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 – 5:38AM) Making My Way to the Airport
Just like the first part of the mileage run, the second part started with an early 4AM alarm. This time, my first flight of the day was scheduled to depart even earlier than during the first part of the mileage run – at 6:25AM instead of 6:40AM. That said, I was still taking the same 4:55AM bus to the airport.
I quickly prepared, took out the trash, and made my way to the bus stop which is about a 20-minute walk from where I live. While walking, I was processing the news that just hit the headlines – pieces of a missile fell on Poland’s soil.
Once again the bus ride to the airport was smooth and at 5:38AM, I stepped into Haneda airport’s terminal 2 which is used by all ANA domestic flights.
(5:39AM – 6:09AM) Waiting to Board the First Flight
In the terminal, I picked up a paper boarding pass from one of the check-in machines and headed through security. While there were a few people in the line, I found myself airside and in the lounge in less than ten minutes.
I had a cup of orange juice and a pack of rice crackers to start the day. I also enjoyed watching the sunrise which made some low clouds near the airport look a bit like mountains.
Having received a notification at 6:06AM that boarding for my flight started, I packed up and left the lounge at 6:09AM – 16 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
(6:09AM – 8:26AM) Flying to Fukuoka on an ANA 737-800
With gate 64 where the flight was departing from being just a few seconds away from the lounge, I found myself standing in the jetway in no time. That said, there was a bit of a traffic jam in the jetway and so it took a couple of minutes until I found myself onboard one of ANA’s many 737-800s, settled in my window seat 19K.
The aircraft doors were closed at 6:21AM and a couple of minutes later, a welcome announcement was made. During the announcement, it was also mentioned that the flight was being operated by an ANA Wings crew. That was the case for most of the day’s flights. The crew members were introduced too and, coincidentally, the captain shared his first name – Keishi – with me.
We were pushed back at 6:24AM – one minute ahead of schedule – and 13 minutes later, we took off from Haneda’s runway 05. Shortly after take-off, great views of Tokyo including Haneda airport and, and of Mt. Fuji could be had.
While the flight was relatively uneventful, great views of mountains could be had along the way. I also enjoyed a cup of tea and consommé soup while getting some work done.
Once the seatbelt signs were switched back on, I fire up FlightRadar24 on my phone to track the flight I was on. I also looked at the traffic expected to arrive in Fukuoka after my flight since I would be doing some plane spotting before catching my next flight.
We landed on Fukuoka’s runway 16 at 8:18AM and came to a full stop at our arrival gate five minutes later, at 8:23AM. Disembarking started another couple of minutes later at which point I made my way over to the airport’s observation deck.
(8:27AM – 9:51AM) A Fruitful Fukuoka Plane Spotting Session
Walking briskly, I made it to the observation deck just in time to catch a Thai Airways A330 arriving from Bangkok. I stayed on the observation deck for another 45 minutes or so until the sun’s position made it difficult to take nice photos.
While the spotting session was very short, it was quite productive. In addition to the Thai A330, I was also able to get ANA’s Green Jet 787 for the first time, one of two Skymark Airlines’ Pikachu Jets, and a Thai VietJet A321 in WOW Air livery.
Once done with plane spotting, I headed through security which took about ten minutes to clear. Airside, I decided to check Lounge TIME South which opened back in 2021. Among other ways, holders of certain Japanese credit cards can access it for free. While the refreshments are limited like in all Japanese domestic lounges, the views out of the lounge are phenomenal.
I left the lounge at 9:48AM and made my way to gate 11 just as I got a notification that boarding for my next flight started.
(9:52AM – 12:18PM) Flying to Sapporo on an ANA 737-800
By the time I got to the gate, boarding just started for group 4. As such, being in group 3, I was able to get on board and settled in my right-hand side window seat 20K right away.
We were pushed back at 10:06AM – just a minute behind schedule – and started making our way to runway 16. Just as we were starting to taxi, an ANA Boeing 777-200ER was being pushed back for its flight back to Tokyo. We took off at 10:17AM and were offered some great views of the city while climbing out.
