I'm not quite sure when I first learned about this unique Island Hopper journey across the Pacific from Honolulu to Guam but it certainly grabbed my attention and was instantly thrown onto my bucket list.  What was once operated by Air Mike/Continental Micronesia using a Boeing 727 since is now operated by United (post merger with Continental) using a 737-800.  The route offers a lifeline to the islands - a means of getting people, mail and freight to/from these islands.  The islands, as expected, have fish to export and this service provides that opportunity to get fresh produce out to market.

The full westbound journey as it stands today currently stops off at five atolls/islands between Honolulu and Guam across the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia; namely Majuro, Kwajalein, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk, making what would be an 8 hour nonstop flight into a 14 hour 30 minute journey to these tiny bits of land scattered across the Pacific - 99% of the world's population probably don't even know of their existence.  Only aviation enthusiasts and those with no other option take this flight - if you can't handle an entire day in a narrowbody aircraft, this is not for you!

The full Island Hopper which stops at all five stops is a weekly return service - eastbound from Guam occurs on a Monday (arriving Sunday evening in Honolulu after crossing the International Date Line) and the westbound return leaves Honolulu on a Monday morning to arrive at Guam on a Tuesday evening.  Compare this to the Wednesday westbound flight which leaves Honolulu - it only visits 3 of the islands - Majuro, Pohnpei and Chuuk; and that still takes 13.5 hours.  The uniqueness and remoteness of this journey also means an engineer is onboard each trip to ensure there are no issues on any of the islands.

With the ever-looming threat of climate change causing a rise in sea levels high enough to inundate these atolls, I decided it was best to tick this off my bucket list while the runways were all still well above the high tide mark.  I set out to find the cheapest crossing of the Pacific and settled on a one way ticket from Newark to Seoul via Los Angeles, Honolulu, the Island Hopper atolls/islands, Guam and Tokyo Narita.  The whole journey to Guam would be on a narrowbody (757s to Honolulu and the 737 to Guam) before a United Boeing 777-200 up to Narita and an Asiana A330-300 to Incheon.  I selected a window seat on the right hand side of the plane, which seemed to provide better photo opportunities as the sun would be on the south side and would also mean I wouldn't be looking into the sun for the whole day.

The trip started off at Newark early in the morning - a regional premier upgrade from a friend had cleared and I had a domestic First Class boarding pass all the way through to Honolulu.  The Boeing 757-200 taking me across the continent was in a "Premium Service" configuration dedicated to serving the transcontinental routes between Newark/Washington and Los Angeles/San Francisco and had lie flat seats up front.  The seats used were the same as what was in their first 787s, which meant a 2-2 configuration on the 757.  I don't have any photos of the cabin as I prefer to not have any photos of other passengers' faces in it and too often I have a seat mate already sitting down when I get to my seat.

Like I said in the previous report, the transcontinental flights across North America, particularly into Los Angeles, are among my favourite flights.  The ever changing landscape below makes for an interesting spectacle.  Quite often you can see cities, some of the Great Lakes, the plains of the Midwest, the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon.  There are other gems which you may catch a glimpse of if you're looking out the window in the right direction at the right time (and you know what you're looking for), such as the Mississippi River and Monument Valley.  The flight itself apart from the views was uneventful so I'll let the photos do the talking.

Parked up at Newark alongside a United Boeing 767-300ER

Parked up at Newark alongside a United Boeing 767-300ER

A couple of hours at LAX and it was onto a 757-300 to take me across to Honolulu.  No lie flats here - the aircraft had kept the same interior from its days at Continental.  The seats were very comfortable though - the old style plush recliners with thick padding.  The PTVs were all wired up to DirecTV - great if you're flying across the continent but the coverage doesn't stretch very far beyond the Pacific coast.  For a flight to Hawaii, you have to find other ways to entertain yourself.  Unfortunately, all there is to see out the window is ocean.  I expect the entertainment system to have been been upgraded by now - possibly to the bring your own device style IFE delivered over wifi.  It was a very comfortable flight - another uneventful one however.

