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[PUBLIC] I Like To Move It, Move It - The Cover Story
October 2013
 
 
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Wed, Jul. 11th, 2007 09:51 pm
[PUBLIC] I Like To Move It, Move It

Crazy days astern. Monday was one of the more exciting installations I've every had. I flew down to Mexico. Fortunately for me, I just qualified for Silver on Continental, and got upgraded to First Class for the International segments of my flights (IAH-MEX, MEX-IAH). It was actually an interesting experience in a surprising sort of way. When I checked in for my flight, the kiosk asked me if I wanted a free upgrade to First Class if it was available. I said "YAY!", and pushed "Yes" with more enthusiasm than perhaps was strictly required by the touchscreen. The screen came back with "Sorry, no upgrades are available." Disheartened but accepting of my fate, I acknowledged and moved on to seat selection. My BOS-IAH segment was packed, so I just accepted my seat. I looked at the display for my IAH-MEX.

Three rows.

Four seats per row.

A bush plane. Continental was flying me from Houston to Mexico City in a 12-seat self-guided projectile. At least I had a window seat in row 2. I sighed, accepted my assigned seat, and printed my boarding passes.

I boarded my flight to Houston and enjoyed some of the best airplane-lunch I have ever had, a succulent chicken patty sandwich and salad. Say what you will about Continental, their food in coach is the best I've seen. Four hours later, I deplane, setting foot in Texas for the first time in my life. I made my way across the airport, and found my gate, which had a decidedly large number of passengers at it. I looked out at the jetway and saw a 737 hanging off the mighty dongle. Light finally dawned over my marble head. I had been upgraded, but only on 1 segment. The display was only showing me the first-class compartment of 737, which looked to me like a tiny little aircraft. Serves me right for not checking the equipment. Elated, I flew to Mexico.

Once in Mexico, I quickly made my way across town via certified airport taxi (recommended by the US State Department) to the Hotel Nikko. The Nikko is actually a chain of very posh Japanese hotels located in major cities around the world. I first realized it when I saw the uniforms of the reception staff -- very traditional 1940's-era Japanese business wear -- the western-style slacks, vest, and jacket subtly altered to make it both recognizable to a Westerner, and yet distinctly Nippon's own.

There were many restaurants of various types integrated into the first two levels of the hotel, but I decided that I would eat at the Japanese restaurant that night. I've never much cared for Japanese cuisine, but I've rarely had it and never at what one might consider a particularly fine Japanese restaurant, as the restaurant in the hotel was purported to be. So with confidence, I strode into the restaurant and requested a seat for one. Based on the patronage, I came to believe this was as close to authenticate Japanese food as I was going to get without crossing the Pacific. Not wanting to be too adventurous, I selected a dish made from tuna atop rice, a rather safe choice as I like both tuna and rice a great deal.

While I warmed up with my chopsticks, I was brought a tiny ceramic tea kettle and a shallow cup. I took the tea kettle, and poured it into the cup. Instead of tea, though, I am quite certain what poured forth from the spigot was, in fact, soy sauce. Fascinating.

Soon after, my meal was brought to me. The tuna I could deal with. It was raw, apparently never knowing a temperature above W's IQ. Below the half-dozen strips of former fish was a bed of white rice, and intermixed between was what I can only conclude was seaweed. In the spirit of exploration, I attacked my meal with all intention.

Some thirty minutes later, I had learned two things: First, I am still reasonably handy with chopsticks. Second, I, in fact, do not like raw fish or seaweed, even when properly prepared by a skilled cook. I'll probably try again in a few years or when I get an assignment in Tokyo, but until then, I'll most likely be skipping trips to the Sushi bar.

Monday involved doing my job. There's not much to elaborate on except to say that I have eaten tacos in Mexico City. Tuesday was the adventure of getting home. I left the Hotel around 0820 for the airport, despite my flight being at 1500. I wasn't sure what outbound international security was like in Mexico, and I didn't want to miss my flight because it took hours. I got to the airport at about 0900, and by 0915 was standing at my gate wondering what I was going to do for six hours. I didn't have my laptop, but I did have a copy of Dune. I tried reading in the gate area for a while before getting hungry and not finding any of the vendors appetizing. So I wandered down to the VIP lounges and bought a membership to Continental's President's Club. I relaxed in the lounge reading Frank Herbert (and later Alan Dean Foster) until my flight was ready to go.

