an end. The weather had been magnificent and the flight very smooth.
The approach into CTS was obviously unfamiliar (not having flown to this airport before). We seemed to fly inland for some distance before turning back toward the airport. We then made some sharp turns before lining up for the runway (and passing a nice golf course enroute!).
JA8063 landed smoothly and taxied to the gate. We joined a couple of other JL MDs. This brought my first (and perhaps last?) MD90 ride to an end. We spent almost 5 hours on the observation deck at CTS and it was a constant stream of traffic – mostly Japanese, but with a couple of Korean and Taiwan flights as well. Again, the facilities here were excellent.
We also had both of the JSDF 747-400s on training flights with one of the aircraft doing touch and go’s.
I really enjoyed flying with JAL. The two domestic flights I took with them were amazing, even though no food was served on either sector (the same went for ANA). I’d definitely fly with JAL again and hope to get back to Japan again for more aviation. I can highly recommend it. I'd also recommend visiting the city of Hiroshima. It's fabulously interesting, attractive and the people were very friendly.
Thanks for reading. Any comments/questions welcome.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6514 posts, RR: 79 Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8405 times:
Great report - thanks for sharing. I'll go an a Japan trip in two weeks and do some domestic flying, too. When we planned our route we had also considered HIJ and CTS - even JL's MD90 link between both cities - but in the end we picked other airports (NGO-OKA-FUK-HND-ITM).
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 8405 times:
Hope you enjoy your flights in Japan. It's a great country for aviation enthusiasts.
There are indeed airports which I would have loved to have visited. I really wanted to get to Nagoya - maybe next time.
Osaka Itami (ITM) was one of the best airports for spotting. You'll really enjoy it.
Thanks for the compliments. I did enjoy the MD90. It's a shame that it was not a success. It's such a nice aircraft to fly in - very comfy inside too.
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4125 posts, RR: 51 Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days ago) and read 8405 times:
thank you for your kind words on JL . Good to see they still perform well on domestic service. Flying the MD90 is indeed a rare occasion these days. I've been flying several times on inner-Japan JL flights, and always the service has been basic, some drinks, and sometimes a small candy given out.
From next month, JL will re-introduce F-class on domestic service, to start on HND-ITM flights (B777's).
NB - would love to see the other JL flight reported too
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 months 6 days ago) and read 8405 times:
Many thanks. Interesting to see JAL will re-introduce F on domestic flights.
I only took a couple of pics on the CTS - HND flight as it was dark but will see if I can do a short report on that flight too. Again, it was a great flight with JAL and the legroom on the 772 was extremely generous. I wondered whether the aircraft was used on regional flights as well as domestic. As part of the trip, I flew NZ from LHR - HKG and then Eva Air from HKG - NRT via TPE. TPE - NRT was aboard one of Eva's "Hello Kitty" A332s!
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): There were a couple of rows of business class seating but the first row of economy was Row 13
Nothing strange. Some airlines use row numbers to demote the class of the cabin. For example, this is what happens on SIngapore Airlines: First Class starts with Row 1, Raffles Business start with Row 11, Economy Class starts with Row 31... this is applicable of ALL aircraft so it you are on a 2 class configured 777-200, you would find that the seat numbers begin at Row 11 at the front of the plane!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 711 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (6 years 2 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 8081 times:
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): Can any of our Japanese friends explain why New Chitose Airport in Sapporo seems to have two codes – CTS and SPK? At one point on the flight, I had a terrible premonition that we were going to end up landing at another airport in Sapporo (ie Okadama perhaps?!!)
New Chitose Airport opened in 1991. It's code was originally SPK, but it was later changed to CTS. SPK now includes New Chitose and the smaller Okadama Airport in central Sapporo (I got this info from Wikipedia).
The Japanese airports are wonderful places to go even if you're not flying. They all have outdoor terraces for spotting and an abundance of shops. I find them very user friendly with airport and airline personnel very helpful and friendly.
I liked your pics. Too bad you weren't sitting on the right side of the plane because you could have seen Fuji San.
Quoting Palmjet (Thread starter): The approach into CTS was obviously unfamiliar (not having flown to this airport before). We seemed to fly inland for some distance before turning back toward the airport. We then made some sharp turns before lining up for the runway (and passing a nice golf course enroute!).
