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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Adventure Begins....Truly

UPDATE 2:30pm 18 June - they're all here, finally.

A volcanic island in the north Pacific is causing air travellers consternation as a massive plume of volcanic ash clouds the skies thousands of feet above the volcano, making air travel impossible.

Northern Pacific flights bound for Japan, Shanghai and Korea are being cancelled or rerouted due to volcanic ash spewing from the Russian volcano, Sarychev Peak

Well, the boys are having their first adventure and they haven't even arrived yet.

Due to Sarychev Peak on Matua Island in the Russian Kuril Islands blowing its top, flights to Asia on the northerly route (as in Detroit to Tokyo) are being diverted. The boys ended up in San Francisco after leaving Detroit, to make another connection onto Tokyo. This, unfortunately, means missing their Tokyo connection to Hong Kong later today. We had checked that the boys were safely on the Detroit to Tokyo flight and only found out early this morning from a call they made to their mother upon arrival in San Francisco.

So it was all battlestations and trying to find out what was going on as Northwest had done nothing to contact us to alert us as to the issue. They gave me one option - they would book them into a hotel in Tokyo on arrival, with the airline continuing to be responsible for them, and make sure they're on the next flight out. That next flight out, however, is tomorrow at the same time, meaning they'd be stranded in Tokyo for about 22 hours. On their first trip out of country.

Well, as you can imagine I wasn't impressed by any of this so put my points forward in a rational, measured way. A few calls later, they finally patched me through to a Manager. I must say he was very helpful and only raised my hackles once, by saying that the airline felt this was an acceptable solution. I said, with all due respect, that wasn't the airline's decision as to what is acceptable for my husband's children, without any sort of consultation. I was willing to meet them more than half-way, by taking care of Steve's flights to and from Tokyo, the overnight accommodation, and only asking that they make sure all three are on the flight back to Hong Kong tomorrow. Due to overbooking (they are taking all missed connections onto that flight), they could not give him a seat on the same plane as the boys. After some negotiation, they put the boys on a Japan Airlines flight tomorrow (not bad considering they are flying on mileage points and airlines don't like inter-line transfers for that type of ticket) which I was able to match with Steve's ticketing arrangements.

Result - Steve is now on his way to Tokyo to meet the boys off the plane (he'll get there about an hour before they do), take them into his care and spend the night with them. The earliest connection is on Japan Airlines tomorrow at 9:55am so they are all booked on that.

Another expense in an expensive month, but it was the only acceptable solution. Poor Steve was pretty upset about all this but several phone calls to Northwest, some magic from my wonderful travel agent and a quick trip to the bank for some Yen, all is solved.

As I said to him, for the boys this will be another adventure for them to talk about when they get home!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Countdown - One Week

In exactly one week, Steve's boys will arrive for their three-week summer break with us. We'll be doing loads of touristy and non-touristy things here, chomping through food both known and as yet unknown to the boys, traipsing around malls and outlets and markets.

As part of their holiday we're spending six days in Phuket, at the Banyan Tree. That will be a little different from our honeymoon trip, with an 11 year-old and a days-shy-of-15 year-old. There will be no skinny dipping in the pool, for one thing.

I'm excited and just a little trepidacious. While we've talked on the phone and web-cammed a little, we've never been in the same room together. My fervent wish is that, by the time they leave, they will think of me as their friend. And I shall have gained two more.

Steve, needless to say, is counting the minutes!


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