Oh, lord, stuck in Narita again....

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Friday, February 19, 2010

I should have gotten worried when I was handed that boarding pass to Oceanic 815. There was something in the back of mind that wanted to warn me. I couldn't be reached though. Bad luck!

In the beginning, there was no warning. All went well. The van was there on the dot at 8am. We had one pickup in Oakland near Lake Merritt. Onward across the Bay Bridge with no traffic jams. Arrival at SFO 9am. No one in line ahead of me at the ticket counter. Relieved of RS baggage, headed down to Lori's Diner for breakfast with Jeanne. She's had a very early arrival and was waiting for me. We had omelets and headed toward the gate.

Again, all was well in our little world. The plane left a little early. I was on the aisle of the 3 seat section on the left side. J. was on the aisle across from me in the middle section. I was even able to lift up my rolling Jansport with EEEPC and camera equipment into the storage bin with no help.

The seat next to me was empty. My "bunkmate" and I were excited with the possibilities finally realized when they announced "doors closing". We had extra room for stretching out and storing stuff. The flight was pretty uneventful. I read through all my magazines and started on a paperback. Watched a couple movies (clouding with meatballs? something forgettable else with brad pitt's ex).

Landed in Narita at 2:30 local time. Our flight to depart at 6:30. We had to go through a mini-security point to get to our gate. It was after that the we looked for flight information to find which gate would be ours for the next 4 hours. That's when the meatballs starting to rain on our parade. Flight was delayed two hours. Takeoff now 20:30 (they do that 24-hour clock thing in Japan). After walking the full length of the gateway, admiring the odds and ends for sale, we settled down for some serious waiting.

Neither J nor I had really slept at all on the plane. In body time, we'd been traveling since 8am SF time- that's 10 hours in the air plus 3.5 hours van time. By 20:30, when we were to depart, we'd have been en route nearly 20 hours. Needless to say, we were pretty nearly brain dead.

We finally wandered down to our gate. Boarding to start in 30 minutes at 19:45. Sorry for the problems-- departure NOT going to happen. Critical issue. Flight is canceled.

How could something that had started so well, go so wrong???? Our section of the airport was pretty well shut down by then. There were no other United flights we could be shunted on to. The same flight the next day was already pretty full. So sorry for the problems. We'll let you know soon. I am the only one here. So sorry for the problems.....well, that unwelcome conversation killer was handed out to us for the next several hours, until we were ready to kill!

Eventually, they got us queued up to hand out hotel assignments for the night. We had to go through immigration, find our luggage, go through customs and then head out to bus stop 16 for the trip to our hotel for the night- the Mercure.

Well, when I'd started out 24 hours ago, I'd been expecting 93 and humid. What I got was 51 and damp. Not quite dressed for this non-optional side excursion. We got to bed about midnight local time. Our instructions were to call this UA number after 10 am. We had breakfast, then started calling. Busy signal- please hold on- we'll get to you.....After a bit of this, I called Collette's emergency number. Welcome Boston accent telling us to get our butts back to the airport, stick our faces into theirs and get a ticket.

So, we caught the 10:30 shuttle to the airport and got in line with a hundred or so other folks in front of a united booth that was unmanned- or womaned for that matter. Others had taken control of a bank of 4 pay phones. One person was on each phone, calling the same united number. Only 1 of the 4 phones was actually answered by a person. As one person ended their call, they would hand the phone to the next in line. J stayed with the luggage in the line while I waited on the phone line.

Eventually, I was able to get a ua person to get us on a delta flight- leaving the next day at 6pm. That would mean we would be two days late for our excursion and miss the entire Bangkok segment. That was the best we could do though. Compared to others, we were relatively lucky.

 We stayed in line to get our ticket stamped for assignment to Delta and our evening hotel voucher until about 2:30. Then we had some lunch and headed outdoors to wait for our hotel bus (did I mention the temperature?). Sadly, the line at the UA counter didn't seem any shorter- we later met some of the Oceanic 815 survivors at the hotel- 7pm and they were just getting there.

Dinner was pathetic- ua only paying 1500 yen for either breakfast or lunch.

Breakfast was better. We killed time in our room until 12:30 reading, watching usa beat canada at hockey. We took the 12:30 shuttle back to the airport (did I mention the temperature?). Delta dealt with us swiftly- taking our endorsed ticket and giving us boarding passes. Lunch in the little airport mall- soba noodles. Now we wait for the 6 pm flight. We should be arriving in Bangkok around midnight (might be a song in there....). We have word from Collette that we leave the hotel at 5:15 am for our flight the next morning for Siem Reap.

Let me see if I can do the math:

Transit from home to Narita: 13.5 hours
Involuntary layover in Narita: 51.5 hours
Transit to Bangkok:         7 hours
Overnight in Bangkok:     9 hours
Transit to Siem Reap:     40 minutes

Hours spent before vacation actually started: 81 hours

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Lorenxo on

Wendy, that horrendible! I feel for you - hope the trip gets better...

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