Here’s my trip report on my flights to and from the Ryukyu Islands. Two islands of this beautiful island chain was my destination – Okinawa and Miyakojima. Both are great and it was a trip I really looked forward to and I had a great time. My only regret was that I didn’t stay any longer. We had booked tickets on Northwest to/from Osaka/Kansai Int’l and All Nippon Airways between Okinawa and Kansai. I was also to get a ticket to Miyakojima and back from Okinawa on either JTA or ANK. But it turns out that would be a one-way plane trip. And a warning, this will be a long trip report. Enjoy.View Large View Medium
BTW, I took a few pics at the airports and stuff. I used my cheap, yet portable Fuji film disposable camera. It’ll take a few days to get one developed plus I have a lot of pics on the 2nd one, which hasn’t been used. I guess I’ll have to post it in another topic.
Kansas City International Airport
As usual, we got lost driving into the airport and took the wrong exit. I was sleeping inside the car, tired since we left Wichita around 1AM and we were driving to Kansas City to catch our 0640 flight. We found our way onto the right highway towards the airport and finally got to the airport. Looks like one our flight is one of the first to leave Kansas City today. I didn't see any planes moving around or taking off. There wasn't too much traffic and the parking garage was empty. There’s a lot of construction going on, they’re “Jazzin’ Up the Place”, which means renovations. There are some gates being moved around as sections of the terminal get construction. Didn’t bother me since it was too early and nobody was working on it and it was at the other end of the half-circle shaped terminal C.(Construction is also going on at B and A) Unfortunately, groups of gates are in their own security area which makes it a pain in the neck if you need to go to the bathrooms or want a drink or bite to eat. Great if you’re leaving or arriving here as your final destination or origin and it would make it rather bad for connections. We checked in and then went to the gate, which is right next to the check in counter, which made it convenient. Boarding started and they eventually called our row and we got onto the plane
Northwest Airlines Flight NW1780
Photo © John P. Stewart
Despite the DC-9 being an old plane, the plane looked new inside. This is the first time I've seen the "717-style interior". I was impressed. It was nice inside and you couldn't tell its age. Soon, we pushed back and taxied. It was early and there wasn't much traffic around the airport, just a couple of other planes moving out there. We got onto the runway and then we started our takeoff and we quickly got off the runway like a rocket and had an on time departure at 0640. I remembered the DC-9 was loud when you sit next to the engine but it wasn't too loud where I was sitting (Row 9). As we climbed to our cruising altitude, I looked out to see the outskirts of Kansas City, which quickly passed by. When we began our cruise we had beverage service with a package of small pretzel twists. Not much food but it was pretty good. The flight was about 2 hours long I think. I fell asleep after beverage service. When I woke up, we were beginning a descent and I could see an airport we were passing over. It looked like Midway so I assumed we were over Chicago as we were told we would be flying over Chicago. A red tailed jet flew past us quickly from a distance; it turned out it was leaving a larger airport. The terminal building was clearly visible; it was the WorldGateway in Detroit. We were getting near. We passed over the airport, then turned around and landed. I was looking forward to seeing the terminal.
Northwest Airlines WorldGateway (Detroit)
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Photo © Neil Alpert
I stepped off the gateway looking forward to seeing the new terminal. It was great! The layout is very similar to Kansai. The high ceilings were nice and the ExpressTram and the moving walkways made it easy to get around. I went to our gate first; there our plane was, waiting at gate A36. It was huge! It will be my first time on a 747-400. I had three hours here to look around the terminal. First, I went to Burger King to get breakfast. Then, I went down to the tunnel to the B and C concourses. There were lights of different colors moving around the floor from spotlights above and very odd music playing. You can walk or take a moving walkway to get through the tunnel. The B and C concourses were similar looking inside as the A concourse, very nice. I went back and looked around the A concourse a bit more looking at a few stores and watching the planes. I headed back to the gate area and read Pandora's Clock .
