Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guam: Tokyo-Narita to Agana, Guam (GUM)

CO7 27FEB08 Tokyo-Narita International, Tokyo, Japan (NRT) to Guam (GUM) 5:15p 9:50p 738 with winglets N??232 operated by Continental Micronesia

Flying Time: 3:07

I boarded the aircraft and took my seat in the 2-2 leather seats First Class cabin. I found a place for my bag and settled in. The drop down screens was playing a video of an island and it sights, I am assuming that it is Guam.

An offer of orange juice, water or Champagne was offered before the doors were closed; I opted for some water.

I heard them say they were waiting for one more passengers who arrived documents in hand and winded at 5:02p.

Continental Micronesia Resort Shuttle welcome aboard said the lead attendant after closing the main cabin door. It was then repeated in Japanese. It was 5:04p as our pushback commenced.

It was a slow taxi out, but it was good to see a lot of wide body airplanes everywhere. Lots of ANA Boeing 777s, United Airlines Boeing 777, a Korean Airlines Boeing 777 and Boeing 747-400s as well as Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 and one Boeing 747-400, plus a Northwest Cargo Boeing 747 as well as air Hongkong’s A300-600 which is operating for DHL. There was also an ANA Boeing 777 in Star Alliance colors taking off.

We taxied out to the runway and took off without waiting. It was nice to see the airport below and also the other runway on the other side of the airport.

An ANA airplane had just landed on it and was taxiing to the terminal.
It was also interesting to see all the golf courses in the area, very similar to the ones on arrival. Most of them were mostly brown though as it is wintertime.

After takeoff, the lead flight attendant came on the PA and introduced himself as well as his other three crew members including one Japanese speaker. He continued saying that there will be dinner today and a movie entitled “Nanny Diaries.” Feel free to use your own headsets, but if you do not have one, then a complimentary one will be given to you. There is a 5 USD or 600 YEN charge in Economy for alcohol. Duty free will be available throughout the flight as well. In addition, all customers must clear immigration formalities in Guam regardless of citizenship and must fill out a Customs and/or immigration forms. He then repeated the flight time of 3:07. Settle back in your seat, relax and enjoy the flight he concluded. This greeting was then done by the lone Japanese speaking flight attendant.

After the announcements, we were given complimentary headsets as well as Customs and Immigration forms as appropriate. Hot towels followed and after cleaning up, table cloths were laid.

At 37,000’ at 5:47p the Captain came on the PA adding his welcome. He noted that we had a completely full plane tonight, so if the passengers could allow the flight attendants to give their excellent Continental Micronesia service. We will arrive 10 minutes early he said at 10:35p. There are scattered clouds with a temperature of 27C good visibility; relax enjoy the excellent service, good evening and welcome aboard; this was then translated into Japanese.

Some mixed nuts arrived as well as a drink choice. I opted for some white wine. I was given a glass of water and an empty wine glass; I had a choice of chardonnay or sauvignon blanc (Vente vineyards 2004 chardonnay) and I opted for the chardonnay which was poured on the next trip pass. The screens came down and the movie started in a bit once the duty free ads were complete.

Chicken picatta with rice, white fish with rice or pasta were the meal choices for tonight and creamy yogurt or plum vinaigrette were the dressings; I opted for the white fish with rice.

The salad arrived with a napkin and utensils which included a pair of chopsticks, plus butter pepper and salt, then warm bread (white, walnut, sesame seeds).
The main course arrived next; it is white fish, with vegetables, tiny shrimp, white rice, with a sauce and a half of lemon in a strainer type bag. It looked really good as you can see below.

More bread came and I tried the Sesame seed this time around. We had a little turbulence so the seatbelt signs came on.

I took some time to look at the Customs form. It is quite involved and different from the normal U.S. customs form. When I flew from Australia to Guam, I did get the normal blue U.S. customs form. This form also has a voluntary survey on the back.

Dessert of pecan pie followed with some tea with lemon.

At 6:23p (4:23a) in Houston, the lights were turned off in the cabin as the movie played on… I fell asleep and awoke later to the sound of getting ready for landing comments.

We landed safely and taxied up to the gate.

Guam: Arriving in Guam

27FEB08 Guam International, Guam (GUM)

We pulled up to the gate and deplaned; the airport was pretty quiet as it was quite late.

We cleared Immigration and Customs and headed outside. There were a few meeters and greeters as we headed out.

We grabbed a cab and headed out. We got stopped as the cab driver was speeding sadly and then we got off for some reason...

Guam: Tokyo-Narita International, Tokyo Japan (NRT)

27FEB 08 Tokyo-Narita International, Tokyo Japan (NRT)

We touched down with ease and made our way to the gate. There were lots of planes on the ground from Japan Airlines, ANA, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Continental and Korean Airlines to name the big ones.

We taxied up to the gate and had to wait for a Northwest Airbus A330 to get pushed back and on its way.

As I deplaned, I got a good shot of our plane at the gate as it was being prepared for its flight to Newark I think; what a workhorse...

