As described in the introduction to this series, I decided to do an ANA mileage run to earn Platinum status which will allow me to then apply for ANA Super Flyers credit card that comes with a quasi-lifetime Star Alliance Gold status. The mileage run was split into two parts – one day with four flights and another day and a half with seven flights.
Continue reading for a detailed account of the first part of the mileage run. With just four flights and two of them in Premium Class, it was fairly leisurely. That said, with the first departure being at 6:40AM and the last arrival at 9:25PM, it was still a very long day.
(4:00AM – 5:30AM) Making My Way to the Airport
The day started early with a 4AM alarm. Jumping out of the bed with excitement – something that happens this early only when I am going to the airport or DisneyLand – I ate a banana and got dressed. As the first train of the day would not get me to the airport on time, I had to catch a bus leaving at 4:55AM from a stop about a 20-minute walk from my home.
Leaving around 4:20AM, it was still relatively cold outside. The walk to the bus stop was a nice way to start the day and went by quickly. At that early time of the day, the streets were mostly empty, the supermarket was being prepared for the day, and taxi drivers were lining up at a gas station and a carwash getting ready for a day of work.
When I got to the bus stop, there were already some people waiting – as usual, I was wondering where they were traveling. One thing is for sure, though, they most likely were not traveling from Tokyo to Tokyo with three stops like I was about to.
(5:30AM – 6:22AM) Waiting to Board the First Flight
With the bus departing on time and the roads being empty, it was just a quick ride during most of which I tried to get some shut-eye. Being dropped off in front of terminal 2 which is mainly used by ANA, I headed inside and – in spite of having one in my Apple Wallet – printed the boarding pass for my flight to Kagoshima using one of the check-in machines.
Not before pausing to enjoy the Christmas tree that has been put up in the terminal, though.
Going through security was a breeze and less than ten minutes after arriving at the airport I found myself in ANA’s lounge. While I was traveling in economy class, I could enter the lounge using my TAP Miles & Go Gold status. For earning miles, I of course used my ANA Mileage Club account.
Since it was still before 6AM when I got to the lounge, it was almost completely empty. That gave me a chance to take some photos before sitting down to do some work. Outside, the sun was just beginning to rise.
I left the lounge around 6AM and followed signs toward gate 48 where I got to at 6:17AM. Rather than being connected to the main terminal, gates 46 through 48 are located in a satellite building accessible by a shuttle bus. While normally I would prefer a gate close to security check/lounge, I didn’t mind departing from the satellite building as it was my first time using it.
Plus, it was just a two-minute ride from the main terminal and the ride offered some nice views of aircraft with wonderful orange sky in the background. The satellite itself was unremarkable. There was nothing aside from the three gates, plenty of seating, a couple of vending machines, and toilets.
(6:23AM – 8:50AM) Flying to Kagoshima on an ANA A321ceo
Not paying too much attention when I was taking a photo of my aircraft through the terminal window, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself onboard an ANA A321ceo rather than the nowadays-much-more-common A321neo.
Once onboard, I settled myself in seat 28K – or so I thought. I had mistakenly settled in 29K instead, and so, after being told so by the passenger who was meant to sit in 29K, I moved one row ahead. By the time boarding finished and the door was closed at 6:47AM, I was glad to have an entire row of seats to myself.
We were pushed back at 6:50AM (10 minutes behind schedule) and took off from runway 05 19 minutes later. After take-off, we made a right turn which offered views of Haneda airport. Later, great views of Umihotaru (an artificial island in the middle of the Aqua-Line tunnel/bridge highway across Tokyo Bay) as well as of Mt. Fuji.
The flight itself was as uneventful as it gets. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, drinks were offered. Other than drinking the consomme soup and apple juice that I asked for, I spent most of the flight getting some work done.
At 8:30AM – just over an hour after they were switched off – the seatbelt signs were switched on in preparation for descent and landing. We landed on Kagoshima airport’s runway 34 at 8:42AM and at 8:45AM – ten minutes behind schedule – we came to a full stop at gate 6.
Five minutes later, I stepped off the aircraft, happy to have earned the first 1,802 Premium Points toward the 30,000 Premium Points goal.
(8:50AM – 11:41AM) A Fun Layover in Kagoshima
Unlike the second part of the mileage run which had a much tighter schedule, the first part was fairly relaxed as proven by the almost three-hour layover I had in Kagoshima. While I didn’t leave the immediate vicinity of the airport, there were still more than enough things to keep me busy.
