Last Thursday I made a last-minute trip back to the United States to renew my Thai visa. Searching online, I was able to find a combination of dates and routes that were reasonably affordable.
The trip was booked on United Airlines through Tokyo. While I consider most Asian airlines to be a better experience than US-based airlines, I have to say that United’s revamped economy class product was acceptable, better than it used to be. Sadly, their Boeing 747s have not had the revamp. The Boeing 777 fleet, though, has audio-video on-demand and power outlets at every set of seats. The flight attendants are still kind of surly, though.
In Tokyo, I was joined by a group of thirty or so Korean primary school children on their way to a Tae Kwan Do competition in San Francisco. One of the group, 11-year old Jun, was seated between me on the aisle and another guy in the window seat. It made for an interesting flight. He was more outgoing than I would expect, talking with both of us throughout the flight and asking lots of questions. Even when I put on my eye shades and tried to sleep.
My fellow traveler and I looked out for Jun, getting snacks for him from the galley and sharing some snacks we had brought on board. An interesting thing that I assume is a cultural trait, when I offered him some granola bars that I had just opened, he declined to break off a section for himself. Instead, I figured out that he was waiting for me to break off a piece and offer it to him. He then broke a piece from that one and offered it to the guy sitting in the window seat.
After about seven hours of flying, awake the whole time, Jun’s energy ran out and he crashed hard asleep. Contorted in his seat in a strange position, I managed to wake him up for the second meal service since he had complained of being hungry. He was so bleary he could scarcely decide what entree to eat. He fell back asleep and didn’t wake up until we pulled into the gate and I shook his shoulder. Poor kid – hope he didn’t have to complete the following day!
I will be in the United States for ten days. Have already gathered some good food pictures and will share them in the next few days.