Flight Review: ANA 737-800 Economy Class from Sapporo to Naha Okinawa

Flight Review: ANA 737-800 Economy Class from Sapporo to Naha Okinawa

For quite some time, I wanted to fly on the longest domestic flight in Japan from Sapporo on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido to Naha on the southernmost main island of Okinawa. The ANA flight is operated by a Boeing 737-800 and covers a distance of 1,392 miles – oftentimes clocking in at more than three hours of flight time.

In July, I had a chance to finally take it when making my way back from Sapporo to Tokyo via Okinawa for just 5,000 United miles. Keep on reading to see what the flight was like.

Departing Sapporo Bound for Naha on Japan’s Longest Flight

After spending a couple of days in Sapporo visiting Chitose Air Festival and doing some spotting, it was time to check out of the ANA Crowne Plaza Chitose hotel and head to the airport.

There, after dropping my bag at the automated baggage drop-off machine, I headed to the ANA Lounge with Yukihiro who I was traveling with. The lounge was recently reopened after renovation, and I reviewed it here.

Sapporo Airport
Sapporo airport terminal.
ANA Automated Baggage Check-in
Automated baggage check-in.
Airside at Sapporo Airport
Airside.

About twenty minutes before the scheduled departure time of 10:45AM, we left the lounge, grabbed a bento (lunch box) from one of the airport shops, and headed to the departure gate where a wi-fi equipped Boeing 737-800, JA78AN, was already waiting and boarding was already in progress.

We got in the queue, and soon after, we found ourselves heading down the jetway into the aircraft. In the jetway, there was a basket with earphones available for passengers to take.

ANA 737-800 at Sapporo New Chitose
ANA 737-800.
Earphones
Earphones.
ANA Free Onboard Wi-Fi
The aircraft was equipped with free wi-fi.
Boarding ANA 737-800
Almost onboard.

Shortly after everyone was settled in their seats, one of the cabin crew members passed through the cabin offering blankets. Then, at 10:36AM, the doors were closed, and at 10:42 – three minutes ahead of schedule – we were pushed back.

We started taxiing towards the active runway at 10:49AM, and at exactly 11AM, we took off from 01L. We made a right turn right after take-off, and flew past the airport before setting course for Naha.

Blanket
Blanket.
Sapporo Airport Terminal
ANA 777 and Air Do 737.
Lining Up
Lining up on runway 01L.
Sapporo New Chitose Airport
View of New Chitose airport shortly after take-off.
Sapporo New Chitose Airport
Sapporo New Chitose’s unique round terminal.

Cruising Towards Okinawa

The seatbelt signs were switched off at 11:08AM – just as we were reaching Hokkaido’s third largest city – Hakodate. Not long after that, the in-flight service commenced.

While passengers in premium class received a meal, in economy class, only drinks were offered. Like on all the domestic flights I take nowadays, I went for a combination of juice and consommé soup.

Hakodate
Hakodate.
ANA In-Flight Menu
Menu.
ANA In-Flight Service on Domestic Flights
Consomme soup and apple juice.

Around 11:30AM, the cockpit crew made an announcement that we were flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet. By this time, I was done with the drinks and working on the report about my flight on SOFIA.

In the meantime, Yukihiro was checking FlightRadar24 courtesy of the free onboard wi-fi, waiting for a Thai 777-300ER heading from Sapporo to Bangkok to overtake us. What a sight it was!

Working in the Skies
Working on the NASA report.
Air-to-Air with a Thai 777-300ER
Thai 777-300ER air-to-air.
ANA Boeing 737-800 Cabin
A view of the cabin during the flight.

Not long after that, we overflew MCAS Iwakuni and around the same time, I decided to have lunch – the salmon, salmon roe, and crab bento that I bought earlier at the airport.

MCAS Iwakuni
MCAS Iwakuni.
In-Flight Map
Almost leaving mainland Japan.
Lunch
Lunch.

Finally, during the flight, one of the cabin attendants came to return flight log to Yukihiro that he asked her to fill out and along the way she brought us some postcards and other memorabilia as well.

ANA Goods
Flight certificate and post cards.

Landing in Okinawa

At 1:30PM, the cabin crew made an announcement that it was sunny and 31 degrees in Naha, and that we would be landing in about 30 to 40 minutes. Not long after that, some of the small Okinawan islands started appearing outside the window signaling that the flight was coming to an end.

Okinawa
Reaching Okinawa.
Okinawa Islands
First islands in sight.

Then, at 2:03PM, the pilots lowered the landing gear. We landed at 2:05PM, and just five minutes later, we parked at our arrival gate.

Descending
Descending.
F-15s at Naha Air Base
F-15s at Naha air base.
Naha Airport Terminal
Naha airport terminal.

Not long after that, we disembarked, picked up our luggage, and headed out of the airport to see a bit of the island before continuing to Tokyo the next day.

ANA Premium Class
Premium class.
Luggage Carousel
Luggage carousel in Naha.

ANA 737-800 Economy Class Sapporo – Okinawa Summary

In most aspects, the flight was a standard Japanese domestic flight. However, from an “avgeek perspective,” I really enjoyed the flight given that it is the longest domestic route in Japan. And, the air-to-air session with the Thai 777-300ER was a nice bonus!

That said, given that the flight was over three hours, I would have appreciated if ANA served at least a light snack (perhaps its packaged rice crackers) in spite of it being a domestic flight.


Three tips before you get on the road...

For your convenience: Price comparison sites

When searching for flights and accommodation, use comparison sites that will summarize prices from a variety of sources including the airline sites and online travel agencies for you. I recommend HotelsCombined for comparing hotel prices and Momondo for comparing flight prices.

For your comfort: Unlimited airport lounge access

If you generally fly in economy class and don’t have an airline status, I recommend considering a Priority Pass Prestige membership which will give you unlimited access to over 1,200 lounges at more than 500 airports all over the world.

For your peace of mind: Travel insurance

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage - whether through your credit card or through insurance policy purchased separately. This will help save your trip when you get sick or things stolen on the road, in other words, when things go wrong. In case you didn't get your travel insurance yet, I recommend getting a free quote from World Nomads.

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