Sleepless over Siberia.
The story of the ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner Tokyo Haneda - Frankfurt First Long Haul Inaugural Flight 21 January 2012. The first ever commercial long haul flight for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a new step taken in aviation history by ANA and Boeing with this new all-carbon fiber aircraft.
How it all started.
My first eye to eye meeting with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner happened in 2010 at the Farnborough Air Show. Prototype ZA003 made her first landing in Europe the Sunday 18 July to be in the static display for only a short time.
My first glimpse of her happened on the Tuesday as the B-787 prototype departed from the air field back to Seattle with two Spitfires on her wings.
I had watched the Internet live cast of the B-787's very first take off on the Boeing website and I liked the new aircraft very much but I must say that seeing her amazing flexed wings and graceful ideally proportioned body and engines I was smitten the moment I saw her flying.
I named her Princess Dreamliner and from there I knew I wanted to fly on her on the first ever commercial flight that would be made available.
About two years later...
The announcement came by ANA that a inaugural package tour with the first passenger flight was scheduled on 26 October 2011... that day being my birthday. I said to myself... this could be a repeat of the first A380 inaugural flight 25/26 October 2007 with Singapore Airlines with a most memorable birthday party on board.
Things were very different this time. The ANA 787 HKG
package tour and first ever passenger flights would not be accessible to all.
ANA organized a lottery for their SkyMiles Club Members residing in Japan to provide access to 100 coach seats. Each member could register for the lottery with their SkyMiles card number and bring one companion traveller. The cost of the ticket per person being 78,700 Yen for the round trip flights including the one night hotel in Hong Kong.
ANA also decided to auction off six of the 12 business-class seats on Yahoo Japan and on eBay and to donate the proceeds to environmental conservation groups—a nod to the Dreamliner's fuel efficiency. The rest of the seats would go for the media and invited guests.
I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. It went like this...
"" "" Over in Europe, Madame Concorde, 59, wasn't so lucky.
Madame Concorde, who also was on the first A380 flight, contacted ANA in Paris about the Dreamliner's debut. The Tokyo-Hong Kong charter would be on her birthday, she explained, and wouldn't it be nice if the Japanese carrier offered her a seat? "It didn't make any difference," says Madame Concorde, who lives in Monaco.
She didn't give up completely. Some of her friends and relatives living in Japan entered the 100-seat coach lottery and listed her as a companion traveler.
But ANA received about 14,300 applications listing 25,500 travelers, and none of Madame Concorde's contacts were among the winners.
However, she secured herself a consolation prize. She bought a ticket on ANA's first scheduled long-haul international flight—from Tokyo to Frankfurt—on the Dreamliner in January. "It would have been wonderful to be on the Hong Kong flight," says Madame Concorde, who is retired from a career in finance. But the long-haul flight "will be more like the real thing." ""
After my failed attempts on the ANA lottery...
The moment came when the long haul inaugural flight sale went live on the ANA Skyweb site --the 787 not being yet confirmed as the aircraft operating the flight--
I booked myself on the first ANA 787 Dreamliner Haneda-Frankfurt flight and bought the ticket. I added two ANA Japan domestic flights. The Frankfurt to Narita would be with Lufthansa. This was to be on a A380 that became a A346 the day before the flight.
Travel Itineary - booked on ANA SkyWeb
11 Jan. LH1059 Nice - Frankfurt
11 Jan. NH6002 Frankfurt - Tokyo Narita
12 Jan. NH815 Tokyo Haneda - Yonago
20 Jan. NH820 Yonago - Tokyo Haneda
21 Jan. NH203 Tokyo Haneda - Frankfurt
21 Jan. LH1060 Frankfurt - Nice
Welcome to Japan!
After enduring a long flight with almost no sleep sitting in a tight window seat in the back of a Lufthansa A346 for more than 11 hours I was happy to get out of that crowded long Airbus and be able to walk the long walk in the terminal to immigration and recuperate my suitcase at the baggage carrousel.
I wish I could have spent a couple of days spotting at Nartia but my time through NRT
was short. Not knowing how much time it would take me to get to Haneda with the Tokyo morning traffic I had to quickly get on a coach that would take me there in plenty of time to catch my flight to the coast of Western Japan.
