The airline with the best average rating is Japan Airlines with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 11 hours and 52 minutes.More information
This umpteenth trip to Japan is a direct consequence of my pilgrimage of last year, mentioned in the bonuses of the FR of these CDG-KIX and KIX-CDG flights. Walking more and more together, sharing more and more of our respective thoughts, I progressively became friend with a Japanese pilgrim. Well before we parted at the 88th temple, he had warmly invited my wife and I to visit him in his home. The trip to his place would have been a long one from either Osaka or Tokyo using surface travel; on the other hand, he lives close to an airport: this flight to HND made the connection to a domestic flight especially easy. I’ll unveil progressively our routing… suspense !
On the morning of our departure, extra care is needed to travel by subway inside Paris and reach the train to CDG, because there is a long list of subway stations closed upon orders of the police, due to “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Jackets) demonstrations.
It’s the usual situation in the RER train on a Saturday morning heading to the airport. It’s simply slightly too crowded, with slightly not enough space for luggage, and slightly not enough seats for the passengers. These trains were actually designed for weekday commuter traffic, not travelers heading to the airport.
Arriving in CDG2
There is a barrage of ticket controllers when reaching the turnstiles : this station is an especially lucrative one for them thanks to the foreigners who did not realize that you need special tickets to reach CDG, even though you can enter the system with a standard subway ticket.
I buy tickets here for our return trip, because there can be a long line at the ticket machines fi you arrive at the wrong time of the day. Not here, where there is a line
But there : these machines are a lot less visible and mostly unused.
My wife was meanwhile answering the questions of a pollster who prodded her to tell how dissatisfied she is with the train link between CDG and Paris, a simple task actually, since this line is becoming from bad to worse, and we had a really bad experience on the previous Sunday.
All readers know about the FIDS of CDG2’s train station, or rather knew about it, because it has (temporarily?) disappeared, replaced by a picture of its giant curved display.
My guess is that they are replacing the screens, because the curved structure was still there two weeks later when I made it back to CDG.
Some use the travellators between the train station and Terminal 2E
And other walk next to it, with a rather different kind of hand luggage.
Arrival in Terminal 2E landside which is far from being crowded
This was an amusing case of misguided goodwill : I stopped to take a picture of these deserted check in counters, waiting until this welcome staff would turn the face away. But she had seen me (small wonder, since there are so few passengers around), and kept looking at me with a smile which obviously meant something like “You seem to be lost, don’t be shy, come up so that I can help you”. I eventually came to explain her that my need was that she would disregard me.
The access to the Skypriority check in counters did not impress me by its efficiency : there is a staff checking the eligibility of the passengers, manned by a single person, which means that a single passenger with a complex problem that I did not catch blocks the access, while all check-in agents are waiting behind. There is something wrong in the staff distribution when it results in such a bottleneck waiting to be jammed. It also annoyed me to go a long way through a meandering labyrinth of line separators when there is nobody between me and several check-in counters.
A single 12.7 kg checked suitcase for two leaves us an ample allowance for souvenirs on the way back.
Skypriority access through the new generation PARAFE automated passport checks, using much faster face recognition, instead of fingerprint reading.
Before going to the lounge (which I am eligible to use thanks to a FB Gold status whose survival beyond March 2020 is not guaranteed, I leave my wife for a small while to go to the gates area.
Terminal 2E has eye-catching wide vaults…
… but it has not been designed for the pleasure of plane-spotters, because not only the windows are far away (meaning that there are always window frames in the picture), but these windows are covered with black dots ruining the pictures. I can reasonably guess that this is an AF A380…
… but I would not dare taking chances at guessing the type of this Hainan Airlines aircraft.
The only decent place for plane spotting in this terminal is this end where you can be next to windows devoid of black dots,
… facing Hall L, with a view on the right on the taxiway to/from the runways
Cityjet Avro RJ85
Take off of an AF 777-300ER
An anonymous passenger tested this water fountain for me
A piano for self-use, that this passengers should not have used, IMHO.
