I woke up this morning in Beijing after a good, if long, travel day. All our logistical plans worked very well. We got onto the Airporter at 6:15A and arrived at SFO at 8:00A due to the light holiday travel. I’m very grateful we had that extra 30 minutes. I am a very anxious traveler. United’s check-in system has changed, and you start by checking in on a computer, including scanning your passport. However, the passport requires human verification before you can print out your boarding pass and baggage tags.
A very nice United agent came over to help us and the first thing he did was to look at our passports. The first words out of his mouth were, “You know that these passports are not valid for travel.” I was so panicked I didn’t know how to respond. The agent didn’t leave us in this state very long. He let us know that the passports weren’t valid until signed and immediately handed us a pen so we could sign them. We were greatly relieved, and he was a real help in getting our baggage tags on and directing us to where to check in our luggage. His methods might have been a little unconventional, but ultimately he helped us relax and get our air journey off to a good start.
One of my other anxieties is about finding room for carry-on luggage on board the plane. We had reserved the 2 seats in the next to last row of the plane. That put us in an earlier boarding group and when we got to our seats there was ample empty space in the bins. The flight was one of the bumpiest I have ever been on. It was significant enough to keep the flight attendants belted in for the first couple of hours of the flight. We bounced around until after our first meal, but even when the extreme turbulence let up the plane was still bouncing around enough that it was impossible to sleep.
I was planning on reading but found it difficult with all the turbulence. The individual seat back displays offered a variety of movies and television programs, so we both watched a variety of programs until close to arrival. The Beijing airport is very well organized and well-marked for English speaking travelers. There were also helpful guides along the way, so we quickly got through immigration and to the baggage claim area. Waiting for our bags was the longest part of the arrival process, but all our bags arrived and we were soon on our way.
One of our son’s friends has a car and he offered to pick us up. It was great to see our son and one of our grandsons as we came out of customs. We had an adventurous drive across Beijing and then joined his friend’s family for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the local shopping mall. Grandma and I were both very tired. After a very enjoyable meal we walked home to the apartment. I’m sure we’ll be dozing on and off through today and hoping our jet lag is minimal.
It is wonderful to be here and we’re looking forward to whatever adventures today holds.