Northwest Airlines Flight NW0069
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Photo © Tom Turner
Boarding began and there were very many people in the gate area. It would be a while before they would call our row. Eventually, we got on the plane and went to row 42, right behind the wing. After a while, the doors closed and we pushed back and were given the usual safety video and demonstration during our taxi. It took a while to take off, we had to wait behind a bunch of planes. All sorts of planes were taking off on the runway we were waiting for from DC-10s to Saabs. It was finally our turn. The 4 engines started up and the huge bird left the runway and climbed. Departed on time at 1230. After we started our cruise, we got a beverage and snack(peanuts) service. After that we were shown Currents on the main cabin screens which included planet rock profile on Sting, e! behind the scenes on the movie Crossroads, and Discovery-travelers about Japan's Gion Matsuri Festival. After Currents, immigration/customs info was on the screen and after that, dinner was served. The choice was beef teriyaki or rotisserie chicken, I chose the chicken which was served with roasted potatoes and green beans which I didn't really care for, but I was hungry so I ate it. The chicken was so hard, it was difficult to cut it with the plastic knife. A movie started, Monsters Inc. After that, A Beautiful Mind was on the main cabin screens and then Good Advice. Also, Ocean's Eleven was showed even though it wasn't supposed to be on our flight. before Ocean's Eleven, we had an In-Flight Snack, which was a sandwich with Oreos. It was okay. Quite bland, but it came with a packet of Dijon mustard which gave it some flavor. Later on, breakfast was served and I chose the Scrambled eggs with sausage and potatoes over the fried rice and teriyaki pork. Nothing great, but it was edible. I used to really enjoy Northwest's breakfast. We were flying south after flying through Alaska and the Aleutians. We were flying through Japan and we began descending. There was a thick layer of clouds, which was about 10,000 feet altitude. We flew over Osaka Bay, which was full of small and large boats and some oil tankers. The flight was long and rather dull, my noise-canceling headphones helped me keep my sanity during the long flight, it is nearly impossible to hear with those tiny headphones they give you. I was glad that my headphones worked with the plane’s in-flight entertainment system. I did manage to sleep for an hour before breakfast. We soon landed at Osaka after a long 14 hours at 1530.
Osaka/Kansai International Airport
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Photo © Bailey
After deplaning, we went towards the escalator to the wing shuttle to the main terminal area and immigration/customs. The large group of people from the plane separated when most passengers headed back to the gate when a man told everyone in really broken English that passengers continuing to Taipei was to head back to the gate area. We went onto the escalator and the Wing Shuttle came shortly. On the wing shuttle, we got a good view of the planes at the gates. The shuttle stopped at customs/immigration and we got off and headed to the counters. The lady at the counter was quick and I gave my passport and the (complicated) form I filled out at the plane. It turns out that I put my return and the flight I got off of on the wrong side of the form! She quickly corrected it without saying anything and we made our way down the stairs to the baggage claim. As usual, our bags were among the last to get onto the belt. We made our way to the customs counter at the other side of the room and were asked a few questions and went out the doors to the 1st floor, which is International Arrivals. Many people were waiting there and we immediately headed for the elevators to the 2nd floor with our luggage. We went up there and checked in at the ANA ticket counter. We had to go through a security area in front of the counters for our checked bags. After that, we checked in and I was in row 7. After that, we had hours of free time where I went to the shops and restaurants in the 3rd floor and I looked around at Aeroplaza. I got a bite to eat there, a snack, and was surprised at the great service there, the waiter(yes, a waiter for a snack) bowed a million times . I came to expect this kind of service everywhere in Japan from fast food joints to fancy restaurants. Service in this country is amazing! I sat down at the “waterfall” in the 2nd floor of Aeroplaza. There were big windows where I looked out and saw construction on a second island for Kansai! I believe that’s where a new terminal and a new runway or two will be built. I can’t believe they’re already expanding when they’re having trouble attracting and keeping airlines at Kansai because of high fees. After looking around a bit, I went towards the Domestic Departures area in the 2nd floor of the terminal. After quickly passing security we headed for Gate 67 where the 767-300 awaits. I noticed many Americans in the gate area, probably with the US Armed Forces, perhaps being assigned to Okinawa for duty or perhaps coming back after a trip to the US visiting people back home. Some Americans there were probably going to Okinawa to see people with the Armed Forces on Okinawa. After looking around the gate areas, it was time for boarding.
