At any rate, I did write a day 1 and a day 2 summary while I was on the trip. Of course hardly anything had happened yet--particularly anything Japanese. I already posted day 1 awhile ago. And since I already wrote it and it's just been sitting here on my desktop, I'll go ahead and post day 2 now. Hopefully I'll get a chance to at least do smaller summaries of the rest of the trip at some point. But that's going to have to wait as I have more pressing projects to attend to at the moment.
Day 2 – 9/13
Waking up early-ish on Sunday (though not nearly as early as the day before), I called ANA to confirm I was on that flight. With that confirmation, it was off to the airport. A huge thanks once again to yeeehawmckickass for his hospitality and for going out of his way to both pick me up and take me back to the airport.
Getting checked in was a little bit tricky with the confusion from the previous day, but the desk attendant was very helpful and I was able to get my boarding pass. However, they weren’t able to get me checked in for my connecting flight in Okinawa, so I’d have to deal with that when I got to Tokyo.
Security was a bit busy, but it moved fairly efficiently. I made it to my gate and was able to confirm that my luggage had been properly routed onto the flight as well. I was surprised that boarding was scheduled for only about 20 minutes before the plane was to depart for an international flight. But I was told that the Japanese airlines move really fast. That was no lie!
I’d say that the flight was at least 90% Asian with a mix of Japanese (mostly), Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean, etc. At least those were the passports that I caught a glimpse of. Of course there was a separate line for first and business class, but they didn’t split economy class up at all (no calling by zones or anything like that). We just lined up, they opened the doors, and everyone filed onto the plane. The whole process was surprisingly quick and efficient and the entire plane of 300-some people was boarded and ready to go in just a few minutes.
The cabin attendants, as they were called, were all really exceptional. Although I guess it’s just the norm for Japanese air travel. I noticed right away that they made an effort to greet every single person individually as the passengers passed them on the way to their seats. Most seemed like a standard Japanese greeting, but I found it interesting that sometimes I would be greeted differently…sometimes in English, sometimes in what I guess might have been Chinese (it’s all moonspeak to me anyway! ;) ).
Throughout the entire 12-13+ hour flight, I was very impressed with all of the cabin attendants. Even in the cheapest of the cheap seats that I had purchased, I felt very well attended to and experienced a level of in-flight service that I have never received before and associate with a higher class ticket (never having actually experienced business or first class myself personally).
They were all extremely polite and friendly and I don’t think I ever saw them not smiling. Their level of attentiveness was unmatched in my flying experience. There were two meal services on the flight and several drink services. It always seemed like just about the time I might be thinking I’d like something they were already in the process of serving it. In addition, their regular sweeps of the cabin just to check on things, pick up trash, etc. seemed much more frequent than I’m used to.
I was seated in the middle of the middle section in the second to last row of the plane. I quickly realized that there were no power outlets at my seat, so all the things I had brought to do on my laptop were pretty much out of the question. My battery would likely only hold up for 2-3 hours. That would be just a tiny fraction of the 12+ hour flight, so I decided not to even bother with getting started on anything at all.
Still, the flight was one of the better flights I’ve ever taken. The plane was a Boeing 777, so it was relatively new. My seat was a bit narrow, but it was reasonably comfortable with an adjustable headrest that moved up and down and folded on the sides to cradle my head. Along with the provided pillow, I didn’t have too much trouble sleeping on the plane. I’d guess I spent about 1/3 of the flight asleep—not all at once, usually for an hour or two at a time.
The in-flight entertainment system was quite nice. Each seat had its own screen and there was a remote control in the armrest that could be pulled out and held in my hand. Using the remote, I could access at least a couple dozen movies on demand (with full control of pause, rewind, etc.), probably twice that number of television shows, various information videos, dozens of music channels, and even a couple dozen or so games. You could just turn the remote on its side and use it like a game controller—not unlike how you can do the same with a Wiimote.
Another pretty cool feature in the entertainment system was the Sky Map. It gave current flight information in a series of screens and animations. I was able to see how fast the plane was travelling, distance travelled and left to go, the time travelled and left to go, and an estimated time of arrival. There were also a series of maps that showed where we were in the route and the time zones we had crossed. It adequately answered the “are we there yet?” question and actually seemed to make the flight go a little quicker since I could track our progress.
Interspersed amongst the sleeping, I managed to watch the movie Little Miss Sunshine, which I rather enjoyed. I thought about watching Terminator Salvation, since I haven’t seen it yet, but I decided against experiencing it on a tiny screen with tiny sound, and edited for in-flight. Instead, I decided to watch The Goonies. OH YEAH!. Needless to say, the movie selection was a pretty solid mix of new, old, and relatively recent. I also watched some of the television programming and played a few games.
Of course this was a pretty long flight AND we crossed the International Date Line. So, I’m going to go ahead and arbitrarily break the story here and move on to Day 3.