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Off to Okinawa! (Japan trip 1/2)

Off to Okinawa! (Japan trip 1/2)

Old Jul 29, 12, 2:46 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2011
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Off to Okinawa! (Japan trip 1/2)

Welcome to my first trip report.

After having read many trip reports and other threads on this forum I thought I could write one.

Comments and feedback are appreciated.

Introduction
My family decided that we'd go to Japan during the summer. I was looking forward to this trip a lot. My parents left me in charge of organising the flights. We usually fly British Airways or another OneWorld airline but this summer BA's prices were quite high and the schedule wasn't great. Looking for other options I found a Lufthansa itinerary with a codeshare on the NH 787 on the way back to Europe. As it was reasonably priced my parents agreed and we booked it.
We quickly decided we wanted to visit an Okinawan island once in Japan and we decided to go to Ishigaki. Domestic flights were needed and we decided to book a Star Alliance Japan Airpass as we are flying to Japan with Star Alliance. The booking was made over the phone. I spoke to a very friendly and competent Lufthansa call centre agent and the booking was done within minutes.
I originally planed to write a trip report of our Lufthansa flights to Japan but I was very tired on that day and the flights weren't particularly exciting.



Flight: Fukuoka - Ishigaki

We decided to take the subway to the airport. As everywhere in Japan the subway in Fukuoka was efficient and very clean.



After 18 minutes we reached the airport station and took the escalator upstairs. We then walked over to Terminal 1 where our flight would be departing from today.



Once inside we walked to the small ANA check-in area.



We tried to use a check-in machine but because we didn't have a QR code and the credit card used to make the booking didn't work we went to a counter. There was no queue and a very friendly agent checked us in and printed our checked-in notices.



We then had to queue to get our luggage screened.



Afterwards a sticker was put on our suitcases and they were weighed tagged to Ishigaki.



We went up to the departure lounge and ate something. The place was rather small and dark with limited restaurants and shops available.



At least there was an old fashioned FIDS.



The security check was very pleasant. Totally different from what I have experienced elsewhere. Nobody is shouting and the agents are very friendly. Before going through the metal detectors we had to scan the QR code on our checked-in notice and we got a gate information receipt.



Two agents had a closer look at my iPad smart cover and thanked me for waiting and bowed before I left.

At Fukuoka airport they have 4 Wickets where flights are boarded from. One then walks on to a gate and boards the plane. Our flight was boarded through Wicket D and it left from Gate 12.



Each Wicket has an ANA and a JAL scanner. The ANA gate agents arrived and they bowed before setting up the gate. Before starting the boarding process they bowed again. They started with passengers needing assistance, followed by Priority boarding (Star Alliance Gold) and finally general boarding. During the entire process there was an agent holding a sign indicating the current boarding group.



Boarding was efficient and everyone formed an orderly queue. Once we scanned our boarding passes on the ANA reader we received a boarding pass.



On the way to gate 12 I managed to take a photo of our plane and write down the registration. It was JA357K, a Boeing 737-500.



Flight Info
Airline: ANA Wings NH
Flight no: NH559
From: Fukuoka FUK, T1 To: Ishigaki ISG
Departure: 12:20 Arrival: 14:20
Duration: 2 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500
Registration: JA357K
Class: Economy Seat: 5A

1st flight on ANA Wings
1st flight on JA357K
5th flight on a Boeing 737


At the door we were greeted by two friendly flight attendants. We then proceeded to our seats. The aircraft was fitted with new slim seats.



The cabin was very clean and it looked very fresh. The new seats have the magazines and safety card behind the tray table.



During boarding a flight attendant distributed blankets to those who wanted one.



After a manual safety demonstration we took off. Throughout the flight anouncements were also made in English.

As soon as the captain turned off the seatbelt sign the cabin crew sprung into action. Only a drink was offered on this flight. I chose apple juice. The tray tables have a hole in it to hold the cup. I find this a very good design as I have previously knocked over a cup resulting in wet trousers.



Unlike in Europe the flight crew collected the trash using trays in multiple runs so everyone had enough time to finish their drink. Some of the crew members bowed before leaving the cabin and entering the galley.
The crew was very active on this flight and they did multiple drink runs using trays. They were all very friendly and always smiling. Call buttons were responded to within seconds. Their English skills were good and there were no problems communicating with them.

No IFE was available on this flight and the inflight magazine was only in Japanese. I asked the crew and they brought me an English/Japanese copy. However, only a few of the articles were in English and I just sat back and listened to some music on my iPad enjoying the wonderful views. The weather was great.



nizolidas is offline  
Old Jul 29, 12, 2:48 am
  #2  
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The atmosphere was very relaxed and everyone was in a good mood. The seats were comfortable and the legroom was generous. (I'm 1.86m tall)



After a smooth landing and a short taxi we reached our remote parking spot. Despite the light load stairs were attached to the front and the rear doors of the 737 and there were two busses to drive us to the terminal. I managed to take a photo of our plane before boarding the bus.



