Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2900 posts, RR: 23 Posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 16516 times:
I spent a few days in Japan last week, and I really wanted to try out a Japanese domestic flight, you know, those short hops operated by widebody aircraft with up to 569 Japanese pax on it. So I booked a daytrip from Tokyo's domestic airport Haneda to Osaka's domestic airport Itami. Quite expensive tickets, I paid more than 260€ for this daytrip, I know there are cheaper flights, but I wanted to fly one way on JAL and the other way on ANA, and I wanted the combination of B777-300 and B747-400D. And so I booked it.
16 June 2005
STD: 09:35 ATD: 09:35/10:00
STA: 10:50 ATA: 10:55/10:58
First flight 10 July 1998
Due to my jetlag, I couldn't sleep and so I got up early and arrived at JAL's check-in counters at Haneda's old Terminal 1 at 05:30. The airport itself was already quite busy, but there was not a single person in the tunnel connecting the both terminals. During daytime, this tunnel is so busy with thousands of Japanese running for their flight, so I though I just had to take a photo of this "empty" tunnel early in the morning:
Alright, so I went to departure level. Those check-in machines are very popular in Japan, you find hundreds of them everywhere in the terminal, but always also some airline staff assisting passengers with the machines. Remarkable: These airline staff always have a megaphone with them, and they kept on shouting their messages through the terminal, it was somehow like on the fishmarket in Hamburg... No idea what they announced, because they only announced it in Japanese, but I think these were check-in calls for flights that are soon going to be closed for check-in. HND.jpg" target=_blank>HND.jpg" width=650 height=488 alt="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v330/Ndebele/HND.jpg" border=0>
Anyway, I decided not to use the machines but rather take one of the few "real" check-in desks. Only a short queue, soon it was my turn for check-in. The friendly young agent was apparently a bit surprised to see a paper ticket issued in Germany, or was she surprised to see a passenger from Germany? I mean I was virtually the only non-Japanese passenger on the whole airport I think, only Japanese passengers in business outfit all around me. Anyway, I asked for a window seat and she gave me 21A.
Having still four hours until departure, I went to ANA's Terminal 2 and tried to check-in already for my return flight in the evening. No this was not possible. The ANA agent didn't speak much English, but as far as I unterstood, it's because of my paper ticket which needs to be collected at check-in in Osaka.
So I went through security in Terminal 1. Having screened my rucksack, they asked if I had a plastic bottle inside my rucksack. Yes I had, and they wanted to see the bottle. It was a Pepsi bottle but it was filled with water. They were surprised and asked me about the content of the bottle (leading me to the conclusion that they don't have Crystal Pepsi in Japan). I told them that it's just water inside, they took the bottle for inspection, and soon later I got it back.
Now I enjoyed the busy atmosphere of the gate area, thousands of Japanese walking or running for their gates, and of course *lots* of JAL aircraft arriving and leaving. At 08:35 I saw JA8941 arriving:
This aircraft is in a C62 Y410 configuration, and this flight promissed to become rather full. They made lots of announcements, but only in Japanese, so finally after one more announcement, everybody stood up for boarding, so I knew this was the boarding call. They have self-boarding machines in HND, you put your boarding pass into the machine and then pass the machine, and you get your receipt at the end. It actually worked, I was surprised, it was printed on the boarding pass which direction one has to insert it into the machine, and there was not a single passenger inserting the boarding pass the wrong way.
Two jetways, the one at door 1 for all passengers with A, B, C, D and E seats, the jetway for door 2 for F, G, H, J, K seats. I've never seen this before, and this would be quite a clever way of separating the masses, if only they had done it the other way around. This way, I with my seat 21A took door 1, walked backwards inside the aircraft only to meet the passengers queueing at door 2. Anyway, I was fascinated by the discipline of the Japanese passengers, those 400+ passengers boarded so quickly, everybody took his seat immediately, no standing in the aisle, no problems with full overhead bins because they all didn't have any carry-on.
About the cabin: Business has a 2-3-2 configuration, Economy 3-3-3. Grey fabric seats, not the kind of fabric seats used in Europe, rather a soft fabric which feels like sitting on a sofa:
Headphones on every seat(!) and an entertainment system with 12 audio channels, I didn't expect that on a 45-minutes-flight. The audio channels were mostly Japanese music and programs in Japanese language, but also one channel with western music, playing e.g. the Black-eyes Peas. Already during boarding, the cabin crew came around with blankets. One more thing I didn't expect on such a short flight. Much to my surprise, blankets seem to be quite popular and very important to japanese passengers, most passengers took one.
