Grew up: Arlington, MA
Live in: Boston, MA
Favorite Quote: "The only normal people are the ones you don't know well" - Alfred Adler
School/ college: Boston College and UCLA
How did you get into radio? An internship during college that turned into a job 6 months later
Interests/ Hobbies: Music, traveling, cooking, reading
Something you wouldn't tell anyone? Last week, I accidentally super glued my nostril closed. I was repairing a pair of shoes and I must've gotten the glue on my fingers. When I wiped my nose, I inadvertently glued my right nostril shut. It was a hot look. The worst part wasn't even gluing my nose though - it was the fact that I had to repair an expensive pair of shoes AGAIN! Side note: nail polish remover dissolves super glue so I am ok now.
Favorite Movie: Lost in Translation
What are you currently reading? "My Life in Paris" by Julia Child (a very nice bday gift from my mum)
A Love Letter to Japan AirlinesApr 15, 2012 -- 10:18pm
My Grandmother, who was pretty much my favorite person, was a travel agent by trade. In 1979, she acquired a Japan Airlines Travel Bag - one of the retro square vinyl ones. I remember her handing me the bag, saying with a big grin, "Would you like this?". Ohhhh yeah! I totally did! I was in First Grade and I carried that bag as my book bag for 3 years. I thought I was SO COOL. Japan Airlines was so exotic - they didn't even fly out of Boston. Someday, I was going to fly on Japan Airlines and I just knew it would fabulous. In 2004, I did fly JAL and it was fabulous! I sat UPSTAIRS. Seriously, UPSTAIRS ON A PLANE!!! It was great!
This time around, I was booked on JAL - JFK-NRT-KIX . I will let you in on a little trade secret - you can upgrade to Premium Economy at the counter on select routes for $300, space available. JAL Premium Economy is like business class. Their business class is like first class. You get private bunks in first class. So, the upgrade is a bargain. I love them - I am so brand loyal.
Around 4:30 am on my day of departure from Osaka, I woke up, not feeling well, stomachwise. After about 2 hours, my symptoms subsided so I just chalked it up to too much food - it was my last day in the stomach of Japan! I didn't eat much during the day but, at night, I must've eaten 2 pounds of grilled fish and a bunch of those sweet baguette toasticles. Plus, there were the emotions of being excited to be in Japan, really sad to be leaving, anxious to stay, anxious to go, etc., and I was just generally run down. So, I wasn't surprised that my physical being a little off. For my own comfort, instead of taking the airport shuttle, I ponied up for the most expensive cab ride of my life ($120) and made it to KIX early enough to purchase Premium Economy seats at the counter (woo hoo - said very quietly because I was pretty tired).
They don't process a lot of upgrades at the counter in KIX so it was taking agent a bit to run everything through. Long story, short, even though, I was feeling better, Phil started to not feel well. Uh-oh - last night's bacchanal was creeping up on him too. While he was becoming acquainted with the heated toilet seats in the airport bathroom, I got paged on the airport intercom. UGH! "Would Bry-and Michael M Michelle M, please see the gate attendant.". You know when you get paged at the airport, it's just going to be some pain in the butt thing over which you have zero control - seat change, getting bumped, being late, time change. This time, the wrong forms got filled out for the upgrade so I had to sign a bunch of paperwork. No big deal - it was just a little unsettling.
We got on the plane and Phil seemed to be doing ok. About 20 minutes in, he grabs the air sickness bag and runs for the back of the plane. I turned to look at him & he's panicking because the attendants have the cart out in the aisle. I told him to just hold up the bag & they'll move the cart. I hear, "byoki desu! (I'm sick)" and off he goes. To add to the issue, there were strong winds as we neared Narita. They had actually grounded a few flights that morning. It was suddenly becoming one of the most turbulent flights I've been on. After a bit, the flight attendant comes over & asks me if I want to sit with Phil. They put him in an empty exit row with a pile of air sickness bags, a blanket, a pillow, & a bunch of oshibori towels. He was so sick for the remainder of that turbulent flight. When the plane finally landed, he was definitely not well. As I am delicately trying to close up used air sickness bags, fold a blanket that became victim of the incident, I got paged AGAIN to meet the gate attendant when I disembarked - OH MY GOD, SERIOUSLY? (my seat got switched) Anyway, the flight attendants on this flight were amazing - so helpful - more than they needed to be. I am so grateful to them.
We amble through immigration and Phil asks if we can sit on the benches closest to the bathroom. They start to announce boarding for our flight to JFK & Phil says, "I can't get on this plane. I can't go.". I immediately went into work mode. As somebody who has worked in the travel industry, I've dealt with tons of stuff like this. More people than you think get really sick when they travel. There's the logistics piece of getting a sick person out of the public area; getting him/her medical attention. Then, there's the emotional piece of making the person feel as at ease as possible in a foreign place and getting him/her comfortable - all very, very quickly. I got down to the gate - of course, he was tagged by the airline as he was sick on the first flight. As soon as I told the gate agent, we couldn't travel, the whole operational piece I mentioned above unfolded so quickly - "We'll get your bags off the plane. We'll get you a hotel. We'll get him a wheelchair. We need your passports because they need to be restamped since you're not leaving.". It was so crazy to be on the receiving end of this, rather than the giving end. Again, Japan Airlines was wonderful. They did not have to make hotel arrangements for us but they did. They rebooked us - the whole thing was seamless. I really thought I was going to be sitting on those white courtesy phones somewhere in Narita, with Phil lying on a bench, trying to figure out where I can take him. They really provided us with some outstanding service.
We stayed an extra night at the Hotel Marroad, outside of Narita, which was quite comfortable for an airport hotel. At this point, Phil had a fever and he just went right to bed. The next morning, he woke up, feeling much better. We headed back to Narita - he got lots of attention - they all just wanted to make sure he was ok (i.e. not contagious). We bought masks and medicine at the airport pharmacy. He slept for most of the return flight. He waved away most of his food, understandably - although, I was angling for his Haagen Daaz. BOO!
We made it back to the US in one piece. I found out later that we both ended up with whatever major flu strain was flying around. His hit quickly and was done, mine lingered but was never awful like his.
In the end, my advice to you - before you travel internationally:
1. Buy Travel Insurance from AAA, your credit card, your bank, whatever - this will cover any additional expenses you may incur. Also, it will cover any foreign hospital stays if your own health insurance won't
2. Check out the US Consular website for whatever country you are visiting. Often, that page will have a list of recommended pharmacies, doctors, dentists, & hospitals - just in case!
3. If you get sick at your hotel, most hotels have doctors on file who will make house calls to your room so you don't have leave.
4. If you get sick at some sort of transportation hub (airport, train station, etc.), go directly to the ticket counter - somebody will be able to help you or at least point you in the right direction. Like I said, more people get sick en route than you will ever know so they have practice.
5. Take over the counter meds with you (Nyquil, Immodium, Pepto, pain relievers, etc.) - I am shocked how many people don't do this. You don't want to be uncomfortable on vacation.
6. Think twice before you purchase that cheap airline ticket with 4 connections on multiple airlines. Depending on where you're going or why you're going somewhere, sometimes it's better to spend a little bit more money to stay on one airline, especially one that has a great reputation for taking care of their passengers.
And, be it ever so humble, there is no place like home...
And, P.S. Japan Airlines is starting Boston service in a couple of weeks on the Dreamliner - Hooray!
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