A call went out for Tokyo passengers to go to the gate. The queue at immigration was almost non-existent as almost everyone was already inside. The Gold Coast isn't the world's most exciting airport, but it's certainly convenient.
From the indicator board it was obvious that our flight was delayed due to its late arrival from Wuhan. I fell asleep for a little while waiting, bought a drink from the small newsagent. Alex did some home work.
Jetstar, AirAsiaX, AirNZ, Virgin Australia
Not all guests know how to use the toilets in the airport
Finally, the call came to board the aircraft and we made our way outside. I didn't dare raise the camera to take a photo, which is sad because the silver and orange Jetstar Boeing 787-8 made for an impressive sight. Climbing up the stairs made me realise just how much larger it is than the narrowbody A320 we flew up on. From afar the 787's sleekness makes it look much smaller.
Our 787The economy cabin is in a nine across seating configuration with three triplets of black leather seats each. Previous experience has demonstrated that the seating width can be a bit tight, but with Alex and B next to me this wasn't a worry. The legroom was adequate for stumpy legged me, your mileage may vary. Headrests are fully adjustable and I found the seating quite comfortable.
What really excited the others was the Panasonic eX2 seatback entertainment. Our Scoot flights had no onboard entertainment, though they did have inflight internet, and it was missed. Yes, we had three tablets between us, but loading them up with movies is generally a pain in the neck (except for mine). The iPads don't work well with the rest of the house's non-Apple systems (my tablet is an Android), including the Google Play movie library. Movies are expensive and they take up a lot of space and getting the others to decide what they want to watch is difficult.
Anyway, I like the (free) flight map and the fact that you don't have to worry about seat back entertainment flying around the cabin in turbulence. So I paid the $10 each.
Doors still open
I was a bit disappointed to find that Jetstar had swapped over to the June lineup six days early. I had already planned what to watch. Alien and Star Wars Toys. Not to worry, though the selection was limited compared to a full service carrier standards there was enough old and new to watch.
Jetstar provide bud earphones but I had brought our own. We hadn't even left the ground and B and Alex were already watching.
My eyes were out the window. I setup the Action Camera at the window and calmed myself for take-off. Safe and smooth, safe and smooth.
Like the landing, the take-off from the Gold Coast is pretty spectacular. Roaring up past the canals and the Tweed River we do a 180 degree arc and head north parallel to the long beaches of the Gold Coast. The skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise always make me think of an exotic city on the boundary between the desert and the sea.
Tweed River and Terranora Creek
But there is no desert to my left. Soon we are flying by the Port of Brisbane, the volcanic plugs of the Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast. The land below is a bit hazy with smoke from the burnoffs, the pale clouds of smoke drifting upwards from the ground.
Port of Brisbane and airport
More smokeThe crew come around with our prepurchased meals. The other two aren't particularly hungry for their chicken cacciatore, but my stomach is now rumbling. I peel off the foil of my beef teriyaki and discover a dish that tastes much like it looks. The colours are unappealing, a tricolour of green pak choy, black beef and white rice. Too salty and sweet, nothing like the teriyaki I make. Edible, but pity they didn't have the option of chicken katsu with wasabi cheese sauce from last time. That was nice!
The bread roll was not very soft, but the chocolate mousse was good.
B had some issues with her screen locking up that required a reset. The flight attendant that assisted her was very pleasant about the whole thing and returned to ensure that it was all working.
A couple of attendants were locals, the rest were Asian based including one whose accent immediately revealed her to be Singaporean. Our interactions with them were all positive.
We were now heading away from the coast. To the northwest I could see my old haunt of Central Queensland covered by thick cloud, a warning to stay away. Not that I needed one.
Cloud over CQ
Below us were the Heron Island group, marking the start of the Great Barrier Reef. I was curious to see if I could spot the terrible coral bleaching that has afflicted the reef, but the view was soon obscured by cloud.
Coral and islands
Over cloud, shades on!
The electronic window shades were automatically dimmed by the crew, but they weren't locked so I could override them. I left the on at one level or another for most of the flight, partly out of deference for other passengers, partly because I didn't want to suffer headaches from the glare of the Sun out my side of the window reflecting off the wing. I really like this ability to dim the light without cutting out the view entirely.
With the view mostly of cloud outside I decided to start watching a movie. I chose London Has Fallen
, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen
which I had enjoyed on a previous Japan flight.
The darkened cabin, like we are underwater!
