Flight Review: Star Wars BB-8™ ANA Jet Inaugural, from Osaka to Tokyo

Star Wars BB-8™ ANA Jet Pt. 2: The Inaugural

(Flown on March 28, 2016)

This is the second half of a report about my trip to Osaka in March 2016 to catch the BB-8 Jet roll-out and inaugural flight. This part covers the second day of the trip during which I took the first flight of the BB-8 Jet from Osaka Itami to Tokyo Haneda. To read about the roll-out on the first day of the trip, click here.

The Light Side: BB-8 Jet Daylight Shooting

The morning of the inaugural flight started with a quick breakfast at the hotel before taking the shuttle bus to the terminal where Yukihiro (who I was traveling with) and I met several other enthusiasts on the observation deck.

The single shot I took on the deck that day – JAL’s 777 in OneWorld colors.

As the light was becoming unsuitable for photography from the observation deck, we headed through the security into the passenger-only area. We all headed to gate 22 which offered nice views of spot 53 where the BB-8 Jet was parked overnight.

BB-8 Cluttered
Here it is – the ANA BB-8 Jet. Sunny, but still cluttered with car and stairs.
The windows next to gate 22 offer nice view of aircraft taxiing into and out of the commuter ramp.
BB-8 Cloudy
Of course once the clutter got out of the way, a cloud had to get in the way ruining the photo!

Once the towing truck started moving to transfer the aircraft to the departure gate 10 for its first flight to Osaka, we all ran across the whole terminal to be able to take another picture of it without clutter.

BB-8 Pulling Into the Gate
We managed to outrun the aircraft and see the BB-8 Jet being pulled into gate 10.
BB-8 at Gate
…and one more, wide-angle, shot.

Several photos later, Yukihiro and I went to the lounge to take a break as the 600 metre run across the terminal was quite tiring.

ANA Lounge
Ginger ale and rice crackers in the ANA Lounge.

Stepping Onboard the BB-8 Jet Inaugural Flight

We left the lounge a little more than 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 11:00AM. At that time, a long queue was already formed in front of gate 10, but the boarding was not in progress yet.

BB-8 Jet
Almost ready for its first flight!
Excited passengers waiting for the boarding to start.

Shortly before 11AM, the boarding finally started. Premium Class and status holders first, followed by the rest including me.

During boarding, announcements were being made at the gate to make sure everyone got their gift bag in the jetway. The nice ANA and Star Wars themed bag came with a Star Wars neck strap and a clear file that had nothing to do with the flight but was more of an ANA’s promotion.

Gift Bags
Gift bags being handed out by ANA staff inside the boarding bridge.
Bridge View
View of the aircraft from the window of the boarding bridge.

After getting onboard, I settled into my seat, but not too long as then I walked around the cabin for a while taking pictures. Once boarding was complete and the seat belt sign was switched on, I headed back to my economy class seat.

Right after boarding, I handed my logbook to one of the flight attendants – here she is noting down my seat number.
Boarding still in progress – the flight was completely sold out.
One of the galleys – notice the Darth Vader sitting on the counter.
Darth Vader
Closer view of the Darth Vader. It was used as a bowl for candies.

Since the BB-8 aircraft is in international four class configuration, the luckier few got to sit in the business and premium economy class cabins for the price of an economy class ticket. The actual business class passengers got to enjoy the first class cabin on this short flight.

Boarding Complete
View of the business class cabin (occupied by economy class passengers) shortly after all passengers got onboard.

Cruising to Tokyo at the Speed of Light

The BB-8 Jet was pushed back for a commercial service for the first time at 11:15, and at 11:22 we started taxiing towards runway 32L. Those who were lucky to be seated next to the window could see ANA staff holding banners welcoming the BB-8 Jet into the fleet.

After about five minutes of taxiing we reached runway 32L, and at 11:28 the BB-8 Jet took off into the skies with passengers onboard for the first time.

The seatbelt signs were switched only 4 minutes after take-off while still in a steep climb. With the signs off, the enthusiasts sprang into action and started enjoying the flight fully and photographing everything.

Steep Climb
We were still in steep climb (the camera was indicating the photo as being level), yet the seat belt signs were already switched off.
While a lot of people started walking around the cabin, some people prefered to relax. Some even took it to the extreme of sleeping on a flat bed seat on a 45 minute flight!

In the meantime, the crew was getting ready – putting on their new BB-8-themed aprons – for the drink service. They had very short time to serve a completely full Triple Seven while having to deal with aisles clogged with enthusiasts.

BB-8 Aprons
Cabin crew putting on their brand new BB-8 aprons and getting ready for the drink service.
Drink Service
The simple drink service was more than sufficient for the 45 minute long flight.

During the flight, the Captain came on the PA and did the typical announcement in a not so typical way…

“Thank you very much for flying the BB-8 Jet today. There is two of us in the flight deck today – Han Solo and Chewbacca – that will be flying you to Tokyo. Apologies for departing the Osaka airport Resistance Base with a delay. Our expected flight time today is 47 minutes. As such, our arrival at Haneda airport where Luke Skywalker is waiting will be about 10 minutes late. To make up for the delay, we will fly at the speed of light.”

The rest of the flight I spent walking around the cabin, enjoying the aircraft and taking pictures.

Business Class Seat
Testing out Yukihiro’s business class seat – next time I have to be faster and grab one for myself as well!
The aircraft features BB-8 themed aprons, cups, napkins and headrest covers. The headrests were all gone within few minutes of landing.
Drink Service
Drink service still going on – it takes a while to serve a sold out flight!
In-Flight Sales
Once the drink service was finished, the flight attendants had to deal with in-flight shopping requests.
Me and an FA
A quick photo inbetween the sales!

Shortly before the seatbelt signs were switched on, we encountered a fairly strong turbulence – it was interesting to see people balancing and taking photos of the crew to get their best shot of the BB-8 apron.

BB-8 Apron
BB-8 apron photography during turbulence – shortly after this photo, we had to return to our seats as the seat belt sign was switched on.
Economy Class
A quick snap of the asymmetrical “2-4-3” economy class cabin on the way back to my seat.

Arriving in Tokyo: Where’s Luke?

Around noon, the seatbelt sign was switched on again as we were descending towards Tokyo by that time, and so I returned to my seat.

My Seat
My seat – very comfortable, could definitely imagine spending 10 hours in the seat on the HND-LAX flight that the aircraft will operate for a while.

At 12:11, we lowered our landing gear, and three minutes later at 12:14, we touched down on runway 34R of Haneda airport.

Braking action on Haneda’s runway 34R.

We reached our arrival gate – gate 53 – at 12:17, and before disembarking I took a look around the aircraft once again.

Before landing, the flight attendants walked around the cabin with tens of logbooks apologizing for not being able to fill them out due to lack of time. Luckily, I got one of them to fill out at least some of the data after landing.
Business Class
Business class seat.
First Class
First class seat.

During disembarking, the crew was handing out post cards of the BB-8 Jet as well as the Star Wars Jet (767), and BB-8 Jet flight certificates.

Certificates and Postcards
One of the crew members posing with the BB-8 postcard and flight certificate card.

While Luke Skywalker wasn’t waiting for us as promised by Captain Han Solo, Yoda was there to send passengers off at L1 door.

Yoda was sending passengers off from the comfort of the jumpseat while his colleague was handing out postcards and flight certificates.


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