Linda Thompson flies from Auckland to Tokyo, joining some very special passengers on their way to a very important upcoming event.
The plane: Air NZ99, 777 300W Auckland to Narita, Tokyo on September 9. It was renamed NZ39 in honour of the All Blacks, who were also flying out with us. Thirty-nine is a good-luck number in Japanese.
Class: Cattle. Watched the All Blacks turn left though as we boarded.
Price: One-way Economy fares from $619.
Flight time: 10 hours.
My seat: 56G. Aisle in the middle.
How full: Pretty packed but the odd empty seat.
Fellow passengers: The All Blacks, on their way to the Rugby World Cup. But my seat mates were a delightful little family from Japan with a wee boy who never made a peep all the way. Bliss.
Entertainment: Standard. Not a great selection of new movies but I did see Rocketman at last.
The service: Pleasant and punctual. Friendly.
Food and drink: The usual chicken or beef with a Japanese twist. The little pot of excellent icecream mid-flight is always a welcome touch.
Luggage: A few people with extra bags but it was all accommodated. And when we got off I helped grab an AB bag that was heading off on the carousel. Those guys had so much luggage.
The toilets: Kept clean and fresh throughout.
Airport experience: Great in Auckland. We were treated to some rather excellent special All Blacks coconut licorice — yes the combination works — and a souvenir boarding pass.
In Narita, not so good. We landed shortly after a typhoon hit, knocking out the train service and closing roads. For the next eight hours we sat on the floor and 13,000 people queued for whatever transport they could get. After eight hours, and with so many flights delayed for hours, they were handing out sleeping bags, water and crackers and people were making beds on top of security bins, check-in counters and anything else they could find. The ABs left in a bus for a long drive into the city but the England team was stranded with the rest of us. And an African bishop in flowing pink robes who snored. A lot.