At the moment I am giving Space A a big thumbs down. If I ever get back to Japan I will try to do a more fair assessment. But for the past four days nothing has left from anywhere around here heading west. Even if I could get as west as Hawaii, I called and all the rooms around the airport are booked so I’d be camped out in the terminal indefinitely until something pops up going to Japan.
The whole reason I hadn’t bought a ticket earlier this week was because–lucky me! there was a flight leaving today (Thursday) hopping through a couple of airports and ending up in Atsugi. It’s rare to find Space A flights headed to Atsugi base because you can only get off if you have orders to NAF Atsugi. Lucky me! WRONG. I’ve never seen Space A terminal employees be apologetic—you’re flying for free; what do you expect but cancellations and delays?? But older gentleman today seemed almost embarrassed. He explained he’s never seen this happen before: just a couple hours before the flight left the terminal received a message from some squadron ordering them to reserve 70 seats. Huh? But the families and retirees and I all waited around to see if anything would open up.
Just 45 minutes before the flight hurray! they called a few names! Some active duty guys and their families got on! Maybe more will open up…?? “Sorry, only one more seat available,” said the lady on the loudspeaker. I rushed up to the desk. “I am one person traveling alone,” I said hopefully. “I need to see your paperwork,” the lady said, steeling her face. “She wants to go also and she signed up in February.” And…I signed up in March. I said, “I think I signed up in March, but maybe you could look at it anyway?” “Why?” she asked, looking at me flatly. “To make sure I’m looking at the right date? Is this what you’re looking at?” “Yes,” she said. “She’s going first.” Ok, bummer. The girl getting the seat turned and beamed at me. Bad winner!
Earlier, when Chris helped me carry my bags inside this guy of indeterminable age approached him without acknowledging me and said, “You’re a helicopter pilot, right? Can you come look at this?” I thought this was a little odd, but whatever—people always want to talk to Chris, and I can’t fault them for that, right? Chris returned a couple minutes later. The weird guy had taken him to some museum-like photo displays around the terminal and said, “Look, this helicopter is labeled wrong.” Then looked at Chris like he was waiting for him to fix it. Chris was like, “Hm…yup, it’s labeled wrong.” The guy kept trying to talk about the mis-label. Chris politely excused himself to come back to me, since we were hoping I was about to fly off into the sunset. Not in fact the case.
Anyway the point is, at this moment, as I’m standing at the counter with the victorious beamer and an onslaught of disappointed families staring at me in mutual discouragement, this weird guy approaches the beamer, pats her on the shoulder and says—again, without acknowledging me— “Hey, congratulations. Good job. I’m glad you got it.” She beams back at him and loudly says, “Thanks!!”
So the 30-odd people who’d showed up for this flight are all standing around trying to figure out what to do next and the beamer sits down and starts to lecture us on how to succeed in Space A flying. She explained she’d flown down here from Travis AFB, near San Francisco, to catch this flight (and take my seat) only to find out that as soon as she left a handful of flights carried everyone at Travis to Hawaii. Hm…thank you for that.
Oh by the way, everyone else in the terminal was getting off in Hawaii; I was the only person proceeding on to Japan. But does that get me on the flight? No. This is me having a bad attitude and being a sore loser, because now I can either wait and wait for another flight or pay $700 for a one-way ticket home. So for now I remain with the others to wait in Casablanca. And wait. And wait. And wait.