Review of ANA flight Hachijojima Tokyo in Economy

Airline ANA
Flight NH1896
Class Economy
Seat 8F
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:00
Take-off 12 Apr 19, 17:20
Arrival at 12 Apr 19, 18:20
NH   #24 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 196 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 842
Published on 23rd May 2019

Reminder of the routing


If this flight out of an isolated Japanese island on the map above puzzles you, then you probably have not read my previous FRs. These are my reading suggestions after you have read this one:



Some of the 3000 mm millimeters of rain per year


We are already somewhat on the way back after a fascinating week based in Hachijōjima.

We have been lucky with the weather which did not disrupt our unforgettable 24 hour trip to Aogashima, but already in that morning, this picture that I did not enhance illustrates the day’s weather: rotten, even if it generates a beautiful light on the black shore made of former lava flows.


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It is raining cats and dogs when our Japanese friend drives us to the airport, going one last time through this tunnel under the runway.


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Not only it is raining hard, but the wind is blowing in strong gusts : see the palm trees in two pictures a few seconds apart from each other when driving into the airport’s free parking lot.


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The control tower


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And the terminal


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HAC, landside


The local airline’s counter airside is empty, which is not surprising: TAL’s helicopter leaves at 9:20 to Aogashima and finishes its daily routine at 16:00, flying back from Mikurajima.


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Since we have arrived very early like for our flight to Aogashima, the waiting time for checking-in is minimal


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There is seat map on the counter, but it is of little help, since it is that of a 737-800 and therefore not relevant for a flight in an A320. There is also a reminder on the right that you can use a smartphone BP if you already checked in (which I did, but paper BPs are great souvenirs ;)


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Like in HND, I showed my printed reservation, and received our BPs in no time.


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Checked luggage foes through this machine left of the counter, similar to that used by the security check.


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Our checked suitcase has already started to gain weight


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There it is among the other departing pieces of luggage. There is little risk of not seeing at destination: ANA has flights to HND only from this airport and it is the last one in the day, so everything must go.


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But will everything go tonight ? The flight is listed “Weather check" on the FIDS, a word for word translation from Japanese which means that it is pending weather conditions


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To drive the message home, the checking agent shows me this page of his bilingual manual of messages to foreign passengers.


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Since we have a lot of time, let’s have a second look at the local delicacies proposed in the landside shop at the far end of the terminal:


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ashitaba 明日葉 ("tomorrow’s leaf", because a young leaf appears the next day one has been cut), alone or with tea


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Dried flying fish sliced lengthwise


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Sake, but I haven’t seen rice fields on the island.
(And again under the bottle, a wealth of food products containing ashitaba, often written あしたば in syllabic script)


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And various trinkets using locally tinted and woven silk.


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I’ll go back on all this too in the bonus in the end of this report.


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No need to rush to go through the security check hidden by these moveable panels.


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NH communicates also in Hachijōjima about its A380s which will serve the route to Hawaii, which is quite ironical because the economic decline of Hachijōjima as a tourist destination started when the Japanese were at last allowed to go abroad in the 1960s, and in particular to Hawaii.


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This is the access to the observation deck. My wife and my Japanese friend carefully remained downstairs sheltered from the wind and the rain.


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In case you have a doubt, this is a confirmation that we are at Hachijōjima Airport.


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Do not climb!


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The tarmac is evidently empty on both sides : there is only one movement left today, that of our plane coming in from HND.


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The A320 took off from HND half an hour ago and is expected in HAC at 16:53


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Where is the plane?


It is 16:30 and Flight NH1896 to HND is posted as departing at 17:20


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But when I return to the observation platform at 17:09, there is still no aircraft on the tarmac


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Still nothing at 17:21. Where is then this aircraft which was expected to land at 16:53? It does not even appear on Flightradar24.


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I’m not alone on the observation platform : there are some other passengers on the lookout despite the rain, with increasing worries about the future – especially the Japanese lady with a beige bag


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Reactors rumbling overhead : an A320 appears briefly high up before vanishing again in the clouds. She has actually been circling around HAC for over half an hour.


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Last attempt at landing in Hachijōjima


I shuttle between the platform and the landside hall downstairs, which is where I hear this announcement in Japanese only, which says something like :
- The plane from Haneda will make a third and last attempt at landing. If this is not possible, she will return to Haneda and the flight will be cancelled.


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Better be on the safe side : the firemen drove their trucks out of their shelters.


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The Japanese passengers peer at the clouds just at intently as I, and we are all becoming very wet.


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We spot at last the silhouette of the plane aligned in the distance on Runway 08


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The Japanese lady who is so anxious of leaving this evening takes a picture of the final descent


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She is now really low : there seems to be a good chance this time


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The glide path is such that we can see her continuously without her being hidden by the terrain


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Severely crabbed landing due to the strength of the crosswind


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With commendable talent, the pilot straightens the aircraft at the very last moment and lands her softly on the drenched runway, deploying the thrust reversers immediately


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The A320 runs past the terminal, spraying a trail of splashed water


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… down a runway which would be one hundred meters too short with zero wind and maximum landing weight


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She of course stops well before the end of the runway and taxies back to the terminal. It is time to go back inside


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Farewell to my Japanese friends who has been a perfect guide during this week together, and going through the security check, receiving again a certificate (on yellow paper).


