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, which is now fully revealed:
Only one airline operates NGS-NGO and that is NH with two flights daily (9:35 and 19:45). The morning flight is usually on a B737-500 and the night flight is on a B737-800. I picked the flight that gave me the most of my vacation, easy choice. This will probably be my last report on NH for awhile now that I am switching to oneworld. I still have a fair quantity of UA and EY miles to burn, so there might be an occasional reward flight down the road.
After collecting my bags from the best flight of this trip, it was time to head upstairs to the Departures level and check-in in for my flight home to Nagoya.
There is no line, so I am immediately helped at the NH counter. The agent checks my bag and sends me on my way within a minute.
With an hour to my departure time, I decide to find the observation deck since the NH B788 I saw on arrival is getting ready to leave for HND. There are no JL or NH lounges at NGS. There is a third-party pay-in lounge that is before security, but it’s probably not worth whatever they charge.
NGS continues the theme of dimly lit Japanese airports with this dark hallway that leads towards the shops and restaurants.
Turning the corner we see our elevator to heaven (I actually just took the stairs to the right).
The entrance to the observation deck. There is a monitor listing arrival and departure flights. There is a map of the gates indicating which carrier uses which.
Stepping outside, we can see I already have a friend enjoying some spotting. The deck is pretty nice with a bell tower and a play area.
The NH B788 is front and center. The tug is getting engaged as I show up.
I was distracted and miss the J-Air Embraer E-170 landing and only get a blurry shot of it landing from ITM. It’s amazing how much of the JL domestic fleet still has the old livery.
It taxis by and takes a gate at the far end near the two OC Bombardier DHC8-200s.
The NH B788 gets backed up.
The ground crew waves them goodbye.
They are aligned for a northern departure.
Before blasting down the runway and lifting up into the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in a long time.
As soon as they disappeared into the sunset, my plane, a B738, was on the horizon in its final descent from NGO.
She touches down with a puff of smoke.
Taxing to the gate.
The Nagasaki sunset makes for more beautiful portraits.
The arrival of my plane is my queue to head back inside and go through security. Leaving the observation deck, I notice there are a bunch of pictures in one of the halls. There is a display honoring all of the different airlines that have landed at NGS. There is of course (the now familiar to everyone) Oriental Air Bridge highlighted with its pair of DHC8-200s. More interesting for our French followers is the arrival of this Air France Concorde, 15 years ago now.
I had back downstairs to the Departures level to go through an empty security line. You can see the sign for the pay-in lounge showing that it is located across from security.
Instantly through security and I head to my gate, where everyone is patiently waiting.
Boarding pass receipt from security.
All Nippon Airways, NH374 Equipment: Boeing 737-800 [JA54AN, delivered March 2009] Departure: 19:45 (ATD: 19:57) Arrival: 21:05 (ATA: 21:07) Flight time: 1:10
Pre-boarding is called for those needing special assistance. This is followed by NH Diamonds and then Premium class and NH/*A elites. Ten people rush past me to get in line, they were clearly excited to get onboard. I scan my boarding pass and pass through the turnstyle. The jetbridge is nice with benches on one side (questionable colors) and windows overlooking the tarmac on the other side.
Arriving at the threshold of the plane, I pause to take a picture. The FA was curious what I was doing, you can see her poking her head around the corner. There is some patchwork on the side of the plane showing its age. As you enter, on the right, you can see there are some blankets for Y passengers and a little basket with NH candies in it. Stepping on board, the FA greets me in Japanese and the other FA walks me to my seat.
Stepping into the cabin, I’m immediately disappointed to see the old product. These seats are the exact same as those I had on the B767-300 in the first part of this series. These are not the new seats that I had on the B737-800 in/out of Hakodate.
The FA that walks me to my seat frowns when she sees me trying to put my backpack and omiyage up in the overhead bin. She takes them and puts them in the seat next to me and seatbelts them in. I ask her if this seat will be free, she explains that I’m the only Premium class passenger so it’s no problem. I didn’t check the seat map so that surprised me a little bit, but I won’t turn down a private cabin. She asks me if I would like a newspaper or if there is anything that I would like. I ask for a pillow and decline a newspaper. She returns instantly with a pillow and tells me the slippers are in the seatback before returning to the galley to greet passengers.
NH Premium class pillow and blanket. The blanket is preplaced in the seat.
Seat pitch is great at 50”.
In the seatback is preplaced the headphones and slippers.
While boarding continues, I’ll show the contents of the seatback.
The safety card for this B737-800.
As a reminder, the meal service on this flight will be the dinner Premium Gozen. If you want to see the drink list for Premium class, please refer back to Part 1 of this series.
FAs do cross check and we get ready for push back.
Yep, it will be a lonely flight in Premium class.
As we start our pushback, the screens come down and they play the standard bilingual NH safety video.
As we head out on our taxi, we get a nice view of the terminal, a JAL Express B737-800 with “???????” livery, and the two ORC DHC8-200s. (Sorry for the quality, battling the cabin lighting)
We turn onto the runway and immediately wind up the turbines. We are up off the ground on this cloudy evening, eventually breaking through the cloud layer giving some last glimpses of the setting sun.
We make a sharp right turn to head up towards Nagoya giving a great look at our winglet in the dusk’s light.
Finishing up the seat tour. There is coat hanger on the back of the seat. The tray table folds into the outer armrest. There are three buttons in the outer armrest to control the seat’s functions.
There is a small cubby next to the seat for storage of personal items. Audio controls are also located here.
There is no USB power, only the outlets located on the front of the center console.
There is a reading light and a hook for the headset located on the center divider, which provides decent levels of privacy. I think the new cabin offers more privacy.
We get some city lights below us and the last glimpse of daylight before we continue the rest of the trip in the darkness of night.
There is some action in the galley, so service will be starting soon.
I open my tray table when I see the FA walk out. She hands me an oshibori and asks me if I will be taking dinner tonight. I affirm and she closes the cabin divider and heads back to the galley. The prepackaged oshibori is cold, but real cloth.
The monitors come down and start playing classic golf, I kid you not…
The FA returns and sets down my bento boxes, miso soup, and chopsticks. She then asks me what I would like to drink. I ask for a water and shochu with a cup of ice.
The menu for this dinner.
Close-up of the miso soup.
The first box contains rice and veggies, the second box has fish and meat. Again, portion size is not really “dinner” sizing, but I don’t think they plan this to be a replacement for a meal given the short flight time. Quality and taste are good, but it’s not overall substantial in quantity.
I had already finished my miso soup by the time she returned with my drinks, so she offered me another cup of soup. Here we have the second cup of miso soup, my drink selection, and a packet of otsumami.
The FA pops out periodically to check on me. As soon as she sees I’ve finished a bento box and my shochu, she clears them away and brings me another bottle and another packet of otsumami.
I enjoy my shochu while watching 1990s Japanese golf highlights (not enjoyable).
A picture of the empty cabin midflight.
I get up and use the bathroom at this point. The photos of the lavatory have disappeared off my phone, but I can assure you it was a standard next gen B737 lavatory that was spotless and clean. It was my personal bathroom on this flight.
Exiting the lavatory, the FA in the galley asks me if I wanted any tea or coffee. I asked for coffee and she says she’ll bring it right out. She returns moments later with a cup of coffee and some sweets. This is when I notice she has band-aids on the tips of some of her fingers. I ask her if she burned them. She takes off one of the band-aids and shows me her fingernails, which were decorated with hearts. She said it’s against the dress code so she has to cover them up. She asks me how the meal was, so I tell her my thoughts. I ask her if this is her last flight of the day, she says they are done for the night and can finally eat dinner once they get back to NGO. They did the round-trip up to Asahikawa from Nagoya and then the round-trip to Nagasaki today. I definitely don’t envy their jobs, which is why I always try and be nice to them. Anyways, the coffee and sweets.
