We arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International airport 3 hours before our 1:15 pm flight, which is always a must with international flights. This gives travelers time to deal with the unexpected; whether it be traffic en route to the airport, long security lines, ticketing errors, departure gate changes, etc. being early when traveling wth kids also allows you to take your time and stop for snacks and bathroom breaks. We had plenty of time to do all that.
We made sure we were amongst the last to board the plane just to give the kids their time to run, jump, wiggle, rock, and roll before being confined to this 13 hour flight.
On the flight Dude and I sat on one side of the aisle, AlphaPoppa and Zane sat on the other side. We didn't plan that but didn't mind at all knowing it would prevent the typical sibling complaints of," Mommy, Dude's foot touched me!" Or "Daddy, Zane said I'm a baby!"
Truly, the flight itself was great. The back of each seat had a touch screen monitor to play games or watch movies. Dude played with it for a while then suddenly collapse into a deep sleep. I immediately followed him and also slept.
To try to prevent jet lag my plan was to sleep early in our flight and wake up when it would be the Japanese morning while still in flight. Time will tell if this works. The airplane served plenty of snacks, meals, drinks, and warm towelettes to wash our faces.
Holy moly!! How on earth did I forget to tell you guys that this flight was on a double decker airplane. Yes ladies and gents, the plane had an upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs was all first/business class as was the front of the bottom level. Each passanger get a mini bed to lay down in, check the pix!
Our route to Japan surprised me. Since I know very little about aviation I assumed we would fly in a straight line from Atlanta to Tokyo passing over the Midwest, California, and the Pacific Ocean. That was not the route at all. According to the inflight interactive map we flew north west crossing over Canada from its border with Wisconsin, over Alaska, damn near to the North Pole then swinging down over Russia heading south near the Koreas approaching Japan from the north. I never would have guessed such a route. AlphaPoppa explained to me that since the earth is curved one must fly in a curve. I straight line won't get you where you want to go. Interesting, huh?!
We arrived in Tokyo's Narita airport at approximately 4pm their time. We passed through immigration where we were fingerprinted and photographed then we passed through customs with our luggage. The kids and I each had one personal item (for me a purse and for them backpacks) and a carry-one bag. AlphaPoppa just had a carry on. We did not want to check any luggage so we packed light for our one week stay. Even though I'm a master at packing and traveling, I'm still a woman and managed to pack 5 pair of shoes along with all my clothes. Ha!! In the battle of Knowledge vs. nature, my womanly nature of loving stilettos and pretty shoes killed all knowledge that I most likely will not wear them all.
Our 13 hour flight was just the first part of our journey. We then had to take a 2 hour train ride on the Narita Express to the Yokohama train station. AlphaPoppa's brother has been living here in Japan for nearly 2 years (his second go round living here) previously living here for 3 years before returning to the US for a while. His wife gave us perfect directions to get to their house. We changed trains at Yokohama station and took another train 2 stops to their station. We then jumped in a taxi that took us right to their apartment building. All this with limited Japanese. And when I say limited I mean we only know how to say hello, thank you, and numbers 1-3!!
During our travels from the airport to their home I was constantly texting with my sister-in-law to let her know where we were and to make sure we were on the right track. We used an app called Viber. Viber is my favorite app to keep in touch with international family and friends. You can text, send pix and videos, and make phone calls through the app. The morning of our trip I called my cell phone carrier and they added an international data plan for me for $30 for 120gb. When I'm not using it I switch the phone to airplane mode to not waste data roaming time.
Once we arrived at their apartment building my brother-in-law was there waiting for us. What a thrill it was to see him!! He took us up to the apartment and we hung out and settled in a little until his wife and son came home about 30 minutes later. We spent all night chilling and enjoying each other. We held on trying to not sleep too early, Trying to lessen the effects of potential jet lag. We didnt sleep until 10:45 then we were knocked out! Thank goodness for safe travel adventures and lovely family all over the world.