May 19, 2002
Route: Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA) – Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF)
Airline: Japan Airlines flight 385
Aircraft: Boeing 747-246B (Japan Asia Airways aircraft)
Departure time: 7:40 pm
Actual Departure time: 7:40 pm
Arrival time: 9:30 pm
Actual Arrival time: 9:29 pm
Seat number: 55A
Scheduled flight time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Percentage of passengers: 70-80% full
Photo © Dennis Huang
After a wonderful flight from Amsterdam, I proceeded to check-in my luggage at the domestic check-in counter at the end of the building. You go through the usual routine of putting your checked bags into the x-ray machine. After clearance, they put a sticker on your bags that says “JAL Security Check”. Then I stepped up to the check-in counter where they gave me my baggage identification cards and my boarding pass for seat 55A. The agent then loaded my bags onto the conveyor belt, and off I go…
Followed the signs to “Domestic Departures”, stopped at one of those famous Japanese vending machines for some iced tea. After I finished, I proceeded through the security checkpoint without any hassle. I find Japanese security very professional, everyone is dressed in uniforms like policemen, well actually I should say policewomen. Before going down the escalator to the gate, I checked out a quaint shop with neat JAL and ANA aircraft balloons. Anyways, the boarding announcement for JAL flight 385 was made, so I headed down the escalator and got in the line. You put your boarding pass through the machine, and you step outside to board the Airport Limousine Bus. Once the bus is full, the doors closed and off we go! We drove around the block, and got onto the road where I saw a JAL 767, ANA 747, Northwest Cargo 747, and a United Airlines 747. The bus travelled over various bridges like a freeway, then we passed Terminal 1 on the final part of our mini bus trip. Once we got to the plane, which was parked in front of the JAL Cargo hangar, everyone got out and climbed up the stairs.
Whenever I come to Japan, the plane on this route never follows the itinerary. The scheduled aircraft is a Boeing 767, but I’ve flown on a DC-10, MD-11, 747, and the 767 on this route. So I wasn’t surprised at all by the 747.
Back to the plane now…I climbed onboard where the kind flight attendants greeted me and showed me my seat. Buckle up, it’s the law. After the last bus arrived, they closed the doors and the flight attendants made their final checks on the usual stuff like the seatbelts, seatbacks, tray tables, electronic devices, etc. The safety video started while we pushed back into the darkness. I got a good glimpse of Tokyo Narita’s Terminal 1 from there, including a United Airlines 747. After the safety video, the engines started and we taxied out to the runway. We stopped before the runway to wait for another JAL 747 to land. The flight attendant made one more announcement that we are about to takeoff, please have your seatbelt fastened tight and low. The flight attendant dimmed the lights from there. We turned onto the runway, the engines started to roar like a lion, and we accelerated down the runway into the darkness of the night. Spooky huh? Once we got to the cruising altitude, the flight attendants came around to pass out drinks, I asked for lingo juice (apple juice). With the drink, you get a nice little sandwich and traditional Japanese rice crackers.
On the main screen, they showed NHK news from 6:00. Since I was extremely tired, I fell asleep…….I woke up when they announced we were going to land soon. I glued my eyes to the window, not literally of course. Flaps going down…and down and down. Finally you can see Fukuoka below! I love approaching Fukuoka at night, it is so beautiful with all of the lights below. I also prefer a seat on the left side of the plane so I can see the neon billboards in front of the domestic terminal. We made our smooth final approach and landed at Fukuoka Kuko (Airport). Every time I land at Fukuoka, the pilot uses full reverse thrust and lots of braking. I love that, you get to hear the roar of the engines for one last time before you leave the plane.
Photo © Matsushita Masashi - aozora karugamotai -
We exited the runway and taxied to the domestic terminal. The front camera started broadcasting onto the main screen when we pulled into the gate. It’s neat, you can see the guy standing on top of a truck guiding us in. Just a few observations while in the plane, I saw a pink JAL Dream Express 747, JAS 777, JAL DC-10, and two ANA 747s.
Ping, the seatbelt signs goes off and everyone got up to get their luggage out of the bins. The doors opened and the crowd of people flocked to the baggage claim area. I retrieved a baggage cart, and got my baggage within fifteen minutes. There were a few US Navy personnel getting their bags too, they were probably heading off to Sasebo? Well, I had to search through my papers to find my baggage identification card so they can let me out of the baggage claim area with my baggage. I went outside into the cool weather and caught a taxicab to the hotel. Ah, there’s a good day of traveling. Time for bed, lots of stuff to do tomorrow.
Any comments or questions are welcome.