Sunday, 2 January 2011

Flying With AirAsia X : Haneda - Kuala Lumpur

Roughly about one year ago, I was among those who wished for Air Asia to expend their flying routes to Japan. Back then, there were already AirAsia X (AirAsia's long-distance airline) flights to other big cities like London, Melbourne and Seoul, but not to Tokyo.

However, after anticipating for that dream to come true for more than a year, the wait was finally over with the introduction of the AirAsia X flights to Haneda airport in Tokyo beginning December 9, last year. It is the first foreign low-cost carrier to serve the airport, which offers a cheaper alternative for us who wish to fly to Japan. The flight flies from the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Haneda Tokyo, with three non-stop flights a week.

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Waiting for train to head to Haneda airport from my place in Inage, Chiba.

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The newly opened international terminal of Haneda International Airport.

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AirAsia X flight D72653 lining up among other airlines like JAL and ANA.

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This new terminal was opened recently - October last year.

The tickets for this KL-Tokyo and Tokyo-KL routes started to go on sale in late September last year and everyone, especially the kiasu Malaysians like me, rushed like mad to buy the promotional tickets, which was as cheap as RM 99. That's of course, just the basic ticket price excluding the airport tax and other miscellaneous fees. Still, it is still a great deal at such price. The cheap tickets were already got sold off in less than half an hour after it started to go on sale! Crazy, isn't it?

But guess what, I was also among those crazy ones who waited in front of my laptop to book my tickets right after the tickets went on sale haha! I literally "raced" with thousands of others to book my tickets as fast as possible, because the cheap seats were limited and they were selling like hot cakes. Then came the bad news! My browser collapsed when I clicked on the pay icon! Luckily, I acted quickly enough to rebook my flight and although I didn't manage to get that best deal, I'm glad that I still got quite a bargain for my tickets. Lesson of the day, do not use Google Chrome but Mozilla Firefox when you are booking flight tickets from Air Asia.

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This is one of the main attraction of the terminal - Edo Koji (江戸小路) in the fourth floor.

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The place is a shopping corridor modeled after a typical Edo Period street; it is like being in a theme park rather than an airport terminal

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Shops line the corridor selling goods related to Japanese tradition and culture, including cosmetics, T-shirts, bags and local food products.

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Restaurants specializing in popular Japanese cuisine such as sushi, soba and sukiyaki are also available, as well as some establishments featuring international cuisine.

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The Edo Koji shopping street has a shop with a facade modeled after a Kabuki theater.

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A corner for passengers to learn about the custom procedure with Kasutamu-kun.

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Among the items that are illegal to be brought into Japan.

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Telling me that it is not allowed to wear sunglasses at the security check section haha!

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Suddenly, I was asked to put away all the fake Kasutamu-kun from the screen.

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That's the final bear I need to kill with my "laser power" lol! In the end, I spent like more than ten minutes playing with that thing haha!

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December 2010 marks the the first Christmas for Haneda International Airport.

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The focus is on Japan's modern culture on the fifth floor. Named Tokyo Pop Town, half of the floor is occupied by shops selling goods of popular anime characters,
teen idols, TV and movie stars, toys and figurines.


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This airport was recently renamed as Tokyo International Airport.

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It was full moon on the night I fly; the moon was so low and huge, something quite common in Japan. Anyone knows why?

Prior to taking this flight, I have only flown in and out of Japan through Narita International Airport and Niigata International Airport. This is my first time taking a flight at Haneda, and I purposely timed myself to reach there several hours earlier than my flight time, just in case I get lost along the way. Sometimes, I can be really blur when it comes to going to new places haha! Too bad that that the check-in counters for my flight was only opened about two hours before my flight time. So, I used the time to explore the new place while waiting to check-in.

