This FR is a translation of the French version that you can find here. I have been kindly asked to try to enrich the English database. Hence this FR which will add a new Japanese airline and 2 regional Japanese airports.
As Skymark made the airline industry headlines recently with the reception of a brand new A330 and the new stewardess uniform, this FR will give an overview of Skymark’s product. I would also point out that Skymark ordered some A380 that should be delivered soon with the least dense configuration onboard, only 394 seats!
Anyway, it is time now to start this report.
This trip aim was to spend the weekend in Kyôto and visit a friend working there. From Tôkyô to Kyôto, there is a reliable mean of transportation called Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train. The train journey lasts about 2h15 with a train at least every 15 min! But the price of the ticket is a bit pricey at 14.000 JPY the one-way ticket. Train tickets in Japan are safe from revenue management methods. From the first day of selling to the last minute, the price remains unchanged (except with the last tax increase^^). Then, I decided to look for plane tickets as the great Ôsaka area is served by 3 airports. - Kansai International Airport (??????) which is the international airport of the Kansai area as indicated by its name, serving domestic, regional, European and American destinations. Inconvenient offshore airport located 50 km from the city - Ôsaka International Airport (??????) aka Itami which is as International as I am a member of the Japanese Imperial family. Convenient airport located 15 km from the city. - Kôbe Airport (????) which is not pretending to be international when it is not ! This one, less convenient than Itami, is located 40 km from Ôsaka.
Skymark was offering competitive prices and is also flying from an airport I wanted to try since I settled down in Japan: Ibaraki airport. With NRT and HND expensive fees, Ibaraki prefectural government decided to built a low-cost airport. Ibaraki prefecture hosts a military base of the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces in Hyakuri and the airport has been built using the available space near the base. IBR has two parallel runways.
Unlike Ôsaka International Airport, Ibaraki is a real international airport with A scheduled international flight to Shanghai Pudong 6 times a week (3*) operated by the mainland Chinese carrier Spring Airlines. Since earlier this year, a regular charter service between IBR and Yangon has been being offered by Myanmar Airways International. So many new routes since I took the flight last September. 3 new domestic flights are now being offered: twice daily to Fukuoka and one daily flight to Nagoya. Moreover, a new transit possibilities has been added through Kobe to Yonago. Naha already existed.
After the formal “How do you do?” with this new airport, the journey begins. As there is no monorail or crazy expensive “Ibaraki Express” to join the airport, I used my personal car. And here we are, ???? or Ibarakikûkô or Ibaraki airport with a great blue sky!
I mentioned in some of my FR in French how cheap can be long-term car parks at NRT (outside the airport zone). My car-park is a flat fee of 500 JPY plus 500 JPY per day with a decreasing price. Here, at Ibaraki, it is FREE. And there are 1.000 spots, enough compared to the airport activity.
Here is another outside view of the building. Its size lets me imagine the existence of a first (or second depending floor-count standards) floor.
On the right side of the building, 2 aircraft caught my eyes. They look less comfortable but faster. I have done nothing wrong, I swear!
This one might be scary when doing hedge-hopping.
And now, it is time to enter this terminal.
Hé, there would be separate entrances for domestic and international flights? You can also notice that the neighbors are more powerful than at Narita as the airport has short operating hours.^^
No separate entrances, same hall! Here the 6 Spring check-in counters and no self check-in computers!
And here the domestic section where Skymark rules alone.
Probably some locals are selling their crafts.
And there even is a ???? or konbini, convenience stores open 24/7 well spread in Japan. It is now time to approach the counters for the check-in. Here, checked luggage security scan is performed before doing the check-in. Second time for me to observe this procedure after an ANA flight from CTS (one of my first FR^^). It allows you to realize if you carry an object forbidden to be in the hold!
Maybe, for some of you, Skymark is a low-cost carrier. It offers low fares compared to JAL and ANA but it does not follow the LCC model. There is no seat choice fee nor booking fee nor credit card payment fee. And you can check-in for free up to 3 bags with a combined weight of maximum 15 kg! I checked my luggage and received my boarding pass.
Between international and domestic counters is a pair of ???????, escalators. What is on the upper floor ?
Oh, an observation deck! But with these windows, it is not optimum.
It is better with this angle.
By walking on the deck, it was weird. The blind windows were moving while I was moving. It is in fact a special glass to prevent people from taking pictures of the air base.
That is probably written here. My Japanese is not good enough.
I could still have realized a big bird just arrived. With the short rotation time, I should hurry a bit.
On this floor, there is more than an observation deck, there are shops with the famous packaged food used as omiyage. They contain small cookies to be brought back home after a trip and to be shared with friends or colleagues.
And there is also a food court.
At security, there is even less people waiting than at NRT! I passed security with a weird object that was refused in my checked luggage. It was my first time I was deliberately going through security with an object that would have been refused on any other flight!
After the check, I observed one of the great things from Japan: vending machines! They are literally everywhere from the craziest Shinjuku station to the remote car park in a small town. I even wonder if there is not one on the top of Fuji-san! And the prices are reasonable for drinks in the airside area. The sparkling drink with plants extracts is at 1.50 USD or 1.10 EUR!
There is even a small convenience store!
Here is the boarding area. Some might have noticed on the right the room forbidden to the younger than 20, aka the room for intoxicated adults.
Between domestic and international boarding areas, there is a room which could serve both.
And on the other side, THE duty-free shop.
On TV, a “national” program is being broadcasted, the Tôkyô Sumô tournament! It cannot happen everywhere!
????????????? ! Flight SKY187 bound for God’s door will leave at 17h10 from gate 2.
Boarding is probably starting after an announcement I did not understand as I see PAX heading to the counter. I think it is useless to say announcement were only made in Japanese^^ Of course, no jet bridge. The best observers might have noticed something is missing on the ground.
There is no push-back truck. The plane can head directly for the runways forward, saving few precious minutes!
Under the wing is the air base. No glass to prevent your devoted reporter to take pictures.
A short moment before boarding.
Here is the boarding pass. I highlight my identity has never been checked^^
The flight load was low. Hence I changed my seat to get a window one!
But, if you noticed, my BP was indicating an F seat which usually is an F seat on a 3-3 narrow-body aircraft! Not always! It could correspond to the lettering of an Airbus wide-body with a 2-4-2 seating configuration where A and H are window seats and C and F are aisle ones.
After the usual safety demonstration, short taxi and ready for take-off on runway 03L, northern heading!
Coastline view with the night approaching.
The aircraft is climbing and climbing and still heading north. So north that I started to doubt about my Japanese geography^^ This was probably to avoid the overcrowded Tôkyô airspace. Finally, the pilot decided to turn!
Time to do a description of the cabin. Content of the pocket with the oshibori given during boarding.
Inside the airline magazine, there is the Skymark history with the integration of their A333 last march and of their first A388 for NYC next November. Meanwhile, SKY has many things to improve and I am perplex with their model which is more a point to point airline.
Maps of the different served airports are displayed. Focus on the airports involved in this FR.
The beverage menu is also included in the magazine. Alcohol-free beverages are at 100 and 150 JPY. Alcoholic ones are at 200 JPY. Quite decent prices.
Recaro seats with a reasonable pitch. I am 192 cm ( 6’3) tall^^
Leather seats with a SkyInterior cabin.
And there is also a plug under the seats. It could have accommodated my Australian one without the adapter.
Meanwhile, flight is continuing.
And you wonder how classy a SKY flight can be? Look at what you can enjoy onboard!
Ok, it was not sold onboard. It is the item I could not leave in my checked luggage. Next time, I will pretend to fly in J and drink champagne.
That bottle was for the friend I was visiting. Here my in-flight snack for 468 JPY.
When the stewardess sold me my drink and offered me the small biscuits, she kindly told me I should have a look through the windows on the other side. Fuji-san!
Flight is going forward over few clouds at dusk.
Mandatory inspection of the convenience.
Cabin view from the aft
According to the flight plan in my mind, we were close to the western coast and Obama beach. After avoiding Tôkyô airspace, the captain might need to avoid Ôsaka’s too!
After a left turn, flying over land.
Kagogawa bay, west side from Kôbe.
Mood lighting during final approach
Light is quickly decreasing like pictures quality.
Are we over ground or water? Like NGO or KIX, UKB has been built on an artificial island.
After touch down.
Time to join the terminal. Not really peak hours.
Oh, a friend from AirDo I think.
Quick deboarding with a jetbridge.
A common airport corridor.
Luggage collection is this way like the exit. Arriving and departing PAX are not mixed.
Luggage belt much more pleasant than the one for LCC at NRT.
There even is a screen for announcements!
Now, bound for the city center with an aerial train refusing my Pasmo card.
I think I am hungry now^^
First, thank for reading this FR and I hope despite my English, you have appreciated it.
Ibaraki - IBR
Kobe - UKB
As a conclusion, I can say it was a very good flight.
IBR: Far from Tôkyô but, for me, it is a bit closer than Narita. The free parking is a serious advantage. The pretty recent building is clean and convenient with whatever you would need. I find the overall to be quite impressive for such a small airport. No queues anywhere. It is kind of a perfect score card and in the end I prefer it over Narita. But much more less flights…
UKB: Clean airport with a nice luggage belt. Quick delivery and also quick walk to ground transportation. That is a general advantage for small airports.
SKY: It was my second time flying with them and again it was a very good flight. Despite the long flight path, the punctuality was respected. It might be included in the schedule. Comfort onboard was great for domestic Y: wide pitch, comfy seat and power plug. Only the IFE is missing!^^ For the BoB, no food but the drink prices are not as high as the cruising altitude. Very professional crew and I really appreciated when the stewardess told me to have a look on the other side. Probably because I am a gaijin though.
This is the end and maybe see you soon (if I am encouraged to continue in English ;-) ).
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