On the way to arrivals we passed a Ryukyu Air Commuter Dash 8. After the short bus ride we entered the baggage claim area. There are two belts. One is used for JAL group and the other for ANA group.



As soon as we arrived the belt went on and our suitcases came out after a few minutes. We left the airport and took a taxi to our hotel.

I really enjoyed the flight. It was very pleasant and the weather was great and I enjoyed watching the clouds go by.


After a few days in Ishigaki it was time to head to Tokyo, the final destination of our trip.
Ishigaki was really nice and the weather was great.







As there are no direct flights from Ishigaki to Tokyo on ANA, we had to change planes at Naha Airport, OKA. The flight to Naha was operated by a 737 and the flight from Naha to Tokyo Haneda by a 747-400D. I was looking forward to flying on this type but things turned out differently as you will see later on.

Flight: Ishigaki-Okinawa

After a short taxi ride we were back at Ishigaki Airport ISG.



We proceeded to the ANA building and checked in. There was no queue but the agent took a long time to print our checked-in notices.



There was a board with the daily flights located behind the desk.



Our baggage was screened and a friendly agent tagged them all the way to Tokyo Haneda. We then proceeded to the gate lounge. At Ishigaki Airport there is one security lane and one gate lounge. The security was no problem and the friendly agents were very relaxed and smiling. There is only one shop next to the gate and a restaurant before security.



The boarding process started. I scanned my QR code and got a red boarding pass.



The whole process was very quick and efficient. Within ten minutes everyone had been taken to the plane by bus and the doors were closed. After leaving the bus I took a photo of our plane, JA358K.



Flight Info
Airline: ANA Wings NH
Flight no: NH1766
From: Ishigaki ISG to Okinawa Naha OKA
Departure: 11:10 Arrival:12:00
Duration: 50 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500
Registration: JA358K
Class: Economy Seat: 5A

2nd flight on ANA Wings
1st flight on JA358K
6th flight on a Boeing 737


Upon entering the aircraft I was greeted by the cabin crew. I took a blanket and proceeded to my seat.



It was one of the 737-500 fitted with the new slim seats. The legroom was good.



The cabin was in a good condition and we were all set for a punctual take off at 11:10. However, after about 10 minutes of just waiting a flight attendant announced that there was a mechanical issue which would cause a delay. I looked out of the window and say mechanics opening up the left engine.



Another announcement followed that we would be taking off in approximately 30 minutes but a few minutes later it was announced that the captain had cancelled the flight. When leaving the aircraft the cabin crew apologised and at the bottom of the stairs the ground staff also apologised. The mechanics were still working on the engine.



Once we reached the gate the gate agents apologised and we left the secure area and headed back to the check-in / ticketing desks. Everyone formed an orderly line waiting to be rebooked.



All agents were busy helping passengers from our flight in some way. They were all very apologetic and they worked really hard and fast trying to get the situation under control as soon as possible. After about 15 minutes we were directed to an agent. She apologised for the inconvenience and rebooked us on NH1768 leaving to Okinawa at 12:30. This was the next flight scheduled to depart after our original flight. Because we wouldn't be able to make our connection in Okinawa she rebooked us on NH128 leaving Okinawa at 14:35. While she was typing away insanely fast one of her colleagues brought our suitcases to the desk we were at and the agent gave us new boarding passes for both flights and new baggage tags.





As our flight was scheduled to leave in 15 minutes by that time we quickly rushed through security and to the gate. We scanned our new QR codes and got our boarding passes.

nizolidas is offline  
Old Jul 29, 12, 3:03 am
  #3  
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We were only about 8 people on this bus as most passengers had already boarded.



Flight Info
Airline: ANA Wings NH
Flight no: NH1768
From: Ishigaki ISG To: Okinawa Naha OKA
Departure: 12:30 Arrival: 13:25
Duration: 55 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500
Registration: JA303K
Class: Economy Seat: 21A

2nd flight on ANA Wings
1st flight on JA303K
6th flight on a Boeing 737


A few minutes after we boarded another bus with a few passengers from our previous flight arrived.
Our aircraft still had old seats and the cabin hadn't been updated yet.



The legroom was really tight.



The crew were distributing children's toys so I asked them if I could have a 787 Rubik's cube.



Our flight left 20 minutes late because the baggage belonging to the passengers who were originally on NH1766 including ours had to be loaded into the hold. The ground staff bowed and waved as the aircraft headed off to the runway.



After a smooth take off we flew over the new Ishigaki Airport, scheduled to open next year.

This old aircraft still had an audio loop entertainment system.



The headphones provided weren't that bad.



There were only 12 channels available and all of them were in Japanese. I just listened to music on my iPad and enjoyed the views outside.



On this short flight the crew served drinks. I had an apple juice.



They collected the trash on trays and came by with drinks on trays during the flight.
The crew was very friendly and professional. They were always smiling.

We landed 18 minutes late and after a short taxi a jet bridge was attached to our plane and we disembarked.



