Posted by: topher274 | October 27, 2008

Northwest Flight 19

Flight 815

Ah, Oceanic flight 815 (from the show LOST, if you don’t know). My trans-pacific flight was not nearly as eventful as theirs, but there was still a thing or two to write home about ;)

So there I was, one week ago today: Tuesday the 21st. At long last I set out from Kansas City to Minneapolis for my first connection of my first pacific flight of my first year in Korea. Lauren and Tineke lovingly drove me to the airport. Just as we were arriving at our terminal, I made a slightly harrowing realization. Those who know me well know that I am a notorious leaver-of-things-in-places, and of all the things I left at Lauren’s house (about 50 minutes away) was my passport. Great. Off to a good start, Chris. Franticly calling all our friends, finally the great Michelle N got it and drove all the way to the airport to bring it to me. Incredible. I love that girl so much.

A nice Muslim lady helped me get a new connection while we were waiting. I was so excited when she came over and told us, that I wanted to hug her :), unfortunately that is against her religion. So I settled on a handshake. Also against her religion. So I settled on her shaking Lauren’s hand. It was a nice flight to Minneapolis. Getting there about two hours before my next connection, the gate was empty. I did what I usually do: found the food court in search of chinese food. When I returned to the gate, there was a veritable multitude of about 500 people milling about the gate. It took me a few minutes to realize that they were all getting on our same flight. Taking a seat, I braced myself for the longest flight of my life, about thirteen hours.

After we took off, I discovered that I was seated next to a young Korean fellow. He was 23 years old and named Sang Moo Lee. Sang Moo had just returned from eight months studying English in Boston and was returning to his hometown in Busan (the main port city in the southern part of South Korea). When I asked him what he wanted to do in his life, he merely told me that he wanted to go into politics. And that he wanted to be the President of Korea. I liked him instantly.

About three or four hours in, a strange, almost movie-like request was made over the intercom. “If there is a doctor on board, please come up to the front of the airplane.” As it turned out, a woman on our flight had a heart attack while we were in the air. We had to make an emergency stop in Anchorage, Alaska. Now,you might say, ‘Anchorage, Alaksa?! That’s rediculusly out of the way! Why not stop in Honolulu or somewhere else in the Pacific?’ Actually it turns out, as my geometry students might tell you, Anchorage is right between is right between Minneapolis and Tokyo. Take a look :)

We were grounded for about two hours.

When we finally got to Tokyo, it was the maddest of zoos, since everyone had missed their connections. The last time something like this had happened to me was at Christmas time (for onething) when US Airways had a massive sick-out. When I arrived at Washington/Dulles, and found out that my flight to Kansas City had just left and the next flight was late next morning. When I asked the attendant for a hotel voucher she simly said, ‘Sir, we are bankrupt. No hotels will accept our vouchers.’ I had to sleep in the airport that night and I was just as prepared to spend this night in the Tokyo airport.

Fortunately, after 3/4 hour of waiting in line, I got a connected flight for 12:33 pm the next day, and a hotel voucher. After I made it through Japanese immigration and customs, I found that I was neck in neck with that same Korean guy whom I sat next to on the plane. I said to him, ‘Y’know, we are both flying out in the morning, do you want to get the hotel room together, just to stick together for fun?’ He agreed, and I had someone to spend the next sixteen hours with. We found the bus to the Nikko Narita hotel, and when we arrived there was another long, long line of folks at the front desk, all from our flight, waiting for their room assignments.

Another hour in line, carrying all our stuff (not our checked bags, thank God), and we finally got our room on the sixth floor. A most wonderful blessing, the free night stay also included dinner and breakfast at their lowest level restaurant. We were starving, and the food was completely delicious. There was even a sushi chef who prepared some delicious sushi. Now I can say that I’ve actually eaten sushi in Japan. Andrew Switzer eat your heart out ;)

I guess I could finish the story, but It’s long enough to make another whole post. I’ll just stop here. Are you not riveted?!

To be continued!



  1. Absolutely riveted. Give me part II or give me death.

  2. sushi in toyko, i am sooo jealous!!

  3. Man this is soooo exciting, I’m living vicariously through you, Chris… and the sushi part especially is making me a little crazy envious, too!!!! Ahhh!!!

  4. Chris – I immediately recognized that picture and smiled fondly in seeing the visual aid on Anchorage ;-) I hope you are not suffering from flashbacks replaying the harrowing and enigmatic scenes from your past as you wander about in this new wonderland, though from your episodic blog it seems that you may be . . .

  5. Riveted, I am.

    (I’m thoroughly enjoying Brent’s comment, as well. I am somewhat shocked that you guys know the show, TV being such a foreign thing around here.)

    But I’m confused. When the plane flies at such a sharp, upward angle (instead of the nice, gentle, downward slant), how do they keep stuff from falling out the back… and how do they keep the plane itself from plummeting to the ground?

  6. Why is it that the moment after you click “Submit Comment” is the moment when you realize that you didn’t really want to submit the comment? It doesn’t seem to matter how long you deliberate, with the mouse hovering over the button. The “Noooo! Don’t do it!” doesn’t actually set in until it is too late.

    I can’t believe I actually submitted that last half of the above comment.

  7. I can.

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