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.

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