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To The Land of Endless Discovery - II : HND CTS OKD HKD

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Joined: 04 Sep 2009
Posts: 3210
Location: MAA/AMD

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:45 pm    Post subject: To The Land of Endless Discovery - II : HND CTS OKD HKD Reply with quote

Hi All,

This is the second part of my TR, covering the flight from HND to northern island of Hokkaido, and an intra island flight.

Ideally, this being an aviation forum, I should primarily be covering the 2 flights, I intend to focus on, however to maintain the flow, the following is what you should expect, in the order defined,

HND Spotting -> HND-CTS -> Exploring Sapporo and Surrounding areas -> OKD Spotting -> OKD-HKD -> End

Right then,

Booking Intra-Japan tickets is very straight forward if you're a foreign passport holder. JAL and ANA have these Japan Explorer Fares which are capped by distance and are fixed. This HND-CTS ticket was booked using the JAL website, and cost me INR 6K, approx, which is decent for a 1:20 hr flight.

JL 523
28 May 2017
16:30 17:50

Keeping in mind the 16:30 departure, and the fact that my i'd be thrown out of my capsule in Tsukiji at 1030 exact, I decided to take it easy on the day of this journey, no venturing out into Tokyo, just decided to head off to HND, check out the spotting deck, and comfortably head onto the 375 seater 772 to CTS. One of the Ginza Stations was about a 15 min walk from my hotel,

Direct services to NRT and HND

Relatively empty for a Sunday mid morning ride

HND Station

The station is between the two domestic terminals, I went off to T1, the JL terminal

Check IN Area

Now here's the thing about Japanese airports, they're essentially like Shopping malls with an airport.

So all 3 terminals in HND were 5-7 floored buildings, with the airport on 1-3, and 4-7 being large shopping areas. The top floor is essentially restaurants + a large spotting deck.

Checked in, in under a minute, was one of only a handful of people who actually used a counter to check in, most people were using the kiosks and dropping their bags.

I had two requests for the extremely courteous agent who was checking me in, a) window please, which was easy and straightforward, and I got the window; b) what are the loads for today, which drew a blank.
I had to write it down on a blank paper (offered by her) for her to understand what I was trying to imply (all this which she was courteous and willing to help), to which she said “Oh ! I understand ! 6 seats open” !

Now knowing and seeing how open Japanese airports are, I did something that is unthinkable here in India.

After checking in my bag, and getting a boarding pass, I went to the arrivals area, went outside, caught an inter HND Free Shuttle and went to the ANA Terminal (T2) !

Free Shuttle

ANA Check IN Area

Towards the spotting deck

!! Kids !

NH 772 [PW Engines !]

Star Wars !

It was very windy and I did all in my power to, not change to the larger lens outside, in such weather, I partially succeeded, on the ANA deck.

The following 2 pics would have come off significantly better with the 55-250 mm lens

Spent 30 odd mins here, and went off to the international terminal [via the same route]

At this point, seeing the active runway ahead of me, I basically overcame whatever was stopping me from changing my lens, and made the switch !


At this point, with only 1:15 hrs to go to my flight, from a different terminal, alone, in an airport where the airline staff didn’t speak English, and after being forewarned about the loss of track of time while on one of these decks, I was panicky.

And yet, somehow, waited another 5 mins for this

Rushed down to arrivals, got onto the bus, reached the JAL terminal, and yes, got onto the elevator and hit Floor 7 [Observation Deck] instead of 3 [Departures].

Light at this time was odd.

With literally 50 mins to go, ran back downstairs, went through an empty security check, and went to the gate, all of which took 10 mins !
Efficiency !

JAL Terminal post security was nowhere as good as the DEL/BOM we’ve become used to, was efficient and a to the point setup.

At this point, I was tired and hungry [1555 ish and had eaten zilch since moring]

Meal with a view !

Boarding time

Yep. 1610 for a 1630 flight. 375 seater 1630 flight time, mind you.

JA772A had docked onto the gate ! Appropriate registration !

Boarding process was almost exactly the same as it was in DEL. Same signs, same order.

Boarding itself was disciplined and orderly.

Pushed back on schedule

350 !

That runway, under the wing, is active. Which is why the steepish angle on take off.

Aircraft on finals.

My First sighting of the summit of Mt Fuji !


JL has free WiFI for all domestic operations [GoGo], which is switched on 5 mins after take off and switched around 10 mins before landing.

Neat interface, quickly created an account, decent speeds, clearly mentioned in the disclaimer while creating the account that they don’t support Youtube / Netflix streaming.

Post landing sent in an invoice of JPY 0 too.

Only service during the flight was a drinks run, and I had the JAL Skytime drink.


Very low visibility and rain in CTS

Domestic J

My return was from a different airport, so made my way up to the spotters deck for 10 mins, although, it would take a lot to match up to HND

CTS airport is about 70 odd kms away from Sapporo, took a train to Sapporo Station

Hokkaido, is the northern island of Japan, it’s the least developed [relatively speaking] of all of Japan’s prefectures, and it full of semi active volcanos, lakes, capes!

Had booked two full day bus tours to explore the island, the two days I was in Sapporo.

Lake Shikotsu

Lake Toya-Ko

Lunch !

Went up onto this Mountain, Mt Usu, which had erupted as late as 2000 !

Smoking crater of Mt usu !

Lake Toya from Mt Usu

Edo Fuji

Silo Observatory


Cape Shakoten

The amazing Cape Kamui

Sea of Japan

Boating in the sea of japan with sea gulls

Flight 3

Sapporo has 2 airports, CTS airport, the major one, and Okadama Airport [OKD] for tiny intra Hokkaido flights on regional jets.

Japan Airlines operates these flights under Hokkaido Air System, which operates 20 year old SAAB 340s.

Intention was to go to Hakodate, the southern tip of Hokkaido.
Booking was done via the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, again, and this ticket was a measly INR 2400/-

JAL 2753
SAAB 340
16:10 – 16:50

Set off leisurely in the morning for OKD airport.

1.3 km walk to OKD Airport

Cute looking airport

Check in

To the observation deck !

Same aircraft will be back later to fly me to HKD

Fuji Dream Airlines

Notice how the aircraft makes a U turn

Made my way to the tiny departure lounge.

Boarding was announced 15 mins before the schd departure time

I wanted a seat behind the wing, seeing how the aircraft was half empty, I expressed my desire to switch to the sole FA, to which she said “No NoNo, no switching seats, aircraft balance problem, only exchange”

Started up on schedule

Finals into HKD

Air Do [ANA Subsidiary]

Both pilots waved good bye!

Collected my bag and went onto the shuttle service to Hakodate city.

All in all, it was a fun travelling on JAL Domestic flights, both HND-CTS and OKD-HKD.

The efficiency and the sheer size of operations at HND Airport will amaze you.

JAL was typical. Courteous, cheerful. The amazing boarding music !

Planes were comfortable, clean as any plane you can imagine and the

SAAB 340 was a lovely addition to my flown aircraft list.

Hokkaido was everything I expected. This was more of a family place, larger the group, more the fun, but honestly, every corner you turn up on, was beautiful !

The next and last part of this report will cover the 12 odd hours I had at HKD, HKD-HND and my flight back to DEL.

Thanks for reading
Causal Determinism : We are hardwired to need answers. The Caveman who heard a rustle in the bushes and checked out to see what it was, lived longer than the guy, who assumed it was just a breeze.

- Greg House
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4482
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rishul: you have possibly redefined awesomeness in this TR.
What amazing photography skills you have!
I seem to be a complete stupid oaf who missed the NRT spotting gallery completely: I had the wrong impression that it was after check-in. I could only console myself thinking that well, this is possibly closer to the action. Anyway, I did not have that much time, either.
Every airport with a spotting gallery, and you still making it there: and getting us so many awesome photographs of the action. Thank you!
The just making it to the gate in a foreign airport while going click-click all the way is something I have often done, and experienced.
Your pics from the air are breathtaking...the reflections, the clouds, the colours...sheer magic. And what amazing pictures of Hokkaido! You have captured Mother Nature in all her glory.
I also presume that tarmac photography was definitely not an issue.
Keep it coming, Rishul...I look forward to much more!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Location: MAA/AMD

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're too kind Sumantra sir, photos are ok at best, there are many here who would have done an awesome job.

Just one thing though, spotting was at HND, not NRT. Spotting at NRT is only a fraction of what spotting at HND was like.

This is perhaps the longest TR I've written !

Thank you
Causal Determinism : We are hardwired to need answers. The Caveman who heard a rustle in the bushes and checked out to see what it was, lived longer than the guy, who assumed it was just a breeze.

- Greg House
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a bow my friend ... a brilliant pictorial trip report. ... absolutely stunning ..

lovely pics oh HND CTS and hakodate ... even the regional airports are so well spaced...

thanks for sharing
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Joined: 16 May 2017
Posts: 17
Location: Bangalore, Ann Arbor

PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Breath taking spotting pictures! I really loved them. Great TR as well:)

It would be nice if some of the Indian Airports have spotting decks.
Best regards,
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Posts: 3584
Location: Pune,Maharashtra

PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mt. Fuji . . stunning !

Thanks for the TR . . Hopefully someday I will win something which will take me somewhere

Glad you got lucky Wink
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