I just sit back listening to music while I sip my coffee as I can feel us start our descent. My neatly packaged trash for the FA to collect.
The recline in these seats is good and I find the seats to be generally well padded and comfortable for these short-hauls.
This plane is 6-years old now, but it is still spotless and clean. The only letdown is that it doesn’t have BSI, which is also true on the new B737-800s that NH is currently acquiring.
When I started to look around, I noticed that the overhead controls were still set up for a 3-3 configuration, but the seat labeling has been only partially retrofitted. Premium cabin is rows 1 and 2, but then economy starts at row 5 (on the newer planes, the first row of economy is row 3). You can tell this plane was originally shipped in a different configuration.
The FAs start to prepare the cabin for landing; they collect my trash and open up the divider.
It’s still dark and cloudy outside so there isn’t much to see during the landing. We land from the south with a so-so landing on the wet runway. We can see part of the domestic terminal as we come to a stop.
As we taxi around to our gate, we come across an old friend: CA B737-800.
We pull into our gate next to our twin, another NH B737-800. There is a 7G A320 behind it that is in from Fukuoka.
I collect my belongings and head up to the galley to wait for the door to open. I notice there is a picture of the NH B737-700 in special gold livery (JA02AN) in the galley. I talk to the FAs about it, but neither of them has seen it before since it mainly operated out of Tokyo on regional international service and they are domestic FAs. The door opens and they thank me for flying with them. I thank them for their service and tell them to enjoy their dinner. They laugh and bow as I leave.
Heading up the jetbridge. Apparently I was moving too slowly, this guy was in a rush to get somewhere and just bolted around me as soon as I stepped off the plane.
Off to arrivals (blurry because I was walking and shooting).
Baggage claim for my flight.
There is a short wait for the bags to start circulating, but at least I have these guys to keep me company.
My bag is the first off and I’m on the train home 5 minutes later. (PS – The guy that cut me off in the jetbridge was sitting in front of me on the train so his strategy was not so successful)
Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the final segment of this series. There is a tourism bonus for Nagasaki below, otherwise skip to the end for the ratings and summary.
I spent a day and a half in Nagasaki, which really isn’t enough time considering the weather was not cooperating. If it was sunny, I probably could have done everything, but I had to call it quits around 15:00 on my first day there due to monsoon rain. The rain both nights I was there also meant that I didn’t get to do what I really wanted to do when I was there: night view from Mt. Inasa. I guess that gives me an excuse to go back, it really is a beautiful area.
My primary reason for wanting to go to Nagasaki was to see Hashima (??), which is commonly referred to as Gunkanjima (???) or “Battleship Island.” This name comes from the fact that the island looks like a battleship from the distance. I was very lucky; the island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site two days before I went to Nagasaki. The island was first occupied in 1887 when undersea coal deposits were found. Mitsubishi operated a deep-sea coal mine on the island up until 1974, which has had a controversial history since Chinese and Korean POWs were used as slave labor for much of its operational history during Imperial Japan’s industrialization. The island is only 16 acres in size, but had close to 6,000 residents during its peak (population density of 215,000 people per square mile). Most people have probably seen this island before, it was featured in Skyfall.
There are 3 or 4 companies that offer cruises to the island, prices are all the same, but I got a discount with one company for being a Japanese resident outside of Nagasaki-ken. Landing is dependent on calm waters since the island is pretty far from the coast and is susceptible to strong sea conditions. If the water is too choppy to land, they’ll just make a loop around the island and come back to Nagasaki. The tours last 3 hours: 1 hour out, 1 hour on the island, and 1 hour back. The cruises leave from Nagasaki Terminal, an oddly shaped building.
Boarding our vessel.
Great views as we head out to the island. Dejima Wharf and the Mitsubishi ship building docks are visible.
