This was trip #3 to Japan for me in the last 13 months, so that’s pretty exciting. I booked a 6:29am flight out of Seattle so, like I always do, I showed up to the airport far earlier than was probably necessary. Back before I’d ever been on a plane, I’d alway heard people talking about the need to arrive extremely early for a flight. Then, the first time we flew to Japan, TSA employees were on strike so it was suggested we arrive 4-5 hours prior to our departure time, & I still have a tendency to show up super early like that. Necessary? Probably not but I’m unwilling to risk missing my flight for any reason under my control. I got a ride to the airport at 2 am, meaning I forced myself out of bed at around 1:15am. It was really hard to do but I wanted to get a little time in with our cats before I took off and couldn’t see them for a week and a half. They make it really emotionally challenging to travel because I love their little faces and miss them when I’m gone, and I know they miss us, too. I feel especially bad for Emilia because she is very attached to Rob & I know she doesn’t understand why he’s been gone all this time and I think she strongly dislikes it when I take off, too. I believe that Rob’s absence has made her even more attached to me than she was. I also think she suffers from a little bit of separation anxiety so these trips are hard on her. I wish I could have taken them with me! To be honest, I wish we could take all three of them everywhere we go!
Anyway, while getting up that early was unpleasant and saying goodbye to our cats made me a little sad, getting to the airport at this time made for a great experience. It wasn’t long before the cafes, restaurants & stores opened so I could get some coffee & a snack, plus the airport was dead. This was my fastest experience ever getting through security, because it was just me and a handful of other people… no lines! There was no rush to get my shoes back on or to stuff my lap top back in my suitcase because there wasn’t a massive group of people following directly behind me! I didn’t even have to stand in line at Starbucks, which is a brand new airport experience for me. It was awesome. I think I might take really early fights as often as possible just because of how smoothly and quickly this all went… it made my time at SeaTac really relaxing!
I love being able to select my plane seats online and I always choose the aisle seat. I do not care about the window views and I want no part of being in the center seat. Pretty much, I don’t want to have to climb over people if I need to get up for any reason. I’m not a fan of someone else climbing over me either, but I detest the awkwardness of being the one doing the climbing! There was a girl who took the window seat, I was in the aisle seat, and there was no one in between us. Perfect. It seems that a bonus to the early flights is fewer people. It was great… until they told us that our flight would be taking off late! I was flying United Airlines, and after I booked my ticket, I read some very inconsistent reviews about them, many complaints mentioning how the flights always take off late, which made me uncomfotable but in their defense, they have a high safety rating, which is priority #1. Anyway, here I was, my fear of taking off late, coming true. Apparently, there was an issue at SFO and our plane wouldn’t be able to land until further notice. I mean, as annoying as this all was, if SFO is telling you that you have nowhere to land your plane and won’t for some time, what are you gonna do?? Usually, when flying to Japan, I make a point to take a direct flight there with no layovers. In this moment, I was really wishing I’d done that, because they were telling us that our flight woud get us to San Francisco at 11:30am… one hour AFTER my connecting flight to Japan takes off. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t worried about getting to Tokyo… I knew they would get me there, and the credit card I used has travel benefits so I was covered regardless of what happened with the airline, but WHEN would I get there??? How many hours would this tack onto my day? The flight attendants suggested that anyone who could potentially miss a connecting flight get off the plane and go talk to front desk staff and see if there’s another flight to get on. There was a direct flight from SeaTac to Tokyo Narita around 11:30ish, but that flight was five hours away. I’d already been at the airport for three hours, so the thought of eight airport hours before a 10 hour flight, then followed by a two hour train ride sounded pretty unappealing. I was running out of options though. Here I was, thinking it could be cool to catch an extra early flight, have a layover in San Francisco, I would eat a little lobster macaroni & cheese at Cat Cora, which would cut my time close but I would watch the clock. The real reason I chose this flight was because, even though the layover made my overall flight time a little longer, my departure time was so early, I would