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Chillin In Sapporo. Literally...  
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 9764 times:

PART II:


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BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the second and final segment of my trip report about my recent visit to Japan. The first segment (which focuses on Tokyo) can be found HERE.

A brief summary of events so far: My wife and I flew out of ORD to LAX with UA and then from LAX to NRT on NH, on 2 flights that left us with very different impressions. While in Tokyo we got sick with pneumonia but nonetheless managed to do almost everything we had planned. Now, still sick, we were to fly north to the island of Hokkaido (again on NH) to visit Sapporo and some other neighboring towns.


Here's again the route map for our trip:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/gcmap-1.png
Yellow lines represent segments operated by UA, while red lines represent segments operated by NH

And here are the flights that the present report is going to focus on:
NRT-CTS, All Nippon Airways, A320
CTS-NRT, All Nippon Airways, A320
NRT-LAX, All Nippon Airways, 777-300ER (77W)
LAX-ORD, United Airlines, A320 (originally a 757 at the time of booking)



OFF TO HOKKAIDO! - BUT NEED TO GET TO NRT FIRST

.
.
Route: NRT-CTS
Carrier: All Nippon Airways
Aircraft: A320
Reg: JA8396


After 5 full days in Tokyo my wife and I had to pack our bags again and get ready for our flight to CTS. First however, we had to get to NRT, which represented a bit of a problem. Somewhat hastily, we had already bought our return Limousine Bus tickets five days earlier at NRT, but had failed to notice that the first bus from our area was leaving at 6:30am. Our NH flight to CTS was leaving at 10am and given that the inbound bus ride between NRT and our hotel had lasted 2:15 hours, it was cutting it dangerously close for my comfort. Nonetheless, we counted on the fact that traffic should be pretty light at 6:30am and that we should be able to cover the distance in less than 80mins, just as the company advertised. Indeed, the traffic was very light, our driver was like Sebastian Vettel compared to the driver we had a few days ago, so we reached Terminal-1-South of NRT within 60mins! Just before reaching the airport, the bus had to stop at a security checkpoint, where a police officer boarded the bus, asked for our passports, while some other policemen checked the baggage compartment. I have never seen anything like that in any other airport before.

Once at NRT, we checked-in at the ANA counters with the help of a couple of very friendly ladies. They informed us that the domestic departure area would not open until 8:30am and that we should wait until then before we proceed to security. Indeed there was a sign at the entrance of the departures's area that notified passengers that security screening for access to the gates would be open only between 8:30am-10:15am and between 3:00pm-6:10pm. I found this weird. I knew that most domestic NH flights serving the Tokyo area were departing from HND but I had no idea that NRT served all of its domestic NH flights within just those two short time windows.

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Arriving at NRT

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ANA domestic check-in counters

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Cool-looking boarding pass (or "checked-in notice" as they called it). Just the right size to fit inside your passport, unlike those we are used to in Europe or the US.

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International arrivals and domestic departures at T1-South are next to each other

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These are the only times that the domestic ANA departures lounge is open. I'm surprised.

An hour or so later, after clearing security we took our seats in front of our gate. The lounge was made up of about 8 or 10 gates and a cafeteria-style shop that sold food and souvenirs. I grabbed us a quick, hearty, breakfast and while paying for it I saw something that left me with my mouth open. Right there next to me, there was a wall covered in key-chains (for sale) with the tail-logos of every imaginable (active or defunct) airline. Hell, they even had Balkan Bulgarian Airlines. I almost shed a tear.


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Our gate monitor

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Still no-one around

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Key chains with the logos of every imaginable active or defunct airline... The photo doesn't do justice to their total number.

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Checking out the traffic outside our gate

Over time the gates got full with pax but our gate never got too busy. I forgot to mention that our Departures area was located right underneath the international arrivals/departures and we thus had practically no view into the apron (due to the jetways above us). That was a bummer for me who wanted to take photos of whatever aircraft was roaming around. Oh well. During boarding, one had to slide his/her boarding pass over a scanner, then walk through a little mechanical gate at the end of which a new, receipt-like, boarding pass emerged from another machine. It kinda felt like entering a subway station. We were informed that we were gonna be taken to our aircraft on a bus, which is always a shocker for us spoiled inhabitants of the US (where even Saab 340s get boarded through a jetway). In my personal opinion, buses that transport pax to aircraft should only have 4-6 seats (for the elderly) and mainly standing room. No need for a ton of seats when the ride is expected to last 30 seconds. Seats just take too much space. However the buses that took us to our A320 resembled city buses, with a ton of seats on both sides. As a result, despite the very low load of our flight, 2 buses were required to transport everyone. I personally prefer the buses one can find in most German airports, or those at SKG. I'm surprised that the usually very practical Japanese opted for this type of buses. Maybe they had something else in mind that I am not aware of.


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ANA Business Jet, an all-Business/Premium Economy aircraft. Not a great photo as it was taken from within the bus taking us to our aircraft.

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Our bird as seen from the bus

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Boarding

This was a fairly empty flight, perhaps at a capacity of less than 30%. This came as a bit of a surprise. HND-CTS is meant to be one of the busiest passenger routes in the world (it was No1 up until 2011 I believe), so one might have expected that NRT-CTS to be also fairly busy. However, HND is considerably easier to access than NRT (at least for most Tokyoites) so it perhaps makes sense.

I will stop repeating myself by saying how friendly the crew was. You can just assume so from now on, unless said otherwise. The cabin of our A320 was in immaculate condition but one could tell its age (mainly by the very 90s-looking seat fabric). Once on my seat I finally managed a glimpse of some traffic outside, which included several IBEX CRJs, a couple of SkyMark 737s and of course plenty of JAL and ANA. After push-back (which was on time almost to the second) we taxied past a LH A380 and some other heavies which made my day.


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Legroom was pretty decent

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Lots of JAL and a BC (Skymark) B737

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An Ibex CRJ heading to KMQ

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Nice to see the LH A380 here

Views of NRT during take-off:
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Following take-off, we entered thick clouds thus rendering me unable to monitor our position and exact route. Unfortunately there were no overhead monitors to help us with this. The pilot warned us that there was going to be some extreme turbulence during the first 20 mins of our flight and he asked the crew to delay the in-flight service until later on. Indeed, we were not served any drinks until almost 30-35 mins into the flight. Feeling still very weak and kinda "out of it" we just asked for some tea. Finally, after about 40mins or so, the skies underneath cleared a bit to reveal a snow-covered landscape. We knew that it was going to be cold up north but it had not occurred to us that there would still be snow. We had a very unusually mild winter in Chicago this year and it seems that we forgot that snow can sometimes stick around until late March or April. Once we reached the Tsugaru Strait (which separates the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido) one could see how violent the sea was, which gave us an idea of how windy it was outside. Indeed, while on final approach to CTS, the aircraft violently rocked from left to right and back again on 3 or 4 separate occasions, thus forcing some involuntary vocalizations by some passengers. The landing itself however was done perfectly much to the credit of our pilots. The landscape around CTS looked like Siberia to me. Lots of snow and endless acres of leafless trees as far as the eye could see. We taxied to a jetway next to a Hokkaido International Airlines (Air Do) 767. I really wanted to give this airline a go but time limitations did not allow me to do so.


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Cabin view. We were practically alone.

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Some nice tea

One could tell that the weather had been much colder where we were heading:
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Over the town of Towada

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You could appreciate how strong the wind was by observing the violent waves near the Tsugaru Strait

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Our first glimpse of Hokkaido

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The rather Siberian landscape on approach to CTS

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Touchdown after a couple of very violent swerves by the aircraft

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The semi-circular terminal building of CTS

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A 767 of Air Do (which is short for "Air Hokkaido", which in turn is short of "Hokkaido Intl Airlines")

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Welcoming sign at the baggage reclaim area

After we collected our luggage (and handed our bag stickers to a guy at the exit), we purchased train tickets to Sapporo from a friendly JR (Japan Railways) agent, who took us away from the main queue to a private desk in order to help us. Sometimes it pays off to be an (obvious) foreigner.



.
Route: New Chitose Airport-Sapporo
Operator: JR Hokkaido


The airport is a good 45km from the city center so the train takes around 40 mins to reach town (the ride involves a number of stops on the way). The trains were spacious and comfortable and the seats had several magazines full of ads for seafood restaurants but also for Air Do (HD) and Hokkaido Air System (ICAO - NTH). Once we reached the central Sapporo Station, we walked the 2 blocks to our hotel, our base for the next 3 days.

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On the JR train taking us from CTS to downtown Sapporo

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I like the seat pitch on these trains

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Train ticket



CHILLIN IN SAPPORO (LITERALLY)


Map of our wanderings in Hokkaido for the next 3 days


HOTEL MITSUI GARDEN SAPPORO


The hotel we had chosen to stay at was the Mitsui Garden Sapporo. It was a stone's throw away from the station (which we planned to use a lot), and next to all the shopping and sightseeing we were planning to do. The hotel was very modern but the room we got was pretty small, just like the one we had in Tokyo. Unlike our room in Tokyo, however, this time the only view that our window offered was a bunch of walls from neighboring buildings. The room contained every imaginable amenity (including toothbrushes, razors, aftershave, moisturizing lotions and much more) just like the one in Tokyo. It must be the norm in Japan I guess. We were also provided with slippers and also robes, which made one look like a ninja or better like a karateka (given how it wrapped around your body and the detachable belt that it came with).

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Our hotel as seen from street level

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Cool Japanese robes provided by the hotel

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Our view this time wasn't quite as good

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The compulsory toilet seat photo

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Watching some high school baseball on TV while trying to recover

By the point we reached the hotel I was in agony and I was starting to experience the worse symptoms yet. I really wanted to go out and explore the city but I could not move a muscle. We rested a little at our room but we then forced ourselves to go out and buy some food. We couldn't however stay out for too long so we returned to the hotel to watch some TV, snack on some vegetables and juice (the only food that sounded good to us) and to get some sleep. After an epic sleeping session of 15hours(!) I woke up feeling much better and ready to tackle Sapporo. Fortunately my wife was starting to feel better too so we were on the same page. We visited the Odori Street promenade (which was covered in several feet of snow and could thus not be fully appreciated), saw the Sapporo TV Tower (a miniature Tokyo Tower or Eiffel Tower if you will), visited the JR Tower observatory, walked by the iconic Clock Tower, spent time in the enormous underground shopping areas and sat at several restaurants in order to sample the local seafood. Sapporo is a fairly modern city, and it differs from most other major Japanese cities in many ways. It is built in a grid system, its people are characterized by a pioneering spirit, rather than one of tradition, it has its own distinctive cuisine, and its climate is considerably colder than the rest of the country. Even though Hiroshima remains my favorite city in Japan, Sapporo won me over by its uniqueness and I would love to visit again but in the summer.

