QF21 last plane in to Narita

Qantas did a great job at short notice to put us up for the night. On returning to the airport at 8:00am for the planned 10:00am flight, Qantas were still not sure if the flight was going to leave on time, late, or at all. Given that the unfolding disaster in Japan was becoming clearer, fellow passengers all took this uncertainty reservedly.

We got away about 10:30am after filling up the plane with late transfer passengers from canceled JAL flights. About 1 hour out from landing, updates on the Tokyo situation started to be drip fed by cabin staff. First it was about the stoppage of all other flights at Narita, including internal to Japan so no transfers would happen. And for those passengers not able to transfer, advice was given that no accommodation as available around Narita. That news would have deflated a few!

A bit later was the news that there were no express trains running to Tokyo, so local trains would be the go. But be warned, they will be crowded and there could be a long wait.

After de-planing, we discovered that Narita Airport was effectively devoid of passengers, apart from us! Apparently our fight was the last one in, and no flights were going out. So the immigration area was a breeze. And the crowded local trains? Only our plane load was on them so they too were fairly empty.

I had to use the Keisei Line this time to get to Kuramae, rather than via JR. No problems, there were Keisei service staff at the desk to give passengers detailed instructions (in writing and with a mud-map) about which trains to use to get to the ultimate destinations. Another reminder of the superior service that is common in Japan.

I had promised Veronica to contact when I landed. I didn’t work out well for that. I did find a pay-phone, but it needed a card. Having found the vending machine for phone cards, the machine would not accept notes (lots of electronic devices were playing up it seemed). So, no phone. And then I noticed that the next train was leaving in 5 minutes – and not knowing when the next one would be, I ran for that one.

Going to the Keisei Line platform I ran in to Bruce the Japanese Canadian guy I briefly chatted to at the Mercure. Bruce was able to use his mobile to email Veronica to let her know I had arrived.

(Saturday 12th March, 2011)

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