Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 138,116
2013: 330,818

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Plane Spotting at Tokyo International Airport – Haneda

On the observation deck of the International Terminal at HND.

On the observation deck of the International Terminal at HND

You’ve got to hand it to the Japanese; always coming up with pragmatic solutions to problems. You’re having a walk in Tokyo and you’re thirsty? Grab a cold bottle of water from the vending machines you’ll find everywhere. Rainy day? Open up the umbrella you’re carrying. Just like most everyone else’s, it’s see-through, so you can make your way through the masses on the sidewalks without bumping into anyone. Simple. And those are just two of the countless observations I made during my blindingly fast visit to Tokyo.

If you’ve following my stories, you’ll know that I traveled to Tokyo on ANA-All Nippon Airways’ inaugural flight from Vancouver (YVR) to Haneda (HND). There was a gate event at YVR for the inbound flight, ANA’s first-ever service to Canada. My flight to Tokyo was great, and then I was honored to watch ANA’s New Employee Ceremony in a hangar at HND, with ANA’s last 747-400D as a backdrop.

ANA 777-300 "Pokemon" pushes back from the gate at T2, HND.

ANA 777-300 “Pokemon” pushes back from the gate at T2, HND

It was Tuesday afternoon, and I had split off from our media group to explore HND. I had heard that there was great plane spotting, and I wanted to see what the Japanese airport designers had done in the terminals. But first, a bit of background and a look at the layout of HND.

Continue reading Plane Spotting at Tokyo International Airport – Haneda

Hello, Goodbye – The Last Boeing 747-400D

ANA - All Nippon AIrways' New Employee Celebration, with ANA's last 747-400D.

ANA – All Nippon Airways’ New Employee Celebration, with ANA’s last 747-400D

In Japan, April 1 is most certainly not April Fools’ Day.

April 1 is actually the start of the financial year for Japanese companies. And along with this fiscal reset, April 1 is the day that groups of recent graduates begin their careers with a new company, a loyal relationship that may very well be life-long. This unique recruitment culture is called Shinsotsu. Talented students are identified at various institutions. They go through testing, seminars, company visits, and other methods to make sure there’s a solid “fit” with a company’s culture and values. It makes sense. In a culture with a tradition of life-long employment, it’s critical for both the students and the companies to get it right.

The ANA – All Nippon Airways Group has well over 30,000 employees, and on April 1, I was honored to be part of a celebration to welcome over a thousand new graduates to ANA. It was Tuesday morning, and I was quite well jet-lagged after the departure events and inaugural flight on ANA’s new service from Vancouver (YVR) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). Our hosts shuttled us over to ANA’s aircraft maintenance facility at HND. It’s huge, with seven hangar bays and the ability to service all of ANA’s jet fleet, right up to major “D” checks.

But we weren’t there to look at airplanes. Well, not quite. As we were escorted through the hangars, there was one plane looming in a semi-lit bay. It was ANA’s last Boeing 747-400D (Domestic), registered JA8961. It wasn’t there for maintenance, but to be part of ANA’s New Employee Celebration of Shinsotsu.

We walked to the back of the hangar to be seated behind a remarkably large and perfectly organized group of 1,089 new ANA employees-to-be. The 747 was the ideal backdrop for the event.

Continue reading Hello, Goodbye – The Last Boeing 747-400D

Flying All Nippon Airways’ Inaugural Flight from YVR to HND

Climbing out from Vancouver-YVR on ANA's inaugural flight to Tokyo-Haneda.

Climbing out from Vancouver-YVR on ANA’s inaugural flight to Tokyo-Haneda

In Part 1 of our story, you joined me for the arrival of ANA-All Nippon Airways‘ first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR), the celebrations at the gate, and Flight NH 115’s departure for Tokyo-Haneda (HND).

Soon after takeoff, our 767-300ER made a wide right turn, climbing across the Strait of Georgia before turning on course northwest-bound along the center of Vancouver Island. I didn’t notice exactly when it happened, but after the landing gear retracted, the forward-view camera rotated to look straight down. As I looked up at the monitors, we flew right over the challenging little Duncan Airport, where the winds can make it interesting to land even a Cessna 172.

I watched the view for a while, and unstowed my In-Flight Entertainment System (IFE) monitor as we drifted up to our initial cruising altitude.

Continue reading Flying All Nippon Airways’ Inaugural Flight from YVR to HND

All Nippon Airways Lands in Vancouver…and Takes Off for Haneda!

All Nippon Airways 767-300ER lands at YVR on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Leighton Matthews, Pacific Air Photo

All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-300ER lands at YVR on Sunday afternoon - Photo: Leighton Matthews | Pacific Air Photo

ANA – All Nippon Airways’ first scheduled flight to Canada landed at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on Sunday afternoon. The arrival of the Boeing 767-300ER from Tokyo International Airport – Haneda (HND) ushered in the option of a new airline and new destination airport for Tokyo-bound passengers who originate or connect in YVR.

Located on Tokyo Bay, Haneda airport is a short 15-minute train or monorail ride for passengers to connect to Tokyo’s extensive transit system. Haneda was relegated to domestic flights in the late 1970’s, when Narita International Airport (NRT) opened to serve international traffic. Although a new express train now serves distant Narita, many consider traveling between downtown Tokyo and NRT to be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal.

Looking to return HND to its previous status as Tokyo’s convenient gateway, a new International Terminal was opened in 2010. Initially, international flights were limited, and slot-restricted to middle-of-the-night arrivals, which wasn’t particularly appealing to passengers or airlines. Fortunately, HND opened up daytime slots in 2014, most beginning this week. ANA’s YVR-HND route is just one of many new international flights serving the airport.

BONUS: Touring Haneda Airport’s New International Terminal

AirlineReporter was invited to join in the inbound flight’s arrival festivities at YVR, and to fly to Haneda on the inaugural. As AR.com’s Vancouver-based correspondent, I was given this “plum” assignment. But not without much jealousy coming from our staff in the Seattle area, including our illustrious Editor-in-Chief!

Continue reading All Nippon Airways Lands in Vancouver…and Takes Off for Haneda!

Meet Dash, Goliath & Hercules – YVR’s Wildlife Control Experts

Emily Fleming, Raptor Biologist, Pacific Northwest Raptors, and Goliath, the Harris Hawk, in front of YVR's radar "golf ball".

Emily Fleming, Raptor Biologist with Pacific Northwest Raptors, and Goliath, the Harris’ Hawk, in front of YVR’s radar “golf ball”

Airplanes and birds don’t play well together.

Just ask Captain Sully and First Officer Jeff, whose encounter with a flock of Canada Geese turned their A320 into a glider. Or talk to the crews of the approximately 150 planes per year at Vancouver International Airport that report bird strikes. Flight safety can be seriously compromised, repair costs for the airlines are huge, passengers are often inconvenienced, and for the birds, well, it’s fatal.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is located on the shores of the Strait of Georgia, on a large island in the Fraser River Delta. And just like the passengers who connect at YVR, the millions of birds that annually use the migratory Pacific Flyway like to stop in the Vancouver area to get something to eat and have a rest. Boundary Bay, south of YVR and the location of the general aviation Boundary Bay Airport (ZBB), is an internationally-recognized Important Bird Area. Even the main Vancouver air navigation aid, the YVR VOR, is on the same island as the renowned Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Continue reading Meet Dash, Goliath & Hercules – YVR’s Wildlife Control Experts