Friday, October 23, 2009

Japan Trip: Blog 1

We are currently cruising at 32,000 feet over northern Colorado. In order to prevent what happened the last time we went on a vacation, I decided to do my best to blog along the way versus try and remember it all at the end.

Our day started at 5:15 AM with my alarm going off. The rules of non-rev travel are somewhat complex. The game starts 4 hours prior to departure….when we are allowed to check in. Check in determines seat assignment order. Check in time is vital.

For Domestic travel we simply check in online. American Airlines is fairly high tech in this area. We can check in via our cell phones or laptops. Nice.

For International travel we have to check in at the airport. The four hour rule still applies. The flight we hoped to get was scheduled to leave at 10:10AM. Thus at 6:10AM I can check in.

I left for the airport at 5:40AM. Tired. Stopped by Starbucks for the first time in months. Black coffee (free with purchase of a 3 pack of Via…which is $0.05 cheaper than my coffee!) I headed to the terminal.

Of course I was very early. The reason behind needing to check in at the airport is to make sure we have valid passports. I can check in via a kiosk. The scanner attached can read the passports .I did the same thing when we went to Toronto and Cabo.

I first tried checking in at 6:05AM. I was able to scan the passports….but then it error'd out as I was 5 minutes too early. I walked away for 3 minutes. Tried again. Denied. Finally at 6:10AM it checked us in. Done.

Once back at home we finished up the last few things needed before we left. We packed our bags the night prior. We each fit 5 nights of clothes into a standard carry on. I then had my laptop messenger bag while Kelli ad a backpack.

There were 4 First Class seats open at the time with 5 non-rev's vying for First. We were at the top of the list. Looked good.

To have a relaxing time of it, we left home at 7:20AM. I decided to not travel in uniform. This meant I was subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This meant leaving behind my new awesome shaving system. Booo. No biggie. By 8AM we were inside security.

I had an awesome egg, cheese and turkey sausage burrito at the U Food Grill. Yum.

We then headed to the gate. For the first time in nearly 2 years of non-rev travel, we were at the airport 2 hours prior to departure.

Once there we checked the standby list. Now only 3 seats available. Two together and one by itself. It looked like we wouldn't get them for a while. Complicated to explain.

While waiting I remembered that I forgot to buy ZED(Zonal Employee Discount) tickets for our return trip. The flights back are kinda full. We can use the ZED passes to fly back on Japan Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines or anyone else who partners with American.

The passes aren't cheap. They are almost double what we pay for coach if we flew back on American. They are only going to be used as a backup.

By 9:20AM we were assigned 1D and 1G. Middle First class seats together. First class on the 777 is a 1-2-1 arrangement.

I went out to buy ZED passes. Done.

The 777 is boarded through the 2nd door…behind First Class. This reduces the traffic walking through First Class. As we entered we got to turn left, while everyone else turned right. Nice.

The seats are amazing. Truly are suites. After stowing our bags we settled in. I watched The Hangover while Kelli watched The Proposal.

Water, Orange Juice and Champagne were served right away. After takeoff the real fun began. They passed out Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. Kelli and I each had our own, but used theirs instead.

After takeoff the food began. First up was Kelli's favorite warm nuts accompanied by marinated cheese antipasto. I loved the cheese. Kelli loved the nuts.

This was followed by the best salmon I have ever had. It was a smoked salmon and honey ginger shrimp appetizer. Kelli passed.

We both enjoyed an amazingly high quality salad with our choice of toppings. Served chair side.

After salad I had a Grilled Salmon Shiso Rice Bowl while Kelli had Four Cheese Ravioli. I also had a glass of wine.

Dessert was just as awesome. Ice cream sundaes made chair side. I had butterscotch…so did Kelli. I thought she would have gone for the chocolate topping instead. Eh.

I then had a cup of coffee and turned my seat sideways to use the expandable desk. Nice. I bought a 75 watt power inverter. It powered my Macbook Pro the entire flight while recharging my phone and Zune.

Right now we are just 3 hours into the flight. 9 hours 20 minutes left. We will be in daylight the entire time. We land at 1:30PM okay time. I hope to sleep at some point.

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