Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chicago to Nagoya: Flight advice

So much has happened in the past seven or eight hours. First, I made it to and through Chicago, O'hare airport (including a shuttle train ride and a second pass through security). Chicago boasted of wireless internet access, but ultimately, it was an even deeper betrayal, because I couldn't get the internet to even load enough to charge me. But my plane did land safely (way more important), and the pilot was wonderful. He had the laid back yet professional attitude that immediately puts a passenger at ease. In addition, the plane was practically empty, which allowed me to take over an entire row and sleep for close to two hours.

Now I'm about five plus hours into my flight from Chicago to Nagoya. Seriously, if you have to be on a plane for close to 14 hours, take Japan Airlines. About an hour in, I treated to the best, hands down, in-flight meal I've ever had, complete with hot cloth before eating, in season fruits and vegetables, and a followup with hot tea and then Artisian water—made of happy! And the entertainment system is to die for. There are over 30 movies and shows to choose from, all that can be queued up “on demand” style with rewind, pause, etc, at your leisure. Menus are in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and more. Also, there are selections of Japanese, American, Indian, Chinese and Korean films and television shows. And if you're not feeling the TV, there are also about 20 audio stations and video games, all playable with a handy personal remote for each passenger. My seatmate has spent quite a long time playing video games. I'm currently typing on my netbook while listening to J-pop from the plane. And, somewhere here there is rumored to be an electrical socket. Of course, I put all of my chargers in the overhead compartment (inside my small suitcase) as it never occurred to me there'd be an electric socket, but still, I am warmed by the fact that it exists, somewhere.

I did sleep for a couple of hours while listening to the classical station.

Thoughts on flying and the body (so far):

1.Happy Feet: You may think fuzzy socks (the super soft socks you get from CVS) are a great idea for long distance flying but they're NOT. Wearing them for the short 2:40 minute to Chicago, my feet felt like they were being bathed in static. At O'Hare switched to my more standard (but still a bit loose) kitty socks and my feet have been quite happy for this flight so far. Happiness in travel starts at the feet, so make sure to pick the right socks.
2.In the same vein as the above “happy feet” notation, taking off your shoes and chilling in your socks makes for a much happier flight. Which leads to thought #3...
3.Planes run hot and dry so scrub pants (the kind nurses aides and doctors wear) and a light weight top for running or biking is an excellent choice for comfortable travel. My mom had a pair of scrub pants that she bought about a year ago. Yes, they're green and my running shirt is a powder blue. With my knee high boots and bulky travel document holder stuffed down my shirt that makes me look like I'm preparing to eject a deformed chest-hugger, I look like an idiot, but I'm a comfortable idiot (with easily accessible travel documents), and comfort is the key to flying happily. The scrubs and running shirt both are quite lightweight and breathe well.
4.Water: You'll be drinking like crazy and still feel very dry as the flight continues. Be prepared for dry sinuses, dry throat, dry skin, dry eyes, etc. My tactic to offset this has been to keep drinking water. In fact, while it was $2.50/bottle, I'm very happy that I bought an extra 2 bottles of water in Chicago, as well as having a fruit smoothie there, as in combination with the plethora of beverages the fine staff at Japan Airlines is plying us with, the extra water is still being used. Of course (un/fortunately...?) this means I'm peeing a LOT, but for a long flight like this, it's a good idea to be up every couple of hours anyway to move around and stretch. Not only is it more comfortable, but long term sitting can effect the kidneys as well as cause swelling and blood clots. I'm probably being overly paranoid and not especially popular with my seatmates, as I'm at the window and keep getting them up every 2 hours so I can pee, but sacrifices must be made. Also, chapstick is a win.
5.Candy is good. I'm so glad I bought those Starburst jellybeans earlier this week as an impulse purchase, and that chocolate frosted donut in Philly. Haven't broken yet into the candy that Steph gave me (chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!) but I will soon.
6.In summary, being on a plane this long makes you incredibly aware of your body, it's needs, and it's level of comfort.

Now moving on to flying topics unrelated to comfort, the view I've had out of the window as we've flown has been incredible. We're currently heading past Anchorage (towards on top of the world, I think), but every time I've looked out of my window, I've been amazed at the view. And you can get good photos through an aircraft window. Also, I think we're following the sun as it's been consistently sunny for my entire flight, and when I (finally) get to Nagoya, it will only be 5:05pm their time, and likely still sunny. Not only am I fast forwarding into the future, but I am having a day of unending light. Not bad for what could be a rather traumatizing experience.

Oh, and I really wish I'd brought a watch. I'm going to try and find one in Nagoya, as well as an alarm clock. I'm going to try and use my cell for the second purpose (and with some math, a bit of the first), though this may not work as my service is off as of the March 25, EST.

Next up, read a novel. Get some sleep. Watch another movie. And then make some further decision about the final 2-3 hours of my flight. Not necessarily in that order.

Until later.

Note from the future: no reading was accomplished on this flight. I did play Bejeweled for over an hour though.