More trouble on the way to Sapporo
Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
70Trip End Mar 17, 2013
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I got up at 3:00am, only 3 1/2 hours after arriving at the hotel. I quickly got ready, headed downstairs and found my taxi waiting. After the 20-minute drive to the airport the driver left me at a door that was labeled as being for Air Asia, the airline I had booked. Unfortunately, the door was still closed. Two guards came along. They didn't speak English but they told me the terminal opened in about an hour at 5:00. Ten or fifteen minutes later they came back, took me into the terminal and took me to a different floor. It seems I had been taken to the International floor and I wanted Domestic, which was open.
I checked in for my flight using one of their automated check-in machines. Then I headed for their baggage inspection where bags are x-rayed before checking them. Finally, I headed for the counter to check my bags.
AirAsia, at least for my class of service, had a 15kg (33 pound) limit on checked bags. I had 36kg (79 pounds) of baggage. I was informed that their charge for excess baggage is 1,500 yen (about $16) per kilogram. They wanted 31,500 yen (about $335) for excess baggage for the two bags I wanted to check. My round-trip flight had only been $159. Then they wanted to weigh my carry-on bags. They had a 5kg limit for that. Of course my wheeled bag is 6kg empty so I knew I'd be over. My carry-on would be another 28kg times 1,500 yen (about $16) per kilogram or 42,000 yen (about $449). So my ticket had been $159 round-trip but they wanted $784 one-way for my bags. I gave up on AirAsia and went looking for other flights.
Jetstar had a flight to Sapporo that left five minutes after the AirAsia flight. I went to their ticket counter to see if they had seats available and whether their baggage policy was better. They had seats and their baggage policy was much better. I tried to buy a ticket but, for some reason, I was being told to come back. It was already about 5:10 and the flight was at 6:25 so coming back at 5:55 didn't make any sense to me so I just kept asking. Eventually, I was sold a ticket. The cost was 23,180 yen (about $248) for the round-trip. There was supposed to be an excess baggage fee on top of that but I don't believe I was charged. In any case, although I forget the details, their excess baggage policy was much more reasonable than AirAsia's. The cost for me and my bags to fly round-trip on Jetstar was less than the cost of my bags alone to fly one-way on AirAsia. I headed for my gate. I arrived with something like 14 minutes to spare. I'm sure glad I hadn't waited as they kept asking me to do.
I got to Sapporo, got my bags and then needed to figure out how to get to my hotel. The Sapporo airport is very far from town and a taxi would have been very expensive. I found out where to catch a bus to town, bought a ticket and caught a bus just a few minutes later. It dropped me off a few blocks from my hotel. I caught a taxi for the rest of the trip.
It was too early to check in when I got to my hotel. I left my bags and used their computer to start researching luggage. Eagle Creek makes a suitcase that was recommended. I found a store that carries Eagle Creek products and was getting ready to head over when a woman who works at the hotel that I had spoken to on the phone when I called asking for help making restaurant reservations came over and introduced herself. I was surprised to find out she works in the restaurant as a chef, not at the Front Desk. She helped me once again by making me a list of luggage stores in Sapporo and marking their locations on a tourist map.
I headed out to the store but, unfortunately, while they carry Eagle Creek products they didn't carry the complete Eagle Creek product line and luggage was not something they carried. The store was in a mall. There were two other stores that carried luggage in the mall but I didn't find anything that looked suitable.
I headed back toward the hotel. Sapporo is laid out in a rectangular grid, unlike most Japanese cities, so I had an easy time finding my way around. There was a street that was roofed for seven blocks known as Tanukikoji that I had noticed on my way to the store. It looked like an interesting market. I managed to find it again. I checked out the restaurants and found a place to have dinner. After dinner I went back to the hotel. It was late enough I could check in. I stayed in the rest of the evening.