Adventures in the Big Q Shoe with ANA
The trip started off innocently enough, when the long awaited international terminal at Haneda was opened, allowing for longhaul flights into central Tokyo for the first time since the 70s. This may sound like small potatoes, but, before this milestone, doing something as seemingly simple as going from LAX
to a secondary Japanese city like Kagoshima or Nagasaki would otherwise involve a transfer through Korea (ICN
Wanting to become a part of this novelty I planned a trip to Japan based on this newfound convenience factor and the reportedly lightly booked initial flights.
Fortunately for ANA, loads soon picked up and LAX
flights started to actually look pretty full. When the idea of a lovely ANA flight with a row to myself turned into an idea of a long and headwind battered flight in a middle seat, my flesh became weak and I began to consider my options. The idea of doing the transpacific hop on a nice Delta Business Elite seat suddenly became much more tempting, even if it did involve a stopover in Narita.
Technically, same evening Narita-Haneda transfers are possible, but after a long transpacific flight, the last thing you want is to haul your bags through the Tokyo train system to Haneda (unless you feel like paying 3000yen for nonstop 2 hour limousine bus).
However, me becoming more comfort seeking as I grow older, much preferred a relaxing stopover at Narita rather than a hurried transfer.
DL 59 SFO-NRT
11 Nov 2010
I won't dwell too much on these Delta transpacific legs as they have been covered extensively by others in the past. I can only add that I was pleasantly surprised by the crew as I have been previously been surprised by other very friendly LAX
based ex-NW crews on these transpacific flights.
I will instead concentrate on pics from this never-ending flight.
Unfortunately, nature likes to show who's boss every now and then, today the jetstream was feeling rather peppy, hence our flight to NRT
was scheduled to be 11:30 minutes long, with added taxi times this resulted in a 12:20 minutes block to block time, outrageous ! I am seriously considering to introduce legislation to once and for all BAN headwinds on flights from the US West coast to Asia, signature collection starts tomorrow.
Delta International Check in Area at SFO
View of the ramp from Delta Sky Club entrance
Delta Sky Club at SFO
Kirin Ichiban at the Delta Sky Club SFO
, I'm not regularly game for morning beers, but there were these Japanese ladies young and old who were having theirs, I'm not about to get beaten by tiny ladies !
Business Elite on DL
767-300, they're old but they do the trick for me
View of SFO
on takeoff from runway 01R
View of San Francisco with the Golden Gate
747 heading off to Europe below us, turned over the Golden Gate and headed to the East
Beautiful view of San Francisco
Moving map, my favorite IFE choice
Inflight Entertainment, courtesy of Akina Nakamori ; )
Pepper crusted seared tuna with soybean and seaweed salad. Grilled peppers, feta and olives. Lettuce cream soup. Love the seared tuna.
Mixed green salad with pinenuts, cucumbers and cranberries.
Sauteed chicken breast with lemon caper sauce, roasted red radishes and potatoes. Chicken was a bit weak, too much acidity with the lime and capers, and the sauce was too watery. But I ate it all anyways, ha.
Cheese and fruit plate
+300km/h headwind, nasty : (
Roasted beef and herbed shrimp with devilled egg, roasted peppers and artichoke, I love the cold deli plate.
Arrival in NRT
was after night fell so no pics unfortunately. We got to the gate at the same time as the 747 from LAX
so it was a mad rush to immigration to avoid lines.
After the long flight, it was nice to be just one stop away from our hotel in Narita town, it's a very relaxed place to spend a stopover in as there's plenty of hotels and things to do within walking distance from the train station.
Spent the night at the small but effective APA
Hotel Narita and relaxed at the Yamato no Yu spa in the nearby woods, perfect way to wind down after a long flight.
After proper night's sleep, we headed to central Tokyo for a breakfast buffet with a good friend at the Metropolitan Marunouchi, having heard the stories about catering on domestic japan flights it was a good idea to splurge here and enjoy some wonderful japanese style congee, natto and other japanese delicacies while taking in the views.
