04 August 2006

Travel to Bangkok

Yesterday, I’d gotten a mail message from United about checking in on-line so I did that and printed my boarding pass. At home, I was all packed and ready to sleep in a little the following morning so was knitting at past 10 when the phone rang. It was Dave asking if I’d gotten a call about our canceled flight. I hadn’t. Turns out our flight to Chicago had been canceled around 8pm and United had booked us on an American flight leaving 2 hours earlier.

Good thing he called! I thought I was all set to go and wouldn’t have known any different until I showed up 2 hours late for my flight. We rearranged our meeting time and I toddled off to bed after changing my alarm to get me up earlier.

We met at work, where I left my car for the week, then headed to the airport. Because of the cancellation, we had to go to the United counter to get a voucher for the American flight and then to the American counter to get boarding passes and check Dave’s bag.

At the United counter, they told us I didn’t have a seat assignment for the Chicago-Tokyo flight. No one could say why…my itinerary and printed-yesterday boarding pass all said I did. The agent helping us was a trainee and didn’t really know what he was doing so a supervisor was called. Much confusion ensued. We finally got our vouchers and went to the American counter where they told us they had to have a ‘coupon’ from United that wasn’t in the paperwork they gave us. So we trouped back to the United counter to get the coupon then back to the American counter to finalize everything.

Eventually we got to the security gate and because of the cancellation/reschedule changes; it looked like we had purchased last-minute tickets which automatically flags you for a personal security screening. That took longer for me because I had my luggage with me instead of checking a bag. When I got to the gate, the flight was already boarding so I got right on.
In Chicago, as we were getting off the plane, I suddenly remembered that I forgot to order the coffee before I left the office. Even connecting to the network with my laptop wouldn’t help because the file was on the hard drive of my office PC.

I was trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do about it…I knew it was a fairly substantial order that I couldn’t just get from “stock” when the shipment arrived but I had no idea what it consisted of. I was thinking it was the weekend but Dave (Bless him!) reminded me that it was Friday and people were still in the office. Ann or someone could log onto my PC as administrator and get the file for me.

Once we got to the gate (hours before our flight, there was no one there, of course), Dave went to get something to eat and I called the office. I caught Doug and told him what was up. He said he’d take care of it (Bless him!). Then I called the travel service to see what they could tell me about my seat on the Tokyo flight. The agent I talked to called United and both of them agreed that there was no problem with my ticket, nothing had changed and I did, indeed, have a seat assignment. Go figure.

There still wasn’t anyone at the gate so I wandered down to the United Customer Service desk to see what they’d say. They agreed with Des Moines…I didn’t have a seat; I’d have to get it at the gate. Which I wouldn’t have cared so much about but everyone (except the travel service) said there were only middle seats available.

I went back to the gate and there was someone there so I went through it all again to get my seat. She said I’d have to wait until my name was called. It wasn’t long after that she called the 14 names (including mine) and I finally got my seat. As she handed me my ticket she told me it was an aisle. (Bless her!)

After that, it was board, take off and fly. By the time we’d been served a bag of snack-y stuff then lunch, I’d finished my book and we were only somewhere over the Dakotas. It was going to be a long, loooooong flight… All my other books were in the overhead bin…not impossible to get to but not convenient. I had tatting and word puzzles…

The bright spot at that point was that I had an outside aisle seat with no one in the window seat beside me so I could at least spread out and shift some. That was the highlight of the entire day and flight!

As we came in for a landing in Tokyo, it wasn’t at all what I expected. The airport must be outside the city. I never saw any city on the way in, only neat, precise little rectangles of green fields. They looked like they’d been laid out by engineers with a straight-edge. It looked sort of like landing in the Midwest except that the parcels were smaller and not square. Also, whereas in the US, houses/farmsteads tend to be spread out across the grid, here they were all clustered together in corners. It was the same with what looked like parking lots…clusters of cars parked around rectangle intersections. I don’t know why there were all those cars clustered together where there weren’t any buildings.

We wandered the Tokyo airport waiting for our next flight. Anything to not sit more! We found a duty-free shop with traditional Japanese things. Dave got Ts for his kids and I got a couple of silk hankies with traditional prints on them. Also a small green-tea container. It’s metal with a little lid but the outside is covered in a silk brocade. It has some tea in it but it was the container I thought was cool. Total, 1,500 yen.

On the flight to Bangkok, I had a window seat. It’s dark out so I couldn’t see anything except for a ¾ full moon. I was in the 2nd row back from the bulkhead and surrounded by infants and small children. They were very well-behaved, though, so it wasn’t too bad. I was way too tired to be able to concentrate enough to read so I just had to muddle through the remaining hours of the flight. Then it was going to be the tough decision…bed or shower first??

It was around midnight before I got to my room but I opted for shower first.