North America Trip Day One and Day One again – The Flight

Because of the international date line see? I basically got to live through Wednesday for 50% longer than everybody else.

The flight started out alright. In fact, it was the most perfect take-off I’ve ever experienced – I didn’t even feel the wheels leave the runway. I was in Premium Economy, I got to watch the rest of Death Comes to Pemberley (which I’d started on my previous flight) and the food was decent.

Then they switched off the lights. The young Chinese lady sitting beside me switched on her reading light, which was really bright. Alright, thought I. No worries. She appeared to be reading the Bible from cover to cover, while making chewy mouth motions. Each to his own, thought I, willing to be patient. Except she never switched it off. At all. I really struggle to sleep in brightly-lit environments, but not even the eye-mask and headphones helped. To make matters worse the one time I did manage to doze off, I was woken by Bible Betty, unable to find her TV remote control.

About 5 hours in I looked at the clock at flipped. 8 hours plus to go. For the first time in my life on an airplane I felt a violent revulsion for where I was and a desperation to be elsewhere.

It just got worse.

I don’t know why. I’ve not generally had problems with the long-haul plane rides I’ve done to date. I was just seriously uncomfortable and unhappy and sleep-deprived, and it culminated in kind of this weird, freaky state of mind where part of me seriously fantasized about marching to the cabin and demanding to be let off. (Of course, at this point we were flying over Mongolia, and not even my fantasies go that far…)

The funny thing is, there were a few empty seats. I probably could have swapped. There was also quite a nice big space in front of the loo where I could have stretched. But the paranoid, Japanesified part of my brain revolted against the thought of being stared at, of doing something out of the ordinary, and so I stayed put, wondering even as I did it why I was doing it. This is clearly something I need to work on.

It ended, as these things do. I veritably bounced through the featureless labyrinthine corridors to immigration, then off to the baggage carousel.

As a final insult, my torturous plane neighbour kept coming to stand right in front of me, searching for her bag with the same frenetic vagueness that she’d displayed on the plane. I moved – twice – but she kept moving in front of me. I seriously considered chewing her out for her utter lack of consideration, but thought better of it and posted about it on the internet instead.

Actually, I want to end this on a slightly more positive note: I got upgraded for the trip from Nagoya to Hong Kong and it was the single best travel experience of my entire life. Not even exaggerating. It was AMAZING. Super kudos to Cathay Pacific. The food was awesome (I tried a cheese called Camzola and it changed my life), the service was incredible and I got addressed by my name throughout the flight. It was just too delightful.

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