Tried checking in electronically from home – but web check-in wouldn’t have me. Tried checking in on the machines at the airport when my shuttle bus delivered me there the night before I left for Japan – no dice. The agents on duty at the check-in counters swore blind they could not check me in before day of departure (which begs the question as to how it is possible to check in 24 hours in advance from any old computer anywhere – well, I couldn’t but technically it’s possible – but they couldn’t do it with the airline’s own system right there in front of them…)
All of which meant that, after a very pleasant dinner with webmaster Jerry who does my sites, I repaired back to my hotel, watched some mindless TV, had about four hours’ sleep, got up at 5:15, grabbed a toasted muffin for breakfast, dived into the next available shuttle, and presented myself at the airport check-in counter a little after 6 o’clock.
The reason I would have liked to check in without human input was simply that I had interpreted the carry-on rules rather liberally. I had ONE carry-on rollaboard, regulation size, but I had stuffed laptop, camera case, assorted other electronics (chargers etc) and book into a decent-sized backpack which I hoped would count as the “personal item” also allowed on the plane. I did not want some officious official to point to the backpack, declare that my “one item”, and whisk away my other little suitcase somewhere – particularly since they could not apparently check me in through to the Japan Airlines flight out of San Francisco, and I only got a boarding pass for the Seattle-SF trip. Which, in first class and nicely decadent, was uneventful.
I must have looked rather panicked at the lack of boarding pass and lack of personnel to whom I could apply for same at the SF gate for my Japan Airlines flight, because a lady also waiting at the gate took it upon herself to help me “find somebody”. Eventually the agents turned up at the podium, the boarding pass was obtained, and my companion at the gate said, “well, if I had known you were flying business class I would have told you not to panic at all. You’re royalty!”
And – wow – I am. I got a seat on the upper deck of the jumbo jet, friendly staff whisked my luggage out of my way, there is approximately five times the leg room as there is in the cattle class cabin and three times more storage space – and the seat. Reclines. Flat.
I actually slept for two hours, soundly, stretched out as though on a bed. This was worth every penny of what I paid for it.
However. I think I screwed up royally on the Japan end – I completely forgot about the Date Line. I think my hotel reservation started on the 29th – but I’m getting there on the 30th, quite late on the 30th, and I sincerely hope they have kept my room for me (seeing as I didn’t turn up as scheduled on the date that I said I would. Also, I was invited to the Heinlein Society shindig – on Thursday, the 30th, which I blithely accepted figuring that I would be there on Wednesday the 29th – I don’t even know if I will be in Yokohama let alone have a hotel room, be checked in, showered, changed, presentable and ready to socialise by the time this thing starts.
There’s also the final hurdles – (hopefully) finding Charlie in Narita, getting the train to Yokohama, and finding our WAY to the hotel – all of which might or might not happen on schedule (I am writing this on the airplane, still some three hours’ away from Tokyo, so all of it is in the future imperfect. Perhaps updates later, we shall see).
So, one more time, the plane. They have “shell seats” (like these). They have footrests that go up just like a recliner. You can adjust lumbar support. You can adjust EVERYTHING. There is everything on tap – coffee, particularly, if nothing else I shall arrive at Narita properly caffeinated. You can click on a “camera view” – straight ahead or straight down – an “eye in the sky” showing you where you are hanging up here in the clouds. The view “down” is seriously scary stuff.
I watched a breath-stopping documentary called “Deep Blue” from the BBC – life and death in the oceans, the beauty and the weirdness and the awesome range of life and creatures that inhabit our seas. I wept openly at several scenes – the orcas that risk beaching themselves to get at the new generation of unwary sea lion pups off their rocky nursery; the dolphins surfing the waves with such outright, unadulterated joy; the polar bear hunting trapped beluga whales who have to choose between rising for a snatched breath of air in a narrow breathing hole in the ice and being mauled by the alpha-predator of their habitat; the final scene of the great, beautiful, huge blue whale and that massive, massive, MASSIVE fluke coming up out of the sea. Beautiful and affecting.
Oooo, the map is showing Japan really close now. It says we will be there in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Getting close, now.
Can’t even find my invitation to the Heinlein thing. I was sure I had it in my fanny pack bag but can’t find it there. Curses. Some day I shall get organized. Like, SOON.
Okay. That’s it for now. I shall update this in my hotel room later (if I have one)…
UPDATE – everything fine, caught up with friends, went to Heinlein shindig after all, got a good night’s sleep, waiting for breakfast, more later, over and out.