The island is now visible as we approach. Its dark silhouette resembles a battleship on the horizon.
Landing on the island.
A view of the coast from the island, it is about 6 km from the mainland. They built an underwater pipe to get fresh water onto the island.
Right before we landed, one of the crew approached me on the boat and asked me if I wanted a tour in English or Japanese. I told him that I’d prefer English, so he told me to follow him. Since I was the only foreigner on the cruise, he was going to give me a private tour. The rest of the ship was split into two groups for tours in Japanese. Kudos for this company for offering me such an amenity.
The island reopened in 2009 after being untouched for 35 years. When mining stopped on the island in 1974, the island was simply abandoned. No one set foot on the island until it reopened in 2009 so the island suffered years of typhoon destruction with no repair. The only things that remain on the island are the concrete and brick structures of some buildings. You see debris strewn everywhere (including the old sea wall). It serves as a somber reminder of the past walking through this soulless and empty island.
After the tour, there is only a small path created around one corner of the island so far, we return to the boat and make a loop around the island. You can see some work on repairing the sea wall, before we sail off back to Nagasaki.
We go past some more Mitsubishi ship building docks before going under the Hirado Bridge. We pass some cruise ships in the harbor before returning to Nagasaki Terminal.
The Suwa Shrine (????).
26 Martyrs of Japan Memorial (???????) next to St. Philip Church (????????). These martyrs were crucified in 1597.
Urakami Cathedral (?????). It was destroyed by the atomic bomb (Fat Man), which detonated 500m away. The remains of the bell tower remain untouched.
The famous one-legged torii of Sann? Shrine (????). The other half of the torii was destroyed by the bomb.
The Dutch Slope (?????).
?ura Cathedral (?????).
Glover Garden (?????).
Canals in Nagasaki.
Dejima (??), which is currently under severe construction. This was the island that Dutch merchants lived on during the Edo period. Even though the harbor was opened to foreign trade, foreigners were quarantined onto this island as Japan continued its isolationist policies.
Nagasaki’s food. Up first is champon (?????), which is Japanese-Chinese cuisine, it’s a variant of tonkotsu ramen often served with gy'za (??). Second, is a lunch course. Finally, you can’t go to a port city and not delve into their fresh seafood offerings.
I stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza, which is near Glover Garden. The other top hotels are all near Nagasaki Station (there are no fancy hotels in Nagasaki). A standard Japanese hotel offering. It could probably do with an update, but it served its function and my room had a view of ?ura Cathedral (?????) from the balcony.
Nagasaki - NGS
Nagoya - NGO
Another good experience with NH in their Premium class. Even though this B737-800 had the older seats, it was nice to have a private cabin. The crew were prompt and attentive, but really didn’t get friendly until the end of the flight. Catering was good, but not really a full dinner. Good on-time performance.
Cabin comfort: The old Premium class seats are comfortable and have all the features you need (minus USB power). The cabin and lavatory were both spotless. Having the cabin and the lavatory to myself, privacy was not an issue. Excellent for a one-hour domestic flight.
Crew: The crew had a friendly welcome. We had a little exchange over where to put my carry-ons (I find seat-belting them into the seat next to me as odd). Meal service was very attentive and drinks were constantly proposed. They seemed tired and hungry after a long day, but I tried to lighten the mood with some friendly banter after dinner and they seemed to loosen up a bit. Overall good, but not fantastic.
Meal and catering: Same old, same old. Good quality, but quantity is lacking for a meal. I really wish they would listen to me and just serve everything on a tray and use real chopsticks and glasses. You serve everything else in reusable containers (bento boxes and miso soup bowl), is it really asking too much to get some real chopsticks?
Entertainment: Newspaper offered and the standard seatback literature. The magazine rack behind my seat was empty (not that I cared). Who decided that Japanese golf highlights from the 80s and 90s constitutes in-flight entertainment?
On-time performance: We left a little late and arrived 2 minutes late into NGO. Nothing too egregious.
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