After a brief one night stay at the Centrair Hotel at NGO, it was time to take the second and third of nine flights on my round the world trip. Today I would be travelling from Nagoya to Tokyo Narita with All Nippon Airways, and onwards to Los Angeles with Northwest Airlines.
I awoke early – around 0500, as I would be taking an 0815 flight to NRT, and was planning on checking-in early and heading to NGO’s amazing observation deck. I had discovered this the previous evening whilst checking out the terminal, and although it was dark and I did not have my camera with me, I was amazed at what an excellent facility NGO had for those who wanted to view and photograph aircraft. Before I took a shower I opened the curtains and was presented with an amazing sight. I guess they don’t call Japan the land of the rising sun for nothing.
I got ready, repacked my belongings, checked out of the hotel and at around 0545 I took the short walk to the departures level of the terminal. I headed to the domestic check-in area and to the ANA desks, where an agent took my baggage and checked me in.
This was the one flight on my journey where I had made a confirmed reservation, so getting a seat was not an issue. I asked for a window seat, and was allocated seat number 48A. After checking-in, I headed upstairs and towards the entrances to the observation deck, only to discover that it did not open until 0700. This was not a problem, as I would still have time to visit before going airside. It was only 0615, so rather than sit in the retail / refreshments area for 45 minutes I decided to have a wander. I headed downstairs and into the central garden, which is an indoor public area that runs the length of the inner part of the central pier.
Whilst wandering alone in this peaceful area, I happened upon a rather random yet impressive display of model aircraft. Take a look for yourself at the varied collection:
There were various displays and visitor centres in this area – none of which were open at this time, but I felt so impressed that an airport can offer such facilities to the enthusiast or casual visitor.
I then headed back up towards the observation deck, as it was approaching 0700. After a few minutes, two security officials opened the doors, and were followed by myself and a number of other visitors.
As I was on a tight schedule, I took a walk along the right side of the pier which affords views across the domestic side of the apron, and back along the other side where I was able to view the international activity. I took numerous photographs, some of which I shall share with you.
JA8096 – operating my flight to NRT
JAL MD90 – JA8020
JAL MD81 – JA8296
JAL B747-446 – JA8918
Remote stands – international side
JAL B767-246 – JA8232
JAL B777-246ER – JA708J
JL MD81 JA8260 taxies out as NH B73G JA02AN is towed from remote
A final look along the domestic pier
I’m sure these views are already tempting those who have not been to NGO to go there – I know I would be happy to spend a day photographing there but this morning I could not hang around. Happy with the shots I had managed to get, I headed back into the terminal and down to domestic departures. As I waited in line a member of the security staff felt the need to advise me that this was DOMESTIC departures. “Yes, I am well aware of that – you presumptuous f*ckwit”, I thought, but opted to just say “Yes – I am going to Tokyo”. He smiled and retreated.
Once I had passed through security I had only a short walk to the left to gate 9, but decided to take a closer look at ANA’s B737-781 JA02AN which wears a special gold version of their colourscheme. I knew this aircraft was somewhere along the pier to the right, as I had seen it being towed there earlier.
ANA B737-781 – JA02AN
Remote stands – domestic side
It was time now to head to the departure gate, which was just over a five minute walk away. I expected boarding to have commenced already – particularly as the flight was operated by a B747. However, the gate area seemed quiet and boarding had not yet started. This gave me the chance to try and get a picture of the aircraft from the gate, but the result was disappointing:
Boarding started a few minutes later and it soon became apparent that despite the rather large aircraft operating the flight, there was a very light passenger load. I am sure a B73G may have even been enough to operate the flight. I had my boarding card pulled at the gate, and made my way along the airbridge. I managed to take a shot of the aircraft through the glass. “Good shot”, said an elderly Japanese gentleman behind me, to which I smiled and said thankyou. Not a good shot, I think.
