A few years ago my cousin found out he was to be stationed at the Yokota US Air Force base in Japan. His sister and I swore that we were going to take advantage of this fortuitous placement, and come visit him in Tokyo. Last year, his sister followed through on her threat, and had a wonderful time. This year, it is my turn. I decided a few months back that I needed to stop putting off this opportunity for an adventure. But telling yourself to, “step outside your comfort zone,” and actually following through with it can be a very daunting task. As luck would have it, I had already renewed my passport a while back, I had my funds in order, and my cousin was agreeable to having me come visit for a few days. I had run out of excuses. As the days counted down to my departure, the whole trip seemed rather surreal to me; was I actually getting on a series of flights by myself to a whole other country where I don’t read or speak the language? You Betcha!
One month quickly counted down to two weeks, then two days, then the night before, and suddenly Chris has dropped me off at the airport and I am boarding my first flight on my way to Japan. Everything seemed to go very smoothly for that first hop over to Dallas-Fort Worth. From check-in to gate I had no major issues, and I even had an entertaining (though not necessarily appropriate to repeat here) seatmate for the flight.
I really should have known that it was all too good to be true. As I eat my really tasty Tex-Mex late-lunch, I check to see how my connecting flight to San Francisco is doing. It is at this point that my luck seems to turn, and my first stabs of anxiety set in.
The flight from DFW to SFO was delayed. I knew going into this whole adventure, that I would be pushing my luck with a short (1 hour- OK, “short for me”) layover in an airport that I don’t know (and it is also pretty big), to catch the last leg of my international travel part one- Getting There. As I watched the flight information, my hour layover gap shrank to 45minutes, and then 15 minutes… and then it became apparent that I would miss my flight all together. As I fretted over this realization to the check-in counter, they had “good news” – I would NOT be missing my flight into Japan… because it was canceled. Well, great. I had a nice big “All flights in and out of SFO have been delayed since last Saturday” wrench in my plans. (And it was a mighty big wrench. Bigger even than the really big ones that you can find at your local DIY improvement stores.) Calls were made, nails were bitten, and many a face-palm was had.
Eventually a plan was created that did not have me bouncing around to a whole bunch of other airports with further crazy delays and potential flights missed. I was lucky enough to interact with a very clever Customer Service Representative of the airline I was flying, who helped me not only avoid taking the now woefully delayed SFO flight with it’s subsequent crazy layovers and flight connections, but also managed to get me there earlier. (OK, not as early as my original cancelled flight, but still- a couple hours is something.)
As the evening rolled around, and I started to catch up with a grad school friend who lived in the in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I hadn’t seen in years, I realized that this was a pretty good detour for my adventure to have. So while I would now be arriving in Tokyo 16 hours later than my original plan, maybe I had still somehow earned some good airport karma along the route. I don’t know, but I was not going to question it.
(Disclaimer: Don’t worry! Future posts of this adventure will contain more- and much prettier- pictures. I was just not terribly photo-happy for a chunk of this beginning part… OK?)