August 03, 2012
The morning of the first I got up 3 and a half hours prior to my scheduled 7:30 departure. I figgured I'd shower, repack my gear and take the 15 minute cab ride to the airport and be at the head of the line. About a hundred other people had had the same idea and this swamped the 4:40 AM cab capacity to the point that I got there about when I would've if I'd slept in and waited for a shuttle. The line was impressive, but I've been to comiket so lines no longer phase me. What DID phase me was that the line did not move...It seems that the computer was convinced that we had all been happily delivered to our destination and refused to give us boarding passes. Now one might think that the old boarding pass was sufficient, but there's some TSA or FAA regulation involved, so sense is not a factor. Eventually, they got the thing straightened out and we began the long slow process of getting into the now very long line to be poked prodded de-shoed and x-rayed.
With only 10 minutes left before my departure I ran three quarters of the way to the gate, twisting my ankle on an escalator, and hopped the rest of the way. There at the gate I noted people coming OUT.
It seems our poor plane had twisted its ankle at the gate and needed to be taken out back and shot. This meant another plane had to be brought in from the plane farm, which took about an hour. Then they had to go to the glue factory and get our luggage off our dead plane, and they also decided to allow other stranded passengers to use our flight and then they had to refile with ATC...all of which which took about 2 additional hours.
The flight itself was pleasant. I was in seat 22A which is close to the bathroom and practically in the galley, so if one wishes to sleep there one is screwed. However, seat 22A is at the very front of steerage, so a person who is 6'1 can do this.....
legs straight out!
and I did too, until my legs got tired. Even better, the person next to me freaked because he got seat 22B which has a terrible rating as it is practically in the galley and is near the restroom. He demanded to get moved farther back in steerage, so I ended up essentially being in biddness class with cheap food.
The crew of DL9856 was very courteous and professional and handled the situation they'd inherited quite well. The replacement plane was an older model without individual screens or AC outlets but the flight itself was remarkably smooth.
I was scheduled to meet my landlord at 3pm JST and he'd made clear that his schedule was tight so if I was late I'd have to stay in a hotel aother night. The delay put me in at noon which was going to cut it close getting to Saitama from Narita. Fortunately there was only one minor delay...some young American woman went into such a flaming debutante frenzy in the JR office that it required the entire counter staff to deal with her. I'm not sure WHAT her childhood trauma was but I think that she had not believed that you REALLY couldn't purchase a rail pass in Japan. It was cringe inducing to see the rest of her party and their Japanese hosts so humilliated. A couple of them tried to apologize for her and she proceeded to chew them out. The young lady went into full harridan mode to the point that the JR staff actually had torun into their office and bring out their attack Russian...a six foot five Slavic dude who is apparantly one of the managers. The JR staff handled themselves quite well. They also sent someone out to hand out the JR Rail Pass paperwork to those of us that needed it in order to expedite our processing so the whole delay was probably only about 5 minutes but it seemed interminable.
I took the Narita express to Ikebukaro without incident and from there called the landlord with only about 15 minutes to spare. I hopped on an express train and glided into an instant transfer to a local train and met the landlord in time. By this time my ankle was throbbing. Anyway, I got the maison rented, got internet hooked up, got the trash schedule and unpacked. I'd been at a dead run since I'd left the airport and my ankle was killing me, so I turned in early. Before I did finally was able to go to the......OH NOES!
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