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AY To Japan & Domestic Flts & Visiting Santa Claus  
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 618 posts, RR: 5
Posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 19867 times:





Legs flown: 21

Airports visited: 16

Brussels - National (BRU/EBBR), Belgium
Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), Japan
Geneva (GVA/LSGG), Switzerland
Hachijojima (HAC/RJTH), Japan
Hakodate (HKD/RJCH), Japan
Hamburg - Fuhlsbuttel (HAM/EDDH), Germany
Helsinki - Vantaa (HEL/EFHK), Finland
Nagoya - Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG), Japan
Osaka - Itami (ITM/RJOO), Japan
Osaka - Kansai (KIX/RJBB), Japan
Oshima (OIM/RJTO), Japan
Rovaniemi (RVN/EFRO), Finland
Sapporo - New Chitose (CTS/RJCC), Japan
Tokyo - Haneda (HND/RJTT), Japan
Wakkanai (WKJ/RJCW), Japan
Zurich (ZRH/LSZH), Switzerland

Airlines/Operators flown: 11

Air Berlin (AB/BER)
Air Nippon (EL/ANK)
Airtransse (--/TSQ)
ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
A-net/Air Nippon Network (EH/AKX)
Finnair (AY/FIN)
JAL Express (JC/JEX)
JAL Japan Airlines (JL/JAL)
SN Brussels Airlines (SN/DAT)
Swiss International Air Lines (LX/SWR)
Virgin Express (TV/VEX)

Aircraft subtypes flown: 14

Airbus A319
Airbus A320
Airbus A321
Beechcraft 1900 Airliner
Boeing 737-400
Boeing 737-500
Boeing 747-300
Boeing 747-400
Boeing 767-300
Boeing 777-200
Bombardier DHC-8-300 Dash 8Q
British Aerospace/Avro RJ85
Embraer 170
McDonnell Douglas MD-11


Around Christmas time, Finnair (AY/FIN) usually routes a couple of their scheduled flights from Japan to HEL via Rovaniemi (RVN/EFRO). Rovaniemi, located in Lapland, is promoted as the home of Santa Claus and this is supposedly popular in Japan. I knew this and, as a lover of special airline routes, I always played with the thought to one day take such a flight from Japan to Rovaniemi. This 2006/07 season, I stumbled over these flights again when browsing the schedules in the Amadeus reservation system. I initially discovered the flight on 24Dec06 from Tokyo-Narita (NRT/RJAA) to RVN operated by A340-300. As is to be expected, all the cheaper fare classes were sold out on this flight. Further checking the system, I also noticed a flight going from Nagoya-Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG) on the same date, but operated by MD-11. There, the cheaper fare classes were sold out, too. I knew AY also flew to Osaka-Kansai (KIX/RJBB) but there was no flight on 24Dec. But after playing around a bit more, I discovered a flight a day later, on 25Dec06. And to my surprise, all the flights fare classes, down to the very cheapest one, were still available! Was this maybe my chance to finally fly non-stop from Japan to Lapland?

I began to play around with the system a bit more and, just for fun, I tried to quote a fare for from Zurich (ZRH/LSZH) to NGO via HEL and vice versa. Well, it didn’t work, because there was no AY HEL-ZRH flight operating on 25Dec06. So I tried any other AY central European destination, but no luck. AY seems to not fly any European services on Christmas Day. But I found an AY codeshare flight number to Brussels (BRU/EBBR), operated by SN Brussels Airlines (SN/DAT). So I quoted a ZRH-HEL-NGO-(RVN)-HEL-BRU. And I was surprised to be quoted a reasonable fare in Q class. By further optimizing, I found that fares were significantly cheaper if I started the journey not from ZRH but from Germany. So a good hour of play started to get serious, with me realizing that indeed this trip could become feasible! Now it got down to choosing the exact schedules (where Q class was available) so that I could fly on the most interesting flights. Also, I noted that AY was offering codeshared domestic legs in Japan operated by Japan Air Lines (JL/JAL) to several cities, such as Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF), Sapporo-New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) and also between Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT) and KIX on the days where AY had no direct flights from NRT to HEL. Best of all, these Japanese domestic legs did not increase the fare (except airport taxes)! And in addition, instead of flying direct KIX-(RVN)-HEL, I decided I would actually like to disembark at RVN, to see what all those Japanese were going to do and see there. It would be nice to spend Christmas Day at Santa’s “home”. And the Q fare still worked, even when taking a flight RVN-HEL one day later, on 26Dec06. This because a stay of less than 24 hours is not considered a stopover!

So, after much consideration (I considered the following, among others: Could I fly on a leg using a Finncomm Embraer 145? Which route would give me any AY codeshare flights on carriers I have not flown yet? Were there any interesting aircraft types?), I settled on the following routing:

16Dec06 HAM-HEL AY Embraer 170
16Dec06 HEL-NGO AY MD-11
17Dec06 NGO-FUK JL B737-400 (operated by JC, AY codeshare)
25Dec06 HND-KIX JL B767-300 (AY codeshare)
25Dec06 KIX-RVN AY MD-11
26Dec06 RVN-HEL AY Airbus A321
27Dec06 HEL-BRU SN Avro RJ85 (AY codeshare)

This routing turned out to be CHF 1445 all inclusive (approximately USD 1210 or EUR 925), not a bad deal, considering the number of legs it gave me. I booked it about 2 months before departure.

Next step would be to determine on how I got from ZRH, where I live, to HAM and back home from BRU. BRU was easy, having never flown Virgin Express (TV/VEX). Considering that this brand would disappear soon into the newly formed Brussels Airlines, I took the opportunity and booked a flight to Geneva (GVA/LSGG) for EUR 107 (CHF 175/USD 143). From GVA I would then take a Swiss International Air Lines (LX/SWR) flight to ZRH. I still had a non-rev “friend’s ticket” (called “buddy pass” in the U.S.) for this. Going to HAM, I had the choice of EasyJet Switzerland (DS/EZS) from Basel (BSL/LFSB) and Air Berlin (AB/BER) from ZRH. Although I had flown on both carriers numerous times, in the end the convenience of flying from ZRH had the upper hand and I booked AB for CHF 128 (EUR 82/USD 107).

Finally, my trip was not yet ready without the both dots in Japan, FUK and HND, connected in some way. At first, I thought about using the super efficient train system in Japan and visiting some interesting airports along the way, such as the newly built Kitakyushu (KKJ/RJFR) off-shore airport, Hiroshima (HIJ/RJOA), the new island airport at Kobe (UKB/RJBE), Osaka-Itami (ITM/RJOO) and the always interesting and busy KIX, NGO, HND, NRT. But then, trains are not airplanes! So I decided to do some crazy flying in Japan. Domestic flights in Japan are always very enjoyable due to the impeccable level of service. I still had miles on United Airlines’ (UA/UAL) Mileage Plus which I could use for flights on ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA). I decided to max it out, going to the northernmost airport in Japan, Wakkanai (WKJ/RJCW). Ever since I saw these pictures on a.net from WKJ, I wanted to go there:

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Photo © Kazutaka Yagi
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Photo © Kazutaka Yagi

At the same time, I wanted to take the opportunity to finally fly on a domestic B747-400. Because an award ticket can be open jaw but will need to end at the point of origin, I ended up with the following routing. Note that I was able to get three legs out of the return flight from Hakodate (HKD/RJCH)! There was a lot of talk to do, convincing the UA call center staff to book it that way instead of a direct HND-FUK.

19Dec06 FUK-HND NH B747-400
19Dec06 HND-WKJ NH A320
21Dec06 HKD-HND NH B747-400
21Dec06 HND-ITM NH B777-200
21Dec06 ITM-FUK NH B777-200

This ticket cost 15’000 miles and a mere CHF 19 in fees (USD 16/EUR 12).

To connect the open-jaw between WKJ and HKD, I booked NH (operated by Dash 8-300 of A.net) from WKJ to CTS for JPY 17050 (CHF 180/USD 148/EUR 113). Unfortunately I missed a discounted fare bookable 28 days in advance by just 2 days. NH has a nice website where domestic flights can be booked easily (in English) and seat numbers can be chosen. Airtransse (--/TSQ), a small airline operating in the northern island of Hokkaido with Beechcraft 1900D’s is not listed in any GDS and OAG schedules. Their website is Japanese only, but thanks to AltaVista Babelfish I was able to decipher their schedule and I sent them a fax requesting a reservation from CTS to HKD. A couple of hours later, I had an e-mail confirmation in my inbox! The flight cost JPY 12000 (CHF 127/USD 104/EUR 79).

Now, my itinerary was back where it started, at FUK, with the connection to HND still missing! I noticed a flight by JL published on a “747” which I assumed to be the last B747-146 SUD flying at JL (but I couldn’t be sure as 747 is the generic code for any 747). I booked this flight from FUK to HND on 22Dec06. I had to book this flight on this particular evening, otherwise the 28 day advance purchase fare would not be available anymore. JL’s website for booking domestic flights is in Japanese only. JL’s European call centers were closed already. So I called their reservation number in Japan where they directed me to an English speaking person which was able to book the flight. Costs were JPY 15400 (CHF 163/USD 133/EUR 102). Using flight number, booking reference and name, the booking is then accessible on the (Japanese language) website. Again using lots of on-line translation, I was able to get to the seat map, but unfortunately the upper deck seat map was not accessible. So I reserved a window seat in the back of the aircraft.

To spend 3 full days in Tokyo was a nice plan, but flying a bit more would be even better. On my last visit to Tokyo, I noticed flights to a couple of islands south of Tokyo, Oshima (OIM/RJTO), Miyake Jima (MYE/RJTQ) and Hachijojima (HAC/RJTH). And even better, NH had a daily flight between two of the islands, OIM and HAC. This was definitely something I wanted to do! So I now decided to book a side trip to OIM and HAC as follows:

23Dec06 HND-OIM NH Dash 8-300 (operated by A.net)
23Dec06 OIM-HAC NH B737-500 (operated by Air Nippon)
24Dec06 HAC-HND NH A320

This was also booked via NH’s website at a cost of just JPY 21250 (CHF 224/USD 184/EUR 141).

My Japan trip itinerary was now complete! 21 legs over 11 days, for a total distance of 26508 km (16471 mi). The total cost (except the GVA-ZRH leg) was CHF 2461 (USD 2060/EUR 1575), averaging at just CHF 117 (USD 98/EUR 75) per leg or CHF 0.093 (USD 0.078/EUR 0.059) per km or CHF 0.149 (USD 0.125/EUR 0.094) per mile.


