A Japanese airline has given a free ride aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to some 200 kids from two of the three most affected prefectures in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The kids from Miyagi and Fukushima were delighted by the one-hour flight of All Nippon Airways (ANA) on Monday over the "Tohoku" region of north-eastern Japan.
"This is my first plane trip and I enjoyed myself," one of the children told reporters.
Hiromu Saito, a 10-year-old primary school boy from Kesennuma, Miyagi, who lost his grandmother to the tsunami in the neighboring town of Minamisanriku, was all smiles and said, "I have a lot to tell my friends about what I saw from the sky."
The aircraft departed from Sendai Airport, four days after its commercial flight debut and flew over scenic spots like Lake Tazawa, a caldera lake in Akita Prefecture, and Mt Zao on the border between Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures, before returning to the airport.
The captain of the ANA-operated flight was heard telling the kids in an in-flight announcement, "Please do not give in to difficulties and continue to pursue your dreams."
Innovations in the fuselage structure help limit noise in the passenger cabin, and its large windows make it easier for passengers in isle-side seats to enjoy watching outside scenery.
A family member who accompanied one of the kids said, "It is amazing to see how quiet this aircraft's cabin is, and I thank the airline for this project."
The all new aircraft made its first commercial flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong on Wednesday. ANA will put the Dreamliner into regular service on domestic routes linking Tokyo with Okayama and Hiroshima from Tuesday.