I went to the Bus counter and bought a ticket to Haneda. Cost 3,000 Yen.
I directed myself to pier 12 to get the bus. It took about 10 minutes waiting on a cold Narita morning for the bus to come.
The direct road trip to Haneda airport took over one hour. I knew we would hit some traffic on the way but it could have been a lot worse.
We reached Haneda Airport and I got off the bus at the ANA Japan Domestic Terminal 1.
I had to get my boarding pass for the domestic flight and check my suitcase again after which I went through the security check and on to the boarding area. It all went relatively quickly as I had access to the priority lines.
I went to the ANA lounge. I did not really want any drinks or food. My only curiosity was to find out if I would be lucky to catch one of the two ANA 787s doing the domestic flights, JA801A or JA802A while I was in the terminal. I went to the reception desk to see the hostess and asked her if I would be lucky to see the new plane.
My flight was leaving at 1.30 PM
from gate 67 and I was told that the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner was due at gate 64 at 12:45. The hostess told me that I could see the plane taxiing and parking at the gate from the lounge and then I could go down to Gate 64 to see the new plane in plenty of time before boarding my flight.
I had time for drinks so I made myself a cup of coffee. The ANA domestic lounge does not have food. They have drinks and snacks only. I still had some of my own food that I had taken for the trip so I was allright. I just sat and waited and looked at airplanes from the lounge panoramic windows until...
an all painted B-744 "PokemonJet" showed up on the taxi way and parked at one of the gates right below the ANA lounge. Not long after, an aircraft that did not look quite the same as the other ANA aircrafts! There she was... the beautiful striped navy blue and white Dreamliner came into view!
I said goodbye to the lounge hostess at the reception desk and kindly thanked her for all the information and terminal map sheet she provided and made my way down to gate 64 to look at the beautiful new aircraft up closer.
It made my day. JA801A the first delivered Boeing 787 Dreamliner delivered to ANA was parked down below. She was under really good care of the Haneda ramp workers. Baggage and freight was unloaded and I was looking at her.
Her next flight wasn't going to be until after 4.00 PM
so there was time for all the ramp workers and technicians to be around and do all that was needed to be done. Interestingly enough, the engine bay doors were opened.
As all my attention was concentrated on the new airplane one of the hostesses came with one of her colleagues and handed me some B-787 Dreamliner goodies tucked in a little assorted ANA striped transparent plastic bag. I asked them for a picture and they kindly obliged.
I let them know I was going to be on the first long haul flight with the newest 787 of the fleet which had a different configuration. They were happy to meet someone coming from so far away showing so much interest for their new prized possession. I thanked them for their kindness and for the nice little gifts. They were really nice!
I wanted to get more pictures before heading to gate 67 further down the terminal. I had watched the delivery ceremony live on the ANA website and I was happy to come face to face with the historic aircraft.
What was it that I liked best about her? Her nose? Her beautiful wings? Her nicely proportioned body? Her engines? I did not see anything about JA801A that I did not like. She was remarkably beautiful and that special livery fitted her like a glove. A supermodel among all the other airplanes!
I could not take my eyes off her!
The gate signs with the Dreamliner were beautiful too!
Seeing JA801A with my own eyes, the first delivered 787 to ANA, was a real treat. Time was passing and I had to walk down to gate 67 to board my flight to Yonago.
On the way to my flight I got to see the colourful painted B-744 "PokemonJet"
I could see the PokemonJet again from my boarding gate right before boarding my flight along with other ANA tails and JA801A the beautiful striped B-787 Dreamliner.
I knew which one among the two I liked best. The Pokemon plane was a curiosity though!
Announcements were made and I had to board my flight. It was time to say goodbye to the beautiful JA801A. I thought I might see her again on my way back... to no avail.
I waved goodbye and boarded my flight. I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane to be able to see them during taxi and take off but I was treated to the most amazing views of Tokyo on our way up in the air.
This ends Part 1 of my ANA 787 Dreamliner HND
1st Long Haul Inaugural
Part 2 will come soon!
Gate parties... Aircraft interiors with amazing colours.... Blue cabins... Gigantic windows... Flying fun....
All to come in Part 2!!!!
Stay put... and see you all soon for the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner long haul inaugural adventure!!!
[Edited 2012-01-27 11:44:41 by SA7700]