Date: 16Dec06
Route: Zurich (ZRH/LSZH) - Hamburg-Fuhlsbuttel (HAM/EDDH)
Schedule (local times): ZRH 0855 - HAM 1015
Scheduled block time: 1:20
Flight number: AB 8683
Airline/Operator: Air Berlin (AB/BER)
Aircraft type: Airbus A319-132
Registration: D-ABGB

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Photo © Harry Artner
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Photo © Sören Klinger

After almost missing a flight a couple of days before due to a long wait at the security at the E-Gates, I went to the airport for an early check-in about 2 hours before departure. AB operates a mini-hub in ZRH on Saturdays with flights to Fuerteventura (FUE/GCFV), Tenerife-South (TFS/GCTS), Las Palmas (LPA/GCLP), Lanzarote (ACE/GCRR) and Funchal (FNC/LPMA), with feed coming in from HAM, Frankfurt (FRA/EDDF), Dusseldorf (DUS/EDDL), Berlin-Tegel (TXL/EDDT) and Vienna (VIE/LOWW), and exceptionally on just this date, Leipzig (LEJ/EDDP). Therefore, I expected quite some passengers checking in at ZRH, too. However, there was just one counter open when I arrived and just one person in front of me. This passenger was quite agitated (rude and unfriendly), as he wanted to check in to VIE, which is an AB codeshare flight operated by Niki (HG/NLY). But funny enough, HG uses a different handling agent (Hahn Air) than AB, therefore the agent was not able to check him in. He was quite mad about it, as the Hahn Air counters were not yet staffed. When it was my turn, I got my desired window seat. After going through passport control and using that very annoying train (all with a tape with yodel music and cow moos) to the E-gates I arrived at security. Fortunately, the dreaded long wait at security did not happen today. After security, I wanted to buy my favorite drink, Coke light (Diet Coke for the North American readers). This was not possible, as the only place where you could buy something was out of stock. Can you believe this? They don’t allow to bring drinks but you can’t buy some either? (Ok, other drinks were available, to be fair.) My flight was at the western end of dock E and the gates of the other AB flights were nearby. Fortunately, all inbound flights were arriving on-time, as there was no fog this morning. There was a temporary extra security checkpoint for transfer passengers connecting between AB flights nearby. Boarding was via jetway and I took my window seat in the first half of the aircraft. We then pushed back and taxied to runway 28 for take-off. The flight was standard AB, with free drinks and a small sandwich provided (which I declined). Cabin attendants were friendly, but smiles were lacking. (Not as advertised: “Smiles included”.) I slept through part of the flight. Weather in HAM was grey and rainy, but there were some breaks in the lowest cloud layer from time to time and I was able to see down. We landed on runway 23 and taxied to an open stand. No stairs and ground crew were there, we had to wait for about 5-10 minutes. The captain apologized for the wait, explaining that we had a short notice change of our parking position. We were bused to Terminal 2. Baggage delivery took unusually long, with the first bags appearing only around 40 minutes after arrival! My bag was, of course, one of the last ones. I cleared customs and went to look for the AY check-in counter. I noticed that HAM airport is quite nice looking and modern. A construction site was located in between Terminals 1 and 2. I guess they will build a similar new terminal to connect the existing Terminals 1 and 2. (Will there be just one terminal after it’s finished or will they renumber the terminals to 1, 2 and 3?)

Boarding D-ABGB for the flight from ZRH to HAM.

Air Berlin Saturday-morning hub at ZRH.

Terminal 2 at HAM.

Date: 16Dec06
Route: Hamburg-Fuhlsbuttel (HAM/EDDH) - Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Schedule (local times): HAM 1320 - HEL 1610
Scheduled block time: 1:50
Flight number: AY 852
Airline/Operator: Finnair (AY/FIN)
Aircraft type: Embraer 170LR
Registration: OH-LEM

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Photo © Harri Koskinen
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Photo © Stefan Sjögren - Stockholm Arlanda Photography

AY’s check-in was also located in Terminal 2, so it was quick and easy to find. One counter was open and the second one was just being readied. I waited for the second one to open. A friendly agent checked me in, but he didn’t have a clue about the destinations I was going to, Nagoya and Fukuoka. He didn’t even dare to pronounce these names... quite funny. He just said: “Here’s the boarding pass to... to.... wherever you go.” My baggage was through-checked to my final destination FUK, but I did not get a boarding pass for the NGO-FUK leg. I then went through security (no long wait) and made my way to the gate. At the gate, detailed announcements were made about the whereabouts of our incoming aircraft. Such information as that the flight is now inbound and on-time and will appear at the gate and will be cleaned was given. I found some seats next to a power outlet and started to write this trip report on my laptop. Boarding was on-time and I took my window seat. The Embraer 170 is very generously laid out, with a very nice seat pitch. The seats were covered in blue AY tuned fabric, not quite as nice as the leather seats I enjoyed on my previous two Embraer 170 flights. There were two cabin attendants. I noticed that the crew were always referring to “safety belts” and not “seat belts” which I found a good way to emphasize that these belts actually have a purpose! Take-off was from runway 33 and flight time was about 1:30. No ground was visible from above, as the whole area was covered in a compact cloud layer. Service consisted of free drinks and a snack in a sealed plastic bag which I found quite cheap. Due to the pressure difference, said bag was looking like a balloon. I don’t remember the contents, but apparently nothing that caught my attention... The sun set midway through the flight and we landed in HEL on-time.

Gate for flight AY852 from HAM to HEL. Note the picture of the destination on the monitor. I like this feature.

OH-LEM pulling into the gate in HAM.

Line-up on HAM’s runway 33 in dreary weather.

Enroute from HAM to HEL. Note the Embraer 170’s nice 2-2 layout.

Nice orange glow after sunset. Taxiing to the gate at HEL.

Date: 16Dec06
Route: Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) - Nagoya-Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG)
Schedule (local times): HEL 1715 - NGO 0950
Scheduled block time: 9:35
Flight number: AY 079
Airline/Operator: Finnair (AY/FIN)
Aircraft type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Registration: OH-LGF

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Photo © Fabio Lorenzato - SpotIT

After arrival in HEL, I went to look for the transfer counter. I wanted to check if it was possible to check me in for my connecting flight from NGO to FUK (in HAM it wasn’t). There were two queues of about 5 passengers each, not moving at all in the 5 minutes I waited there. So I decided to give it up and I proceeded through the departure area to gate 33. All gates numbered from 30 are in the international (non-Schengen) sector. To get there, I had to go through immigration to leave the EU. At first, it seemed odd that there were only very few non-Schengen gates, numbered from 30 to 33. But actually, gate 31 is not just one gate, but many gates, numbered 31, 31a, 31b, 31c, 31d and 31e. Boarding at my gate 33 commenced quite early and we went through a long walkway to our aircraft, OH-LGF, adorned by a Santa Claus. I made my way to the very back of the cabin, where I had window seat 56L reserved. The back cabin is a 10-abreast section, whereas there is also an economy class section with 9-abreast seating in the middle of the plane. For my booking class Q, no seat reservation could be made in that 9-abreast section. When I arrived at my seat 56L, it was already occupied by an older Japanese passenger. It turns out his seat was 55L and he just sat in the wrong row. He politely and profusely apologized (in Japanese) and was already getting up when I offered to just swap seats, as he had the window seat, too. Too late I noticed that a very beautiful young lady was occupying the aisle seat of row 55! Well, instead of sitting (and possibly talking to that beauty) I ended up with the 3 seats in my row to myself, which wasn’t bad either! The flight was maybe 60% full. The crew was mixed Finnish/Japanese. After take-off, we circled the airport and I got a nice view at it and at Helsinki, too. Our route was over southern Siberia. A dinner was served, but there was no choice, just one meal. It was an Asian dish with rice and some meat morsels in a sauce. It didn’t taste very well, to be honest, but I ate it anyway. There was a bread roll and margarine (no butter), and there was silverware. The crew were very good for the frequent “water patrols” during the whole flight, which I appreciated. As far as IFE is concerned, this MD-11 did not have any personal screens, just the main screen. I was able to get quite some sleep. I tend to sleep quite ok on a row of 3 economy seats, much better than on one seat in business (but of course only if those Y seats remain empty!). I woke up over the Yellow Sea between China and Korea. The sun was already up by then and I managed to get a glimpse of South Korea, covered in snow, through a cloud break. We got hot towels and a breakfast which I skipped (except the bread roll). What was nice is that breakfast was served only just one hour before landing. After collecting all the trays, we were in descent to NGO. Approach was from the South to runway 36. The Lufthansa flight from FRA had just arrived ahead of us, but despite this, immigration was quick, which surprised me (at KIX and NRT I had two queue around 45-60 min on previous trips). I had to get my baggage and go through customs. I had to unpack my baggage for the customs agent. I guess they are unused to see passengers arriving with just a small cabin size backpack and a roller bag...

Impression of the gate area at HEL.

OH-LGF awaiting it’s passengers at HEL’s gate 33.

A couple of hours later. I woke up over the Yellow Sea.

Breakfast consisting of a couple of strange things. Don’t know if it was good or not as I didn’t taste it.

View of the 10-abreast cabin in the back of this MD-11.

Touchdown at NGO. The LH A340 has just arrived ahead of us and is taxiing to its gate.

Part of the modern NGO terminal. Shown here is the check-in area.

Santa Claus’s MD-11 OH-LGF brought me to Japan.

Date: 17Dec06
Route: Nagoya-Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG) - Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF)
Schedule (local times): NGO 1115 FUK 1240
Scheduled block time: 1:25
Flight number: JL 3209 (codeshare AY 6867)
Airline/Operator: JAL Express (JC/JEX)
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-446
Registration: JA8993

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Photo © Yuxiaobin

I needed to proceed to domestic check-in for my connection to FUK. Unfortunately, there were no more window seats available. This always disappoints me, as looking through the window is important to me, it’s my IFE, so to speak. Plus I like to take pictures whenever I can. Despite going through immigration, customs and check-in, my 1:25 transfer time still allowed me to go to the marvelous observation deck for a couple of minutes. I then went through security, which is always very efficient and without waiting times in Japan. Even back in 2001, security checkpoints in Japan used special devices for checking fluids. You place your bottles or cans onto a small device which then checks the fluid and if everything’s ok a green light illuminates. This is a very quick process, maybe 1 or 2 seconds. If the check fails, you can still take it through security after you opened it and the agent smelled at it. Why can’t we have something like this in Europe, too? No, we rather pay extortionate prices for drinks after security. (If they are available... see also my episode on my first leg of this trip....) At the gate I asked if maybe a window seat had become available, and yes, indeed it had! I was very happy about this! The agent just had to put my boarding pass through her machine and my old seat was crossed out and the new seat number indicated. Cool. Boarding was quick, but the flight was sold well. My seat was just the first row in Y class. C class was 5-abreast, with 2 seats on the left side. Y is 6-abreast. Because of the shift of the aisle from 2-3 to 3-3, the first row in Y has only two seats on the left and the place of the third seat is taken by some sort of console (see picture below). We departed on time. The flight was nice, with some gaps in the cloud cover allowing good views. Service consisted of different juices and water handed out by four charming female cabin attendants. We took the southern approach to FUK, landing on runway 34.