I had to stop just outside the plane door to get a new boarding pass for my next flight. It was a little chaotic as they were stopping passengers as they got off the plane, but the transfer exit was right there so I guess they don't want to lose anyone.

I cleared security and lost my bottle and a half of water; well at least they are consistent, but the drive to figure out what to do about this constant waste keeps me going to find a solution.

After security, I headed for the Northwest World Club which is upstairs close to gates 12-16. I was familiar as I’d been here around Christmastime. I was also looking for a smoking area for my colleague. I asked in the Club and the agent said there was one close to the coffee shop next to gate 11. I went down there to see if he had already found and he had. I told him where I was and left.

Back at the Club, I showed my Presidents Club card and was granted access as my boarding pass was not sufficient since I was told I needed an invitation as well. I told them that my guest would arrive later and she took his name.

I settled in and commenced to update this blog as well as check e-mail from work, etc. Not too many e-mails, but some of them needed to be looked after so I did.

Before I knew it, I heard a boarding announcement for the flight, so I got my stuff together and went downstairs to the gate.

As I left, I took a banana on my way out. I took the short walk to gate 12 and boarded. I got stopped or a random security check and the lady went through my bag. She thanked me for my cooperation when she was done and sent me on my way down the jetway.

Guam: Houston, Tx (IAH) to Tokyo-Narita, Japan (NRT)

CO7 26FEB08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo Japan (NRT) 10:45a 3:45p +1 Day 777 N69020

Flying Time: 13:11

I boarded through the second door of the airplane and was greeted by a flight attendant who pointed me to my window seat. This airplane has fifty seats in BusinessFirst and two hundred thirty five in Economy class. It is the newest Boeing 777 that Continental has. It comes complete with Audio/Video on Demand and in-seat power in every seat.

I got settled into my seat and was asked what pre-departure drink I’d like; I opted for water. Next I was given a menu and an amenity kit. There was already a pair of blue slippers in the back of the seat in front of me.

I had a choice of steak, chicken, tilapia and lobster or a Japanese meal today. I opted for the tilapia and lobster with thousand islands dressing on my salad.

I noticed that the overhead monitors were not working in our zone so I could not see the Airshow; bummer. We pushed back at 11:38p and headed for the runway while the crew played the safety demo first in English and then in Japanese; the monitors did work for the demo though. Today the wind shifted which is quite rare and we were using runway 33R and 33L. As we taxied down, I saw a Continental Boeing 737-300 taking off. The line for runway 33L was quite long with 10 aircraft waiting. On the runway was a US Airways CRJ700.

In front of us was a United Express ERJ-175 just behind a Northwest Airlink ERJ-175 which was already on runway 33R. It took off and it appeared to be our turn, but thee UA Express ERJ-175 was in our way. It eventually moved and then we took the runway; I guess there were delays into Chicago today. We straightened up for runway 33R and in a few minutes were airborne. It was interesting to see that there were not many tire marks on this runway as it is hardly used for landings. I also noticed a Continental Boeing 767-200 waiting to take off. I think that is CO40 to Newark and then Rome.

We had a sweet takeoff as I could see the airport in all its glory below; especially the Colgan Air operations below. There were also a few airplanes below in various stages of operations.

We continued our climb and the lead flight attendant came on the PA and welcomed us onboard and told us about the service today. It was also done in Japanese immediately after.

We had a hot towel service followed by the laying of table cloths. We were then served our drinks of choice as well as a small bowl of cashew nuts and some Japanese snacks which had peanuts among other things that I could not immediately recognize. There was a choice of California or French white and I tried the California which was not too bad.

At 11:58a crossing into the state of Oklahoma, the Captain came on the PA and apologized for not chatting earlier, but he was busy trying to get out ontime. He said that we were at 32,000’ and will be staying at this altitude for 3-4 hours before we start climbing; we had to burn off some fuel; for a 13:11 flying time flight, we need quite a bit I guess J . The seat belts sign will last for a bit longer and about three hours from landing he is expecting some turbulence, so we should expect the seat belt sign to be on. He continued, there is a stationary front at the field that is producing rain at the moment and the temperature is 13C/55F. The rain should stop by the time we arrive, but then we will have wind gusts of up to 20 mph. The flight attendant’s primary responsibility is for our safety, so allow them to serve you; if there is anything we can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask. At the moment, we will touch down about 30 minutes early at 3:15p, but this may change, he concluded.

Next our place settings arrived. I decided to try the 2005 chardonnay La Fournet from France, but I do prefer the California. Warm bread followed.

Chilled lobster half accompanied by Du Barry sauce with an assortment of sushi with wasabi and soy sauce followed and later some more wine.

For the first time during the flight, the seat belt sign came off at 12:27p.

The mesclun salad mix and romaine lettuce with roasted yellow tomato, cherry tomato, red onion and fresh mozzarella cheese with creamy Thousand Island dressing followed at 12:28p. My other dressing type was herb vinaigrette.

