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akinsoul
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Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sat Aug 25, 2018 10:42 pm

Hello fellow avgeek boys, girls, and anyone in-between and beyond!

Earlier this year I went on a 15 flight trip to Japan over 2 weeks. The outbound journey took 48 hours and took us from Glasgow to Sapporo via Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, Seoul and Osaka. All in one go. It started out with us taking advantage of a SWISS 2-4-1 business class deal from Paris to Hong Kong. As we really wanted to go to Japan, we then used up some miles to take us from Hong Kong to Sapporo. Hence, the “interesting” routing. We flew home to Glasgow from Fukuoka, via Singapore, Hong Kong, Zurich, Paris and London. Yes, in this order!

This trip report is for my favourite flight out of this whole trip. It was also the shortest! After a few days exploring Sapporo, we headed over to the coastal city of Hakodate. If you ever have the chance to go to Japan, make sure to go see this place. I can only recommend it.

Sapporo’s main airport is New Chitose Airport which is not actually anywhere near Sapporo. It’s about an hour’s train ride away. But Sapporo has a city airport called Okadama (OKD). It’s a tiny airport with a limited number of flights. The only airlines operating out of it are Japan Air Lines (Hokkaido Air Services) with their fleet of Saab 340s and FDA Fuji Dream Airlines with some Embraer jets.

As we flew into New Chitose Airport I thought it would be fun to try out Okadama for our trip to Hakodate and well, what can I say, it was worth every penny….and more!

Getting to the airport
Travelling to the airport was a bit of an adventure. I was being cheap and didn’t want to take a taxi and had read that you could take a bus to the airport from the JR main train station. With Okadama being geared towards locals, especially business men, I think nobody thought of making travel to the airport easy for foreigners. All airport bus signs in English were for New Chitose Airport. We also went up to the ticket/ information booth to ask for help with the Okadama Airport bus but I think my request got a bit lost in translation. Anyway, we made our way to the bus stop which we believed to be the one for Okadama Airport. All the signs were in Japanese so I looked up the characters for the airport and searched for them on the timetable board. Luckily they matched!

The bus arrived as per timetable and we hopped on. 15 minutes later we arrived at the airport, which looked more like a small warehouse. It was dead cute!

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At the airport
We arrived 2 hours before departure which took the staff by surprise I think. There are so few flights a day with check-in being open up until 15 minutes before the flight. They also seemed excited about the fact we were tourists which must have been a change of scenery from the usual black suits they get there.

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I must have been visibly excited about the whole thing which got the staff all giggling and before I knew it they gave us little cards with pictures of the plane. They proceeded to tell us about how small the plane was and showed us the seatmap. I told them that we were from Scotland (to which we got a big….Oooohhhh!) and that our home airline (Loganair) flies the same plane there (to which we got even more….Ooooohhhhhs!).

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We were assigned seats in the last row. The check-in staff seemed apologetic about it and wanted to know if we were ok about it. I was happy – I love sitting in the back as the wing views are much better and I don’t have to break my neck looking for the wing :D

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So that was us there 2 hours before the flight at this tiny airport. It was so small that that the gate and security actually didn’t open until 30 mintues before the flight which made me laugh. The airport had a restaurant, a wee shop (with lots of avgeek goodies), a big area for community engagement with posters and information about the airport, as well as old plane seats!

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The best part was the big panorama window with great views over the apron. They only downside was that there really weren’t any planes to look at. Haha. But here are some pictures of my plane

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Boarding
The boarding gate and security opened on the dot 30 minutes before departure. Security was swift and efficient – as one would expect in Japan. Once at the gate, we were greeted by a sea of black suits. And the odd pin stripe. It was borderline comical. We stood out like a sore thumb!

There were these photos and pieces of information about the Saab 340 which I thought were cute. I think they were safety warning or so – like, don’t bang your head, etc.

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I love Japanese style boarding passes.

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We boarded by walking across the apron which was great! Staff were amazing. Being Japan, everyone bowed when you walked past. The highlight was when we got to the plane. Me having my camera in my hand, the pilot clogged me straight away and waved. So nice!

The flight
One thing that hit me straight away on entering the plane was that it was so squeaky clean and modern looking. A far cry from the interior of Loganair’s Saab 340s. Seats were slimline and legroom would put any European airline to shame.