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Alcohol-less Asahi Beer. Not ready for the real thing yet.

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Japanese omelet and Okonomiyaki

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A cool ad for Hokkaido Air System at the Sapporo train station. No idea why the acronym for their name is H.A.C and not H.A.S. This small airline flies out of OKD (Okadama), a tiny airport near the center of Sapporo, serving destinations within Hokkaido.

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The old Hokkaido Government Building

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Sapporo TV Tower at Odori Avenue

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The iconic Sapporo Clock Tower building, the oldest building in Sapporo (1878).

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I bought some beer for later consumption (I ended up drinking it back in the US). It came with that weird decorated cup in the middle.

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The Sapporo Train station and Tower

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The weird glass dome entrance to the station

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...looking up from inside the glass dome

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Hokkaido Air System made the local TV news for some reason but couldn't tell why.

A few night shots of Sapporo:
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Views of Sapporo and the surrounding mountains from the JR Tower observatory:
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A bathroom at the JR Tower observatory with excellent views. I entered it with the sole purpose of shooting this photo, just like the one below  Good thing the place wasn't busy at all.

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Best urinals in the whole of Hokkaido


Continued below...


Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
44 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 9816 times:

Continued...



ESCAPING TO OTARU


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Route: Sapporo-Otaru
Operator: JR Hokkaido

Earlier in the year, when my wife and I were planning our 3 days in Sapporo, we had saved an afternoon to visit the Sapporo Beer factory. However, I was not ready yet to consume any alcohol so we abandoned that idea, especially given that the factory was a bit out of the way of the other things we had planned. Instead we planned a half-day trip to the lovely port town of Otaru, about 30km west of Sapporo. Otaru is famous for its canal, boasts some of the best seafood in the whole country and is known for its blown glass industry (see below). We jumped onto a JR Hokkaido train at Sapporo and reached Otaru in about 30 mins. The train tracks ran right next to the sea, giving us a great view of the Ishikari Bay (a segment of the Sea of Japan), which looked surprisingly blue for this time of year.

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Entering Sapporo Station

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Catching our express train to Otaru

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Apparently the ice cold water was not enough to deter some hardcore surfers from having a good time

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Approaching Otaru. The only thing beyond these waters is Russia.


Once in Otaru, we walked down to the seafront to see the Canal. Everything was covered by snow and at some places you could see snow accumulation that exceeded 4 feet. The town was full of seafood restaurants, advertising some really interesting sea creature varieties including the Hairy Crab (which Otaru is famous for) and a lot of sea urchin. We chose to sit at a sushi place that looked authentic and we were not disappointed. We had some exceptional seafood (including some rare herring roe -very crunchy- and also some crab brains+intestines), great green tea, and some very unique-tasting Hairy Crab soup (and believe me, those crabs are hairy!).

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Tons of snow everywhere

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Otaru Port

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The iconic Otaru Canal running parallel to the coastline

A lot of fresh seafood available in the street markets of Otaru:
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Exceptional sashimi. Possibly the best we've ever had.

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You can't get better sushi than this. Herring roe, salmon, salmon eggs, sea urchin, fatty tuna, shrimp, squid, horse mackerel...

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Fantastic Hairy Crab soup

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It looks hideous (with the hair and all) but tastes fantastic

After having eaten we decided to check some of the numerous shops with blown-glass goods. I have to make a confession here. Like most guys I don't really care about glasses, vases, or plates, but the things I saw in these shops left me speechless. Those guys are unbelievable craftsmen and the hand-made glass items they made were eye popping. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in these shops so I cannot show you the stuff that we saw. Especially in one of the shops we visited (which was rather huge) I literally wanted to buy every single item in the building. Eventually, due to space limitations, the sensitivity of the items (they are made of glass after all) and the rather steep prices (beautiful, hand-made, japanese and of high quality - no wonder) we had to settle for only a couple of glasses (see below). We returned to Sapporo fully content with what we had experienced in Otaru. Both my wife and I thought that Otaru was one of the highlights of the whole trip. I wonder how the place looks in the summer.


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Otaru train station entrance

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Our ride back to Sapporo

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A colorful Wheel at Otaruchikko

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The Ebisu "island" about half-way between Otaru and Sapporo.

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The wooden case of the fantastic hand-made Otaru glasses we bought

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Somewhat pricey but totally worth it!


VISITING JOZANKEI
.

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Route: Sapporo-Jozankei Hot Springs
Operator: Jotetsu

On our last day in Hokkaido we thought that we should visit the tiny town of Jozankei, up in the mountains of Southern Hokkaido. The town is famous for its hot springs (it is scattered with onsen - Japanese hot spring bathing facilities) and also its beautiful landscape: it is literally stuck in the middle of several forest-covered mountains. We got there after a rather long bus ride. It started snowing (huge snowflakes, just the way I like it) the moment we got there, which made for a very picturesque atmosphere. We visited one of the bridges, a couple open-air hot spring areas (where you can dip your feet in scorching hot water), bought some souvenirs and visited a few of their numerous Kappa shrines and statues. Kappa is a creature of Japanese folklore, a child-sized water sprite (similar to the Finnish Näkki wikipedia tells me, if that's of any help to you Finns) known for its mischievousness and trouble-making (no wonder my wife is obsessed with it). Jozankei has about 25-30 statues of the Kappa scattered in various locations. My wife has some kind of fascination with it (ever since she saw Jeremy Wade -of River Monsters- devote a whole episode to it) so we tried to visit as many of these statues as we could.


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Getting up in the mountains

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Cute bus stop

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Welcome to Jozankei! Notice the numerous weird faces next to and below this sign. They all belong to the Kappa...

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A lot of snow here too

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An open-air hot spring for feet-dipping

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Beautiful little town

A couple more photos of Jozankei:
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Another hot bath for one's feet in the middle of a park


And here's the Kappa!

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Soft-drink vending machines like these are everywhere in Japan and the mountains are no exception...

After another long bus ride back to Sapporo we celebrated our last day in Japan with some local curry soup and headed to bed early. We had 3 flights to look forward to the next day.


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The curry soup that Sapporo is also famous for. Very nice and spicy.



HEADING BACK HOME


.
.
Route: CTS-NRT
Carrier: All Nippon Airways
Aircraft: A320
Reg: JA8609

One advantage of staying so close to the train station is that you can afford a longer night's sleep before waking up to head to the airport. We did just that and jumped to an airport-bound train without feeling too rushed. Once at CTS, we looked for the ANA check-in counters but all we could see were JAL counters. Eventually we realized that due to the bizarre shape of the terminal building many of the counters were hidden out of view behind a thick pillar. Most of ANA's and Air Do's counters were there. After checking in, we went to do some shopping trying to spend our last few yen on souvenirs. CTS is packed with shops and the place feels more like a shopping mall than an airport. It seems like Hokkaidoans love their shopping. I cannot otherwise explain the insane number of shops everywhere around Sapporo. After we cleared security we sat at our gate in order to catch our breath and marvel at the views to the apron. We still had some yen left so I bought us some lunch and also some dried octopus tentacles to take with me on the plane in case I got the munchies. I know that there are some a.netters here that are not very fond of these cephalopods, but my love for octopus has been expressed many a time.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8302.jpg
The CTS departures area

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8305.jpg
It looks pretty modern and pleasant

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8306.jpg
An empty gate

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8312.jpg
Airside waiting area

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8313.jpg
I love the simple yet catchy livery of Air Do

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8315.jpg
A big JAL 777 waiting for departure

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8318.jpg
Our bird behind the jetbridge

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8319.jpg
Never heard of JinAir before. Apparently they are a Korean LoCo.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8320.jpg
Our plane

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8326.jpg
The gate

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8324.jpg
A quick lunch of raw salmon, crabmeat and fish roe.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8325.jpg
Boarding

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8329.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8334.jpg
Picachu (aka JA 8957) was in Sapporo today


Our departure was again on time, which was great news given that our layover in NRT was barely an hour so we had to be punctual if we wanted to make our connection to LAX. I was paranoid that we would miss our connection and that ANA would put us on the next available flight to LAX, which was operated by UA. That would have been just terrible. On take-off we were treated to a great view of the CTS building, with its characteristic semi-circular shape. This time our flight had a load of about 70-80% but we were lucky to be the only ones seating in our row. Unfortunately the skies were cloudy throughout our flight to NRT, so no interesting photos. I really wanted to catch a glimpse of the area around Fukushima but it was not meant to be. I just sat back, enjoyed my drink and listened to some music on the weird stethoscope-looking headphones that our seats came with. They looked weird but were surprisingly comfortable.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8333.jpg
Pre-takeoff candy. Couldn't identify what flavor it was meant to be.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8336.jpg
A nice view of CTS during take-off

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8341.jpg
The stethoscope-like headphones

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7759.jpg
ANA's domestic network map. Notice the inclusion of the Kunashir and Iturup islands, which technically belong to Russia but are claimed by Japan. A bit of propaganda never hurt anyone http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8331.jpg
Decent legroom

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8347.jpg
A lovely MIAT 737 named "Khubelai Khaan" (EI-CXV). Interesting Irish registration...


HOW TO MAKE A TIGHT CONNECTION STRESS-FREE

.
.
Route: NRT-LAX
Carrier: All Nippon Airways
Aircraft: B777-300ER (77W)
Reg: Unknown

We arrived at NRT right on schedule but we had to wait for the buses to take us to the terminal. Being seated at the very back of the plane, and thus being one the last few to disembark, we had to wait for a second bus to take us there. By the time we were dropped off at the terminal we were left with about 45 to 50 minutes to spare. In that time we had to reach the international departures area, clear immigration, go past security and then reach our gate. Astonishingly we got done with all of these in less than 15 minutes (I love Japanese efficiency!) and we reached our gate with a ton of time to spare.