The United Star Alliance logojet Boeing 777-200ER

The United Star Alliance logojet Boeing 777-200ER

Given that the Island Hopper departs first thing in the morning, you have little choice but to overnight in Honolulu.  A few photos follow from my wander around Waikiki Beach at sunset.  An early night followed for the OMG o'clock wake up to head back to the airport.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Half awake, I caught a shuttle to Honolulu Airport to begin the Island Hopper journey to Guam.  It was a quick journey as there was nobody on the road at that hour.  And it was a similar story at the airport where check in was empty.  There was a slight snag at check in when the check in agent couldn't complete check in. There was a nervous wait for the supervisor when I was told of the issue - the system wanted an address at Guam in order to transit through the other two countries.  I believe it was the same issue which faced a fellow friend who did this trip a few years before me.  The check in agent simply put Guam Airport into the system and out popped the boarding pass for the Island Hopper!  Just like the non-existent queue for check in, TSA was also a breeze.

The unique indoor-outdoor flow of Honolulu Airport is rather fascinating.  I don't think I've ever been in a breezy airport terminal before! To get from the TSA checkpoint to the United gate area means walking along a sheltered but open walkway to the building which houses the gate area and the lounge.  Although it was still dark, the warm humidity of the tropics was noticeable as I made my way to the lounge.

Typical of United lounges from a few years ago, the offerings weren't great.  Nonetheless it provided a nice area to chill and do a bit of plane spotting while also watching the ground crew prepare the aircraft taking me to Guam.

Obsolete United Mileage Plus tiers at check in

Obsolete United Mileage Plus tiers at check in

I made my way downstairs to the gate area - the United gates have the boarding pass check before the holding area.  My boarding pass flashed green but I found myself being asked that due to the flight being overbooked, if I'd like to take the direct flight to Guam later in the day, in First Class and with a USD500 voucher!  The whole point in the trip was to do the Island Hopper so I politely declined - if it was any other route, I'd have immediately taken the offer!

Flight Information

November 2015

Routing: Honolulu - Majuro (HNL-MAJ) - 3,669km/2,280mi

Airline: United

Flight: UA154

Scheduled Time of Departure: 0725hrs

Actual Departure: 0743 hrs (pushback), 0756 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1035 hrs +1

Touchdown: 1039 hrs

Flight time: 4 hr 43 min

Aircraft: Boeing 737-800

Registration: N77296

Seat: 8F

The United 737-800 fleet based in Guam at the time had been retrofitted with split scimitar winglets and with updated upholstery on the seats.  They still had DirecTV from their time at Continental, which meant a selection of movies were shown on loop across a few channels (as the flights were being operated a long way from DirecTV coverage).  There was a power socket between each seat (2 for each set of 3 seats in Economy).

Although the gate agent said the flight was oversold, there were empty seats onboard.  It could only mean that there was a lot of cargo onboard and that was the main reason they were offering voluntary offloads so much.  I reached my window seat in Row 8 - in line with the rest of United's fleet, Economy Plus existed on this aircraft which afforded a few more inches of legroom than seats further back.  The seat was very comfortable - I noted that it was as comfortable as the First Class seat on the 757-300 which flew me to Honolulu but clearly with less width.  The extra legroom did help as to not feel cramped.  But most importantly for me was the fact that I was in front of the engine which gave the opportunity to take photos with or without the wing (and to avoid any jetwash affecting the pictures).  Despite the flight not being full of passengers, I still ended up with a seat mate for the first two sectors - he seemed to be a student studying in Honolulu who was returning to his home, Ebeye, on the Kwajalein Atoll (more on this atoll later).  The aisle seat next to him was also vacant.

Not too long after, we were pushing back and headed to Runway 08L for departure.  A big right hand turn towards the southwest after takeoff had us fly over the cargo area and around the Reef Runway - next stop Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands.  Meanwhile Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation had just started playing as the default option on the TVs (of course there were a few other choices, including the air show).

Being the longest sector of the Island Hopper (let alone the first, and at breakfast time), it was fitting for one of the meals to be served.  No choices here - everyone got a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast muffin, yoghurt and a muesli bar.  It wasn't bad but it was on the smaller side.

The atolls/islands along the Island Hopper were all involved with war in one form or another; mostly from WWII.  There is one atoll which used to be part of the Island Hopper - the Johnston Atoll; which has been a US base since WWII and played a part in the American nuclear tests in the Pacific.  Johnston Atoll lies about a third of the way between Honolulu and Majuro and the main (reclaimed) island now resembles a disused airbase, once used for chemical storage and disposal.  Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the aircraft to spot the island and its 2.7km disused runway.

