(Flown on March 28, 2016)
This is the second half of a report about my trip to Osaka in March 2016 to catch the BB-8 Jet roll-out and inaugural flight. This part covers the second day of the trip during which I took the first flight of the BB-8 Jet from Osaka Itami to Tokyo Haneda. To read about the roll-out on the first day of the trip, click here.
The Light Side: BB-8 Jet Daylight Shooting
The morning of the inaugural flight started with a quick breakfast at the hotel before taking the shuttle bus to the terminal where Yukihiro (who I was traveling with) and I met several other enthusiasts on the observation deck.
As the light was becoming unsuitable for photography from the observation deck, we headed through the security into the passenger-only area. We all headed to gate 22 which offered nice views of spot 53 where the BB-8 Jet was parked overnight.
Once the towing truck started moving to transfer the aircraft to the departure gate 10 for its first flight to Osaka, we all ran across the whole terminal to be able to take another picture of it without clutter.
Several photos later, Yukihiro and I went to the lounge to take a break as the 600 metre run across the terminal was quite tiring.
Stepping Onboard the BB-8 Jet Inaugural Flight
We left the lounge a little more than 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 11:00AM. At that time, a long queue was already formed in front of gate 10, but the boarding was not in progress yet.
Shortly before 11AM, the boarding finally started. Premium Class and status holders first, followed by the rest including me.
During boarding, announcements were being made at the gate to make sure everyone got their gift bag in the jetway. The nice ANA and Star Wars themed bag came with a Star Wars neck strap and a clear file that had nothing to do with the flight but was more of an ANA’s promotion.
After getting onboard, I settled into my seat, but not too long as then I walked around the cabin for a while taking pictures. Once boarding was complete and the seat belt sign was switched on, I headed back to my economy class seat.
Since the BB-8 aircraft is in international four class configuration, the luckier few got to sit in the business and premium economy class cabins for the price of an economy class ticket. The actual business class passengers got to enjoy the first class cabin on this short flight.
Cruising to Tokyo at the Speed of Light
The BB-8 Jet was pushed back for a commercial service for the first time at 11:15, and at 11:22 we started taxiing towards runway 32L. Those who were lucky to be seated next to the window could see ANA staff holding banners welcoming the BB-8 Jet into the fleet.
After about five minutes of taxiing we reached runway 32L, and at 11:28 the BB-8 Jet took off into the skies with passengers onboard for the first time.
The seatbelt signs were switched only 4 minutes after take-off while still in a steep climb. With the signs off, the enthusiasts sprang into action and started enjoying the flight fully and photographing everything.
In the meantime, the crew was getting ready – putting on their new BB-8-themed aprons – for the drink service. They had very short time to serve a completely full Triple Seven while having to deal with aisles clogged with enthusiasts.
During the flight, the Captain came on the PA and did the typical announcement in a not so typical way…
“Thank you very much for flying the BB-8 Jet today. There is two of us in the flight deck today – Han Solo and Chewbacca – that will be flying you to Tokyo. Apologies for departing the Osaka airport Resistance Base with a delay. Our expected flight time today is 47 minutes. As such, our arrival at Haneda airport where Luke Skywalker is waiting will be about 10 minutes late. To make up for the delay, we will fly at the speed of light.”
The rest of the flight I spent walking around the cabin, enjoying the aircraft and taking pictures.
Shortly before the seatbelt signs were switched on, we encountered a fairly strong turbulence – it was interesting to see people balancing and taking photos of the crew to get their best shot of the BB-8 apron.
Arriving in Tokyo: Where’s Luke?
Around noon, the seatbelt sign was switched on again as we were descending towards Tokyo by that time, and so I returned to my seat.
At 12:11, we lowered our landing gear, and three minutes later at 12:14, we touched down on runway 34R of Haneda airport.
We reached our arrival gate – gate 53 – at 12:17, and before disembarking I took a look around the aircraft once again.
During disembarking, the crew was handing out post cards of the BB-8 Jet as well as the Star Wars Jet (767), and BB-8 Jet flight certificates.
While Luke Skywalker wasn’t waiting for us as promised by Captain Han Solo, Yoda was there to send passengers off at L1 door.