We exited straight into the departure lounge and could just walk over to our next gate. A look at the FIDS revealed NH128 would be departing from Gate 33.



We then walked in the direction of Gate 33 passing by some shops. There was free WiFi available at the airport but one had to register to use it.



After a short walk we reached Gate 33.



Having no idea what aircraft our flight was going to be operated by I had a look out of the window.



I was a bit disappointed to see a 777-300 as we were originally booked on NH126 operated by a 747-400D. However, it wasn't that bad as I hadn't flown on a 777-300 before.

Flight: Okinawa-Tokyo

Our flight was called out for boarding only 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time. As usual it was a quick process and after scanning the QR code I got a red boarding pass.



Flight Info
Airline: All Nippon Airways NH
Flight no: NH128
From: Okinawa Naha OKA To: Tokyo Haneda HND, T2
Departure: 14:35 Arrival:16:55
Duration: 2hours 20minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Registration: JA756A
Class: Economy Seat: 40A

1st flight on All Nippon Airways
1st flight on JA756A
8th flight on a Boeing 777


The cabin crew welcomed us on board and we headed back to row 40. All of ANA's 777-300 are configured in a high density domestic layout with 516 seats in a 3-4-3 layout.



After sitting down I looked out of the window and saw the huge 777 wing.



After a short taxi we took off on time.

This aircraft had the same 12 channel audio loop system the 737 had. The control panel also included the light switch and the call button.



The cabin was clean and the seat was comfortable. The legroom was acceptable.



As on all domestic flights only drinks were served. I once again took an apple juice.

nizolidas is offline  
Old Jul 29, 12, 3:07 am
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I spent most of the flight looking out of the window and listening to music.



I also started writing this trip report.



Some flight attendants walked through the cabin selling ice cream. I bought a Hagen Dazs for 300. Just like everywhere in Japan I was given a wet towel with it.



The crew was continuously walking through the cabin collecting trash and bringing drinks.
After a smooth landing in Tokyo Haneda we had a long taxi to Terminal 2.



We finally made it to Gate 66 and two jet bridges were attached very quickly and we were soon on our way to baggage claim.



Our flight was assigned to belt 4.



After 10 minutes the first suitcases started to come out and after 20 minutes we had all our luggage.
We were relieved that our bags had all made it considering the last minute rush it was to catch our flight.

Sure, cancellations are annoying and cause inconveniences but the situation was handled brilliantly and we were rebooked onto the next possible flight. As we had nothing planned in Tokyo that evening our delayed arrival didn't make a difference. All in all, I still enjoyed the flights.

Conclusion
Domestic flights in Japan are very enjoyable and it was a good experience. The whole system is very well thought out and efficient like the other means of public transport in Japan. All ANA staff was very kind and they all gave their very best to serve the customer. I can only recommend it!

Thank you for reading.

nizolidas
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Old Jul 29, 12, 11:11 am
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Thanks for the flight report. I have been to Japan a number of times, but never to Ishigaki. Maybe one of these days I will get there.
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Old Jul 29, 12, 8:30 pm
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You had me fooled with the title. I thought you spend some duration of time in OKA.
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Old Sep 8, 12, 5:31 am
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Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
You had me fooled with the title. I thought you spend some duration of time in OKA.
I see what you mean. Is it possible to change the title of the thread?
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Old Sep 9, 12, 12:39 pm
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Love the 787 Rubik's cube - nice!
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Old Sep 10, 12, 7:56 am
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very nice photos! thanks!
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Old Sep 10, 12, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
You had me fooled with the title. I thought you spend some duration of time in OKA.
Me too. I got all excited as I'm off there next month.

How did you cope with ordering drinks on the domestic legs? Do you speak Japanese, or were the Crew ok with English?
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Old Sep 10, 12, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by flaii View Post
Love the 787 Rubik's cube - nice!
Thanks! I managed to get another one on my 787 flight HND-FRA. Trip report coming soon!
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Old Sep 10, 12, 9:59 am
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Originally Posted by blackmamba View Post
very nice photos! thanks!
Thank you for reading!
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Old Sep 10, 12, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Weean View Post
Me too. I got all excited as I'm off there next month.

How did you cope with ordering drinks on the domestic legs? Do you speak Japanese, or were the Crew ok with English?
The English knowledge of the crew was ok (some better than others). I had no problem communicating with the crew and ordering drinks or buying ice cream. They also greeted all foreigners in English at the door.

Have a great time in Japan and Okinawa!
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Old Sep 11, 12, 4:24 am
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Originally Posted by nizolidas View Post
The English knowledge of the crew was ok (some better than others). I had no problem communicating with the crew and ordering drinks or buying ice cream. They also greeted all foreigners in English at the door.

Have a great time in Japan and Okinawa!
Many thanks, and lovely to see I can pick up a 787 rubik's cube HND-FRA, since I'll be doing that flight too. I can't wait for your next installment!
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Old Sep 12, 12, 11:43 am
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Wow! What a fabulous TR!! I'm glad you had a great flight. Hope you have a pleasant trip.
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