Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Biting the Bullet

I discussed airline travel to Nippon 2007 with Lisa. Although she agrees that the "roundabout" trip really sucks, it saves $3,000. She said, "let's do it." I then had to wait until my flight from Oregon on Monday credited to my account (that happened today), which meant I only had to buy 9,000 more miles, not 10,000. (They really are "instant miles" and credited to my account immediately.) Then I could call Alaska Airlines and finalize the transaction, spending 180,000 frequent-flyer miles for two business-class seats (except for the short jump up to Seattle on Horizon, but that hardly matters, even for Lisa). Besides the miles, the total cost for the air travel nets to $350, most of which ($242) was the cost of buying the 9K miles to top off my account. I now have 32 miles left in my Alaska account -- the first miles I've ever spent from it after many years of flying on them.

It's quite a travel marathon, and will oblige us to stay in an airport hotel the night before we leave and the night we return:

Lv PDX QX 2500 06:20 Aug 27 Mon
Ar SEA 07:10
Lv SEA NW 219 08:40 Aug 27 Mon
Ar HNL 11:32
Lv HNL NW 22 15:05 Aug 27 Mon
Ar NRT 18:20 Aug 28 Tue

Note that I haven't forgotten that a day goes away when we cross the International Date Line that direction; that schedule above should include the "lost" day.

So we arrive at Tokyo Narita at 18:20, clear Customs & Immigration, collect our JR 21-day rail passes, and make our way to the Narita Express station at Narita Terminal 1. Per the current schedules, there are N'EX trains leaving for Yokohama at 19:43 and 20:45, arriving 21:35 and 22:30 respectively. I think we'll be really lucky if we can catch the earlier train, as that means we'll have cleared C&I and collected our passes in only an hour and twenty minutes.

From Yokohama Station, there will be a very short ride on a local train (the Minato Mirai line). If I'm reading things correctly, the Minato Mirai line is de facto what I'd call a "subway" or "metro" line, and our JR passes won't work there, so we'll have to pay the 180 yen local fare, which is no big deal. That will put us a short walk from the Grand Yokohama Intercontinental, which is good, because at that point we're unlikely to be in a condition to walk that far.

We'll have Wednesday to try and rest from the travel marathon, and then the convention starts Thursday and runs through Monday. We're staying through Monday night. Our tour of Japan will start on Tuesday. Lisa is working on filling in the details, which are generally to work our way south, then north, then back south to end in Tokyo. If we can, one of the things we hope to do is to take the Twilight Express overnight train from Osaka to Sapporo. That will cost extra on top of our rail passes, but it looks interesting. (I doubt we'll spring for the "Royal" room -- that's the one on the rear of the train -- the middle picture on the top row of the page I referenced -- because it's something like $500, but it sure looks like it would be nice.)

Exactly 21 days after we arrive in Japan -- and thus our JR rail passes will work to get us back to the airport -- we head back home on this routing:

Lv NRT NW 22 20:55 Sep 17 Mon
Ar HNL 09:05 Sep 17 Mon
Lv HNL NW 220 13:15 Sep 17 Mon
Ar SEA 21:49 Sep 17 Mon
Lv SEA QX 2231 22:45 Sep 17 Mon
Ar PDX 23:34 Sep 17 Mon

And thus we get back the day that goes away heading toward Japan. We won't be in any shape to drive back to Mehama that night, thus my plan to stay in a hotel near the airport that night and go back there the next day. I'll work from Mehama the three trailing days of that week (thus giving back three days already-booked vacation).

I've written to Alaska's customer-service about the convoluted routing, asking if they have any way they could coax a trade of seats out of their partner carrier, but I'm not very hopeful about it. Still, saving $3,000 airfare is a big load off my mind on what promises to be a very expensive trip anyway.
Tags: nippon 2007, worldcon

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