View from the great NGO observation deck towards the domestic wing. The JAL Express 737-400 would later bring me to FUK.

I love flight information boards. Looking very exotic in Japanese. My codeshare flight AY 6867 is listed on a separate line.

Part of the domestic gate area at modern NGO.

On board JA8993. Doors closed and cabin crew passing through for cabin check.

My seat row with that console mentioned in the text above.

The friendly wave by the ground crew, as usual in Japan. I always like to wave back!

Liftoff from NGO’s runway 36. In Japan, the airport’s name is always written alongside the runway. You can even see this on Google Earth.

Overlooking Osaka Bay enroute from NGO to FUK. The outer of the two islands on the right is the one built for Kobe (UKB/RJBE) airport.

Nice view of the city of Kurume, while approaching FUK from the south.

Nasty weather welcomes me to Fukuoka. Taxiing into our gate.

The weather in FUK was unusually cool, with strong winds and some sleet showers from time to time, which I found unusual. The next day, I did some spotting at FUK. Terminal 1 has a nice outside observation deck, unfortunately with a fence (but photography works if you use some zoom). Terminal 2 has glass around the observation deck, which was not very clean because of the recent rain, but at least it was good quality glass without any scratches. From midday, the sunlight is from the opposite direction. I went to look for a spot in the approach area (approaches were from the North that day). There was a spot if you just follow the road around the airport from Terminal 3 toward the International Terminal on the other side of the runway. I found it a bit too close to the approach path, however. The International Terminal is nice, but of absolutely no use for photography. The glass front of both observation decks is scratched and dirty and is of low quality.

Date: 19Dec06
Route: Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF) - Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT)
Schedule (local times): FUK 0810 - HND 0935
Scheduled block time: 1:25
Flight number: NH 242
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Boeing 747-481 D
Registration: JA8965

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Photo © James Rowson
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Photo © Jay Piboontum

I wanted to take the opportunity to fly on the upper deck of a 747 again. I tried to make a seat reservation two days before departure at the ticket counter, but this was not possible. I was told to contact UA as they had originally made my reservation. Then, on the evening before departure, I tried to check-in. This was also not possible. Therefore, I decided to check-in early the morning of the day of departure to secure an upper deck seat. FUK is ideally connected to the city by subway train. I arrived at the airport by 6:15 and check-in went quickly and I even got an upper deck window seat. I was also checked in for my connection to WKJ. Boarding was called about 20 minutes before departure and went smoothly. I was greeted by the friendly crew and took the stairs to the upper deck. Newspapers (including English language ones) were available at the entrance of the upper deck cabin and were also offered by the cabin attendants multiple times before and during the flight. Seating upstairs was 3-3. There are additional storage bins between the seats and the outer (curved) walls which was nice. Pushback was exactly on time. Take off was from runway 16 towards the south. The take off roll was quite short, I guess a 747 loaded about 65% on a domestic flight has lots of power reserves. It is nice how quiet take-off is on the upper deck, being so far away from the engines. (However, MD-80’s front seats are still unbeatable in this regard.) During climb, I could see the mountains of Kyushu Island, which had some fresh snow (which surprised me, considering the location of Kyushu). After climb, we were served drinks (several juices or soft drinks). Flight time was about 1:15. The flight above the cloud cover was uneventful. We approached over Oshima Island into HND, landing on Runway 34L. We used a lot of reverse and the rollout on the runway was surprisingly short. We taxied around the terminal and docked at the gate and I went to go see the screen with my connecting flight information.

Landside view of FUK’s Terminal 2.

The gate area at FUK. Waiting for NH 242 from FUK to HND.

Ship 965 being towed to gate 7. It would bring me to HND.

Boarding NH 242. Notice the boarding pass readers where passengers introduce their boarding passes themselves. This makes it so much speedier than in Europe. The machine to the left is used to input your frequent flyer code by introducing your boarding pass and frequent flyer card.

The upper deck of JA8965. The cockpit door is visible.

A nice feature on 747 upper decks is the storage bins between the seat and the window.

Shortly after take-off from FUK, on the way to HND.

Oshima Island and its airport (OIM/RJTO), which I would visit later, visible during approach to HND.

Date: 19Dec06
Route: Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT) - Wakkanai (WKJ/RJCW)
Schedule (local times): HND 1105 - WKJ 1300
Scheduled block time: 1:55
Flight number: NH 571
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-211
Registration: JA8383

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Photo © Kazuteru Sugawara

Before going to the gate, I had a quick lunch at a small ANA Festa restaurant in the gate area. My flight was boarding from the “bus lounge”. The information board at the gate announced that our flight was now “servicing”. The accurateness of the information given at Japanese airports is amazing. We boarded a “Friendly Airport Limousine”, which was the bus that brought us to the aircraft. Boarding was through the front door. The flight was very lightly booked, I estimated a load factor of about 30% only. As always, the crew, consisting of 4 lovely ladies, greeted all passengers warmly. (It just comes to my mind that I haven’t seen a single male cabin attendant throughout my travels through Japan.) The aircraft had a very dated looking but clean interior. The seats were covered in two different light color (green and blue) fabrics. I somehow had the impression I had gone back to the 70’ies, but of course the A320 is younger. It certainly looked very old fashioned. The seats were outright uncomfortable, very hard and strangely shaped. I normally don’t have any problems with airline seats of any kind. We took off from runway 34R, with an immediate right turn to avoid overflying Tokyo. I had a good view towards this mega-city. The flight progressed from Tokyo over Northern Honshu, called Tohoku in Japanese. We flew over two volcanic crater lakes, Lake Tazawa and Lake Towada, before crossing Mutsu Bay, Shimokita peninsula and then Tsugaru Strait, the body of water separating Honshu and Hokkaido islands. Before descent, the captain made a lengthy speech, but unfortunately in Japanese only. There was a compact cloud cover over the Wakkanai area (and over the whole of Hokkaido, for that matter). We descended through the clouds when I suddenly noticed Wakkanai on the left side. We then flew a circling approach towards runway 26. This was done flying very low as the cloud base was low, too. The area was snow covered, but the runway was clear. We touched down and taxied to the parking area. There are 3 to 4 parking positions (depending on aircraft size) and one jetway, where we docked. I then asked the cabin crew if I could take a picture of the interior of the aircraft (after the passengers had disembarked) but this was politely denied. (Of course in Japan you never get a straight no, so the crew mentioned I could take a picture outside the aircraft.) The standard speech mentioned that it was forbidden to use electronic devices (including digital cameras, but this specifically is only mentioned in the Japanese version of the speech) from the time when the fasten seat belt sign was turned on until leaving the aircraft. This rule was apparently followed by the book. Of the few passengers, only about 5 parties had checked baggage, which arrived quickly at the sole carousel. In Japan, you will always have to show your baggage receipt which will then be compared with your receipt and if everything’s ok they will then take off the label and take the receipt and throw it away for you. There was a bus connection from the airport to the city (the city bus meets each flight, at the time I was there, there were just 3 daily flights). However, I didn’t take this bus as I wanted to see and photograph the departure of the A320 that brought me there. As on all Japanese airports, there was an observation deck, however, the one outside was closed (presumably during the winter). But there was a nice and lovingly kept (with nice pictures of the area on the walls) inside deck with clean glass through which I could get some nice shots. The weather, however, was quite nasty with light snow showers and strong winds. I then went back to the ticket desk to have the tickets issued for those NH flights that I had booked over the web. For this, I had to show my credit card. After everything was accomplished, I took a taxi to town. The trip to town took about 25 minutes and the taxi was about JPY 4200.

Flight information board showing all departures from the bus lounge. I will be on NH 571 to Wakkanai soon.

While wandering around the HND gate area, I noticed screens showing the seat availabilities for return flights. This screen was at a gate of a Sapporo-New Chitose (
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User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 618 posts, RR: 5
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Typical scene at ANA’s Terminal 2 at HND.

On-time boarding of NH 571 to Wakkanai. In the background the “Friendly Airport Limousine” that will bring us to our airplane.

Waiting to board JA8383 on the way from HND to WKJ.

Lining up on HND’s runway 34L.

View back down on busy HND airport shortly after take-off from runway 34L.

The right turn after take-off from 34L has already commenced. View towards Tokyo.

Lake Towada is a volcanic crater lake. The cone of the volcano is the peninsula at the bottom. Visible from flight NH 571 from HND to WKJ.

Approaching Wakkanai, shortly after we broke through the clouds. Nice view of the city.

Circling for runway 26, view of WKJ airport on downwind 26.

Turning finals 26 at WKJ.

JA8383 docked at WKJ, just one of 3 daily flights (during winter schedule) at this small airport. Taken from the nicely kept indoors observation deck.

JA8383 taxies to runway 26 for its flight back to HND in the snow flurries.

Date: 20Dec06
Route: Wakkanai (WKJ/RJCW) - Sapporo-New Chitose (CTS/RJCC)
Schedule (local times): WKJ 1115 - CTS 1215
Scheduled block time: 1:00
Flight number: NH 4924
Airline/Operator: A-net/Air Nippon Network (EH/AKX)
Aircraft type: Bombardier DHC-8-314 Dash 8Q
Registration: JA805K

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After having spent an afternoon and a night in the northernmost city of Japan (from where ferries to Sakhalin Island, Russia depart), I made my way back to the airport by taxi again. Otherwise I would not have been able to take pictures of my airplane arriving. I was checked in by a courteous check-in lady. In Japan, after check-in, you then have to bring your baggage to the screeners, who screen it and put a security label over the zipper (or the lock). Then you have to show your ticket again to an agent of the airline who then prints the baggage labels and puts then on the bag. I then went up to the observation deck again, where I witnessed the arrival of my Dash 8. The weather was much better than the day before, with the sun occasionally breaking through. Then I went through security to the gate area. Boarding was only 5 minutes before scheduled departure. All passengers were Japanese businessmen (all in dark suits) except a single older lady and me. We boarded through the same gate as is used to go to the jetway, except we then took the stairs down to the tarmac and walked to the aircraft for boarding. The greeting by the extraordinarily friendly crew (they are always very friendly in Japan, but this one was just outstanding) was very welcoming. My seat was in the second last row, meaning that I was so close to the jump seat that I probably wouldn’t be able to take pictures during take-off without getting noticed by the crew. Plus the window was quite scratched. The cabin attendants inquired if I spoke any Japanese. I replied I didn’t. They said in this case they would give their speeches in English, too. I replied that this was not necessary as I was flying quite often. She said ok but then showed me the safety card just to make sure. During the flight, they started to make announcements in English anyway. The more junior cabin attendant then asked me if I could understand her English. I replied that yes I did (and this was in fact the truth) and she seemed to be very happy about it. I guess it’s nice for them to practice their English this way. During and after take-off I managed to take a couple of pictures without being noticed (or maybe they just didn’t say anything). After the fasten seat belt sign was coming off, the crew then asked me what I would like to drink and I chose water. Also, fruit candies were offered during the flight. There was a solid cloud cover until we started the descent to CTS. We landed on runway 19L and taxied back to the northern end of the airport where Air Do and A-net park. We were then bused to the terminal, where our baggage was already waiting. I must say that the crew on this flight was just superbly charming, their hospitality and smiles felt like they were truly genuine.

