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March 1, 2006

Miami, at last

Filed under: Japan,Travels,USA — stephane @ 3:56 pm

Finally, I made it to Miami. And my bags too. Pretty much incredible.

As mentioned I treated myself with some sushis, bought ‘Memoirs of a Geisha‘ and used airport wifi.

Flight from Tokyo to Chicago was a bit boring/long. American Airlines came short of British Airways. Crew was made of a steward with a dodgy haircut (Dumb and Dumber like) with a cheap-quality shirt that was certainly washed the day before in the sink. As a he was greeting people coming onboard, that was certainly a sign for what to expect. The hostesses were all in the 40-50 range (or looked like it) and massively overweighted. Kind of a shock coming from Tokyo airport which is full of pretty young fit women most of them being some kind of a fashion victim.

Once onboard, one of the passenger expressed his doubt concerning the ability to do a flight connection in Chicago, considering his connecting flight was 1h later (who the hell authorized such a booking ?)

In the typical clueless overpositive attitude, he was replied by an hostess and a steward that it “would be a breeze and since the flight will arrive 30min earlier (!) because of tail wind” he would have “plenty of time”. The passenger laughed at this
prediction mentioning that it would be a first, but the crew stayed firm.

We left Tokyo 30 minutes late and we arrived 25 minutes late…

The movie selection was abysmal for an 11h-long flight, as for lunch/dinner/breakfast, it was a bit too superficial/cheap. You really feel that American Airlines wants to save on somewhere and decided that food would be an axis to work on by lowering quality as much as possible. No passenger pack (socks, toothbrush, etc..) was offered at all and I could not find any sleep during the trip.

Chicago airport was as efficient as I was told by frequent flyers to go through customs, immigration and bagage security screening. That was all done in 35min and I have now left my 2 index fingerprints plus picture for future reference to the US administration. Efficiency is night and day compared to LAX (Los Angeles).

I boarded the flight to Miami at 17:45 scheduled to leave at 18:02…we actually left at around 21:00 and landed in Miami at 01:00 instead of 21:00 !! 4 hours late and all this waiting in the plane !! That was mostly frustrating to me, as it was my last segment and I have been seating already far too long. American Airlines did minimal apologies and service and everyone was irritated.

When we arrived, we were apparently the only passengers at Miami Intl Aiport, everything was closed. I did not feel wasting more time calling the ‘Free 24h shuttle’ to the Days Inn and jumped into a taxi.

I checked in at Days Inn Miami Intl Airport. Not recommended unless you have some reasons to do so. wifi is working erratically and the connection drops every 10 secondes. (There is apparently a WRT54G at every floor). They maybe forgot to turn on hot water (or they are running out of it at or are scared someone burned herself and sue them), the TV channels are not the same as the one displayed on the room sheet, the remote control does not work but only the volume, information booklet is missing from the room, the swimming pool is from what I can see a bare 100m from the busy highway (enjoy car exhaust gas and noise), to be continued…

Good thing. I slept really well.

February 28, 2006

Sushi in Narita

Filed under: England,Japan,Travels — stephane @ 6:10 am

I’m in Narita Airport now. I was travelling in Word Traveller Plus class (British Airways) and managed to apparently get some decent sleep during this 11h flight, the additional leg room and seat pitch was welcome. Lunch/Dinner was average, so was the breakfast compared to my previous flight Cairo-London. We left a bit late from London and the crew messed up the movie selection as they probably were in a hurry, (we had the “TO UK” selection instead of “FROM UK”). I pointed it to the crew in the first 2 minutes (hey, I was just getting from a “TO UK” flight !) and they canceled it and changed it immediately. Impressive !

Speaking about customer service, I checked in at the American Airlines/Japan Airlines desk in Narita airport to get my tickets and I’m impressed by their service to make my flight better. Each time I have been assigned an aisle seat (my registered preferred seat) and been asked if I wanted an emergency exit. I was even signaled that there was an infant so they moved me somewhere else. All that with a smile to die for and a couple of nice words of encouragement as they noticed my long journey.

I took a shower at the Narita aiport facility (500Y/$5) and it feels great after a bus trip + 2 flights. Wireless in Terminal 1 is 500Y(5$)/day and there are plenty of “computer desk” available. Now I have a good 6h to kill. I will try to find a decent sushi place, that would be criminal not to give it a try here :)

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