For boarding we were asked to form two lines, one for business and one for economy and then boarded the aircraft in that order. Like I mentioned in the first part of this TR, the 77W has (for most part) a 2-4-3 seating configuration in Economy and my wife and I got to sit again on the left side of the aircraft, hence enjoying a window and an aisle seat by ourselves. By the time we boarded the aircraft a rainstorm had started outside.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8354.jpg
Our aircraft behind the jetway

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8355.jpg
I love these monitors

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8356.jpg
Cabin view

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8357.jpg
Bye-bye rainy Tokyo

Pushback was delayed by a few minutes but due to the short taxiing we were on the runway in no time. Once more we were surrounded by kids of various ages, which made me somewhat uneasy. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate kids. I just don't want them next to me when I'm stuck in a confined space, at 32.000 feet for the next 11 hours.

After we got served the customary seaweed snack and drink (guess what I had to drink? Yes, more Kabosu please!) I soon started playing with the IFE investigating the menu. So what were our options today? The Japanese tray contained a crab omelet with steamed rice and vegetables, miso soup, shrimp and seaweed salad with sesame dressing, fruit, and 3 other salads that, in all honesty, I could not identify. The western option was Cheese in Chicken cutlet. I opted for the Japanese meal and my wife asked for the Western but was informed that the last Western meal had just been given away. I felt bad because she was not feeling 100% yet (following our sickness) and the Japanese meal did not sound good at all (she is not a picky eater at all by the way). It is always a bummer when you happen to be the guy in the last rows that gets no choice of a meal. This is a personal opinion, but the main meal this time was a bit disappointing. The omelet lacked flavor (lack of salt?) and I had trouble eating 2 of the 3 unidentifiable salads. They just tasted too weird to me (perhaps they were an acquired taste?). I'm no picky eater either (and I love Japanese cuisine) but perhaps my western palate wasn't ready for what we were served. The soup however was great just like the shrimp salad. My wife could not eat more than a couple of bites so I had to help her finish her omelet. Her salads remained untouched for most part. Oh, what can you do? We just washed our gustatory un-fulfillment down with some alcohol (Asahi for me, white wine for her). Fortunately for me, I still had my octopus tentacle saved, so I took it out for dessert (I skipped the ice-cream). Call me weird.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8359.jpg
Digital version of the menu. Crabmeat omelet? I think I'll have some of that.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8361.jpg
Hot towels again

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8362.jpg
My beloved rice and seaweed snacks and kabosu drink

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8363.jpg
A paper menu handed to us just before our row was served

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8368.jpg
The Japanese meal.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8370.jpg
Some Asahi to wash it all down

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8372.jpg
Ice cream for dessert again. I had to skip it as I did't feel like eating anything sweet at this point.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8378.jpg
Still hungry? Nothing a dried octopus tentacle can't fix!

After the lights were switched off I decided to watch a movie or two. The IFE contained exactly the same movies as on our LAX-NRT flight, so I had fewer choices than I thought. I had trouble choosing something that I would enjoy so eventually I decided to watch a movie about birdwatching (The Big Year) maybe because it was a topic that resembled plane-spotting... My wife's IFE was not working properly (the image kept "jumping" annoyingly and the sound was screechy) so she chose to sleep but I just couldn't do the same. I stayed awake the whole time.

About an hour and a half before reaching LAX we were served a very hearty breakfast of omelet (again?) with veggies and sliced frankfurters, a bread roll, yogurt and fruit. The omelet was pretty good (however I added some salt because I was craving something saltier).


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8373.jpg
Finally some light

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8374.jpg
Approaching North America

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8375.jpg
Breakfast

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/MAP2-1.png
A much more southerly route on the way back

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8381.jpg
A beautiful Air Tahiti Nui aircraft parked at LAX

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8382.jpg
No. Thank You!


Finally, after a long sleepless (for me) flight we reached what appeared to be a rather cloudy Los Angeles area. To my surprise, after we landed we stopped at a remote "gate". For those not familiar with LAX, these remote gates are a bunch of jetbridges that lead to nowhere but to a flight of stairs that take you to the apron where a bus picks you up. Before we got off the plane we were told that those with connections leaving before 1pm (the time was 10:30am), had to meet one of the flight attendants at the jetway (our flight to ORD was departing exactly at 1pm). Indeed, when we got off the plane we saw a flight attendant standing next to a board with the names of some passengers. I immediately spotted our names on the board so I walked up to the lady. She handed us two orange pieces of paper labelled "Express Connection" and told us to use them to bypass the main lines at immigration and beyond. I was a bit surprised about this. Our connection was not for another 2.5 hours. Even with immigration, the collection of luggage, its re-check-in and security, I thought that we had plenty of time. Oh, how wrong I was...




...AND HOW TO MAKE A LONG LAYOVER VERY STRESSFUL - LAX STYLE

.
.
Route: LAX-ORD
Carrier: UA
Aircraft: A320
Reg: Unknown

The buses dropped us off at what looked like a... hangar and from there we walked a long distance to reach the immigration area. Prior to immigration (which was insanely packed) there were 8 or 10 immigration desks specifically for people who had "Express Connection" cards, each of which had less than 10 people in line. Unfortunately, there was only one member of staff monitoring these 10 lines and as a consequence I saw many people without the orange "Express Connection" card join the line (mainly Asians who I assumed spoke no or little English). This slowed down everyone's immigration process given that these individuals (some of which were ahead of us) required a considerable amount of time to clear immigration. Long story short, it took us about 45+ minutes to deal with immigration, even though we only had a handful of people ahead of us. So much for the 'Express Connection". I wonder how bad things were in the normal Immigration area. Probably even slower.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8383.jpg
Somewhat reassuring but not particularly effective


Next, we picked up our luggage (despite our delay at immigration, we still had to wait for them for what seemed to be forever). I was surprised to find out that there was a huge line for customs clearance too, something that I had never seen before in any other US airport. Even at ORD, this process takes literally 5 seconds. Here we had to wait for about another 10 mins simply to hand our customs forms over (there were no separate "express connection" lines). After customs, we dropped off our bags at the designated drop-off point for those arriving from abroad and connecting to domestic flights. Now we had to make our way to T7, with all of our bags and with no bus in sight. My wife suggested that we walk the 1km distance (like the last time we were at LAX) instead of waiting for the bus. Once we reached T7, we got our boarding passes from a check-in kiosk and started walking towards the part of the hall that said: "For all United departures". All you said? Not quite. A member of staff asked to see our boarding passes at which point he told us to turn around and head up one floor into a different security screening area. He did the same with a bunch of other people before and after us. Once we headed upstairs, we were met with an enormous security line that extended outdoors, onto a sky-bridge and into the parking lot. I thought to myself that this had to be a joke. We had about an hour left before our scheduled departure and there was no way we would make it if we had to wait in this line. I saw several people complaining and asking to be allowed through in order to make their connections but the security staff kept telling them to (and I quote): "Chill out and not be upset. It's Friday". I shall not comment.

There were no "Express Connection" lines but, fortunately, every now and then, a security guard would show up and ask pax for a specific flight to step up and follow him/her into a separate line. After about 30 mins, pax for our flight were called forward so we managed to pass security with just about enough time to make it to our gate. Once we got there, we were met with a packed waiting area and an announcement that our flight would be delayed for 30 mins because of adverse weather conditions at ORD and the congestion it was expected to cause. A few minutes later the delay was increased to an hour. One positive aspect of the delay was that it gave us enough time to hunt down some food for my wife, who was by this point ravenous (having barely touched her meals in our previous flight).


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8384.jpg
Really? A security line extending out into the parking lot?

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8387.jpg
My first flight on a UA aircraft sporting the post-merge livery

Eventually, we were asked to board. We were given a Group 8 boarding "priority" meaning that we were one of the last few to board the aircraft. I won't even bother to talk about the amount of carry-ons that most pax were having with them. By the time we reached our seats there was not a slither of space in any overhead compartment so we had to put our bags under the seat in front of us. Having spent the last 10 hours in ANA's generous legroom seats I found the legroom in our A320 particularly tight. What's more, the huge headphones that were placed in the seat pouch took away whatever little space was there. I decided to take the headphones out and put them around my neck just for the sake of giving myself some extra room. However, with our bags sitting where our legs should go, it was a fairly uncomfortable arrangement.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8389.jpg
Very tight legroom. Notice the bulge created by the headphones.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8390.jpg
Getting ready for pushback

For most part, this was another forgettable flight, save for some really nice views of mountainous California, Nevada and Utah. I tried to sleep but I was too uncomfortable, the movie shown on the overhead monitors was of no interest to me so after I got a drink of water I focused on reading. My wife tried to sleep, but an obnoxious kid sitting behind us kept kicking her seat. Then it switched seats with one of its parents and it started kicking mine. The parents did very little to discourage it. Patience, I thought.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8393.jpg
Re-hydration was a major priority at this point

We flew over some very interesting landscape:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8394.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8395.jpg


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8397.jpg
Finally a glimpse of home

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8398.jpg
Parking at ORD

After a somewhat bumpy ride (both because of turbulence but also because of the brat sitting behind us), we arrived at rainy Chicago. Our luggage took some time to show up (again!), but I didn't mind too much, as the baggage reclaim area had TV screens showing a March Madness game that was heading to overtime (North Carolina - Ohio). With all of our stuff at hand we took the train to Irving Park and from there hopped on a taxi home. No "Jesus FM" on the radio this time, but what I swear sounded like an angry Robert Mugabe giving a speech. By this point I was too exhausted and felt fairly weak. Fortunately the taxi ride lasted no more than 15mins and we were soon at the comfort of our house.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8399.jpg
In the taxi heading home. When I get tired my vision becomes blurry like that...

CONCLUSION

After an exhausting but very fulfilling 8 days in Japan both my wife and I felt very content with our decision to visit this very unique country. I have already analyzed my opinion of Tokyo so I won't repeat here how much I love it. As for Hokkaido, it is a lovely place and I would love to visit it again, but preferably in the summer. Sure, Sapporo and the surrounding areas have linked their name with winter time (see 1972 Winter Olympics) but I bet that in the summer the city is even better.

