Sapporo’s Chitose Airport is actually a pretty good airport to spend the day before going through security. I reached the airport via the hotel limousine bus, though as my hotel was just opposite the JR Sapporo Station, it was the first stop for the bus and I reached New Chitose Airport around 90 minutes later. Passengers need to head to the terminal upstairs from where the bus drops them off, and they will pass by a large atrium and shopping mall for those last minute gift purchases. Though there are also lots of restaurants and places to explore. This includes the Royce Chocolate World and the Doraemon boutique and restaurant along the walkway that connects the domestic and international terminal. This area ended up to be where I spent most of my time in before heading to the boarding gate.
NH0066 Sapporo CTS – Tokyo HND
Tuesday 01 Jan 2013
Boeing 777-300 JA757A
I headed for ANA’s check-in counter first upon arrival and there was a short queue for the baggage drop off but surprisingly there was no excess baggage charge for the snowboard bag as the agent did not seem to be as fussy as the one I got in Tokyo. I enquired if the plane will be a 787 as I expected it to be but was disappointed when the agent indicated a 767 as the plane servicing the route today.
However when I head to the gate after exploring the shops and attractions in New Chitose Airport, it was a 777 jet that I saw. So either the agent is misinformed or there was another plane swap.
Even after browsing around the shops in Chitose, I still had ample time to sit around the gate area waiting for the boarding to be called. This was not a plane that would be flying on time, I guess at times the Japanese can be late.
Once we boarded though, I was greeted with the older style seats onboard the 777-300. The seat had more padding than the new ‘Inspiration of Japan’ seats on ANA’s domestic economy routes. ANA uses a high-density 3-4-3 seating configuration with a seat pitch similar to that of North American domestic economy, while their international flights uses a 3-3-3 seating configuration with one of the widest seat pitch in its class. But given that I was seated in the back on a wide-body 777 for a one-hour flight, I had the whole row, and by row I meant the whole 10 seats to myself. That was how empty the plane was at the back.
With the skies clearing out on New Year’s day this was turning out to be quite a good flight. The taxi to the runway was short, and in no time at all we took off only slightly late. There were some beautiful views throughout the flight and this is why sunset flights are always so amazing.
For my onboard snack, I did not prepare a bento box this time since I did not like them at all. Instead I ordered the Jagga Pokuru – a specialty Hokkaido premium potato snack. I had purchased several packs of this snack from Chitose airport but the ANA special packaging enticed me to get one pack for a snack. If anyone is ever in Hokkaido, I thoroughly recommend getting this snack since the flavour of the potato is just out of this world and I would say it is the best potato chip ever! And I did order the Honey Yuzu beverage once again, as it was just that good as well!
Snacking with my iPad mini serving as my inflight entertainment, the time passed by very fast and the flight was soon coming to an end. In this flight I did receive another 2 more commemorative magnets from ANA as I purchased 2 items from their inflight menu.
As the plane started its descent into Haneda, I was treated to a beautiful sunset view of Tokyo Bay. Definitely a reason to get a window seat on this flight! Upon landing it was nice to see the rows of ANA’s jets in Haneda against the orange and blue skies in the background. What was weird was that there was no 787s around in Haneda on that day. Maybe the pilots flying them are on leave since its the holidays or the problems around the 787 have already started at that time…