I had four consecutive days off of work, so I took the opportunity to do some domestic travel to visit three cities I’ve never been to before. This series will cover a four-flight sequence that will be slowly revealed:
There is only one flight per day between OKA and NGS, which is on NH using their workhorse all-economy B735s operated by ANA Wings.
After a nice lunch in the city, I took the monorail back to the airport. Since the airport is one terminus of the monorail line, it’s pretty easy to navigate your way back to the airport (Naha K'k?, ????). It takes ~15 minutes from the center of the city.
The domestic terminal from the monorail station, which is easily accessible by a covered walkway and clear signage.
The terminal is split in half, JL Group operates one side of the airport and NH Group operates the other side of the airport, with the unlucky LCCs operating remote stands. Here is the JL Group side.
I head the other direction for an equally crowded NH Group check-in area. Having lost my *A Gold status at the end of June, it was the normal line for me. My bag was checked to NGS after a 20-minute wait, which wasn’t terrible given the length of the line.
Departures Hall FIDS.
Main atrium in the shopping area of the airport.
It’s hard to decide between the observation deck and a foot massage, but I went with the former.
What is this blasphemy? They charge ¥100 to access the observation deck, which isn’t very much, but still outrageous for Japanese airplane enthusiast standards. No only is it ¥100, but there are two observation decks (one on the NH side and one on the JL side) so you are morally obligated to pay ¥200 for the whole experience.
As if making you pay wasn’t bad enough, the deck wasn’t even that nice and was actually difficult to spot from.
Enough complaining, onto some planes. NH B767-300 arriving.
NH B777-200 taxing back to the terminal.
NH B777-200ER lifting off.
Japan Air Self-Defense Force Kawasaki C-1 landing.
There is only one runway at Naha Airport, so there was always a huge back-up of planes waiting to takeoff. Here we have a NH B777-200ER turning onto the runway, a 6J B737-800 in “Kumamon” special livery (same plane I spotted in my KMJ-NKM report), and a NH B767-300 taxing in the foreground.
NH B767-300 landing.
BC B737-800 in final descent.
NH B767-300 pulling into a gate.
Pika! Pika! The NH B777-300 in “Pokémon Peace Jet” special livery is here!
NH B767-300 heading to the runway.
BC B737-800 taxing from its remote stand. You can see the sea of military planes parked out on the tarmac in the distance.
With that, I decided to head over to the JL Group side of the airport and see their operations. NU B737-400 getting towed to a gate.
NU B737-400 still in the old JAL Express livery.
GK A320 with sharklets taxing to its remote stand.
Close-up shot of a NU B737-400, the newer livery has “??????” written across the nose which means “Wings of Okinawa” in Japanese, the slogan for Japan Transocean Air (NU).
Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC) Dash-8-300 landing, before taxing to its remote stand.
The international terminal is not very active, but there is a LJ B737-800 getting prepped for departure back to ICN.
MU A330-200 on a wobbly approach. They luckily straightened it out before touching down and taxing back to the terminal.
JL B767-300 in “oneworld” special livery hiding in the corner.
I’ll wrap things up with the NH B777-300 in “Pokémon Peace Jet” special livery heading off to HND.
Back inside, a look at the FIDS shows delays running rampant. Not surprising given the congestion on the runway. A new runway is under construction, but won’t open for a couple of years. My flight (NH1872 to ??) is showing a nice delay of 25 minutes.
The security line near the “B” gates was ridiculously long, so I wandered over to the “C” gates, which had no line. I was airside in no time.
Small FIDS after security showing my plane will be leaving from Gate 36.
The NH Group concourse.
With 30-minutes before our new boarding time, I head to the far end of the concourse to wait. This also happens to be the point of the airport closest to the runway. The blue glass gives the photos a tint though. HX A330-200 landing.
NU B737-400 landing.
Ryukyu Air Commuter (RAC) Dash-8-100 (in old livery) landing.
JL B767-300 in “oneworld” special livery taxing to the runway.
Japan Air Self-Defense Force Grumman E2-C Hawkeye landing.
NU B737-400 landing.
6J B737-800 landing.
BC B737-800 landing.
NH B737-500 landing. This isn’t just any NH B737-500, this will be my plane up to Nagasaki this afternoon.
She taxis around before arriving at our gate.
All Nippon Airways, NH1872 Equipment: Boeing B737-500 [JA302K, delivered February 1998] Departure: 15:45 (ATD: 16:31) Arrival: 17:10 (ATA: 17:40) Flight time: 1:09
Due to the late arrival of the inbound aircraft, they did an expedited turnaround. At 16:00, the first boarding calls were made for special assistance. This was followed directly by general boarding in order to expedite our departure.
Heading down the jetbridge.
Stepping onboard, there is a FA greeting passengers. She greets me in Japanese as I turn and head to the back of the bus.
Here is my seat (and what turns out to also be my row).
I throw my backpack into the overhead bin and settle into my seat. As I settle into my seat, we can see the cabin during boarding. Standard 21 rows of all Y in 3-3 seating configuration on the B737-500. The FAs do not offer newspapers or blankets.