Playgrounds for young and not so young passengers
We then head up to the lounge where there is a friendly welcome, and go directly to the upper level which is always less crowded because the access is by these stairs only.
The offering of magazines at the top of the staircase
A FB Ultimate passenger has been cordoned off in this area for the safety of the other passengers
A first seating area opposite the corridor
We settle down closer to the buffet. Breakfast cereals have spilled in the foreground and thought they would never be cleaned.
My rating of this lounge would have been more severe if a staff had not eventually come up to clean this mess, a full eighty minutes after I first saw it.
The seats have type E/F and USB power ports
The designer made uncommendable efforts to make this lounge plane spotter unfriendly while keeping natural lighting.
Let’s now have a look to the buffet which is signposted as being in lunch mode
The are instant cup noodles for amateurs of Asian (mildly) junk food, with a sign saying that hot water can be obtained from the coffee machine which has an option for that.
"Pea purée, fried strip of cod"
"Courgette and feta quiche". That quiche was as old as it looks on the picture
(Now I know that what the Americans call zucchini is called courgette on both sides of the English Channel)
"Pan fried new potatoes with rosemary"
I did not find the "sautéed beef with rosemary jus”
Various kinds of bread
It’s gluten-free in the basket placed above
Various salad ingredients
"Thinly sliced chicken fillet, tomato, cucumbers and rosemary croutons"
In the background above, "risoni pasta salad with tuna and grilled pepper"
This is the list of desserts that there could be here. I may have missed some of them because of AF’s creative naming which makes it impossible to identify the food – this is not the purpose of names, IMHO.
And this is the actual supply, complemented with chocolate cakes that nobody would place next to cheese in a French home, but they probably needed to hide the scarcity of cheese in this buffet.
AF’s Cheese Master (AF actually claims they have one in their communication) made amazing strides in providing no fewer than three kinds of cheese (out of the 1,000 different ones produced in France): Fourme d’Ambert, Florantal (a brand of Cantal) et Emmental. All cow milk, and among the cheapest kinds, but bland enough to satisfy any passenger. You don’t go to an AF lounge to educate your taste to French gastronomy.
The unprepared fruit are apples only
Small cakes with a red berry filling, capable of withstanding a week of bad treatment in the bottom of a suitcase before eating : tested and approved.
All these delicacies can be served in rather deep plates which are much more functional than the flat square "plates" with minimal rims of AF’s lounges of Terminal 2F which is dedicated to Schengen area flights.
What about drinks?
A refrigerated cupboard contains beers and fruit juices
Standard coffee machines
… delivering standard grade coffee
A central bar has bowls of scrocchi
And so-called "old style" potato chips (I don’t know if "old style" is anything more than marketing hype)
These are the alcoholic drinks that I let the experts evaluate.
And that of my wife
A last inspection before leaving : I let you find the differences
The cup noodles migrated to a high shelf
And white grapes appeared, too late for me
AF’s magazine provides a map of HND, where the competition is redacted: there are actually two different international and domestic bus shuttles in HND: one for JAL passengers, the other for ANA passengers. I found it not fair play to provide such a limited picture.
Boarding time is coming up soon
Going down to the main level of the lounge
… where the buffet is not different
On the other hand, there are more newspapers and magazines, but we have taken them when entering, immediately after the welcome counter
There is another section of the lounge on the right of the welcome counter that we did not explore.
The quirk when leaving the lounge is that since it is located on the left after the passport control, the signage when leaving it does not indicate the direction of gates K42 and up, although you can take this direction too,
… and turn right when reaching the gates area
I’m not convinced this carefully pleated dress is ideally suited for air travel
Another two playgrounds for young travelers
… and for not so young ones
Boarding has already started : self-scan of the BP
… and we don’t go any further than this, because the actual boarding is delayed
It can be reasonably assumed that it will happen, though, because the plane is there
Green light : an UM is first with an airport staff
A meager supply of newspapers halfway to the plane
The plane’s nose again
The airlines serving Japan from CDG-2 (ANA operates from CDG-1)
Refueling is on-going
Door and PlayStation shot
Going through the Premium Economy cabin, to be avoided at all costs in case over an overnight flight because the seats are very uncomfortable for sleeping. A day flight in the past convinced me of the relevance of the unfavorable consensus of the opinions that I have read on this matter.
