Tuesday, April 29, 2008

US Trip Day 1...

After days of stress at work, my personal loneliness issues, and all the trip preps, the day arrived where I have to fly to the US to participate in my client's planning session at their headquarters in St. Louis. I arranged for a cab to pick me up at around 5:00AM, Wednesday, April 23, to take me to NAIA. When I got there, there were long lines already. The chaos felt like a circus with the throngs of people set to travel around the same time I was. The airport crew didn't even know which line was headed to which airline counter. Two of the crew had to ask what airline I was lining up for. After years of being in operation, you would think they would've gotten their processes and procedures down pat. But it's just as chaotic as it was the last time I travelled to the States.

There was this new gimik they were hocking at the airport, called "Protectabag". It's really just your luggage wrapped in plastic wrap that you use to keep leftover food in your fridge. The security check was essentially just tacking a sticker on your luggage. Going through immigration took a while as expected. And my particular line was moving exceptionally slow. I practically listened to an entire album of songs by the time I got to the immigration counter. The officer at the counter kept asking me where my US Visa was. I guess she just didn't quite understand me when I kept repeating the words "it's in the middle passport of the three."

My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree upon seeing the smoking lounge after passing through Immigrations. After loading up on a few cigarettes, I made a quick stop to the bathroom. A small roach crawled up the urinal I was on. I just chuckled a little when I saw the roach. So apart from the chaos earlier, the airport's cleanliness isn't maintained either. I just shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to my designated boarding terminal.

When I settled in on my nice assigned aisle seat, I noticed this white guy, accompanied by a pokemon wife, coughing profusely in front of me. There was a baby in another row with sumo-sized cheeks that I wanted to just vigorously squeeze the life out of. The baby kept peeking at me through the gap in between two seats. I found that baby rather adorable. Here I go again with this weird interest in babies.

Since my first flight is JAL, all the flight attendants were Japanese. One of the flight attendants, started talking to me in Japanese. When I responded in English, she immediately apologized and spoke in English. Apparently, she was just asking me if I wanted a drink. I suppose I'll take that as a compliment, if I appear Japanese to a Japanese girl. LOL!

I arrived at Narita International Airport and as expected the place was surreally high tech. It makes NAIA look like a dump. My next flight was on American Airlines and not the usual NorthWest flight. So I had to proceed to another terminal than the terminal I usually go to.

The airport staff all look like something out of an anime. There were quite a number of lookers there, especially the one that handled my AA flight check-in. But that's all I really do when I see such beauty; Look.

The girl attending to my AA flight check-in was consulting the girl beside her and kept pointing at her LCD monitor. They were speaking Japanese the whole time. So I kinda got a little nervous, thinking that there's something wrong with my flight arrangements.

I finally got my boarding passes for the rest of my flights until St. Louis. I got lost a little searching for my boarding terminal. But it was all worth it when, lo and behold, there was a smoking lounge right beside my boarding terminal (queue-in angelic voices singing in choir unison). My boarding pass said I should be boarding already by the time I got to the terminal. However, the counter's display indicated I had 30 minutes to spare before boarding. So I proceeded to the smoking lounge to load up on nicotine again.

Inside the smoking lounge, the have these long metallic units jetting out from the floor, that have 3 knobs on top of them. The knobs are essentially like car cigarette lighters. Those things were awesome, especially since NAIA confiscated my lighter during security checks.

When I boarded my plane, my window seat was situated all the way at the back. Behind me was already a wall, so I couldn't really recline my chair back. I couldn't stow my laptop bag underneath the seat in front of me because there was this big metal box in the way. I didn't want to put my bag in a overhead compartment because I constantly pull stuff out of my bag during a flight. So I just put my bag in between my legs in the hopes that none of the flight attendants will notice it.

The flight attendants didn't notice my bag alright. They didn't notice me altogether, I got skipped over the routinary giving out of drinks twice until I called the attention of one of the flight attendants. I wasn't about to be skipped over for the in-flight dinner, unless I planned on starving to death during the long flight across the Pacific Ocean.

There was this little touchscreen in front of me that had video and audio on-demand, which was the only treat of the flight. I finally got to watch the sequel of National Treasure. When I finished watching that movie, I looked at what other movies they had available. There was the first National Treasure movie, and I am Legend. Both of which, I've seen. So that thoroughly sucked.

I pulled out my laptop, so I can play Vampire: The Masquerade. Jhonjee recommended I play this game in order to keep me occupied during the long flight. However, It wouldn't run without the damn CD, which was unexpected. The only thing I could really do on my laptop was watch the World of Warcraft/South Park episode.

US Immigrations, Customs, baggage re-check, and security checks in LAX were a royal pain. Filipinos entering the US are typical held up by these processes longer than usual. My flight couldn't land right away because air traffic control had a number of other planes in queue to land before us. So I had very little time to go through all those procedures when I landed, and manage to board the next plane. I felt like I was in an episode of Amazing Race because I was literally running everywhere just to get to my flight on time.

By the time, I got to my designated terminal, my connecting flight was delayed. Previous passengers were still walking out of the terminal when I got there. So all that stress and hurrying was really for nothing. Oh well. At least, I made it for my flight.

There was this rather attractive girl bringing 2 pugs in a hand-carry bag at the terminal. And apparently, she was my seatmate for the last leg of my flight to St. Louis. My "client small-talk" tactics seems to work on all Americans because she and I were talking about her pugs for quite some time. She reminds me of one of the actresses in the TV show "Jericho". I wasn't able to catch her name. Oh well, the odds that I will see that girl again are close to nothing anyway.

I finally got to Lambert airport in St. Louis, and proceeded to the taxi line. After hearing what hotel I was headed, the cab driver kept insisting that I should take the shuttle because it's so near the airport and the shuttle ride was free. I just told the cab driver that I'd pay for the cab anyway. So he drove me to Drury Inn all the same.

I checked in the hotel, and the clerk checked and there were no available smoking rooms anymore. This was unfortunate. So when I got settled in my room, I headed out to find a spot to smoke. I headed outside the side of the building and found my smoking spot (queue-in angelic voices singing in choir unison).

I gave myself a metaphoric pat on the back for making it through my long trip to St. Louis without complications. As I lit up my first cigarette, I smiled to myself. After being stressed and lonely the past few days, I was proud of myself for travelling alone and pulling through relying only on myself. Not bad for a shot ego. Not bad at all.



Greasybull said...

LOL for the "angelic choir of voices." hahaha i feel the same way when traveling and i see either a smoking area, a clean toilet to sit on, or a rolled joint (only applied when i was in Tacoma Washington).

Myls said...

huwaw and how's the jetlag? hehe... had fun reading this post. picked up a tip or two. i'm also leaving soon- may 11 for pennsylvania. alone. heheh!!

sundowndos said...

hey myls... well, definitely text or call me if you get stuck at any point in your flights... i can guide you through some of the airport bullshit... hehehe

dyosa said...

"protectabag" =huge ziplock.

next time, don't forget to get a girl's name. malay mo, you might run into her again. hehe.

GökerNoypinho said...

Perfect material for a flight report! and yeah, next time, don't forget to ask a girl's name...and her email address too! hehehehehe