Seat pitch is not the greatest, so I emptied the bulging seatback into the empty seat next to me.
The two seats next to me would remain unoccupied, some of the only empty seats on the plane since the load was somewhere around 95%. The floor is clean and passes the Marathon test.
Boarding is completed as fast as possible and the door is closed immediately for pushback. As we pushback we get a nice view of the NH B737-800 that took the gate next to us.
During the taxi, the FAs do the safety demonstration in Japanese only (there is no IFE on this plane). As we reach the runway, we can see that the HX A330-300 is already heading back to HKG and will follow us out.
We get some beautiful views as we lift off the ground.
We then make a looping left turn around the southern tip of Okinawa to head north. Some small islands are visible.
We continue our path along the eastern coast of Okinawa so I don’t get much to see out the window other than the occasional coastline.
Here is the seat tour. The fabric is slightly abrasive and kind of uncomfortable on the skin. There must be audio available since headphones are supplied and there are controls in the armrest, but I did not test this out. There is a single button for recline on the armrest. The recline is moderate (a couple of inches based on this photo mid-flight).
The view down my row. My neighbors are shorter and seem to have a more comfortable seat pitch, so things are all relative.
The overhead controls are standard for an older generation B737, but you can see all the black smudges highlighting the age of this plane.
We clip the top of Okinawa as we continue our route north.
The seatback contents (headphones not shown).
Two-sided safety card for this B737-500.
The BOB menu. Complimentary service is limited to coffee, tea, beef consume, apple juice, and water. The prices aren’t bad, but then again most of the items are just random snack food. If you read the fine print on the drinks, it's slightly amusing. They say they serve cold drinks to children and parents with children so that they won't get burned.
Halfway through the flight (~35 minutes in), the service finally begins. That’s one way to ensure you only have to make one pass through the cabin.
The cloudy ocean will be the view for the rest of the flight.
The drink cart arrives at my row (one cart was deployed from the front galley and worked backwards; another was deployed from the rear galley and worked forwards).
I ask for a coffee, so I prep this wonderful tray table for my half full cup. That’s it, the full service for this flight.
At least there were smiles during service.
More cloudy ocean and our winglet-less wing.
After the service was completed, I headed to the back to use the lavatory. Clean and unremarkable.
Leaving the lavatory, the two FAs are sitting there chatting. Stop, stare at me. I try and start a conversation, but they just turn and continue their conversation. They clearly weren’t interested in being social so I head back to my seat. The FAs make one sweep for trash and then disappear to the galleys where they will remain for the rest of the flight. Twenty minutes later, the clouds break and we can see we have now reached Kyushu as we are in the middle of our descent into Nagasaki.
It looks like a grey, cloudy, and rainy day in Nagasaki as we weave over some golf courses and Omura (??) to align for our descent into NGS.
We follow the coast as we plunge into the Omura Bay towards NGS.
We clear the seawall and touch down. A pretty smooth landing and the pilots were able to make up a little bit of time enroute.
Taxing back to the terminal. Not another plane in sight.
The jetbridge engages and we quickly start deplaning. Half-hearted goodbyes leaving the plane. The pilots were in a rush to leave, they are already heading down onto the tarmac by the time I made it into the terminal. Interesting observation, one of our pilots was a female (bottom of the stairs), probably not many of them in Japan.
Down in the dark baggage claim, our bags were soon circulating.
With bag in hand, I head outside and catch the express bus to Nagasaki. It costs ¥800 and takes about 45 minutes to reach Nagasaki-eki (the bus leaves every 15-45 minutes depending on time of day). The bus schedule is posted on monitor in the baggage claim listing the stops and the platform it departs from. Outside, the bus is waiting and ready to go. It is non-stop service into the city, making one stop in Dejima before arriving at Nagasaki-eki.
Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the next segment of this series.
Naha - OKA
Nagasaki - NGS
Probably a more typical experience aboard NH. Nothing spectacular and just a step above a LCC, hmm, sounds a lot like economy on a domestic flight in the US. Service is bare bones, but done with a smile (if that makes you feel better about it). FAs not really interested in interacting with passengers and just doing the bare minimum. An unremarkable and easily forgettable flight experience.
Cabin comfort: An old 737, the seats look well maintained and the cabin was generally clean, but there was also a lot of glimpses of wear and tear on these workhorses. I find the pitch to be on the tight side, but that will vary on your height. The seats are comfortable enough for a short hop, but I really don’t care for the abrasive upholstery they use.
Crew: Greeted passengers boarding, did one pass with drinks with a smile, then spent the rest of the time chatting to each other in the galleys. They seemed generally disinterested in their jobs.
Meal and catering: No oshibori. Choice of 5 drinks. BOB prices are okay, but nothing that I’d ever buy.
Entertainment: No newspaper offered, no IFE, Japanese-only NH magazine, but possibly audio (?). Nice views on takeoff and landing, but that’s the extent of the entertainment on this flight.
On-time performance: Left almost an hour late on a one-hour flight. We landed ‘only’ 30-minutes late so somewhat respectable, but not up to NH standards.
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