Japanese congee with fried wontons, chives, sesame, pickles and plums. Those plums tasted awesome.
The infamous natto, you know what? It wasn't that bad, in fact, I could get used to the taste. Those strings are very bothersome though.
Breakfast at the Metropolitan Marunouchi
A Piss with a View
There's something about Central Tokyo, never gets old, the glitz, the modernity, it's always nice to enjoy. After breakfast we took the Haneda Limousine bus from nearby Tokyo station. It's an excellent option and you're dropped off at Haneda about 25 minutes after getting on. Due to the APEC going on in Yokohama I got 2 see both Air Force 1 and 2 planes at a remote gate at Haneda, impressive to see them side by side so far from their home.
Check in at Haneda is pretty simple, there was a queue at the ticket line but it didn't take more than 10 minutes to get to the end of it so an agent could help us out.
Haneda Terminal 2 Check in
Premium check in at NH
Cool thing about this departure board at Haneda, it shows how full the flights are and the equipment being used, pretty neat eh ?
Very informative HND
Getting to FUK
is a piece of cake with widebody departures on the hour and sometimes even more frequently. Was tempted to take a 747 but it was only scheduled to operate early morning and afternoon flights.
The target: NH253 with plenty of good seats available
13 Nov 2010
After some fast typing the lovely check in agent gave us our seats. She even understood my lowsy Japanese and gave me window seats as requested
Neato Japanese boarding pass
With check in out of the way there was still some time to check out the awesome viewing terrace at HND
, unfortunately it was closed today, perhaps due to increased security for the APEC thing? Ah well, decided to just go to the gates instead.
Security at Haneda is pretty easy and efficient, we were through it in less than 5 minutes.
The gate area at HND
is long long long and kinda boring ,I think most of the fun at HND
, at least when it comes to terminal 2 is landside, with tons of restaurants, shops and the observation area.
The long hallways at Haneda
Once airside, I caught a glimpse of the 747 that was headed to Fukuoka one hour before us, it was actually scheduled to be smaller plane but was switched at the last minute (according to the departure board). Very cool sight to see a 747 flying such a short hop.
11:30 flight to Fukuoka
My disappointment about not flying a 747 was gone when I saw we were flying on ANA's new posterplane, the Gundam Jet !!! What would the future hold? Would I get cool Gundam toys ? Would the FA
's dress up as robots and fight to the death in between green tea runs? the possibilities seemed so tantalizing.
Gundam gundam gundam !
When we got to the gate I caught the FA
's boarding our plane and snapped a few pics of the area.
Departures to FUK
at 12:30 and 14:00 from this gate, the gate next to us had another FUK
departure at 13:30
Almost time to board
It must be said that boarding a flight in Japan is an amazing experience, especially when you are used to the slow and cumbersome boarding we get to see in the western hemisphere. Seeing a 777-300 fully board in 20 minutes is something to behold, how do they do it? Among other things, rollaboards seem to be much more rare, and they are significantly smaller which surely helps smooth things out. The 777 to Osaka next to us looked pretty full yet they still managed to board very quickly.
When it came to boarding time for our flight to FUK
, I unfortunately was not as smooth as my Japanese friends, In fact, I probably reinforced all the negative stereotypes that mention foreigners as incapable of integrating into Japanese society.
In my short 5 minutes between passing the boarding gate and taking my seat I managed to clog up the line by not scanning my boarding pass correctly, ran over a nice elderly guy's foot with my rollaboard (his foot got in the way, I didn't see it until it was too late, gomenasai
!!) and I finally slammed my head unceremoniously into an overheard bin before getting into my seat. Really, a dashing and debonaire entrance this was not.
Finally in my seat, whew !
To aid in boarding, both jetways were used, with the first jetbridge labelled for people seated in first class along with those seated on right side of the airplane, and the second jetbridge for the rest of the airplane.