Our seats will be like these, with a comfort which is not much less at half the price
I do recognize that they provide less space, the difference being a 3-4-3 layout vs. 2-4-2.
The carpeting is clean
A cushion, a blanket, entry-level headphones and an eye-mask which I found better than the one (from an AF flight several years ago) that I have brought.
A sample of the cushions placed on the seats in our row
The cabin from the rear
Whether you are flying short/medium haul or long haul, an Economy seat with AF always provides more or less the same to the passengers : around 25 cm from the tip of the seat to the seat back in front (I have seen seats with even less than that on AF A32x in the rear, though).
And 44 cm between armrests : there is no miracle in a 777 with a 3-4-3 seat layout
The seat belt has an AF logo on it
The fittings of this cabin are past they heydays
The cleaning is past its heydays too : the top of the table tray is splashed with stains
The safety card, both sides
I had bet on neutralizing the middle seat and lost when a young Japanese girl. It was a long shot in Economy on a Saturday in a season when the weather is mild in both cities: the flight appeared to be full or nearly so. No problem for us anyway : my wife has her preferred aisle seat, and I have a window seat that I wanted. I can handle a long haul flight without leaving my seat, and like any self-respecting Japanese, this neighbor is of utmost discretion. She unsurprisingly is also petite, and immediately installs an unusual personal foot rest hooked on the seat in front of her.
Detail of the set-up
Pushback of an AF A330
… and departure
A Hop! E-170 arrives, looking tiny in the midst of these heavy carriers
At the next gate,
… what is this mess of leftover luggage on the elevator and the tarmac ?
A tarmac vehicle takes away the elevator and its cargo. I don’t know what eventually became of the rest
Meanwhile, a small truck delivers to our plane a few suitcases with orange "Heavy" labels
The safety demonstration starts on the IFE screens as soon as the plane is pushed back. I hate the affected style of these dimwits, especially when they claim that “a non-smoking flight is simply chic”. Sorry, ladies, the truth is that a smoking flight is simply illegal, and has been so for some twenty years. A safety demonstration should be meant to elicit the attention and cooperation of the passengers; this one has the exact reverse effect on me, at least when it comes to attention.
Two AF A320, with one in Skyteam livery
The suburban and high speed train station and the Sheraton
British Airways A321
XL Airways A330
This one will never take off again
These de-icing machines will be unused until next winter
The extremity of Mitry-Mory’s business area
Mitry-Claye station, in the center of the picture
For rail geeks : the connection between the high speed line bypassing Paris (coming from CDG on the left) and the East high speed line (running diagonally from top left).
The city of Meaux
The city of Villers-Cotterêts which entered History with a long edict signed in 1539 by King François 1st, which among other major changes made French the official administrative language of the kingdom, replacing Latin and the other regional languages.
The city of Valenciennes
Valenciennes Airport (XVS)
The menu in three languages (French, English and Japanese) is distributed. These are the drinks
And the French and English versions of the meals
The IFE has a 9" tactile screen with excellent reactivity
There is ample space for a larger screen: AF made small savings there
The moving map is the only program which really interests me in an IFE system and I already mentioned the two major flaws of that of AF:
- the position of the aircraft is much to imprecise to localize any ground feature seen
- as soon as you stop touching the screen, the program loops between the various display modes, most of which are useless to me, which translates into a frustrating waste of time to restore a useful display each time I want to know my (approximate) current location.
I admit that the modeling of the plane is carefully done and that it is fun to turn virtually around the plane, but I have grown out of it.
