ANA to announce two more Star Wars planes

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ANA, Japan’s largest airline, has just announced that two new Star Wars planes will soon take to the skies, decorated with BB-8, a brand new character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the beloved, R2-D2.  As part of an agreement with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. and the ANA Star Wars Project, the planes will join the previously announced R2-D2 ANA Jet, which is scheduled to go into service on October 18, 2015.

I was very excited when I first heard about the news back in April. I’ve emailed one of my ANA contacts and asked where the plane would be flying, but at the time I was told they weren’t sure yet. ANA caters to 11 North American destinations.

BB8-05

BB-8, a brand new character from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Scheduled for theatrical release in December 2015), will be displayed on the livery of the BB-8™ ANA Jet, a Boeing 777-300ER. ANA also announced the Star Wars™ ANA Jet, which will showcase both BB-8 and R2-D2 on the outside of a Boeing 767-300. These Star Wars themed planes will join the previously announcedR2-D2™ ANA Jet, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

bb8

I have flown on Dreamliner from Haneda to Okayama back in 2012 and you can read about it here. It is my favourite plane!

ANA launched the Star Wars Project in April 2015 after signing a five year promotion license contract for the Star Wars brand with The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. As part of the agreement, the ANA Star Wars planes will also display in-flight decorations, such as headrest covers, paper napkins and cups featuring Star Wars characters – more details will be announced at a later date. How fun is this? The partnership also means ANA will be the only airline in the world(!) to offer all six of the currently released Star Wars films as part of its extensive in-flight entertainment options on international routes. This will be the first time that any of the Star Wars movies have been included as part of an in-flight entertainment system.

The three Star Wars™Jets will fly international and domestic routes. On October 18, the R2-D2™ ANA Jet is scheduled to go into service on international routes, initially as flight NH116 between Tokyo and Vancouver, and then fly between Japan and other cities in ANA’s international network including the US (Seattle and San Jose), Europe (Munich, Paris and Brussels), Australia (Sydney), China (Beijing), and Indonesia (Jakarta).

Rest of the route are scheduled as follows (Note: Dates are tentative and subject to change without notice):
Mid October to Late-November: Principal destination Narita=San Jose
Early December: Principal Destination Narita =Seattle

Mid-December and beyond: Haneda=Sidney, Haneda=Jakarta, Haneda=Beijing, Haneda=Munich Haneda=Paris and other destinations.

You can check out the planes’ schedules at www.ana-sw.com.

“We at Lucasfilm are absolutely delighted to have found in Japan such a wonderful partner in ANA and to able to provide you with a wonderful opportunity like this one.” said Kathleen Kennedy, president, Lucasfilm Ltd. “I, too, certainly look forward to flying aboard one of ANA’s Star Wars jets on my next trip to Japan.”

There is also an R2-D2 ANA Jet Fan Appreciation Event in October at Haneda.

Will you fly on Star Wars ANA Jet? Let me know when you do!

Okinawa (Part 2) -Whale Shark and Elephant Nose

(This is part of my #ANAOkinawa travel log; you can read all the previous posts here.)

Churaumi Aquarium

We were extra excited for this day’s destination – Churaumi Aquarium, the largest aquarium in Japan! Churaumi Aquarium used to be the largest aquarium in the world until Gorgia Aquarium beat the record in 2005.

This aquarium is famous for its 7,500 cubic meters tank and the Whale Shark. The highlight is definitely the shark and manta rays that swim so gracefully in the giant tank.

The aquarium is located inside Ocean Expo Park, and there is outdoor playgrounds for kids, Planetarium, Botanical Garden, beach, and parks. This is a GREAT place for people of all ages. If you have kids, you can spend all day there.

Of course, there are other ocean creatures at Churaumi. My favourite is Garden Eel.

garden eel

They look like worms, and they sort of stick out of the sand and swing around in the waves. Adorable!

Finally here is a quick video of the shark tank.

 Cape Manzamo

Then we headed to Cape Manzamo. There isn’t a lot of explanation needed here. This is a magnificent viewpoint with cliff that looks like an elephant’s trunk. “Manza” means “Ten thousand seats”. In the beginning of the 18th century, Ryukyu King Sho Kei visited Manzamo and declared that it had enough space to sit thousands of people. Here’s the video from there.

Read the next post: Hyakuna Garan – Brand new, yet nostalgic resort (Okinawa Part 3)

Or jump to the list of all the Okinawa posts: #ANAOkinawa Travel Log

We Fly 1st – Boeing 787 Dreamliner with ANA

(This is part 2 of 3. You can read part 1 here.)

Adventure continues in Tokyo. We got to visit ANA’s Maintenance Center and Cabin Attendant Academy In Haneda International Airport.

Here is a GeekBeat.TV episode from the maintenance center tour, so check this out.