All Nippon Airways Flight NH0497
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Photo © Ian Moy
We got onto the 767-300 with F/As waiting at the door bowing and helping people. I sat down and flipped through the in-flight magazine and listening to the music on the plane. I remembered there being a US pop channel but I guess they got rid of it for the “SMAAAAP!!! Channel”. SMAP is some Japanese boy band that has some deal with ANA…they’re on ANA ads for Guam, Okinawa, Hokkaido, and Hawaii. They are on posters at the check-in counters for ANA and their timetables, I noticed. We pushed back and taxied to the runway and took off on time at 8PM local. I was TIRED after the long journey and I barely stayed awake in time for beverage service when I got some orange juice and fell asleep. When I woke up we were slowly moving and I heard clicks everywhere. I looked out the window and saw that we were pulling into the gate at Okinawa/Naha. I grabbed my bags and the F/As bowed as we went out into the terminal via the jetway. The terminal was beautiful with wooden chairs with cushions for the seats in the gate areas and various Okinawan flowers throughout the terminal. We took the moving walkway to the main terminal. I got our bags and I met our relatives and we left.
NOTE: For those that knew about my trip before I went, I said that I would fly to Miyako. It turns out that a relative of mine was going to Miyako by ship a couple of days after our arrival in Okinawa. We got to share a cabin, which was a small room with a bathroom and four bunk beds. We went on Arimura Sangyo(Arimura Line)’s Cruise Ferry Hiryu 21. The ride took 8 hours. It was good for a boat ride and the bunks were fairly comfortable. I slept most of the ride. It was good but I prefer the 45 minute flight.
After being dropped off the car into the terminal and saying our goodbyes, we went inside the small airport next to the check in counters. We had to go through the small security area before checking in, the security area was like Kansai’s, right next to the counters, you must go through them before check-in, it was not separated by walls or anything, just 2 or 3 guards, a metal detector and a x-ray machine. After that, we had a sticker slapped onto the luggage and we checked in. Hoping to get a good seat up front since we went to the counter after security where nobody was checking in anyone, an agent at the Ticket Purchase counter just finished selling a ticket to someone and then checked us in. We were towards the end of the 737-500 at row 18. It’s just a 45-minute flight anyway. We went upstairs where there were the gate areas and about 5 stores and 4 restaurants there-not bad at all for a small airport! I ate some delicious soba at one restaurant, great food and a great restaurant. The airport was very clean and modern, the terminal, a replacement for an old one, was fairly new. Probably built not much earlier than my first trip I can remember there at 1997. After soba, I went into the gate area and cleared security. I got a pack of gum and then sat down. There was some drama on the AQIOS or whatever flat-screen TVs…the TVs were also ads for Sharp who makes them, I didn’t pay any attention to the drama, just watching the ramp and planes, the plane was getting ready to board at the “C” gate.(There are 3 jetway and 3 outside, via-stairs, gates, too. There are three “gates”, A, B, and C, which weren’t to jetways, they lead to a hall that had the three jetways in it. A, B, and C were more of boarding areas). The jetway was 2C. Soon, it was time to board.
Air Nippon Flight EL0174
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Photo © Propfreak
I boarded and sat down in row 18, only a couple more rows to the aft bulkhead of the 737-500. I was surprised that the every seat had the seat belts arranged in an “X”, all of them! Not really significant but neat. There were not many people on the plane as the door shut. About half the plane was full. As we pushed back, announcements were made in Japanese-only. Not that I was expecting English-this will be important later on in the story. We taxied to the runway, taxied to the end of it, turned around, and the engines went to full thrust as the plane held the brakes. The engines were roaring and we were still in place. Then the brakes were released and we rocketed down the runway and rotated and we got a good bird’s-eye view of Miyakojima but clouds quickly blocked that view seconds later. We soon began a cruise for the 45-minute flight. I went up and asked in English if they had any newspapers in English, they understood what I said and gave me a Daily Yomiuri, a Japanese newspaper in English about Japan. Soon we began a descent into Okinawa. We got some beautiful views of Okinawa as we descended with its coral reefs and the small, uninhabited islands. Announcements were also repeated in English now! I guess they knew there was someone who only understood English on the flight after I asked for the paper. That was really nice of them. The flight quickly ended and we landed. There was a JAL 747 in the Pink Disneyland JAL 50th Anniversary scheme and two JAS A300s, one in the special scheme with the kids’ drawings on the side at Concourse A and an ANA 777-300 pushing back at Concourse B which is for ANA and ANK. We were waiting for the 777-300 to taxi out of its gate where we would deplane. It left and we pulled into the gate.
