Sometimes it’s hard to beat a classic. Japan Airlines’ 777-300ERs are the heavy lifter of their long-haul fleet. And although the current premium cabins have been flying for around ten years, they’re still a fan favorite.
I had my first chance to fly JAL’s Sky Suite business class on a flagship route from New York JFK to Tokyo Haneda – now I completely understand why it’s so popular. As an added bonus the window seat views were pretty amazing, since it was nothing but daylight for the full 15 hours from boarding to deplaning.
Read on for more photos, videos, and highlights from this classic long-haul route.
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.
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.
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 ’œplum’ assignment. But not without much jealousy coming from our staff in the Seattle area, including our illustrious Editor-in-Chief!
One of the benefits of world travel is plane spotting in different locations. Although spotting at Paine Field can be highly entertaining, it doesn’t compare to spotting at Tokyo’s Haneda airport which handles most of Tokyo’s domestic traffic. Sure, busy American airports like Atlanta sure see a lot of traffic, but it is mostly smaller aircraft like regional jets, MD-80’s and Boeing 767’s. At Haneda you are seeing much bigger aircraft like domestic Boeing 747-400’s with no winglets and plenty of 777s. Although Japan is only about the size of California, they fly very large aircraft on domestic routes due to demand and slots.
A few Boeing All Nippon Airways aircraft at Haneda Airport.
Haneda Airport had observation decks on all three terminals. During my recent trip to Haneda to check out the new International Terminal, I spent a good amount of my time enjoying the nice rainy outdoors (what a break from Seattle right?) and of course taking photos of aircraft I can’t always see in the US. I wanted to share some of my favorites and of course you can check out all 115 airline photos at Haneda via my Flickr page. I got onto the deck on Terminal 2 the very first thing in the morning at 6:30am local time when it opened. I had to wait for the guard to open the door and he looked at me oddly when I rushed out in the rain to check out the aircraft. It was great to see all the large All Nippon Airways and Japan Air Line large aircraft waiting to be pulled to their gates (photo).
All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-400 (JA8956) in Pokemon Livery
I knew that All Nippon Airways flies two Pokemon themed 747-400’s but seeing one in person is quite the scene. It was a little bit too much for me, but quite the interesting sight.
One of two observation decks at Terminal 2. Why can't the US have sweet decks like this?
Haneda treats spotters with a lot of treats. Almost the entire roof on all three terminals have spotting decks. One side of Terminal 2 had comfortable seating and even a few restaurants. I wish more American airports treated airline spotters with such goodies.
ANA Boeing 747, 777, 737 and Q400 with ships in the background.
The sitting area of ANA's Business Class Lounge at Haneda International Terminal. Click for larger.
Having one airline lounge is pretty sweet. However why only have one when you can have three all located in one terminal? All Nippon Airways (ANA) has three different lounges in the new International Terminal at Haneda Airport (HND) and each one is a bit different.
The first lounge I explored was their Business Class Lounge located after security. The lounge was quite large, very clean and futuristic looking and great views of planes.
Next door to the Business Class Lounge you will find the First Class Lounge. While walking over I joked with the ANA folks that the Business Class Lounge would be hard to beat, but I think they did it. The first class lounge feels a bit darker with a lot of black being used, but makes up for it with having a lot of personal space. The lounge is quite a bit smaller, but has cooler seating. You have the ability to sit in some futuristic looking chairs or in your own little cubical-like space (photo).
ANA's First Class Lounge at the Haneda International Terminal is very impressive with their fancy seating.
The third lounge is the smallest and has the smallest “wow” factor. It is located outside of security and is the arrival lounge (photo). It is a good place to take a quick shower, check your email or even charge your phone with their nifty free phone charging machine (photo). Actually all three lounges have access to showers (photo), which can be very helpful if you had a long day of travel and you are heading right to your meeting.
Unlike some other airline lounges you need a Business or First Class ticket to get access; you can’t buy a day pass. But you don’t need just an ANA ticket, any Star Alliance premium ticket can get you access.
If you don’t have a premium ticket, you still can get access to the international terminal’s public lounge which is not connected to any airline (photo). You are able to buy a pass for only about $12. It is not nearly as fancy as ANA’s lounges, but for $12, you can’t go wrong!