On January 1 every year, Japanese airlines including ANA and JAL among others operate “first sunrise flights,” i.e. sightseeing flights which allow the passengers to see the first sunrise of the year from the air.
Yesterday, ANA announced the details of next year’s first sunrise flight to be operated on January 1, 2020. Coincidentally, it will also be the airline’s 20th such flight.
ANA’s 2020 First Sunrise Flight
Having operated a first sunrise flight every year since 2001, ANA has been offering these special flights the longest of all Japanese airlines.
Next year’s first sunrise flight, aptly sporting the flight number NH2020, is scheduled to take off from Tokyo Haneda airport at 5:30AM.
It’s scheduled to allow passengers to see the first sunrise of the year above Nagano with views of Mt. Fuji before returning to Haneda at 8:00AM. The January 1, 2020, sunrise time at Mt. Fuji is 6:54AM.
ANA plans to use Boeing 787-8 aircraft on the flight.
The flight can only be booked by ANA Mileage Club members as a tour through ANA Traveler’s. It will go on sale on November 12, 2019, and packages for two people will cost:
- 70,000 yen (650 dollars) for two middle section seats
- 90,000 yen (830 dollars) for a pair of seats including an overwing window seat
- 100,000 yen (920 dollars) for a pair of seats including a non-overwing window seat
Each pair of passengers will have their own row of three seats. Groups of three can book the tours for extra 10,000 yen (90 dollars) in addition to the prices above.
Included in the tour price are the flight, a bento (meal), a boarding certificate, and a small gift.
You can see a report of ANA’s 2019 first sunrise flight here. The text is in Japanese, but the pictures should be more than enough to tell the story.
JAL and Other Airlines’ 2020 First Sunrise Flights
ANA’s biggest competitor, JAL, has been operating first sunrise flights every year since 2009. While in 2009 it only operated such a flight from Narita airport, since 2010, it’s been operating two every year – one from Narita and one from Haneda.
While the detailed schedule and pricing of the flights is not known yet, JAL will operate its Haneda flight with a 767-300ER in domestic configuration and its Narita flight with a 787-8 in international configuration.
First class will only be available to JAL credit card holders.
In addition to that, JAL will also operate a first sunrise flight out of Honolulu – first time for a Japanese airline to offer this type of flight outside of Japan.
The flight is scheduled to depart Honolulu airport around 6:00AM, offer its passengers views of sunrise above Mauna Kea, and then return to land back in Honolulu around 8:00AM. It will be operated by a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717.
Other airlines including StarFlyer and Fuji Dream Airlines (FDA) are expected to operate special flights on the morning of January 1, 2020, as well.
FDA’s flight – offered in cooperation with the Japanese travel agency JTB – will operate from the airline’s hub in Nagoya.
StarFlyer plans to operate one flight from its home, Kitakyushu, and one from its main hub, Tokyo Haneda. It’s currently running a promotion in which it will offer a total of 70 groups of up to three people free seats across the two flights.
Japan is most certainly one of most, if not the most aviation enthusiast-friendly countries in the world. Ranging from free hangar tours through excellent observation deck all the way to special flights like this, the country has it all.
Considering the importance of the New Year to the Japanese, I think the first sunrise flights are a great tradition. Starting with ANA two decades ago, other airlines have followed the trend – and now, passengers have quite a few options to choose from.
While I already have plans for January 1, 2020, I certainly hope to have a chance to take one of these flights in the future too – perhaps on January 1, 2021!