Date: July 12, 2018
Flight No.: JC3745
Route: Kagoshima to Yakushima
Airline: JAC Japan Air Commuter
Type: Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
Japan Air Commuter is a Japan Airlines’ subsidiary based in Kagoshima that mainly operates short commuter flights within Kyushu. To do so, the airline uses a fleet of ATRs, Dash 8 Q400s, and Saab 340s.
I used JAC’s services back in July when I flew on their Q400 between Kagoshima and Yakushima. While the airline is currently in the process of retiring its Q400s (with the last scheduled flight taking place at the end of November), this review should still give you a good idea of what flying with JAC is like regardless of the aircraft type that happens to be operating your flight.
Departing Kagoshima Airport on a JAC Dash 8 Q400
Since I had a couple of hours to spare at Kagoshima airport before this flight was scheduled to depart, I visited the airport’s observation deck and small aviation exhibition. Then, after clearing security, I headed to JAL Sakura Lounge.
I left the lounge at 10:40AM and headed to gate 11 where the flight was scheduled to depart from at 11:05AM.
Boarding started ten minutes before departure at which point I scanned my boarding pass, and headed down the stairs into a bus that was ready to take us on a short “apron tour” and towards the aircraft.
After a minute long ride, we were dropped of in front of JA844C, one of Japan Air Commuter’s (at the time of writing) three remaining Dash 8 Q400s.
Onboard, my bag didn’t fit into the Q400’s small overhead compartment. However, it had no trouble fitting under the seat in front of me, and so, I was settled in my window seat, 2A, in no time.
Since JAL group leaves its window shades down whenever possible during the summer to keep the cabin as cool as possible, I opened mine to see the outside world, and waited for our departure.
The pilots fired up the two engines at 11:08AM. Around the same time, the cabin crew performed the safety demonstration. We were on our way to the active runway just two minutes later – with a five-minute delay.
We took off from runway 34 at 11:14AM, made a left turn, and set our course to Yakushima which is located south of Kagoshima.
Japan Air Commuter Onboard Service
Less than five minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were switched off and so the in-flight service could begin.
First, the crew made an announcement about a contest run in celebration of Tokyo Disney Resort’s 35th anniversary. Around the same time, I also decided to take a quick look into the seat pocket which contained a card detailing the aforementioned contest, a safety card, waste bag, and a couple of magazines.
Then, candies were handed out just as we were flying past Kaimondake volcano and leaving mainland Kyushu behind us.
Finally, Japan Air Commuter’s route map which also contained ads for some local travel-related businesses was handed out and in-flight sales of some local produce were done. Not long after that, we flew past Takeshima and Iojima – two of the many islands in the Osumi archipelago to which Yakushima belongs as well.
Arriving in Yakushima
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 11:27AM. We started our descent, the pilots informed us that it was sunny and 28 degrees in Yakushima. Just a couple of minutes after that, we were flying along Yakushima’s coast and I could enjoy my first sights of the beautiful island.
We landed on Yakushima airport’s runway 14 at 11:39AM and after slowing down and reaching the 32 end of the runway, we made a 180-degree turn and backtracked to the small terminal.
The aircraft came to a full stop at 11:41AM – about half an hour after leaving Kagoshima – and just a couple of minutes after that, we could disembark. Before disembarking, passengers were asked to close the window shades for “eco” reasons.
Once off the aircraft and inside the terminal, I picked up my bag in an area which looked more like a post office than an airport, met with a guide my girlfriend had booked for us, and headed for a hike to Shiratani Unsuikyo – more about that in the next instalment, though.
Japan Air Commuter Dash 8 Q400 Kagoshima – Yakushima Summary
There are generally two ways to get to the bigger islands around Kyushu – a ferry or a JAC flight. While the former is cheaper, the latter can often be a bit quicker, even accounting for the time spent traveling to and from the airport. Also, given that Kagoshima airport is quite far from Kagoshima city, if you are just transferring there on your way from Tokyo or other parts of Japan to some of the islands off Kagoshima coast, then the airplane is a better option.
That said, based on our guide, when taking the ferry between Kagoshima and Yakushima, it’s possible to spot dolphins and other wildlife from time to time, and so, the next time I’m planning to go the slower way!