Welcome aboard 'BB-8 ANA JET' inaugural flight, and my first Flight-Report! Because it's (was) May 4th - Star Wars Day, I would like to report my experience on Star Wars BB-8 themed Boeing 777-300ER of ANA.
< Background > Star Wars and ANA started 5 years collaboration 'ANA STAR WARS PROJECT' from last year (2015). As a part of the project, they offer 3 different star wars themed special livery airplanes.
1. R2-D2 ANA JET: Painted like a R2-D2 droid. Boeing 787-9 (JA873A) for long-haul international routes.
2. STAR WARS ANA JET: R2-D2 droid drawn on port-side, BB-8 droid drawn on star-side. Boeing B767-300 (JA604A) for Japan domestic service.
3. BB-8 ANA JET: Painted like a BB-8 droid, Boeing 777-300ER (JA789A) for long-haul international routes. — Yes, this is today's target!
On early March 2016, ANA announced that their last special livery airplane with BB-8 will be rolled out on 27 March, and start operation on 28 March. The airplane is painted in the hangar at Osaka Itami airport which is for domestic service, so they should take the plane from Itami to Tokyo, their international hubs. ANA did't set just ferrying flight, set revenue flight from Itami to Tokyo Haneda as inaugural flight.
Their B777-300ER is for long-haul international service, it should be rare chance to take BB-8 ANA JET on Japan domestic route. So I decided to fly on it.
< Pre-flight > When I tried to get ticket for the flight, it was already full. Then I was on standby list. Few days later, email had come from ANA and luckily I could get 1 seat with Tokuwari fare (JPY 15,340).
For ANA Japan domestic flight, advanced seat reservation is available on their internet web site. At first, I picked up right side aisle seat on H line. But changed to left side aisle seat on C line later. The economy class seat of JA789A is configured as 2-3-4 (AC-DEFG-HJK) abreast. (Check details at here.) I think C line is not so bad choice for this flight.
On 28 March, I should fly from Haneda to Itami at first. (Because I'm living near Tokyo.) I took NH13 and it landed almost on time and nothing special to note here.
Not only flying on BB-8 but also taking photos is my objective of this short trip. I went to observation deck of the Itami terminal and see many geeks with nice cameras in front of the Spot 10 where BB-8 JET will depart later.
Crowded left end of the picture is the place in front of the Spot 10. (Photo at 9:30.)
At this time, the jet was parking on north side of the airport and Spot 10 is on south. So I moved from south to north of the observation deck. During the move, I got some 551 HORAI's famous steamed pork buns. I should take some to my home all time I went to Osaka. Love them. :-)
At the northern deck, I met one of my airplane spotter friends. And, now I could see the jet better. Wow, newly painted, shiny nice look! We can see some ANA ground staffs working around it, it seems that they will start towing soon. (Photo at 10:00.)
Shortly, the jet started moving toward the Spot 10! (Photo at 10:10.)
Then go back to southern deck with my friend to see the jet at Spot 10.
OK, I took pictures enough, already bought 551 buns (most important :-P), and saw too long queue for security check. Let's go inside the security area. (Say good-bye for my friend.)
< Flight > ANA offers SKiP Service for their domestic service. By using SKiP, we don't need to do check-in at counters or kiosk terminals. Just touch ANA Mileage Club card or phone at the security check and boarding gate. This time I use 2D barcode stored on my iPhone Wallet/Passbook app. Quick and easy. :-)
I worried about long queue for security check (it looks more than 100 people in line…), but priority lane had no queue at the time. I'm Star Alliance Gold member and eligible for priority lane, therefore I can through security check with no waiting time. It's real 'skip' service. :-)
Anyway, let's skip to the Gate 10 to meet BB-8!
At the gate, already long queue had made for boarding, and this time it's for priority boarding. Oh. (By the way, Itami airport still using Solari boards (flap displays). Nice to see them. :-))
Tokyo-Osaka route is known as one of the routes for the frequent business flyers. Because of so many frequent flyers, it is said that almost half of Tokyo-Osaka passenger is eligible for priority boarding. Therefore long priority boarding queue for Itami-Haneda flight is not worth to surprise. But I think today we have many geeks with FFP elite status instead of business flyers. :-P
Boarding delayed a little. It's time to take pictures near from the gate like this photo shows.
Of course, I should take some too. :-)
Then, the boarding gate has opened. After passing the gate, ANA staffs hand out tote bags with ANA / STAR WARS logos as a commemorative gift. Inside the bag, it contains a neck strap with card holder, plastic file folder and some advertising papers. (I took photo below in my house and already put advertiser into trash bin, sorry. :-P)
It is recommended to L2 door for my seat located on left side of the airplane, but I choose the way to L1 door. (We can see iPad hanged on window of PBB. For what??)
So I meet Yoda welcoming passengers on CA seat! Is Yoda today's chief cabin attendant??
At the bar counter in business class compartment, a Darth Vader candy pod welcomes us. (Please don't mind about the edge of a candy film appears through right ear. Lol.)
"SSSHHH HOHHHHH… Let's take my candy…" I feel like hearing the voice by my heart and take some fruits flavor candies.
Finally, I reached my seat with BB-8 headrest cover. On this flight, only economy class seats have BB-8 themed cover. First and business class seat with ANA's regular cover, forget about premium economy seat. (When R2-D2 ANA JET flew some Japan domestic routes, all class seats had R2-D2 themed cover.)