21A was the third row of Economy, in front of the wing which is good for photography. On the screens, they showed not only the safety demonstration, but also a program of how to behave on board.
"Before you recline your seat, inform the passenger sitting behind you, because a seatback reclined too quickly might hurt him", "Don't talk too loud" and stuff like that, and also telling passengers to keep the discipline on board. This was somehow not necessary on this flight, I haven't seen such a discipline among the passengers ever before, 400 Japanese in their business outfit sitting there patiently, not saying a word. A very quiet atmosphere. Also I noted that the flight attendants, when talking to each other, just moved their lips without voice, they read each other's lips, very remarkable.
Alright so we soon pushed back, cabin crew made their welcome announcement, all announcements on board both in Japanese and English. What I also found quite funny: The small Japanese f/as had to step onto the armrests of the seats in order to close the overhead bins. Also, whenever they check something, they always point with the finger on it, so in the end we could see a f/a walking through the aisle and pointing with the fnger onto every closed overhead bin.
I was lucky to sit on the left-hand side, so I could take a photo of the traditional Japanese wave for goodbye:
Unfortunately it was raing once again outside, in fact it's always raining in Japan during June, I think. Anyway, we taxied towards the runway next to Terminal 2, so this was not only a long distance there, but also there was a long line-up for departure, so it took us 25 minutes before we could take off. Take-off could also be seen on the screen, the B773 has a front-view camera! Entertainment on those domestic flights seems to be quite important, I've been told that the ex-JAS B777s even have PTV!
Before we disappeared in the clouds, we turned right over the bay of Tokyo. A seat on the left would have been nice, but anyway I got some nice photos:
Now here comes something unbelievable! On the way to Haneda, my bus had to pass the bay of Tokyo. There is a bridge over the bay, and in the middle of the bay, this bridge turns into a tunnel! How cool is that?! I have never ever seen something like this before, very impressive!!! I managed to take a photo of the point where the bridge turns into a tunnel:
Now we were above the clouds. Cabin crew started their drink service, I had a Coke. Once again they offered blankets. We started our descend, cabin crew announced we would soon be landing at "Osaka International Airport" - I was surprised, I didn't think Itami could still be called "international", but they had also referred to Haneda as "Tokyo International Airport", so as long as we're flying to Itami and not to Kansai, everything was alright for me. By the way, the pilots didn't make a single announcement during the whole flight, not before take-off, not during flight, not after landing.
Alright so during approach, I managed to take some photos of the impressive extension of Osaka, houses whereever you look, very populated Japan:
Some other Osaka airport, but I really don't think this is Kansai:
We landed on Itami's runway 32L, and as soon as we left the runway, they made the usual announcement to keep the seat until the aircraft has arrived at the gate. But no, everybody stood up, opened the bins, took his baggage out and rushed to the front door. And this was not just on the last few meters, it we had literally just exited the runway when everybody got up. I expected the f/as to interrupt this, but they didn't, probably this is normal procedure among the Japanese passengers, who normally stick to each and every rule. So I was the only one still sitting when the doors were opened, and let me tell you, it felt like in an evacuation: As soon as the doors were opened, everybody *jumped* out of the plane, de-boarding of those 400+ passengers took probably less than 2 minutes! When everybody had rushed out, I stood up, patiently took my rucksack, said "Bye-bye" and "Thank you" to the crew and was the last passenger to leave.
I stayed inside the gate area for some time, in roder to watch the special movements, like a JAL Saab 340, or the ANA Dash 8-400 which are operated by an airline which is officially called A-net Airlines. Damn I thought, I should have booked a flight on this airline. Alright, so I left the gate area, had some lunch, did some spotting from the observation deck (which is located on the terrace of a furniture discounter and difficult to find). Here's a photo I took from the deck, a JAS B777, what a nice livery, I wonder how much longer it will be around, the nose is already in JAL colours:
16 June 2005
STD: 17:00 ATD: 17:07/17:20
STA: 18:15 ATA: 18:08/18:15
First flight 29 July 1993
Just as in HND, also in ITM most passengers use the check-in machines. I went to one of the counters and was welcomed by a young and friendly check-in agent who spoke English perfectly. She asked me if I wanted to re-book to an earlier flight, ITM-HND is served every hour. No I didn't, because I knew the earlier flights would not be on a 747. So she checked me in for the later flight, I asked for a window seat. "I'll give you a window seat on the left, so you might be able to see Mount Fuji", now this would be great. She entered my Lufthansa Miles&More number and then gave me my boarding pass. What a friendly service, I really wonder why people prefer those check-in machines.
