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Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

Trains, Subways, and a Monorail – A Day Exploring Tokyo by Transit

Daunting, isn't it? 40 million passengers a day use the Tokyo transit system. Image: Tokyo Metro

Daunting, isn’t it? 40 million passengers a day use the Tokyo transit system. Image: Tokyo Metro

This is a bit of a different post for us, about something other than just airplanes, airports & airlines. Enjoy!  

It was early Thursday morning on my last day in Tokyo. It had been a whirlwind trip. Sunday and Monday had been taken up on the inaugural All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Vancouver (YVR) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). I spent Tuesday at ANA’s New Employee Ceremony, and then explored HND’s observation decks. On Wednesday morning I was treated to a somewhat manic half-day bus tour of Tokyo. After that, I explored a bit, and went back to my hotel at HND’s Terminal 2 to get some work done, and to recover!

My start and end point - HND's International Terminal.

My start and end point – HND’s International Terminal

But now, I had the whole day to explore the city before returning to Haneda Airport’s International Terminal for my 9:55 pm flight. I had a long list of suggestions of things to see from friends and colleagues. Everyone had said that the best way to explore Tokyo is by transit, and I had my maps ready to go.

The statistics are phenomenal; 40 million passengers use Tokyo’s transit system, every day.  Most commuters travel on Tokyo’s extensive urban railway system, and eight million use the Tokyo Metro (subway) daily. There are over 130 lines and 1,000 stations on the fully-integrated rail system. No surprise, then, that the world’s busiest train station is in Tokyo, at Shinjuku Station, with over three million passengers per day.  The entire system is clean, efficient, inexpensive, and operates exactly on time, all the time.

However, there are a few things that an explorer needs to master before venturing out. Continue reading Trains, Subways, and a Monorail – A Day Exploring Tokyo by Transit

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

ANA Starts Boeing 787 Dreamliner Operations to San Jose

ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA813A) arrives to San Jose. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

ANA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA813A) arrives to San Jose. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Although there has been recent bad news regarding the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, we are happy to share some good news: Japan-based All Nippon Airlines (ANA) expanded its route network with its first arrival into Silicon Valley’s own Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) on Friday January 11, 2013.

SJC becomes the eighth US destination for ANA. The new routing will provide direct five days a week service to Tokyo Narita (NRT) from SJC. This will be the first time that SJC has a direct flight to an Asian City since American Airlines pulled out of NRT-SJC in 2006.

BONUS: Video of Flying on ANA’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The flight, ANA 1076, landed nearly an hour early into SJC and pushed back on-time with no issues. When asked about the recent issues facing the 787, ANA Chairmen of the Board Yoji Ohashi stated, “We can not give you an official comment, but we are confident about the safety of the Dreamliner.”

ANA employees bow to the arriving 787. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

ANA employees bow to the departing 787. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

This is the first 787 to serve the San Francisco area and has brought excitement to those who were able to fly on it. Passengers still have confidence in the aircraft as the flight in and out was completely sold out and is sold out for the first week, according to ANA officials.

“We are confident that passenger demand will remain high between SJC and Japan, as well as other Asian cities, with Tokyo as the gateway into Asia. Reservations for the route are already showing great demand and we are excited that customers will enjoy ANA’s utmost service with Japanese hospitality on our innovative Dreamliner,” shared ANA president and CEO Shinichiro Ito in a statement from Tokyo.

Although the service will begin as five days per week, it should increase to daily service in the future.

Celebration in the SJC terminal. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Celebration in the SJC terminal. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

“We are pleased to launch ANA’s new direct service between Tokyo and SJC today,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “Weather on business or visiting friends and family, Silicon Valley residents will find that ANA’s new flights offer a convenient connection to Japan and the Pacific Rim. I thank ANA for their investment in SJC.”

The new service even allowed Mayor Reed to take a shot at its partner airport SFO, “You can fly out of one of the best on-time airports in the country over an airport with one of the worst on-time records.”

AirlineReporter.com managed to get a passenger’s account of the flight to Narita from SJC. Alan Tsuda was nice enough to send us a report on his experience, “In economy, it was the most comfortable full plane experience I’ve ever had. Quite spacious, usually, I take an aisle seat, but this time had an interior seat. The center has four seats with a small gap in the middle, which gives the interior passengers just enough more room to make a difference. I did not notice the lighting to be dramatically different, but it was pleasant.”

ANA's 787 sits next to the terminal in San Jose. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

ANA’s 787 sits next to the terminal in San Jose. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Tsuda continued, “The spaciousness of the cabin makes it feel much more open, less of a cave feeling. Definitely noticed that I needed less hydration, so I suppose there was more humidity in cabin. I can’t be sure, but I felt that the noise (I was behind the wings) was slightly less than in the 747 that I took for the next leg of my trip. Subjectively I heard less low end rumble. I would definitely recommend the plane and ANA from SJC to NRT.”

The lighting and increased humidity of the 787 might be obvious benefits to passengers flying, but the route itself is more telling of the benefits of the 787 Dreamliner. This new route wouldn’t make economic sense on a larger aircraft, like the Boeing 777, but it does with the smaller and more efficient 787. The ability to fly more non-stop routes, like SJC-NRT is one of the huge benefits of the Dreamliner.

Although this is the first new international service into the airport, they are confident that they will bring in a few more international carriers in the near future as they are in talks with several airlines. Soon, I hope to write a story discussing what the future may hold for SJC after talking to airport officials while at the event.

ADDITIONAL ANA BOEING 787 SCJ PHOTOS:

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent.

Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr

ANA Unveils Special 60th Birthday Livery on Boeing 767

ANA's special 60th anniversary livery on a Boeing 767 model. Photo from ANA.

ANA’s special 60th anniversary livery on a Boeing 767 model. Photo from ANA.

Back in September I shared a special livery contest that All Nippon Airways (ANA) was holding for people to design a special livery to celebrate their 60th birthday. Shockingly, my design was not chosen.

After 7042 designs were submitted, the airline chose their top ten choices, where fans could vote on their favorite. The votes were tallied and the winning design was one from the 19 and over group seen on a 767-300 model above. The design was changed a little bit from the original design to make sure it would work on an actual aircraft (notice the bird and flower swapped). Anyone else have “it’s a small world,” playing in their head right now?

The new design is expected to join the fleet in February 2013.

This story written by…

David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube