I leave California, Tokyo bound.
I think I have all the necessary attestations asked for by Japan but the situation is fluid with rumors of Tokyo introducing a state of emergency. Will they let me in when I get there?
Life is full of surprises. I am given a First Class ticket. First Class on ANA is heaven. I am surprised that it is not depicted in medieval paintings of paradise.
My flight leaves at midnight. James takes me to SFO early. I intend to sprawl in the First Class Lounge until I am carried onto the plane. Check in is very long; so many health papers to process. No way onto the flight unless all Covid tests have been documented. When finished I hungrily ask about lounges. “We apologize sir, but all lounges are closed due to COVID-19.” ,
The central theme of traveling internationally in these times of pestilence is emptiness. SFO is empty, the flight is empty, Haneda, when I get there, is empty.
Here is a movie about the trip.
What makes ANA better than all airlines I know is the staff. They are funny, relaxed, super efficient.
I get a separate bedroom and nice, new pyjamas. I sleep for 9 hours and am issued off the plane on arrival by Immigration Officers.
First Class vainglory starts as I am taken off first. I go through several different stations each of which has a certain bureaucratic task. I am terrified that there will be something wrong with my paperwork but I successfully arrive in a booth where I have to salivate into a little plastic tube. The sailva is tested for COVID-19.
From there I am directed to a waiting area to er await the results.
Everything has gone swimmingly but now the tide turns. I mean I travelled First Class. I have been at the front of every queue. In fact there are no queues but I am full of pomp and vainglory. In the waiting room, everyone’s number is called before mine. I am #20. In the 40’s I start to worry that everything has gone wrong. I am positive, I have the wrong paperwork. Since school days I have been naturally guilty.
What joy when my number 20 lights up on the screen!
I am afraid I cannot remember the number of posts I went through before I finally got my passport stamped and burst into baggage collection. There were a lot. They were all staffed by young Japanese, nearly all women. I don’t think any of them were over 30. They were smiling, welcoming, super efficient and spoke great English. I think they must have been trained up in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics. COVID-19 has made use of their skills. Thanks to you all.
I am driven to a bland apartment block somewhere in Tokyo.