ANA: Flying between New York and Tokyo while a volcano is active in eastern Russia
Very early, like 2 am on Thursday, 2 November, I was returning to Sydney, Australia on All Nippon Airways. The first flight of the return journey was between New York’s JFK Airport and Hanada, Tokyo. Flight time usually averages 13 hours and 35 minutes. Our actual flying time was 15 hours 21 minutes
Content of this Post:
The reason for the extended flight time
Earlier in the week, in fact, the day before our flight, the tallest active volcano in Eurasia erupted. It’s the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano, which is 4,650 m (15,255 feet) tall. You will find this beast on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, in the northern part of the country, near the Bering Sea, which separates Russia and Alaska. I’ve circled it in the map below.
That’s our flight path in the map above, designed to avoid the ash cloud that the volcano eruption generated. I know that the flight path looks shorter on the image, but in fact, due to the curvature of the earth and the distortion of maps in their conversion from spherical to flat, the map masks the fact that the route took around 2 hours longer than usual.
Flight impact of volcano
Adding a couple of hours to a flight already over 13 hours long isn’t that big an imposition. It just requires a bit of adjustment to the timings of the service flow. The other implication is obviously missed connections, especially if they are tight in Haneda or require a transfer to another airport.
Being All Nippon Airways, this was all catered for. There were announcements for those who had to transfer airports and people to assist with transfers on landing. We already had a roughly 3-hour layover in Haneda before our onward journey to Sydney, so it just foreshortened our stay at the beautiful, fresh and new lounge at Terminal 2, where we landed and from which our next flight departed.
The only other impact on our flight was that the aircraft, or ‘ship’ as the notes placed on the bathroom basins referred to, ran out of water about 3 hours prior to landing. No hand washing from then on. Fortunately, there seemed a more than adequate supply of packaged moist wipes. Unfortunately, not much help with brushing your teeth. Again, fortunately, there was packaged mouthwash.
Normally a nearly two-hour addition to a flight would cause concern. Not if it is to avoid a volcanic ash cloud and on a carrier like All Nippon Airways. Making a 13-hour flight into a 15-hour plus flight is no biggie with the service onboard ANA and at Haneda Airport, Terminal 2. Our only inconvenience was less time in the brand spanking new ANA lounge and a water shortage onboard for the last few hours. That or risk a catastrophic event with volcanic ash.
Expect more reports from this trip over the next few weeks.