I went to get my bags and went into the passenger terminal at the 2nd floor. There were people in kimonos giving us pamphlets and there was a big sign in Japanese above us. Something is going on. I went up to the 3rd floor and looked down at the 2nd floor from a balcony and saw Okinawan dancers dancing to traditional Okinawan music! It was some thing there to welcome passengers. They opened up the “Welcome Hall” where people can wait for passengers. It was nice with a good view of the ramp and a huge TV, but it just showed ads. There were a few seats there, though, a circular bench around a tree. After watching the dancers, we left. It was an interesting welcome in Okinawa.
After driving past Tomari Port where my boat to Miyako left, we arrived at the Okinawa/Naha Airport. We parked in the parking garage and took the skybridge to the Domestic Terminal. We went from the 2nd to 3rd floor where the check in counters were. After clearing the mini-security station, we went to check in. We had row 10 on the 767-300. After check-in, I went to the Royal Café, my favorite place for breakfast and had a delicious omelet with sausage, hash browns, toast, and orange juice. From the restaurant, I had a great view of the runway and the ramp. I watched an ANA 777 in a strange livery, instead of “All Nippon Airways” and Japanese characters on the side of it and the Japanese flag, there was the “ANA” logo with the two-toned blue “slash” on the plane. I watched it taxi and take off. Also, 10 JASDF (Japanese Air Force) jets taxied to the runway, a mix of F-4EJ Kais and Kawasaki T-4s. Also a JASDF military version of the Lockheed Electra, very similar to the P-3 Orion was taxiing to the runway. The jets lined up on the runway and stopped in a group of 4. One at a time took off. As one rotated, another one started its takeoff, except for the last two which took off simultaneously. It was really cool to watch. Also a JASDF version of the YS-11 took off. An ANA 767 also took off. After that, I went from the 4th floor where the restaurant was and went down to the 2nd floor to look around at the stores and bought souvenirs. Soon it was time to head for the gate so we said our goodbyes and went into the security checkpoint for the B concourse. The 767-300 waited at the end of the concourse at gate 35. It was to depart on time. Soon, it was time to board.
All Nippon Airways flight NH0492
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Photo © Arthur Yu
I took my seat at row 10. F/As were greeting passengers at the gate or around the cabin helping passengers put luggage into the overhead bins. I looked outside and watched the ramp before our takeoff. The safety movie was shown as we taxied and we held short of the runway as another plane landed, then we turned onto the runway with the main screen screens showed a video camera view of in front of the plane like the view from the cockpit. As soon as we lined up the engines powered up and we went down the runway and took off. I looked out and took my last view of Okinawa before I come back home to Wichita. Okinawa doesn’t exactly look like Wichita. The camera switched to the view to under the aircraft, which showed clouds, pass by. The camera quickly shut off as ANA showed some program on TV, I think some travel show. The F/As served beverages and I had orange juice. They had the good stuff, Tropicana, instead of some generic stuff from concentrate. I listened to the music channel for a little while, a few US songs on the “Sound Planet” channel, but mostly pop songs. Flight went by quickly and we soon landed at KIX after a flight time around 1hr and 40mins.
Osaka/Kansai International Airport
Got off the plane at the terminal, proceeded to the Domestic Arrivals area where I got my bags and left. I went upstairs to the 4th floor to check-in. I was looking forward to a quick check-in and then enjoying the airport and Aeroplaza. Northwest’s Check-In counter was not open. Oh well, I had a 4 hour layover. The wait was about 30 minutes. It took about 20 minutes to get through the line. Now they’re making us open and search our checked bags.(everyone else had to do that, too). That took 10 minutes. Counters were moving slow, too. The wait in the next line to the counters took 20 minutes as well. Then we headed for the counters. The flight may be overbooked! They wanted us on Air Canada! At first I thought it was a great idea. So I volunteered. I sat down thinking about it for a while. After a while I went back up and told them to take us off the list, it would be inconvenient. Plus, the connection didn’t have any extra time. They still tried to talk us into it but I got them to get our seats on the flight back and took us off the volunteer list. I glanced at my watch, it was 1430 already! With boarding starting 30 minutes prior to departure and allowing time to pass Passport Control, there would be no time to enjoy the airport . I really enjoyed the airport and after the holdup and the long wait at the check-in counter, I used up all the free time! After passing Passport Control, which was fairly quick and efficient, lines were short, I was really hungry. I stopped at Air Delica at 1530 before hopping onto the Wing Shuttle to Gate 19 at the end of the North Wing of the terminal. I had soba, it was delicious, but I hurried through it. I went onto the wing shuttle to the end of the terminal and got off and went down the escalator from the 3rd to 2nd floor. It didn’t seem like there was any overbooking problems on this flight. Boarding began in about 20 minutes. The plane was to leave 10 minutes early at 1615.
