Tim Foolery

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Shanghai-Lights: UAL 836: PVG-ORD (United Economy Plus)

After spending a few minutes chatting with the @United stew crew before boarding I stood back and watched the mayhem that is an Asian flight boarding. Boarding groups and lines mean nothing.  It is like they don’t require tickets — it is just a first come first serve basis on the flight.  I knew my gentlemenly ways would be lost on this crowd. As they say, When in Rome, so I decided to act like a Chinese flyer and pushed my way to the front of the line.

Carrier: United Airlines (PVG-ORD)

Flight #: 836
Seat: 26G
Departure: January 27, 2013 –  17h00 / 17h05
Arrival: January 27, 2013 – 16h15 / 15h50
Travel Time: 13 hours 45 minutes / 13 hours 30 minutes
Flight Miles: 7,056

I was very hopeful that my return flight from Shanghai would be as occupied as my inbound.  No such luck. Every seat was taken and they were asking for volunteers.  This time, I chose not to even attempt this move.  I was sitting in the right aisle seat of the center section. When I arrived at my seat I found another passenger in the other aisle seat in this section. The middle seat was empty. As the plane filled the middle seat remained empty…until the VERY LAST PERSON boarded.  The tiniest of little Chinese ladies comes down the aisle, checks her boarding pass, looks at the empty seats, grunts something then storms off.  Fast forward 2 minutes. The tallest, fattest American on the plane somehow is now sitting in this seat. He wedges himself in and begins to chat with both of his neighbors.  14 hours with Fatty McTalkerson.  Not ideal.

Surprisingly this nearly 14 hour flight went by pretty quickly. I watched some reruns of the same TV shows I saw on the in bound. I ate a pretty average meal and a couple glasses of wine.  The best part, wine is free in economy to/from Asia on United, but they only serve you one bottle at a time.  The gentlemen two rows in front of me ordered two cans of beer, but Carol (my second favorite stew on the flight) said he could have one. He was rude and demanded two. She was stern and said “From what I can smell, you’ve already had several on the ground. I will not serve you more alcohol”.  Fantastic!  She comes for my drink order and I of course order two bottles of wine…to which she rolls her eyes and drops of three bottles of red.  Love her.

We land early and make I make it to Customers and Border Patrol to find that I am in the heart of International Arrivals. It seems that every flag carrier in the Northern Hemisphere has just landed and every passenger is in front of me.  I waited just under two hours to make it through the line and to the cab stand.

I am home.

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