The return flights with ANA left us with a bittersweet taste in our mouths (pun kinda intended), mainly because we were not able to enjoy the food, which was partially due to our sickness and partially because of the peculiarity of the items on offer. The level of comfort offered by ANA however was excellent and I would happily fly on one of their 77Ws again. Regarding the IFE, I think that the amount and variety of TV programs and movies they offered was more than enough for a single long-haul flight, but not enough for 2 of them. If you happen to fly in one direction and then back within a few days, you are stuck watching the same movies as on the inbound (or you are left with considerably fewer choices). Ideally, ANA should present its pax with a different selection of movies and TV programs in each direction of a specific route. It was also rather unfortunate that my wife's IFE did not work properly and she was left with very little to spend her time with. We never told the crew about it. I wonder what they would have done if they knew...

I won't complain too much about UA this time. Instead I will express my dislike for LAX, the way it is organized, and the slowness and attitude of its staff. If you can manage to create an environment that is even more chaotic than ORD, then you deserve an award.

As a final comment, I would have to say that Hokkaido is an amazing place and that we would definitely recommend it to anyone. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to visit it one day (mainly because I thought it had a cool name ). I'm glad I did. It has to offer so much more than a cool name...


This concludes my 2-part trip report. I hope you guys enjoyed.

Thank you so much for reading!


WideBodyroga


PS:

And, as per tradition, here are some bonus photos of interesting signs that caught my eye and other miscellany from both Tokyo and Sapporo.

BONUS MATERIAL

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0126.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0311.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7845.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8172.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8296.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8032.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7833.jpg


PREVIOUS TRIP REPORTS

ANAbelievable Japan. Tokyo, The Quake and the 77W
Aller-Retour to Decatur, With 3E. Wait, Who?
Reflectionless Capital On A Reflective Livery.
What'Saab Minnesota? DL's Farewell To BRD?
Busy September. JTR, SKG, PVD And More. Pics!
Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima On OZ & JR. TR Remake
Trains 'n' Planes. A Culinary Trek Of Par-Bru-Col
Purging The Miles On The Mormon Trail
Bahama Mama! South Bahamas On Pineapple Air + More
A Tribute To Meigs Field. A Visit To CGX's Remains
Ugly Ducklings & Tasty Dumplings. Europe On MA/AA
Heading South (MIA & SAT) For Hoops And Friends
Intra-SoCal Commuter. What On Earth Is A DMC?
The Barajas Purgatory. Iberia Being Iberia
Dirty Green And Red. Transatlantic AZ And FB
Porter's New Terminal At YTZ
Athens Airways' (ZF) First TR On A.net
A Transatlantic Flash-trip To EDI
Flash Transatlantic to England
Hawaii...on Alaska and NW



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinej-bird From Canada, joined Feb 2001, 107 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9553 times:

Fantastic reports, both part I and II... but of course, it's all nostalgia for me. Tokyo was home for quite a while, and I completely agree with your assessment of Sapporo - it's a wonderful, relaxed, "frontier" city - quite different than the rest of Japan. A couple of items - your candy that had the unidentifiable taste is called "kuro-ame" - black sugar candy. It's quite popular in Japan. Your octupus snack surprised me - it's called "octopus steak" in Japanese (more prefer the squid myself...). The second bonus material picture is an exhortation against train perverts...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane! Well done.


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1894 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9518 times:

Thanks for a very detailed report!

ANA is an excellent carrier and it is hard to fly any US major airlines after a wonderful transatlantic journey. I am glad that ANA has gone the way of introducing 34 inches of legroom in Y, instead of standard 31-32 inches offered by Japan Airlines.

BTW the pre-takeoff candy is a hard candy made with black sugar from Okinawa. Someone who actually read Japanese can clarify it.

Carfield


User currently offlinetriple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 739 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 9401 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Just before reaching the airport, the bus had to stop at a security checkpoint, where a police officer boarded the bus, asked for our passports, while some other policemen checked the baggage compartment. I have never seen anything like that in any other airport before.

NRT is surrounded by farmers who had to give up much of their land when the airport was built. The actual opening of the airport was delayed because of riots there. In 2002 when a new runway was built, because one farmer would not give up his land, the runway had to be built shorter than intended. It is located near Terminal 2. If you land on that runway, and are sitting on the right side, you will see a sign in English and Japanese DOWN WITH NARITA AIRPORT. The runway is too short for 747's and A380's but 777's can land on it. Also for long haul flights, it is necessary to takeoff on the longer runways because of the aircraft weight.
Because of the opposition to NRT, anytime you enter the airport you must show your passport. This is why the bus stopped as it did, and the officer came aboard. If you take the Keisei Skyliner or JR Narita Express, after leaving the train, you must go through a passport check before entering the airport.

I'm wondering why you didn't fly out of HND to CTS. There are many more flights than from NRT.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A much more southerly route on the way back

You do take a much more southerly route on the return. I always love flying NRT-LAX especially the scenery on either side of the plane when making decent and final approach. If you are on the left side, you usually fly over SFO and you will see downtown Los Angeles before turning onto final approach. On the right side you get a beautiful view of the California coast and you will see LAX before making your final approach.

Enjoyed your TR. Sapporo does get very cold, which Bangkok does not.



Have you kissed a 777 today?
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4253 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 9075 times:

Hi J.,


great report! First I have to say that I quoted quite a few text phrases of you, but somehow at the end of the report, a.net found it neccesary to present me an empty textbox. On of the few bugs on this website? Hmm, who knows.


Anyway, regarding the entrance time of the terminal in NRT; from original, NRT did not have domestic flights, but later on, both JL and NH wanted to be able to transport their transit pax from/to longhauls to some major airport in Japan (SPK/CTS, ITM, NGO, FUK) hence they introduced 'international flights' within Japan. The majority of travellers is incoming from longhauls and that might be the reason for the empty plane you got. I think the afternoon flight would've been more busy for NH.
Though for you and the wife it must've been cheaper (and more interesting?) to get a flight from HND to SPK, you could have flown the Pokemon 744D (almost exclusively on the HND-SPK runs), also transit from downtown to HND is quick especially on the monorail from Hamamatsucho station (JPY460 iirc)

Lovely to see and read your experience on cold Hokkaido. For me, not the first choice to go though, but really good to see the hot springs, the vending machine in the mountains (good to have some hot coffee available at that point!) and also the food looks great. Not a fan myself to eat crab this way, or octopus, but the sashimi, sushi, curry... great food!

Sorry to hear about your LAX transfer. That attitude of security staff 'Hey, calm down!' etc is what I hate most about it. Have these people no common sense? Nobody steps up to their managers and demand more manpower? Space? Even LAX officials don't seem to care about these issues and probably blame others (government regulations etc).
Anyway, if this is common practise in LAX, then I judge this airport already very badly after reading your report. Well -maybe- I am visiting that place in October/November this year. Let's see how things continue.

Thanks for sharing, and welcome home haha

Eric

Edit: btw HAC stands for Hokkaido Air Commuter  Wink

[Edited 2012-04-05 01:32:31]


"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineSultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1661 posts, RR: 30
Reply 6, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 9041 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Stojan,

Very good 2nd part of your family trip to the Land Of The Rising Sun. Despite your sickness, you were still able to enjoy your trip to the fullest. However I think that if the weather was more spring-like you wouldn’t have felt so bad maybe? Perhaps it was a buildup of things prior, mainly hard and long working days and such? Japan really is a haven for seafood (which I absolutely don’t like) apparently, I’m glad you got to sample some exotic delicacies.
As for the flying: ANA delivered you some solid flights throughout your journey and the meals you received on the long haul sectors looked tasty and well presented. And indeed let’s not talk about UA for now   LAX is apparently not able to cope with today’s amount of pax. As a major international gateway, it seems to fall short in some aspects and that’s not good!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
They informed us that the domestic departure area would not open until 8:30am

Indeed strange, even with a concentration of departing/arriving flights in certain time frames.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Just the right size to fit inside your passport, unlike those we are used to in Europe or the US.

Is it really that tiny? Can’t read a word from it though.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I almost shed a tear.

Poor you 

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A 767 of Air Do (which is short for "Air Hokkaido", which in turn is short of "Hokkaido Intl Airlines")
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
This small airline flies out of OKD (Okadama), a tiny airport near the center of Sapporo, serving destinations within Hokkaido.

It looks like Japan warrants a visit to sample all those exotic airlines!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The stethoscope-like headphones

Looks cheap. Was it any good?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I just don't want them next to me when I'm stuck in a confined space, at 32.000 feet for the next 11 hours.

Then fly MH, they recently announced that on some flight they will have an area (read: upper deck B747) where there will not be any children allowed.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Still hungry? Nothing a dried octopus tentacle can't fix!

Urgh, how can you eat that stuff...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
She handed us two orange pieces of paper labelled "Express Connection" and told us to use them to bypass the main lines at immigration and beyond. I was a bit surprised about this.

A gift from God turning into a gift from the Devil...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I saw several people complaining and asking to be allowed through in order to make their connections but the security staff kept telling them to (and I quote): "Chill out and not be upset. It's Friday".

That’s about the lamest quote I’ve heard. It just looks like security staff cannot cope with the situation.

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlinejpetekyxmd80 From United States of America, joined exactly 11 years ago today! , 4382 posts, RR: 27
Reply 7, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8936 times:

Just a fantastic trip report.. very enjoyable! Japan is a truly wonderful and unique place.

Was that standard Y class you were in on the long haul? What was the configuration? I notice that their updated 77W seat plan shows 2-4-2 Y+ and 3-3-3Y, but it seems your aircraft was not in that configuration?

In either event, what an incredible economy product!



The Best Care in the Air, 1984-2009
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39709 posts, RR: 75
Reply 8, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 8910 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):

Fantastic trip report!
I've been very curious about Sapporo, Japan and I want to visit this city next winter. It supposedly get's the most snow of any major city in the world. I've read a little about their annual snow festival. I'd like to there and see what that is like.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 4):
Enjoyed your TR. Sapporo does get very cold, which Bangkok does not.

Hence why I've been wanting to get to Sapporo for a visit.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently online817Dreamliiner From Montserrat, joined Jul 2008, 2215 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 8719 times:

Another Great Report!

Pics at the end were very amusing lol. Great that you caught a pokemon logo jet  I also noted that you caught one of the CI A330s with RR engines leased from VS. Again great report, hope to see more from you in the future.



Reality be Rent. Synapse, break! Vanishment, This World!
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1091 posts, RR: 31
Reply 10, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8616 times:

Great report.

Thoroughly enjoyable, cultural and interesting.

