3 First Class Tickets Home Please

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 20, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, July 19, 2012

I just had the most delightful banana tart and I'm blogging at 37,000 feet as we're en route to Chicago. International First Class is truly amazing. But why is it so amazing?   Exclusivity is certainly part of it, but there's something more to it. It's almost like camping in the woods and bringing a great tent that has so many of the acoutraments of home. Major is in seventh heaven. His seat is on the window and aisle so he has the best of both worlds. Throughout the trip, Major has had to sit between Mickell and me. I told him back as early as Yichang thatonce we get on the long flight home that I'd let him have the aisle seat. So, he has the best of both worlds now and he's just loving it. Right now he's enjoying a sundae while he's watching Pirates of the Carribean. He has all of his stuff animals from home as well as a few new ones from our trip sitting in the visitor seat that is a part of each of the first class pods.

The snakes were acquired in Bangkok and they've caused quite the commotion. They're simply little toy snakes, but Major insists on carrying them with him in his backpack which he carries onto the flights. And they get noticed each time the bag goes through the security scanners. When we left Bangkok, we got stopped because they thought that they were real, live snakes. Same thing happened in Shenzen. They noticed them again at the border crossing and then again, of course, at the Shanghai Pudong Airport.

We're all a little bit sad today because our trip coming to an end. It's been the trip of a lifetime. This morning I woke up at roughly 10:30 after my early morning conference call this morning with Australia and the US. Mickell was the first one up and he slowly opened the curtains to make the wake-up as painless as possible. We had to get up though because we had to get to the airport and there was no way we were going to miss our flight home! It was such an
easy morning because we just had the one bag and the backpacks to contend with. We did have a missing shoe (Major's) that held us up for roughly five minutes, but after that we said goodbye to our favorite regular hotel (non beach resort). The bed, the room quality, the service, the luxurious decoration, and the perfect location on the Bund make this hotel hard to beat at any price.

After I checked out (790 Yuan for the night), we asked the bellman to get us a cab to the Maglev train. You really need the bellmen here because remember that the cab drivers don't speak any English and unless you've written the name/address in chinese characters, they're not going to understand. So,the bellman told the cab driver and off we went with our light load. We arrived at the Maglev station around 1pm and bought our tickets. I had a lot of Yuan left so I bought VIP tickets for Mickell and me (Majorwas free). We just missed the 1pm train and waited 15 minutes for the next train. The train is a marvel of modern technology in that it doesn't sit on any tracks. It just levitates above the tracks at 300 kilometers per hour! We boarded the train and tried to go into the VIP seats but the attendant said that the VIP cars were un-airconditioned at the moment so we opted for the coach seats which were perfectly fine. We zoomed away and six minutes later we were at the airport.

Our first order of business was going to terminal 1 to claim the rest of our bags from storage. That went off without a hitch and we made way with our carts over to terminal 2. It took about 15 minutes and after we arrived in T2 we found that American Airlines check in was right in front of us. We had to do some last minute switches to get our toiletries out of the carryon bags and into the checked baggage. It wasso nice knowing that we didn't have to worry about the weight since we were in First Class.

We made our way through security and immigration and then spent some time in the First Class Lounge before doing some last minute shopping before boarding the plane. The plan leaves at 4:10pm and we expect to board at roughly 3:20. Mickell wantedto look for some t-shirts and I wanted to buy a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with my iPad during the plane trip since my laptop turned into a brick last night. I found one, but it was 990 Yuan. I went ahead and bought it because I just can't imagine being on the 15 hour flight without being able to get some notes written.

We boarded the plane right on time and took off without incident. As I sit here now, I'm watching The Hunger Games. We just finished dinner. Major came over and dined at my pod which is right next to Mickell. We toasted to our successful trip and enjoyed the meal. Major had Sweet & Sour Pork with white rice. I had the beef noodles and Mickell hadthe filet mignon with mushrooms. As I mentioned, I had a banana tart for desert and Major had the sundae. They've handed out pajamas and asked us to ring for assistance when we'd like for them to come turn ourpods into beds.

There's an Asian family on the plane as well and the three kids are sitting up here in first class while the two parents are sitting in business class in the next cabin back. It was funny because the mom came to check on the kids and they asked her to return to her cabin. Mickell and I just laughed. I've been threateningMickell all week that we're putting him back in coach. It's a joke, of course, but Major got very concerned and he told me last night that he'd really like me to consider putting Papa in Business Class. Major said that those seats are much better and he'd be more comfortable. I heard him whisper to Mickell, "I'm doing my best to get you into business class at least." He really did come up with some good arguments.

We've just run into darkness after seeing the most lovely sunset on the horizon. It's roughly 4am in Texas and we're getting ready to rest a bit and will soon sleep.

This has been the most pleasant plane trip I've ever taken.  The freedom of movement in this cabin makes all the difference.  I just switched places with Major because he was ready to have his pod transformed into bed except he wanted to move to my spot since the window seat he has sits a little back from mine and Mickell's seats and he says he wants to be able to see one of us while he sleeps.  So, we put the mattress pad down and put the blankets on and he's now laying on his bed watching an episode of Big Bang Theory while trying to go to sleep.  I'm sitting over in his seat finishing up some of these blog entries and half-way watching a movie.  Major has 3 windows at his seat and the chair swivels such that you have a work desk that faces directly out the three windows.  I don't want to sleep because this seat is just too perfect.  I can see a little bit of light starting to show through.  When we finally do arrive in Chicago, it will be almost 5pm.  The captain said that the forecast called for thunderstorms upon arrival so that could be interesting.

The flight attendants up here are taking great care of Major.  Both first class attendants have mae a point to stop and tell me how well behaved he is and noting how I keep him in-line.  He has done an amazing job on this trip.  Major can tell you the currency of the 4 countries wev'e been in.  He can tell you every city that we went to on our trip, in order.  He's going to do very, very well in geography, that's for sure.  One of the business class attendants who was helping out up here stopped and asked me if Major is really reading the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.  Major, at the time, was just patiently sitting in his seat reading away.  She too was so impressed.  I told her really does read them and I still don't know how he learned to read so fast, so well. I guess being read to every night before bed for the first 5 years of his life ultimately paid off.  I can't believe he's about to be 7!

Before we boarded the flight he saw some panda bear house shoes that he wanted real bad. Mickell went back to get them for his birthday and it was all I could do to get him not to spend the remaining Yuan he had left to buy them.  Ultimately I convinced him.  It was so funny because Mickell, who is usually so secretive about making sure that a gift is a surprise, got discovered and Major called him out on the plane saying I saw the shoes you got.  He wanted to wear them on the flight.  So, he's laying in his pod with all of his stuffed animals neatly arranged, with all 4 of his books on the table, watching a movie with his panda house shoes on.  What a sight! 
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