Back at WKJ airport. Note the airport sign in Russian, next to Japanese and English. Sakhalin Island is just north of Wakkanai with regularly scheduled ferry connections.

The check-in area at WKJ. Check-in is on the other side of the baggage scanner and baggage drop on this side.

I love the old-style flight information boards which make that rattling sound. However, there are just 3 flights from WKJ, so not much rattling here.

Before entering the screening area before going to the gate. Note the sign in Russian.

Waiting to board NH 4924 from WKJ to CTS. My fellow passengers were mostly businessmen.

Walking across the ramp to beautiful JA805K.

During boarding of flight NH 4924, a Dash 8-300, on the way from WKJ to CTS.

Lining up on runway 26, ready to depart.

Nice view of WKJ’s cozy terminal, just shortly after take-off from runway 26.

And finally, a good view back towards the airport. Cape Soya, Japan’s northernmost point (except for the disputed Kuril Islands) is visible in the background. This picture comes close to the pictures on A.net that inspired me to visit WKJ.

I now had a couple of hours to spend spotting at CTS. I knew from previous experience that the outdoors observation deck would be closed during winter time, but there is an area with some large (and clean) windows from the 3rd floor. You can even get a chair from the “garden” restaurant that operates in this area. You have a good view of both runways used by civilian traffic. Nice pictures are possible from there. I especially liked to photograph the approaching traffic with a long zoom lens with the nice, snow covered mountains in the background.

Date: 20Dec06
Route: Sapporo-New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) - Hakodate (HKD/RJCH)
Schedule (local times): CTS 1755 - HKD 1830
Scheduled block time: 0:35
Flight number: TSQ 104
Airline/Operator: Airtransse (--/TSQ)
Aircraft type: Beechcraft 1900D Airliner
Registration: JA017A

(no pictures of this aircraft on a.net)

I was especially looking forward to this flight, as it was with a little known airline and with an aircraft type I had only flown 3 times before. After darkness set in, I could no longer spot from that window and I proceeded to the check-in area of Airtransse, which is located in the same area as the JL group, consisting of JL, HAC (Hokkaido Air System) and JC. I was too early for check-in, but they took my suitcase anyway and had it x-rayed and labeled for me. I was asked to come back again about 50 minutes before departure to get checked-in. When I checked in, I got a nice, unusual boarding pass. It was a preprinted form with the Airtransse logo on it and a schematic display of the seat map. The appropriate seat, in my case 3C, was highlighted on the seat map. The route and date was stamped and the rest of the information (flight number, passenger name, baggage label number) was handwritten into the appropriate spaces. The check-in agents were very friendly, it seems they were proud to work for their small airline! One agent even spoke German to me, apparently one of her parents were from Germany. Boarding was on-time and it turned out we were only 5 passengers. We were driven to the aircraft by a minivan and boarded the orange painted aircraft (every one of Airtransse’s aircraft is in different colors). Two male passengers were very amused of the small aircraft. Indeed it’s unusually small for Japan, where widebodies rule.... A lady from Airtransse’s own ground staff made the security announcements on board the aircraft (Japanese only) and then she disembarked. There were two cockpit crew and there was no door to the cockpit. It was nice to see what was going on there. The funniest thing was that both pilots had white gloves (as is common for bus drivers in Japan). Another Airtransse ground staff, possibly a loader or a technician, was also joining us in the cabin. He closed the door. I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence, but maybe a technician based at HKD is provided to CTS on a daily basis? We took off from runway 19R. The flight was short and uneventful. The airline had a small inflight magazine on board with letters from the president or CEO (all in Japanese) and with the schedule of the airline. This was “homemade”, using a color laser printer and a folder. Quite personable. There was also a route map, showing the actual ATC routes for each flight. A nice touch. After arrival in HKD, we were again picked up by an Airtransse minivan and brought to the arrivals area. Having been to HKD a couple of years ago, I remembered the nice, but old terminal with the observation deck, where I had spent some time watching YS-11’s at that time. I was looking forward to being there again, and also, I was looking forward to going to use that observation deck, which had just a railing without any glass or fence, which was nice. I must say I was quite shocked when I discovered that HKD now had a completely new airport! Of course, the old one was gone and so was that observation deck. There is now a new observation deck with glass walls, which make photography difficult, especially as the glass was somewhat dirty and not of the best quality. But otherwise the new airport is fantastic, one of the best I have seen in this size category! I took the bus to town, which runs every 20 minutes for JPY 300 one-way.

The Airtransse check-in area, in between JAL and Skymark Airlines.

Boarding flight TSQ 104 from CTS to HKD. Most of the passengers visible boarded a JL flight simultaneously.

Boarding Beech 1900D JA017A for the short flight to HKD.

Route map of Airtransse’s route network, showing the actual flight paths. We took path V30.

Flight arrival board at HKD’s spanking new terminal.

A view of the modern check-in area at HKD. I would be checking in there the next morning.

Date: 21Dec06
Route: Hakodate (HKD/RJCH) - Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT)
Schedule (local times): HKD 1250 - HND 1415
Scheduled block time: 1:25
Flight number: NH 854
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Boeing 747-481 D
Registration: JA8099

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Photo © Danny H. Masson (Flyskyward)
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Photo © Jeroen Hribar - AirTeamImages

Next morning, I went to the airport early to be able to watch (and photograph) the traffic consisting of Airtransse Beech 1900, Air Nippon Network DHC-8 and HAC Saab 340 movements. As a bonus, one of JCAB’s Saab 2000 was also there and was departing during my stay. For me, having worked for the once largest European regional airline, it was especially nice to see a Saab 2000 again! I checked in early for my three-segment journey back to FUK. The check-in area was empty at around 3 hours before departure. I requested window seats for all three legs, but these could only be confirmed for 2 out of the 3 flights today. I went through security, there were no queues and consequently no wait. Boarding was called around 15 minutes before scheduled departure time and the process was completed quickly as there was only a light load on this 747 flight (my estimate would be around 120 passengers only). Pushback was 3 minutes ahead of schedule and we taxied to runway 12 for take-off. Take-off felt quite powerful, with the aircraft almost empty. Unfortunately, most of the way it was cloudy, but I could get a glimpse of the area around Aomori (AOJ/RJSA). Descent into HND airport was unspectacular, and the sky was grey. We approached over a coal harbour on the other side of Tokyo Bay and landed on runway 34L. We taxied around the JL and NH terminals before we got to our gate. I took the exit for transfer passengers which brings you directly to the departure gates without the need to pass through security again. I grabbed a quick meal at the same ANA Festa restaurant again before I went to my gate 62.

HKD’s observation deck and tower.

Very efficiently organised unloading of JA8099 which just arrived from HND and would bring be back there.

Flight NH 854 was not well booked. View of the rear cabin during boarding.

Lining up on HKD’s runway 12.

Date: 21Dec06
Route: Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT) - Osaka-Itami (ITM/RJOO)
Schedule (local times): HND 1500 - ITM 1550
Scheduled block time: 0:50
Flight number: NH 31
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-281
Registration: JA712A

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Photo © Michael Schmidt

The check-in agent at HKD who checked me trough all the way to FUK could not give me a window seat for this leg. So, at the gate I asked if it was possible to change my seat to a window seat. I was very happy when they could get me 17K, a window bulkhead in the front half of the aircraft, just next to the awesome PW engine. Boarding was again started 15 minutes before departure (this seems to be the standard in Japan) and was finished very quickly (also a Japanese standard). The aircraft assigned to this flight, JA712A, wore the Star Alliance colors. Boarding was organised very efficiently, two jetways were used and passengers seated along the right aisle were directed to the front door and passengers seated along the left aisle through the second door. During boarding I grabbed an English language Japanese newspaper to update myself on world events. (Most of the hotels I was using in Japan had no BBC World or CNN.) After take-off, I could see Mt. Fuji in between two layers of clouds. This is always a nice sight. The flight was quite full. Service consisted of the standard juices and drinks. We approached over the huge sprawl of Osaka and landed on runway 32L. The gate we used was already marked as NH427 to FUK at 1730, so I would be riding on that very same aircraft shortly again. I went to check out the terminal and observation deck. Unfortunately, it was already too dark for decent photography.

During boarding of flight NH 31 from HND to ITM. Two jetways were used, the sign is directing passengers through the appropriate jetway, depending on their seat letters.

Date: 21Dec06
Route: Osaka-Itami (ITM/RJOO) - Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF)
Schedule (local times): ITM 1730 - FUK 1845
Scheduled block time: 1:15
Flight number: NH 427
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-281
Registration: JA712A

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Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages

Back at the gate, only a handful of passengers were waiting for this flight. At first I thought that boarding had already commenced, but this was not the case. This flight was going to be very lightly loaded indeed. When I strolled through the terminals just a while before, I looked at the flight information board. In Japan, these boards always show whether the flights still have many, few or no seats available. The next (and last) flight on the ITM to FUK route after my flight was marked full. It was operated by a Dash 8-400Q of A-net. That explains why I couldn’t get a seat on it. I would have preferred the Q400 over the 777 for reasons of variety, instead of using the same 777 again (no offense 777!). Boarding was called only about 10 minutes before departure, probably due to the very light load. In my estimate, there were a maximum of 100 passengers on board. Inside the cabin, all the seats except almost all window seats remained empty. The aircraft has 52 rows, so that’s where my load estimate comes from. The flight was uneventful and quick and the approach to FUK was from the north (runway 16), which is quite impressive in darkness, as you can see the lights along the coast. We parked at Terminal 2. Only a handful of passengers had checked baggage which was delivered quickly. I hopped on the subway and was at Hakata train station 10 minutes later.

View of ITM’s NH check-in area.

