All Nippon Airways, Premium Class – B 767-300: Ishigaki to Tokyo Haneda

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I’ve decided to try a new format for my trip reports. Rather than waffling on about my own personal experience, I figured it might make more sense to provide some hands-on information instead. Let me know what you think!

And a happy new year, by the way.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

In Ishigaki I stayed at the ANA Intercontinental Resort. There are two options to get from the resort to the airport. A taxi will take approximately 20 minutes to make the journey and costs roughly 2’500 Japanese Yen.

Alternatively, there is also the bus line 10, which in fact stops right in front of the hotel on its way to the airport. The journey by bus will take roughly 20 to 30 minutes and costs 430 Japanese Yen.

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CHECK-IN

Online check-in does not appear to be available on the ANA domestic website. There is, however, an iPhone app which would, theoretically, allow you to check-in. But it seems that bookings for domestic flights that were purchased abroad or not purchased directly with ANA are not eligible for any type of remote check-in. This also means there’s no advanced seat selection, unless of course you call ANA directly.

Ishigaki is a nice little airport.

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There are six ANA check-in counters at the airport, three of which are for passengers with checked bags. The other three are for passengers with cabin luggage only and also serve as ticketing counters. There is no dedicated Premium Class counter.

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What Ishigaki airport also has, is a very nice open air observation deck on the second floor.

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LOUNGE

There are no lounges at Ishigaki airport. At least though there is a mini food court adjacent to the ANA check-in area where you can get some tasty Japanese food or a Starbucks coffee.

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Departures are also on the second floor.

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BOARDING

Boarding for domestic flights is always very efficient, orderly and quick. A fully loaded Boeing B 767-300 is boarded in just under 15 minutes.

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CABIN

ANA operates a variety of different cabin configurations and seats in its Premium Class cabins. It helps if you know what aircraft type you’re travelling on, although even then there appear to be differences within the same fleet type.

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Further information about the seats and configuration can be found here. Please note however, that there are no detailed seat maps on the ANA domestic website and seatguru provides no information about ANA’s domestic configuration.

IFE

The Boeing B 767-300 are kept in good shape, for sure. But their IFE is somewhat antiquated and consists of a limited number of audio channels and one video channel. Films are showed on a big screen mounted on the cabin bulkhead. On this particular flight they’re showing a documentary about the Boeing B 747-400SD in ANA service. The aircraft will be leaving the fleet with the start of the summer schedule on 29 March 2014.

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SERVICE

ANA provides every passenger with a blanket and slippers (available on international flights too). Additionally, pillows, eye shades and ear plugs are available upon request.

THE MEAL

The ANA domestic website gives a lot of useful information about the kind of service and food on offer on flights that have a Premium Class service. Flights with departures between 13:01 and 16:59 are served a light meal, which has an afternoon tea theme and is branded as Premium SABO. The meal consists basically of a variety of sweets and savouries.

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Further information can be obtained here. There is also a menu in every seat pocket of the Premium Class cabin.

ARRIVAL

ANA operates from Terminal 2 in Haneda.

GETTING INTO TOWN

Haneda is the first, original Tokyo airport. Narita was built much later. To get into central Tokyo the most reliable option is to take the monorail from the basement of the airport to Hamamatsucho, which is the terminus station of the train.

At Hamamatsucho you can transfer to the JR Yamanote line, which draws a circle around Tokyo and connects most of the important locations. Shinjuku and Tokyo Station are both served by the JR Yamanote line and the Narita Express and are only a few stops away from Hamamatsucho. So having a hotel in close proximity to one of these two stations is very convenient. I normally stay in the Shinjuku area because it’s quite lively by day and by night. Tokyo proper is mostly a business district and once the offices close, it gets rather quiet and, well – a bit boring.

You can buy combined tickets for the monorail and JR lines at the ticket machines for the monorail in Haneda. If you’re not sure about the ticket price, simply get the cheapest ticket there is, which is 600 Yen. There are fare adjustment machines at every station for you to top up your ticket.

