• 27 . 10 . 05
  • At least I think it’s the 27th. Being served breakfast at the equivalent of midnight is a bit weird, and even though the apartment clock says about 2pm, I’d swear it was 5 in the morning. One thing I am sure of is I’m never ever flying through the US again. I might fly to […]

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Really Long Haul

At least I think it’s the 27th. Being served breakfast at the equivalent of midnight is a bit weird, and even though the apartment clock says about 2pm, I’d swear it was 5 in the morning. One thing I am sure of is I’m never ever flying through the US again. I might fly to there because it might be worth the short tempers and treatment bordering on harassment by immigration and customs officials, but for a connecting flight, never. From the immigration officers that didn’t believe I was meeting people and repeatedly asked me why I had four currencies in my wallet, to being fingerprinted and photographed and herded with everyone else like cattle, to having to pick up luggage and have it screened again just to go back on another conveyor belt, to having to take my shoes off (which highlights just how reactive their security policy is, instead of being proactive), to the loud, angry, bored and just plain rude people who are supposed to be welcoming you to their country. It didn’t even make me feel safe. It’s not an experience I ever want to go through again and I think I was comparatively lucky, having read some terrible stories.

United Airlines didn’t do much for me either – unhelpful staff more intent on telling me I couldn’t board the plane than where to go to pick up my boarding card and imposing pursers that were more like matrons you’d find in Borstal. For a flight from Japan with however many hundreds of Japanese people, there was one Japanese stewardess, who confined herself to first class. There wasn’t even a cursory attempt at basic Japanese by the stewardesses assigned to us proles, who seemed to have studied foreign languages at the Briton-on-holiday “Do you speak-ah the English-ah?” in-a-loud-voice school of communication. The bit I remember the most is one stewardess shouting “knees, elbows!” at bemused Japanese when she brought out the meals.

To be fair, the flight was fast, the food was pretty good and the entertainment selection was quite varied – it just seemed to lack the personal touch you tend to associate with American service. It put me in mind of waiters who knew they weren’t going to get a tip. But maybe all this is just because I’m jetlagged and grouchy. Anyway, I’m here now and the apartment is beautiful, on the 13th floor, looking out down to the harbour and across the city. I’m looking forward to seeing as much as possible while I’m here, but for now it’s bedtime. Or lunchtime.