The flight itself was uneventful – I once again had a cup of consomme soup and of apple juice, and I worked on writing the first part of this series for some time. Of course, I also enjoyed the views out of the window – while the skies got cloudier the further north we got, during the first half of the flight, some amazing views of mountains as well as beautiful clouds floating over the sea could be had.
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 11:51AM and at 12:07PM – after 1 hour and 50 minutes of flight time – we landed at Sapporo New Chitose airport. We reached our arrival gate 9 a few minutes later, at 12:13PM – seven minutes ahead of schedule.
While there was staff letting connecting passengers directly back airside once I got off the plane, I decided to exit into the public area to grab lunch.
(12:19PM – 12:53PM) A Quick Lunch at New Chitose Airport
By the time I got into public area of the terminal, I had about 40 minutes until the security check for my next flight would close. With the signposting in the terminal not being great (and/or me being quite tired by this point), it took me a while to get to the airport’s food court which not only offers a decent selection of outlets but also some nice apron and runway views.
Because of that, it wasn’t until 12:32PM – 28 minutes before the security check deadline – that I got in line at a ramen shop. From there it took another ten minutes or so to get the noodles. As such, I quickly finished the bowl in record six minutes and started making my way back airside.
(12:54PM – 14:29PM) A Delayed Dash 8 Flight to Memanbetsu
Airside, I made my way straight to gate 2 where my flight to Memanbetsu was departing from. While the flight was scheduled to depart at 1:20PM, shortly after I got to the gate, a 15-minute delay was announced.
Since I was only visiting Memanbetsu for a few minutes and was booked on the same flight’s return, I approached one of the gate staff. After I explained that I would technically arrive at Memanbetsu after the security check closing time for my flight, she said she would call her colleagues in Memanbetsu and arrange for an airside “transfer.”
Preboarding started at 1:27PM and three minutes later, it was my turn to go down the jetway, walk through an extension designed to connect small planes to it, and step onboard the Dash 8 Q400 that would not only take me to Memanbetsu but also back to Sapporo later on.
Onboard, I settled in my seat 10A, a left-hand side window seat offering a great view of the left engine and landing gear.
By the time we were pushed back at 1:38PM – 18 minutes behind schedule – the aircraft was about 80% full. That said, there was an empty seat next to me. We took off at 1:50PM.
During the flight, a drink service was done (the selection was limited to juice and consomme but that was perfect since those are the two drinks I would have ordered anyways) and some great views of Hokkaido were offered. I love flying over Hokkaido as some of the scenery reminds me of Europe.
The aircraft was also equipped with in-flight entertainment streamed over wi-fi. Understandably, there was no internet.
We landed on Memanbetsu airport’s runway 36 at 2:27PM. With that, Memanbetsu became the northernmost point in Japan that I’ve been to so far.
It took another couple of minutes until we arrived at our gate at 2:29PM – 19 minutes behind schedule or 11 minutes before the originally scheduled departure time of my return flight to Sapporo.
(2:30PM – 2:43PM) “Is There Mr. Nukina Traveling on ANA?”
Once I got into the terminal, I approached one of the gate agents and mentioned that I was told in Sapporo that they would arrange an airside transfer. After confirming with her colleague, she mentioned that that’s not possible in Memanbetsu and that I would have to go landside and reclear security.
After reconfirming that it would not be a problem considering the tight connection, I exited into the arrivals area and headed toward the departures area.
In front of the security check, there was another ground agent – “Is there Mr. Nukina traveling on ANA?” she repeatedly asked into the crowd.
I approached her and she asked an older gentleman at the front of the security check line if he’d mind letting me skip since my flight was departing shortly. “Oh, sure,” he responded in a friendly manner, and so I found myself airside in less than ten minutes after getting off my flight from Sapporo.
At that point, preboarding had just started and a couple of minutes later, my group was called to board, ending my very brief stay in Memanbetsu.
(2:44PM – 3:44PM) Flying Back to Sapporo on the Same Aircraft
The flight back to Sapporo was, of course, operated by the same Dash 8 that brought me to Memanbetsu in the first place. The crew remained the same as well. The thing that changed was my seat – this time I chose a right-hand side window seat, 13D.
We were pushed back at 2:51PM – 11 minutes behind schedule. Five minutes later, we started taxiing toward runway 36, and at 2:59PM, we took off.