The next point of interest was crossing the International Date Line.  Clearly not a line you can see but it meant a move into GMT+12 and subsequently pushing the calendar day forward to Tuesday.  At least it was clear to see on the Airshow map - you'll see in the picture below that the speed indicator on the Airshow map wasn't working and showed us at 0 mph for the whole flight.

There was nothing else to note apart from the blue of the Pacific and some cloud.  Mission Impossible had been run 1.7 times by now and I was eagerly anticipating landing at Majuro, where the width of the runway is nearly the same as the width of the island.

We descended over the northern tip of Arno Atoll, which lies 10km east of Majuro - this gave me the first glimpse of the stunning teal water colour created by the shallow reef of the atoll in the middle of nowhere.  Not long afterwards, we were crossing into the Majuro lagoon for a 180 into Runway 07.  It was an awesome experience descending over water with a thin strip of land visible below which the pilots were aiming for; and so the first sector of the Island Hopper had come to an end.

Departure from Honolulu

Legroom in United Plus

Legroom in United Plus

Landing at Majuro

Majuro is the capital of the Marshall Islands - half of the country's population lives on Majuro.  The Marshall Islands was formed in 1979 when they decided not to join the Federated States of Micronesia.  Majuro is nearly directly north of Auckland, just under 5,000km away.  In fact, if you went directly south from Majuro, the next land mass you'll cross would be the upper west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

You're allowed to disembark at Majuro provided you take your belongings with you as a security sweep is performed at every stop.  You are able to stay onboard and you'll be asked to identify your possessions during the security sweep.  If you choose to leave the aircraft, you're led across the tarmac to what is essentially the departure holding area.  It's a smallish room and most do have a small stall or two for selling snacks and souvenirs.  Wifi was also available.

It wasn't too long before boarding commenced and we were back out across the tarmac for the flight to Kwajalein ("Kwaj").

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Flight Information

Routing: Majuro - Kwajalein (MAJ-KWA) - 431km/268mi

Scheduled Time of Departure: 1120 hrs

Actual Departure: 1132 hrs (pushback), 1142 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1220 hrs

Touchdown: 1225 hrs

Flight time: 43 min

I settled back in my seat for the next sector.  The safety video played again and not long after that, Mission Impossible restarted on the screens.  This was the shortest sector of them all at 431km, block time 1 hour, actual flight time 43 minutes. There was no chance of finishing the movie in any of the following Island Hopper sectors.

There are no pushback tugs on any of these islands - the stairs are rolled back, engines are turned on and the aircraft turns around on the apron and heads for the runway.  We backtracked to the threshold of Runway 07, the same direction we landed in, and spooled up for departure.

There was time for a quick guava juice run by the flight attendants but nothing else of interest - plenty of blue sea though.

Kwajalein Airport, our next stop, is a working US Army base - Bucholz Army Field. Because it is a military base, photography/videography is prohibited.  We are warned over the PA to keep any recording devices out of sight or they may be confiscated.  This is due to the sensitive nature of the base and the communications equipment on the ground used as part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, where the lagoon of the atoll is a target site.

Any non-military visitors to the atoll are ferried to Ebeye, the settlement on an island three kilometres to the north of the army base.  Ebeye, the home of my seat mate of the last 5 hours, happens to be one of the most densely populated areas in the world (up to 15,000 people on 32 hectares - 40,000 per sq km; on par with the most densely populated city in the world - Dhaka, Bangladesh) and is titled "the slum of the Pacific".  Despite being basically in the middle of paradise as it seems, it became a place where residents of nearby atolls were rehoused before/while nuclear tests took place - Bikini Atoll remains uninhabited to this day due to nuclear contamination and Enewetak Atoll is still polluted. Some islands on these atolls were vapourised during the nuclear tests.

We approached Kwaj from the southeast and performed a right hand turn for an approach for Runway 06.  The bottom right hand corner of Runway 06 touches the beach on the ocean side of the atoll so for someone like me on the right hand side of the plane, there was no land to see whatsoever.  It was a strange feeling descending over water without seeing any land, not knowing if you'd be splashing or touching down but the threshold just came into view a few seconds before the wheels hit the tarmac.  I suppose that's what it might be like if a passenger aircraft were to land on an aircraft carrier!  But unfortunately there is no footage of this spectacular landing due to the earlier mentioned recording ban.  You'll have to experience it for yourself!  The southern side of the runway holds a golf course and rows of palm trees, seeming to resemble more of a resort than an army base.  It looked pristine.  And that was the end of the second leg of the Island Hopper.

