So a while back I wrote about how I tried to get cheap tickets to go back home. I thought I had gotten a great deal to fly home on China Eastern and JetBlue but I was soooooo wrong. I want to start this off with saying I love JetBlue! They offer amazing customer service and the flights with them were great. China Eastern on the other hand… I will NEVER EVER fly with them again.
It all started the day before my flight. I received a notification that my flights had been changed. All of my China Eastern flights had been lengthened. Going to the states, the increased flight times didn’t affect anything but coming back it made it so that I would have a 23 hour lay over in Shanghai. At first I was excited because I figured I would be able to explore China a bit during the layover.
Since I was so excited to be going home I didn’t sleep the night before my flight from Hiroshima to Shanghai. Jeremy and I decided to drive the back way to Hiroshima Airport to save $50 in tolls but we didn’t realize that it would be a 3 hour drive at 5am. By the time I got through security and got on the plane I was exhausted. I ended up falling asleep listening to a podcast before people even finished loading onto the plane. I woke up 30 minutes later during some bad turbulance at the wrong part of the next podcast episode. I was suddenly listening to episode 94 of The Generation Why Podcast talk about the debris field from a plane exploding over Colorado in 1955. This is the worst thing for a nervous flyer to wake up to. The flight attendant saw I was awake and brought me a drink and breakfast meal. The flight was extremely bumpy but thankfully it was only about a two hour flight.
Upon landing in Shanghai, I was beyond confused on where to go or what to do. Since Japan was the foreign airport that I had dealt with, I assumed that other airports in other countries were the same- easy to figure out, foreigner friendly, and helpful people. From the time I got of the plane, I was just pushed from one section to another until I got to customs. The signs were conflicting and the security guard kept putting me in the line for 144 hour visa even though I had a connecting flight. After waiting an hour in the 144 hour visa line, I was told to go elsewhere. So I asked a different security guard where I was suppose to go and he looked at my ticket and then stuck a sticker on me with my flight info but wouldn’t help me. I found a different security guard and again he looked at my ticket and put the exact same sticker on me but wouldn’t help me.
After that I saw some English speaking travelers going towards a gate. I followed them down a hallway which opened into the part of the airport with all the different gates. I had about six hours until my next flight. I decided to find my gate and then get something to eat. The gate itself was easy to find. I then walked around for about an hour and half trying to find an inexpensive place to eat. I wasn’t able to get my phone working to check prices but I saw the ¥ symbol and figured it would be similarly priced to Japan. After lunch the waitress helped me get my phone on wifi and explained that Facebook and other social media pages wouldn’t work because of the Chinese government. After she left I checked my bank balance. Lunch (which I figured would cost maybe $20 at most) was almost $50 for an entree, cup of coffee, and a scoop of ice cream. I decided to go grab some drinks and head back to my gate. I passed a Starbucks and grabbed a poorly made coffee. I had another price sticker panic attack when I went to buy some water. $7 for a bottle of water!!! China was making me poor quickly.
I settled down at the gate and listened to more Generation Why Podcasts while I waited for the time to go by. About 3 hours before my flight I realized that the gate wasn’t showing my flight info anymore. As I walked the airport I realized that none of the boards showed my flight info. I asked another security guard but walked away when I realized he was just going to ignore me. So I walked around until I saw some people with the same sticker as me and sat near them. While I was sitting with them a young teenage girl came over into our area crying on a cell phone. She had about half a dozen stickers on her. She was crying about how no one will help her and that the security guards keep putting stickers on her.
Finally it was time to board our flight. I tried to request an upgrade but because I didn’t have cash the flight attendant couldn’t upgrade me. Instead they moved me to a row where no one was sitting so I could stretch out. I set my stuff up in the seat next to me because I know that as soon as the flight takes off the person in front of me usually puts their seat back making it hard for me to get stuff. As soon as the plane started taxiing down the run way a Cambodian woman came and sat in the aisle seat in my row. It didn’t bother me because I still had plenty of room to stretch out. About two hours into the flight my seat mate started using my stuff in the middle seat as a pillow. When I woke her up and tried to ask her to move, she just glared at me as she sat up. Then suddenly she moves her bare feet onto my tray table and goes back to sleep. Grossed out, I tried to get her feet off my tray table. When that didn’t work I paged for a flight attendant. The flight attendant came over, shook her, and shrugged his shoulders when she wouldn’t wake up and walked off. I had to sit there for the next hour with this woman’s barefoot on my table until the other flight attendants started serving dinner. One of those flight attendants made her take her feet down before handing me a dinner meal. The dinner meal was tiny. It had some watermelon, two thin slices of chicken, one cherry tomato, a cookie, pickled radish packet, and a roll. Looking around I found out that other people were served an entree but I wasn’t. I paged a flight attendant to ask where the rest of my meal was. I was told they ran out. When I took the photo below of my meal a flight attendant came flying down the aisle. She yelled at me for using my phone. I explained that it was in airplane mode. She continued to yell at me until I turned it off. Only then would she leave. I was upset because I had planned on either reading ebooks, listening to my podcasts, or playing games on my phone for most of flight.
I went back to eating my meal. After I ate I decided I would get up and walk around a bit since it was a 16.5 hour flight. The woman in the aisle refused to let me by. She had her body in such a way to where I couldn’t get past her. I gave up and went back to my seat to try and sleep for a bit. A few hours later I tried again to get up because I needed to use the restroom. Again she wouldn’t let me out. I paged the flight attendant again to see if they could get her to move. The flight attendant didn’t even try to wake her before walking off. I had to sit there for the next 10 hours needing to use the restroom and really needing to walk around but unable to. It was the most uncomfortable flight ever.
I was so happy to be at JFK when we finally landed. I used the bathroom and zipped through customs. I was so happy to be back in a land that I understood and could figure out without being pelted with stickers. Oh and Starbucks. I missed American Starbucks. I may have hit it twice before my final flight. My last flight was easy and uneventful. Thank goodness. I was so grateful to see the Welcome To North Carolina sign at RDU. It felt good to be home.