July 12, 2009
Our flight was six hours late. We never thought that our flight was affected by a volcanic eruption in Russia. Our aircraft from New York tried to go around the volcanic ash high in the air. Then the pilots realized that they didn’t have enough fuel. So, they went back to Anchorage, refueled, and took a long detour to Tokyo. When I was told about this at the check-in counter, I was actually relieved. The flight was not cancelled after all. We will be home-bound.
The departure time was now 10:00pm, not 4:30pm. We had about eight hours at the airport, long wait especially with a four-year old child. In this situation, though, Narita Airport near Tokyo was probably one of the best places. We had lunch and dinner at two different restaurants as well as a coffee break at a cafe; there are dozens of restaurants and cafes available in the airport mall . Our daughter got some toys at souvenir shops; again, there are many souvenir shops. We also spent time at the roof-top observation deck, where we can see all the landings and takeoffs. We even tried coin-operated electric massage chairs, which were entertaining even for our daughter . And later, our daughter had a chance to play with other kids in a play area.
After leaving our relatives, who were with us through this time, we went to the gate at 9:30pm. At around 10:00pm, we were finally able to board the plane. Outside, it was raining hard. We were all tired, especially our daughter. Finally, our aircraft started to move at around 10:30pm. The flight would take thirteen hours, one hour more than usual, due to the detour around the volcano. When I looked out of the window, I noticed something. The drenched ground crews were all lined up and waving toward the direction of the aircraft. Then, they all bowed deeply and ran towards the terminal as fast as they could. Who (or what) they were greeting, I don’t know: the pilots, the passengers, the aircraft, or all of these. In any case, the scene still remains with me.