Just after taking my seat in the back of very lightly booked NH 427, a Boeing 777-281 in Star Alliance colours, from ITM to FUK.

Date: 22Dec06
Route: Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF) - Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT)
Schedule (local times): FUK 1015 - HND 1145
Scheduled block time: 1:30
Flight number: JL 1710
Airline/Operator: JAL Japan Airlines (JL/JAL)
Aircraft type: Boeing 747-346
Registration: JA8711

(no pictures of this aircraft in current colour scheme on a.net)

I went to check-in quite early, in order to secure a seat on the upper deck. I had a window seat on the main deck reserved at the time of booking. The seat map for the upper deck could not be selected. It turns out that the upper deck remained closed for this flight, as apparently the loads did not justify it. When I booked this flight, I still had a slight hope of flying on the last 747-146B SUD. But later, the Japanese A.netters had confirmed that the last one was already taken out of service earlier. Of course they were right and a 747-300 showed up instead. Not bad either, I hadn’t flown on one for over 9 years (in May 1997 with Ansett International from HKG Kai Tak to SYD!). The aircraft interior looked quite old fashioned, with old style (and thick) window panels. Flowery “wallpaper” adorned the aircraft. My seat was quite worn and slightly leaning towards the window. But it would be ok for such a short flight. The flight was maybe 60% full. We took off from runway 16 towards the south and then made a left turn. We flew over the round Kunisaki Peninsula (shaped by the volcano in the middle) and over the city of Matsuyama (MYJ/RJOM) and I could see that airport. The maze of numerous islands dotting the Inland Sea was also visible. Later, the landing was on the usual runway 34L at HND. I had planned to do some spotting after this flight, unfortunately, the weather was not that good. After lunch time, it’s normally better to use the Terminal 2 observation deck due to the direction of the sunlight. The absence of sunlight allowed some photography from the Terminal 1 deck, however. During my stay, later at Terminal 2’s deck, King Abdullah from Jordan departed HND with his A340-200. I had booked a room at the very nice Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu in Terminal 2, where I spent the night, not after visiting crazy Shinjuku in Tokyo (quite a sight!).

My 747-346 JA8177 waiting at the gate, getting readied for the flight from FUK to HND.

Inside JA8177. Note the rather thick window panels.

Overhead Matsuyama (MYJ/RJOM) enroute from FUK to HND. MYJ’s airport is visible in the left part of the picture.

Can you spot both artificial island airports in Osaka Bay?

Date: 23Dec06
Route: Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT) - Oshima (OIM/RJTO)
Schedule (local times): HND 0820 - OIM 0855
Scheduled block time: 0:35
Flight number: NH 841
Airline/Operator: A-net/Air Nippon Network (EH/AKX)
Aircraft type: Bombardier DHC-8-314 Dash 8Q
Registration: JA801K

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Photo © Stuart Lawson
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Photo © Hirofumi Fujiwara

Next morning, I was up early to go to check-in for this flight. Despite having an over 5 hour stop at OIM, my baggage was checked through to my final destination HAC without being asked, which suited me fine. This was the first time on this trip that I was on a full flight. Since the suspension of the two daily Miyake Jima (MYE/RJTQ) flights, my flight was the only one operated out of HND by the Dash 8-300, the smallest aircraft operating regularly from HND. (Do any of the Japanese A.netters know why services to MYE are suspended?) It was a Saturday morning and apparently, my destination, OIM, is popular with Tokyoites for weekend breaks. We boarded by bus, which had the destination mentioned on a display. Several passengers were again amused of the small aircraft and took a lot of photos during boarding. Every seat was indeed taken. The announcements were done in Japanese only. I guess neither of the two cabin attendants spoke much if any English. We joined the queue of widebodies trekking to the departure runway 34R, however we then turned right, over to runway 34L, which is normally used for landings (at least these were my observations). We took off towards the north with a sharp left turn. During this flight we had a good view of Mt. Fuji in the distance. The flight was very short and we landed at OIM on runway 03 soon. Just as my flight was disembarking, a Dornier 228 of NCA was boarding. I rushed to the no-fence, no-glass observation deck of OIM’s modern but small terminal to catch this Do 228 departing. There was also some helicopter activity by a company called TAL (Toho Air Service), which is doing an island hopper connecting all the islands of the Izu-Shoto archipelago with a Sikorsky S-76C. I got to see another Do 228 movement and an Air Nippon 737-500 coming in from HAC via OIM to HND. I passed much of the waiting time (when I was not on the great observation deck) in the departure area. I was writing this trip report on my laptop, when a ground staff of NH contacted me and asked me whether I had wireless LAN on my laptop. He asked me to check if the free connection he was trying to set up would work. Unfortunately it didn’t, even after some testing. I found it very nice to be at such a small airport with a familiar feel, where even customers are asked to help.

Departure screen, showing my flight NH 841 to OIM is fully booked, indicated by the “x” symbol.

Everyone has taken their seats and we are ready for engine start. On board JA801K, a Dash 8-300.

A prop among HND’s heavy metal!

JA801K parked at OIM’s ramp. The airport is nicely located, overlooking the sea towards the mainland.

The small and quiet, but charming OIM airport. Here’s a view down to the check-in area.


Date: 23Dec06
Route: Oshima (OIM/RJTO) - Hachijojima (HAC/RJTH)
Schedule (local times): OIM 1430 - HAC 1505
Scheduled block time: 0:35
Flight number: NH 849
Airline/Operator: Air Nippon (EL/ANK)
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-5L9
Registration: JA358K

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Photo © Dickson Ching - HKAEC
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I had already obtained my boarding pass in HND, so I went straight to security, not after first awaiting my aircraft’s arrival on the observation deck. As stated before, one flight a day is routed HND-OIM-HAC and vice versa. But the flight does not carry a through flight number and all transit (well, transfer, in this instance) passengers have to get off. But they can directly proceed to the waiting lounge, without going through security again. There were about 50 passengers on this flight. We boarded (there is no jetway at OIM, and you can walk directly to the aircraft) on-time. I liked the light and airy interior of this 737-500. It felt quite roomy and bright. The crew was very charming. We took for the short flight to HAC on-time and from runway 26. Our flight passed over Miyake Jima (MYE/RJTQ), where I was able to get a glimpse of the airport through the clouds. We approached HAC from the east. The runway is situated on a ridge between the islands two main volcanoes with steep drop-offs on each side. HAC has one jetway, which we used. There was only a very short wait for the baggage. My roller bag usually stands firm on its feet, but when I let go this time, it toppled over. At first, I thought, ouch, it’s really badly packed, with the CG way off.... but then it happened again and I discovered that one foot was missing. A lady from ground staff noticed it and she apologised very much and asked me to make a report about it. I didn’t want to do this, as I need a new bag anyway.... this one was quite old already. I went up to the observation deck (also free of fence or glass) and watched my aircraft depart back to HND. HAC had great scenery in the background, unfortunately, apart from the same TAL helicopter I saw at OIM already and a Tokyo Fire Department AS332 Super Puma helicopter, there was no other traffic. HAC is quite an old airport, probably 60’ies design. I walked the 2 km to my hotel from the airport.

The gate area at OIM. Our aircraft, JA358K, is awaiting us.

The roomy interior of our 737-500 from OIM to HAC. The charming cabin attendants are preparing the flight.

A view back to the nice terminal at OIM.

And a view of Oshima Island. The volcanic origin is evident by the shape of the mountain.

Docked at HAC a short while later. The cleaning crew is ready for action.

The old-fashioned observation deck of HAC’s airport. Nice scenery in the background. The runway is located in a valley between HAC’s two main volcanoes.

Date: 24Dec06
Route: Hachijojima (HAC/RJTH) - Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT)
Schedule (local times): HAC 0905 - HND 0950
Scheduled block time: 0:45
Flight number: NH 822
Airline/Operator: ANA All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA)
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-211
Registration: JA8383

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Photo © Kazuteru Sugawara

I took the first flight out of HAC the next morning. At check-in, I encountered the lady who witnessed my bag mishap the evening before. She once again apologized profusely for it and she told me that they had searched the airport for the missing part and it was not found. I thanked them very much, but mentioned that I needed a new bag anyway. I had prereserved seat number 7A. At the check-in desk, they had a laminated, big seat map of the A320 and they pointed to my seat on the map and asked if that was ok. A nice touch. I went up to the observation deck to see my A320 arrive. It was the very same aircraft I had used a couple of days before from HND to WKJ. Boarding was (of course) on-time. I noticed a big A320 seat map hanging from a wall in the jetway near the aircraft entrance - obviously they will put the seat map of the actual aircraft type is operating a flight there and change it for each flight. The flight was lightly booked, maybe about 40%. We took off from runway 26. The aircraft then circled and passed overhead the airport again, giving me good views of both the southern and northern parts of the islands. I could directly see into the small crater of the volcano in the northern part of the island. A road circling the volcano and a hiking trail going up to the rim of the crater could also be seen. It may be worthwhile to spend more time on this island next time. Our flight path took us to the east of the Izu-Shoto chain of islands and therefore only water was visible from my seat. Service on this flight consisted of candies only. We landed on runway (you guessed it...) 34L in HND. I spent the afternoon spotting on a great, sunny day from Terminal 2’s observation deck.

Boarding of flight NH 822, an A320, from HAC to HND has just begun.

During taxi to the start of runway 26, the terminal and the northern volcano, Mt. Hachijo-fuji, is nicely visible.

Lining up on runway 26.

Great view down into the crater of Mt. Hachijo-fuji. A road rings the cone.

The coal harbor, visible on any approach to HND’s runway 34R (at least on my flights).

HND’s beautiful Terminal 2, mainly used by NH. Other tenants are Skynet Asia Airways and Air Do.

Date: 25Dec06
Route: Tokyo-Haneda (HND/RJTT) - Osaka-Kansai (KIX/RJBB)
Schedule (local times): HND 0855 - KIX 1015
Scheduled block time: 1:20
Flight number: JL 1305 (codeshare AY 6892)
Airline/Operator: JAL Japan Airlines (JL/JAL)
Aircraft type: Boeing 767-346
Registration: JA8398

(no pictures of this aircraft in current colour scheme on a.net)

From the very nice Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu in Terminal 2, where I stayed again, I had to use the underpass connecting Terminal 2 with Terminal 1, where I checked in at the JL „international through check-in“ counters. I was given a boarding pass for my flight to KIX and my baggage was labeled through to RVN. The lovely check-in agent had a list of all connecting passengers in front of her, from this I could see that I was not the only passenger connecting to the AY flight. I did not get the boarding pass for my onward flight to Finland. Checking the flight information monitors, I noticed that our flight was sold out, as the “x” was shown. I went through security (as usual for Japanese domestic flights, there was no queue) to the gate area. There was just some time for some spotting and photography of a couple of JL birds taxiing in front of the window. Boarding was again started exactly 15 minutes before departure. I took my window seat in the back of the aircraft. Push-back was just a tad late, around 0858. We taxied to runway 34R for take-off. We did the usual sharp right turn after take-off, which gave me a nice view back to the airport, as I was seated on the right side. After reaching cruising level we passed quite close to Mt. Fuji, which was well visible through a thin layer of cloud. Next, we were treated with an unclouded view of Ise Bay near Nagoya. The Chubu Centrair island airport (NGO/RJGG), where I first landed on this trip to Japan, was well visible. We then descended into the Kansai area and approached KIX from the south. The town and harbour of Wakayama were well visible. We docked at a gate in the center of the long KIX terminal.