MILEAGE

In the meantime the miles for the outbound leg to Ishigaki have been credited to my Senator account. Premium Class is treated as First Class and subsequently yields 3684 miles, which is quite substantial for Miles & More these days, especially given the cuts they’ve made in an attempt to cause maximum irritation at minimum advantage – even to themselves…

All Nippon Airways, Business Class – Boeing B 767 – 300: Haneda to Ishigaki

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

My last post left off with me arriving in Narita from Heathrow yesterday. I then had to make my way to Haneda, from where my flight to Ishigaki leaves todays, where I would also spend the night.

There are three ways to reach Haneda airport from Narita using public transport. First, there is the limousine bus service – not sure where the limousine bit comes in – which runs regularly between the two airports. This can however, be a bit of a wild card. Theoretically the journey time should be around 90 minutes. But traffic in the Tokyo area can be quite bad, significantly increasing the time to make the journey.

The second option is of course the famous Narita Express, which runs to Shinjuku and Tokyo station and takes a little less than an hour to make the journey to Tokyo station. From there you have to change to a JR Yamanote line train to Hamamatsucho, where you connect to the Haneda monorail service. The Narita Express is certainly the most comfortable way to get into Tokyo, with reserved seating on every train – but obviously with luggage having to change trains twice may be a bit cumbersome.

And then, finally, there is also the Kaisei line, which runs a direct train from Narita to Haneda in 92 minutes. The direct trains run every 30 minutes or so but are not near as comfortable as the Narita Express.

In Haneda I’m staying at the Excel Haneda Airport Hotel for the night, which has some really brilliant views of the apron and the runway (see below). Access to the hotel is via Terminal D2.

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The Boeing 747-400 will leave the ANA fleet on 29. March 2014.

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Airline: All Nippon Airways
Aircraft: Boeing B 767-300
Cabin: Premier Class (Business Class)
Seat: 1H
From: Haneda
To: Ishigaki
Date: 29. December 2013
Departure: 11:30
Arrival: 15:00

I’m assuming that most of you will not know where Ishigaki is, which is why I’m adding a map pf the journey so far – courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper.

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CHECK-IN

I exit the hotel at the far end of the departure concourse. The terminal is crawling with people. This is after all, the main holiday season in Japan. There are people everywhere, with long queues. But in typically Japanese fashion, the queues are orderly and move along efficiently and swiftly.

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There is a segregated check-in area for status card holders and passengers travelling on one of ANA’s Premier Class services, with direct access to security. The queues here are much shorter and the staff take their time to actually help you repack your stuff once you’re through security. If only it were always like this! Once you exit security, there is an escalator on your right leading up one floor to the ANA lounge.

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THE LOUNGE

The ANA lounge is large and spacious, with plenty of seating options. Of course I follow my impulse, which is so much nicer than to call it a compulsion, to take a seat by the window where I can watch the action on the ramp, but I quickly change my mind. First of all, once you’re seated you can’t see the action outside anyway. Secondly, the seating area by the windows is markedly hotter than the rest of the lounge. It’s like a sauna.

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DEPARTURE

The flight today is completely full. Boarding a flight in Japan is usually quite interesting to watch, and today’s flight does not appear to be any different in that respect. The first boarding announcement is for passengers with reduced mobility, and passengers travelling with children. Next it’s the Star Alliance members and passengers in Premier Class.

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Boarding starts at 11:20, only 10 minutes ahead of our scheduled departure time, and I’m seriously wondering how much longer we’ll be on the ground here in Haneda. But when push comes to shove the Japanese will make that extra effort to achieve a group objective and much to my surprise, at 11:30 everyone is seated and the doors close for an on time departure to Ishigaki.

Take-off is from runway 23. As soon as we’re airborne, we do a sharp right turn to point us in a southerly direction. It’s a lovely day here in the Tokyo area and our route takes us nearly exactly above Fuji. Unfortunately though, I’m unable to take any decent photos. I’m on the aisle seat and the guy by the window keeps leaning forward to get a better view.