The cabin was neat and tidy, but sparsely occupied on this flight. I took a glance into the Business Class section to the left as I entered through door L2, then made my way aft of the wing to seat 48A. This seat was one row aft of the L3 exit, where there were two cabin jump seats. I took my seat and was more than pleased with the legroom offered. This certainly did not appear to be one of the high-density domestic B747s I had been expecting.
I was looking forward to this flight, especially as it is something of a novelty to fly domestically on a B747. This was to be my second such flight this year after flying on a PIA B743 from KHI to ISB back in January.
It was not long before the doors were closed and pushback commenced. I had noticed several times during the morning that pushbacks at NGO seem to involve two ‘wing men’. Quite clearly, ramp safety is of great significance in Japan – perhaps more so than most places, which is certainly a good thing. As we taxied out, I got a closer look at a number of other aircraft.
JAL B747-446D – JA8903
TG B772 & CX A333
China Eastern A300-600 – B-2306
NH B763 & NWAB752
As we taxied past the last of the apron, the view gave became one of the bay. Do you think the guys on the fishing boat were fishermen or a.netters?! I’m sure they got a great view of the passing B744, whoever they were.
As we approached the take-off runway, the aircraft held short for a few minutes to allow a JAL aircraft to land.
After the JAL aircraft had cleared, JA8096 lined up for take-off.
Take-off from NGO
As we climbed out, a distinctive B747 shadow was created on the sea below. The aircraft then made a long turn to the left and passed over the airport, providing a great opportunity to see NGO from above.
As this was just a short hop, I did not really expect anything from the in-flight service. Basically, the crew did one pass through the cabin, offering hot coffee or a choice of cold drinks. I asked for tea, and this was the first time I have ever seen cold green tea poured from a carton. It was not unpleasant – quite refreshing if nothing else.
The flight was pretty uneventful, but it was a clear day and I was able to relax and enjoy the views as we made our way towards Tokyo.
Naturally, it was not long at all before the start of descent to NRT, with speed brakes being applied for part of the descent.
After a while, the coastline became visible again, giving way to a very green landscape during final approach.
I also decided to take a short video during the final approach.
Finals for NRT
As the aircraft taxied in, there were a number of aircraft visible on the cargo apron– a mix of JAL, NCA and Northwest Cargo B747s and FedEx MD11s.
As we taxied around one of the piers, an Uzbekistan Airways B763 was visible along with the usual mix of Far Eastern carriers.
We arrived at the gate next to a couple of ANA B763s with additional ‘Air Japan’ titles – something which I guess is quite rare outside Japan.
It did not take long to disembark, and I was soon making my way to domestic arrivals, where I would have to collect my baggage before spending a few more hours at NRT.
Despite the fact that there was not a great deal to comment about on this short flight, it was worth the reasonable fare I paid and I very much enjoyed the experience of flying ANA on a B747-operated domestic flight, and particularly pleased at having visited Nagoya – Chubu Centrair International Airport.
As there were a few hours to kill before I could check-in for my flight to LAX, I decided to check out the viewing opportunities at NRT. I took a walk up to the viewing terrace of the terminal I would be departing from, and was presented with an excellent view of a classic Northwest B742, still wearing the old colourscheme and no doubt soon to be retired. Sadly, my NW flight to LAX was operated by B742 equipment until a few weeks earlier, but the B744 has now been moved onto this route. This B742 was probably operating to Guam or Saipan.
After spending some time on the viewing terrace, I succumbed to the rather muggy conditions and headed back into the terminal for a wander. I spent the final hour seated next to a large window which gave me a nice view of some of the interesting array of aircraft.
Austrian Airlines A340-200 – OE-LAG
Korean Air B777-300 HL7573
It was now time to take flight number three of nine on my adventure.