Departure from Majuro

Ready to taxi for departure from Majuro

Ready to taxi for departure from Majuro

Transit passengers have to stay onboard during the turn at Kwaj - the only stop on the Island Hopper where you're not allowed to leave the plane if you're continuing to another destination.  Military personnel perform the security sweep in between the few people disembarking and others joining our journey onwards.  Everyone would retrieve their own items in the overhead bins and anything left behind would be identified and checked.  Once they had passed your row, you were clear to put your items back in the overhead bin.

Meanwhile refuelling took place outside by an army fuel truck.

Not many passengers joined us at Kwaj and the rest of the journey through to Guam would have a light passenger load.  As my seat mate disembarked at Kwaj, I had the row of three seats to myself for the rest of the journey to Guam.

Flight Information

Routing: Kwajalein - Kosrae (KWA-KSA) - 645km/401mi

Scheduled Time of Departure: 1259 hrs

Actual Departure: 1310 hrs (pushback), 1320 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1312 hrs

Touchdown: 1320 hrs

Flight time: 1 hr

This flight would take us southwest from Kwaj, away from the atolls used as nuclear test sites and the Marshall Islands, and across to the Federated States of Micronesia.  The safety video came and went again, Mission Impossible started up again and we were soon departing Runway 06 and performing a right hand turn away from Kwaj down towards the southwest.  There was a glance of Ebeye after the turn, just beyond the airport.

We were dodging towering cumulus clouds for the first part of the flight - we were in the tropics in the afternoon and the build up of storms was expected.  Flight attendants made their drink run from the cart (soft drinks on offer) and handed out packets of mixed nuts containing almonds and walnuts.  My packet had two almonds in it.. Not a great mixture!

The rest of the flight was spent gazing out the window and marvelling at the deep blue hues of the Pacific with the ever towering cumulus clouds continuing to grow.

The approach into Runway 05 at Kosrae was stunning.  It may have helped that it was high tide and the tidal flats were submerged in water, which made for an ever changing view from the deep blue ocean to the green tinge of the tidal flat.  There was a similar feeling here like at Kwaj where it felt like we were descending onto water - maybe it was partly an illusion given that the tidal flats were only just under the water's surface but there was quite a big area of this shallow water before we reached the runway.  Then once again, we had touched down on another island in the middle of the Pacific.

Departing Kwaj

Departing Kwaj

Landing at Kosrae

The terminal at Kosrae was an open air structure with a roof on top.  It had a little store selling snacks and souvenirs, a seating area, a check in desk and a VIP lounge..  In other words, pretty bare.  I have no idea what these VIP lounges are all about or who they're for..  It's just a room with nice seats. 

Boarding was called and we all headed back towards the plane.

Flight Information

Routing: Kosrae - Pohnpei (KSA-PNI) - 556km/345mi

Scheduled Time of Departure: 1347 hrs

Actual Departure: 1352 hrs (pushback), 1400 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1450 hrs

Touchdown: 1452 hrs

Flight time: 52 min

The scenery on takeoff was just as breathtaking as that on landing at Kosrae.  The amazing colour of the water was definitely a highlight.  The mangrove forest looked particularly thick - I wouldn't want to think what creatures live in there!  A left hand turn after takeoff had us on course for Pohnpei.

The continual afternoon build up of towering cumulus clouds was visible all around us on this leg too.  Another drink and almond/walnut run was made and Mission Impossible tried to play for longer than the previous sector.  Most of the time on these flights was spent looking out the window trying to find atolls.  The odd one or two popped up but most of the time it was just the deep blue sea all the way to horizon with some clouds in between.  The flights between the islands makes you appreciate just how isolated these places are - often potentially hundreds of kilometres from the next inhabited island/atoll.  The fact that they were even found and then settled on hundreds of years ago is impressive in itself.

The approach took us over the northernmost tip of the reef surrounding Pohnpei on downwind before a couple of left hand turns to line up with Runway 09.  This approach took us past Sokeh's Rock, a huge bare faced basalt column, one of Micronesia's best known geographic features.  Soon after, we touched down, backtracked on the runway and taxied in towards the terminal.  It was quite windy here (as it was at the other stops too) and when I stepped off the plane, there was a big storm cloud in the direction of where the wind was coming from.