THE CABIN

There’s something very retro about this bird. The overhead bins are still of the original
B 767 variety and have not been replace with the new B 777 style ones. The seat is comfortable enough, but there is no individual IFE and the seat controls are mechanic rather than electric.

The seating configuration is 2 – 1 – 2, with the designation AB for the row of two on the left, D for the single seat and HJ for the row of two on the right side of the aircraft.

Every passenger has a blanket and a pair of slippers at his seat. Pillows are also available on request.

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SERVICE

There are two cabin crew working in Business Class this morning. One is the middle-aged maître de. Very stern and competent. And then there is a charming young lady, who is very personable and witty.

THE MEAL

The meal is very tasty and very Japanese. It’s a two layered bento box with a variety of dishes, mostly fish, vegetables and rice. There is a menu in the box, but that is only in Japanese. So I can’t really tell you exactly what it is you can see in the pictures. Miso soup is served with the meal. To drink I have a cup of Perrier.

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And then to conclude the meal I have a cup of Starbuck’s branded coffee and a chocolate fondant biscuit that is so divine I have to ask for a second one.

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ANA’s premium meal concept on domestic flights is quite simple, but it serves its purpose well – the bento box and miso are rather nice.

For the rest of the flight I listen to my own music. Throughout the flight the crew pass through the cabin regularly to ensure that passengers are comfortable and to check if any one needs anything.

One hour out of Ishigaki there is another drinks service, which is accompanied by a basket with savoury and sweet snacks.

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ARRIVAL

As I already mentioned, it was a lovely day when we departed from Haneda this morning. Unfortunately though I can’t really say the same about Ishigaki. It’s definitely warmer, but that’s about it. It’s quite windy and it’s raining – perfect weather to lounge around inside and read a good book or two. Which is, I think, what I shall do until the weather clears.

ANA Air Nippon, Economy Class – B 767-300: Fukuoka to Naha, Okinawa

INTRODUCTION

In the previous post I take a short hop across the Yellow Sea from Seoul in South Korea to Fukuoka in Japan.

I spend the day seeing the sights of Fukuoka before heading back to the airport in the late afternoon. Fukuoka is by far not the most interesting city in Japan from a tourist perspective. But the city is very nice and the people of Fukuoka are certainly among the nicest I’ve encountered on my many trips to Japan!

Date: 28 May 2012
From: Fukuoka
To: Naha, Okinawa
Airline: Air Nippon for ANA
Aircraft: Boeing B 767-300
Class: Economy Class
Seat: 22H, aisle

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

At around 16h00 I decide it is time to head for the airport. I still have loads of time to kill until my 18h30 departure. But I am simply too exhausted from all the walking to do anything else. It is a ten minutes walk to Hakata Station, from where I catch the Metro line number 1 for the two stops to the airport. With a journey time of only five minutes, this must really be the airport closest to any city centre I have ever visited.

AT THE AIRPORT

Check-in at one of the self-service devices is out of the question for me, as I have none of the information required to avail myself of the service.

So I head over to a check-in counter, where a friendly check-in agent welcomes me. She takes my passport and starts hammering away at the keyboard. After about five minutes of typing, she asks to see my e-ticket number, types some more and eventually informs me that I have 22H, an aisle seat on the right side of the plane on a row of two. She then proceeds to print my first boarding card for this flight. This one is green.

From check-in I head one floor up to security. You pick up a basket and place all your belongings into that. Before you put your things on the conveyor belt, you must scan your boarding pass. Subsequently the machine will print a second boarding card. This one is white and printed on flimsy cashier receipt type paper. Nobody wants to see it, so I’m not sure what it’s for.

THE LOUNGE

There is even a domestic ANA lounge here. It is surprisingly large and beautifully finished in what I would refer to as Japanese minimalist design. It is very nice. Food options are limited to packets of Japanese crackers and the drinks selection is limited. But is serves its purpose and the sofas are comfortable enough.

Cold spinach juice. I think I’m going to be sick.

