Got up at eight to see Jamie off to school and spend a bit of time
with Kristen and Liam before the airport limo arrived at 9:15. Late
rush hour traffic delayed my arrival at YYZ until 10:00, still
plenty of time for my noon flight to Narita. I lined up at the Air
Canada international business class check-in counter and had to
wait a shocking seven minutes until a second counter opened. I
passed the time showing the people behind me in line, a couple about
my age taking their two-year-old daughter to Grand Cayman, how to
correctly unfold their Maclaren stroller without risking injury to
their child. This is my first time taking advantage of my Air
Canada Aeroplan "Elite" status, earned at a cost of over 40,000
miles spent in the air so far this year, to upgrade all the way
from the cheapest economy fare to business class.
I had about half an hour at the Maple Leaf Lounge, long enough to
graze the continental breakfast buffet, tinker with my Gmail Offline
settings and resync my email for the flight, and deal with the dozen
email messages that had come in since I left home. I grabbed a
grande green tea frappuccino from Starbucks and went to the gate.
I was told there that because of a staff delay, they could only board
priority passengers for the time being. I felt like they were going
out of their way to make me feel special.
Aboard Air Canada flight #1, 13-hour nonstop service from Toronto
(YYZ) to Tokyo (NRT), the business class section of the Boeing 777
consists of four columns of individual pods separated from each
other by partitions about four feet high and oriented at a 30 degree
angle to two aisles. The seats adjust in five different ways (the
seatback, headrest and footrest go back and forth and the lumbar
support moves in two dimensions), and there are master controls
that bring the seat either to a full upright position or a fully
horizontal position. The Sennheiser NoiseGuard headphones do a
reasonable job of screening out the ambient noise, and I've enjoyed
three movies so far on on-demand video on the 12" screen ahead of
me: The Taking of Pelham 1:23 (good mix of Denzel Washington and
John Travolta, but totally impossible to sleep through), The Brothers
Bloom (fun, but a bit long, and too much Ben Affleck and not quite
enough Rachel Weisz), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
(still on screen, no verdict yet). The regular three-prong 110 VAC
electrical outlet has enough power for my MacBookPro, and I probably
won't have time to work my way through all the complimentary amenities
in the toiletries kit, though the pillow and blanket have come in
The food and service have been good. I turned down the preflight
orange juice and champagne, had a three-course Japanese meal for
lunch, and have so far had ramen for a snack. I haven't been able
to sleep too well yet, despite the comfort, service and darkness,
mainly because I've had a fairly sedentary day and it is only
19:30 back home. I've had a couple of quick naps, and hope to get
a few more before I get to Tokyo.
Wed 18 Nov 2009 22:01:49 EST
It is possible to sleep through large chunks of Half-Blood Prince
without missing much other than cool graphics, and if you've read
the book the movie takes a very long time to get to its unsatisfying
Snacking on smoked salmon and chicken brochettes (not on the same
sticks, of course). Not photographing night-time snacks, because
I don't want to disturb my fellow passengers with the flash, and
the available light is all blue, which I think is intended to connote
high tech. Oh wait, I can take a picture with this MacBook Pro,
without disturbing people anymore than I already am by typing this
blog. There, done. Half-eaten brochettes, yum.
Can't really seem to get to sleep, so alternating resting with coding,
which is more or less what I'd be doing at this time back home.
Thu 19 Nov 2009 02:52:31 EST
... but local time is 16:52 and I'm trying to stay awake here at the
Hotel ANA Crowne Plaza Narita, catching up on email and listening to
sumo on TV. I ended up watching The Hurt Locker, sort of, and
am reminded of the last time I watched so many movies in one day,
which was probably a long time ago at the Toronto International Film
Festival. Then as now, if I don't take notes, I either don't remember
the individual films, or don't remember them as individual films.
It is definitely possible to fall asleep watching The Hurt Locker,
especially if it's your fourth film of the day, and you're fully
reclined over the Pacific.
The weather is grey and rainy, and only a few degrees warmer than
back home. Not too many other tourists wearing shorts, but I don't
feel like unpacking my dress pants before I really need them.
I have a bunch of photos from my trip so far; I'll likely post them
on Facebook as soon as I have the energy to do so.