Departure from Kosrae

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Landing at Pohnpei

Pohnpei (pronounced pon-a-pay) Airport, like the other stops, consists of a smallish terminal building with a transit lounge.  Unlike the previous stops, this one had free wifi.  I saw another sign saying "VIP Lounge" so I wandered over to it like I did at Kosrae.  When I opened the door, I saw some couches in the room like there was at Kosrae.  There was a grumpy man inside who said, "What are you doing here? Get out! And that was the end of that lounge visit!

Boarding was called and we headed back to the plane, now bound for Chuuk/Truk - the last stop before Guam.  During the time of the layover, that cloud which was mentioned earlier had shaded the airport from the sun.  The cloud was still approaching but luckily we were all onboard before the blue sky disappeared.

Flight Information

Routing: Pohnpei - Chuuk (PNI-TKK) - 705km/438mi

Scheduled Time of Departure: 1531 hrs

Actual Departure: 1525 hrs (pushback), 1538 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1543 hrs

Touchdown: 1540 hrs

Flight time: 1 hr 12 min

A tractor pushed us back to the hold point for starting our engines as the first drops of rain started falling.  Lightning could also be seen in the distance.  As Pohnpei is one of the wettest places on earth, with some places on Pohnpei receiving over 7.6 metres of rain annually, it seemed fitting to experience some rain during my time there.  We turned onto the runway and you could see a curtain of rain approaching towards us down the runway, obscuring the other end.  We backtracked and lined up Runway 09 then held there for a few minutes, presumably to see off the worst of the rain. The pilots would have had a good view of the rain.  The engines spooled up as it started to clear and we were bound for Chuuk.

Our climb was spent dodging towering cumulus clouds.  We were later met with a lot of high cloud above cruising altitude, which would last for the last half of the flight.  Another drink run was made and completed and we were soon descending for Chuuk.

Chuuk is a lagoon/atoll with a different structure to the other atolls visited earlier - the reef surrounds many islands within the huge 2,100 sqkm lagoon; and the island where the airport is located is called Weno.  It is known as one of the best diving areas in the world - many WWII wrecks/artifacts can be explored.  It was home to a major naval base for the Japanese for their South Pacific campaign.

A few more turns over the lagoon and we were on the ground at Chuuk.  Passengers staying onboard during the transit were told to move across to the ABC (left) side of the cabin as the security check was going to be performed on the DEF (right) side.

Departing Pohnpei



Landing at Chuuk

The airport at Chuuk was a similar story to  the other airports we'd visited - a decently sized transit area with a stall for snacks and souvenirs. 

Flight Information

Routing: Chuuk - Guam (TKK-GUM) - 1,019 km/633mi

Scheduled Time of Departure: 1620 hrs

Actual Departure: 1621 hrs (pushback), 1644 hrs (rotate)

Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1755 hrs

Touchdown: 1807 hrs

Flight time: 1 hr 23 min

To my surprise, I didn't feel that tired even though we had already flown for 8.5 hours and I'd been up for 17 hours by the time we were leaving Chuuk.  Maybe the fact that we were following the sun westbound was a factor.

There was a paperwork issue which delayed the departure by about 15 minutes.  The safety video played for the 6th time of the day and Mission Impossible started again for the 7th or 8th time (it really was mission impossible to finish the movie - Tom Cruise was left hanging off the A400M!).  The second snack of the day was served once we reached cruising altitude - this consisted of a ham and cheese bun with a sachet of mayonnaise if you wanted, a muesli bar and another almond and walnut nut mix.  This time there were 12 almonds in the packet!  There was still quite a bit of high cloud either above us or below us for most of the flight but eventually the clouds made way for beautiful late afternoon light for the descent into Guam.  The cloud built up again around Guam and we flew through a shower on final approach.

We landed basically at sunset to end an amazing journey across the Pacific from Honolulu - to my amazement, if we hadn't been delayed by a paperwork issue before departing Chuuk, we would have arrived in Guam on time, if not a few minutes early, across 6 sectors.  Fantastic work by all involved to keep to schedule!  And in typical US immigration style, immigration took an hour to clear - not helped by a widebody arrival from Japan getting in front of us.

