Tuesday, Narita International Airport
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
August 12th, 2008 – by: ifoundwaldo
Well, the AA staff was there at the gate, just as promised. They had signs for each destination and a bunch of helpful employees. Bangkok? No problem, just go to gate 89. A whole bunch of us went to gate 89 and the Japan Airlines (JAL) staff there had no idea who we were. I got there pretty much first, and I calmly explained that there were two dozen or so or more people right behind me that were also expecting to get on this same plane. "One moment please" I must have heard twenty times. There were no seats left on the 6:50 plane. We should go talk to American, which was the counter right next door. We all went over there, and they all said, Yes, we told JAL to put you on that flight and they confirmed. We don't know what went wrong. Well, somebody screwed up, majorly. And that's how I spent the night in a Tokyo Airport hotel.
When I found out I wouldn't be going to Bangkok that evening, I wanted to at least go to Tokyo for the evening. But the airport is too far from the city to get there and back in an evening. It was almost 7pm at the time. It would have taken 1.5 hours there, the same back, and the last train ended about 11, so I would have had no time to do anything, and because I hadn't planned on this, I had no idea what there was to do in Tokyo anyway. So I just lounged about the hotel for the evening and called it a night pretty early. I was exhausted anyway.
I met some great people from my flight who were in the same predicament. Another bar tripper was there, from NYU, and a couple on their honeymoon who were forced to miss their flight from Bangkok to Phuket because they didn't arrive in Bangkok until the next day. After we shmoozed in the hotel for while, we all went to bed and we met the next morning in the airport while waiting for our new flight.
One thing I was not expecting from Japan was that they drive on the wrong side of the road. I thought that was weird because I had always figured that only countries with a British connection did that. But Japan was never under British control as far as I knew. Wikipedia explains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_on_the_left_or_right#Japan) that "Japan is one of the few countries outside the Commonwealth of Nations to drive on the left. An informal practice of left-hand passage dates at least to the Edo period, when samurai are said to have passed each other to the left in order to avoid knocking swords with each other (as swords were always worn to the left side)."
The Narita airport has security checkpoints for all cars entering the airport. You don't have to show a boarding pass, but you need an ID. They don't record it or anything, I guess they just figure if you simply have and ID, from any country, you must be a peaceful person. It was ridiculous. I would be none too happy if I was rushing to the airport to catch a flight and had to wait 20 minutes just to drive in while the guards checked every car for absolutely nothing. I was in a shuttle bus from the hotel and a guard came on board and asked for everyone's ID. But there was another line for completely empty buses, and in that line, a guard still went on board the bus, and didn't just look to see if it was, in fact empty, but actually walked all the way down the aisle to the back, turned around, and walked back. He didn't even look under the seats or anything. It was just protocol. I'm all for high security, but this was absurd.
Anyway, they put us on the earliest flight of the day, which wasn't even all that early, and it was Thai Airlines instead of the original flight, which was supposed to be Japan Airlines. Thai was for sure a better airline than JAL would have been. The seats were funky colors, and there was plenty of legroom, and they showed Kung Fu Panda again.
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