2012-10-29 - 12:48 p.m.
I don't know how I can get to the airport ridiculously early, have time for drinks and the fabulous update of my final day in Tokyo in the lounge, and I'm still running for the gate. Oh wait. I do know. I think I'm rolling out of the lounge way too early, because I still have some leftover money to change, and then I'm confronted with a huge, huge line at the money changer's. Eek. I calculate the last possible time that I can stand in line before giving up and it takes almost exactly that long before they get to me. I get back that last $38 I never managed to spend, and then it was time to sprint past the lines waving my boarding pass, since they were already loading Zone 1. Fortunately, there was a random gate employee there who pointed me toward the head of the line because of my "Sky" access. (Business, which did NOT feature the cool seats we had in J'burg and thus, to my mind, is badly in need of an updated aircraft considering the length of the flight, had already loaded.) Well, at least I didn't have to wait long for the plane to depart. I barely had my luggage stowed before we pulled out of the pouring rain.I had been placed in an Economy Comfort seat, 11G, with no seat in front of me (thus no floor storage) AND two weirdos in the Economy Seats in the middle. When I originally bought the seat, I had been told that no one was sitting in the middle. I figured it was pretty safe, right? What kind of weirdo would PAY EXTRA to sit in a MIDDLE SEAT for 11 freaking hours? Even the lady who sold me the seat commented that I would be able to stretch out and get some sleep. Considering the flight left the gate at 12:35 AM, that isn't a particularly tiny consideration. So I was feeling a bit ripped off. The guy in 11H, who had an Asian lady next to him in 11J, spoke out first.
It sounds blunt printed down, but he was very pleasant and friendly. He just had to speak out. "You know I paid extra for this seat, and they told me that no one was seated next to me," he says to his companion. "Is that what they told you?"
"It's what they told me," I piped up. "I think there was considerable up-selling on this trip!"
Then we all chuckled, and eventually the couple next to me admitted that they got their seats for free, by complaining about a bad audio/visual system on their flight from LAX- HND. Now I'm really peeved. Not at the couple. "This may be Economy Comfort, and it is Economy, but I don't see the Comfort," quipped the lady next to me. I think they would have been just as happy with some miles or a discount coupon for the next flight. I'm peeved at Delta. They shouldn't be trying to upsell something and then ALSO giving that same thing away free when the people who bought are going to find out. You may say for the price I paid for my ticket that I should not squeak up even if they put me on the wing, and the idiots at the trickit thread are always claiming to allow themselves to be shipped in the cargo hold or whatever. But c'mon. An 11 hour flight, and I don't even have a place to put a tube of lipstick. Fortunately, the lady next to me did say I could stow my Kindle in the back seat of the seat in front of her, because otherwise every time I tried to close my book and nap, I would have had to get up, stand up on tiptoes, reach for my bag in the bin, get it down, zip up, stick in Kindle, zip closed, reach it back up, close bin...whew...I'm tired just typing about it.
But the fact remains that if I had known that I was going to have somebody next to me, I would have instead opted for the free exit row, instead of the $60 EC seat. Of course, I wouldn't have gotten the free Woodbridge Reserve nightcap or the Bailey's and coffee with breakfast...but, heck, for $60 I can make do on the fumes of the humble Jack Daniel's I had enjoyed in the club room.
So I don't know yet if I will complain or not. I would like Delta to stop sticking random people in middle seats in EC. I think it's a terrible practice. Don't stuff those seats if you're gonna sell them. On the other hand, I just flew round-trip all-in to Tokyo and back for $490 which INCLUDES the cost of the upsell, and I did get four seats to sleep in on the trip over. Most people would be happy to get that price just one-way. So I dunno.
I skipped the so-called dinner which looked like a long tube of dough. The lady next to me actually wrung it out, to see if there was really any pizza sauce inside of it. Eating it was out of the question, although I giggled over my Woodbridge Reserve and suggested that some video of the lady squeezing the so-called pizza would make a great publicity video for Youtube.
I must have somehow napped some. Maybe I just conked out, assisted by the final nightcap and the lateness of the hour. At some point, I stumbled into the lav to brush my teeth. In fact, I now seem to vaguely remember doing that twice. Then it was time for the breakfast, which was some kind of Japanese fish and rice.