First, I headed to the airport’s observation deck where I spent an hour and a half or so watching (mostly narrowbody) movements. In between taking photos, I had a quick breakfast (a chocolate croissant bought at a convenience store inside the terminal) and did some work.
Then, I visited the airport’s ashiyu (Japanese foot bath) where I spent some time relaxing.
I love that some airports in Japan feature facilities – oftentimes free like in this case – that make airports pleasant places to spend time. In this case, there was even a vending machine selling aircraft-themed towels so that visitors to the foot bath could dry themselves off before starting/continuing their journey.
My last stop before visiting some of the airport’s lounges and continuing my trip was a statue of Saigo Takamori who, according to Wikipedia, was “a Japanese samurai and nobleman” and “one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history and one of the three great nobles who led the Meiji Restoration.”
The 10.5-meter statue weighing 30 tons is located just across the road from the airport’s parking lot, about a five-minute walk from the terminal.
Back at the airport, I went to the observation deck for a few minutes to catch the arrival of the 737-800 that would take me to Osaka (it arrived from Osaka too).
Then, I visited Sky Lounge Nanohana which I could access using one of my credit cards. I only spent a few minutes there as it was located landside and I also wanted to briefly visit ANA Lounge located airside.
Like all other Japanese domestic lounges, both the Sky Lounge and ANA Lounge were very simple. That said, offering a nicer selection of drinks and snacks, the Sky Lounge was nicer than the ANA Lounge.
(11:40AM – 1:12PM) Flying to Osaka Itami on an ANA 737-800
By the time I left the ANA Lounge at 11:42AM, boarding was already in progress at gate 7. With the gate being just a few steps from the lounge, I found myself settled in my seat, 8A (this time I sat in the correct one on the first try!) just a couple of minutes later.
Once again, when the aircraft doors were closed at 11:48AM, I had an entire row of seats for myself and the aircraft remained relatively empty.
We were pushed back exactly on time at 11:55AM and not long after that, we were holding short of runway 16 – the opposite one from the one the previous flight landed on. We let a Peach A320 arriving from Osaka Kansai airport land and then entered the runway. We took off just after noon, at 12:07PM.
Just like the previous flight, the flight from Kagoshima to Osaka was uneventful. I got some work done thanks to the free onboard wi-fi available on most ANA domestic flights and had cold green tea and consomme soup to drink. I found it nice that at one point, one of the flight attendants handed me a cup cover saying it might get handy soon as we were expecting to encounter some turbulence.
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 12:47PM and as we were descending, we flew past Kansai and Yao airports. While the former is Osaka’s airport used for international flights, the latter is the city’s general aviation airport.
We landed on Itami airport’s runway 34L at 1:05PM and four minutes later – also four minutes behind schedule – we came to a full stop at gate 5. While taxiing to our arrival gate, ANA’s third Demon Slayer Jet that I had a chance to fly on a few weeks ago was being pushed back ahead of its flight to Tokyo.
It took another couple of minutes until the jetbridge was connected, the L1 door was opened, and disembarking started.
(1:13PM – 2:03PM) A Longer Than Expected Transit in Osaka
As originally I only had a 50-minute layover in Osaka, instead of going landside, I stayed airside and headed directly into the airport’s ANA Lounge. After taking some photos for a review, I got myself a glass of Pepsi and a couple of packs of rice crackers and sat down at one of the counters along the lounge’s windows.
Outside, the Boeing 787-8 that would take me to Okinawa was being prepared for the flight.
I left the lounge at 1:40PM and headed to gate 13 where my flight was scheduled to depart from at 1:55PM. The gate area was crowded and queues were already formed when I got there. However, around the same time, an announcement was made saying the flight will be delayed by 15 minutes due to the late arrival of the inbound flight. It was also mentioned that boarding would start at 1:51PM.
With preboarding starting at 1:46PM, I thought that we would be departing with a slight delay as announced. It turned out, though, that the passengers that “pre-boarded” were simply waiting at the end of the jetway. It wasn’t until 2:04PM that the flight actually started boarding.
Traveling in Premium Class this time, I headed onboard once group 2 (group 1 is ANA’s Diamond status holders) was called.