JAL’s check-in area in the North Wing of HND’s older Terminal 1.

JA8398 being readied for my flight from HND to KIX.

Suddenly, Mt. Fuji became visible through the thin cloud layer enroute from HND to KIX on flight JL 1305.

The crew offering the typical drink service during the flight from HND to KIX, on a Boeing 767-300.

Overflying NGO airport, located in Ise Bay.

After several years, KIX airport is still looking modern. Here the central area, from where domestic flights are handled.

Date: 25Dec06
Route: Osaka-Kansai (KIX/RJBB) - Rovaniemi (RVN/EFRO)
Schedule (local times): KIX 1200 - RVN 1520
Scheduled block time: 10:20
Flight number: AY 078
Airline/Operator: Finnair (AY/FIN)
Aircraft type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11
Registration: OH-LGA

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Photo © Harri Koskinen

Now was the time to say goodbye to Japan, which I have become to like very much after several trips in the last couple of years. After disembarking the previous flight, I went to an information desk in the baggage area to enquire about check-in. I had to go to the international departures level on the 4th floor where I was checked in (no queues). It just took a couple of minutes longer, as the check-in agent had to fill in some forms regarding my through-checked baggage (possibly for customs?). I had a quick lunch at the McDonald’s restaurant in the domestic arrival area (you never know what you get on the flight...). I then went to security, where, for the first time in Japan on this trip, there was a queue. However the procedures were similar to the ones for domestic flights. It always amazes me why not more resources are dedicated to international operations. Is it supposed to be difficult to travel internationally? Are you supposed to be queuing? This all while Japanese domestic operations show that it is indeed possible to do it smoothly.... I don’t get it. Anyway, let me stop complaining now. The wait was short, maybe about 10-15 minutes. Still much better than in Europe (of course it also depends on the day and time). Interestingly, for a flight destined to the EU, fluids were allowed through security, but were checked on that nice little fluid checker machines, which I have become love so much during my travels in Japan. There was another very short queue at immigration. I took some sort of monorail to the gate 1-5 area, where my flight was boarding. Our aircraft had again Santa Claus applied, but it was OH-LGA this time. (So Santa indeed has more than one vehicle, after all!). Boarding was called by seat rows and a large sign indicating this was shown so that everyone would understand it. I went to my prereserved 56L seat (same as on the flight to Japan). (I chose a seat on the right side of the aircraft, so that I could keep my window shades open during the daylight flight to RVN at all times. This side is oriented to the north, so there would be no sunrays entering and illuminating the whole cabin and disturb passengers who want to sleep.) Luck ran out when a nice older Japanese couple took the seats next to me. So it was going to be just one seat for the next 10 hours... However, the flight was maybe only 70% full. In the end I managed to change to the very last row in the back after take-off, where I had a pair of 2 seats to myself. The crew was again a mixed Japanese/Finnish crew. One of the two female Japanese cabin attendants serving the back of the cabin was top notch, in every respect: friendly, cheerful, attentive and very attractive, too. Some of the crew were wearing Santa Claus hats, which was quite funny. Flight time to RVN was indicated with exactly 10 hours. Push-back was 5 minutes early and we taxied to runway 06 for take-off. The take-off run felt quite long and after take-off we took a left turn over Osaka Bay. From my side, I had a great view of the bay, the Osaka/Kyoto area, the new Kobe island airport just across the bay from KIX and later the hugely impressive Awaji-jima suspension bridge, connecting the Japanese mainland with Shikoku Island by way of Awaji-jima Island. We made a full circle and I had a great view down to Osaka, where I could even recognize the hotel I stayed at during a previous trip to Japan. We then headed north, across the Japanese Alps. We then overflew Sado-ga-shima Island off Japan’s northern coast, near Niigata (KIJ/RJSN). Then our course took us across the Sea of Japan towards Siberia. Drinks and a hot meal were served. This was one of the stranger meals I have had on flights. Half the plate was plain rice and the other half was something indefinable (see pictures), maybe some sort vegetables in a brown sauce? Since I’m not got at trying foods I don’t know, I just had the rice and the bread roll. (So, after all, it was a good idea I had filled up at McD before departure!) The trays were cleared very quickly and the flight went into “sleeping” mode. We took a northerly route, via Khabarovsk, Mirnyj, Igarka, Novy Urengoj and Vorkuta and there was just twilight for most of the time. Our route then took us over the White Sea near Naryan-Mar and Arkhangelsk. About 1:30 before landing, a second meal was served, ravioli, which tasted quite good. We had to cross the Russian-Finnish border quite far to the south, in the Lappeenranta/Savonlinna area (as if our destination was HEL). Just after crossing the border, we made a sharp right turn towards the north again. I presume there are no official airways crossing from Russia to Finland in the far north? Before we turned north again, we even had a bit of daylight again. It was quite impressive to see the orange/red color of the rising sun, even the contrail originating from our aircraft was tinted in that co

User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 618 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 19887 times:

Our final approach took us over the snow covered and lighted town centre of Rovaniemi. We landed on runway 03, which was clear of snow. The only other aircraft at the airport was a Thomas Cook B757-200. Most of the passengers disembarked at RVN. The few transit passengers to HEL were asked to stay on board. Except for relatives of the crew (part of the cabin crew stayed at RVN) I seemed to be the only non-Japanese passenger getting off. This raised an eyebrow with the immigration officer, I had to explain my routing. My request for a Christmas Day entry stamp from Rovaniemi into my passport was denied. The baggage arrived quite fast. I went outside of the terminal (temperature -11°C) to check if there was any sort of transportation to town. Except tour buses for the Japanese groups, there was none, except a prebooked taxi for the crew. The driver was kind enough to call another taxi for me. The town is quite small (population around 35’000) and was very quiet on this Christmas Day.

Unusual destination RVN on KIX’s flight information screen.

One of the two international check-in areas is the North Departures area, where AY’s check-in was located.

Santa’s plane (OH-LGA) awaiting passengers to Finland at KIX.

A departing JL 777-200 was seen off by a large party of JL staff. Can anyone read what the banner says?

View of Kobe (UKB/RJBE) airport shortly after take-off from KIX.

The majestic Awaji-jima suspension bridge, connecting the mainland with Awaji-jima Island and ultimately Shikoku Island.

View of Sado-ga-shima Island and its main town, Ryotsu. The runway can be seen in the center. Islanders from Niigata (KIJ/RJSN) connect this island by air. That would be worth a trip next time!

I liked the rice, but didn’t try the rest. Meal on AY 078 from KIX to RVN.

Our route across Siberia on airshow.

Somewhere over the White Sea, near Arkhangelsk or Naryan-Mar.

Horizon and contrail tinted in beautiful orange/red. During flight AY 078 from KIX to RVN on Christmas Day 2006.

Approaching dark Rovaniemi at 5:00 pm on 25Dec06.

This pair of seats in the very last row of MD-11 OH-LGA was my home for the last 10 hours. Note the huge windows on the MD-11.

Docked at RVN during the transit stop enroute from KIX to HEL. I got off in RVN.

Santa Claus not only has airplanes, but an airport too. I didn’t see his sledge taking-off or landing, though.

The sign placed in the arrivals area of RVN says it all.

Outside RVN’s terminal across the car park. Welcome to Lapland.

Date: 26Dec06
Route: Rovaniemi (RVN/EFRO) - Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL/EFHK)
Schedule (local times): RVN 1255 - HEL 1410
Scheduled block time: 1:15
Flight number: AY 4438
Airline/Operator: Finnair (AY/FIN)
Aircraft type: Airbus A321-211
Registration: OH-LZF

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Photo © PM van der Knoop
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Photo © Stefan Sjögren - Stockholm Arlanda Photography

I booked an Airport Express bus to go to the airport. This service collects passengers all over town and transports them to the airport. At EUR 5, this service is considerably cheaper than a taxi. Because they meet actual flights only, you cannot go to the airport as early as you wish. Pick-up is around 1 hour before departure only. Not what I usually prefer, as I like to be there early to get a window seat at check-in, explore the airport and watch the arrival of my aircraft. I could see the sunrise (or sunset? - anyway it seems to be perpetual sunrise/sunset during the short time it was visible) during our trip to the airport. It was around 1200 local time, and according to the Finnish meteo website this day was only going to be 2:11 from sunrise to sunset. Arrival at the airport was about 45 minutes before departure. Check-in was quick, with no seat assignments on AY’s domestic flights, so this would allow me to get a window seat anyway. I just made it outside again quickly and found a pile of snow to stand on to snap a couple of pictures over the fence when my aircraft landed. I then went through the efficiently carried out security check (but no more drinks here... welcome back to Europe) and joined the queue for boarding. Boarding was quite slow, two agents were manually checking each passenger’s passport or identification, and then marked their name in their system as having boarded. This because almost all passengers did not have boarding passes. This seems to be standard procedure on AY’s domestic flights. (Maybe a Finnish member can enlighten us on this topic?) Because I had a normal paper ticket issued, I was one of the few passengers who had a boarding pass. During boarding, my impression (as on earlier occasions) that the no-seat-assignment strategy does not ensure a quick boarding was reinforced. Boarding was via jetway and what happens then is of course that passengers take the first available seats in front of the plane and are delaying all other passengers until they have stowed all their belongings! This flight was quite well booked and boarding was indeed slow. Pushback was about 2 minutes after scheduled departure time. I met again one of the cabin crew from my KIX-RVN flight the day before (unfortunately not the one I praised so much, but still a nice guy), now in civilian dress, positioning back to HEL. We exchanged a couple of nice words. A very powerful take-off followed from runway 21. We climbed and soon were overhead Oulu (OUL/EFOU) on the northeastern end of the Gulf of Botnia. The city and airport were both well visible. After that, there was mostly a thin layer of clouds so that visibility to the ground was not that good. Service consisted of the same blown up plastic bag as on HAM-HEL earlier, containing a sandwich (with a very tiny piece of meat) and water. Tea, coffee and soft drinks were served, too. There were 4 crew members doing the cabin service. We landed uneventfully at HEL. At the gate, there was a delay because the jetway could not be extended due to a malfunction. We had to wait for a couple of minutes until buses were organised. We were then let out of the aircraft through the left hand rear door and bused to the arrival area. The baggage was delivered after a very short wait. I took an AY bus to Helsinki (EUR 5.20 one-way), where I did some sightseeing.

RVN’s curbside during the short daylight hours.

Nice winter scenery at RVN, during taxi to runway 21.

Everybody’s ready for take-off from RVN to HEL, on A321 OH-LZF. The route goes in a straight line to HEL.

Date: 27Dec06
Route: Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL/EFHK) - Brussels-National (BRU/EBBR)
Schedule (local times): HEL 1345 - BRU 1535
Scheduled block time: 2:50
Flight number: SN 2334 (codeshare AY 6783)
Airline/Operator: SN Brussels Airlines (SN/DAT)
Aircraft type: British Aerospace/Avro RJ85
Registration: OO-DJT

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Photo © John Farrington - FlightLineImages
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Photo © Guy Daems - Brussels Aviation Photography

This day was going to be the final day of my trip. My impression was that it passed all too quickly... but that’s how it goes. I again took the AY bus to the airport. As I was quite early, there was no queue at the two check-in counters available for my flight. The friendly check-in agent was able to check me and my baggage through to GVA, even though these flights were on two different tickets (for the TV flight I was even holding just an internet booking confirmation). I got a window seat on each flight. I was happy about that and thanked her. I wandered around the check-in areas (they seemed rather small) and then went through security (again efficiently carried out) to the gate area. I was able to snap a couple of pictures (for example a Finncomm ATR 42), before our flight boarded. It was well booked (maybe 75-80%) and the two seats next to me were occupied by two members (father and son) of a family of four. Except for the two long-haul sections, this was going to be the longest flight on my entire trip, with a planned block time of 2:50. The take-off run was unusually long for an RJ85 (certainly caused by the good load and long route, maybe also a “flex” take-off). There was good visibility when we overflew the Estonian islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. We then overflew the length of the Baltic Sea. Europe was covered in a compact layer of low clouds, so there was nothing to see. We had three female cabin attendants, the lead cabin attendant was in a cheerful mood. Business class was separated by a curtain and the crew was preoccupied with service at the front end. The boy sitting in the same row with me threw up after a while and his dad was engaged in cleaning up the mess. Despite passing through twice, the crew did not to seem to take notice of it. I would have expected that maybe the crew could have helped with providing some towels and maybe some water to drink. Anyway, the father had it under control, fortunately. But it took a while before he got back with some napkins from the lavatory. We already had the first issue of the inflight magazine of the combined Brussels Airlines available. (Our aircraft was still wearing SN Brussels Airlines colors.) After what seemed to take longer than it did, we started our descent to BRU, where it rained. Our gate was at pier A, which I had never been to before. It seemed very modern and I liked its design. I tried to hook up to the internet by wireless LAN and also by connecting by cable to one of the stations provided, but costs were prohibitively high, with the lowest unit price being EUR 10! Shame on you, Brussels! (But this sort of overcharging seems to be a la mode in Europe! In my opinion, a good airport would provide wireless LAN for free or just a nominal fee.) The whole BRU airport was eerily quiet on this day. There were just a handful of passengers and many stores were closed. After having had a pizza, I strolled to the gate of my connecting flight at pier B. I had to go through immigration (as I was leaving “Schengen”) and through security again. Two lanes were open and there were just a couple of passengers. But the whole thing was painfully slow. I wonder what happens there in busier times. Standing in these queues gives you time to think about this whole security “stuff” (well, I could use many other words here, instead of just “stuff”...). Why would an elderly lady have to put her little tube of moisturing lotion in a plastic bag just to get it through the scanner? Why am I not allowed to take my already half used bottle of Coke with me? The technology to check fluids exists, as I was seeing it in action in Japan.... Anyway, I made it through. But I had to buy overpriced Coke on the other side... well, I guess I also saved a bit by declining overpriced internet just before...

SN’s meal box on the way from HEL to BRU....

.... and its contents.

It looks more cramped than it really was on board this RJ85. The heavy leather seats are responsible for this cramped look and feel.

The sun is shining over Europe - at least above the compact cloud cover.

BRU’s modern A-pier, where our flight from HEL docked.

Date: 27Dec06
Route: Brussels-National (BRU/EBBR) - Geneva (GVA/LSGG)
Schedule (local times): BRU 1800 - GVA 1920
Scheduled block time: 1:20
Flight number: TV 136
Airline/Operator: Virgin Express (TV/VEX)
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-43Q
Registration: OO-VEP

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I sat near gate 30, where this flight was going to depart from. The whole B-pier was practically empty, with very few passengers in the area. Some shops were closed. As I was over one hour early, I continued typing this report. At around 1735 boarding had started, a call was made shortly afterwards. I was happy to see that our aircraft was still painted in Virgin Express colours, as I wanted to fly on such an aircraft before everything changed to Brussels Airlines. When it was my turn to show the boarding pass and ID, the agent hesitated a bit when he saw my boarding pass. It was printed in HEL on SN Brussels Airlines paper. When I entered the aircraft, the cabin attendant at the door wanted to see the boarding pass again (as required by procedure on some carriers). She looked at it very long and then let me pass. However, just a couple of moments later, I was still in the aisle near the entrance, she asked me to give her my boarding pass. She also said she’d return it in a moment. This was quite strange, but it was possibly caused by it being on SN paper. All other passenger’s boarding passes (as far as I could see) had the Virgin Express logo on it. She then apparently had it double checked by the gate agents and later returned it to me. We departed on-time. The flight was very short, with an announced flight time of just one hour (which then was effectively even a couple of minutes shorter, as, according to the information from the flight deck, we got a nice “short routing” from ATC). TV has an onboard sale product. The menu/price list is handed over to each passenger individually by a cabin attendant passing through the cabin before take-off. It is one of the nicest menus I have seen on any low cost carrier, in terms of presentation and layout. As it was dark at this time, nothing could be seen out of the windows during the flight, except some lighted towns and cities during approach. Landing was on runway 23 and we docked at a satellite in GVA. Strangely, the crew did not shut down the engines for quite some time (maybe a minute or two), but the fasten seat belt sign was already off and passengers were already standing in the aisles. The way to the baggage claim was quite long from the satellites and the bags took a while. When mine arrived, I found one of the handles was broken. This good old roller bag of mine, bought years ago in Canada, was a dear friend of mine, accompanying me on many of my trips and had never been damaged. Now it happened for the second time of this trip...

Getting ready for departure on Virgin Express flight TV 136 from BRU to GVA. Blue leather seats again. It seems TV’s and SN’s interiors will match without refurbishment.

OO-VEP docked at GVA’s satellite. I’m back in my home country again (but not home yet).

Date: 27Dec06
Route: Geneva (GVA/LSGG) - Zurich (ZRH/LSZH)
Schedule (local times): GVA 2055 - ZRH 2145
Scheduled block time: 0:50
Flight number: LX 1335
Airline/Operator: Swiss International Air Lines (LX/SWR)
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-214
Registration: HB-IJJ

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Photo © Michal Buciak
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Photo © Joel Vogt

I had a “friend’s ticket/buddy pass” for this last leg of my trip. GVA has some new CUSS check-in machines set up in the check-in area. Although I knew they probably wouldn’t work for non-rev passengers, out of curiosity, I tried to use one anyway. I put my flight coupon in and then the machine accepted it but went just back to the first screen again. After that, nothing else happened. And the machine kept my flight coupon and would not return it. I went to one of the check-in counters and explained to the check-in agent what happened. I found it strange that she didn’t go with me to the machine to try to retrieve my coupon. Instead she tried to check me in without coupon. But it didn’t work so she called the helpline and I heard her talking about trying to check me in with an e-ticket. I interrupted her and explained to her again that I didn’t hold an e-ticket but rather a normal paper ticket and that the flight coupon was still in the machine. Apparently, she didn’t listen to me the first time - or my French was quite poor. She then went with me to the machine, opened it and was able to retrieve the coupon, which was still stuck in the reader. She then checked me in, and I even got a window seat. As I was back in Europe, there would be no drinks through the security checkpoint, so I decided to get a drink after security. But when I arrived there, the bar was closed and there was nowhere to buy any drink. I was getting quite irritated by this. If they don’t let you through with drinks, there should at least be a place where you can get it after security. Finally, I found an open bar way back down the A-gates. The waitress was overwhelmed with passengers trying to use vouchers that had been handed out by Royal Air Maroc (AT/RAM), who were heavily delayed. But the vouchers were not good for this place, only for a restaurant outside the secure gate area. Understandably, some of the AT passengers were getting quite agitated about the delay and the voucher situation. The waitress had to ask all passengers buying a drink in a bottle whether they intended to drink it here (near the bar) or take it onto a flight. She explained this question was due to security reasons. I wonder if she was supposed to wrap the drinks into plastic bags (just like for the duty free sales)? Anyway, when it was finally my turn, she forgot to ask. I took my drink onto the plane. Sometimes, there seems to be quite some stupidity and confusion around these new security procedures... I just simply don’t understand it. Just stupid, stupid, stupid. My flight, LX1335, was routed Moscow-Domodedovo (DME/UUDD) - GVA - ZRH and was coming in a bit late from DME. In fact, the boarding time mentioned on my boarding pass was impossible to keep, as the aircraft wasn’t even here yet by that time. One question I’m asking myself again and again: Why do they print boarding passes with obviously wrong or impossible boarding times all the time? This makes it impossible for me to take those times seriously. Why should passengers adhere to these times when they are again and again deliberately set too early and you then have to wait at the gate? I would rather see the correct times which are then adhered to by the airline. This would certainly increase awareness by the passengers to be at the gate on-time. (Just like in Japan, where the boarding times were always correctly given and boarding started exactly at that time.) Anyway, they did a quick turnaround and the load from GVA to ZRH was very light. There were about 20 transit passengers from DME to ZRH on board. My guess would be around 65 passengers (total) on this sector. We departed on-time and took off from runway 23. When we were overhead Berne (BRN/LSZB) about half-way to ZRH, the pilots announced that we would have to go into a holding pattern for about 30 minutes, and this for a flight that normally takes 35 min flying time. The reason for this was arrival delays caused by fog in ZRH. Swiss has a nice feature on their A320/330/340 fleet, with connection flights shown on the screens during approach. Onward flights are shown as “granted connections” or “contact ground staff” and are constantly updated. A couple of flights were shown as “contact ground staff” but fortunately for those passengers concerned later changed to “granted”. We finally landed on runway 14 and docked at the E-gates, from where I had to take the dreaded little train to immigration and the baggage claim. Baggage was delivered quickly and I made my way to the airport railway station. I was quite astonished that all railway ticket counters were closed at this time and that only ticket machines were available. Quite a couple of passengers were standing around the machines a bit helplessly. Not the best “welcome” to Switzerland for visitors! I really think there should be at least one person there to help with tickets and schedules. Anyway, I managed to hop on a train back home to Zurich shortly thereafter.