I love this Japan/ Korea way of life and mentality. It is a shame that it is soo expensive to visit. Although I hear the financial crisis has moderated that a little.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Best urinals in the whole of Hokkaido

Haha... cool. Let us hope nobody builds a taller building.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
A quick lunch of raw salmon, crabmeat and fish roe.

Wow, you're really getting into it!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
ANA would put us on the next available flight to LAX, which was operated by UA.

What is the deal with that? Could you not argue that you paid for an ANA operated flight, and don't want a different service? Phew that you made it so easily though.

Flights looked great, I take it nothing was served on the domestics? Food-wise?

I also loved the look of the hot-spas. Thats on my bucket-list.

Regards,

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 8424 times:

WBR

Super report! I really enjoyed both parts to your recent Japan travels.

I can't agree with you more about what a great country Japan is from a traveller's perspective. I was there in 2007 and had the most amazing time. Hiroshima is also my favourite city in Japan - funny co-incidence! We also did a day trip up to CTS for spotting (that was in Sept so the weather was pleasant and mild).

I really enjoyed your pics of Sapporo and surrounds - we never made it into town so it was nice to see what it looks like - even with all the snow.

Your UA experiences sound awful. Makes me want to run a mile in the opposite direction! I am glad ANA treated you well. We did one flight with them when I was in Japan, but it was only a domestic HND - ITM flight (with a B77-300) - it was a lovely flight.

Japan is a country I will always rate very highly - I was totally overwhelmed by how well everything seemed to function there and the incredible politeness and helpfulness of her people.

Thanks again! P-jet

PS hope you're both feeling much better now?!



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 684 posts, RR: 21
Reply 12, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8070 times:

Hi Widebodyroga,

a great conclusion and a very interesting report about your Japanese adventure. Well written and again some great pictures, really enjoyed it. Too bad that you didn't feel well, I guess it must be really annoying when you get sick during such a trip, but there is nothing you can do. Well done that you still managed to see and experience a lot of Japan.

Sapporo looks very interesting and also Jozankei, looks great with the snow, the mountains around and the hot springs around.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Best urinals in the whole of Hokkaido

Wow, that's cool, fortunately there is no other high-rise building on the opposite side   ...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
You can't get better sushi than this.

Now that looks really delicious. I am not a big fan of sushi, but that picture makes me hungry nonetheless.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
(no wonder my wife is obsessed with it)

...  ...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The Japanese meal.

Again looks very good, too bad that it obviously didn't taste that good. But again, service on ANA seemed to be really nice.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Still hungry? Nothing a dried octopus tentacle can't fix!

Never had one, but I am sure it was good   ...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Unfortunately, there was only one member of staff monitoring these 10 lines and as a consequence I saw many people without the orange "Express Connection" card join the line (mainly Asians who I assumed spoke no or little English). This slowed down everyone's immigration process given that these individuals (some of which were ahead of us) required a considerable amount of time to clear immigration.

Now that's really bad, what is the point in having an express lane when they don't enforce it. Especially after a long night flight waiting in line for that long must be very annoying.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I saw several people complaining and asking to be allowed through in order to make their connections but the security staff kept telling them to (and I quote): "Chill out and not be upset. It's Friday".

Unbelievable, that is a very bad attitude of the staff. At least you got your connection in LAX and got home on time. Too bad that you didn't get the 757, as this is really great plane (actually still my favorite plane type). But then I guess after such a long trip it doesn't really matter anymore.

Again thank you for letting us taking part on your trip to Japan  

CaptainRed


User currently offlineSurfandSnow From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 2857 posts, RR: 30
Reply 13, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 7823 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Long story short, it took us about 45+ minutes to deal with immigration, even though we only had a handful of people ahead of us. So much for the 'Express Connection". I wonder how bad things were in the normal Immigration area. Probably even slower.

Actually, U.S. immigration has always been one of the fastest in my experiences, though I've only endured LAX once (thank god for pre-clearance in Canada and the Bahamas). Took about an hour to get through at LIS, PEK, IST, and even ALY...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Next, we picked up our luggage (despite our delay at immigration, we still had to wait for them for what seemed to be forever). I was surprised to find out that there was a huge line for customs clearance too, something that I had never seen before in any other US airport. Even at ORD, this process takes literally 5 seconds. Here we had to wait for about another 10 mins simply to hand our customs forms over (there were no separate "express connection" lines).

LOL, probably lots of contraband coming in to support local, shall we say, habits? Maybe not from Japan, but we have LOTS of flights coming in from Mexico...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Really? A security line extending out into the parking lot?

Ah yes, that would be LAX. There is a reason I absolutely insist on flying out of BUR, even if it means a connection. You should see the security lines for Terminal 1 during peak periods. You were lucky to be in a short line!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
some bonus photos of interesting signs that caught my eye and other miscellany from both Tokyo and Sapporo.

BONUS MATERIAL


Hahahahaha amazing! I loved seeing all the signs with hilariously bad English translations when I went to China. Speaking of which, I could not believe how terrible the food was over there. I ate at the hotel "Western" buffet or McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. for every meal because the local food was so off-putting. Seems like I'd have to do the same in Japan. No matter how much sake and Sapporo or Asahi I've had I would never be eating octopus tentacles! I've always enjoyed the local foods throughout Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, but Asia seems to be a whole different ballgame...



Flying in the middle seat of coach is much better than not flying at all!
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 24
Reply 14, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 7652 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Widebodyroga, what a great 2nd part and conclusion to your trip! A really interesting read, and great photos of a place I'd love to visit and not covered very often in this forum!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
By the point we reached the hotel I was in agony and I was starting to experience the worse symptoms yet. I really wanted to go out and explore the city but I could not move a muscle. We rested a little at our room but we then forced ourselves to go out and buy some food. We couldn't however stay out for too long so we returned to the hotel to watch some TV, snack on some vegetables and juice (the only food that sounded good to us) and to get some sleep. After an epic sleeping session of 15hours(!) I woke up feeling much better and ready to tackle Sapporo.

Ugh, glad you felt better after a long rest. Getting sick on vacation abroad is so frustrating, sorry to hear this!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
You can't get better sushi than this. Herring roe, salmon, salmon eggs, sea urchin, fatty tuna, shrimp, squid, horse mackerel...

Amazing looking food, as a sushi lover, I was loving every photo of what you had!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Long story short, it took us about 45+ minutes to deal with immigration, even though we only had a handful of people ahead of us. So much for the 'Express Connection". I wonder how bad things were in the normal Immigration area. Probably even slower.

God, I hate when trips end with this kind of immigration. After arrival in ATL from Costa Rica back in Feb 2010, we had a similiar situation when only a few lanes were open for several arriving flights. We barely made our connection to MSP after taking almost an hour in customs ...

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 15, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7258 times:

Thanks guys for all your positive comments. I'm glad most of you enjoyed this TR.

Quoting j-bird (Reply 2):

Fantastic reports, both part I and II... but of course, it's all nostalgia for me. Tokyo was home for quite a while, and I completely agree with your assessment of Sapporo - it's a wonderful, relaxed, "frontier" city - quite different than the rest of Japan. A couple of items - your candy that had the unidentifiable taste is called "kuro-ame" - black sugar candy. It's quite popular in Japan. Your octupus snack surprised me - it's called "octopus steak" in Japanese (more prefer the squid myself...). The second bonus material picture is an exhortation against train perverts...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane! Well done.

Thanks for your kind words j-bird. Also thanks for the translations! I love squid too but octopus is ahead of it in my preference list. Too bad I can't find it easily where I live...


Quoting Carfield (Reply 3):
Thanks for a very detailed report!

ANA is an excellent carrier and it is hard to fly any US major airlines after a wonderful transatlantic journey. I am glad that ANA has gone the way of introducing 34 inches of legroom in Y, instead of standard 31-32 inches offered by Japan Airlines.

Thank you Carfield. Those couple of inches of extra space make such a huge difference... These two ANA flights were by far the most comfortable of all the TATL and TPAC flights I have been on.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 3):
BTW the pre-takeoff candy is a hard candy made with black sugar from Okinawa. Someone who actually read Japanese can clarify it.

Nice! I was trying very hard to guess what its flavor was meant to be but I just couldn't tell. Now that you (and j-bird above) told me, it kinda makes sense looking back at how it tasted.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 4):
NRT is surrounded by farmers who had to give up much of their land when the airport was built. The actual opening of the airport was delayed because of riots there. In 2002 when a new runway was built, because one farmer would not give up his land, the runway had to be built shorter than intended. It is located near Terminal 2. If you land on that runway, and are sitting on the right side, you will see a sign in English and Japanese DOWN WITH NARITA AIRPORT. The runway is too short for 747's and A380's but 777's can land on it. Also for long haul flights, it is necessary to takeoff on the longer runways because of the aircraft weight.
Because of the opposition to NRT, anytime you enter the airport you must show your passport. This is why the bus stopped as it did, and the officer came aboard. If you take the Keisei Skyliner or JR Narita Express, after leaving the train, you must go through a passport check before entering the airport.

Hey Triple7man. Thanks for the explanation. I was aware of this sign but I must admit that I was not entirely familiar with the whole story. It makes sense now.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 4):
I'm wondering why you didn't fly out of HND to CTS. There are many more flights than from NRT.

I really wanted to flyout of HND too but we wanted to keep all of our flights under one itinerary/booking and for some reason we couldn't find a flight combination that included HND on the way to CTS. We could have booked these flights separately, but I chose not to, just for the sake of having my back covered in the case of flights cancellations or schedule changes. I can be adventurous at times, but not when I'm traveling with my wife 
Quoting triple7man (Reply 4):
You do take a much more southerly route on the return. I always love flying NRT-LAX especially the scenery on either side of the plane when making decent and final approach. If you are on the left side, you usually fly over SFO and you will see downtown Los Angeles before turning onto final approach. On the right side you get a beautiful view of the California coast and you will see LAX before making your final approach.

I was looking forward to these views too but, alas, California was covered in clouds that day. A couple of years ago, however, I did enjoy a really nice approach to LAX, on a flight from SAN.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
great report! First I have to say that I quoted quite a few text phrases of you, but somehow at the end of the report, a.net found it neccesary to present me an empty textbox. On of the few bugs on this website? Hmm, who knows.

Thanks Eric! I'm sorry about the lost quotes. I'm not the biggest fan of how the quoting system works either.


Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Anyway, regarding the entrance time of the terminal in NRT; from original, NRT did not have domestic flights, but later on, both JL and NH wanted to be able to transport their transit pax from/to longhauls to some major airport in Japan (SPK/CTS, ITM, NGO, FUK) hence they introduced 'international flights' within Japan. The majority of travellers is incoming from longhauls and that might be the reason for the empty plane you got. I think the afternoon flight would've been more busy for NH.
Though for you and the wife it must've been cheaper (and more interesting?) to get a flight from HND to SPK, you could have flown the Pokemon 744D (almost exclusively on the HND-SPK runs), also transit from downtown to HND is quick especially on the monorail from Hamamatsucho station (JPY460 iirc)

I see, it makes sense. NRT is indeed more convenient for incoming international pax that want to connect to a domestic flight. Like I mentioned before, I would have preferred to fly from HND (for more than one reasons) but we just couldn't make it work. Same goes for the Pokemon 744... At least we got to see it.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Lovely to see and read your experience on cold Hokkaido. For me, not the first choice to go though, but really good to see the hot springs, the vending machine in the mountains (good to have some hot coffee available at that point!) and also the food looks great. Not a fan myself to eat crab this way, or octopus, but the sashimi, sushi, curry... great food!

Sapporo would have not been our first choice either if it wasn't for the fact that I have already been to some other noteworthy places in Japan. The second reason was the distinctive cuisine, for which we had heard a lot about. Too bad we couldn't eat too much at the end 
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Sorry to hear about your LAX transfer. That attitude of security staff 'Hey, calm down!' etc is what I hate most about it. Have these people no common sense? Nobody steps up to their managers and demand more manpower? Space? Even LAX officials don't seem to care about these issues and probably blame others (government regulations etc).
Anyway, if this is common practise in LAX, then I judge this airport already very badly after reading your report. Well -maybe- I am visiting that place in October/November this year. Let's see how things continue.



I hope your LAX experience is much more positive than mine. I've had layovers there on 3 separate occasions and they'd all been equally hectic.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Thanks for sharing, and welcome home haha

Edit: btw HAC stands for Hokkaido Air Commuter

Thanks!  
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
Perhaps it was a buildup of things prior, mainly hard and long working days and such?

Hey, Nils! I'm guessing that one reason that we got sick was that we were pretty exhausted even before we left, due to a rather hectic schedule, which made us susceptible to viral infections, etc. What I forgot to mention in Part I was that our section of the aircraft (on the LAX-NRT flight) was made up of quite a few people that seemed to be sick: coughing and sneezing all the time. It was like being at CoughaCabbana. Maybe that explains how we got sick.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
Japan really is a haven for seafood (which I absolutely don’t like) apparently, I’m glad you got to sample some exotic delicacies.

Hehe, seafood has always been polarizing. Most people love it or hate and very few stand in the middle.  
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
As for the flying: ANA delivered you some solid flights throughout your journey and the meals you received on the long haul sectors looked tasty and well presented. And indeed let’s not talk about UA for now   LAX is apparently not able to cope with today’s amount of pax. As a major international gateway, it seems to fall short in some aspects and that’s not good!

Agreed with all of the above!

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
Is it really that tiny? Can’t read a word from it though.

Yeah, it's pretty small. I always hated the size of conventional boarding passes. They never seem to fit in my travel fanny-pack! 
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
It looks like Japan warrants a visit to sample all those exotic airlines!

Air Do, HAC, Peach, Skymark and so many others... Names we don't hear everyday, even on a.net.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
Looks cheap. Was it any good?

Actually they were very comfortable and the sound quality surprisingly good. I also thought they looked cheap but at least they were effective.

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
Urgh, how can you eat that stuff...

I guess I grew up eating quite a bit of seafood so no marine creepy crawly is too disgusting for me 
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 6):
That’s about the lamest quote I’ve heard. It just looks like security staff cannot cope with the situation.

Exactly. I was rather annoyed by the whole situation and the way it was handled.

Quoting jpetekyxmd80 (Reply 7):
Just a fantastic trip report.. very enjoyable! Japan is a truly wonderful and unique place.

Thanks!  
Quoting jpetekyxmd80 (Reply 7):
Was that standard Y class you were in on the long haul? What was the configuration? I notice that their updated 77W seat plan shows 2-4-2 Y+ and 3-3-3Y, but it seems your aircraft was not in that configuration?

Indeed the configuration (at least in our segment of Economy) was 2-4-3. Have a look at this link: http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/asw_co...mon/inflight/seatmap/b777_300er_1/
Our aircraft was like the one shown on top (the one with the 262-seat configuration). I hope that helps.

Quoting Superfly (Reply 8):
Fantastic trip report!
I've been very curious about Sapporo, Japan and I want to visit this city next winter. It supposedly get's the most snow of any major city in the world. I've read a little about their annual snow festival. I'd like to there and see what that is like.

Thanks Superfly! Indeed, they get a ton of snow and they make the most of it during the annual snow festival. We were there a couple of weeks to late to attend it but we sure saw plenty of snow nonetheless.

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 9):
Another Great Report!

Thank you very much 817Dreamliiner!

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 9):
Pics at the end were very amusing lol. Great that you caught a pokemon logo jet  I also noted that you caught one of the CI A330s with RR engines leased from VS. Again great report, hope to see more from you in the future.

Hehe, if you liked these photos then you may wanna have a look at the bottom of my previous Japan TR (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima) for more of them:

Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima On OZ & JR. TR Remake (by Widebodyroga Sep 20 2011 in Trip Reports)

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
Great report.

Thoroughly enjoyable, cultural and interesting.

I'm glad you enjoyed it Luke  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
I love this Japan/ Korea way of life and mentality. It is a shame that it is soo expensive to visit. Although I hear the financial crisis has moderated that a little.

I love their overall mentality too. I wonder how it is to live full-time there, being surrounded 24/7 by people with such a mindset. Japan is expensive indeed but with careful planning one can visit even on a tight budget. I did so back a few years ago when I traveled there with one of my college buddies from Scotland.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
Haha... cool. Let us hope nobody builds a taller building.

That was exactly my thought when I saw them 
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
What is the deal with that? Could you not argue that you paid for an ANA operated flight, and don't want a different service? Phew that you made it so easily though.

I'm sure I could have argued against it, I was just dreading having to do so. I'm not exactly familiar with my rights as a passenger in a situation like that. One of the next available flights to LAX was with SQ on the A380. I wouldn't have minded that one... 
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 10):
Flights looked great, I take it nothing was served on the domestics? Food-wise?

There was some food for purchase. Too bad we were not hungry or I would have bought some just for the sake of trying it. They had all sorts of cookies, sandwiches and bento boxes to choose from, if I remember correctly.


I also loved the look of the hot-spas. Thats on my bucket-list.

They are pretty sweet. You gotta try them.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 11):
Super report! I really enjoyed both parts to your recent Japan travels.

Thanks Palmjet!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 11):
I can't agree with you more about what a great country Japan is from a traveller's perspective. I was there in 2007 and had the most amazing time. Hiroshima is also my favourite city in Japan - funny co-incidence! We also did a day trip up to CTS for spotting (that was in Sept so the weather was pleasant and mild).

Hiroshima is great, isn't it? Perhaps I was not expecting such a beautiful place when I got there. Did you get the chance to visit Miyajima/Itsukushima island while you were there? It was one of the highlights for me.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 11):
I really enjoyed your pics of Sapporo and surrounds - we never made it into town so it was nice to see what it looks like - even with all the snow.

Yeah, the airport is a bit out of the way and it's hard to visit the city center if you don't have much time. Next time you're there though you should give it a try  
Quoting palmjet (Reply 11):
Your UA experiences sound awful. Makes me want to run a mile in the opposite direction! I am glad ANA treated you well. We did one flight with them when I was in Japan, but it was only a domestic HND - ITM flight (with a B77-300) - it was a lovely flight.

You know... I kinda feel bad for UA. They are my "local" airline so I hate the fact that I have grown to dislike them so much. It's like being from Wolverhampton and hating the Wolves (to give a random example).

Quoting palmjet (Reply 11):
PS hope you're both feeling much better now?!

Yes, much better indeed. Thank you for asking!  
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
a great conclusion and a very interesting report about your Japanese adventure. Well written and again some great pictures, really enjoyed it. Too bad that you didn't feel well, I guess it must be really annoying when you get sick during such a trip, but there is nothing you can do. Well done that you still managed to see and experience a lot of Japan.

Sapporo looks very interesting and also Jozankei, looks great with the snow, the mountains around and the hot springs around.

Hey Captain Red. Thank you so much! The funny thing was that I was totally paranoid that I would get sick before the trip. In order to boost my immune system I had given up alcohol for a week, I was taking vitamins and I was working out. It clearly didn't help one bit 
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
Wow, that's cool, fortunately there is no other high-rise building on the opposite side   ...

I wonder what they'll do with them if someone decided to build another tall building next to them... Maybe they will tint the windows 
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
Again looks very good, too bad that it obviously didn't taste that good. But again, service on ANA seemed to be really nice.

I can't blame ANA for that too much. And even if it was their "fault" for choosing such a peculiar meal, their overall service sure compensated for it.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
Now that's really bad, what is the point in having an express lane when they don't enforce it. Especially after a long night flight waiting in line for that long must be very annoying.

I couldn't agree more!

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 12):
Unbelievable, that is a very bad attitude of the staff. At least you got your connection in LAX and got home on time. Too bad that you didn't get the 757, as this is really great plane (actually still my favorite plane type). But then I guess after such a long trip it doesn't really matter anymore.

I was also disappointed at the equipment change. We had flown two A320s already on this trip (NRT-CTS-NRT) but what can you do? At least I have flown this same route (LAX-ORD on UA again) on a 757 a couple of years ago.

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 13):
Actually, U.S. immigration has always been one of the fastest in my experiences, though I've only endured LAX once (thank god for pre-clearance in Canada and the Bahamas). Took about an hour to get through at LIS, PEK, IST, and even ALY...

I'm actually flying to IST from ORD and I need to catch a connection to SOF after only an hour. Should I be worried then? It's not very often that I fly to non-EU countries in Europe...

