The Kansai Episode: Cathay Pacific Osaka Kansai – Hong Kong Airbus A330-300 Economy Class

Finally.

After what seemed like an eternity in Japan, I was now returning home to Singapore. They say when you go overseas, you learn things about yourself, and I’ve come to a reluctant conclusion that I just don’t like traveling solely for history. Sure, I’d readily top history essays, but hanging by a thread on historical sites for nearly two weeks? Not so much.

We had set up for ourselves a rather gruelling departure. Having decided to end our journey in Kyoto, and stuck with a early departure out of Kansai airport, meant that we had to wake up really, really early. The night prior, we ended on a fair note as we spent our remaining yen on souvenirs and other purchases that caught our fancies. Playing on the safe side, we reserved our tickets at JR Kyoto station for our train ride to Kansai. With the help of to-the-minute timetables, we were able to ensure an on-time arrival in time to check-in for our flight.  Deciding to dress down in preparation of Singapore (read: losing the thermal wear) had been quite stressful. It was a bone-chilling 2 degrees Celsius, and my hands, even with gloves on, were numbing up frantically. I was lacking sleep, so I easily manage a shut-eye aboard the long journey, but was constantly nudged into consciousness by Titus’ random movements – I was tired, I was groggy, I was irritated, but that’s to be expected when I’m awake on such an early Sunday morning.

A very empty JR Kyoto station.

At 6.21am, one minute before the scheduled departure time, our train, Haruka 3, the second service of the day, arrives at platform 6 from Toyama.

Nice and cool and warm…

Despite being fairly underused, Kansai Airport was quite bustling on this Sunday December morning. There were queues developing at every check-in row, each heading to a different destination in a different part of the world.

Note the “3F Shops & Restaurants”. If you’ve got time, there are some really good food and souvenirs to be had at reasonable prices.

Domestic departures and arrivals are at the second floor. Osaka’s got Itami Airport as its main domestic airport, so Kansai doesn’t get a lot of domestic traffic.

The famous “valley”. This has been replicated at newer airports around the world, including Changi Airport’s Terminal 3, London Heathrow Terminal 5 and many others.

Stepping into Kansai airport was rather surreal, in a metaphysical sense, I suppose. I was given an opportunity to fly through Kansai back in 1996, and I remember it vividly. Returning sixteen years later to find it virtually unchanged – it was just strange and hallowing at the same time. Even with dedicated counters for Economy, Business Class, First Class, as well as Bag Drop and Group Check-In, with three Cathay Pacific flights departing in the space of 90 minutes – two to Hong Kong, one to Taipei which continues onto Hong Kong – the check-in queue was understandably long. Our line for Bag Drop is quick, but halted by a middle-aged Taiwanese couple who were clearly in the wrong line, and seemed intent on seizing privileges that they weren’t accorded. Still, Japanese efficiency clears us in under twenty minutes. Immigration and security is also, similarly quick, and we head to one of the airport’s handful of cafes for some bout of breakfast. Our time wasn’t our own, for boarding was at hand. We scurry to one of Kansai’s iconic Wing Shuttles and zip to the end of the terminal for boarding.

This guy in the middle reminds me of Guy Tang, an Asian American who’s famous for his good looks and musculature.

All Nippon Airways celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2012. Japan’s second airline’s IATA code, “NH” is a nod to its beginnings as a simple ferry service, Nippon Helicopters.

Considering its size, Kansai’s airside facilities, while adequate, is surprisingly small.

The Wing Shuttle awaits.

ANA Boeing 737-700

These two Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 aircraft are not my aircraft. Mine’s an Airbus A330-300, hidden from view.

When I performed online check-in last evening, I was thoroughly surprised to find that there were literally no more seats available beyond a handful sporadic single seats sprung throughout the cabin. Having discovered the aisle seat and the convenience it brings, particularly on Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777 fleet, I select an aisle for myself. I’m seated beside a male of Chinese descent, and while it worried me, he slept silently and soundly throughout the entire flight, waking up only for meals and to disembark. I wanted to spend the flight to Hong Kong, all four hours of it, but I inadvertently fall asleep too, and similarly waking up for lunch.

Comfortable by the aisle.

The flight flies by real fast, and in no time, we come down for a nice descent into Hong Kong.

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