Northwest Airlines Flight NW0070
N675NW ”Spirit of the Northwest People”
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Photo © Stefan Wittenberg
We boarded and I sat down at row 38. Right on the wing this time and near the screens so it shouldn’t be too difficult to see the in-flight movie. I flipped through the current issue of WorldTraveler, Northwest’s in-flight magazine. The issue looked interesting, it covers Northwest’s 75-year anniversary. The programming for the main cabin screens for this flight were Currents with an episode of Frasier and The West Wing, E! Behind the Scenes – John Q., and VH1 Storytellers – Dave Matthews Band, I Am Sam, High Crimes, and Big Fat Liar. I read the articles on Northwest’s 75 years of service as the safety demonstration was shown as we pushed back. Then a baby behind me started to cry and crawl all over the back of my seat. "Great," I thought. I put the magazine down as we got ready to take off. Then with a roar, I was pushed back into my seat as we rolled down the runway and the massive jet took off. After takeoff, I-94 info was shown on the screens and we had beverage/peanuts served. After that, Currents were shown. I watched the episode of Frasier and watched the feature on Dave Matthews Band. I watch Frasier a lot so that was interesting and I liked DMB so I watched that, too. There was a feature on the WorldGateway on, but I really needed to run to the lavatory. When I came back, it just finished and The West Wing started. I got really sleepy by then and caught an hour of sleep. When I woke up, Big Fat Liar was starting. It turns out the movies were different than the ones said would be shown in WorldTraveler. In order, the movies were Big Fat Liar, Snow Dogs, High Crimes, and A Walk to Remember. Dinner was soon served which was okay, Sliced Barbecue Beef, the meat was tough and I had to cut it in much smaller pieces. It was also served with a bowl of Japanese food including some fish and rice with nori. Also, there was a roll and some fruits. The roll was cold, but pretty good, I passed on the Japanese dish and I tried to fruits, but they were sour and pretty bad. I ate up the tough beef, but I had a stomachache afterwards. The next hours were pretty uneventful. I switched between watching the movies, listening to the music channels(which were full of rap junk for the Right Here, Right Now channel, but I listened to hear anything interesting. Also I listened a little to the Japanese Favorites channel), and reading The Sum of All Fears. I took a quick look out the window, it had become night and all I could see is a strobe light at the tip of the wing. About halfway through the trip, snacks were handed out to whoever wanted it, it was a box with ice cream thing on a stick covered with chocolate with nuts, it was pretty good, frozen solid at first, but good. I looked out the window quickly before I had to close it, there was some light showing, morning time. After that I got back to switching between the book, music, and movies until High Crimes, which didn’t seem interesting. After a while I remember looking out the window and seeing very beautiful scenery with lakes and mountains. We must have been over Alaska of the Northwestern Territories of Canada. I got back to movie. I was thankful for my noise canceling headphones that also worked well as earmuffs during naps and reading. Breakfast was served during High Crimes, the potato and bacon quiche with hash brows sounded really delicious and the other choice, Asian fried noodles, didn’t sound that great. But they ran out of quiche the row before mine. Ugh. The noodles were terrible. I passed on those despite being really hungry. It was only a few hours now until we arrived in Detroit. Only a flight time of about 12 hours today. Much better than 14. The stuff served with the entrée for breakfast were also bad, sour fruits, a cold and so-so croissant in a plastic bag. I took a nap and read my book. A new movie had started so I watched it, it was A Walk to Remember. I watched it until it finished. Then, the Airshow map showed that we were over Thunder Bay, Ontario, and getting very close to Michigan. We began a descent and we touched down in Detroit 20 minutes early.