Departure from Chuuk



Landing in Guam

To sum up the Island Hopper experience - what an amazing adventure to these islands/atolls in the middle of the Pacific.  I'd love to spend more time at these places rather than just a layover.  The views are breathtaking and it should be a bucket list item for every aviation enthusiast.

For seat selection - I'd recommend Row 7, 8 or 9F - the better side to be on for the westbound (7, 8 or 9A for the eastbound) as you're in front of the engine/wing, out of the sun and it seems to give a better view.  I'm sure the view on the other side of the aircraft wouldn't be too bad though.  These seats do sit in the Economy Plus section so they're either complimentary for Star Alliance Gold or more expensive than the standard seat selection.  But for a long journey like this, the extra legroom is a godsend.

Service couldn't be faulted - the flight attendants remained super friendly and helpful throughout.  I wasn't actually that hungry during the journey even though we only received two small meals on the first and last legs; but if you were, the snack stalls at most of the transit lounges meant that you could top your stomach up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the takeoffs and landings at all of the stops.  Each one was unique - the runway at Majuro being the width of the atoll, not being able to see land until seconds before landing at Kwaj and Kosrae and the beautiful tropical water colours throughout the journey all contributed to making the Island Hopper just that much more special.  There were no short field takeoffs performed - all the sectors apart from the first one hovered around an hour in length so it wasn't required.  The strong winds which generally tracked in the same direction as the runway would have helped takeoff performance.

That completes the Island Hopper part of the report.  I hope you enjoyed it and consider exploring these islands!  The report in a far more summarised form continues below with photos of the onward journey from Guam to Tokyo Narita and then Seoul Incheon.

Yet another early wake up call to head back to the airport for the flight to Narita.  Amazingly, Guam is only three hours away from Narita.  Slightly unfortunately for me, the last leg to Japan is on a Boeing 777 - the first widebody of the journey since Newark.  So it means I fall agonisingly close to crossing the Pacific only in narrowbody aircraft.  Check in and security are seamless and I've nabbed a complimentary upgrade to domestic First Class for the flight.  The United lounge was once the Continental Presidents Club in the premerger days.  It didn't appear as though much had changed in the lounge - offerings were on par with Honolulu (not great) and it was pretty full, partly owing to our flight to Narita.

N772UA was the ship to take us to Narita - my first 777-200 non-ER and one of the oldest 777s in the world; in fact the 5th 777 frame to be built.  It was still in operation up to July 2021.  It had been fitted with the "Hawaiian config" First Class recliners in a 2-3-2 layout.  Economy Class remained in its original and rather unique 2-5-2 layout.  Not many airlines opted for 2-5-2 on the 777.  United didn't retrofit these cabins with PTVs - instead they went for the cheaper bring your own device option where you could stream movies/TV shows to your phone or tablet over wifi. Despite that, the domestic First Class seat was comfortable and could recline quite a distance.

There were some cool aircraft on the ground at Guam that morning - a few Asia Pacific Airlines 727Fs and an An-124.  Departure off Runway 06L was followed by a left hand turn, providing magnificent views over the terminal and then Tumon Bay.  Breakfast was served after reaching cruise - my choice of Pork Katsu was very nice.  There's something about flights to/from Japan having meal options more suited to Japanese clientele and they happen to be a great change up from the usual western breakfast options which get rather boring quickly.

We followed the Mariana Trench north to Tokyo and the rest of the flight was uneventful.  There wasn't anything to see out the window but cloud and ocean.  I rested for the whole time after breakfast to make up for getting up so early.  The flight path took us up the east coast just to the east of Tokyo and touched down on Runway 34L.

Departure from Guam

Tumon Bay, Guam, at night

Tumon Bay, Guam, at night

A few hours was spent in the United Lounge at Narita - the main reason for choosing this lounge was for the view out towards the runway.  The ANA lounges have better food and beverage offerings but the main one I visit seems to be underground and has no windows.

What was supposed to be an Asiana Boeing 747-400 when I booked the flight was changed a few days out and ended up being an A330-300.  It was such a shame to miss out on another 747 flight - airlines were starting to phase them out and I never managed another flight on Asiana (they will be merged with Korean Air in a few years).  Despite it being my first flight on Asiana, it was a pretty ordinary flight.  The seat recline function on my seat wouldn't lock.  At least the meal of chicken and rice was decent.  It was quite smoggy on approach to Incheon and visibility wasn't great.

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Thanks again for reading the report!  Comments are always welcome.

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