With 355 movies, 179 short programs, 243 music choices and 26 games I did not know what to watch L. I tried looking at the trailer for “Dragon Squad,” but not sure it helped as the soundtrack was in a Chinese language and Cantonese L. I chose Cantonese and realized it had English subtitles. O.K. Pet Peeve: I hate movies with subtitles as I have to pay attention 100% of the time L. I have to watch it, listen to it and read it, aargh… when the English actors spoke it was in English and with Chinese and English subtitles.

At 12’:41p the seat belt signs came on as we had a little buffeting going on.

The main course of tilapia and lobster with shellfish sauce, presented over steamed jasmine rice, with grilled cherry tomato and green asparagus spears followed at 12:57p. Other choices were a grilled Sterling Silver tenderloin steak with chimichurri sauce, grilled carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, broccoli florets and spicy rice with corn, jalapeno peppers, sour cream and cheese; herbed breast of chicken with creamy mushroom sauce, grilled yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper and sweet plantains or a Japanese choice of grilled lobster with egg yolk vinegar, skewered minced chicken, smoked salmon rolled in cucumber, braised burdock with sake wine and soy sauce and okra with soybean puree plus clear soup, crab meat and cucumber salad with vinegar dressing, simmered taro potato with shrimp sauce, beef sukiyaki featuring beef, Chinese cabbage, onion, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, konnyaku noodles and sauce with steamed rice and Japanese pickles.

Cheese, crackers, fruits (cantaloupe, grapes, strawberry, pineapple) and after dinner drinks came at 1:14p as I continued to watch “Dragon Squad.”

Seat belt sign came off at 1:22p

Ice cream, cobbler and after dinner drinks came later, but I deferred until later as I was just too full; hey, I have 10:53 to go.

A bottle of water came later after the tray table was cleared.

At 1:58p, a female captain was seen in the galley; funny how I never heard her on the PA. What I’ve found out is that whenever I’ve been on a flight and there is a female Captain, she never or rarely speaks; I wonder why?

I fell asleep without finishing the movie, shortly after this and was awoken with 7:53 to go (about 4:29p) and table cloth laid; we were just below Alaska, just below Juneau. It was strawberry cheesecake, tea sandwiches (turkey, cheese and ham) fruits (cantaloupe, grapes, strawberry, pineapple) and a rice ball.

There were in-flight snacks of cookies, potato chips and chocolate and additional bottles of water. Of course you could have additional drinks whenever necessary.

After this snack, I finally visited the lav. On my return, I started blogging some more as well as listen to the book “4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the trip.

This flight crosses the International Date Line and we accomplished that with 3:54 to go. It was 8:20p on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 back in Houston, TX and 11:20a on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. We had just skipped a day, only seconds ago, it was yesterday; tomorrow became today almost immediately.

With a little under three hours to go, it felt like we flew through something; not sure what it was, it woke me up though. The seatbelt signs then came on and I went back to sleep. We were on the lower part of our arch just south of the Russian coast just south east of the Sea of Okhotsk.

About ten minutes later, we had some more turbulence and the airplane felt like it was handling funny. The engine sounds remained constant though. The flight attendant came on the PA and said that the Captain has asked the flight attendants to take their seats and that the passengers should ensure their seat belts are fastened securely. It always amazes me how vigorously air turbulence can shake an airplane. I think this was the turbulence the Captain talked about expecting after we took off.

It is always fun to look at the maps and see that part of the world is daylight and the rest is in sunlight.

I then started to watch “The Usual Suspects.“

With 1:52 to go at 10:29p local, we were given orange juice or your favorite breakfast drink, then hot towels and then our table cloths were laid. It was time for breakfast. It was 1:29p in Tokyo. I had apple juice. I was a little confused why it was breakfast since it was not morning in either place.

A tray with chocolate truffles, butter, salt and pepper, a napkin packaged with utensils and a plate of fruits (cantaloupe, orange, pineapple, grapefruit and grapes) arrived next.

An offer of coffee or tea came next with strawberry preserves and an offer of croissant, a cinnamon roll or bread.

On came the seat belt signs again and a bit of turbulence.

Then I had a choice of cereal and banana or eggs scrambled with herbs with potato gratin, grilled smoked pork loin, turkey sausage patty and sautéed button mushrooms or a Japanese meal of spinach with shitake mushrooms and fried beancurd, simmered Japanese daikon radish with soybean sauce, grilled red snapper with simmered beans, omelette with Chinese chives and tomato and Japanese pimento tempura plus Japanese pickles, miso soup and steamed rice. A chocolate was included with either meal. I had the scrambled eggs with herbs.

After breakfast was cleared, landing documents were distributed to those who were not in transit. An automated announcement was made in Japanese; I think it was about documentation, then the same announcement was made in English by a flight attendant. We had just about an hour to go now.

Hot towels followed to complete the service.

We started our descent at 11:52p Houston time which is about 27 minutes to go. With 19 minutes to go at 12:05p, we were in final preparation for landing. The flight attendant came by to check seats belts as we were going to hit a little turbulence.

We landed without any turbulence or incedent at 3:35p local time.

Guam: Leaving Houston, TX (IAH)

26FEB08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

It was time to get to gate E7, so we did. I made a few calls as I made my way there. Once there, It was easy boarding through the Elite Access/BusinessFirst line.