BTW, later on I found out that this was N675NW, "Spirit of the Northwest People" when I looked at it from the terminal later on. I just found out that it's Northwest's 2nd newes 747 and it was delivered on March 18. It did seem like a new and clean plane inside.
Northwest Airlines WorldGateway(Detroit)
We got off the plane and we took an escalator right after exiting the jetway. Detroit’s international flight gates were a little different. Without having a separate area for Int’l and domestic flights, there was a small area that stuck out of the gate area with a door to the gate area and the terminal which is closed during arrivals. A long escalator ride takes you straight from the jetway to immigration. Immigration had lots of booths for a quick and efficient arrival. We didn’t wait in line too long, maybe for about 5 minutes. The man at the booth stamped my passport and checked the Customs Declaration form quickly. The baggage claims were right there after clearing the booth. Our bags were among the first on the belt, usually with Northwest ours were among the last. We were just never really lucky, I guess. Glad to get them quickly as we had no time to spare here at just 2 hours. It would’ve taken forever to wait for the last bags from the full 747-400. Customs was no problem. If you had nothing to declare, just place your declaration paper on the desk. I filled the paper on the flight, only took a minute or two. No need to worry about rechecking the bags, the bags were already checked in Kansai all the way to Wichita and all we had to do was to put the bags onto a conveyor belt. A guy there took everyone’s bags from the cart and placed them on. He just picked them up and tossed our bags onto the belt. Glad I didn’t place my $300 Nikon with the checked luggage. After that, we went to the main terminal area via a hall with three people holding up signs in Japanese and tour company logos on them. We passed them and passed the doors leading to the terminal. Our flight to Minneapolis was on time and left gate A36, which I think was the gate our flight to Kansai left on. A36 was near the exit from Immigration/Customs. Due to the surprisingly quick and efficient immigrations/customs I had an hour before departure. I tried to find a place for a good bite to eat, I was starving after passing on that horrendous breakfast. I noticed despite the many restaurants and shops here, there really wasn’t a place that sounded good. I wanted a sandwich or something, not some greasy fast food. But everything seemed like salads, sit-down, or fast food. I gave up looking around and by this time I was at the end of one of the wings of the terminal. I found a Taco Bell there and the prices seemed okay and I ordered 2 tacos with nachos. I ordered that but the line and wait took up too much time. I left my drink and some napkins on a table. When I glanced back, they were gone. The janitor must’ve thrown it away. It was a full drink!!! I finally got my lunch and needed a drink, I brought my lunch-in-a-bag and took it with me to get a $2 bottle of Sprite at an adjacent newsstand. I sat down at a table and quickly ate it, only 30 minutes before departure! After that I took the Sprite, half-full and made a dash to the Wing Shuttle and got on to and got off at the Central Station. I went down the escalator and got to the gate. People were already lining up but boarding didn’t look like it was starting yet. It seemed like a long time before it began boarding. They announced two groups of rows before they announced the group containing our row, row 27.
Northwest Airlines Flight NW0753
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Photo © James Richard Covington, Jr
I got on and sat down. As far as I know, it was on time but it did seem a bit long before departure. I fell asleep as we took off, tired. I slept for an hour before I woke up. A cart was going down the aisle towards me, which was good since I was thirsty. I got small pretzel twists and a Sprite. I noticed the poor condition of the 757 as I looked around me, looked quite worn and there was duct tape on the overheads above me! I glanced out onto the wing and it looked quite worn as well. The rest of the flight was quite uneventful as I read a little bit from The Sum of All Fears and soon we began a descent. I was looking forward to seeing MSP after only being there for minutes once before in 1997 when I was connecting from a flight to Memphis to a flight to Osaka, we rushed it and I don’t remember much. We made a smooth landing and taxied to the F Concourse.
