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25 Hours in Transit August 28, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings, Up and Away.

0230-0640 Hours (GMT +8)
Manila, Ninoy Aquino International Airport
I was told to check in four hours before my flight (owing to the recent Heathrow incident), so I found myself at the airport at 2:30 in the morning. Apparently, NAIA is a very different place during these wee small hours. It’s quite subdued, arguably more organized, and the airport staff (was I dreaming?) surprisingly quite friendly and helpful.

However, it seemed like the airline staff was still operating according to the old three-hour check-in window as they only showed up to open the counter at around 4:00am. Worse, it turns out I could’ve showed up even later than that since I was travelling business class. To top it off, there was some trouble with my ticket, as the computer system kept informing the person checking me in that my booking on the flight had been cancelled, though my onward booking was confirmed. Strange, but true.

When that was sorted out, groggy and none the worse for wear, my otherwise inauspicious return to New York was underway.

0915-1020 Hours (GMT +8)
Hong Kong, Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong has, hands down, one of the most fantastic airports out there. An added bonus, at least for travelers that don’t fly coach, is the privilege of visiting the business and first class lounges. I’m always a sucker for “free” meals, and I always look forward to visiting the lounges’ Noodle Bar. Unfortunately, noodles aren’t served until closer to noon, so I had to make do a couple of dumplings and bottled water.

Security was quite tight at the boarding gate for the Hong Kong-New York leg of the trip. The entire boarding gate was cordoned off, and all passengers were subject to a pat down, with belongings searched thereafter. I was happy to note that the airport security staff were very professional – that is to say polite, which is so unlike my prior experiences…anywhere! – and did not make a fuss over any of the gadgets in my bag.

2220-1315 Hours (GMT -4)
Somewhere in the Atmosphere
For the most part, the flight was uneventful. I tried to reprogram my sleeping habits by nodding off when it should’ve been night in New York and staying awake the rest of the time.

If there’s anything I look forward to on a flight, it’s the chance to watch a few movies, in this case: Mission Impossible III, The Bourne Supremacy, Lucky Numbers Slevin and Inside Man. All of these I didn’t get to see in New York because I refuse to watch a movie alone and can’t fathom paying $10 a pop at the theaters. I could’ve maybe caught one or two more, but couldn’t help floating in and out of consciousness when the fatigue set in. Funny how sitting around relatively idle, albeit in a cramped space, can actually be tiring.

One odd thing: for some reason, I was mostly ignored by the flight attendant seeing to my section of the plane. I noticed this during meals, when he would offer the lady sitting beside me bread, dessert or something more to drink, but not extend the same courtesy to me. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t think much of this, but what was strange about it was that I was the one sitting in the aisle, and the lady had the window seat. Anyway, I was too tired to make a fuss about it. And no, the lady wasn’t all that attractive, so that couldn’t have been it either.

Oh, the food was relatively good. For airline cuisine.

1315-1530 Hours (GMT -4)
New York, JFK International Airport/Subway/Apartment
This was the first time in a long time that I flew into JFK on an international flight. My flight came in at nearly the same time as another from British Airways, so there was a lengthy delay at immigration.

When my turn came up, the immigration officer couldn’t help but notice that I was attending Fordham University. Most of the time, when people hear I’m studying in New York they assume it’s at NYU. Now, while Fordham isn’t Ivy League it does elicit a significant degree of respect here in New York. I’m beginning to appreciate that.

Deciding to save a few dollars, I took the subway back to my apartment. There’s arguably no easier way to getting back into the rhythm of things in New York than negotiating heavy luggage through the subway system.

Not much longer after that I was back in my apartment, where things were as I left them two months ago: my papers were a mess, the bathroom was still smelling fresh (thank heavens!), and the fridge was devoid of anything to eat.

The vacation was over. “Welcome back!” to me.

Epilogue: 1715-1830 Hours (GMT -4)
New York, Midtown
I couldn’t really get settled when I arrived. I needed to forage for dinner (I do not exaggerate the lack of anything to eat in my apartment), and thought it would be a good idea to hear mass so I could hole up the next day. Besides, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit my friendly neighborhood comic book store and use the $20 of store credit I had coming to me.

On my way back to the apartment, comics and food in hand, I encountered a group of people sharing a stash of weed by the sidewalk.

You gotta love this city.



1. Random Travel Notes 3 « BRAIN DRAIN - August 31, 2007

[…] entire can, whereas I would only be offered the one glass. I’d observed a similar pattern on a prior trip, and am sure the flight attendants would have been happy to top up my glass on requet. All the […]

2. Random Travel Notes 4 « BRAIN DRAIN - November 10, 2007

[…] lack thereof). Naturally, I saw the prospect of a cross country flight as a golden opportunity to add yet another entry to ongoing In-Flight Entertainment missives. I knew, however, that I’d […]

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