Two rather poor attempts of air-to-air pictures: probably Delta Airlines
And probably British Airways
The atmosphere is very misty in the beginning of the flight, which precludes taking any pictures of the ground
It clears up here at Emden, at the mouth of the Ems river
Langeoog, one of the German Frisian islands. Apart from emergency vehicles, no motorized traffic (motorcycles, cars and of course planes) is allowed there
The same rule applies in Spiekeroog, the next island
Aperitif will be Coca-Cola for my wife in the background, champagne for our Japanese neighbor,
and apple juice for me, with eleven scrocchi each, weighing a total of ten grams.
These crackers are produced in Matera, in the province of Basilicate, but definitely not in old troglodyte city which made the prestigious Unesco World Heritage List.
My wife passed Wrapping Compaction 101
Flensburg, on the German side of the border with Denmark
It took me aggressive image processing to reveal its airport (FLF)
The bottleneck providing a link between Nybal Nor (left) and the sea
The red nose of this aircraft identifies it as being operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle or Long Haul.
I failed to localize these harbor facilities, but Kevincrumbs did (thanks to him !) : Kalundborg, in Denmark
AF’s moving map is no help there (and that is an example of why I dislike it). In hindsight, Kalundborg was indeed on the vertical line from the plane center, taken as roughly mid-wings.
My dinner, as served
The same, after unwrapping
This curry is a far cry from Japanese curry, and very disappointing
My wife chooses the other hot meal and is not impressed either. She has apple juice with it
She took this close-up of the appetizer that she did not like
Compacting the wrappings
And storage in the seat pocket – the purpose of this game of mine is to free the table tray as soon as possible in order to resume the writing of this report
The sun sets all the faster that we are flying east, and that the duration of daytime is more or less the same at high latitudes, since we are only two weeks after the equinox
It will soon be time to use the eye mask provided by AF.
Finally, a coffee for me
And a cognac (already partially drunk) for my Japanese neighbor
My two neighbors go to the toilets and I take this opportunity to do the same
The door and the store of drinks for adults
These are the spirits offered to the passengers in Economy
I sleep hardly more than three hours and wake up when the plane is there:
The cabin is of course fully dark
Bach’s Concerto for two violins to help killing time
This is the time when a FA comes to distribute a small ice-cream to the passengers who are awake
I take this opportunity to ask for a glass of water
Cheers to my readers!
(I spilled some water when taking this picture in front of my laptop’s screen)
Wingflex to kill time
The next two pictures could be called stolen pictures, because a FA twice ordered me to shut my window blind, even though this was already well into the morning Japanese time. Is AF following suit to KE that I boycott for their insistence of keeping the cabin in the dark on any long haul flight, day and night? The answer will be in the return flight.
The breakfast, as served
The same after unwrapping. Neither my wife nor I liked the dish, the difference between us is that she left two thirds of it, whereas I can eat literally anything. The rest was standard fare, on the other hand. But really, compared to the good food that you can buy at destination a few hours later, you could do without it, and wish you hadn’t not been awaken if you were sleeping.
The main interest of this breakfast is to provide an interesting wrapping compacting puzzle, for which this is one of the solutions.
Descent above Honshu Island (the location is difficult to identify, because this was only a break in the clouds cover
We are flying above the Chiba peninsula which faces Tokyo in the other side of the bay
The coast there is entirely bordered with heavy harbor and industrial infrastructures
Soga’s stadium and the factories of JFE Steel in the background
Zoom on the stadium and on the dense urban network in the foreground
A freighter and what appears to be a ferry. The latter seems out of place in this industrial environment, but these are the Mitsui shipyards and she is probably undergoing final equipment before her delivery to her future operator.
The plane flies slightly away from the coast before turning towards HND
In the center of this picture…
… Sodegaura’s race track is not for motorcycle, much less for cars, but for bicycles. This infrastructure is not unique in Japan: in a country where the roads are continuously in urban or suburban environments in the plains, this is the only way to organize cycling races (and training in between races).
Solar farm near Makuta
Turning to line up to HND’s runways around 30 km away from the airport.