I love US immigration pre-clearance too. I have done it once in YUL and once at NAS. I wish it was available in more places  
Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 13):
Ah yes, that would be LAX. There is a reason I absolutely insist on flying out of BUR, even if it means a connection. You should see the security lines for Terminal 1 during peak periods. You were lucky to be in a short line!

If I ever need to fly to LA, I'll probably choose one of its "peripheral" airports, if anything simply to add new airports to my log  
Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 13):
Hahahahaha amazing! I loved seeing all the signs with hilariously bad English translations when I went to China. Speaking of which, I could not believe how terrible the food was over there. I ate at the hotel "Western" buffet or McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. for every meal because the local food was so off-putting. Seems like I'd have to do the same in Japan. No matter how much sake and Sapporo or Asahi I've had I would never be eating octopus tentacles! I've always enjoyed the local foods throughout Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, but Asia seems to be a whole different ballgame...

Hehe, like I mentioned above, if you liked these signs you may wanna check the ones I posted at the end of this report: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima On OZ & JR. TR Remake (by Widebodyroga Sep 20 2011 in Trip Reports)

As for the food, I've not been to China, but I have heard various "horror" stories. I am very open to new flavors and weird "sources" of food. I wonder what I would make of authentic chinese cuisine...

Quoting 767747 (Reply 14):

Widebodyroga, what a great 2nd part and conclusion to your trip! A really interesting read, and great photos of a place I'd love to visit and not covered very often in this forum!

Thanks Matthew!!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 14):
Ugh, glad you felt better after a long rest. Getting sick on vacation abroad is so frustrating, sorry to hear this!

Thank you. Fortunately we had somewhat recovered from it before we had to take our return flights. We all know how torturous it is to fly when sick (due to the pressurization), especially when your sinuses have been affected.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 14):
Amazing looking food, as a sushi lover, I was loving every photo of what you had!

I would be happy eating nothing but sushi for weeks on end  
Quoting 767747 (Reply 14):

Thanks for sharing!

Thank you!


WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39709 posts, RR: 75
Reply 16, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7122 times:

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 13):
I loved seeing all the signs with hilariously bad English translations when I went to China. Speaking of which, I could not believe how terrible the food was over there. I ate at the hotel "Western" buffet or McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. for every meal because the local food was so off-putting. Seems like I'd have to do the same in Japan. No matter how much sake and Sapporo or Asahi I've had I would never be eating octopus tentacles! I've always enjoyed the local foods throughout Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, but Asia seems to be a whole different ballgame...

China I can understand but I'm surprised that you were not in to the local cuisine in Japan. Sushi and teriyaki is so delicious! Come try the local food here in Thailand. It's terrific!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 15):
Indeed, they get a ton of snow and they make the most of it during the annual snow festival. We were there a couple of weeks to late to attend it but we sure saw plenty of snow nonetheless.

I am really looking forward to that. I need some snow!



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineMarcoPoloWorld From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 634 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6876 times:

Great trip report - especially the thorough picturing of your actual destinations. Gotta love snowy Sapporo!

Wish it would be possible to fly to/from N America from CTS, as it is conveniently on the way, and the city is quite large too.... Ahm, just curious why you chose to fly via LAX and not SFO? Maybe your fare was cheaper this way.... Anyway, I've queued up on that bridge at LAX also hehe, for a non-connecting domestic flight that I documented in a trip report here last year. Fun stuff!... Or not...  

Thanks for sharing!

  


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1238 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 6849 times:
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Absolutely loved both your reports. Thank you for taking us to Japan, and of course on ANA!!

User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 965 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6687 times:

Great report again! Some nice destination pictures too!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
the 77W has (for most part) a 2-4-3 seating configuration in Econom

That's very a great configuration!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Our connection was not for another 2.5 hours. Even with immigration, the collection of luggage, its re-check-in and security, I thought that we had plenty of time. Oh, how wrong I was...

Wow, what a mess. I connected trough LAX a couple of times on domestic flights, which went just fine, but I just made a mental note to myself never to do it on a international flight.


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 20, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6684 times:

Quoting Superfly (Reply 16):
I am really looking forward to that. I need some snow!

If you like snow, you should consider Chicago in the winter. There's always plenty for everyone  
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Reply 17):
Great trip report - especially the thorough picturing of your actual destinations. Gotta love snowy Sapporo!

Thanks MPW! I'm glad you like the photos. I like TRs with lots of photos from the destination, so I try to include as many as possible in my reports.

Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Reply 17):
Wish it would be possible to fly to/from N America from CTS, as it is conveniently on the way, and the city is quite large too.... Ahm, just curious why you chose to fly via LAX and not SFO? Maybe your fare was cheaper this way.... Anyway, I've queued up on that bridge at LAX also hehe, for a non-connecting domestic flight that I documented in a trip report here last year. Fun stuff!... Or not...  

Thanks for sharing!

That's a good point. It would be great if there were direct flights to CTS. Sapporo is fairly big; you would have expected at least one or two flights from N.America, kind of like Nagoya. CTS used to get direct flights from AMS and HNL a few years back but these services have now been discontinued.

As for why we flew via LAX: Trust me, if I was given the change, I would have chosen SFO. However, flights via SFO
with ANA were either too expensive or had an inconvenient layover, while the rest were operated by UA, so we were left with LAX. I have not been to SFO so it would have been a new entry to my log... Too bad...

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 18):
Absolutely loved both your reports. Thank you for taking us to Japan, and of course on ANA!!

You're welcome flightsimboy! Thank you for your kind words.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
Great report again! Some nice destination pictures too!

Thanks Robert!

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
That's very a great configuration!

Especially if you are sitting on the left side of the aircraft! Also, the 4 middle seats had a fairly big gap between the 2nd and 3rd seat so they were more comfortable than your typical 4 seats in a row found in many widebodies.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
Wow, what a mess. I connected trough LAX a couple of times on domestic flights, which went just fine, but I just made a mental note to myself never to do it on a international flight.

If one plans to connect from an international flight at LAX then one should allow 3 or more hours between flights for sure. I'll keep that in mind in case I ever have to do that in LAX in the future.


WBodyroga

[Edited 2012-04-08 09:00:35]


Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineSR117 From Mexico, joined Jun 2000, 793 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 6608 times:

Hey there again Widebodyroga, thanks for sharing your trip to Hokkkkaido !

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I knew that most domestic NH flights serving the Tokyo area were departing from HND but I had no idea that NRT served all of its domestic NH flights within just those two short time windows.

Yeah, as airbuseric mentioned, they only operate with the departure and arrival banks for big international flights. Security is really quick so it doesn't make much sense to go in there with too much time, it's way more fun outside, that visitors terrace in Narita is one of my favorites.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
An hour or so later, after clearing security we took our seats in front of our gate. The lounge was made up of about 8 or 10 gates and a cafeteria-style shop that sold food and souvenirs.

Pretty boring inside eh?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The cabin of our A320 was in immaculate condition but one could tell its age (mainly by the very 90s-looking seat fabric).

That looks very interesting, the fabric on that A320 is unlike the one I've seen on other ANA planes.. also flew NRT-CTS in June and the fabric was the standard one from other NH planes.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I bought some beer for later consumption (I ended up drinking it back in the US). It came with that weird decorated cup in the middle.

I wanna get one of those ! hehe. Kirin Ichiban tastes pretty good. Fortunately you can get it in the US as well.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A bathroom at the JR Tower observatory with excellent views. I entered it with the sole purpose of shooting this photo, just like the one below Good thing the place wasn't busy at all.

Nothing better than a piss with a view.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Apparently the ice cold water was not enough to deter some hardcore surfers from having a good time

Yikes.. those are hardcore surfers... the sea does look quite blue actually.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Like most guys I don't really care about glasses, vases, or plates, but the things I saw in these shops left me speechless. Those guys are unbelievable craftsmen and the hand-made glass items they made were eye popping.

I was surprised at the same thing, I'm not that crazy about glass things, but the crafts in these shops were impressive, couldn't help it and had to buy quite a few souvenirs for family.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Route: Sapporo-Jozankei Hot Springs
Operator: Jotetsu

Jotetsu... aka Slowtetsu ! Took the same bus to Hoheikyo Onsen and man, it was slow : ) Stopped at every block ! Good thing there was a free shuttle bus back to Sapporo, took about half the time. Jozankei looks very nice though. Did you try out any of the onsens there?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
After another long bus ride back to Sapporo we celebrated our last day in Japan with some local curry soup and headed to bed early.

Soup Curry was quite a revelation for me, I wasn't really expecting much but I found it to be delicious.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Hokkaidoans love their shopping. I cannot otherwise explain the insane number of shops everywhere around Sapporo.

Well, when it gets snowy, I guess you can't do much except shop, eat and dip in the onsens, doesn't sound bad at all : )

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The western option was Cheese in Chicken cutlet. I opted for the Japanese meal and my wife asked for the Western but was informed that the last Western meal had just been given away. I felt bad because she was not feeling 100% yet (following our sickness) and the Japanese meal did not sound good at all (she is not a picky eater at all by the way).

Hmm, I like Japanese food but crabmeat omelette is something I might want to skip, it didn't look like you were seated too far back in the cabin at all, I wonder how they ran out of western choices so soon.

Coming back from Japan to the US is always such a big shock, difference in service styles can feel like jumping into a pool of cold water : ( Sorry that you had such a lowsy experience at LAX !

Hokkaido is a great place, I was in some of the places you visited last June:

Sapporo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardotg/sets/72157629761321831/
Otaru: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardotg/sets/72157629384720794/

The snow looks cute and nice in pictures, but I think that being able to go out in a t-shirt is also pretty neat !

Thanks again for sharing your awesome trip.
Ricardo


User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1710 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6565 times:

Hey there, fantastic ending to your Japan report series!

Seems like you and your wife had an amazing trip to the land of the rising sun. Japan is really a fascinating country, and I can't wait to go there in September. To me it'll be a dream come true  

Such a shame about you and your wife getting sick, but seems like you tried your best not to let it spoil your trip. Really liked the food pictures, everything looked so well presented and delicious. Did I mention I'm a huge lover of seafood  How much was the average price you paid for the meals during your trip?