(2:04PM – 4:30PM) Flying to Okinawa on an ANA 787-8 in Premium Class
Not long after I settled down in my seat, the chief purser came to introduce hearself and apologize for the delay. With the flight being operated by a 787-8 configured for regional international flights, cradle seats were featured in Premium Class. While the seat wasn’t bad, I liked the new ANA domestic Premium Class seat that I had a chance to try on the next flight more.
When the doors were closed at 2:19PM, the aircraft was entirely full. We pushed back at 2:26PM – half an hour behind schedule – and took off from runway 34L at 2:38PM.
During the flight, I watched Top Gun: Maverick for the sixth or seventh time (there’s no better place to watch it than on a flight!) and enjoyed the light meal that was provided by ANA. While the meal was good, I wish they served lunch on flights departing up to 2PM rather than up to 1:30PM.
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 4PM – just as we started descending – and at 4:22PM, we landed on Naha airport’s runway 36L. Five minutes of taxiing later – and just 12 minutes behind schedule – we arrived at gate 32.
Another couple of minutes later, I stepped into the jetway decorated with flowers and made my way into the terminal.
For a more extensive look at the flight, check the full review.
(4:31PM – 6:45PM) Enjoying Tacos at Naha Airport
With more than two hours of transit time in spite of the delay, I headed landside in search of something to eat. Not feeling like spending too much time deciding, I went to a food court near international departures area and had the same tacos I had when I visited the airport to fly on Skymark Pikachu Jet BC2’s inaugural flight.
While originally I was thinking of taking some night photos, with the sunset in Okinawa being considerably later than further north in Tokyo, there would not be enough time to do so before having to catch my flight back. As such, after finishing the tacos and getting some work done, I headed into the ANA Lounge.
The lounge was accessible through dedicated security check area and I could access it as I was flying in Premium Class. I will write a review of the lounge later on.
At 6:40PM, an announcement was made that ANA flight 476 to Tokyo would be boarding soon. As such, a couple minutes later, I left the lounge and headed to gate 33, enjoying the sight of a couple of Christmas trees in front of one of the airport’s shops along the way.
(6:46PM – 9:35PM) Flying to Tokyo on an ANA 777-200 in Premium Class
Boarding started at 6:46PM and a minute or two later, I found myself onboard the 777-200ER that would take me to Tokyo. As mentioned earlier, the aircraft featured ANA’s new Premium Class. Not only did the cabin look great but the seat was very comfortable too. The large high-resolution screen it was equipped with provided for an even better environment to finish watching Top Gun: Maverick than the 787 did on the previous flight.
When the doors were closed at 7:05PM, all 28 seats in the Premium Class cabin were taken. In fact, the flight was full and most – if not all – of the 392 seats available were taken. We were pushed back at 7:17PM – 12 minutes behind schedule – and took off at 7:32PM.
Not long after take-off, dinner was served. With a wide variety of dishes, the Japanese meal was great. Just as I finished eating, the movie I was watching also came to an end.
As such, I decided to open my laptop and get some work done while we were cruising to Tokyo.
Around 9PM, we started descending and at 9:13PM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on. We landed on Tokyo Haneda’s runway 34R at 9:28PM. Just four minutes of taxiing later, at 9:32PM (seven minutes behind schedule), we came to a full stop at gate 61. From there, it took another couple of minutes to get off the plane.
For a detailed review of this flight, click here.
(9:36PM – 10:51PM) Making My Way Home
Wanting to get home as soon as possible, I walked briskly toward the terminal’s train station. I managed to catch a train leaving at 9:44PM. One hour or so – and one transfer – later, I got off the train near my home. As I was tired – I woke up at 4AM and traveled halfway across Japan and back after all – I was glad that I live just a couple of minutes away from the subway stop.
I arrived home at 10:51PM and soon after that, I was ready to sleep, 13,502 Premium Points richer than I was in the morning.
The first day of the mileage run was a success. With fairly long transfer times and the two longest flights of the four being in Premium Class, it was the easier of the two parts of the overall mileage run. It was also nice to spend some time at Kagoshima airport.
As I am typing this (although I am publishing it with a bit of a delay), I am somewhere between Fukuoka and Sapporo, flying on the second out of the mileage run’s second day’s (about a week after the first day of the mileage run) six flights. From Sapporo, I will fly to Memanbetsu and back, and then on to Osaka Kansai and Okinawa where I will stay for the night. More about the second part of the mileage run in the next installment of this series, though.