Day 2

Back Home Up Next

Friday, May 21

As Advertised: Depart from your home city today for your flight via the West Coast to Osaka, Japan.

After a continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, we were ready in good time to check out and take the shuttle to the airport. We got checked in efficiently and proceeded to the departure lounge, where we waited with mounting anxiety for the Cincinnati and Oregon Scogginses, all of whom had experienced flight delays. There was also some concern about being bumped from the flight (passengers were being offered inducements to take a later flight to Honolulu, overnight there, and continue to Osaka the next day), but eventually we all boarded (after a slight delay) and ultimately got away nearly an hour behind schedule. A strong tailwind part of the way, however, would bring us in only about 10–20 minutes late.

The plane was a Boeing 777, the first I’d ever ridden, and it was really nice. It’s probably just as well that we boarded through a rear door and so didn’t have to pass through first class (leather lounge chairs and ottomans that convert to a completely flat bed) and business class (the equivalent of first class on a domestic flight). I later realized that we had been in Economy Plus, so we were at least on one of the upper decks and not traveling steerage! We thought our seats were pretty nice—not any roomier than a domestic flight perhaps, but our family was seated mostly together (Barney and Matthew and I were in the center of row 23, with Tom and Joan and their sons behind us), so it was chummy. Each seat had its own TV screen, mounted on the back of the seat in front, and there was a selection of several in-flight movies, plus a channel that showed the plane’s location, air speed, ground speed, etc. One of the audio channels provided radio traffic from the flight deck, which was also interesting at times.

Over the course of 13 hours in the air, Matthew and I watched an oddball flick called The Station Agent twice (having gotten in on it late the first time), ate a hot “lunch,” a cold snack “supper,” and numerous rounds of drinks and snacks. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t succeed in getting any significant sleep.