One negative point about this AirAsia X flight to Japan is the unfriendly flight time. It is still okay when you fly from Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur, because it departs at 2345 hours and reaches KL at 0630 hours in the next morning. However, the flight from KL to Tokyo departs at 1440 hours in the evening and lands in Tokyo at 2230 hours on the same day. For first time tourists to Japan, it will take at least another sixty minutes before they are done going through the immigration and claim their luggage. Hence, it is quite likely that they will have to spend a night at the hotels around the airport, because I believe it will be hard for them to catch the last train to Tokyo.

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So, the check-in counters were finally opened.

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Quite funny to see that the boarding pass bears ANA logo.

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A slightly smaller departure hall, compared to Narita.

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I was browsing through the books at the bookstore and see who I spotted? Uncle Tony on the front page of Forbes Asia!

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Here comes the air-stewardess of AsiaAsia X, dressed in bright red uniform.

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Their luggage size was so huge for their standard; they must have done some shopping while in Japan.

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Feeling excited as I am moving closer to board the plane.

I looked around the boarding hall and I can say that more than ninety percent of the passengers were Malaysians. Everyone was speaking in familiar languages that it didn't feel like I was in Tokyo at all. It feels so much like home when you listen to an uncle standing next to you speaking Tamil on his phone, one group of students speaking Kelantanese dialect and a family on the front bench speaking Cantonese. I also saw several of my juniors and seniors who took the same flight as mine that evening.

I started to sense that it would be a new experience when I board the aircraft as soon as I realised that the boarding gate was on the ground floor, because the boarding gates are usually on the first floor of the departure building. My guess was further confirmed when I saw several shuttle buses beginning to line up outside the building. Unlike the usual way of getting into the plane through a platform, this time we had to do it in a different way.

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We had to board a shuttle bus to get into the aircraft. Look at the inside of the bus; crowded like canned sardines, like taking buses at Pudu Raya haha!

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Later, we had to climb up the plane.

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The aircraft is a new Airbus 330.

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The interior of the economy class section of the aircraft. Not that bad as we initially thought.

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The flight was fully booked. That three ang moh guy on the left were talking so loudly throughout the flight =.=

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Someone told me that the seat is so small that we can hardly move. But if a giraffe can place his legs nicely like this, then it should not be a big problem for others.

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The toilet was just like other planes but still, it was still a bit too small for an elephant like me lol!

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If you read the news, then you should know what is this all about; a bet between Tony Fernandes and Sir Richard Branson.

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"If I had a flying reindeer, I'd name him Rubang" by Jasmine Lee, Air Asia Head of Commercial.

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"Must-See, Must-Do in Japan". Looking at the list, I have yet to play pachinko, watch a Kabuki, watch a live Sumo wrestling tournament,
hike up Mount Fuji, or sleep in a capsule hotel.

One of the interesting discussion topics among us was the food served inside the plane. We all already knew that food isn't free and we will have to purchase them, either by pre-booking them earlier, or just buy them from the air-stewardess during the flight. I took out the pamphlet to check out the menu and was so excited to see some familiar snacks sold. They have Twisties, Sugus, Milo drinks, Ribena and even Tong Garden nuts!

However, all purchases are only to be done using either Malaysian ringgit, Japanese yen or US dollar. And you will get your change back only in Malaysian ringgit. So, it is better that you prepare some Malaysian ringgit in your wallet before you board the plane.

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Some of the snacks and beverages available inside the plane.

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Looking at this page made us hungry immediately.

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But see how much picture can be a deceiver to us. I will be honest here, the food was quite poor, both in presentation and taste.

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It doesn't really matter as I can always get the real food as I have arrived in Malaysia!

The flight took approximately seven hours and due to some delays before it took off from Haneda, we arrived slightly later than scheduled. However, what's more important is that I have finally arrived safely to Malaysia and started my short ten-day break at home. I will be updating more about my Malaysia trip when I can find the time, because currently I am at Malacca until I fly back to Japan in a couple of days' time. So, stay tuned!

Thanks to Air Asia, now everyone can fly.

