Saturday, November 3, 2012

No place like home, and the efficiency of Japan Airlines

Good morning from the JAL lounge of Tokyo's Narita Airport, where I'm having breakfast and waiting to catch my bus -- I mean, my plane -- back to Manila. I'm still struggling to wake up after a pretty late night last night, but fortunately JAL's breakfast spread is good enough to make anyone perky this early in the morning.

There are many things I don't really like about Japan, but one thing's for sure: the word "efficiency" was invented precisely for them, and this makes travel to and from Japan very convenient.

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Japan's at the other end of Asia from the Philippines, and in so many ways it's an entire world away in terms of thinking and way of life. But once you get the hang of going back and forth between Manila and Tokyo, at least the traveling bit is really just like a commute across Metro Manila.

This morning, for instance, I got on the highway for Narita Airport at 640 AM. And since there's a fee-based Internet service on the way to the airport, I was online and working all the way till the gate of Narita.

How convenient is that? Talk about a headstart to the day. I started answering a few emails and when I next looked up, there was the airport security by my window asking me for an ID check. Time literally flew by.

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Then, from the driveway of the airport to check-in and immigration, and then to this lounge, which I know so well that I know exactly where the electric plugs are (there's only one available socket in the JAL lounge where breakfast is served), and to setting up this computer again and getting a glass of tomato juice to get me started, it took all of four minutes.

Can you imagine? This is among the busiest airports in the world and I got from airport driveway to lounge in four minutes, tomato juice included.

This is what's on offer this morning in JAL's lounge by the way:

Maison Kayser croissants
Maison Kayser fig breads
Lobster bisque
Cabbage cream soup
Scrambled eggs with potatoes and sausages
Roasted fish and stewed Japanese vegetables
Salad bar


And over a pretty eclectic breakfast -- mentaiko, rice, scrambled eggs, sausages and croissants -- I plan to work online until the very last minute before takeoff.

Yes, I'm always unfailingly the last person to check in for a flight and the last person to board the plane; and people who've traveled with me have been known to be on the verge of heart attacks at the way I always cut things so close.

But I'm on a plane almost every single week of my life, and I've never missed a flight so far. In fact, I guess that's why I cut it close everytime. With the time I spend traveling, I can't spare time waiting senselessly by a boarding gate or I'd never get any work done.

I've got to be able to work and travel at the same time, and as efficiently as possible, in order to have a real Travelife.

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Manila airport, in spite of all the complaints about it, isn't all that bad either, by the way. As long as I'm traveling JAL, I can check in 45 minutes before take-off and it usually takes me about 15 minutes to check-in and get to the Miascor lounge, unless there's a queue at immigration.

Upon arrival in Manila, too, things are also quite efficient as long as JAL's involved. I'm among the first ones out of the plane and my luggage is usually the first one out of the chute. Lots of times it's already waiting for me by the time I clear immigration, even if I'm usually the first one from the plane at immigration.

I land at NAIA 1 every week and I'm usually in my car within 10 minutes from disembarkation.

I can't wait to get back to Manila and back to work. Yes, I travel all over the world almost every single week of my life -- but there's no place like home.



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