As one would expect, the onboard experience was pretty much the same as on the previous flight. This time, though, I only had a cup of orange juice to drink.
At some point, I was also approached by one of the flight attendants. After thanking me for boarding the return flight too, she wondered why I was flying straight back to Sapporo. I explained that I needed a few extra points to which she smiled and told me to let the crew know if I needed anything.
Twenty minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were switched back on. Then, at 3:36PM, we landed on Sapporo New Chitose airport’s runway 01R. We reached our parking spot at 3:40PM – 10 minutes behind schedule.
After that, it took a couple of minutes to get off the aircraft.
(3:45PM – 3:58PM) Another Quick Transfer at Chitose Airport
Once off the plane, I queued up in front of a closed door that had a boarding scanner next to it. There, a ground agent was letting transfer passengers reenter the secured area without having to go landside. Surprisingly, there were more than half a dozen connecting passengers on my flight.
In addition to me going to Osaka Kansai, there were also passengers heading to Osaka Itami, Sendai, and Hakodate.
Once back airside, I quickly stopped by the restroom and made my way to gate 11 where my next flight was departing from.
By the time I got to the gate, boarding was already well in progress and I was one of the last passengers to board the very empty (approx. 30% load) flight.
(3:59PM – 6:30PM) Flying from Sapporo to Kansai on an ANA 737-800
Less than five minutes after I boarded, the aircraft doors were closed. Another four minutes later, at 4:06PM, we were pushed back. It was nice to depart four minutes early rather than behind schedule for a change.
We took off from runway 01L at 4:18PM. As we climbed out during a beautiful sunset, some great views of the airport could be had.
I passed the time onboard the flight by enjoying the views, getting some sleep, and writing an article. The service consisted of a couple of drink runs and a candy run.
Being in a rush and tired, it also wasn’t until we were well on our way to Osaka that I realized I was flying on an aircraft in Star Alliance livery. I did so after checking my flight on FlightRadar24 using the onboard wi-fi.
The seatbelt signs were switched back on just before 6PM. Shortly after that, we encountered some decent turbulence – the strongest on of the mileage run at the very least.
A fairly hard landing at Kansai airport followed at 6:18PM. We came to a full stop at our arrival gate at 6:26PM – four minutes ahead of schedule. Another couple of minutes later, I stepped out into Kansai airport’s recently revamped domestic departures area.
(6:31PM – 8:20PM) A Transfer with a Very Welcome Delay
As I didn’t have much time on the ground in Osaka, I just stayed airside.
I spent most of the time relaxing and editing photos in Lounge KANSAI – the airport’s recently opened domestic lounge that both ANA and JAL use. The lounge was nothing to write home about. That said, I reviewed the lounge in a separate article so that you can judge for yourself.
While sitting in the lounge I received a message sying that my flight would be delayed by 15 minutes. Normally, I wouldn’t be too happy about that but considering Japan TransOcean Air’s Jinbei Jet was scheduled to depart at the exact same time as my flight, I got excited.
It meant that I could probably hang around the gate where the Jinbei Jet was departing from, grab a photo, and then board my flight. And, sure enough, things worked out that way.
I finished taking photos of the aircraft at 8:08PM and then briskly walked over to gate 26 where my flight was being prepared for departure. It turned out that I didn’t have to rush, though, since boarding didn’t start until ten minutes or so after I got to the gate.
(8:21PM – 10:54PM) Flying to Okinawa on an ANA 737-800
Having been on the move for the entire day by this point, I was glad to be flying the longest segment of the day in Premium Class. As the 737-800 that I was flying on featured the old seats that I reviewed previously on a flight from Tokyo to Sendai, I decided not to review this flight in detail and just relax as much as possible.
In the end, we were pushed back with a 23 minute delay at 8:33PM and took off from Kansai airport at 8:45PM.
About half an hour after take-off, dinner was served. It consisted of a box with a few different bites to eat, rice with sweet potatoes, and miso soup. I also got Perrier and consomme soup with the meal. After a long day and five economy class flights, it was very enjoyable to have a decent meal onboard an aircraft.
