My 7 Favorite Flights of 2023: My Daughter’s First Flight, a Quad Prop Flight & More

Happy New Year!

With 2024 here, it’s time to look back at the flying I did over the last year. While I’ll be writing a full recap of the year later on like I did last year (and have been doing since 2016), I’ll first start by looking at some of my favorite flights from last year.

In 2023, I took 40 flights (adding up to just over 52 thousand miles – the most since the start of the pandemic). Below are the most memorable seven out of those.

Air Tindi Dash 7 on an Unpaved Runway
Flying on a Dash 7 and landing on a gravel runway in the north of Canada was not only one of my most unforgettable flights of 2023 but also one of my most unforgettable flights, period.

#1: My Daughter’s First Flight

Since the day my daughter was born at the end of 2022 (even before that, actually…), one of the things I was looking forward to a lot was taking her on her first flight. That happened on her half-birthday when we took a family trip to Osaka and Kochi.

The flight itself was nothing out of the ordinary – it was a regular flight from Tokyo to Osaka Itami on an ANA 777-200ER. Perhaps the one thing that made it stand out was that it was the first ANA flight I took after the airline started offering Coca-Cola and iced coffee in domestic economy class.

For me, however, it was the most special flight of (not only) 2023.

Daughter's First Flight
My daughter slept through most of her first (albeit short) flight.

#2: My Daughter’s First Flight to Europe

One more flight that made it to this list thanks to a “personal connection” rather than because of itself is an EVA Air 787-9 economy class flight from Taipei Taoyuan to Vienna I took with my family. This was my daughter’s second international flight (after our flight from Tokyo to Taipei) and her first long-haul flight.

What made it special, though, was that it was her first flight to Vienna – my former “home airport.” There, we were picked up by my sister and spent over a month at my parents’ place (and traveling around Europe a bit).

While I barely got any sleep on this flight, it was still great. As a kid, I used to visit my grandparents in Japan every year and I was happy to be able to start that tradition for my daughter – just in the other direction.

Daughter'r First Time in Europe
She did not do nearly as well on her first long-haul but did really well on the subsequent three later in the year.

#3: Air Tindi Dash 7 from Yellowknife to Łutsel K’e

It’s no secret that over the years, it became impossible (or nearly impossible) to fly on many older aircraft types. That said, there are still plenty of interesting aircraft types that can be flown on slightly off-the-beaten-path routes. One such aircraft is the quad prop de Havilland Canada Dash 7.

On my trip to Yellowknife in May, I had a chance to fly on an Air Tindi one from Yellowknife Airport to Łutsel K’e – a community of just over 300 people about 120 miles to the east of Yellowknife. Normally, the flight is operated by the much more common Twin Otter but on the day I took the flight, bulky cargo needed to be transported.

The flight was my second quad prop flight ever and my first one since flying on an Il-18 in North Korea back in 2016. The scenery was great and landing on Łutsel K’e Airport’s gravel runway looked like landing on Mars. What was, perhaps, the most amazing, though, was seeing the crucial role the aircraft plays in supplying the communities around Yellowknife.

Air Tindi Dash 7 Flight to Lutselk'e
Four-engined aircraft are few and far between these days and quad props are even rarer.

#4: Aeroexpress Regional EMB-120 from Cluj-Napoca to Budapest

Another nowadays rare turboprop aircraft that I had a chance to try for the first time in 2023 was the Embraer EMB-120. While the aircraft can also be flown on domestic flights in Finland, I flew on it on a flight from Cluj-Napoca in Romania to Budapest in Hungary.

Three things about the flight were more memorable than others: the bulkhead row’s tray table which looked more like a diaper changing table and served passengers in both of the seats on the right side of the aircraft, the vibrations that would have been annoying if I considered it a “regular” flight but were fun in this case, and the service which included free snacks.

Aeroexpress Regional EMB-120
Aeroexpress Regional uses Budapest Air Service’s EMB-120s.

#5: Asiana Airlines 747-400 from Seoul Incheon to Tokyo Narita

With there being only one true Queen of the Skies – the 747 – and having only flown on one once last year, the flight had to make it to this list. In fact, the whole purpose of the short trip to Korea I took back in April was to fly on Asiana Airlines’ sole remaining 747-400.

Even though I was traveling on a short-haul flight in 2023, the experience felt like a long-haul flight in 2003.

I loved everything about the flight, starting from seeing the distinct shape of the 747 behind the large window panes of Seoul Incheon Airport’s terminal through walking down the aisle past the 747’s stairwell to hearing the sound of the aircraft’s CF-6 engines.

Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-400 Cockpit Window Cleaning
Asiana’s sole remaining passenger 747-400 getting cleaned shortly before taking me and hundreds of other lucky passengers to Tokyo.

#6: Finnair AirLounge Business Class from Helsinki to Tokyo Haneda

Compared to previous years, I did very little flying in premium classes in 2023.

The only two flights were when I was making my way home from Yellowknife via Europe when I flew from Vienna to Tokyo Haneda via Helsinki. The reason I chose that itinerary was to try Finnair’s relatively new AirLounge business class seat which made the headlines for being non-reclinable.

While I didn’t find the seat to be revolutionary compared to the more standard reverse herringbone and staggered seats, it did not disappoint either. That said, it still felt a bit weird putting my head down on the seat itself rather than on the headrest when going to sleep.

Finnair A350 AirLounge Business Class Seat in Bed Mode
I didn’t find the AirLounge seat more comfortable than more traditional seats but it wasn’t less comfortable either.

#7: Solaseed Air Nassy Jet (Pokemon Jet) Inaugural

Over the last couple of years, quite a few different Pokemon liveries started flying around the world. While most of those are part of the Pokemon Air Adventures series, there are a couple in Japan that are not.

One of those is Air Do’s Rokon Jet which made its debut back in 2021 and the other one is Solaseed Air’s Nassy Jet which flew for the first time in 2023. I had a chance to be on both of the aircraft’s inaugural flights. The Nassy Jet inaugural was my only “event” flight of the year.

I first flew on the aircraft from Tokyo Haneda to Miyazaki on what was technically the livery’s inaugural. Then, after an inaugural ceremony at Miyazaki Airport, I flew on the aircraft on to Naha in Okinawa. That was the official inaugural.

Solaseed Air Nassy (Exeggutor) Jet Inaugural Flight Ribbon Cut
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Miyazaki before the livery’s official inaugural.

Summary

This year, the list of my favorite flights looks very different from what it would look like in other years for one reason – my daughter taking her first flights.

Other than that, the flights that stood out the most included flights on a couple of rarer aircraft types including the Dash 7, EMB-120, and 747; the Nassy Jet inaugural; and the flight on Finnair’s A350 AirLounge business class seat.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How Can I Help You?