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
This was going to be a tight connection. It turns out that we are kinda late, about 1830 now for some reason. Maybe something to do with the slow departure. I was in the F concourse and my flight to Wichita left the A concourse at the other end of the terminal. I had to go to the G concourse, go to the end of it and take the walkway to Concourse C and from there walk to Concourse A. MSP was a much bigger airport than I thought. It looked nice inside and fairly modern. There were some planes hung above from the ceiling, old planes including Northwest’s first plane. I rode the moving walkways throughout the terminal to Concourse G, then to the path connecting G to C above roads. There was a window on one side and a wall to the parking garage(I think) to another. Halfway through the path, there was an entrance/exit to the garage. The whole path was made on two moving walkways. Then I got off at Concourse C and took another moving walkway, which ended at an escalator. It said to go to Concourse A via the escalator so I took it. It looked like the part of the brand new section added to the airport including half of C and the new A concourse for regionals. Also a new B Concourse was added but it wasn’t connected to the terminal. It is accessed by busses. The new area looked new and great. Looked modern. I stepped off the escalator and I was in a cylinder-shaped area with restaurants and newsstands. I exited the area and took more moving walkways through the C concourse where there was another escalator and a sign said that was the way to Concourse A so I continued on and took it. It took me to a place with construction going on. The ceiling was pipes and ducts above me. It didn’t look complete. This place was still under construction and I had to take a bus to Concourse A. I waited as a line of passengers boarded a bus and as a second bus, which I would take, pulled behind it. Then that first bus got full and left and I took the next one. The ride was pretty long, we passed a lot of planes, mostly ARJs and some Airbuses. Then I got to the terminal. There didn’t seem like there was adequate space for the gate area, this was a full CRJ and all bench seats were taken and a few people were standing or sitting on the floor. After about 15 minutes boarding already began at gate A6. I got on the CRJ via a jetway. This concourse was on the 1st floor. The flight was on schedule and ready to board.
Northwest Airlines Flight 5878(Operated By Pinnacle Airlines)
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Photo © Tim Ligas
I got on board and took my seat in row 6. I noticed what people mean when the smaller jets don’t have the feeling of mainline jets, it was kinda small inside but the leather seats looked comfy. The only RJ I’ve been on before is the Avro RJ85 which was awesome and it had that mainline feeling and size. I took my seat in the comfortable leather seat and soon a man comes by and tells me I’m in his seat. I looked at my boarding pass, I booked this seat but when they took our e-ticket and gave us the boarding passes in KIX they must’ve given me another seat or something…strange. Must have something to do with the overbook fiasco at Osaka. He looked like he was traveling alone so I told him to take the seat that my boarding pass said was mine, I think that was taken too, but he spoke with the F/A and I think everything got sorted out. It looked pretty full, the lady at the counter at the gate said it would be pretty full. Obviously they worked something out since I didn’t hear from nobody about this. We pushed back and taxied, a long wait here as well. A small beech landed and some NW jets and we turned onto the runway, I could see the planes behind us, two Saabs, I think an A320, and a DC-10. The plane took off and I looked out the window and saw a United 737 take off alongside us, it was interesting to see it over the next 30 second or so mirror us as we took off, it eventually turned away. We turned as well and I saw Minneapolis-a lot of houses and trees, looked kinda nice. We finally leveled off soon and we got the beverage and peanuts and pretzels service in those tiny snack pouches-like Southwest. The CRJ was nice, though, but small, but it beats a prop. I looked off and saw the wing reflecting the setting sun as we flew over farms that looked like a big quilt. Began reading The Sum of All Fears, but the 1hr, 20 minute flight went by fast. I saw the small, rolling prairie hills separated by small streams – the Flint Hills. We must not be that far away. And they announced we were 100 miles and 20 minutes out. There were still a bit of light out as we descended and saw the city of Wichita as we passed it, illuminated in light as the sun was about to slip under the horizon. Some places were familiar – the Coliseum and the Greyhound Park, downtown, Towne West Mall, and after that we made our landing and pulled into Northwest’s gate 2.
Wichita Mid-Continent Airport
2115 Local Time
We got out of the plane via jetway, which we got on by a small catwalk to the jetway from the CRJ. Strange. Never done that before. We got into the dark and quiet terminal. We walked down the hall, which was just carpet, a white wall and ceiling with adverts on the wall. We passed down the area where security was and the halls to the West and East concourse were and where the concourses were connected to the terminal. The area had some pics of local plane companies and small models of planes. A rather dull and bland airport. Walked towards one of the two baggage claims, it said this baggage claim is for a United and American flight(???) but all the bags had NW tags and it must have been ours. Took the bags and left the airport. Not quite subtropical Okinawa but at least I’m on the ground – even an aviation enthusiast like me would get tired of hours of “getting there”.
