That’s the normal trip, then there’s what happened on the 24th and 25th. My plane left Narita on time about 7PM Tokyo time and all seemed to be going well. But, about 4 to 4.5 hours into the flight I was enjoying a movie when we took a big left hand turn, which pointed us towards the
The captain came on and as often happens on JAL flights made announcements in a lot of languages, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (the flight continues on to
One of the tires on the main landing gear was flat (there is a pressure gauge in each tire), not a really big issue because there are a number of tires on the gear but one that has to be dealt with, if I had been flying a US airline we would have either stopped in Alaska or continued on to JFK. There is a minor chance that in landing with a flat tire the landing gear could be damaged, or the tire could throw off debris and in the process damage the airframe or engine. JAL decided to bring us back to
As you can see from the photos we made it all the way to the date line before turning back:
So, we flew back to
The captain made a very smooth landing, holding off on letting the main landing gear down as long as possible and nothing bad happened. We came to a stop on the runway and all the various vehicles descended on us, they continued to leave the camera on so we could see all the vehicles pull up and everyone walking around the front of the plane. We sat on the runway for about 20 to 30 minutes while they checked out the plane and eventually they brought out a tow rig and towed us to the terminal.
When we got to the terminal they unloaded everyone from the plane, handed us airline pillows and blankets and told us it would be 5-9 hours before we would depart again. Since I was in business class I was at least able to go to business class the lounge, where I joined about 200 fellow passengers in sleeping on the floor. JAL put all the families with kids in the lounge, which is very nice of them, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through this whole mess with young kids. Unfortunately it also meant that there were a ton of screaming kids all night long.
For those who think international business and the associated travel is glamorous lets just say spending a night sleeping on the floor of an airport with a few hundred people and an airline blanket and pillow isn’t very glamorous, which is the case all too often with the travel. The situation wasn’t helped by the current restrictions on carrying liquids on aircraft. Most of the passengers (myself included) had to check more luggage than normal (I would not normally have checked anything), so most people didn’t have clothes, toiletries, etc. I really felt for the parents with young kids, they were forced to check most of the kids stuff.
The fun continued when I woke up, it was sunny and the room was totally empty except for one other person. Everyone else was gone which left me more than a little worried that I had been left behind in
All told by the time I got out of JFK and took a cab to my place in