Instead of reciting key points of the trip from Ishigaki to Naha, which aren’t exciting at all, I’d rather take this time to praise domestic flights in Japan. Unfortunately, I can’t compare such service to other countries as I have never flown within one country borders. Nevertheless, it’s important to mention the Japanese way of flying, passing through customs and proceeding to the aircraft. It’s really different to what we are used to.
You know the drill. You arrive at the airport and staff (apart from the luggage check-in clerks) looks like they wanted to kill you. On my way to Japan in March I had a transfer in Pekin, which was a terrible experience and customs seemed like they wanted you caught on doing something wrong. Luggage checks are very thorough – you need to take out any electronics, they open your bags and look inside them and should they find anything suspicious you will be held hostage for next 15 minutes. Same goes for metal detectors, which force you to undress, take off your shoes and empty any of your pockets, then you are more likely get touched by one of staff to make sure you didn’t hide anything (where?).
In Japan on the other hand even customs uphold the customer service standards. They greet you, thank you ten times and the second you take your shoes-off you will be given a pair of slippers so your socks stay clean of dirt. I completely forgot that I had a drink in a bottle in my backpack as you don’t empty it at any point, so once the detector alarmed customs it’s there, a friendly lady kindly asked me if I had any liquids inside, I blindly said no, so she insisted wth her kindness “would you mind if I open it and have a look myself, please?”. No brainer she found it and smiled at me and said it was OK to take aboard!
There was a case a guy was late for a plane. They made the stuff run around the airport looking for him everywhere! Unbelievable. They found it and they even run with him back to the aircraft!
It only proofs people can be nice to each other and even flying can be a pleasant experience. Why isn’t it so?