It’s 7pm in Japan on this the first day of 2008, and I should be on a Northwest flight bound for Beijing right now. But alas, I’m in a hotel room somewhere just outside the perimeter of the fortress that is Narita Airport (Tokyo). When my flight from Minneapolis/St.Paul landed here a few hours ago, we were informed that the flight to Beijing was canceled due to "mechanical reasons." Although it wasn’t a pleasant thing to hear, I don’t want to be on a plane that has mechanical problems. The last time this happened (just a year ago, come to think of it), we were all re-booked on to a Japan Airlines flight departing at the same time. Zip zip. But tonight that was not to be since that JAL flight was full. So we were handed tickets for a JAL flight tomorrow morning, and hotel vouchers and put on busses for hotels. Most passengers were up at the Hilton or Radisson, but for some reason 3 of us ended up at a hotel with fewer stars. It’s fine, though. Quiet, and, since this is Japan, super-clean!
This was my first time to spend "New Years" in the air. It actually never happened. We were flying along somewhere off the coast of Alaska, it was probably about 8pm according to my watch, and then suddenly it was the next afternoon. I was hoping that there would be free champagne, but no such luck.
I think that Northwest must have had a special family fare on my flight today, given the number of kids on board. It seemed like half of the passengers were under 5 years old. You know what that means—lots of screaming, crying, and running up and down the aisles. In the upcoming presidential elections, I’ll vote for any candidate who either bans babies from flying or requires that they be given medication to make them sleep! The good news, though, was that the seat next to me was empty. That small grace makes a huge difference.
And now, jet-lag has happened, so it’s time to enjoy this nice hotel room.