The idea of flying in Japan had been with from December 2011 when I booked my ticket to Japan. As I also booked an Asian travel pass with Star alliance I was unable to easily get cheap domestic flights before arriving in Japan. So I gave up the idea of flying more for a while and just hoped that I would go back to Japan soon, but during my current stay in Japan I found out that Peach Airlines had just started flights in February 2012. To make a long story short a on a previous trip to Japan I had been to Nagasaki by train and had always said that I would not mind visiting it again. So when looking at peach website I found that at the moment they were operating to four domestic airports from Kansai including Nagasaki so choice was easy.
Peach has flights starting from 2500 yen one way (about 24 euro) but these were only at hand for the very inconvenient early morning departure during my booking for Nagasaki. Currently there are only two flights to Nagasaki. In the end I paid about 10000 yen for a return flight which is still very well priced for Japan standards. Because I currently stay in Tokyo there was also a challenge of getting ontime to Kansai for a reasonable price, as I have a student visa a JR pass is not possible so the only ‘cheap’ way was to book a night bus, which in the end cost about the same as one way flight for me, but including the train transfer from Osaka cost a bit more. At the timing of booking I was not aware that there is a ferry services between Kobe and Kansai airport which only takes about 30 minutes which would have made final trip truly multi modal.
Now let’s get back to the flight(s) with Peach.
Photos of trip can be found via https://plus.google.com/photos/10324...09515325105?authkey=CKbqj-PI5uygEA
- MM175 Osaka - Kansai (KIX) 2012/04/12 14:15 to Nagasaki (NGS) arrival 15:30
- MM176 Nagasaki (NGS) 2012/04/13 16:00 to Osaka - Kansai (KIX) arrival 17:10
Booking was done via the website of peach airlines in English (this actually the only way you can book with the airline), it went pretty fast and I did not encounter any difficulties afterwards (paid by creditcard). I did not add any check baggage but did select an exit row seat for additional charge of 800 yen (about 7,50 euro) to try to successfully have more seats to myself. This strategy although costly compared to the price of the flights worked both ways because I had 3 seats to myself.
Peach uses a different building than other airlines for check-in and boarding process which is conveniently located next to the train station of Kansai airport, for the international flights which start next month conventional check-in space will be used at the international departures area.
Check-in starts 90 minutes before the flight, it is not possible to check-in early then that. Also the check-in procedure was fully in Japanese, I did not see any option to change this but since there is only one big button to press to complete the check-in this can hardly go wrong and with plenty of staff around this should not be a problem even with checked baggage.
One level above the check-in area is the waiting room for Peach, this area provides seating for about one or two loads of planes but that is about it. Announcements are made in Japanese only for the domestic flights and no screen with information was present the moment I flew with Peach. As I heard the word Nagasaki after waiting for some time I went downstairs to ask a staff member If I could board, I was told that security check would open in 15 minutes next to check-in. And indeed after 15 minutes I was the first to go through security, which is also only used for Peach and afterwards a holding area followed with a small shop and just about enough seats for one plane load. After about 15 minutes boarding was announced and people stated moving to the only visible elevator in this area to me, I used the stairs to get down to boarding area since a large group of passengers was waiting for elevator. Downstairs it seemed that the boarding area for the buses to airplane were divided in four sections for maximum of two flights at one time, one bus for the front of the plane and the second for boarding from the back. After about 5 minutes I boarded the front bus I and headed for the airplane. As this building and the buses were not in the secure area of the airport the bus had to travel to a special gate to access the apron. One thing I noticed it that the planes are about 10 to 15 minutes away from the terminal.
Load factor about 70%, seat 13F. Depature followed quickly after boarding as the plane is parked near the end of the runway and all passengers boarded the first two buses. A Short English announcement was made about safety and also the pilot spook some words in English about expected arrival and weather in Nagasaki. I was the only non Japanese on this flight .
After about 15 minutes the catering service started and I ordered a combo of peach Danish and soft drink for 450 yen. The flight was uneventful afterwards, we flew along the coast for most part of the 1+ flight which provided some nice views on nature of Japan. Since Nagasaki is a small airport we reached gate in no time and used airbridge to gain access to the terminal building. At the entrance of terminal we were directed down by peach staff which thanked me again for flying peach. About every 15 minutes there is a bus service to Nagasaki which costs 800 yen and takes about 40 minutes, the ride itself is quite nice as mountains and small villages can be seen from the express way it uses.
For the flight back I arrived well in time at the airports only to discover on my arrival that my peach flight has been delayed for 30 minutes. Nagasaki does provided a free view deck on the 3rd floor and has some restaurants so I could easily spend my time. Check in was possible as scheduled 90 minutes before scheduled departure and already seemed quite busy when I arrived. After going through security there was not much explore as the terminal building does not offer more than one shop, free internet and some Japanese television. Luckily there was some activity going on at other gates so time went quickly.
The flight its self was much shorter this time and it took less than one hour to reach Kansai airport. Although this time neither the captain or staff made any announcement in English they did approached me in English and thanked me twice for flying Peach during the Flight. I ordered the peach sake with some nuts on the way back, which was provided with a huge plastic cup. Load factor was about 70% this time and I had the same seat. Because of large part of the flight was covered by clouds I could not really enjoy the scenery as good as on the previous flight.
Getting from the plane to the terminal took some time, as our bus waited for about 10 minutes to departure and the ride to terminal was about 15 minutes which gave nice view of gate activities on the international gate area.
For an airline which has just been operating for about two months which is flying four routes from one airport by using three aircraft I was not expecting an flawless experience and for the price paid you cannot compare peach with legally airlines. The overall flight experience was good, service was efficient and booking and boarding went without any major hiccup I only could have hoped for a bit more English my next flights.
I do believe that idea of Peach could work in Japan and that staff is motivated and dedicated to making the airline work to high standard. As most 99,9% of the passengers on domestic are probably Japanese I don’t really blame them for speaking Japanese as it was also proven that they could answer me in English it wasn’t really a problem. If Peach can keep flights for both domestic and international operations as cheap as they are now they will be able to offer a good alternative for making international travel from and to Japan more affordable.
I hope you enjoyed my report and it will give you some insight on Peach airlines
As I am currently doing a research project related to airports, I also visited Sendai and Fukushima airport this week so below are is a link photos I took at those airports. Sadly there were not planes at the airport of Fukushima during my visit.