BY Kai-Chin Shih / 12 JUNE 2014/ TOKYOJAPAN/ talkairlines.wordpress.com
This is the first part of a 2-part trip report. To read the second part, click here.
Today I will be flying the national carrier of Taiwan, China Airlines (中華航空), from Tokyo Haneda International Airport (東京羽田國際空港) to Taipei Songshan (Matsuyama) International Airport (台北松山國際機場). The airline along with EVA Air and the two biggest carriers of Japan, JAL & ANA, offer a total of 8 round trips daily between the two cities. In 2013, 1.4 million people traveled between the two city airports.
One day prior to the flight, I got information from China Airlines that B-18355, the “Welcome to Taiwan” Taiwan Tourism Special Livery Airbus A330-300, would be operating the morning flight (CI223) from Haneda to Songshan. However, since I was going to fly the afternoon flight (CI221), I couldn’t experience the special interior of the “Welcome to Taiwan” jet. Nevertheless, I still decided to contact China Airlines to get the boarding pass for my afternoon flight in the early morning and go into the restricted zone to take a close look at the aircraft I’ve always dreamt of flying on.
I arrived at Haneda Airport at around 6:30AM. The ticket counters were already closed. However, there were still 2 staff that were waiting for me. I told them my name and they immediately handed me my boarding pass. Since the flight doesn’t depart until 7:10AM, I decided to first go to the observation deck just in case it’s difficult to take pictures in the terminal. The spotting experience was horrible. Horrible weather consisting of strong winds & pouring rain made plane-spotting a nightmare. I still managed to get pictures of the special livery, but when I went back inside the terminal, I was already soaking wet.
The moment I stepped back into the terminal, fearing that I may not have enough time to take more pictures of B-18355, I immediately started running towards security. I was in such a rush that I forgot to take out the bottle of water in my backpack and the laptop in my carry-on, resulting in the security personnels taking my carry-ons through X-ray two times before I realised how uncareful I was. After passing through security & customs, I sprinted towards the gate B-18355 was parked at and found out something devastating…Haneda Airport, just like Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, is not a planespotter-friendly airport. Take a look at the pictures I took inside the terminal…
CLICK HERE TO SEE B-18355 IN DETAIL (link to a 3D model of the colourful jet)
After taking photos of B-18355 at the gate it was parking at, I rushed towards gate 141, the northern end of the Haneda extension, to take photos of B-18355 pushing back and leaving for runway D.
After B-18355 left, I continued to stay at the gate 141 waiting area to take pictures of other planes. Gate 141 is a rather decent place for people waiting for their flights. Not a lot of planes use the particular gate (excluding planes that simply park at the gate without loading/unloading passengers), therefore one can stay there for a long time. Furthermore, it is extremely quite. Rarely does anyone (except for security personnels occasionally passing by for safety reasons) walk to the particular gate. Also, it is the northern-most gate of the Haneda extension and is extremely close to the taxiway. Many planes pass by gate 141 to go to the runway or to go to gates at the main wing. Not interested in planespotting? No worries! There is free Wi-Fi service throughout the terminal. At gate 141, the signals are extremely strong and the roaming speed is rather fast. One can easily access the internet to get their work done or to watch a video. Even better, each gate has its own restrooms & vending machines!
After an hour of planespotting, I left gate 141 for the main wing to eat breakfast.
After finishing breakfast at a Korean place, I decided to walk to the eastern end of the main wing then return to gate 141. I really love the Haneda Airport International Terminal. Great stores, great architecture & interior design. Also, the signs & directions in the terminal are all extremely clear. The only downside of the terminal, as mentioned earlier, is that it is not planespotter-friendly. Taking pictures inside the terminal is like taking pictures of birds being trapped inside cages.
At approximately 10:42AM, 4 firetrucks rushed towards a Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 parked at the domestic Terminal 1. There was no visible smoke nor fire. I assumed that there was a false signal or smoke within the cabin. There is no media coverage on the particular incident.
This trip report continues on to the second part. Please click here to keep reading.