Obitsu Station is just right of the tip of the wing
Half empty Kimitsu cemetery
The shadow of the plane on the forest shows that we are now flying low
The city center of Kimitsu with the bay top left
The chimneys of Sodegaura’s power station
The East end of the bridge-tunnel which crosses the Tokyo bay from Kimitsu on the right
This is where the expressway (dubbed "Aqualine" in Japanese) dips into a tunnel to not block the shipping traffic
The whole bridge
And the artificial islands which looks somewhat like an ocean liner. It is called Umihotaru (« Sea Firefly ») and features restaurants, shops and amusement facilities.
Crossing Runway 04/22
Landing is imminent
Touchdown and deployment of the spoilers
We landed Runway 34R
I narrowly caught the take-off of this Asiana A330
Air Do 737-700
This ANA 787 is not going to depart today, IMO
ANA Cargo 767-300ER
Reaching the gate
No doubt we have landed in Tokyo
The passengers rise from their seats
Pushback of an ANA 787, with a more convincing powering than the previous one
There was a China Airlines A330-300 behind her
Going through the J cabin
Long, very long walk airside, because our gate was at the far end of the terminal
Air China A330-300
Eva Air A330-300, with a Lufthansa 747 behind a Shanghai Airlines 787 in the background
The Eva Air333 hiding another Lufthansa aircraft
We keep walking …
Again Air China’s A330-300
I find this control tower quite ugly. There are JAL and Skymark 737’s parked in front of it
A cherry blossom decoration alongside the windows (they are actually past their peak in Tokyo)
No significant waiting at immigration control, and arrival in the luggage delivery room
There has been so much walking to get there
… that our (admittedly labelled Priority) suitcase arrives one minute later
The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are a good reason for me to concentrate my Japan travel projects in 2019, before the country is packed with visitors. (There will be the world rugby championship in the last quarter of 2019, but this should have much less impact on the number of visitors
The signage for domestic lights is very clear
And the waiting time is nil for checking in on ANA’s domestic flights
Where too ? The answer will be in the next Flight Report !
(Hint: the destination will be a first on this website)
We later returned to Tokyo, so I offer you a bonus on Tokyo which is especially for those who enjoy cooking or are somewhat afraid of flying – both criteria can apply simultaneously, according to my wife.
In Tokyo, Kappabashi-dôri (= Kappabashi Avenue) is THE location where to buy kitchen wares for professional or private use, as reminded by this giant sculpture on top of a building at one end of the avenue.
For professionals, you have for instance this shop offering several floors of chef and waiter uniforms
Or rice paddles size XXL for large restaurants
If you need for instance a rectangular frying pan, a must for making rolled omelettes for breakfast, not only can you find all sizes here,
but there are meters and meters of piles of frying pans, shop after shop
You can buy stewpots, or cake moulds of incredibly varied and creative shapes, or many other items that you did not even know they exist and wonder how you managed so far without. A filter for my wife's Japanese teapot? All sizes are available here, from the single cup size to one for a B&B.
Preparing good food is great, but advertising your skills to your potential customers is just as important.
It's in Kappabashi-dôri that you can buy these food models of which the Japanese are world class experts, and that you cannot have missed if you ever went to Japan.
These reproductions have a precise historical origin: when Japan opened up to the outside world after two and a half centuries of tight closure, its population rushed to all these novelties coming suddenly from the abroad. But have can you attract customer in a foreign restaurant when nobody knows what spaghetti are, or what fried eggs with bacon could really be ? Hence the idea of these models, which were originally made out of was, and now of much more durable plastic.
In Kappabashi-dôri, not only you don't make an omelette without breaking eggs, but is can be shown to you, and also that you will have a raw egg on your rice.
All kinds of fruit are there (strangely stored together with fried eggs)
… all kinds of meat
… all kinds of ice-creams
… and even all the kinds of French cheese that you would never get in an AF flight or lounge.