Within about 10-15 minutes most people were on board, unlike the earlier flights, our flight was far from full, which is the just the way I liked it ; )
Despite the 3-4-3 configuration, legroom didn't seem too bad, it seemed much more roomy because the middle seat was empty which always helps make for a comfortable ride.
Gratuitous knee shot
We taxied out to Haneda's brand spanking new seabound runway. Seems quite amazing to see the taxiways built right on the sea, quite a nice work of engineering.
Ramp at HND
Taxiway on stilts
Got to catch a glimpse of the South Korean presidential plane on arrival, seems that we had a veritable red carpet of VIP aircraft at Haneda today.
Departure from HND
was very very scenic as we went over central Tokyo and had a great view of the city, unfortunately no view of Fuji-San though.
Plane on final approach to HND
Incoming and outgoing traffic
In flight service on NH
's domestic flights is now very much a no frills affair, the only things available for free seem to be green tea (iced and hot) or water. Everything else is in a handy little menu.
's doing their drink runs
ANA My Choice Menu
That Okinawa bagel looks pretty tasty, too bad it's only available on Okinawa flights.
Still being full from breakfast I was fine with just some green tea. And I really do love the green tea served on ANA.
ANA hot green tea
We had an army of FA
's who were constantly passing around the cabin to keep everything in check and offering stuff for sale from the catalog.
The ANA catalogs themselves are full of neat goodies for aviation lovers, albeit a bit too pricey.
Unfortunately, the FA
's did not dress up as robots to engage in hand to hand combat, c'est la vie
, at least the flight was short so the lack of an in flight performance was not as tragic.
Shinkansen headed to Hakata station
We descended into a cloudy Fukuoka and landed on runway 16.
Quickly pulled into Fukuoka's Terminal 2 where I managed to snap a nicer shot of our bird.
Fukuoka airport viewing terrace
Arrival area at Fukuoka airport
My very very manly stored value transportation card: subway, shopping,buses, pay for everything with your handy sugoca!
My plane is even on a booklet at the hotel, btw, yes, the Gundam jet is now officially my
ANA's Domestic service is nowadays pretty basic and far from luxurious, the remarkable and noteworthy thing with NH
is still the wonderful attitude of staff at every point of contact, they truly make the difference between an otherwise pedestrian experience and make flying a pleasure.
Adventures in Kyushu
Most of my previous Japanese experience had been around Tokyo and the Kansai area, so I was happy to get a taste of a different part of the country.
Kyushu is an easy place to get around thanks to the rather nifty and cheap JR
rail pass (65 bucks for 3 days, not too shabby
Fukuoka makes a great base for daytrips as most spots in northern Kyushu are 2 hours or less away (Sasebo, Nagasaki, Beppu, Yufuin, Kumamoto).
Here are a few pics from this very nice part of Japan:
Gorgeous Nagasaki, well worth a visit
Palm trees and old buildings at the Dutch slope in Nagasaki
You better have good knees here
Beautiful city on the hlls
Glover Garden and Nagasaki Harbor
Beautiful Glover Garden
Yup, this is Japan !
Oldest stone bridge in Japan
Powerlines and hills
White Kamome train
Space age !
Suizenji Park in Kumamoto
New Shinkansen coming to Kyushu, how does 4 hours from Kagoshima to Osaka sound?
Relay Tsubame train
Mmmmm, tonkatsu sandwich
Yufuin No Mori, limited express to Yufuin
Autumn in full swing
Food stands in Fukuoka
Tenjin in Fukuoka
Stations in Fukuoka all have a neat logo
Shopping and Art in the same building (Asian Art Museum on top, shops below)
Ohori Park in Fukuoka
Yahoo dome and Fukuoka Tower in the back
Relaxed waterside living[Edited 2010-11-25 01:20:27]
[Edited 2010-11-25 01:34:47]