The flight back to IAH was uneventful except for the appalling flying skills of our pilot, who must have been able to count his flights of the 737 on his fingers. We made it safely to Houston, though, and I had 75 minutes to get to my connection. Interesting bit of trivia for those of you who haven't done it before: If you land in the US from a foreign country at Airport A and have a connecting flight to Airport B, you must clear customs at Airport A. By the Grace of God and my Silver status on Continental, I made it to my IAH-BOS flight with 10 minutes to spare. We boarded, pushed back, and sat on the tarmac for an hour.

About 2000, the Captain told us we had a pressurization problem and the plane wasn't up to the task of carrying 140-some-odd people from Houston to Boston. We went back to the gate, to concourse now devoid of commercial activity, to wait for another aircraft to become available. At 2100 we finally boarded a new plane and, two hours late, went careening through the skies of the eastern United States.

We touched down at 0200 in Boston, and I moved with intent to Central Parking to recover my car. And hour later saw me at home, ready to sleep. I had to be at a site in southeastern MA in the morning, so I set my alarm for 0700, with contingency alarms at 0715, 0730, 0745, and 0800.

I woke up refreshed at 0848.

I ran through my morning checklist and made it to the site by 1030. I was invited out to a team dinner that evening that would have kept me out until, oh, about now. With some ribbing, I declined. That proved to be the right choice. Now, I am going to get my first real sleep in a few days.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Current Location: Worcester, MA
Current Mood: accomplished

9CommentReplyShare

etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 11:32 am (UTC)
re: International Connecting Flights, Airports A and B

This is also true for Italy. I strongly suspect it's true everywhere.


ReplyThread
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
Re: International Connecting Flights, Airports A and B

Its definitely not true everywhere, because you can make connections in Amsterdam without passing through customs. It may be rather widespread, though.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 12:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

Ah, but were you then flying from Amsterdam to somewhere else in the Netherlands?


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

Er, that was me.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

Well, you see, in a place like Houston or Boston, you don't deplane onto the concourse, you deplane directly through a hamster trail that runs directly to the immigration hall. In Amsterdam, you deplane onto the concourse and customs is set up at the exit from the secured area. As a result, you can simply walk to another gate and board an outbound aircraft without ever touching customs, as opposed to being forced through customs before being allowed to pass back through security to the secured concourse.


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 01:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

I see you deftly dodged my question. Were you flying between Amsterdam and some other airport in the Netherlands, or were you making an International Connecting flight? Did you ever actually enter The Netherlands, or were you simply in the International Terminal?

Customs is all about control of International items. It's silly for Boston to have everyone from Texas go through Customs to catch people like you, so Texas does it for them on the International Flights. Same was true for Naples having its customs for a flight from Milan happening...in Milan.

But it's equally silly for people to go through Customs in Milan only to go through Customs again in Berlin. I don't think they had us go through until we went into the Domestic part of the Terminal, but it's hard to remember, and I can't find an interior map of MXP.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

I didn't make a connection in the Netherlands at all. I was simply presenting the difference between AMS and US airports like IAH and BOS that would make it physically possible to make an international connection in Amsterdam without passing through immigraiton, passport control, or customs where it would not be in Houston or Boston.

In any event, I'm sorry if I made you feel that I was somehow trying to evade your question or say that you were being less than honest. I merely wished to respond to your initial statement that all international connections required passing through customs with an experience I had from my previous trip that seemed to show an example of another option for screening passengers through the immigration process.


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Amsterdam

Right. And I was pointing out that you weren't making an International Connection. You were making an International -> Domestic transfer. I don't really feel that you were evasive, but you did successfully evade my question.


ReplyThread Parent
rashina
rashina
Tig
Thu, Jul. 12th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)

I rather hope that you were actually careering through the skies. Careening sounds like it would end in a messy fiery crash.


ReplyThread