14 comments:

Cliff CLF said...

the reason why bus instead of skybridge is the strategy to cut down cost. I heard skybridge cost quite a sum per docking.

I'm pretty concern about the seat space but if you're OK with it I guess should be no prob hah.

must do in Japan eh..... alot quite costly and they misprinted Hiroshima!!

it'll be my turn to fly in a month's time hah.

Baby^Girl said...

My only つっこみwas the Hiroshima ...they eaten the 'O'
Hahahaha...but why pachinko??
Hahaha

DT said...

The potential of being squash while sitted ringside of a huge sumo wrestling isn't exactly entertaining.. :P hahah!!!

there are so many more must see must do.....surely not so short... they missed out the anime & cosplay & maid cafe stuff etc....heck..even their 7-11 is interesting... :)

hmmm... the AA seats may fit a giraffe...but does it fit a hippo?

the moon appear low is because the moon orbit at a lunar declination (directly overhead) as far as 28° whereas tokyo is located at the latitude 35° north meaning there is a difference of at least 7° to the south depending on the season to the maksimum of 35°to the south. The moon looks huge at the horizon due to an effect called moon illusion ;)

calvin said...

@ cliff clf:
wow, you sound to be quite informative on this. anyway, i don't think there is much to complain about using the bus instead of the skybridge. at least we get to do some light exercise climbing up the ladder haha!

the seat was slightly hard but space wise, i think it was alright. i guess it is considered decent for such price.

yes, i noticed that misprint as well xD

have fun flying on uncle tony's plane lol!

calvin said...

@ baby^girl:
yup, quite surprising to see them making such mistake for a famous place like that.

why pachinko? maybe because you can see it everywhere you go in japan xD

calvin said...

@ dt:
well, i believe it is quite safe to watch the sumo wrestling tournament but it can be quite pricey to watch it >.<

yea, that list was just a reference for tourists who visit japan and i am sure there are still many things you should do while in japan =D

i think a hippo might have some problems fitting himself on their seats haha!

lastly, thanks a lot for the detailed information on the moon position and size!

kae vin said...

actually Airasia wasn't that bad after all huh? :)

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
everything was good, except for the food >.<

amad said...

i dont know if u had noticed, but we were on d same flight hehe. went back fr a week and half, last night arrived back in japan.

at first i also thought about d inconvenient flight time back to jpan, but then it hit me; less time on d ground means less money, so 10.30pm landing at haneda, d same aircraft depart back to KL at 11.45pm. which explains why they collected trash prior to landing haha.

it may not be d best service, but fr me it sure is cheap and convenient :)

calvin said...

@ amad:
hi amad. to be honest, i didn't notice you the other night but i think it would be easier for you to spot me from my height haha! anyway, there were too many malaysians around and i think i did miss out on several other people i know as well.

i guess you are right about the flight time. i only realised about it after you mentioned it here. and yes, it was quite funny to see the air-stewardess to go around the aircraft holding a plastic bag to collect the rubbish haha!

yes, i think overall, air asia provided a satisfactory service for such price and i am sure it will enable more people to visit japan in the future :D

Kit said...

Hi Calvin,

You said that it might be difficult to catch a train to Tokyo when the plane arrives in Haneda at 2230hrs.

Any tips on coming around this? I'll be taking Airasia to Haneda in a few weeks time and in the midst of planning. Thanks!

calvin said...

@ kit:
hi kit!

yes, i personally feel that it will be difficult for us, especially first time visitors to japan to catch the last train to the city because of the flight's arrival time.

one alternative is to spend the night in the airport and catch the first train the next morning. if you have the budget, then perhaps you would prefer to stay a night in any hotels nearby the airport.

another option will be the airport limousine bus, which operates until quite late through the midnight.

i hope this helps and enjoy your trip to tokyo!

skyter94 said...

INTERESTING LOH!!!

calvin said...

@ Skyter94:
Thanks for your interesting comment :P