Though only 9" and 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, I found the screens fine for movie watching. Very responsive too.
It was kind of appropriate, with President Obama and other leaders arriving in Japan for the G7 Summit. Hopefully without the same level of violence involved!
I only managed to watch a single movie on the flight. Partly because I was constantly checking out the view outside, partly because of interruptions from Alex.
He finished The Lego Movie
early and was busy playing some of the games on the IFE. He beat the computer at the easy level of chess and decided to take me on using the seat to seat system. It's been years since I last played but I fared better than the computer against him.
So Alex decided to watch a movie on the old Android tablet I'd brought along for him instead of his iPad. Unfortunately age hasn't treated it well and it tends to crash.
Meanwhile, B completed four movies in the flight.
There was a young family of four occupying the seats in front of us (one was across the aisle). The young kids were arguing so B offered them some snakes.
Jelly snakes on a plane.
The flight was fairly similar to my last one northwards. High clouds over the Torres Strait with some bumps, then calmer over Papua New Guinea, the clouds parting to reveal spidery rivers, more high cloud and bumps again after PNG. Around the equator it calmed right down and became very pleasant.
South of PNG
River in PNG
Now with shades on
It was then I got most of my movie watching done. I never got out the maths text or did most of the other things I dreamed about. The fact was that I was too tired after the early morning wake-up.
The cloud returned around Guam and the skies became rougher again. Nothing truly bad and I don't recall the seatbelt light being switched on, but I did find it unpleasant.
Had our flight not been delayed we would have been approaching Tokyo around sunset. Instead we were an hour away when darkness fell. I was a little concerned that we'd be getting into Tokyo rather late, especially as we needed to exchange rail pass vouchers and get a train into the city.
Lucky for the electronic shades!
Natural light this time
Darkness will fall!
We were also getting hungry as it was dinner time. Our meal purchase included a "light meal" which turned out to be a ham, cheese and tomato calzone (the other option was vegetarian). Fortunately, this was really yummy. We were also given a tub of water and Tim Tam biscuit.
CalzoneFinally it was time to begin our descent into Narita. I was prepared to say that this was a pretty good flight. Not too bumpy, not too long, I had fun with Alex and, if only I wasn't so tired, felt well.
High cloud as the light fades
One hour to go!
The cabin is waking up
Getting lighter now!
B watching Kung Fu Panda 3
We were seriously descending now, heading down.
Up and down, rising and... dropping! And again. And again.
Like a speedboat slapping into the waves. I guess this was a pilot controlled descent, perhaps trying to get through the turbulence layer as fast as possible, the automated turbulence mitigation features unable to do anything.
I couldn't see anything out the window causing it.
It was horrible.
At last we were through, the aircraft slowed through the darkened skies. We curved around the Boso Peninsula to approach Narita Airport from the north, city lights visible below. I noticed the windows fogging as we approached the ground, demonstrating the higher humidity of the cabin.
Land, at last!
Almost made it!
A firm landing, then the usual taxi to Terminal 3. Like the Gold Coast, this low cost airline terminal only uses stairs, though this time they were covered. Not that it was raining, mind you.
If only we hadn't had that terrible turbulence on descent I would have said that it was a great flight.
Taxiing to Terminal 3
Red alert! Time to leave!
Looking backHighlights video of JQ11 OOL to NRT
The interior of Terminal 3 looks bare and unfinished. There was a long line for immigration with a Chinese flight ahead of us. A couple of Filipino ladies managed the queue. Such a pity that Alex isn't young enough anymore to put us into the priority lane.
As we approached the desk they split me from B and Alex, saying that we would go through faster. Unfortunately, that placed me behind two elderly Chinese ladies and their inability to cope with technology like the fingerprint scanner and photograph meant I was guaranteed to exit long after B and Alex.
At last I got out, met with B who had already retrieved the bag, and we made our way on to the race track to Terminal 2. The 650 metre walk is invigorating after a long flight, but also another painful delay.
Finally we got down to the underground JR office, purchased tickets on the Narita Express to Shinjuku (in this case leaving earlier than the Skyliner) and exchanged our 7 day JR Pass vouchers.
An hour and a half later we were reached our home away from home at the Shinjuku Prince Hotel, ate a very late supper of sushi and gone to bed.
Deluxe double at the Shinjuku Prince. Finally outgrown the Semi-B with the three of us.
Shinjuku at night
View out of our hotel window
I told you Godzilla would make an appearance, and not for the last time!