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The flight only had one flight attendant who did an excellent job at making you feel welcome. She even did the PAs in English – not sure if that was just for us. On our flight back on ANA from Hakodate to Chitose, there were only English PAs.

The flight only took 25 minutes so the inflight service consisted of a chocolate mint. It was served with such a big smile there was no need for anything else. However, there was enough time for the flight attendant to come to us and ask us where we were from which was really nice of her. She also gave us more cards with pictures of the plane and said that they were a gift from the captain.

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The icing on the cake was really the view – mountain, snow, sea and lakes. It had everything on this short hop.

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As we got off the plane in Hakodate, the flight attendant stopped us and gave us an origami crane each with “Thank you” written on them. It was really, really touched by that!

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Verdict
This was the first time I got to fly JAL and it took my breath away. Ok, it was a small regional subsidiary I flew with but from what I have seen and heard, one can expect the same level of service on mainline JAL. Being showered with gifts at three separate occasion – at check-in, during the flight, and on beplaning – really makes for an unforgettable experience.

I can only recommend this flight! And you better be quick as the Saab 340 fleet will be retired soon and replaced by ATRs.

Video
You can watch the full trip report at https://youtu.be/-ivznRSDh8c

Rest of the trip
The remaining flights of this Japan trip can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSaPgTI ... pYSZ7QXifK

These include

Flight 1 GLA - CDG Easyjet
Flight 2 CDG - ZRH Swiss (Business Class)
Flight 3 ZRH - HKG Swiss (Business Class)
Flight 4 HKG - ICN Asiana (Business Class)
Flight 5 ICN - KIX Asiana (Business Class)
Flight 6 KIX - CTS ANA
Flight 7 OKD - HKD JAL
Flight 8 HKD - CTS ANA
Flight 9 CTS - FUK ANA
Flight 10 FUK - SIN Singapore Airlines (Business Class)
Flight 11 SIN - HKG Singapore Airlines (Business Class)
Flight 12 HKG - ZRH Swiss (Business Class)
Flight 13 ZRH - CDG Swiss (Business Class)
Flight 14 CDG - LHR British Airways
Flight 15 LHR - GLA British Airways
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.
 
A340600
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 12:02 am

Love it! Looks great fun, thanks for sharing.
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
jrfspa320
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 4:08 am

Interesting trip report, i love props myself!
Looks like fun with the crew being just as excited as you!
 
akinsoul
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:44 am

A340600 wrote:
Love it! Looks great fun, thanks for sharing.


Thank you! It was well worth it and despite the short distance, it was so much fun and a trip to remember.

jrfspa320 wrote:
Interesting trip report, i love props myself!
Looks like fun with the crew being just as excited as you!


Thanks! I am a sucker for props myself! I really enjoy flying them - the sounds and vibrations make flying so much more fun! Yeah, the staff, both on the ground and in the air, were amazing! They all seemed to love what they and took pride in their work and it makes such a difference to the experience!
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.
 
debonair
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:50 am

Nice TR, great pictures - well done!

Can anyone read Japanese? The picture with the seat map shows the 2nd and the last row in yellow with an explanation; I think something like "given out last". Maybe someone can confirm?
Indeed, I was shocked how beautiful and modern the cabin looked. Maybe Loganair will acquire them and replace their own (outdated) fleet - as HAC signed at this year Farnborough air show an order for ATR42-600 replacements... :cry2:
 
akinsoul
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:04 am

debonair wrote:
Nice TR, great pictures - well done!

Can anyone read Japanese? The picture with the seat map shows the 2nd and the last row in yellow with an explanation; I think something like "given out last". Maybe someone can confirm?
Indeed, I was shocked how beautiful and modern the cabin looked. Maybe Loganair will acquire them and replace their own (outdated) fleet - as HAC signed at this year Farnborough air show an order for ATR42-600 replacements... :cry2:


Thanks buddy! Glad you liked it. I always forget to take pictures as I spend all my time taking videos so am sorry I don't have much more photos!

Also, was going to say that I didn't actually sit in the last row but in row 11 which was the last row with windows. The seats all the way down the back did not have windows and the one poor person sits in the middle, having to stare down the aisle for the whole flight LOL. Interesting if it's correct what you say the writing in yellow means. Has that something to do with the trim?

The ATRs will be a nice addition and I am sure will look great in the JAL colours. But it sure won't be as fun a ride as with the Saab 340s!
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.
 
