Ruminations Above The Aleutian Islands in Polaris Business Class

How many times on this planet does one find oneself flying over the Aleutian Islands? Not many for most of us, including me, and hence my blog title today. Turns out if you leave from Denver for Japan instead of from San Francisco or Los Angeles, your route takes you over Vancouver, skims Alaska and then goes right over the Aleutian Islands! Just like Sarah Palin I can wave to Russia today.

Denver Airport

Denver airport

I’ve had a very pleasant day flying to Japan so far. At this very moment, I am literally over the Aleutian Islands, with about 5 hours to go on my 12 hour flight. Well, the day has been MOSTLY pleasant except for having to wake up at 3:40am to catch the Courtyard Marriott Natomas airport shuttle to make my 5:25am flight. The shuttle times were 4 or 5am, so I didn’t have much of a choice; I only had about 25 minutes time at the gate before boarding my flight to Denver. And am I the only one who sort-of sleeps with one-eye open before an early morning flight because your subconscious thinks you’ll miss the flight otherwise?

Polaris bedding

Polaris bedding

I’m sure you are wondering why I am flying backwards to Denver to go to Japan. Well, my circuitous route got me an unbelievable deal on a Business Class ticket for the trip (less than 1/2 the usual price). I am lucky to fly business a fair amount of the time thanks to miles, upgrades, and searching out discounted fares. With my Rheumatoid Arthritis, a good flight with my legs up and room to stretch can mean the difference between a painful first few days of a trip or not, so this is a good thing. I couldn’t find a discounted business fare to Jerusalem for the TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange Conference) in late March so I’m crossing my fingers and toes for a successful upgrade, at least on the way there.

Anyway, my Denver flight was short and sweet; United served a hot breakfast in First Class which was nice on such a short flight, and once the coffee pot was brewed, some good Illy coffee (I really love this change of coffee on United!). Met a lovely lady named Sue (waves at Sue) who was on the way to Florida and also loves to travel.

Is champagne medicinal?

Is champagne medicinal?

My Denver airport time was delightfully uneventful (other than eyeing the falling snow with a bit of trepidation). My walk to my connecting gate wasn’t long and the Narita bound gate (B32) was right next door to the United Club. I spent 2 hours using the Club WiFi to work, had an Illy Cappuccino and was off to my flight. The only minor glitches were sitting on the runway for about 45 minutes to de-ice (I knew that snow was trouble) and then having a hacking, coughing seat mate. I’m a total germaphobe right now due to being on Prednisone, Methotrexate and Enbrel (I have no immune system) so of course, the only sickie on the plane sits right next to me. Grrr. Well, he swears he’s not contagious anymore, so I hope he’s right.

United has re-branded their Business First cabin to Polaris Business. Broadly, this has brought new food, bedding, drinks and other soft product to their Business offering, with new seats slowly rolling out across their fleet during the next 2 years. I’m going to do a full, separate review on Polaris Business, but for ruminations sake I can report that I really, really like Polaris. Much easier to sleep with the new, softer, and more comprehensive bedding (the seats lie flat) and the food has been fantastic, as has been the service.

United Japanese Appetizer

United Japanese Appetizer

I started the flight working on wifi (funny wifi glitch today…the system thinks this is a Houston to Denver flight so they’ve only charged $7.99 for the wifi for the full flight, which is good because would normally cost $19.99 and it is slow…so slow that you may be reading this without pictures until I can get to a land-based wifi). After working (writing, photos, social media) we were served lunch. Which was excellent; I had the Japanese meal. Then I watched Bridget Jone’s Baby (I’m a sucker for Bridget Jones…course watching a Bridget Jones movie about her being a “geriatric” mom with flashbacks looking back fondly when she was young might have been too much on my birthday?).

Time to sleep in my Unite PJs

Time to sleep in my Unite PJs

I then changed into the comfy United PJs, had a great 3 hour one-eye awake nap (yep, I do that on planes too) and now here I am, over the Aleutian Islands, blogging to you fine folk while sampling the very yummy hot grilled cheese and tomato snack while writing (what…what…it’s all in the name of research, just like when I did the wine tasting before lunch…).

When you next hear from me, I’ll be in Tokyo!

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