The time waiting around passed by quite quickly and I headed back into the check-in hall to find the Northwest Airlines check-in area. Before I proceeded to check-in, I detached my old passport from my new one, as I did not want the security profiler to see the places that I had visited before I got my new one in May. I am sure that the interesting array of Arabic stamps and visas would have caused a whole load of unnecessary hassle for me. The only particularly interesting visa in my new passport was for the Sudan. After going through a security check, he asked me to go to the check-in and collect my boarding pass, and return to him after I had been issued it. I knew the flight was busy as I had enquired at the NW ticket desk the previous evening in NGO. However, I knew I was the only non-rev trying for the flight as the lady in NGO had told me whilst listing me for it. I was issued a boarding pass, but it was for standby only, so it just read ‘ATG’ (at the gate) where the seat number would normally be. I returned to the profiler, who then took my passport and asked me to wait for a moment. He went around the corner where he must have studied and swiped it. He returned and naturally asked about my Sudan visa, but I explained what I do for a job and he was fine with that. We chatted briefly, and I went on my way.
Once airside, I made my way to the busy area where all the NW flights were departing from, after a brief browse on the internet. The area was extremely busy, with flights departing for various destinations. This gave me an appreciation of the significant operation NW have out of Japan. The NW aircraft around the pier at the time were three B744s and two A330s.
At around -45 minutes STD, I made myself known to the gate agent who issued me a new boarding card with a seat number. I was relieved at having got a seat, but disappointed when I saw that it was a middle seat (B). I asked if there were any window or aisle seats available, but there weren’t. This is of course one of the down sides of travelling on standby.
A while after the published boarding time, there was still no sign of boarding for the LAX flight and several people were becoming agitated, as the area was crowded and there did not seem to be any information. Despite the fact that it was difficult to see outside from this particular gate, I could see that the inbound flight had not yet arrived, so I knew we would be looking at a delay of at least half an hour. The aircraft eventually arrived on stand and the inbound passengers deplaned – by that time a delay call had been made in the gate area. Boarding was eventually called, and the NW staff tried as best they could to separate the mass of people into two queues – one for Business Class passengers and the other for Economy. Premium and families were boarded first, and the rest of the flight was boarded by seat row number.
I made my way through the cabin to my seat to find a young Japanese guy seated by the window, and the other two seats free. I sat in the middle seat and shortly afterwards a young Japanese girl took the aisle seat. Since my row-mates were both quite small Japanese people, I did not mind so much being in the middle – I was just glad I did not get a fat yank on each side (yes, I had noticed a few in the gate).
Aside from the fact that I was in a middle seat, the fact that most of this flight would be during hours of darkness I knew I would not be able to get any photographs until the next morning. It was a shame that I was not in a position to get any photographs during take-off.
We taxied out and after a long take-off roll, we were soon airborne for Los Angeles. I started reading my book (Down Under by Bill Bryson) which I had been reading in bits for a while, and was handed a menu by one of the cabin crew. I assume NW must have ran out of proper menu cards at some point, as we were given black and white photocopies on card, but it was still reasonable quality.
The dinner menu read as follows:
Japanese-style chicken-‘n-egg on rice (Oyako donburi)
Vegetable green curry with steamed rice
Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7Up, orange juice, water
Beer, wine, liquor are for purchase at $5 USD
I opted for the Japanese-style chicken-‘n-egg on rice, which was quite nice. I did not order an alcoholic drink – I just made do with a 7Up.
After dinner, I watched part of the movie which was showing on the overhead screens (no PTVs), and eventually drifted to sleep. I was fortunate enough to sleep for a large part of this flight, which was great for me as I would have hated being awake in a middle seat all night. I actually was more comfortable on this flight than I was when I had two seats to myself on an Emirates B777 the previous day, for some reason.
I eventually awoke when we were somewhere over western Canada or the USA, and the breakfast service soon began. The breakfast menu read as follows:
Bacon spinach quiche with sausage and mashed potato
Japanese-style fried noodles
Fresh fruit and breakfast bread
I opted for the more western option, which was pretty reasonable.
Around the time we were at the top of descent, the guy by the window got up for a while, which gave me the opportunity to take a couple of photos as well as a video clip.
Descent over California
The guy next to me soon came back, so the camera went away until we were on finals for LAX. I decided to subtly ‘zoom’ over the top of him to get a photo on finals, and did the same after touchdown.