After the tour, we got to fly on the amazing new aircraft, Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

If you didn’t know how special the 787 is, read this page –  but basically the 787 is the lightest, most sustainable aircraft currently available in the world. And the amazing thing is, ANA (and many other Japanese companies such as Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Toray, etc) worked together with Boeing to build this aircraft. It is said that this aircraft was “Made with Japan” (Yeah, this is where I got all misty while watching the documentary on the plane)

Saw this outside subway station.

I love their copy “We Fly 1st” – well, because, they did!

ANA is the first airline to fly 787 in the world. And we as the Brand Ambassador team got to fly to Okayama on Dreamliner!

Ambassadors on 787!

First thing you’ll notice on board is how roomy it is inside. Interior had a very high ceiling and calming color with LED lighting. Of course, everything was brand new.

High ceiling with huge overhead bins

I loved the big windows, with electronic “auto-dimming” shade – there was no sliding shade you’ll see in regular planes. On 787, all you need to do was to push the button under the window to darken or lighten the glass. You know, sometimes you want the full view of outside, but don’t want all the light, or your neighbour is asleep? This window will solve the problem.

Of course, each seat was equipped with its own screen, complete with seat-to-seat text messaging system and an USB port.

Drink holder OUTSIDE of tray table, USB port and window dimmer

 

 

 

As I looked outside when we were taxing to take off, I saw something heartwarming. Couple of people in uniform on the tarmac, were lined up side by side, and were waving at us! (Well, not to us specifically – but to the aircraft. You know what I mean.) I was so excited I had to let John, who was sitting in front of me, know right away. I wish I had a photo to prove this. But that is Japanese customer service, in my opinion. Extreme attention to details. This reminded me the simple fact that it doesn’t take much to make people – your customers – feel good.

See the Rolls Royce logo? They made the engine

We had a wonderful flight to Okayama, and a quick tour in Kurashiki.

Be sure to check out Dreamliner when you have a chance!

(To be continued in Part 3)

 

 

Adventure Begins with an A…ANA

Welcome drink on board

What is the first thing that come to your mind when you think of Japan? Sushi, Kimono, or Ninja?!

As part of the social media campaign for their latest service, “Inspiration of Japan”, my friend Neal Schaffer and I became their Brand Ambassadors for ANA – All Nippon Airways.  Neal and I have been working since November on this campaign, and it was finally time for us to fly to Narita with an IOJ.

I’m writing this post from consumer’s perspective. I’ve written about it in my first post about IOJ, but as a frequest flyer to Japan from North Ameria, the comfort during my trip home is very important. I love traveling and flying, but let’s be honest, flying takes so much toll on you. I flew back to my home town of Sasebo last month and I was exhausted.

So I was very excited to try this new IOJ services. Our seats were called “Business Staggered“- Because each seat was staggared and every seat has an aisle access-I love that.

You can rest your tired heet there

The cabin for IOJ was amazing. Plenty of room to store your personal items, like your laptop or a purse. There are a deep pocketed foot rest under your entertainment system so you can fully stretch your legs with your shoes off. (Of course, they provide slippers, shoehorn, and a bag to take your slippers home!) You have a side desk other than your normal tray, so I got to keep all my magazines, camera and water bottle there. There are USB port and iPod jack, so you can enjoy your own media if you get tired of all the entertainment available on your personal screen. (I actually watched a short documetary on how their latest aircraft Boeing 787 came together and got a little misty. True story. I will be writing about 787 later.)

Here’s a quick video of me experiencing IOJ. (Sorry it’s a bit noisy)

Neal wasn’t the only partner I had on this trip. John P. and Cali Lewis from GeekBeat.TV were also the ambassadors, and they flew in from San Francisco. Unlike Neal, who has lived in Japan for 15 years and speaks fluent Japanese, this was John and Cali’s first time in Japan. I got to spend a lot of time with them in Tokyo, and not only it was fun, but it brought me a lot of insights. I got to see Japan through first time visitor’s eyes, and that was definitely a cool experience.

Cali, John and me

One of the things John said and it stuck with me was “There is so much attention to details!“…Of course, I knew that. I have always been proud to be Japanese and proud to offer extreme attention to details. But by spending time with John and Cali, I rediscovered many things with a lot of attention to details, and of course, IOJ was no exception.

The food and presentation was amazing

I have flown to Japan many times before, but the minute you board ANA flight, it just feels different. When I sat down, my Cabin Attendant came to me to hand me a warm steamed towel and introduced herself that she would be taking care of me today. She soon came back to ask how to pronounce my name, so that she can personally address me as “Ms. Peerless”. I really wish I got her name and took a photo of her, as she was the best CA I have ever encountered.  She quickly figured out what kind of drinks I like and made some excellent recommendations. It sure was the highlight of my flight.

I got to use the full flat seat to have a nap on the flight, and soon we arrived in Narita, Tokyo, where many adventures were waiting for us.

(To be continued in Part 2)