Day 12: The Trip Home

You knew it had to happen.  Everything went so well throughout the entire trip you knew bad things were bound to happen eventually.  Day 12 could also be titled to the VERY long day from hell.

The day started normal enough. As per my plan I awoke at 9am and headed downstairs to the breakfast buffet at the Marriott.  I knew I would be traveling for almost an entire day (though I had no idea how stressful it would be) so a big breakfast was essential.  Tip: I tried numerous times to eat scrambled eggs in Japan but they are simply too runny, I wouldn’t order them if you don’t like them that way.

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Following this, I returned to my room to relax until 11am which is the designated time I had picked to head out (the hotel checkout is 12pm).  My room looked pretty awful I must say, though I didn’t have housekeeping the day before, so I expected as much Smile

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At 11:00am it began.  After showering, dressing, and triple checking that EVERYTHING was packed I began my journey leaving the comforts of Marriott and hopefully ending at my parents house in Ann Arbor, MI.

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I had decided to take the same route back to Narita as I took to get to Tokyo, so I took the Hibiya subway line to Ueno where I purchased a ticket for the 1pm Skyliner (I arrived around 12:15pm, so I did have to wait).

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The train arrived perfectly on time and I was on my way in great comfort.  I even got to see the new Tokyo Sky Tree Tower, which is the new central hub for telecommunications, replacing Tokyo Tower.  The thing is huge, but not yet open.  It will open next year, and I will probably visit Japan again just to see it Smile

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This is where things began to go wrong.  There are three terminals at Narita. (One for Domestic, Two for International).  I was 95% sure which terminal to go to, but I decided to have Mami check to be absolutely sure.  She did confirm I was right but also informed me that my Air Canada flight was delayed 3 hours!!!  Given I only had a 1hr 30m layover in Toronto, this was an immense problem.

So I arrived at Narita and headed to the Air Canada desk.  The thing I don’t like about Narita are the crazy hours the reps work.  They don’t open their stations until about 2hrs before their first flight, so I had to wait 2hrs (first flight was at 5pm to Vancouver and I arrived at about 1pm).

The reps were aware of the problem with my flight, that was good, but were not sure what to do since they didn’t have any space on other flights through Star Alliance out of Japan.  Finally, they found space on an American Airlines flight to Chicago.  I had no idea they could simply issue a ticket for a completely different airline, but they did, as well as a ticket from Chicago to Detroit.

Unfortunately, as I had arrived at Narita International Terminal 1 and American flew out of International Terminal 2.  So I had to carry all of my bags to a different terminal and HOPE that American and United accepted my ticket from Air Canada.

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Thankfully, American accepted the ticket request from Air Canada, but told me I would have to wait till I got to Chicago to see if United would accept my ticket request and let me travel to Detroit.  So I left the ticket counter with only one boarding pass and stressed about whether I would end up stuck in Chicago; a lot can happen during a 11hr flight.

Thankfully none of that came to pass.  It was interesting in Chicago, going through Customs (they must have had 4 planes land and about a 100 US citizens returning) and dropping my checked luggage off at Terminal 5, taking a train to Terminal 1 and getting a boarding pass for the plane my luggage was heading for.  So just to be clear, I essentially put my luggage on the plane BEFORE I was sure I was going to be on the plane…

Anyway, I reached the gate at O’Hare and waited for the flight to Detroit.

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Interestingly, this plane took off only 15m after my flight from Tokyo took off (630 to head for Detroit, 615 to head for Chicago); always love how going back across the date line screws with your head.  The flight to Detroit was awful. Not because of United but because I had easily the loudest crying kid I have EVER dealt with on a plane before, and he was sitting right in front of me.  New Rule: If I ever had kids they will not go ANYWHERE near a plane until AT LEAST the age of 5.

But I arrived in Detroit at 830pm, I didn’t even try to calculate how long I had been traveling.  Of course, Detroit was a slow as ever with getting the luggage out, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that since I put my luggage on the plane BEFORE I had a ticket I wondered if it would even be there.

But I eventually did get it and Mom even took a picture of me at the end of my LONG journey back home (still not complete until I drive to Grand Rapids).

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One thing this journey has taught me is, I will NEVER EVER fly Air Canada again.  Just totally awful and incompetent.  I have to wonder why they delayed the second flight, hopefully not because of the media player issue that delayed my flight to Tokyo.

But I shouldn’t focus on the negatives.  This was a great trip overflowing with memories and the people I met.  I love Japan and I love the Japanese.  The trip had its ups and downs and I am glad to be home but, make no mistake, I will return to Japan in the future Smile

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