Hellish Moments on Journey to Japan

August 2, 2016

in Odds & Ends Stories

My wife and I just returned from 2 weeks in Japan. We took a cruise around the country out of Yokohama, and then stayed another 5 days in Yokohama visiting additional places in Japan. The vacation was wonderful, but getting there and back had its hellish moments.

Departure ORD (noon) to NRT (3:20pm) was on time and smooth on our United Airlines 777 with economy plus seats. Good thing since the flight is 12 hours long.

Hell #1: My in-seat video monitor was malfunctioning and inoperable. Oh well, I brought a good book. But I was a little jealous noticing everyone watching movies and TV shows.

Hell #2: On this flight they serve dinner, a snack, and another lunch just before landing. The first dinner seemed reasonable – teriyaki chicken and vegetables on rice. It tasted fine too. About 2 hours later, I’m experiencing stomach pain, intestinal pain, gas, etc. and am not feeling good. About 8 hours of suffering later, just before landing, the diarrhea began. It lasted 4 days, 3 of which were the beginning of our cruise and all its delicious food and adult beverages.

Two weeks later on our return flight NRT (5:30PM) to ORD (3:45PM):

Hell #1: We get to Narita Airport around 2PM for our 5:30PM departure. Upon trying to check in, we are alerted that our flight is delayed 5 hours (10:30pm). We’ll miss our connection and make it home a day late, but oh well. The UA counter people would only say that they could not help us just now, but to come back at 5PM.

About 90 minutes later our flight is cancelled as it turns out there is a 10:30PM curfew at Narita Airport and the late plane won’t arrive until 10:15PM. There had already been another United flight to Washington DC that was cancelled and another cancelled flight from another carrier. Thus no hotel rooms near the airport by the time our flight is cancelled. Since no one would help us before 5PM, I call United and find out that we’re rebooked on a make up flight and the late arriving plane will leave at noon the next day with connections home (yea!).

At 5PM we head to the counter and they confirm our flight the next day and allow us to check in and check our luggage. They give us nice blankets and pillows, so we get ready to spend the night at the airport. We asked if they would let us stay and the agent said yes. I assumed that meant on the floor we were currently at (4th). My wife and I grab dinner and find a rather quiet spot and bed down. I take a little sleeping aid and get comfortable.

Hell #2: Around 9:30PM a cop comes by and kicks us all out, saying we can only sleep on the first floor, the floor with all the bright lights on, the rental car desks open, cement floors that echo the clicks of all the high heeled shoes and luggage trolleys on it, etc. No matter, we line up some benches and do the urban camping thing. I actually slept okay and was able to have coffee, breakfast, brush my teeth, and change my shirt in the morning. My wife didn’t sleep that well, but we survived.

Hell #3: Going through security in the morning, many of the overnighters are there in the front of the line. Apparently information on the make up flight with a new flight number has not made it to security. So all of us with boarding passes for the flight are held up and sent to stand to the side. Panic is starting to set in, but after a couple of minutes security gets the news and they send us through. The plane indeed leaves at noon.

Hell #4: After the first flight, I swore off airline food, so I’ve come prepared to make it half way across the globe without eating the plane food (the last meal on this flight was a rancid looking omelette, tater tot, and completely white sausage that my wife took one bite of and covered back up). I’m hungry, but at least I’m not sick.

Hell #5: About 4 hours after take-off my in-seat video monitor freezes and never regains consciousness for the remainder of the flight. I finished my book.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucyfur August 2, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Poor Baby — he blamed his stomach trouble on the airline food but —
"For most cases of food poisoning, symptoms tend to come on within one to three days of eating the contaminated food. However, for some types of food poisoning, this 'incubation period' can be as long as 90 days." He should have blamed what he had eaten earlier.
Also — he should have read his book rather than fret for hours over the lack of video monitor…. so sad – too bad


Aaron August 3, 2016 at 5:22 am

Troll much?


Zombie August 3, 2016 at 10:44 am

Actiually — the real test for whether it was fgood poisoning from the airplane food: Did anyone else get sick?

As for the four hours, the way I read it, the device worked for the first four hours of the return flight before failing. That's not fretting for four hours.

The real lesson here: Never use a US flagged carrier on an international route.


patsytp August 19, 2016 at 2:49 am

On a flight with JAL from Sydney via Tokyo… put up for the night in one of Narita's hotels and everything is 3/4 size- the bed, the bath, the shower… made the mistake of opting for Japanese food versus Western (when in Rome, and all that)… i have no idea to this day what was in the very fishy/off smelling broth but it was enough of a rancid stench not to eat a thing on that q6 hour flight, or whatever it was. I honestly thought JAL would be a decent airline… never again… Emirates all the way!!


patsytp August 19, 2016 at 2:51 am

*16 hour flight*…


Cassie September 3, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Things happen that you cannot control when flying. It sucks. Although your last hells were not as bad, because you were just hungry and your TV didn't work, I do feel bad about the first one. I rarely eat airline food at all, and when I have to, I only eat a small amount. I'm so sorry the food gave you poisoning! Food poisoning is the worst in general, but it must have to have been just awful to have it on a plane! Even though your comment did seem like you were not thankful for all the good things that happened on your trip, I do feel and for you that you couldn't enjoy your cruise. Hopefully now you've learned your lessons- Ask you peers that seem like they know what to do if you don't, and never, I mean NEVER eat plane food.


David M. November 28, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Hey Lucifur; food poisoning can show symptoms as soon as 8 hours depending on the what bacteria or virus it is.


john September 26, 2016 at 12:05 am

Stop bitching, be grateful


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: