Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Trip to Tokyo

Kim and I started, with the best of intentions and hired a shuttle to get us to the airport. We needed to be there two hours early, so they told us they would pick us up at 3:05 AM. Needless to say, we didn't get a great deal of sleep. The shuttle arrived early and picked up one additional person and the driver knew we would be early, so he stopped and let us get coffee at a Speedy Stop (chain I used to run). It was so hot it scalded Kim and my mouths. Great start!!! We arrived at the airport at 4:00 AM, not the 5:00 AM we thought. It wasn't even open. Checked in and went to the gate and waited an eternity (about three and a half hours), until our flights took off.
My American Airlines flight went to DFW and then Chicago. Kim met her Mom in Los Angeles and went straight there. I began to worry in Dallas, as I had about 50 minutes for the connection in Chicago and the crew was 15 minutes late, on their gate transfer. We boarded and do you think they checked the engine out when the crew was late? Oh no, that had to be done "after" the pilots arrived (another 30 minute stall). I kind of got the feeling I wasn't going to make my connection at that point. The stewardess asked me if I wanted something to drink and I said no just wanted to make my connection to Tokyo.

I then received an attitude the rest of the time I was on board. Only one of the stewardesses was civil, after my statement. She told me about an hour out that we still could make it. As we arrived in Chicago we were sent into a circling pattern for another 30 minutes because of "weather issues" earlier in the day. That did it and we landed 16 minutes after the Tokyo flight took off. I was told by the gate attendant to proceed to gate #K6 and get with the schedule people. When I arrived at gate #K6 I discovered it was actually a phone and computer bank, with no actual people to discuss the situation with.

I called the posted number and the lady told me she could get me on the same flight the next day and I would have to go to a live gate attendant to receive a hotel voucher,"if they determined it was a mechanical issue". She  told me she had sent instructions to pull my bag, to the baggage claim center and to go to the #6 area. I went to the next gate attendant and she gave me a hotel voucher, a dinner voucher for $12 and a breakfast voucher for $7. I thought okay that should be good. She then told me the baggage area that the phone lady was sending me to had been changed and I was to go to baggage claim area #5.

I went downstairs and the guys running the baggage center told me "No it will be on #4 baggage claim area and could take 45 minutes to pull". After an hour I went back to the baggage center and talked with a different guy. He told me that no one had contacted the guys in the back to pull my bag. So the lady on the phone, the gate attendant and his co-worker didn't make contact with anybody? HHMMM?? He told me it would be out in the next 30 minutes and if not, to come back and see him. After 25 minutes (a total of 85 minutes) I finally got my bag. "Go outside and look for the hotel shuttles".

Ask transportation guy outside of airport "where is hotel shuttle"? About 2 miles that way (pulling my bags and carrying my back pack, etc). By this time I was ready to kill someone. I get to the hotel shuttle area across from the Hilton finally and the shuttle actually got there within about twenty minutes. So...I arrived in Chicago about 1:36 PM and it was now about 4:30 PM.

I was exhausted by the time I finally arrived and checked in at the hotel. Went downstairs and asked the lady if they took my dinner voucher. "Yes sir". Open menu and cheapest item is $21. So if I take a taxi or I order at the restaurant I am out money. Looked at breakfast menu and nothing costs under $15 so I plan to eat breakfast at the airport.

Got to airport three hours early. I wasn't taking any chances. Bought a bagel with cream cheese and a water ($7.39). All I had was a $10 bill (for extra $.39) and cashier got furious, in addition to not knowing how to ring the coupon. Supervisor told her I don't have time to get my overring key, so just make it a paper overring. Cashier doesn't speak English well enough to interpret. Thank goodness I speak a little Spanish.

Loaded and got on plane. Flight is 12.5 hours from Chicago to Tokyo! Filling out customs form and I pull out money to count (like I have over $10K I am bringing in). My lucky silver dollar falls between seat and connection between seats. No one can find. My lucky silver dollar was given to me on my wedding day, 33 years ago.

Tell stewardesses I am not leaving plane without my silver dollar. All customers exit plane and two maintenance guys come on board and look at me like I am stupid (maybe by this time I am). They find my dollar after 10 minutes of tearing apart the seat, etc. Fly through immigration and customs and there is my son Josh with Kim and her mother. All is well now!!!

1 comment:

  1. Mike, the big "mistake" was flying AA. Every evening on the local news here in D/FW they have an article about AA's problems. The company is in the deep throes of bankrupcy. The employees are resentful and angry (one stewardess went postal and had to be taken off the plane and treated for mental illness) for the years of low wages and oppressive labor/management problems. I can't believe a company can be run so badly. I mean look at SouthWest airlines. Well, sorry to hear of bad problems on your trip to Japan. My prayer is that things go better on the return flights. God bless! ---Jim Moore