We left Tokyo at 12:30 AM on Sunday, October 28. It was somehow now 6:30 PM on Sunday, October 28, which I guess is logical but it seemed a little strange. When we landed, guy in 11H boldly inserted himself into the Business class aisle so that he could deplane early, and he was large enough that I was sorta pulled off the plane in his wake. It did us no good, because we all had to board the same bus. I said, as I always do when I land in Los Angeles, "Antananarivo!" which is not really fair, since TNR is a much better designed airport than LAX. But I'm in the habit of saying it now, so I did. The bemused couple asked, "Do we really all have to get on a bus?" and I assured them that we did. Finally, they bus us all over to some customs office, and I again get ahead of the crowd since I don't have a checked bag. The guy at customs eyed my backpack with considerable distaste. "How long were you there? You must have had to do laundry a lot?"
"Oh I had a great place. They had a free laundry!" I exclaimed.
I could tell that my enthusiasm just made him feel tired, and he gave me a little wave, and I was out the door. Welcome to California, where people who meet the public come in two classes, rude people who hate people and sweet people who don't really speak English.
By now, the sun had set. Actually, I could see it setting out 11J's window as we were landing. The Bus Depot is really, really scary after dark. Don't get me wrong. There were a million people around, but they were all in cars or airport rental buses. Great witnesses for any potential muggings but not in a position to stop one. At first, all of the people on the ground were obvious homeless people setting up on the benches at the bus station for the night. Maybe it was the time of day that I arrived, but they were actually rolling out bedrolls and blankets, and just setting up. Real people waiting for a bus...I didn't see any at first. Then, after awhile, I saw a very attractive young man who looked rather concerned. I figured him for a European, an impression that was confirmed by his good English with a rather charming light German accent, but he was actually from Turkey. So I figure he learned English in Germany. Either way, he came from a place where public transportation was taken by all classes, not just homeless bums. We felt like two fish out of water, that's for sure. Finally, the so-called Big Blue Bus came, and we hopped on it.
Little did we know, that there were TWO buses. I thought it was one bus that went in a circle. Actually, it kinda is. The first thing I noticed was that I didn't recognize where we were going, but it was dark and I was jet-lagged. The second thing I noticed was that a local guy and the bus driver started yelling at each other, and then the local guy (and his little bike too) stomped off. There was also a lady I would have said was Chinese, who it turned out was from Australia, but who perhaps was not originally born in Australia and who struggled a bit with English. We all exchanged concerned looks. Also, there were some random scary people who didn't seem approachable. So...
I asked the bus driver if, perchance, this might be the Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica. She yelled, screamed, hollered, and ranted, "you people can't read, when are you people going to learn how to read, what's the matter with you people?!" and all that stuff. I'm thinking, wow, it just amazes me that they let people like this work in public in California. I mean, isn't she afraid of pissing off the wrong person and getting shot by some crazy? I don't really believe that people in the south are more polite because an armed society is a polite society. But you can start to see where people would get the seeds of that idea...
I gently suggested that if I had not learned to read for understanding at my advanced old age, it probably was not going to happen now, and maybe she could bear with us and explain exactly what we should do. It turned out that it was really easy. All we had to do was to get off the bus a few stops later at the station and wait for her to take her break. Really nothing to it. No problem at all. "All you people could have saved yourself 15 minutes!" she scolded. Gosh. Fifteen whole minutes. I was tempted to suggest that if we gave a happy crappy about saving 15 minutes, we would not have left our cozy homes in Australia, Turkey, or Louisiana, respectively, but I decided that I'd let her figure that stuff out for herself.
So off she stomps, while a local tries to reassure the Chinese-Australian lady that all Americans aren't crazy, and, actually, she never came back. Maybe she quit her job in a huff at dealing with the idiocy of her public. Another lady came out, and we all meekly said where we were going, and she assured us that we were all going the right way -- really, there wasn't any wrong way, it WAS a circle, just a shorter right way and a longer right way -- and off we went.
Then of course I got lost again after I got off, because it was dark, and nothing looked the same. I asked the guys parking cars at the Hilton, and they were sweet guys and tried to figure it out, but they had no real clue, having exhausted their mental energy just traveling from Mexico to Santa Monica to get a job parking cars, so I walked a little further and asked somebody else, and then I was here. I got a free upgrade. A free upgrade on a free room? OK, whatever, great! I have a view of the ocean from the top floor and a little living room. Too bad I couldn't get this room for both nights, but I ran out of my points.
I slept for a solid 10 hours, and now I'm thinking it's about time to get dressed and go out in search of the lobster salad and a raspberry martini in view of the ocean.
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