Summary and Thoughts
+Reliable, always on-time
+Detroit and Minneapolis hubs, terminals were well done
-poor service for a transpac flight
-doesn’t compete well with Japanese airlines and even some US
Northwest was bare-bones. The food on the transpacs were pretty bad and they compete with Japanese airlines as well with their high service standards. I just looked on Travelocity and saw that JAL was cheap from Wichita to Okinawa so their typically high fares don’t seem to be much of a problem now. Competing airlines from US to Japan often offer PTVs and other nice amenities and AA offers more room which would’ve been great for that 14 hour flight, it was cramped. Domestic flights are average except fot that 757 in rather poor condition. The DC-9 refurbishment was rather nice, though. Yes, they were always on-time(all but that flight from DTW to MSP, delayed 15 minutes) but so are the Japanese airlines and they have extras and that nice, professional Japanese service as well.
All Nippon Airways
+Reliable, never had a late flight
+Very good crew
+High Japanese service standards
+Widebodies on even the short domestic hops
-high fares on domestic flights
-service such as food has been cut in recent years, even pre-9/11
My flights on ANA were very pleasant with great F/As who did an excellent job and were very professional. They were always helpful and knew a good amount of English, which helped a lot. The planes were very clean and in good condition. I hope that I could fly them trans Pacific but they don’t go to the US from Kansai, just under codeshares on United flights, but I am reluctant to fly United as they don’t seem to be a reliable airline-delay plagued from what I’ve heard.
+Nice service for short island-hopping flights
+Very nice crew who made announcements in English despite being a regional airline
+Audio in-flight entertainment on a 45-hour flight
Only flown them on the 45-minute segments between Okinawa and Miyako. All flights were nice. Good for a short flight. Nice F/As and crew.
Northwest did a fine job just getting me there on time and safely but there are competing airlines that can do that as well with some nice extras. I would be very interested in JAL next time as they have a LAX-NRT flight. I would have to take AA to LAX from ICT as JAL and AA have a partnership which would mean more FF miles and I’ll have to take JTA over ANK and JAL over ANA domestic. Not happy with the former(Maybe I can take ANK, just a few miles anyway) but the (supposedly) better transpac flight would be nice. I can’t stand 14 hours in one plane anyway. The LAX flight’s only 10 hours. Hope to try a new airline next time.
Kansas City Int’l
=construction, but it’s not supposed to get in passengers’ ways, plus it’s an improvement
-gate/security problem makes it a pain if you need to leave the gate for a reason
Northwest WorldGateway (Detroit)
+Quick and efficient immigrations and customs
+Good, one-terminal for mainline flights layout
+Easy to get around with ExpressTram and moving walks
+High ceilings give you an airy feeling
-Lack of variety in places to eat
+Quick and efficient immigrations and customs
+Good, one-terminal for all flights layout
+Easy to get around with moving walks and Wing Shuttle
+High ceilings give you an airy feeling
+Many shops and restaurants in terminal
-lack of shops and restaurants in gate area
NOTE: The WorldGateway and Kansai are very similar in design. I’m sure Kansai was a bit of inspiration for the WorldGateway
Okinawa/Naha Domestic Terminal
+High ceilings give you an airy feeling
+Many shops and restaurants in main terminal
+Plants and flowers throughout terminal
+Okinawan and Eisa dancers perform in Welcome Hall
+Excellent for a small airport
+Good amount of shops and restaurants for a small airport
+Fairly new and very modern
+Neat planes on display
+New/renovated concourses A,B,C are great
+Easy to use with RJs, boarding via jetway
-rather difficult layout with many concourses and piers
+Clean(except for bathrooms)
-Rather bland, blue carpet with white ceiling and walls airport
-Baggage claim didn’t have the right flight(???)
-Deplaning CRJ via catwalk(???)
-Bathrooms are pretty bad
-Pier design doesn’t seem to be good for a small airport like Wichita
Thanks for reading the trip report, hope you enjoyed it, questions and comments are more than welcome
BTW, my next trip report will be Delta ICT-CVG-DAY-ATL-ICT which I'll return from in a couple of weeks