ANA launches Vancouver to Haneda direct flight

With Mr. Kaz from ANA

I’ve just come back from Tokyo! Some of you might remember that I’ve flown to Japan with All Nippon Airways(ANA) last two years as one of their brand ambassadors along with Neal Schaffer, Cali Lewis and John P. They were both amazing trips and we got to fly to Okayama on Boeing 787 and also fly to beautiful Okinawa.

However, those two flights were made from LA and Seattle respectively, and this year I am even more excited because for the first time ever, ANA started servicing to Canada! As a Japanese living in Canada, when I wanted to fly home I only had two options, JAL or Air Canada. Now we have ANA in the mix and they are the only airline flying to Haneda, which is located way central compared to Narita which JAL and AC are flying.

The aircraft serving the route is B767-300ER, a mid size carrier and this is the same as what JAL is using on their Vancouver- Narita route. Mr. Ryosei Nomura, Senior Manager of Public Relations whom we had the pleasure of meeting told us that ANA is introducing B787s into the YVR-HND routes soon. I can’t wait!(Read about my trip to Okayama on B787 in 2012 here.)

Me in safety vest at YVR

On March 30th, 2014, we were all gathered at Vancouver Airport (YVR) to celebrate the inaugural flight to Haneda. Our media tour consisted of media in Vancouver area including Vancouver Sun, Philippine Journal, Vancouver Shinpo and Sing Tao Daily just to name a few.

767 arriving from Tokyo

It was a great privilege for me to witness the actual arrival of the plane from Haneda and “Water Salute” on the runway. YVR staff told me that it’s a customary to do water salute to welcome new airline into the airport, or sometimes to honour the retiring pilot. Here’s a short video.

After the water salute, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at the gate and YVR CEO Craig Richmond, who had just literally arrived from Haneda along with ANA officials made speech. Then there was “Kagami wari” -breaking of a sake barrel to celebrate something new. Sake, Sushi and Vancouver’s own Japadog were served to guests. It was great to see Kaz whom I’ve traveled to Okinawa with there.

ribbon cutting

Sushi and Japadog

ANA has recently been awarded SKYTRAX’s 5-star rating, making them the only airline in Japan to receive this honour and one of the four in the world – with Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Qatar Airways.

Business Class

Once on board B767-300ER we were showered with small gifts such as a sticker, chocolate and get this…a hand-written note. It was the first day ANA flew from Vancouver and they even had a hand-written welcome poster on board.

All the goodies

Japanese meal on ANA business class

767 is a little older plane, but my flight to Tokyo was pretty comfortable. I had some great meals and our cabin attendant was so attentive I ended up having few glasses of great plum wine and sake. Flight time to Tokyo was approximately 10 hours.  We arrived in Tokyo at 7pm. We had mixed opinion on arriving in the evening. It’s great as you won’t feel like you’re wasting a day and you can go straight to bed upon arrival compared to arriving in the afternoon. But if you are hoping to connect to a different city, arriving at 7pm might make it hard. Mr. Nomura told us that they would work on having different time slot for Haneda in the future. Of course, to make it happen there has to be a need for it.

To be continued to part 2.