Change of Habits, Change of Scenery

Air travel is nothing new for me. It just feels weird when I’m doing it in a new set of cities.

I guess I got into a routine when travelling to Asia. My primary destination was Taipei. I almost always changed planes in Tokyo-Narita. But a change in work priorities means I’m heading west under a different set of circumstances.

Oh yeah, I’m also not on a Delta flight. That’s different.

The first time I flew to Shanghai was on a short hop from Taipei-Songshan, the airport recently made famous by dash-cam footage of a turboprop commuter plane crashing through a bridge and tumbling sideways into the river. My flight was a lot smoother. This trip I’m skipping Taipei, which means I have to deal with the economic realities of trying to fly Delta to Shanghai.

Yeah, it’s kinda expensive unless you book six weeks in advance. American Airlines was a cheaper option, which allows me to try out my shiny new Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K flight status. Turns out Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K is actually a top-tier airline flight status, and not the sequel to Pacific Rim.

This, of course, means I’m changing planes in Chicago-O’Hare. Ah, Chicago. City of wind. Delayer of flights. Destroyer of guitars. You just can’t spell “ordeal” without “ORD“. My history here isn’t grand, and it’s an airport I try to actively avoid in the winter.

And yet, here we are.

So far the trip is going well. I have a direct flight to Shanghai-Pudong, which is inconveniently on the opposite side of the world’s largest city to my hotel. At least I’m not in a hurry to get to my hotel, since I land Sunday afternoon.

Last time I wasn’t encumbered by jet lag, so I had a chance to see some of the more touristy aspects of the city. But I don’t feel like I’ve actually seen much of the city. I spent most of my time in the office, rarely took the subway and ate too many dinners in the hotel restaurant. I hope this trip will give me more time to skip the taxi line and actually see Shanghai. But for now my view is dingy grey tiles, thousands of rolling carry-on bags and windows full of American Airlines jets.

The change of habits will be nice. Travel should never feel routine, otherwise it becomes a bit less wonderful. Yes, it’s a bit of grind to still be filing my expense report for Germany while I’m printing boarding passes for China … but it’s also amazing. I just hope it’s amazing on a new airline flying to what still feels like a new city.

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