I went through security, once again they wanted to check the content on my plastic bottle, although I had already drunken my water by now and now I only had a Coke bottle with me, with Coke inside, nothing too suspicious. I got the bottle back soon and went to my gate:
At 16:10 I saw our aircraft arriving:
Only families and leisure travellers de-boarded, not a single business man on this flight from Haneda. Quite a contrast to the passengers I had on my flight in the morning.
There were TV screens at the gate showing Japanese televison, but I was the only one watching, although I was probebly the only one who couldn't unterstand the language. Anyway, it was this Japanese series about the team of female japanese volleyball players, in a way like Baywatch, you can easily follow the "plot" even if you don't understand the language.
Boarding started at 16:48, again with those boarding machines. There were only about 150 passengers on this flight, not so many if you keep in mind that this aircraft has 569 seats. The economy cabin has a 3-4-3 configuration, again very comfortable fabric seats. My seat was 55A, and due to the lack of bulkheads, curtains or other cabin dividers on this domestic aircraft, I could see straight to the front of the plane. Seat pitch was not as narrow as expected, comparable to European shorthauls. Obviously it's mostly the lack of large galleys, the few lavatories, the lack of crew-rest and other typical long-haul cabin equipments that enables them to install so many seats on the 747.
Again they offered blankets. When they came to my row, the f/a welcomed me in English, asked me if I want a blanket, and soon brought me an English in-flight magazine - the normal inflight magazines on domestics are in Japanese only. Again a very nice personal touch.
On the screens they showed the safety, again in Japanese and English, and also on ANA each cabin crew announcement was made in both languages. The cabin crew introduced the pilots' names, later the pilot made a welcome announcement, but this one was only in Japanese. We pushed back and taxied towards runway 32L, again we could watch it on the front-view camera. What I found very remarkable, there were houses built until next to the airport fence, which shows once again how populated Japan is.
We lined up and took off. Then we made a 270° turn to the left, so I could make some photos of ITM:
I had seat 55A. Only 55K, the right-hand side window seat, was taken, the rest of the row remained empty. Cabin crew came around with beverages, I had a Coke again. Once again they offered blankets.
Unfortunately it was overcast, so instead of the view of Mount Fuki, this is what I got:
It was already getting dark outside. Japan is strange, the sun comes up as early as 4:00 am, but sunset is already at 19:00. If I could offer Japan only one good tip for the future, daylight saving time would be it. So when we descended, it was already dark, and it was heavily raining. We descended into the clouds, flaps were lowered, and in complete landing configuration we flew through the clouds for several minutes, made some steep turns, then all of a sudden there was the sea only about 100 meters below us, then the runway, then we touched down. The runway was covered with water, it had been raining all day, so quite a lot of water was kicked up as we reversed. We left the runway and taxied towards our gate at ANA's Terminal 2.
Again I was one of the last passengers to leave, handed them back the English inflight magazine and thanked them for this great flight.
This was a really nice trip, because there are so many small details that are completely different from European shorthaul flight. I was also happy that I have chosen both JAL and ANA, as there were also some small differences. Crews on both airlines were very friendlyl, however the ANA crews offered a bit of a personal touch. Also the passengers on both flights were very different, only business people on the JAL flight and mostly leisure travellers on ANA. Definitely a great experience and worth the money, I'm happy that I mede this trip, which was very special for me. I hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to reply or ask any questions. Thanks, Alex.
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4693 posts, RR: 42
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 16443 times:
What a beautifully crafted trip report with some fascinating pictures covering flights in a country which is pretty exotic to me! I enjoyed reading every single line of your story.
Do you like flying domestic trips in foreign countries just as much as I do? Whenever I am abroad, I try to travel on a route, which will most likely see little foreign traffic. This way one really gets an impression, how different the service standards are in cultural terms.
Anyway, I am already looking forward to reading the report about your flight back to STR. With your current output rate, I suppose we can expect to see it online tomorrow?