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Tabito
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:38 am

debonair wrote:
The picture with the seat map shows the 2nd and the last row in yellow with an explanation; I think something like "given out last". Maybe someone can confirm?


"窓が無い座席" : "No window seat"
 
blandy62
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:06 pm

I did that one a few months ago. Was in Sapporo and found out I could get a ride on a saab340. Was indeed a nice flight. I could not really figure out how to the the airport by bus. So eventually took the subway to the end of the line and walk there
 
akinsoul
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:13 pm

blandy62 wrote:
I did that one a few months ago. Was in Sapporo and found out I could get a ride on a saab340. Was indeed a nice flight. I could not really figure out how to the the airport by bus. So eventually took the subway to the end of the line and walk there


That's really funny! I was adamant to take the bus, especially because we had our big cases with us. Wasn't sure how walkable it was from the subway station. Most of the online guides said that you'd have to take a bus from there to the airport. Was glad though I stuck to my guns haha and it luckily all worked out well!
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.
 
blandy62
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:47 am

Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:21 pm

akinsoul wrote:
blandy62 wrote:
I did that one a few months ago. Was in Sapporo and found out I could get a ride on a saab340. Was indeed a nice flight. I could not really figure out how to the the airport by bus. So eventually took the subway to the end of the line and walk there


That's really funny! I was adamant to take the bus, especially because we had our big cases with us. Wasn't sure how walkable it was from the subway station. Most of the online guides said that you'd have to take a bus from there to the airport. Was glad though I stuck to my guns haha and it luckily all worked out well!


It is a 10-15 MNS walk. I only had a bagpack and the weather was nice. So it was a good walk. Otherwise I would not recommend it
 
zkncj
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:15 am

The flight only had one flight attendant who did an excellent job at making you feel welcome. She even did the PAs in English – not sure if that was just for us. On our flight back on ANA from Hakodate to Chitose, there were only English PAs.


Seems to be pretty common around the world for flights to always have some element of English onboard - even between cities/countries that don't speak English.
 
akinsoul
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:19 am

blandy62 wrote:
akinsoul wrote:
blandy62 wrote:
I did that one a few months ago. Was in Sapporo and found out I could get a ride on a saab340. Was indeed a nice flight. I could not really figure out how to the the airport by bus. So eventually took the subway to the end of the line and walk there


That's really funny! I was adamant to take the bus, especially because we had our big cases with us. Wasn't sure how walkable it was from the subway station. Most of the online guides said that you'd have to take a bus from there to the airport. Was glad though I stuck to my guns haha and it luckily all worked out well!


It is a 10-15 MNS walk. I only had a bagpack and the weather was nice. So it was a good walk. Otherwise I would not recommend it


Yeah, we had giant cases and there was snow on the ground so probably a good decision not to walk! LOL
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.
 
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Ryan h
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Tue Aug 28, 2018 9:25 am

Great report and photos.

When JAL retire the SAABs, I bet Regional Express here in Australia would be interested in them as they are always on the lookout for SAAB 340s that are in good condition.
South Australian Spotter
 
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aerdingus
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:34 am

Lovely report. The Saab is just the cutest...so kawaii...almost made for Japan! Service looked really nice. Thanks for this great report!
A306 A313 A319 A320 A321 A333 A346 A359 ATR42 ATR72 B734 B737 B738 B744 B772 B789 C152 MD80 RJ85 S340
 
DDR
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:16 pm

This was a really great report and I loved the humor. Great video also. Can't wait for more from you!
 
akinsoul
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Re: Falling in love with JAL: Saab 340 Sapporo Okadama to Hakodate | Photos + Video

Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:34 am

Ryan h wrote:
Great report and photos.

When JAL retire the SAABs, I bet Regional Express here in Australia would be interested in them as they are always on the lookout for SAAB 340s that are in good condition.


I am sure Loganair would gladly take them as well, especially in that condition.

aerdingus wrote:
Lovely report. The Saab is just the cutest...so kawaii...almost made for Japan! Service looked really nice. Thanks for this great report!


Hahahaha yes! Soooo kawai! Service was fantastic from start to finish. It was such a joy. Shame I am a Start Alliance person so won't be flying JAL anytime soon but ANA are pretty fab as well.

DDR wrote:
This was a really great report and I loved the humor. Great video also. Can't wait for more from you!


Yay! Someone who gets my humour! That makes me so happy :rotfl:
Sometimes Boeing. Never boring.

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