Best Airline Service Ever: Thanks, ANA!

ANA planes courtesy NBC News

[21st in a series of posts about a recent trip to Japan]

After breakfast, we jumped into our takushii for what we thought would be a short ride to Chitose airport. The major regional airport for Hokkaido, it actually turned out to be more than an hour from Sapporo.

As we waited for the 12:30 p.m. ANA (All Nippon Air) flight, we noticed that the 12:15 boarding time came and went. That’s unusual in precision-oriented Japan. A gate agent, C. Kato, approached us and asked if we were the Stone Family. She explained that there was a maintenance problem and that the flight was being cancelled. “Would it be okay to rebook you on a flight in one hour?” she asked. “Wait here.” She took our baggage tags and ran off.

About five minutes later, we heard a general announcement in Japanese. It was as if a flock of geese startled and lifted off. People literally ran to form lines to rebook at the gate desk. In a few minutes, Ms. Kato returned with new baggage tags, boarding passes, and meal coupons worth $30. We headed to our new gate in a leisurely fashion and stopped at the souvenir shop to buy $30 worth of cheese, chocolate, cookies and biscuits.

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