NH748 NTQ-HND A320 seat 2F

Noto Airport is among Japan’s newest airports, and certainly amongst its most obscure — it took a little poking around until I realized that the Star Alliance schedule lists it under “Wajima/JP”, and it also made history by being the first airport I’ve been to that wasn’t listed in the usually all-knowing Great Circle database. (Rest assured, this grievous defect has since been corrected.) Under an innovative profit guarantee cooked by the fine businessmen of Noto, ANA operates two flights to it daily from Tokyo, so that ANA is paid if occupancy falls below a minimum threshold, and Noto is paid if the threshold is exceeded. (So far, both sides have been making money.) Given this level of traffic, though, the airport is rather absurdly oversized: it’s a grand four-story edifice complete with a fancy information display system showing a week’s worth of the same two flights to Tokyo, and two aerobridges which are unlikely to ever be used simultaneously… but at least the airstrip hosts an aviation academy, where students can practice without too much danger of colliding into passenger jets.

 

As I sat in the gate lounge, I realized I hadn’t seen a single foreigner since I left Kanazawa, and I have a sneaky suspicion I’m the first Finn ever to use this airport. I think I prefer this record to my previous one of being the last one to use Gaza’s airport…

Boarding produced a small surprise — whoah nelly, since when does ANA own or fly any Airbuses? Somebody give Boeing a call. (Later research indicated that ANA in fact owns no less than 32 of these little beasties, and 737s are in fact a distinct minority. I wonder how I’ve managed to avoid them ’till now?)

The skies below were cloudy, but every now and then a gap opened up to reveal snowy mountains below. April isn’t spring quite yet in many parts of Japan…

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