A JAL Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed at JFK on Sunday afternoon even-though all other flights from Tokyo to JFK had been canceled due to snow in Japan. On board were only six passengers – new Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, his pop star wife, a personal manager, and a toy poodle named Haru. Tanaka spent an estimated $200,000 to rent the plane from JAL…but don’t worry, despite his $155 million contract, he will be reimbursed for the price a first class ticket from NRT-JFK. From the New York Times:
The unusual flight manifest was not a joke, but the grand entrance of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees’ flamboyant Japanese pitcher who put his newfound dollars to immediate use. Eager to avoid a snowstorm and arrive in New York in time for his introductory news conference Tuesday, Tanaka rented the plane from JAL for an estimated $200,000. Not even Reggie Jackson made such a colorful entrance to New York when he signed as a free agent with the Yankees in November 1976. It is unclear whether Haru had his own seat, but there were nearly 200 empty ones from which to choose. But the Yankees did not participate in Tanaka’s decision to charter a commercial jet, and their most affluent players tend to use private jets rather than fly on commercial airlines. Tanaka’s new $155 million contract calls for a certain number of first-class tickets between Japan and the United States a year, so he will be reimbursed the equivalent of the price of the first-class ticket. Carol Anderson, a spokeswoman for JAL, confirmed that a flight was chartered from Tokyo to J.F.K. on Sunday, but would not reveal the cost of the flight. She said the plane returned to Tokyo as a ferry flight, meaning it refueled, turned around and flew back empty, perhaps with a few extra dog hairs. Tanaka’s commute to Narita Airport from his hotel in downtown Tokyo — usually a two-hour journey — took eight and a half hours. Trains were not running and the highways were impassable, according to reports in Japan, and Tanaka’s driver was forced to use tiny, snow-covered surface roads to reach the airport.