 BOARDING

About thirty minutes before departure I figure boarding is about to begin, so I leave the lounge and make my way to the gate.

Boarding is somewhat cumbersome, to say the least. What ever happened to Japanese high-tech and efficiency? There are four attendants staffing the counter and to be honest, I do not think they are quite sure what they are all supposed to be doing there either. One girl is making the announcements, to which all of them bow, while another shows us how to put the boarding pass on the scanner using an oversized cardboard model of the scanner and a huge plastic boarding pass. To watch her one might easily think she is playing to an audience of kindergarten kiddies. Another one wheels a sign to the front of the gate and flips it from ‘service’ to ‘pre-boarding’, to ‘premium boarding’ before eventually an announcement is made that general boarding has started and the corresponding sign is flipped to ‘general boarding’. As I pass the gate and scan my green boarding card, a third one is issued, this time a pink one, which is subsequently handed to me by one of the four gate attendants. What on earth is the point of having self-service boarding anyway, and what’s with the three boarding passes in different shapes and sizes?

But apart from all this,  like everything in Japan, boarding a plane is an orderly affair. Standing by the entrance to the plane, there is another ANA employee, this time one of the James-Bond-You-Only-Live-Twice-With-A-Crash-Helmet-On variety, holding up a sign that explains which seat numbers are on which aisle.

THE CABIN

The cabin looks well maintained. Only the old angular overhead bins betray the real age of the aircraft. The distribution of passengers in the cabin is strange. The forward Economy Class cabin is packed, while the rear Economy Class section is only full in the front part. Towards the back there are much less passengers and there are quite a few rows in between the two aisles that are empty.

Later on, as soon as the fasten seat belt sign is turned off after take-off, I walk towards the back of the plane, originally with the intention of going to the loo. That is when I spot 36A, a window on the left side of the aircraft and above all, behind the wing. So I quickly return to my original seat, grab my belongings and change seats. Brilliant, total bliss in fact!

DEPARTURE

The airport is quite busy at this time of day. We taxi to the threshold of the active runway where we wait for an arriving Hawaiian Airlines B 767-300 before it is our turn to line up and depart.

THE SERVICE

There is not really very much to say about this flight in terms of service. The crew seem pleasant enough and take their job, especially the safety bit, very seriously. No more, no less.

THE MEAL

Catering on this flight consists of drinks only. Luckily I bought myself a couple of sandwiches on my way to the gate. There is also a menu with buy on board items. But when the cabin attendant reaches my row, it turns out there is no food for purchase at all in Economy Class on this flight. But at least the drinks are for free. I am not quite sure what to make of all this, but thanks for the free apple juice anyway.

ARRIVAL

I spend the rest of the flight watching the lovely views outside until eventually the sun sets and we are surrounded by darkness.

By the time we are approaching Naha it is nearly 20h00 and pitch dark. Further more, the crew do not dim the lights for arrival, despite the darkness outside, making photos perfectly impossible.

Naha airport is a mid-sized facility with a large domestic terminal and a minute international one.

In the arrivals hall there are these containers for you to dump your baggage tags.

GETTING IN TO TOWN

Well, strictly speaking I am not going into town. I am heading for Manza Beach, about a one hour’s drive away from the airport. During the low season, now, the last bus leaves Naha airport for Manza at 15h00, long before my flight had even left Fukuoka. So I have no other choice but to pay the EUR 70 for a taxi.

CONCLUSION

This concludes this review. I like the ANA brand and I like the Japanese way of doing things. The aircraft on this flight is in mint condition and the service provided by the staff is faultless. However, I also have to say that I am somewhat taken aback by how complicated and cumbersome flying domestic in Japan is. Three boarding passes is simply pointless, as is having a pro forma automated boarding process if you have to show your boarding pass and passport to an attendant again anyway.

EPILOGUE

I spend a nice couple of days in Manza, either reading or lounging by the beach. The Manza Beach Intercontinental Hotel is a pleasant place to stay. It’s also an interesting experience to watch Japanese tourists on their home turf.