The rest of the flight, I spent editing photos and writing in my journal while having some tea.
In preparation for landing, the seatbelt signs were switched on at 10:31PM. At 10:44PM, we landed at Naha airport’s runway 36R. At 10:51PM – 26 minutes behind schedule – we came to a full stop at our arrival get.
With that, after six flights and traversing almost the entire length of Japan, I was done flying for the day. That said, the day was not over yet. Once I got off the aircraft at 10:54PM, I had to run…
(10:55PM – 7:39AM+1) An Overnight Layover in Okinawa
The reason I run was that I wanted to get to my hotel as soon as possible and the next monorail was leaving at 11PM. Luckily, while out of breath, I made it to the station in time.
With the hotel right in front of a station that is just a three-minute ride from the airport, I was checked in at 11:07PM and in my room just a minute later. I managed to take a shower before going to sleep for a few hours.
The next morning, I woke up just after 6AM, checked in for my flight and headed downstairs to have breakfast. While the hotel itself was fairly simple and the room was showing its age, the breakfast was very nice.
I left the hotel at 6:40AM to catch a monorail back to the airport. I tried to arrive a bit early as I had to do some shopping – during check-in I received coupons that the Japanese government is using to encourage post-COVID-19 domestic travel industry recovery.
After getting some chopsticks and a bib for my at that point soon-to-be-born daughter (she’s over three months old now, how time flies!), I headed through security.
I got airside around 7:15AM and headed straight to gate 33 where my flight to Tokyo – the last flight of the mileage run – was departing. When I got to the gate, I was happy to find ANA’s C3PO Jet there – it would be my first time flying on this Star Wars Jet.
(7:40AM+1 – 10:22AM+1) Back to Tokyo on C3PO Jet
While preboarding started quite early, it turned out that the passengers were simply waiting inside the jetway. Actual boarding started with group one at 7:40AM. Soon after, I found myself heading down the jetway.
Onboard, I was welcomed not only by the flight attendants but also by a pair of stuffed Yodas – one sitting on a crew jumpseat and another one in one of the galleys.
Soon after, I settled in my seat which – like all the others – had a C3PO-themed headrest cover.
The aircraft’s doors were closed at 8AM and at 8:06AM – six minutes behind schedule – we were pushed back. At the same time, an announcement where C3PO and R2D2 welcomed us onboard was played.
We taxied out at 8:10AM and six minutes later took off from Naha airport’s runway 18L. During the take-off as well as later on during the flight, I enjoyed some breathtaking views of clouds, the type of views that are part of the reason why I love flying so much.
While the flight’s drink service itself was the same as on the other flights, because I was on the C3PO Jet, the cabin crew was wearing C3PO-themed aprons. The drinks were served in C3PO-themed cups too.
At that point, I also asked the cabin crew if I could get a couple of empty cups and a boarding certificate for my collection. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the C3PO boarding certificates left but I got the cups, a C3PO postcard, and a “generic” boarding certificate.
The flight – and the mileage run – started nearing its end at 9:50AM when seatbelt signs were switched on in preparation for our landing in Tokyo. Sixteen minutes later, we landed on Haneda airport’s runway 34L, and shortly after that, another message from C3PO and R2D2 – this time saying they were looking forward to seeing us on our next flight – was played.
We arrived at gate 65 at 10:16AM – essentially on-time. From there it took another few minutes to get off the plane. While that marked the end of the mileage run, I stayed at the airport for a bit after getting off the plane. The weather was nice and so I decided to head to one of Haneda’s three observation decks and get some photos.
Starting at 4AM and ending close to midnight, the first day of the second part of my ANA mileage run was exhausting. That’s what made it fun, though. Whether it’s extra tight turnaround time in Memanbetsu or the delay in Osaka that allowed me to get a photo of Jinbei Jet, those are situations that I will remember for a long time. It was also great that I got to end the mileage run with a flight on the C3PO Jet – a special livery aircraft that I hadn’t flown on before.
All in all, the second part of the mileage run was successful too and – in addition to getting me the points necessary to earn the status I was after – left me with many good memories.
Now maybe I need to do similar JAL mileage run to earn a semi-lifetime Oneworld status?!