Date: July 22, 2017
Flight No.: GK121
Route: Tokyo Narita to Sapporo New Chitose
Airline: Jetstar Japan
Type: Airbus A320-200
As I decided to go to the Chitose Air Festival quite late, I didn’t have much choice in terms of cheap tickets. After a bit of looking around, I decided to book Jestar Japan from Tokyo Narita. The domestic hop to Sapporo cost 9,870 yen (about $ 90) including 15 kg of luggage.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Check-In at Narita Airport Terminal 3
Four Japanese low-cost carriers operate domestic flights out of Tokyo Narita – Jetstar Japan, Peach Aviation, Spring Japan, and Vanilla Air. All of them except for Peach operate out of Terminal 3, Narita’s low-cost terminal with floors designed like an athletic race track.
Right after getting to the airport at 2:35PM, exactly two hours before the scheduled departure, I headed towards Jetstar’s domestic check-in counters.
First, I went to one of the automated machines to get a boarding pass. There was more than ten of them, but for some reason only about three were operational.
In either case, there was not that many passengers, and so it was my turn within a minute or two. While during the booking, I decided not to pay for seat selection because of the short flight time, I got lucky. The machine assigned me seat 12D in the emergency exit row.
With a proper boarding pass (rather than one printed on a flimsy “fax” paper), I dropped my suitcase off at one of the counters and went through security. As for the boarding pass, the one interesting thing about it was that there was no mention of the departure time on it.
Sending Off Jetstar’s Spirder-Man While Waiting for My Flight
Once past the security, I walked through the plain (and at times warehouse-like looking) hallways to the waiting area for gates 161 to 175.
The waiting area is very simple, but sufficient – just like one could expect a low-cost terminal to be. Besides the necessary amenities like seats and rest rooms, there is also a Jetstar shop and a Vanilla Air vending machine area.
As I still had about an hour until boarding would start, I just spent it watching traffic through the terminal’s windows. The one that caught my attention the most was a Jetstar A320 decorated with Spider-Man decals.
It was not only interesting because of the livery, but also because it was pushed back with a remote controlled tow truck attached to the main rather than nose gear. Something that I saw for the first time.
Boarding the Jetstar Japan A320 With(out) Priority
Boarding started at 4:11PM, about twenty-five minutes before the scheduled departure time. First, passengers eligible for priority boarding were called. Given that I was assigned an emergency row seat, that included me.
As such, I handed over my boarding pass, and in no time, I was one of the first passengers to board the… Bus.
While I thought the bus would depart once all the priority boarding passengers got on board, I was mistaken. The bus was loaded with as many people as physically possible before finally making its way to the aircraft.
Given the way the bus parked next to the aircraft, that meant, that all the passengers that got on the bus first were the last ones to get off. So much for priority boarding.
Since I got the “perk” for free, I did not mind. However, I can imagine those actually paying for the privilege not being too happy about the situation.
After letting everyone get off the bus, I got off as well, took a couple more pictures, and headed onboard JA02JJ, the second A320 delivered to Jetstar Japan out of its current 21.
Departing Tokyo Narita Onboard Jetstar Japan
Immediately after getting onboard, I settled in my seat, 12D. Given that it was in an exit row, there was plenty of leg room.
Shortly after, an announcement was made suggesting passengers to use lavatories while on the ground if necessary, as seatbelt signs were expected to stay on for a while after take-off.
At 4:39PM, the doors were armed, and an announcement by the “customer service manager” was made introducing the flight deck crew and announcing the expected flight time of 1 hour and 13 minutes.
We pushed back at 4:41PM, slightly behind schedule, and four minutes later, we started taxiing towards the active runway.
In the meantime, the cabin crew announced that lights would be dimmed.
“For your comfort, there are also air vents above your head that you can activate by rotating,” he continued. I thought that was a really nice touch for a low-cost carrier, given that (unfortunately) many carriers nowadays do not even bother to install the individual air vents anymore.
The long taxi from Terminal 3 all the way to the other side of the airport was finished when, at 4:59PM, we lifted off sharply from runway 16R.
Cruising from Tokyo Narita to Sapporo New Chitose
Soon after take off, I fell asleep. I woke up about 25 minutes later to Captain’s announcement that we were climbing to 37,000 feet through some turbulent clouds – which was the reason for the seatbelt signs still being on. He also mentioned that our ETA was 6:20PM.
The seatbelt signs were finally switched off at 5:31PM – more than half an hour after take-off. With the signs off, the crew immediately sprung into action with the in-flight sales.
While I did not buy anything, I took the chance to have a look at what was in the seat pocket, as well as to see the menu slash catalogue.
After that, I worked a bit while enjoying the extended legroom.
Landing at Sapporo New Chitose Airport
At 5:46PM, the crew announced that the in-flight sales would be closed soon and that we would start descent in about 15 minutes. However, not even five minutes later, 5:50PM, the passengers could experience the first drop in altitude, and another four minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched on.
The landing gear was lowered at 6:10PM, and five minutes later, we landed on New Chitose airport’s runway 01R. Six minutes of taxiing followed, bringing us to gate 19 at 6:21PM – just one minute after our scheduled arrival time.
I got off the aircraft, and after waiting for my bag for a couple of minutes, I joined my friends with whom I went to the Chitose Air Festival the next day.