Gia Garrick flies Tokyo to Obihiro on Japan Airways.

The plane:

A Boeing 767. The one with a row of seats in the middle of the plane too — and hilariously, odd seat lettering (A, C, D, E, G, H, K). Trying to find out why seats B, F and I were missing proved fruitless with the Japanese air hostesses, who seemed indifferent to the absent letters.

The seat: Economy. And down the back. Leg room was decent, but I don't usually have a problem with leg room given my 1.55m self. No in-flight entertainment either, but it was a short flight and the views out the window leaving the gigantic, sprawling city of Tokyo and then flying into a snow-blanketed Hokkaido were entertainment enough. Half of the in-flight magazine is written in English too — and includes some delightful-looking Japanese recipes. I'll admit I took a photo of one of them to try when I got home.


Price: One-way Economy Class fares start from NZ$550 for travel in January-February — the country's snow season. Flights from Tokyo are usually twice daily to the small Obihiro airport at this time of year.

Flight time: We take off at 7.55am for the 1.5-hour flight, and land at Obihiro about 9.30am. All running on time and the quick work of the efficient ground staff at the snow-covered airport meant we had our luggage and were in a mini-bus heading to our next destination by 9.45.

Fellow passengers: An almost empty flight. Our team of five had several options each of rows to ourselves, and window seats to ogle at the views on what was a brilliant, clear day.

Trick for young players: The iced tea is literally just cold tea, not the delicious sweet drink you can buy bottled back home.

Food and drink: No food offered — just drinks, but have as many cold teas (hot's an option too) as you like.

Service: Fantastic. The most lovely, happy and polite air hostesses I've encountered — although it's a trait I find universally true of the Japanese people and culture.

Toilets: Very clean and tidy.

Airport experience: The tarmac might be covered in snow, but the well-coated baggage-handlers are so cheery they even wave at the planes leaving or coming in to land.