It was a nice feeling landing in LAX, as I had not been there since 2000 (I can’t believe it had been that long) and I had really enjoyed it on my previous visits. We taxied in past the usual mix of LAX regulars and arrived at Terminal 2. I waited until last to disembark as I had stowed my cabin baggage several rows behind, so could not retrieve it until everyone else had left. After exiting the aircraft, I was determined to get a photograph of the aircraft at the gate, and was not disappointed.
N672US after arrival from NRT
It was now the morning before the night I departed Japan. It is quite a strange feeling to live the same day twice and this was the first time I had ever done so. It was now time to spend a few days in one of my favourite cities.
I enjoyed the experience of flying trans-pacific with Northwest. They do not come close to the airlines I am used to flying around the Middle East when it comes to such areas as IFE on the B747s, but I did not expect anything particularly special so there certainly was nothing disappointing about the flight. If I did this route again I would like to try Korean Air, but of the several carriers serving this route, NW is the only carrier on which I can get non-rev tickets. The overall experience was a good one.
Once again – please give me your feedback on this report. I always like to know what you think.
Many thanks again – keep a look out for the next instalment….
- Oh yes, done NRT HND, but NGO looks like a must visit, thanks for the photo's.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): Before I proceeded to check-in, I detached my old passport from my new one, as I did not want the security profiler to see the places that I had visited before I got my new one in May. I am sure that the interesting array of Arabic stamps and visas would have caused a whole load of unnecessary hassle for me.
- Quite likely.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): I did not mind so much being in the middle – I was just glad I did not get a fat yank on each side (yes, I had noticed a few in the gate).
- That would not be any fun!
Quoting Walter747 (Reply 2): want to visit that observation deck. It s to bad we don't have them here in the us.
hey great report, thanks.
nice that NW serves japanese food like oyako donburi ! Was it as good as you get it in Japan (or for that matter in japanese restaurants in California) ?
Did you finish Bill Bryson's book on Australia (down under) ? Great book like all his other books !
I really want to try out the new Nagoya Chubu Airport soon, as it looks amazing, and your pictures reaffirm that fact.
I noticed that you stayed at the Centrair Hotel... how did you like the hotel? Was it a convenient airport hotel? I assume the hotel is connected to the airport with a corridor like Kansai... is it true?
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): "Yes, I am well aware of that -- you presumptuous f*ckwit", I thought, but opted to just say "Yes -- I am going to Tokyo". He smiled and retreated.
Haha, I remember being asked the same question when I was going through security at NGO, I was flying up to CTS. But remember, the single most embarrassing thing that can happen to a Japanese person is having a foreigner make a mistake on your watch, so they're really only trying to help.
Sure, we're concerned for our lives. Just not as concerned as saving 9 bucks on a roundtrip to Ft. Myers.
Excellent report. I was touched that you flew through NGO...my name sake. Don't see the NGO code listed often in trip reports. Glad to hear an A.netter came through. I am thrilled that you enjoyed your experience. Look forward to the next report.
Quoting Carfield (Reply 14): Was it a convenient airport hotel? I assume the hotel is connected to the airport with a corridor like Kansai... is it true?
Even better than Kansai. From Centrair hotel front desk to the check-in counters is less than 2 minute walk (130m). Centrair Hotel There are several hotels being built on the island as well.
Everyone...you are all welcome to visit NGO and help build the A.net photo DB of photos there. If you are planning a trip to NGO, come in January or February. The 747LCF will be here hauling the first 787 pieces. Loading can be seen from Parking lot 3 and the Observation deck.
My name is Centrair but HND is closer. Let's Japanese Aviation!
I can assure you I am not a good photographer, but that is the second such compliment (which is how I will take that) I have had in the last couple of reports. I only use a Canon Digital Ixus 750. The few photos I have tried to upload to a.net get refused, so there is no point in me trying again.
Glad you had a nice stopover in NGO! Let the locals here know next time you're on your way - any excuse to get out to the Skydeck. For those who haven't been - it's one of the best viewing platforms in the world, bar none.
Some recent NGO action:
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty