Friday, April 04, 2008

Shanghai

So here I sit in The Coffee Port drinking a steaming Americano and watching the minutes tick by. It's not a good thing to have travel bumps when you've been up for 23 hours and in the air for most of it.

Lufthansa continues to be my favorite airline, they just treat you so well, even in steerage. The flight was pretty straightforward, there was an empty seat between me and the young Chinese woman by the window, one of the benefits of being a Gold member. I was very excited about the prospects of dumping my stuff there, at least until she gathered up the extra pillows and blankets, raised the arm rest and curled up in a ball across the two seats. We had done some trans-lingual chit-chatting but not as well as I had done on the previous flight with my origami pal Ja Li. This one sort of waved her arm over the space, smiled and assumed it was okay with me.

I dozed off and on and the 10 hours passed quickly.

We arrived and I made it to immigration as first person in line. The guard asked me what was wrong with my passport, it showing the wear of living in my front pants pocket. I told him that it had seen a lot of use lately.

The bags started showing up and a guard stepped up in the belt with a suitcase sniffing dog. He looked a lot like our old friend Reddy and clearly enjoyed his job. It was interesting to watch him pace on the belt, as though he was walking on a treadmill. Every once in a while he would bite a suitcase and the guard would pull it off and had it to a customs agent who would open it up with the owner, right there on the floor. Judging from the apples piling up on the center of the carousel, I suspect they were looking for fruits and vegetables. I guess German fruit represents some sort of danger to the agriculture of China. All the while this was going on I kept thinking about the large Trader Joe's chocolate bar and the bag of trail mix had stashed in my bag. Not that it mattered, because my bag was nowhere to be seen.

I guess I must have offended the luggage handlers union some time in the past, because my bag is always the last one off. And I mean every single time. Even when I don't see it go by. And today it was, just as always. Thankfully the doggie wasn't interested in desert so I was once again on my way.

I hunted around for the proper check-in station and could not find it. I asked a young man who sent me to section B which I found, but still failed to find the counter. So I went up to the second China Southern ticket counter and asked there. The 6 young women tried really hard to ignore me, even when I asked who spoke English. One finally relented and sent me to counters 19 to 25. So I went over there and tried to check in. The agent told me "this flight no go today" and sent me back to the ticket counter where I was once again ignored until I made the English speaker listen to me. She handed me off to another agent who also spoke it, even though she had pretended not to on my last visit. After much discussion and wonderment about my flight number and reservation, they informed me that it was cancelled. She scribbled some numbers on my itinerary, telling me that this was my ticket number and told me to go back to counters 19-25. In 2 hours. So here I sit watching 3 generations of some German family drink coffee and chain smoke. Well, to be fair the 3rd generation isn't smoking, because she's only 5.

Source = Blackberry

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