arrive in Tokyo sooner than the other flights. In addition to that, this flight would take me to Tokyo Haneda International Airport, which is significantly closer to my destination than Tokyo Narita. It would cut my train time in half. Obviously, this whole plan was backfiring now! However, when I got to the desk, there was an update saying that my flight would be taking off only an hour late, which would allow me one hour’s time between getting off my first flight to get to my connecting flight. I asked the United employee what she thought I should do, and she said she thinks I can make it. She said just get off the plane, ask someone which direction you need to go, and get going. I figured I have nothing to lose! Hopefully I’ll make the flight, if not, I’ll deal with it in San Francisco. I got back on the plane, which was now scheduled to take off at 7:30am. I’d gone to bed after 9pm the night before, so I was running on very little sleep, I was exhausted, and I’m not good at sleeping on planes but I managed to get a little power nap in, which really helped. By this point, there obviously wasn’t going to be any food at Cat Cora’s Kitchen! One of my favorite things to do is try new restaurants and some airport restaurants are totally worth trying. Cat Cora is a famous food personality who once won the Iron Chef contest on the Food Network. She is very interested in humanitarian work, sustainable efforts & eco-friendly products, all of which I can get behind and am happy to support. Anyway, back on track again. I was supposed to be jumping off that plane at 9:30 to get to my 10:30 flight, but the plane didn’t land until well after 9:30, I didn’t get off that plane until after 9:50, which means they were already boarding for my next flight and would close the doors at 10:15. Come on. I got off that plane as fast as I could, which wasn’t very fast at all because unloading a plane takes time. I walked into the terminal, got directions and headed towards my next flight. This was the first time I’ve ever literally ran through an airport but I MADE IT with 10 minutes to spare. It was such a relief. Thank goodness for luggage on wheels! I would be getting to Japan on time! I have never been to SFO before but I have to say, that aiport really makes sense and I was so grateful at how easy it was to navigate through the place. Thank goodness for small favors! Once I was on the plane, it was an easy flight. Flying from Seattle to Tokyo Narita takes about 10 hours but flying to Tokyo Haneda from SFO was about an hour longer, which was totally worth the earlier arrival time and cutting more an hour off my train commute. It just meant catching early morning flights but again, worth it. I was so impressed with United’s movie selection! I don’t watch a ton of movies generally, but that’s pretty much all I do when I’m on a plane. Again, I had an aisle seat and there was no one in the center seat. I was sitting in the middle section of the plane, so on the other side of the empty seat was a guy who also had an aisle seat. His girlfriend was actually seated in the section across the aisle from him, and she had an empty seat next to her as well, so he moved over to be next to her, and I had an entire row of seats to myself. The introvert in me loved everything about this!
I was curious to see how my experience would go once I arrived at Tokyo Haneda. It would be my first time at this airport, because we’ve always flown in and out of Tokyo Narita. I’ve read that Tokyo Narita is the main hub for U.S. fights into Tokyo but Tokyo Haneda is actually the bigger, busier airport of the two, because it’s the airport where most other countries fly the majority of their flights into. Tokyo Narita seemed pretty dang big to me and now you’re telling me that Tokyo Haneda is BIGGER AND BUSIER? Alright. Well let’s do it. I got off the plane, followed the crowd through immigration then customs, both of which were a breeze to get through. I was lucky because the woman who helped me at customs spoke English, so I was able to ask her how to get to the train. She gave me some directions that would take me to the Keikyu line, which was perfect because the Keikyu line was exactly what I needed! I exited the customs area, and immediately saw signs directing me to the trains, caught the 3:10 train and was at Yokosuka-chuo by 4:10. Other than the stress of my first fight running late, this was like the easiest travel experience. I was so appreciative that the train I needed was a short walk from where my plane landed, and I was so grateful that my train ride was much shorter than what I’m used to. The stress from earlier in the day was totally worth the ease and time saved once I arrived in Japan.
I did have to transfer trains one time but it was so easy. I disembarked the first train, and simply had to walk to the other side of the platform to catch the next train, so all of about 13 feet. Really easy!
Rob and I were messaging this entire time and counting down the minutes until we saw one another.