Saturday 12th September
Woke up fairly early. I was very happy to of slept 10 hours and was hoping to get out and check out the Narita temple or the aviation museum. Unfortunately as I looked out the window… Rain.
So spent most of the morning holed up inside my room as it did have a good view of one of the taxiways and got some good spotting in.
Around check out time, I decided to go and try my luck at check in and see if they would let me check in, way to early. Got some weird looks from a couple I had been chatting to the night before who knew I departed at 4:30 and here I am sitting on the 11am shuttle.
When I finally got around to Terminal 1 (most people get off at Terminal 2 as that is where JAL is located). The airport was much, much bigger than I expected and it felt like a small city! When I found the Skyteam area at Terminal 2 (which was a large section actually), I rocked up to an empty business elite check in, and they let me check in, no questions asked. The check in agent asked me what sort of seat I wanted so I must have been fairly early in the check in numbering. I just said I wanted a Window seat, didn’t mind where. Whoever that girl was, she is awesome because she gave me Seat 10A which according to Seat Guru is like the BEST seat on the Lower Deck of the Delta 747’s.
Once checked in, I went up to check out the Observation Deck. I was trying to avoid the rain but it wasn’t really around at that point. I did manage to get a heap of awesome photos of stuff I had never seen before, like Finnair, KLM, SAS.
The rain started again so I decided to go through security and go in search of the Skyclub. From what I could see from the Observation Deck one of the lounges had a fantastic view down the active runway.
Turned out it was the Skyclub near gate 21 that was the perfect spot and this is where I sat, for several hours, with a pc in front of me and the camera next to it. I managed to get even more good stuff like Aeroflot, Aeromexicana, heaps of Delta, The SQ A380, Continental and much much more. I had to change sky clubs after a little while as the gate my flight was going from, was at a different side of the terminal.
Boarding time rolled around and it was a mad house at the gate. It was packed solid and there were people everywhere. This was obviously a full flight.
Boarding commenced as they pre boarded Business and I made my way down the business class air bridge.
Tokyo -Narita to Minneapolis St Paul (NRT-MSP)
Delta/Northwest – NW 20
Business Elite – Seat 10A
Push Back: 16:20
Take Off Roll: 16:45
Top of Decent: 1235
Touch Down: 12:57
Pre Departure drinks were offered and I had decided I would at least partially pay attention to doctors orders still, so took the Orange Juice over the beer. Amenity kits where already at the seat and Slippers and Menus were soon distributed (all went straight into my bag mind you). A very long taxi to the active and we had a very bumpy climb out. Seat belt sign was on for quite some time as there was a bit of turbulence about. Unfortunately the IFE was not working at all to begin with so for about 2 or so hours, no IFE. I was expecting a very very long flight with no IFE but it did eventually come on line.
We had a very big tail wind which seemed to speed us across the pacific quite quickly. I was really happy with the seat. The Northwest World Business Class seat (now Delta Business Elite) was actually pretty comfortable. It was good to watch movies with the recline right back.
Managed to get in only a couple of movies in between bumping the AVOD remote a number of times and the late starting of the system. We tracked over Alaska and Canada for the arrival into Minneapolis. We were in a holding pattern for like 15 minutes which destroyed the advantage of the Tail Wind. The reason the flight deck gave for the holding pattern. Well it seems President Obama had just landed at MSP.
I had been joking earlier in the day about what would be my plane spotting catch of all time and I joked Air Force One with Obama on board. I was just joking, but now it seemed possible!
We landed nicely into MSP and made our way to the gate. We arrived pretty much on time (love schedule padding) and I made a mad dash into the Security to get through asap. I made it through and was one of the first people waiting for bags. That’s when I lost my timing, my bag (even though tagged “Priority” came out fairly late so I still had to then make the mad rush through the TSA screening point which took a good 20 mins.
Managed to walk all the way across the airport to the gates I needed, found a good vantage point to shoot some really nice shots of AF1. As I was waiting at the gate I could see a whole heap of limos pull up to AF1… Obama was on his way out! What a score!! Got AF1 taxiing out just before boarding commenced.
Minneapolis St Paul to Washington DC – Dulles International (MSP-IAD)
Delta/Northwest/Compass Airlines – NW 5665
Embraer E175 – N635C7
Coach – Seat 5B
Push Back: 1505
Take Off Roll: 1520
Top of Descent: 1750
Touch Down: 1815.
Boarding commenced with First class and elites first, then the back half of the plane, then everyone else. Again the awesome girl in Narita had gotten me a great seat. Again if you check out seat guru apparently a great seat. I wasn’t expecting much on this flight. I was really about this time ready to pass out. I had my ipod ready in hand, plenty of trance and was planning on resting.
We spent a good time at the gate while person after person brought in oversize suitcases. That stuff would not fly in Aus, I don’t know why they let the get away with it over here in the USA. It was a full flight and as soon as everyone was set, we were off. It was a bit of a taxi to the active but since this was the first time I had ever been on an Embraer aircraft I was a little excited. The take-off was violent as it felt like he was trying to do a burn out.
Up in the air quickly and climbing up, again more bumpy stuff as big cloud base but soon we were pointed towards DC. Did get offered a drink, which I took just a coke and then just tried to rest my eyes. Next thing I know we are at Top of Descent and we are heading down. Not having been in an Embraer before you can really feel the movements on descent in this thing, its crazy!
We touched down on the far side of Dulles and had to taxi all the way to the B gates. Since we went to the B gates I was ecstatic, that meant one thing. MOON BUGGIES!!! The one thing that is unique to Dulles and no where else are the iconic Moon Buggies that you use to go from terminal to terminal.
It was about 1830 when we stepped off the flight and the time taken to get to the moon buggies, wait for the next one, get my bag then wait for the Super Shuttle it was about 1930. 25 minutes later I’m at my hotel, checked in quickly and about to get straight into that king size bed. It has been a very long 24 hours.