Our time in Tokyo was brief. Time to head to Fukuoka, Kyushu island’s largest city, in southern Japan. We decided to fly and work our way back to Tokyo by train. Two hour flight from the other Tokyo’s international airport, Haneda. We got the opportunity to see how their domestic airport works. Sad to say that they are miles ahead of Canadian airports in term of efficiency. At the self-served check-in counter, we just need to insert the credit card that we had used to purchase the flights to get our ticket printed. No hassles with reference number, etc. One can check in (including checked bag) as late as 30 minutes before departure. ANA (All Nippon Airways) agent told us we don’t have to be at the security gate until 20 minutes before boarding. We don’t think we heard it correctly so we gave ourselves a bit more time. Our gate was 15 minutes away from security checkpoint. Signs were everywhere; they even indicated the time needed to walk to each gate. And boarding time is 15 minutes before departure. As one approaches the domestic security gate, there is a large screen taking facial recognition before one scans the flight ticket. (Japan fingerprints and photographs foreigners upon entering the country)
There are so many lines for getting through security that it only takes minutes. We do not need to take liquids out of our bags since there is no restriction on its quantity for domestic flights.
Boarding is quick even for a Dreamliner since they do not verify identity at the departure gate. One only needs to scan the boarding pass to get through the turnstile. They could board everyone in ten minutes. The window seats go first, followed by the middle seats, and finished with the aisle seats. We couldn’t believe how quick everyone got into the plane and settled in. And most do not have carry-on luggages because checked bags are included in the ticket price. Seat selection is included too. These are included even for tickets on promotional sale which we got. And cancellation policy is the same too. And they do not make last call for boarding or worry about too many carry-on luggages. Boarding is quick and efficient. In Japan, they value punctuality. It is your responsibility to be there on time. They do not wait for the late comers. Transportation departs and arrives on time. They apologize if they are a few minutes late.
And upon arrival, ANA thanked their passengers for their cooperation and helping the plane to arrive on time. Passenger unloading is as quick and efficient as getting on the plane. No waiting at the gate. We were at the back of the Dreamliner and within ten minutes after taxiing to the gate, we were all out. We were shocked. Japanese passengers are so “well trained” at boarding and leaving the plane. We truly enjoyed our experience. (Our Canadian airlines have a lot to learn.)
We have three goals for taking this flight:
- Find out what domestic flight is like;
- Use plane one way and train for the return journey;
- See Mount Fuji from above.
Mount Fuji is elusive and notoriously shy since it shows up completely about 150 days in a year. Often, it is shrouded by the clouds. This means an average chance of 40% (more in winter and less in summer). We were lucky to see it twice on our previous trip (once on the train from Kyoto to Tokyo, and again in Enoshima, a side trip outside of Tokyo).
We also had to pick correct side of the plane to sit. We had studied ANA flight path from Tokyo to Fukuoka for this time of the year and made an educated guess. Everything lined up. And what a show!