Approximately 250 miles separates Tokyo and Osaka, the largest business centers in Japan. That is slightly more than the distance between New York and Washington DC or Boston. This flight departed in the late afternoon on Friday January 24. The heavy concentration of business flyers and bored looks reminded me of flights between New York and DC or Boston on a Monday morning or Friday evening.
The domestic Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge began filling up about 90 minutes before the scheduled departure at 16:55. The reception desk announced boarding at 16:25. Everyone filed down to the gate. We were loaded onto buses and driven to the remote stand where the flight boarded.
Passengers generally looked rather glum. They probably take this flight many times per year, maybe even every week. They might also be disappointed at being relegated to flying from Narita rather than Haneda, which is much closer to Tokyo. Japan Airlines and ANA combined operate 30 flights a day between Haneda and Osaka International (ITM) known as Itami, but only four from Narita.
It is interesting that Osaka International serves domestic destinations only. Kansai International Airport (KIX) handles Osaka’s international flights. It is similar to the arrangement between National (domestic) and Dulles (international) service for Washington DC except KIX is even farther from Osaka than IAD is from Washington.
Salarymen, white-collar workers, wore business suits. The few salarywomen on the flight were also well dressed. Apparently, casual Fridays and casual business dress has yet to catch on much in Japan.
I appreciate bus gates even though they are not as convenient as boarding through a jet bridge. The bus ride shows off parts of the airport and airport operations that are that otherwise are unseen from the terminal.
A basket of earbuds for the audio and overhead video system was placed by the boarding door. I took one just in case there was anything worth watching or listening to.
JAL has different seating configurations for 737-800s in domestic and international service. This is the JAL seating chart for a 737-800 flying domestic routes.
My seat was 22K, an exit row window seat on the starboard side. The original seat was 28A. When I printed the boarding pass, Japan Airlines had moved me to an exit row, my preference, without having to ask.
Economy seats are upholstered with high-quality leather. They are just over 17 inches wide. The distance between seats is 31 inches. Seat pitch is tight but 31 inches is becoming standard everywhere. These seats are the extremely thin ones that some say become uncomfortable on longer flights. No worries for the short hop to Osaka.
There was no pre departure service. Soon after boarding, the pilots taxied to Runway Three Four Left and took off.
JAL schedules this 251-mile flight for one hour and 20 minutes. Time from takeoff to landing is usually about 38 minutes.
Flight attendants manage to squeeze in a beverage service of non alcoholic drinks enroute.
A neat feature on JAL domestic routes is free WiFi for all. Overhead video screens show flight information. There are no power outlets.
Sunset views were the best entertainment. I hoped sitting on the starboard side would provide views of Mount Fuji; however our flight path was too far to the west.
The flight was uneventful, and soon arrived at Osaka International. The scene in the terminal reminded me of Tokyo Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest metro station when subway doors open. Everyone, except me, knew exactly where to catch the train or bus to their next destination and they were in a big hurry. I felt really lost as people zipped by all around. It was Friday evening when people are even more anxious than normal to get home just as they are on shuttle flights to/from New York.
The information desk provided directions to the bus to the city and instructions on purchasing a ticket. ITM has a metro station, but the bus was easier. Purchase tickets on the street floor from a machine or an attendant.
There are several clearly marked loading stops.
The bus to the heart of Osaka, Osaka Station, stops at No. 9. It runs frequently. I am so happy that Japan and other countries in Asia almost always post signs in English as well as the local language. That is not the way it was the first time I visited Osaka in the early 90s.
This flight was totally satisfactory. The bus ride to Osaka Station was quick, and I could catch a hotel shuttle to the Hyatt Regency from there.