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4755 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 16150 times:
Unfortunately it was raing once again outside, in fact it's always raining in Japan during June,...
The inter-tropical conversion zone (ITCZ) moves somewhere between Osaka and Tokyo during this period. Not only you have rain, you have some of the most severe weather pattern Japan can ever experience.
Japanese series about the team of female japanese volleyball players...
Is it a very old series? There was one with the same storyline back in 1984 which was immensely popular even way down here in Singapore.
Being in Japan is like being in another world altogether which to me is sometimes rather surreal. Although I love the politeness of the Japanese, don't get me wrong! The streets of Tokyo is so clean it is unbelievable and everyone is so considerate not to litter, despite having only a few rubbish bins.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Kdeg00 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 145 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 15795 times:
Great report. I was hoping for a few days in Japan this summer, but the plans have changed and we are hubbing through BKK instead. The bridge into tunnel reminds me of the one to the north of CPH in Denmark that you see as you climb out most flights.
FLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5163 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 15739 times:
once again a well written and high interesting report.
Never been in Japan but heard a lot of storys from customers and colleague
Sounds like a fascinating trip, maybe I will take Japan on to my to do list
and seems its worth the high-fare you payed for.
Christao17 From Thailand, joined Apr 2005, 940 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 15720 times:
Very nice trip report - thanks for all the picture.
Quoting Ndebele (Thread starter): "Before you recline your seat, inform the passenger sitting behind you, because a seatback reclined too quickly might hurt him", "Don't talk too loud" and stuff like that, and also telling passengers to keep the discipline on board.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2900 posts, RR: 23
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 15355 times:
First of all thanks to all for the kind replies so far!
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 2): Do you like flying domestic trips in foreign countries just as much as I do? Whenever I am abroad, I try to travel on a route, which will most likely see little foreign traffic. This way one really gets an impression, how different the service standards are in cultural terms.
...and the service standards on Japanese airlines are high, I mean, not only do they have inflight entertainment even on shorthaul aircraft (imagine this in Europe), also the staff is so friendly, and even though it's mass transportation they still manage to add a nice personal touch whereever possible. Of course it's also nice to experience the behaviour of the other passengers, and a domestic flight is certainly best for this.
Quoting TriStar500 (Reply 2): I am already looking forward to reading the report about your flight back to STR. With your current output rate, I suppose we can expect to see it online tomorrow?
Actually, it looks like I didn't manage to continue my previous output rate but depending on weather situation I'll try to get it online tomorrow
Quoting A319114 (Reply 3): Very nice trip report, really makes me want to go to Japan
Quoting An225 (Reply 4): I will put this on my wish list for the future.
Quoting Mhodgson (Reply 6): Sounds like Japan is a great place to visit - Another one to add to my list!
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 9): Sounds like a fascinating trip, maybe I will take Japan on to my to do list
If you have the chance to visit Japan, visit, you won't regret, at least I for one enjoyed my short stay a lot!
Quoting An225 (Reply 4): BTW, the name is Mount Fuji not Mount Fuki (you are insulting the Japanese gods...
Yeah I know, I realized my error as well, after I had posted the report - but I hope I'm not insulting anybody, a simple typing error, it happens when you spend about four hours writing a report in a foreign language...
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 5): Not only you have rain, you have some of the most severe weather pattern Japan can ever experience.
Yes I experienced a bit of this during approach to HND, though I'm sure Japanese weather patterns can be much more severe than what I experienced.
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 5): Is it a very old series? There was one with the same storyline back in 1984 which was immensely popular even way down here in Singapore.
I can't tell, but it really didn't look very 1984ish to me, rather new.
Quoting Christao17 (Reply 10):
Wouldn't it be great to have this [announcements how to behave] on all flights!
Probably yes, here in Europe especially those Mallorca flights of some charter airlines come to mind, but I'm sure there are also typical routes in other parts of the world...
BAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 15165 times:
That really was a fascinating report! Although I've been to Japan, I didn't do any internal flights, instead using the Shinkansen for my trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and back. It was an interesting experience - I loved the way that the ladies selling bento boxes bowed as they entered each carriage, and then again before they left! The Japanese are such nice, polite people. And unlike on your flight back to Tokyo, we got stunning views of Mount Fuji, for once an advantage of being at ground level!
