Getting to Manila

Friday, February 22, 2013

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I arrived in Manila!  This first week really has flown by, but before I get into details of Manila, I can’t wait to tell you about getting here!
My employer requires associates to fly coach if you are below Director Level – and even then, it can be tough to get approval.  While I report to a Director, I certainly do not qualify for a business class ticket.  For comparison, my coach ticket was about $1,400 and a business class ticket can run between $6-9k. 
The day before my trip, I was notified that I had been upgraded to business class for my long flight from Minneapolis to Japan.  I was overjoyed to hear that the 15 hour segment of my trip would be in a comfy seat with more room than I could possibly need.  This also meant that I could check three bags at zero cost.
I packed Wednesday night as planned, and was able to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before my alarm went off at 5:30am.  As I packed the last of my things, my sweet boyfriend arrived to take me to the airport on Valentine’s Day.  Believe it or not, I was actually running ahead of schedule and we could take our sweet time on the ten minute drive to Des Moines International Airport. 
As I approached the Delta desk, a familiar face helped me check in while the boyfriend parked his truck.  James arrived to the ticket counter and my friend offered a pass for him to join me at the gate before departure.   I was absolutely floored – what a wonderful surprise on Valentine’s Day!  We made our way through security and shared breakfast while waiting at the gate. 
I realized that the worst part about a travel day (aside from the TSA getting hands-y) is sitting at the gate alone.  I start to get depressed and upset as I sit there thinking about how long it will be before I return and everything I’m missing out on.  Instead of giving me time to sit alone with my thoughts, we were able to sit together and talk and, of course, people watch. 
I was the last person to board the half-full flight to Minneapolis, sent off with one last kiss and a wave as we pushed back from the jet bridge.  It was the perfect way to start this trip.
I got a bit lost in the Minneapolis airport, eventually finding my terminal and gate.  The International Terminal looked familiar from my trip to Europe 5 years ago, but they had clearly remolded with comfy booths with iPads and charging stations.  The iPads provided free internet access and the ability to order from the nearby restaurant for table service. 
After a quick run to the restroom, I was surprised to hear the call to board so early – over an hour before departure.  I made the last of “goodbye” calls and giddily boarded when they called for Business Elite. 
I was at the very front of the row, just behind the first galley.  And anyone on the right half of the plane walked past me as I made myself comfortable and familiar with the features of my business class seat.  The seat turns into a 6 foot long bed, and they provide comfy socks, slippers, full sized pillow, travel pillow, blanket and travel kit.  On the downside, I was directly next to the lavatory.  But you know the expression “beggars can’t be choosers”?  I wasn’t about to complain.
I made small talk with the flight attendants –international flight attendants are some of the sweetest, caring and humorous flight attendants I’ve met.  I think it is because they are good at what they do and truly enjoy their job.    I watched a few episodes of The Newsroom and The Mindy Project before picking a movie and falling asleep.  When I woke up, we had about 5 hours before landing in Japan. 
They served a great breakfast and next thing I knew, we had landed in Tokyo.  When I turned on my cell phone during our taxi, it started buzzing with texts from a colleague I was meeting in Tokyo for the flight to Manila.  He updated me during boarding and I was panicked as I hadn’t even gotten off the plane!  I still had to go through security and get to my gate!  Thankfully, my Sky Priority with Delta meant I could join the shorter line, and I boarded my last flight with plenty of time to spare. 
Arriving in Manila felt so familiar – and so did the struggle to get through immigration!  Luckily, my business class upgrade meant my bags were marked as priority so by the time I cleared immigration; my bags were waiting for me.  After a short stop at Customs, my favorite driver Herman was waiting to whisk me away to Fraser Place where I discovered I would be spending this trip in the same apartment as my first stay here.  Check out the video here!


  1. Ah Shucks Lauren! I am impressed that your boyfriend parked the car and came in. My goodbye's are normally in the the drop off lane at the airport terminal - let alone the pass to get past the TSA checkpoint to wait at the gate with you.

    1. I know! Isn't he sweet? Usually we hang out before security and then say our goodbyes - this was so much better!

  2. Wow, Lauren - congrats on that sweet upgrade to Toyko. That flight is sooooo long, so glad you got pampered. As far as your sweet boyfriend -- very cool for him to park and come in. My dear hubby pulls up, removes my bags from the car, a quick hug & kiss and off he goes... LOL

    1. Thanks JZ! He is quite sweet!

      How have you been? How are your travels? Seems like you've had more delays lately!

  3. The above comment, as is this one is from Judy Z. I don't have any of the profiles... Hugs!


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