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Ten minutes for boarding


The boarding room has of course not changed since our trip to Aogashima : enough seats for a full plane, nearly all oriented towards the windows


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There is small shop selling standard items behind ; I did not check them.


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HAC’s only boarding gate


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The flight is listed delayed to 18:00


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And the boarding time is displayed on the screen on the left: 17:50, i.e. ETD - 10’!


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We took earphones, but forgot to test them once on board


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The staff announces the boarding, again by zones, which is not really relevant in this flight whose load factor is as low as on the way in. But like on the way in, I board in Zone 3 (window seat) whereas my wife boards in Zone 4 (aisle seat).


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Going down the airbridge


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Attempt at a fuselage shot


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PlayStation and door shot


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A sweet is offered by a FA at the door.


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The cabin has again old-style seats


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The windows are poorly aligned at Row 6 (unlike on an AF A320, because the seat pitch is not the same), which is no big issue on what is going to be mostly a night flight


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… and a very rainy flight before that.


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Of the seat width in an A320


Looking towards the front of the cabin


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We gambled again on neutralizing the middle seat


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It was an easy bet : the load factor is like on the way in around 40%. This empty middle seat provided me a chance to discover an unexpected seat layout detail.


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An Economy seat in a European A320 (AF, LH,…) is always 46 cm wide between armrests, but it is more complex with ANA. The window and aisle seats are 44 cm wide, and the armrest on the window side is closer to the cabin wall than in Europe:


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The 4 cm in width gained on both sides make it possible to widen the middle seat to 50 cm between armrests, thereby offsetting the fact that it is usually the least desirable seat.


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The carpeting is clean


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The safety card both sides


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The plane taxies the short distance to the runway


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Then taxies up the runway ; the terminal appears faintly


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The air sock is horizontal


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It’s Runway 08 of course ; I have no illusions about the chances of taking good landscape pictures during the take-off.


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Bye-bye, Hachijōjima ! We look forward coming back some day !


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My chances of seeing the top of the southern volcano is of course nil : it is in the cloud cover.


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Flight attendants - the ANA experience


A FA passes to offer the second sweet of ANA’s standard offering, once we are at cruising altitude


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All this picture taking did not go unnoticed by the FAs, and two of them came later propose by sign language (because I could not be presumed to speak any Japanese, and their English was maybe limited to the essential minimum) to take a souvenir shot of us. We are not selfie-inclined, but it would have been impolite to decline. (I see no point in posting the picture with our faces blurred.)

They came back some time later to offer us two sets of ANA postcards, doing every inch of the extra mile for these two somewhat elderly foreigners who obviously want to keep so many mementos of this flight out of the beaten path: maybe their third trip to Japan as the passengers with whom I chatted on the observation platform guessed , when we were on the lookout for the incoming plane ? :)


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It is still daytime at cruising altitude


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… but the sun sets


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Descent to the clouds.


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view towards the rear of the cabin


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HND by night


The east coast of the bay of Tokyo, in Chiba prefecture


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The bright line is the bridge section of the Aqualine, the bridge-tunnel which crosses the bay


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Nondescript landing, taxiing and arrival at the gate


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The passengers raise only when the seat belt sign is extinguished


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The (seriously blurred) plane door


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Solaseed Air 737


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Il won’t see more of the A320 which brought to HND


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Air Do 737


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Another 510 meters to go


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These corridors are so long in HND !
(They feel long partly because they are in a straight line. We’ll realize in the luggage room that we have not walked during that much time.)


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The windows are plane spotter-friendly, but the reflections are challenging at night, like on this ANA 787


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Reaching the checked luggage delivery room


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The list of cities from where the planes came this evening


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In the mean-time, we go to the toilets which are by default PRM-compatible.


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Only two minutes waiting time for our checked luggage, and, even more significant, only ten minutes since deplaning : how many major airports do as well?


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As you most probably know, HND is served by a monorail, a technological curiosity which is nearly always by Hitachi, each directly or under license, like for instance in Chongqing or in Kuala Lumpur.


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This train has been designed inside for passengers with luggage


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Connection at Hamamatsuchō (the last station of the monorail line) with the Yamanote line, and arrival in our hotel belonging to a Japanese chain that we like for its onsen at the disposal of its customers at the top floor.


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This is the end of this FR; I know propose an optional bonus on Hachijōjima , complementing that of the report of the flight to HAC


Bonus : Hachijōjima’s tourism potential


Apart from visiting friends and family like us, why do people visit Hachijōjima for private reasons? These are some answers.


Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

ANA

8.6/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering6.0

Hachijojima - HAC

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Tokyo - HND

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

There is a fan-club look in my ratings where the only below par evaluation is that of ANA’s minimal catering, but facts are facts.

Top grade for the seats : they may look old-fashioned but they are very comfortable, with an increased width for the middle seat which is usually the worst one in a row. An ANA flight to another destination would probably have a better load ratio, but the seat layout would be the same.

Top grade for the crew : for the pilots who made a perfect landing in challenging weather conditions, but without compromising safety since cancelling the landing (and therefore the flight out of HAC) was seriously considered. And for the FAs too for their extra attentions towards passengers keenly interested in the flight and the plane : I never experienced this in Europe.

Entertainment on board is limited to the ordinary in-flight magazine (with the quite out of the ordinary presentation of ANA’s flight, which was in my FR of the incoming flight)

Straight A for HAC and HND where fluidity, accessibility and services are top class, with cleanliness on par with Japan’s very high standards.

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