It’s Thursday evening and I’ve been in Beijing for just over a day. Let me bring you up to date starting with Tuesday morning when I departed San Francisco. I got up at 6am, Tuesday morning for my flight from SF to Seattle and then on to Beijing. Nancy (my ex-wife) drove me to SFO. My luggage barely fit in her car and that included taking up the entire trunk. Amazingly, nothing went wrong with my departure and as an added bonus, I was TSA pre-checked.
I boarded a Hainan Airlines Airbus jumbo jet. Fortunately, the window seats only have one other seat, so no middle passenger. I was quite happy to see that a very petite woman sat next to me. I was just as unhappy when she changed seats to sit next to her partner a few rows away. One doesn’t encounter many large Chinese, but the man she switched with was one of them. My happiness quickly turned to sorrow as I contemplated the next 12 hours sitting next to “Mr. Thunder Thighs.”
This was my first time flying on a Chinese airline. The most noteworthy difference compared to US airliners was the boilerplate safety demo which was shown on the video screens. Ever flown Virgin America? They have that entertaining rap video and a tune that has a tendency to stick in your mind long after you wanted it to go away. It’s one of the more amusing looks at how a seatbelt works (“For the .01 percent of you who have never used a seatbelt before, I mean, really?…”) Hainan’s safety video completely blows away Virgin’s effort. Hainan’s video included a goose, dog, monkey and many young women in bikinis, I kid you not!
They offered 59 Hollywood movies for my delectation and that doesn’t include the panoply of foreign language films. The brief synopsis’ of the movies clearly shows that the person who wrote them wasn’t American. I’ve never seen the movie “Predestination” but I’m pretty sure their description, “A plumber starred by Ethan Hawke was assigned to cross over the time to stop the terrorists fizzle bomber” got lost in translation. Fizzle bomber?
They actually handed out menus (remember menus in Coach, once upon a time?) which featured a decent selection. I had the standard Chinese fare of chicken with pasta and corn. Not surprisingly, it tasted exactly like airline food: entirely forgettable.
So this is in fact was my “longest day” as I didn’t experience nighttime from the time I got up Tuesday morning until Wednesday night (i.e. there was no Tuesday night for me.) As is usually the case, I did not sleep on the airplane.
When I got to the hotel Wednesday night, I went to bed at 9:30pm and awoke at 3:30am and did not fall back to sleep (I hate when that happens.)