Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) is upping the scenic flight stakes. In late October, ANA is offering Japanese plane fans a scenic two-night weekend away to Okinawa. Best of all, passengers will be flying down and back on one of ANA’s A380s.
ANA ups the scenic flying stakes with a weekend away using an A380
Japan has become a scenic flying hotspot. The country’s airlines have embraced the post-travel-downturn phenomenon, offering dine and fly flights, shop and fly flights, and find your perfect match flights. The October weekend away takes the scenic flights concept a step further.
On Saturday, October 30, ANA will use its Flying Honu A380 (JA381A) to fly passengers from Tokyo Narita down to Miyako Shimojishima Airport in Okinawa. ANA is selling this as a tropical getaway – we’ll let that PR overreach go through to the keeper.
Pushback at Narita is scheduled for 11:00 with an arrival time in Okinawa of 14:15. It is around 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers) between the two airports. Flying Honu clearly doesn’t plan to break any speed records on this flight.
Passengers are put up for two nights scattered around Okinawa (where passengers stay depends on where they are sitting on the A380). On the afternoon of Monday, November 1, Flying Honu will head back to Narita at 15:00.
Added extras for ANA A380 fans
If this just sounds like an excuse for a good time away and the chance to kick back in a nice hotel for a couple of nights (and they are perfectly valid reasons to go!), there are a couple of extras that might appeal to A380 fans.
If the weather holds out, passengers will board and deplane via the airport apron at Narita and Shimojishima. That offers the rare chance to get up close and personal with an A380. The organizers of the weekend away know this and are offering passengers the chance to take photos from the apron.
On Sunday, October 31, there is also an optional in-depth tour of Flying Honu while it sits parked at Miyako Shimojishima Airport. Unlike the actual flights, where the premium cabins will remain off-limits to main cabin passengers, participants can roam the plane on this tour.
Aside from lots of in-cabin photo opportunities, there will also be the chance to take exterior photos of the A380.
Utilizing A380s a smart idea
The tour price varies, depending on which cabin you’d prefer to fly in. The ANA offers economy, premium economy, business, and first class cabins. At a minimum, the tour price includes airfares, accommodation, transfers, two dinners, two breakfasts, and taxes.
There are a couple of caveats. Although advertised on ANA’s website, the A380 weekend away appears to be privately organized by a tour operator. Payments are processed via the tour operator. In the fine print, the operator notes a minimum of 250 people will need to book for the trip to go ahead, government approval for the flights remains to be granted, and routes and in-flight services may change depending on the weather and other circumstances on the day.
If more than 250 people want to head to Okinawa for the weekend, it won’t be first in best served. Rather, the organizers will conduct a lottery to determine who gets to fly and who misses out.
While scenic flights remain a trend largely restricted to the Asia-Pacific region, other A380 operators could probably do brisk business copying this ANA model in their own parts of the world. A380 flights and a weekend away – what’s not to like about this?