It is an interesting approach into CTS as you make several turns before final approach. Please see my recent trip report HND-CTS-HND On Japan Airlines 777-200.
Thank you again for your report. Since you like Japan trip reports, I hope to have a spotting report for HND-KIX on ANA soon.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 10, posted (6 years 2 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 8081 times:
Thanks for the explanation. I know other passengers found the row numbering confusing, as well as on the JAL 772 which I took later that day. Passengers were having to double take and go back, not expecting row 44 to be mid cabin in a 772, for example! Notwithstanding, it was a great experience, and yes, wherever we went, we found people in Japan to be friendly, helpful and polite (often going beyond the call of duty to assist).
Yes, it was a shame I was not on the right side of the aircraft for the flight up to CTS. Thanks also for the explanation about the airport codes. I thought I was never going to see my bag again when it was checked in at HIJ! Agree with you that the facilities in Japan are really outstanding, and it was such a refreshing experience in comparison to my home town airports in London.
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4125 posts, RR: 51 Reply 11, posted (6 years 2 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 7605 times:
Quoting Palmjet (Reply 6): Again, it was a great flight with JAL and the legroom on the 772 was extremely generous. I wondered whether the aircraft was used on regional flights as well as domestic.
Depends. If you give me the a/c registration number, I figure it out easily;
JA701J/702J/703J are use within Asia (midrange flights)
JA704J~711J are for longhaul European flights and some legs in Asia (e.g. DPS, BKK etc)
but, they might fly some domestic services, like e.g. JA705J will do from next week out of HND.
The JAxxxx (4 digits) numbers, and JAxxxD registration are flying domestically only.
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
VSMike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 317 posts, RR: 7 Reply 12, posted (6 years 2 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 7605 times:
Nice trip report. I am so unfamiliar with that part of the world, but would love to go myself one day. Great photos accompaning your report. Looks like everyone had a gay 'ole time (happy).
I have a couple comments on your observations:
1. "Bounding down the jetway?" -- I'll bet you looked like a fruity spidermonkey, or something strangely similar. Did you?
2. "All female" cabin staff excited you? How odd. Since I've never had 'Chinese food' before, I bet I would have been much more excited...
3. "English paper/News from the USA" -- If you don't like real, hardcore American warmonging news, the only news that matters, than I suggest you move to someplace like... I don't know... Australia? I've heard that the Ozzies fancy themselves Upsidedown Americans, anyhow.
I have to admit, searching out an English-language paper was an uber-nice touch from the flight crew.
4. "Seatmate/Lady with nice selection of food." I bet she cared less about your asthetic Western appearance than your incessant photo-taking out the window. No doubt she felt uncomfortable by the 'click-click-click, and the doodle-doodle-ding' sounds emited loudly from your digicam? BTW, as a rather chunky white dude, I would have stared her down until she offered me some of her food...
Wish I could have been there to offer my live and typically derogatory comments in person.
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 14, posted (6 years 2 months 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7605 times:
Yes, I urge you to try out the MD90 as they are indeed becoming harder to fly on these days. Surprisingly on my recent travels, I managed to photograph MD90s of three airlines - JAL, Eva Air and China Eastern so it was great to see there are still some around.
As always, your insights are priceless. To respond to your specific questions:
1. I had to be careful not to bound down the jetway too fast like a fruity spidermonkey. There was a sign in English at the end of the jetway (it was either at HIJ or CTS, I can't recall which) that said 'Be careful, the road is slippery' which we thought was a little comical, if not poetic.
2. The JAL cabin crew were stunning. Even I was impressed.
3. I protest! Strangely enough, US news is not the only news going on, especially in Asia. I had asked for an Australian paper, but they did not have any that were upside down in format.
4. My seatmate was indeed surprised at the number of pics I was taking. I could feel her staring at me wondering what this silly Westerner was doing taking pics of the clouds. Unlike in the States or other English speaking parts of the world where I have encountered this, at least she did not ask me 'What is that noise? Why are you taking pictures? What are you taking pictures of?'
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 17, posted (6 years 2 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6395 times:
BA319-131, I can certainly say that the Japanese airports are fantastic for enthusiasts - and they seem to be able to balance security with enthusiasts nicely - at least far better than most airports in the UK.