I did however make a trip out to Haneda on the monorail and spent several hours on the viewing terrace watching what seemed like an endless stream of widebodies coming and going on domestic flights. Japan is a fascinating country and unlike anywhere else I've ever been. That trip was back in 1992, so one of these days I really must go back...and I think your report has persuaded me to make some internal flights if another trip ever comes off!
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
CX777Fan From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 296 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 14500 times:
I've lived in japan for about 5 years and in that time taken a few domestic flights - all pretty similar to what you reported. Two highlights stand out however:
1: Flying HND to KIX in the middle of the last row on a JAL DC10. Sitting under the tail engine was an amazing way to experience my first DC10 flight. and
2: Flying HND-Naha (okinawa) on the upper deck of a JAL 744 (economy seats, but so much more space). About half way through the flight, all the passengers were invited to play bingo!!!! Numbers came up on the overhead screens and I can't remember whether sound was over the PA or through headphones. I won a Jal CD of the worst imaginable muzak!!!!
AirAmericaC46 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 590 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 13900 times:
Excellent report Alex! I've passed through NRT and KIX several times but never had a chance to experience Japanese domestic service.
I hope you'll have another chance/ and more chances in the future. I would like to hear your next reports especially on flights from Nagoya's new Chubu International, and all other fllights like Okinawa, HachijoJima, Hakodate, Kitakyushu (I believe they are building a new airport), Wakkanai, MiyakoJima and in the future, an airport for Kobe.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2900 posts, RR: 23
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 13391 times:
Thanks again for your feedback!
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 13): Although I've been to Japan, I didn't do any internal flights, instead using the Shinkansen for my trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and back
Those Japanese high-speed trains are certainly an experience, which I missed unfortunately, Japan has so much to offer, so four days were not enough - I need to go back to Japan!
Quoting Contact Air (Reply 14):
really impressive report and great pics! I especially liked those of Osaka.
Yes it was impressive to see this huge city from above - kind of compensated for not having seen too much of Tokyo after take-off and before landing in the evening because of the low clouds.
Quoting CX777Fan (Reply 15): 2: Flying HND-Naha (okinawa) on the upper deck of a JAL 744 (economy seats, but so much more space). About half way through the flight, all the passengers were invited to play bingo!!!!
How cool is that?! You wouldn't see a European airline doing this, I'm sure.
Quoting Sabena 690 (Reply 16):
Out of curiosity: several people already told me that you can buy tickets for domestic hops in Asia much cheaper in Asia than in Europe. Would you have been able to book your tickets cheaper in Asia?
I didn't know that - unfortunately! I just compared the fares I found a few months ago here in Germany, and thought it's be best to book before the flights become even more expensive. Then again, I would have found cheaper flights even here from germany, however I wanted this special combination of JAL and ANA and the 777-300 and the 747-400D. Anyway, maybe it would have been better if I had bought my tickets there, I simply didn't know.
Quoting GodBless (Reply 17): Knowing the airport where you work and the fact that the largest plane on domestic flights is an occasional A321 to FRA, it must be amazing to be on widebodies for a fairly short route.
It definitely was
Quoting AirAmericaC46 (Reply 18): I would like to hear your next reports especially on flights from Nagoya's new Chubu International, and all other fllights like Okinawa, HachijoJima, Hakodate, Kitakyushu (I believe they are building a new airport), Wakkanai, MiyakoJima and in the future, an airport for Kobe.
Hmm, quite a lot of trips that you want me to take - I'll see what I can do for you Really, when I saw that JAL Saab 340 at ITM, I thought a flight like this would certainly be nice, a completely different kind of Japanese domestic flight (and I have no idea where these flight were going to). Anyway I think there's still a lot to see in Japan - and not only aviation-related.
Lufthansa747 From Philippines, joined May 1999, 3201 posts, RR: 42
Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 13384 times:
Japanese domestic tickets aren't cheap. I think 260 EUR was a good deal.
I had an award that included HND-OKA-ITM on NH 744Ds last year, great experience. I booked 3 months ahead and the f*ckers changed my 74R to 744D - I was furious. Probably the last chance for me to be on an ANA 747SR. Oh well. Maybe I'll try for the JL SR on a paid ticket - two left as far as I know but they are SUDs as well. Flying HND-OKA/ITM/CTS.
I'm looking forward to do a similar award soon, but on ANA only due to my miles... Thanks for the great report. But maybe a paid ticket for a JAL SR as I said...