Post Number: 484
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 05:20 pm: |
Great report and tips, especially for unaccompanied travelers.
My wife & I flew from Yokota to Okinawa (originated from Travis, then Singapore) for a week's vacation and were surprised to see many unaccompanied mothers from Atsugi in Kadena. We met Sara and another mother who were headed to Texas. Anyway, we all made it to Kaneohe in Hawaii last Friday. I'm assuming they made it out of Hickam since they were nowhere to be found when we left yesterday.
We didn't anticipate Spring Break this early and were very surprised (& disappointed) when we saw tons of kids waiting both at Kadena, Kaneohe and Hickam. Nevertheless, we made it home and also glad you guys had an excellent Space-A adventure.
Good luck on all your future trips.
John R Garrison
Post Number: 2447
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 10:55 pm: |
Excellent report! Thank you for taking the time and effort to write it up and to share it with us. Great tips/lessons learned.
Happy travels, John
Post Number: 36
Posted From: 18.104.22.168
|Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 01:11 am: |
We haven't been home in 18 months so when my hubby got approved for 29 days leave we were elated! Since so many of you mentioned the reserve units that often visited Atsugi from Ft Worth we did some searching on that and it just didn't work out. But we went with our plan to hit up the patriot express and try something out of Mcchord or Whidbey. Our leave date was approaching and nothing was coming up out of Whidbey. I called on Wednesday night (leave started on Thursday) and asked Yokota if they had a seat release for the Friday flight. They told me 4-8 seats. That panicked me as we needed 4 seats! Sure we had EML orders, but that was too close for me! After noticing that Atsugi had a flight to Kadena on Thursday I figured I'd call Kadena and see what their seat release for the Friday Pat Ex was. The gal so kindly informed me they had 44+ seats and could manifest us all the way through. I asked her what she thought our chances were explaining that we would be flying down from Atsugi. She gave us a big thumbs up. (Sweet Japanese lady that she was she said "Bery good chance I think!")
So, we called our terminal at Atsugi and the guy said the C130 would definitely be taking pax and we were the only ones that had called. I called Alaska Air for a military fare to DFW from Seatac, because I still wasnt' seeing anything in the area. We got $169 one way tickets. Sweet deal. So we packed our bags a little faster and headed out the next day to our terminal. We got on that flight easy (with Sara K who was headed to Guam.)
The flight crew was LOVELY. They were concerned about my baby's ears, offered my other child candy, and were just as helpful as could be! My daughter (4yr) was even excited to use the potty close to the ramp.
We got into Kadena and the airman at the terminal called us a cab. We got a TLF room and my husband was a little perturbed that he had to haul our bags (2 forty pound suitcases, but it was really his carryons (an Xbox bag and a laptop) and the car seat that did us in.) across the street and aways to our room, but in the end it was worth it. After a couple motrin for his back, he was chipper again. We headed back to the terminal in the morning in a cab.
Once at the terminal he went to check in. Thank goodness we were there early and the guys there were forgiving. It seems that the squadron had used the wrong from for his EML orders. Thankfully the pax rep said "red line it and get them on the plane."
We made it to Yokota and I have no idea how many people we picked up. I didn't mind our side trip to Okinawa. I actually told my husband I'd like to visit some time this year. I may even go when he's on cruise this summer.
We made it to Seattle after the layover on the plane in AK for fuel and a new crew. Which, btw, they got a new crew in Yokota. How long do the they work? Everywhere we stopped we got new crew.
We got a room for the night in Seattle, and went back to the airport the next day to catch our Alaska flight.
On our way back, again, no flights from NAF Ft Worth to Atsugi or anywhere close for that matter, so we called Alaska and booked the same flight back and prepared to head back on the Pat Ex. No problems there as everyone got on the flight. Easy peasy. We definitely picked the right time to fly, I think. Made it home after layovers in AK and Misawa. I enjoyed this first trip. I'm even brave enough to do it by myself. BUT NOT in high traffic times and with plenty of back up plans (cash on hand for commercial tickets, far less baggage, etc.)
Tips for folks
My daughter doesn't chew gum, she just eats it. We had lollipops, but she just ate those instead of sucking them. My husband happened to have some mentos and those were awesome! It's what we'll use from now on for take off and landing.
When I go by myself I will only take as much stuff as I can carry. I thought I was so smart in getting my daughter her own little rolly suitcase. (it's an adorable pink cat with backpack straps) She carried it most of the time, but a few times she was half asleep (when boarding the pat ex that left at midnight) or when walking down the high stairs coming off the aircraft I was worried she might tip forward with it on her back. We'll use it for our next trip but like I said, I'll be able to carry it and my bag.
My son (11months) did not keep his ear plugs in well at all on the c130 flight. But we improvised. I had his winter hat that has ear flaps on it. It seemed to keep him happier than the ear plugs. (Not optimum protection, but what are you gonna do?)
I called Alaska Airlines to get a military fare. They told me unless the flight was full, they usually have a few of those available until the plane takes off.
And of course, constantly call and check schedules for flights. Turns out the day we flew Alaska McChord had a flight headed to Biggs. But I didn't feel too bad about it. We had budgeted for the tickets and it was easy to just head back to Seatac instead of heading to McChord.
It was a great trip and I'm so grateful for all the info that is posted here on this board! You guys are lifesavers!