The seat itself is as same as regular fixed back shell type of ANA economy seat. (On B777-300ER with 34" seat pitch, it's ok. But I hate it's on B767-300ER with 31" pitch. It was terrible…)
Cabin attendant makes an welcome announcement. Abstract is: "This is ANA, a Star Alliance member flight 22 for Tokyo Haneda and inaugural flight of BB-8 ANA JET from ANA STAR WARS project. Because all passengers that got tickets of this flight are lucky, whole cabin is filled with good Force." Star Wars customized. :-)
The plane is pushed back on 11:15 (15 mins behind the scheduled departure time), heading south. Itami airport has 2 runway in parallel and usually uses 32L & 32R. This flight is also assigned for RWY 32L. Another runway (14L/432R) has the length less than 2,000m, short for large airplanes like B777-300ER.
After starting taxi for the runway, cabin attendant makes announcement tells us that ANA mechanical staffs who maintained/painted this airplane are sending off us from the hangar. From left side window, I see so many staffs and banners!
"BB-8 ANA JETで快適な空の旅を いってらっしゃい！" means "Have a comfortable flight with BB-8 ANA JET. Bon Voyage!"
MRO Japan is one of ANA group company offers maintenance (including painting) works for ANA fleets. From SNOOPY to Pokemon or GUNDAM, many ANA special livery planes are painted at here. (This is list by them, written in Japanese) But they have plan to move their base to Okinawa Naha airport in few years. Possibly BB-8 ANA JET is the last special work at their Itami base…?
Now, BB-8 is on the RWY 32L and starts taking off for north bound. I can see many people in the park beside the airport. The plane makes deep left turn shortly after taking off. A famous pond with 'Japan' shaped islands is seen clearly from left window. Can you find 'Japan'??
Time to check seat pocket. Inflight magazine, inflight shopping catalogue, service menu, waterproof bag…
Safety instructions. Shared between B777-300 and ER?
Inflight entertainment guide. STAR WARS movies are available!!! …for international flight. Most of the movies including STAR WARS are not offered on this flight.
Fortunately Wi-Fi service is available, and free for 15 mins. I connected my iPhone to the Internet and see & post twitter.
Cabin attendants appear with carts to serve drinks. They wear BB-8 special aprons and it looks so nice! (Sorry, no pictures :-P) The drinks are served with BB-8 special cups.
Announcement from the cockpit is also interesting. Abstract is: "Hello everyone, this is captain speaking. Thank you for using us and BB-8 ANA JET. Captain Han Solo and Chewbacca are flying this flight for Tokyo. Delayed boarding made about 10 mins delay of departure from resistance base at Osaka airport. Planned flight time is 47 mins. Therefore we will arrive at Haneda airport where Luke Skywalker is waiting 10 mins behind the schedule. To recover the delays, we will fly using Light Speed after this. For your safety, please fasten your seat belt while you are sitting and relaxing. The weather at Haneda airport is reported cloudy and 13 degrees Celsius. Enjoy your flight with BB-8 JET and thank you for flying with us today!"
After passing 大島 (Oshima), the plane starts descending and we get some small turbulences. Captain turns on seat belt sign, the plane is now heading for Haneda airport, RWY 34R.
Just before touching down, I can see some airplanes ready for take off from RWY 23. (Do you know half of RWY 05/23 is on the river? Interesting.)
Plane makes landing on RWY 34R safely and go for Spot 53 at terminal 2. After belt sign turned off, many geeks (including me) take last photos.
Some passengers take BB-8 headrest covers all around the jet. There were no covers at all…
At the door, cabin attendants pass Boarding Certificate card for each passengers.
I met Yoda on at L1 door again, and finally say good-bye for Yoda and BB-8.
"Remember, the Force will be with you, always." (from the deplane announcement by attendant)
Osaka - ITM
Tokyo - HND
Airline: All Nippon Airways (ANA/NH) Aircraft: Boeing 777-381ER (JA789A) Departure: Osaka/Itami (ITM/RJOO), Spot/Gate 10 (Scheduled time: 11:00, Actual time: 11:15) Arrival: Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT), Spot/Gate 53 (Scheduled time: 12:15, Actual time: 12:17)
Cabin: Fully Star Wars & BB-8 themed. But compared to R2-D2 ANA JET, no special lighting and sound effect. And why ANA did not put BB-8 headrest covers on all class?
Cabin crew: Bothered by special flight but always with smiles and thinking about how to make passengers happy on this special flight.
Entertainment: IFE equipped but only few movies are available for domestic flight. But map systems and Wi-Fi service is available and, anyway, the flight itself is 'entertainment'.
Meal/Catering: No free food, only drink service. Regular for Japan domestic flight.
Departure airport: It's on spring holiday season but long cur for security check is terrible. (My Star Alliance Gold status that allowed to pass the queue is lucky.) I can't judge about 'Access' because I didn't went out of terminal...
Arrival airport: Only I need to say is love this airport. :-)
Totally I could enjoy whole the flight. Thank you ANA for giving chance like this. I wonder if someday I could board the BB-8 on long-haul route again... Finally I apologize for you about not to issue this post just on May 4th, Star Wars Day.
* This is my first FR post and also lesson to improve my English skill (!). Any comments (both for report and writing) welcomed!
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