You can even celebrate a birthday with cheese replicas : お誕生日おめでとう (lower right) means "Happy birthday"
All your fresh vegetables are there
… and on this year which will become Year 1 of the Reiwa 令和 Era with the resignation of Emperor Akihito, a restaurant owner can show that he can trace it in the cream of his customers' coffee
Do you have an iPhone ? There is a whole set of delicious iPhone casings for you
And if you want your customers to know what time it is, there is nothing like a sushi clock - I saw several like this one in sushi bars
Note that unlike many shops in Japan, taking pictures is openly allowed (see the pictogram at the aisle end) : casual visitors are encouraged to advertise this way these curiosities and encourage future customers to come. These food reproductions are not cheap, but not outrageously expensive either.
… and there is nothing like having a good beer with friends
But where does the name Kappabashi ("Bridge of the Kappas") come from ? The legend is that this area was originally a swamp, and that a Japanese who wanted to develop it made the daring move to ask the evidently numerous local kappas for help.
Kappas are creatures living in and near water that you should always be cautious with, because they can equally play harmless pranks, or kidnap children for eating them, rape women or drown men.
Do not attract kappas. Pretty boys and girls should especially beware.
(Warning seen in Tôno, in the north of Japan)
Having made a deal with the kappas, the minimum was to build a temple for them, in the vicinity of the present Kappabashi-dôri
Everybody know that the one of the best protections against kappas is cucumbers : there are some on the offering box (real ones, not palstic ones !)
And also on the statues of kappas
All this is quite far from aviation, so let's go back on focus. In the same neighborhood, in a literally anonymous street somewhat far from Kappabashi-dôri,
… there is an interesting temple next to the Tobifudo crossroads
This is the entrance
A small neighborhood temple at the end of narrow pedestrian lane like so many others ?
Like everywhere else, visitors have written vows on 絵馬 , these small usually five-sided wooden plates decorated on one side with an illustration unique to the temple, and hooked them on the stand designed for this purpose, bottom left in the above picture.
The decoration of the emas of Tobifudo Temple is unusual
Yes, it is indeed a 747 which flies past the effigy of the god! This temple is specialized in helping people who are air-travel phobic.
No need to translate them, I believe : the prayers written on the emas here are all on air travel, with some visitors going as far as providing the flight numbers to the god, so that he concentrates his protection where it is useful.
My air travel geek readers obviously do not need to visit Tobifudo Temple for themselves. But maybe their friends and relatives do not feel as secure as they when boarding a plane, and some divine protection can't do any harm. Why do you think I brought my wife here for ?
Thanks for reading me !
I have no doubt that AF’s seat in Economy can be too narrow (in pitch or width) for some travelers, but it is OK for me.
The crew did their work, but I was annoyed by the demand that the window blinds but shut in the morning with the sole justification that they are designed for that purpose, when I protested that AF provided good eye masks for the purpose of being in the dark. That stern FA reminded me of Korean Air FAs, and this is not a compliment.
The airshow looks neat at first sight only : it is fun at the beginning, but fails to deliver the information that I want, which is where the landscape feature that I see through the window is.
The catering could be much better, but can also be worse, like on the return flight. When comparing with my KIX-CDG flight of last year, it seems that AF traded quality for quantity. AF lost one point on the breakfast alone.
AF’s lounge at CDG Hall K is slightly below par on all counts: cleanliness is checked at excessive intervals, the catering is disappointing, the windows are deliberately made plane spotter –unfriendly (in a lounge which provides a view on a less interesting part of the tarmac, to start with). The overall result is not a disaster, but below expectations. The lounge could have been quiet if two German female passengers had not been chatting very loudly without stopping. On the positive side, it was not packed and the distance to the furthest gate was moderate and without stairs/elevators (if staying in the lower level of the lounge).
The fluidity at the Skypriority check-in has been degraded by the poor management of the access filter : if managing a “problem passenger” is enough to stop all the passengers behind them, then there is an organization problem. On the other hand, the new generation PARAFE passport reading booths are a real improvement on the previous ones.
The accessibility of CDG is and will remain poor for many years to come. It is even worse when legitimate public safety reasons results in the shutdown of many subway station inside Paris.
The fluidity at the immigration in HND was good, but the corridors seem endless, On the other hand, the accessibility of HND from the city center is excellent (this has been relevant for our return flight)