How do you spell VDB in Japanese?

When booking my flight from Tokyo‘s Haneda airport to Hiroshima to position for my 787 Dreamliner trip I really wanted to book the 7:50am departure. It is a quite civilized time to fly and wouldn’t require waking up at a ridiculous hour to get to the airport. Alas, the inventory I needed for my Japan Pass wasn’t available so I booked the 6:50am flight. The early flight is early, but that was the only viable option for getting to Hiroshima with enough time to see the city and also get the 787 flight. So that’s what I booked.

Haneda is a great airport and I got there quite quickly from the JAL City Haneda hotel (more on that later, I hope) and was hanging out in the lounge prior to flight. The lounge was nice enough, though no food so I ambled back out into the terminal to see about grabbing some breakfast prior to the flight. That’s when I noticed one of the agents behind the counter writing on a large white board. The flight was oversold. Given that I was at the airport an hour earlier than I wanted to be anyways I was happy to volunteer.

The process of volunteering was not as simple as it is in the USA, mostly because I do not speak the language. With some gestures and pointing at the board and my boarding pass I managed to get the point across and the agents asked me to wait to see what would happen. It turns out that they did need me as a volunteer. Woohoo!

There were a number of interesting things about the process. For one, the compensation offer was either cash or points in ANA‘s Mileage Club loyalty program. The offer was JPY 10,000 (~$130) or 7,500 points which is a pretty high valuation for the points. Lacking any use for the points I chose the cash.

After making that choice I realized that there were still a lot of ways this could go wrong. If they needed to mail me a voucher or if they issued a check I was going to have trouble actually collecting on the offer. Much to my surprise, however, that turned out to not be an issue. The comp was paid out at the gate. In cash!


The entire process was incredibly civilized and polite; no real surprise there given that I was in Japan where that sort of thing is taken quite seriously. In the end the JPY 10,000 was about the amount I had paid for the one-way segment and I got the comp in cash which meant it actually had decent value to me. Of course, I didn’t convert it back to dollars so I’ll have to spend it to actually see the value, but that’s just another excuse to head back to Japan, something I don’t need much encouragement for anyways.

Read more from this Trip Report under the Dream2011 tag here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. What did they write on the white board? I would have expected that to be in Japanese only, or were there lots of foreigners on that flight that could have volunteered if only they had known?

    1. I really thought I had taken a photo of the board but I apparently didn’t. 🙁

      It was pretty clear to me that it was a VDB situation. I think parts might have even been in English, though I am not certain of that. I do know that the 10,000 and 7,500 numbers didn’t have any English near them so I had to ask for an explanation of how that worked.

  2. It is amazing, given how automated so many things are in Japan, how there are still lots of things that are handwritten with carbon papers, and stamps. I remember when I bought a Japan Rail pass how many different handwritten papers were involved until I got my pass, which in turn was also entirely manual – except the train reservations were fully automated…

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