Thursday, December 19, 2013

On The Twelfth Day....

I don't know why, but for some reason last night my brain decided, instead of trying to rest and get a good night's sleep before work, that it should instead make up a convincingly sing-able (or at least hum-able) 'Traveler's 12 Days of Christmas.'  Yeah, I don't get it either, but here we are.... so just go with it. 

"On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My Travels Gave to Me.....

Twelve OneWorld Lounges,
Eleven Hours on GoGo,

Ten Across In Econ,
Nine Upgrades Clearing, 

Eight Tight Connections, 

Seven Times Through PreCheck

Six Weather Re-Routes
!!!Five Years Elite!!!

Four Pre-Flight Drinks, 

Three Mileage Runs, 
Two Rollaboards, 
And a Handful Of Club Candy!!*

Anyone else's snapshots of the qualifying year look like mine??  Happy Holidays everyone, and best wishes for clear skies, and plentiful bonus miles in the new year!


*Photo courtesy of Mrs. CruisingAltitude on her way to DFW this afternoon.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Its own reward...

The rewards that make the delays worth it-
 Breathtaking sunlight through clouds on approach to NRT

I'm so glad I took that advice from 1500's.  So, so glad.  In particular, that suitcase full of patience I've got properly stowed in the overhead bin has come in very handy of late.  It's what's kept all the little trials of mileage running from upping my blood pressure this weekend.  I've had my phone 'eaten' by my J seat for the better part of my 14 hr inbound flight (took 3 flight attendants and nearly a mechanic to get it back), navigated the Maglev and Shanghai subway system, and white-knuckled it more than once worrying over my 'transit without visa' status getting into China.  So far, however, I've made it through in pretty good spirits.

I slept well last night, after exploring a little down at The Bund yesterday evening and enjoying my corner room at the Sheraton Hongkou.  Now, I'm currently on my 4th of 7 segments on this weekend's marathon mileage run.  It's JAL flight 872 from Shanghai Pudong to Tokyo Narita.  We're en-route...finally, after a 2.5 hour ground delay in PVG due to heavy fog.  Honestly, considering I believe I heard (things get lost in translations and accents) that at least briefly all runways were closed.

Riverfront walk- Shanghai skyline at night
To get an idea of how much of a mess closing even partial runways at this airport would be, let me put it this way- at least from my limited time there PVG makes a place like SFO or SEA look like a municipal field with one windsock.  The place is huge- dizzyingly tall sloping ceilings, never ending walkways & lots and lots of flights.

All in all I'm counting myself lucky on this one- we're in the air & my connecting flight back to ORD is much later today, so I'll still have some time on the ground in NRT.

Plus, I'd heard about JAL's reputation for great customer service, and I haven't been disappointed.  One thing of note was that they boarded on time and the delay kept us on-board for 2 hours before we pushed back.  Sounds like shades of the issues that prompted the 'passenger bill of rights' awhile back, no?

"Smogged in" in PVG
Except, it wasn't that bad- definitely not as bad as being on a US domestic flight in a similar situation (I'm looking at you JetBlue at 1am in JFK in the snow).  The attendants were professional and friendly, and we were offered drinks, snacks, and even our meal service prior to take off.

In seat entertainment was active, and I tried (for the second time this trip) to watch Elysium....but still only made it part way.  Next flight, provided I can sort out the fast forward.  I'm conflicted about this one though- Jodie Foster's character is supposed to be the villain, and out of habit I want to take her side anyway.  She's had me since Ellie Arroway :)

The flight deck kept us updated, and the time passed pretty quickly.  It also didn't hurt that the Y cabin is fairly empty, and they let me move back to an empty A-C row for some extra space.  Besides, they passed out extra rice crackers. I love rice crackers.

I will say though, I'm glad to be on my way and above the layer of smog and clouds that covered everything in Shanghai.  Up at 30,000ft it's a beautiful day over the water as we make our way Northeast, around the coast of South Korea.  The sky has given way to a broken ceiling of puffy clouds that reflect off the blue-green water benieth.

Beautiful day up here - over the water PVG-NRT

Up next- hopefully a view of Mt. Fuji & then the JAL 1st lounge for a bit before heading back across the Pacific!

Here's to the journey!


Endnote- posted from the JAL 1st Lounge in NRT.  We made it (finally) and I'm enjoying some food and drinks before my massage time. to the next segment & hopefully a good night's sleep back to ORD.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to pack for a journey...

I'm not sure those will fit under the seat in front of me....or in the overhead bin.

It's that time again already, CruisingAlitiude is packing for the next (and final!!) mileage run.  I thought now would be an opportune time to take some advice from people who've done this before.  Where better to go than history?

Here's some advice on how to pack for a journey, circa 1480:

"[A traveler] should carry with him two bags: one very full of patience, the other containing two hundred Venetian ducats, or at least one hundred and fifty... furthermore, he should provision himself with good Lombard cheese, sausages, tongue, and other cured meats of every sort; white biscuits, some cakes of sugar, and various confections, but not a great quantity because they spoil quickly. Above all he should take plenty of fruit syrup, because that is what keeps a man alive in extreme heat; and also ginger syrup to settle his stomach if it is upset by too much vomiting." 
Santo Brasca, Viaggio in Terrasanta (1480)
I'm not sure how Chinese customs agents would feel about the cured meats and good Lombard cheese, but I've got my suitcase full of patience. Well, full of patience and the rest of my stuff.  You didn't think I was going to check it, did you?  Plus I agree wholeheartedly on the ginger.  I've got syrup, caps, name it- good for the stomach, motion sickness, and circulation.  But, does anyone know where I can get about a hundred Venetian ducats?  Are those accepted where they don't take AmEx?  Maybe I'll just try changing some money in PVG....

This weekend is part 2 of this mileage season.  Tomorrow I've got positioning flights LAX-SFO-ORD.  LAX-SFO has cleared for the upgrade, but I'm still waiting on the second longer segment.  The good news is the following day my ORD-PVG (Shanghai Pudong) flight has already cleared into J (business) class.  Thank God, since it's an impressive (if I do say so myself) 14.5 hr flight.  The angle-lie flat seat will make a world of difference.

From there, I have an afternoon in Shanghai and a night at the Sheraton before flying onward to Tokyo (NRT) on JAL, and then enjoying the F lounge for awhile before heading back on my NRT-ORD-DFW-LAX marathon on Sunday.  Upgrades for those are still pending, so wish me luck!

Maybe those 14 hours will be a good time to finally finish my trip report for the last MR.  Like I've said in recent posts, JNB and back was a blast (yes, including the passport mishap and jetlag).  In the mean time, here's a few pics from our trip to Lion Park - totally worth the 48 hours of flight time!  (The 22.6k miles didn't hurt either)

This giraffe was displeased with waiting for his treat until after I took the picture.
Incidentally, this is the exact same expression on most mileage runners' faces when
they hear 'first class has checked in full, please board with your assigned groups.'  

They let you play with lion cubs- this one got fresh and bit my jacket for awhile.
I and the jacket survived, don't worry. 
Fly Safe,