Saturday, February 4, 2012

Japanese efficiency

It doesn't matter how much often you fly, to see a passenger near you repeatedly cross himself during the safety video is never reassuring. That said, I felt I already owed God one for making this flight at all.

For my trip back to Canada, I was connecting through Tokyo with a one hour change-over time. That was slightly on the tight side, but it was Japan so I had faith I would make it.

As we reached the northern half of the main island, our plane met a strong head wind. Towns below us had suffered a dramatic snowfall only a day before, with 3m of the white stuff dumped overnight. The resulting air currents made our plane bounce like a coffee bean in a grinder. It also made us 20 minutes late.

Our chosen landing spot appeared to be only vaguely connected to the airport. I mean, it was probably in the same prefecture. Just. We piled onto a bus for a ten minute ride across to the terminal. From there, I had to pass back through security and through the official country border to the international departures area. Then I had to get to the other side of the terminal, passing 30 gates to get to my own.

Any other country and I would have been asking about vacancies in the airport hotels and buying a toothbrush from the nearest shop. But... it was Japan... this might yet be possible.

I did all of the above in 15 minutes. The flight attendant didn't even look phased as she scanned my boarding pass and waved me through for an on-time departure.

The passenger crossing himself was also reading the safety leaflet, as per the instructions on the video. If anything, that was even more bizarre than the apparent desire for divine intervention. Upon take off, he ordered two (admittedly small, but still a containing a couple of glasses) bottles of wine. After that, negotiating the arm rest on his seat proved to be a more pressing problem than the need to pray.

Once in Toronto, I dubiously walked over to the baggage reclaim... to see my suitcase happily travelling round (at least, I would have enjoyed riding that belt). I'm not sure if there is any other airport in the world I could have connected through where that would have been possible.

This only left one final hurdle.

Canadian border guard: Wait, you were here two weeks ago?!


  1. when you said an hour to connect, I was really hoping you would make it OK because that is how long we have to connect in Singapore when we go away in September. Travel Agent assures us that it is plenty of time. I just have visions of sprinting and crashing through crowds of people

  2. So long as your plane is on time, an hour should be totally fine :) Also, you'll be going international->international, so you won't have to pass through security again. (The exception being at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, where I defy anyone to do a connection in less than 90 minutes!).

  3. A safe arrival at home is always good to hear. When you are recognized by the guards, you know you travel wayyy too much! haha. Hope all is well in your world!

  4. That is one thing that has yet to happen! Recognition would be bad!

  5. I hope you are having fun in Canadaaaa!!

    Slightly jealous of your last post. I WANT TO BE YOUR NEW FRIEND. Damn new Bristish PhD student. ugh

    # slightly stalkerish. sorry.

  6. Canada is fun! But 14 hour jet lag? That is currently in the category of "not fun".

    Also, kinda like you said here:

    in point 1, I've just kind of decided you are my friend and we've known each other for years.