Ask 100 children what they want to be when they grow up and it's a safe bet that a dozen will say they want to be a pilot.

Sure, air travel is less glamorous than during my father's generation, but the act of flying remains magical to kids. Adults too. You don't have to be a schoolkid to find aviation interesting. For those who love planes, two Japanese airlines offer a chance to experience some of the biggest jets in a new way.

Both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) offer tours of their Haneda Airport maintenance facilities. This is often called a factory tour, but you won't see planes being built. Instead, retired pilots, flight attendants and ground staff show you airplane maintenance up close — all while you learn about air travel and the mechanics of aviation. Oh, and did I mention that this is free?