As for your flight in ANA Economy Class, I must say the service did really look impressive for Economy. The food again looked very well presented, and of very high quality (especially when comparing to UA, where the meals look like they came from the microwave). The Häagen Dazs ice cream added some nice premium touch, such a shame you skipped it. I would've eaten maybe some 10 of those  

Were the seats really arranged in a 2-4-3 layout? When checking seatguru I couldn't find it. A strange layout indeed, but it kind of makes sense in the ways of coping with the passenger's needs = aisle access is still the same for all. 2-seaters good for couples, or solo travelers, 4-seaters good for families. Much much better than the 3-3-3. Wonder if any other airlines will follow.

"Wheels Up!"
//Jonas



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39709 posts, RR: 75
Reply 23, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6548 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 20):
If you like snow, you should consider Chicago in the winter. There's always plenty for everyone  

Born & raised there. I'm very familiar with Chicago winters and I do miss it. Unfortunately the women in Chicago are nowhere near as attractive as the women in Japan.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 24, posted (2 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 6344 times:

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
Great report again! Some nice destination pictures too!

Thanks Robert!

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
That's very a great configuration!

Especially if you are sitting on the left side of the aircraft! Also, the 4 middle seats had a fairly big gap between the 2nd and 3rd seat so they were more comfortable than your typical 4 seats in a row found in some other widebodies.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 19):
Wow, what a mess. I connected trough LAX a couple of times on domestic flights, which went just fine, but I just made a mental note to myself never to do it on a international flight.

If one plans to connect from an international flight at LAX then one should allow 3 or more hours between flights for sure. I'll definitely keep that in mind if I ever return to LAX one day.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Hey there again Widebodyroga, thanks for sharing your trip to Hokkkkaido !

Hey Ricardo, it's nice to see your comments here too.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Pretty boring inside eh?

Yeah, there wasn't much to do there.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
That looks very interesting, the fabric on that A320 is unlike the one I've seen on other ANA planes.. also flew NRT-CTS in June and the fabric was the standard one from other NH planes.

Interesting. The fabric was the same in both of our aircraft (NRT-CTS and CTS-NRT). Maybe ANA has A320s with more than one cabin type and we happened to try different ones...

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
I wanna get one of those ! hehe. Kirin Ichiban tastes pretty good. Fortunately you can get it in the US as well.

I think I got mine at a 7-Eleven or a Sunkus near Odori Avenue. Fortunately all 3 big Japanese beer brands (Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo) are available in the US.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Nothing better than a piss with a view.

Too bad I didn't have to "go" so I never experienced how good it felt...

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Yikes.. those are hardcore surfers... the sea does look quite blue actually.

My camera doesn't do much justice to the color of the water. It was even bluer than it looks.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
I was surprised at the same thing, I'm not that crazy about glass things, but the crafts in these shops were impressive, couldn't help it and had to buy quite a few souvenirs for family.

I just wish we had more space in our luggage. I loved everything I saw there. I pick up and admire the glasses that we got pretty much on a daily basis.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Jotetsu... aka Slowtetsu ! Took the same bus to Hoheikyo Onsen and man, it was slow : ) Stopped at every block ! Good thing there was a free shuttle bus back to Sapporo, took about half the time. Jozankei looks very nice though. Did you try out any of the onsens there?

You may say that again! The bus ride was painfully slow, mainly due to the frequent stops. Unfortunately we didn't feel like trying the onsens even though that was the main point of the trip all the way up there.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Soup Curry was quite a revelation for me, I wasn't really expecting much but I found it to be delicious.

The restaurant we had ours offered soups on a spiciness scale from 0 to 10. We had to settle for 3 and it was still pretty spicy. I wonder how 10 tastes like. Any idea what level was the one you tried?

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Well, when it gets snowy, I guess you can't do much except shop, eat and dip in the onsens, doesn't sound bad at all : )

That was my thought exactly. Can't blame them really.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Hmm, I like Japanese food but crabmeat omelette is something I might want to skip, it didn't look like you were seated too far back in the cabin at all, I wonder how they ran out of western choices so soon.

Yes indeed, we were not seated too far back but it seems like the western option was way too popular and it got exhausted very quickly. Also I feel that (at least on our isle) they started serving from the back forward for at least part of the cabin, before moving all the way forward to start working their way back. It was kinda weird how it worked out.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Coming back from Japan to the US is always such a big shock, difference in service styles can feel like jumping into a pool of cold water : ( Sorry that you had such a lowsy experience at LAX !

You may say that again!  
Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):

Hokkaido is a great place, I was in some of the places you visited last June:

Sapporo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardotg/sets/72157629761321831/
Otaru: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardotg/sets/72157629384720794/

We loved your photos! It was great seeing how all the places we visited look like in the summer. We gotta go back again in the summer. My wife fell in love with Otaru.

Quoting SR117 (Reply 21):
Thanks again for sharing your awesome trip.
Ricardo

You're welcome Ricardo, and thanks again!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 22):
Hey there, fantastic ending to your Japan report series!

Hey Jonas. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 22):
Seems like you and your wife had an amazing trip to the land of the rising sun. Japan is really a fascinating country, and I can't wait to go there in September. To me it'll be a dream come true  

I'm sure that you'll have a fantastic time. You simply can't go wrong with Tokyo. It's safe, lively, beautiful and dare I say educational. It has it all.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 22):
Such a shame about you and your wife getting sick, but seems like you tried your best not to let it spoil your trip. Really liked the food pictures, everything looked so well presented and delicious. Did I mention I'm a huge lover of seafood  How much was the average price you paid for the meals during your trip?

If you are into seafood then you're in for a treat, Jonas. As for the prices, they vary a lot, trust me. I know that I'm not of much help by saying this but depending on the area you're in and what restaurant you decide to enter, you may end up paying Y1500 for a meal for two, or you can pay Y9000, all for the same quantity (and sometimes quality too). If you like sushi then you should try a conveyor-belt sushi place (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conveyor_belt_sushi) where they charge you per plate. Prices range from Y150 to Y500 per plate. It's one of the best ways to sample many different kinds of fish. Usually I'm full after 7 or 8 plates.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 22):
As for your flight in ANA Economy Class, I must say the service did really look impressive for Economy. The food again looked very well presented, and of very high quality (especially when comparing to UA, where the meals look like they came from the microwave). The Häagen Dazs ice cream added some nice premium touch, such a shame you skipped it. I would've eaten maybe some 10 of those  

I don't have a sweet tooth so it is quite often that I skip dessert, much to the delight of my wife who claims my portion. I know that DL used to hand out Häagen Dazs ice-cream on their TATLs back in the mid 2000s (in Economy). I remember flying EDI-ATL with them and being very impressed by that.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 22):
Were the seats really arranged in a 2-4-3 layout? When checking seatguru I couldn't find it. A strange layout indeed, but it kind of makes sense in the ways of coping with the passenger's needs = aisle access is still the same for all. 2-seaters good for couples, or solo travelers, 4-seaters good for families. Much much better than the 3-3-3. Wonder if any other airlines will follow.

I have stopped trusting SeatGuru a long time ago.

You can find the actual layout in the following link: http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/asw_co...mon/inflight/seatmap/b777_300er_1/

Very clever configuration just like you said. I quite like the idea.

Quoting Superfly (Reply 23):
Born & raised there. I'm very familiar with Chicago winters and I do miss it. Unfortunately the women in Chicago are nowhere near as attractive as the women in Japan.

Of course, I forgot! Pardon me, you have told me so already!

As for the Chicago women... I married one, so I would have to disagree 

Thanks,

WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
25 Superfly : Congrats! The good one's get taken early. BTW, does ANA fly to Chicago? Some trips to the US, I may have to visit Chicago first. I know JAL and Unite
26 MSS658 : Hi Nice return report as well, thanks for sharing. Sapporo looks pretty neat... Quite surprised you got the 'old' 320 on your domestic flights. Plane
27 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Thanks Superfly They do. In fact I see them overfly our house quite often. Too bad I couldn't find any decent deals with them out of ORD. Same goes f
28 Post contains images airbusmango : Chilling in Sapporo indeed! It's a shame you didn't have the time to make the five-hour train ride to Wakkanai though. And it sure is a stark contrast
29 Post contains images Widebodyroga : 5 hours was way too long, but of course there was the option to fly. Too bad the hours and frequencies were not terribly convenient. Alternatively I
30 Post contains images airbusmango : So I guess taking the Super Soya or Sarobetsu services is still an option! The trolley service personnel makes the experience enjoyable, or at least
31 gabrielchew : Great report Stojan - Hokkaido looks loveyl - will have to get myself up there soon The domestic flights are just for international connections, hence
32 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi Roga, Good to see the second part and especially nice to read about Sapporo - apart from the namesake beer and a vague recollection about the Olymp
33 Post contains links and images Widebodyroga : Hehe. We think alike! Thanks Gab! It was a bummer that I didn't get to log HND... At least I got to see it from the top of the Ferris Wheel... Not a
34 EL-AL : Fantastic! Thank you for this great, well written and very detailed report. I think for a better look of Japan I will have to go myself. That is what
35 Post contains images deltamartin : Hello Widebodyroga! Great second part of your trip report! Seems like you had a really good time in Japan, too bad about the illness though. I had no
36 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Thank you Jonathan! In fact it was a 2-4-3 configuration. Something for everyone I'm assuming you are referring to the food? Thank you Martin You guy
37 ORDnHKG : You talked UA like a dog, I am surprised you didn't say anything about NH's dismal domestic service. Even UA has drop down LCD screen on the 320, wher
38 Widebodyroga : Hi ORDnHKG, With all due respect, you are forgetting the fact that UA's flight was 4 hours long while NH's was barely an hour and a half. I personall
39 Lucky727 : Hi WBR - I enjoyed this second part just as much as the first, if not more... More great pictures & writing, and very exotic to read about domesti
40 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Hey L727, Thanks, I'm chuffed It's true. Passengers carrying too much cabin baggage has been a plague in North America ever since the airlines decide
41 ORDnHKG : What I am saying is no matter long or short distance flight, as long as it is domestic, NH only gives green tea or apple juice free of charge. And NH
42 Widebodyroga : Dear ORDnHKG, I'll agree with you that if indeed NH offers no more than a drink on (much) longer domestics then that is insufficient. However, I would
43 Post contains images britjap : Hi WBR, Sorry for the late response, not had much time recently. Haha, brilliant. These days I don't feel strongly affiliated with any airline enough
44 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Hey Britjap, thanks for your comments : I feel the same way. That's why I didn't buy any, I just sat there admiring them for some time. As for a Star
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