Not a lot of passengers boarding LX 1335 from GVA to ZRH on this evening...

I think the interior of LX’s recently refurbished A320’s looks quite smart.

Arriving back home again. Docking next to a LX A340 at the E-pier, where all began 11 days ago.

User currently offlineThepilot From Canada, joined Jan 2010, 5 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 19792 times:

Wow, absolutely fabulous report! One of the best I have seen. I love Japan so much, and you got so many wonderful pictures. I bet you are sick of HND, huh?  biggrin  One again, great report, thank you very much for sharing.

From YVR
User currently offlineAstockla From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 127 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 19768 times:

incredible reports - Thank you

above us is only sky
User currently offline9V From China, joined Aug 2008, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 19676 times:

Wow that is some report!  Wow!

User currently offlineAndaman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 19578 times:

Impressing! *****

You really made flying in Japan looking very tempting. Japan has been on my list for a long time, often good deals there from HEL.
So your trips in Japan have been smooth, any language problems?

I also have found Finnair's Asian crew very friendly, it's a good policy they have mixed crew on every Asian flight.
Yes AY isn't famous for their Y class food  Smile They are competing with price in the long haul business these days.
I haven't tried their B170/190 yet, looks good to me.

User currently offlineVirginia From Netherlands, joined Sep 2003, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 19517 times:

I'm absolutely speechless, wonderfull trip report.

Thanks a lot.

brgds Virginia

User currently offlineAirbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 48
Reply 8, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 19468 times:

Great report, perfect attached pics! It gives the right impression about Japanese aviation. The same impression I always get during my own trips down to Japan. Thanks for sharing, and for all your time and efforts to get it all together here  Smile

"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineParisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 846 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 19428 times:

All I can say is Ooh la la.....wonderful report !!!

User currently offlineArdian From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 563 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 19384 times:

Wow, it really sounds like you had the time of your life  Smile !
Amazing tripreport.

User currently offline9V-SPJ From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 758 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 19353 times:

Very nice report! Northern most airport of Japan, must have been great!


User currently offlineTriple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 788 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 19205 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Glad you enjoyed Japan

Have you kissed a 777 today?
User currently offlineMack8994 From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 19048 times:

Wow... indeed impressive! Great pics as well...

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar!
User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1716 posts, RR: 29
Reply 14, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 18940 times:

Excellent trip-report, both in writing and pictures  thumbsup 

Great to see some of the lesser known airports of Japan, a country also 'high' on my to-do list  Smile

Amazed to see so many Russian texts at airports like WKJ and HKD, guess, plenty of Russians are visiting these cities now. Would you imagine this possibility when Victor Belenko defected to HKD in his MIG decades ago ?  Wow!

don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineDoor5Right From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2005, 710 posts, RR: 15
Reply 15, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 18924 times:

Terrific report, Mr LXM83.

You had some fun planning that adventure and it has been a pleasure to read it.

My soul is in the sky...
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8743 posts, RR: 53
Reply 16, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 18863 times:
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Fantastic report with superb photo's, bring's back happy memories of mt 2 trups to Japan.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
My Japan trip itinerary was now complete! 21 legs over 11 days, for a total distance of 26508 km (16471 mi).

- Just a superb itinerary!

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
The Embraer 170 is very generously laid out, with a very nice seat pitch. The seats were covered in blue AY tuned fabric

- I like the E170 too, plus I must admit the AY Blue fabric is nice.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I love the old-style flight information boards which make that rattling sound.

- I love them too, it was a real shame when the boards in T2 @ Heathrow were replaced.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I went up to the observation deck to see my A320 arrive. It was the very same aircraft I had used a couple of days before from HND to WKJ

- Such a shame to get the same plane again.

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I liked the rice, but didn’t try the rest. Meal on AY 078 from KIX to RVN.

- Looks ok to me, be brave, give it a try!  Smile

Thanks again.



User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 9280 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 18781 times:

Superb in every way. HAC is one of my favorite airports in this country...and that's hard to say given how many interesting fields litter these islands.

You're very fortunate to have taken this trip. Thanks for sharing with us all.

If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently offlineB707Stu From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 918 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 18687 times:

Great trip report, took me 30 minutes to read and ingest it all - all worth it!

AY5 JFK-HEL is definately on my to do list. Thanks for providing some insight into AY's long-haul service.

Truly impressive report - you're a true A.Net'r, they should give you a year's free subscription!

User currently offlineEFHK From Finland, joined Nov 2006, 392 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 18600 times:

Excellent but somehow crazy report! Big grin

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
I liked the rice, but didn’t try the rest. Meal on AY 078 from KIX to RVN.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 16):
- Looks ok to me, be brave, give it a try!

It looks like a typical Finnish meat dish to me, nothing wrong with it!  Wink

Quoting LXM83 (Thread starter):
The sign placed in the arrivals area of RVN says it all.

And surely you must have gone and eaten there?  Wink

One of the best places in the world: McDonald's in T2 at FRA.
User currently offlineBA777 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2001, 2192 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 18544 times:

Great report well done!


User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 618 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 18521 times:

First of all, thanks for all the nice feedback! I'm glad everyone enjoyed my report.

Quoting EFHK (Reply 19):
It looks like a typical Finnish meat dish to me, nothing wrong with it!

Well, I tried to try... but somehow it didn't look like meat and the consistency didn't feel like meat. It seemed rather like some sort of (Asian?) vegetable in a brown sauce... I'm sure nothing was wrong with it. (I usually say: "It was certainly delicious, it was just me that didn't like it".) What kind of meat would normally be in that typical Finnish dish?

Quoting EFHK (Reply 19):
And surely you must have gone and eaten there?

Yes, indeed after the on board meal, I was delighted to see that sign! Unfortunately, it was closed on 25 Dec! You can imagine my disappointment...

Yeah, yeah, food was always my weak point... I just don't like any experiments in that department!  Smile

User currently offlineAndaman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 18493 times:

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 21):

Well, I tried to try... but somehow it didn't look like meat and the consistency didn't feel like meat. It seemed rather like some sort of (Asian?) vegetable in a brown sauce... I'm sure nothing was wrong with it. (I usually say: "It was certainly delicious, it was just me that didn't like it".) What kind of meat would normally be in that typical Finnish dish?

I think salmon and other fish, and reindeer, would be something especially Finnish, though seldom seen in Y class on Finnair's flight.
Typical Finnish every-day dish, outside AY's planes, would be something like meatballs & potatoes, chicken, pasta, pizza - called 'pitsa' in Finnish  Smile I'm am a fish-eater myself.

My AY food experiences:

Big version: Width: 410 Height: 308 File size: 75kb
AY807 HEL-MUC Y-class meal

Big version: Width: 640 Height: 480 File size: 154kb
AY MD11 biz class HKG-BKK

User currently offlineEFHK From Finland, joined Nov 2006, 392 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 18477 times:

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 21):
Yes, indeed after the on board meal, I was delighted to see that sign! Unfortunately, it was closed on 25 Dec! You can imagine my disappointment...

Definitely! Christmas Day is probably the only day when you can't go to McDonald's, I found it out the hard way once...  Angry

But personally I can say I've visited the world's northest McDonald's.  Wink

One of the best places in the world: McDonald's in T2 at FRA.
User currently offlineSemsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (9 years 4 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 18456 times:

Maybe I missed it but was it very cold in Rovaniemi?

25 Andaman : Last Dec was the warmest ever in Finland. In Rovaniemi and in other areas in Lapland they were afraid there wouldn't be enough snow for all the Xmas
26 BPS3458 : What a great report !!! Brought back a lot of memories of my 5 years in Japan and the various domestic flights I took during that time.
27 LXM83 : As Andaman said, it was quite "warm". When I arrived on the afternoon of 25 Dec, it was around -11° IIRC. Next day it was only around -5°. But it d
28 Post contains images Infodesk : What a fascinating read and what an advernture! Particularly loved the pics taken on the flight to RVN - beautiful lighting
29 BNE : Lots of details including photos. I thought Japanese tourist visited foreign countries and took lots of photos. It is interesting that that they show
30 Post contains images UpperDeck79 : This has got to be the best trip report EVER! And it even includes some of my very favourite cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Helsinki and Rovaniemi), airports (
31 Post contains images BA319-131 : - I've had some great food on AY, though I must confess, all flights have been in Business
32 N1120A : Excellent Trip Report, but warm???? It is cold here in MSY today and it is 4C.
33 Andaman : Well, Finland is exactly as north as Alaska, milder climate though... Now it's around -5C in Helsinki, -15C would be cold to me. Of course different
34 Post contains images OkAY : great report! You were wondering about the boarding of AY domestic flight. AY allows passengers to come straight to the gate on domestic services. Onl
35 Malmoaviation : That was a h*ll of a report. Best I've ever read this far.
36 CO7e7 : That was a very impressive report.. the best i've seen so far. Thanks a lot for sharing. Zaki
37 Post contains images SandroZRH : Wow what a trip + report Your report was actually so interesting that i skipped the first 10 minutes of Real - Bayern Great work, thanks!
38 LXM83 : Thanks Andaman, I couldn't have explained it any better. Thanks for the explanation. I imagined it was something like this. It seems to be a very unc
39 UpperDeck79 : There are no flights to RVN or OUL on Dec 25, 2007... even on those trunk routes!
40 Gmex23 : Amazing Report - Kudos
41 OkAY : I wonder what was I doing at the airport behind the desk on the morning of the 25th...Checking in pax. The day is quiet, and specially domestic ops a
42 LXM83 : Charters yes, but there were no AY scheduled flights on 25Dec from RVN to HEL and also not from HEL to Europe. I was looking at the schedules when pl
43 OkAY : I don't know where you get your information, but please believe me, there were and are flights on the 25th. I used to work there, I have been at work
44 PlaneHunter : Very entertaining trip report! Since I will also fly AY to Japan later this year I the report was quite useful. The meals on AY longhaul sectors aren'
45 Post contains images Andaman : Yes, good old AY MD11 ... no PTV and often not-that- good meals. What comes to long-haul business, it seems AY is competing with price, especially in
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