JAL and ANA's domestic in-flight service isn't what it used to be, but I still maintain that domestic flights in Japan are one of the best commercial flying experiences in the world, if only because the system is mind-bogglingly efficient and customer-friendly. Last month I went on a cycling trip in Hokkaido with a few friends; we were basically going to spend a few days circumnavigating the island. I managed to bust up my big toe in the course of a hard braking operation. At first, I thought I would be OK, but as we cycled on through northern Hokkaido, my toe got very sore and started turning blue, and I was having trouble keeping up with my friends. Up in those extremities of Japan, there are few signs of civilization other than impeccably maintained roads that nobody uses. I didn't want to spend the night in some random location by myself, or subject myself to some local country doctor who didn't know what he was doing. We were fortunately just a few clicks away from WKJ (Wakkanai), and my iPhone indicated that there was a flight back to Tokyo that I could possibly make if I rushed. So I bid my friends goodbye and raced toward the airport. Got to the airport no more than 15 minutes before departure. I stopped my bike outside the terminal, hopped inside (still wearing my helmet) and asked the agent whether it was too late to buy a ticket. Agent: No problem. It will be full fare. Is that OK? Me: Yes. Here's my credit card. Agent: Do you have any luggage? Me: I have a bicycle. Agent: [pregnant pause] How quickly can you pack it up? Me: Very quickly. Agent: Go pack it up and we'll issue your ticket. So I ran back out to the curb, pulled out a wrench and very quickly disassembled the bike so that it would fit in its bag. One of the baggage handlers came out to the curbside to help. In very little time he was carrying the bike back into the terminal while the agent was handing over my ticket and credit card. Security was done in a couple of minutes, and just like that I had a row to myself on an A320 and we pushed off for Tokyo almost as soon as I sat down. The bike was one of the first items to come out of baggage claim at HND. Soon I was back at home and my wife was icing down my foot. I think the odds of anything like this ever happening in any other country are extremely low.