Recently my wife and I had a wonderful and exciting time during our trip to Las Vegas. In May, 2014, we had stayed at Bellagio, a five star hotel in Las Vegas and enjoyed seeing Cirque du Soleil’s shows. Since then, I had been thinking about visiting there again and watching the acrobatic shows. I searched a travel booking site and found the cheapest business flight and the best rate for a five star hotel room. American Airlines gave us the best offer, and I immediately booked seats without thinking about the consequences. I later encountered a predicament on our way back to Japan.
The AA’s business flight from Haneda to LAX was comfortable. The seat was wide and became fully flat. Delicious meals were served twice with a variety of liquors. The stewardesses were friendly and gave me a tidbit of information about the weather in Las Vegas. One kindly suggested that I bring a jacket when I go see the show because it would be cold inside the theater.
The flight to LAX was excellent; however, we were not welcomed at LAX immigration. We were asked to go to a machine and input individual information with finger prints and a photo. The machine gave me a confirmation paper, but I had to wait in a fairly long line to pass the immigration desk. We waited almost two hours in line to go through the immigration counter. Finally, when I reached the desk and handed over the slip of paper, a male officer asked me the destination and my purpose for going there. My fingerprints and photo were taken again. I guess these stringent background checks at immigration may not be effective in detecting illegal immigrants and terrorists. They may come through the border of Mexico.
We finally arrived at Las Vegas. I didn’t realize how bad the scorching heat in Las Vegas in August is until I came to the city. The temperature outside was over 40C. However, inside the buildings, it was around 20C. It was interesting to watch that a lot of heated gamblers with no sleeves and shorts getting completely beaten up by casino dealers with black jackets and ties.
Aria is one of the best hotels in Las Vegas, and we stayed at a corner suite room on the high- end floor. The rooms were spic-and-span with a nice street view from the 55th floor. Housekeepers were Latinos and they cleaned the room quickly. They usually came to our room twice a day to make sure that everything was all right. They always appreciated the tips from the bottom of their hearts each time they came to our room. I realized that five-star hotel rooms cannot be kept neat and clean without the help of these Latinos.
I loved watching four Cirque du Soleil’s shows. We were very mesmerized by “O”, “KA”, “Love” and “Mystere”. The performers were well synchronized and their performance was an art. I imagine that Las Vegas attracts not only gamblers but also those spectators from all over the world who come to see the shows.
However, I still frown upon people with tattoos because a tattoo is considered a symbol of Yakuza in Japan. I often saw a lot of pretty ladies in bikinis with tattoos pool side. Actually, in Japan, people with tattoos are not allowed to get into pools. It reminded me of the scenes in “Orange is the New Black” where women inmates have tattoos all over their bodies. I wonder if those people with tattoos will be permitted to swim in pools during Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
A tragedy occurred on the final day of our trip. We arrived at the airport and proceeded to the gate thinking back to the fantastic memories of the shows and hotel stay. When we were finally about to board, the captain came out to the gate and said something to the gate attendant. Then, she radioed several places and finally announced that the plane was having mechanical trouble. We waited an hour, then an hour more and finally left the airport to LAX. When we finally arrived at LAX more than three hours later than expected time of the arrival and dashed to the electric board, I couldn’t find our plane to Tokyo. The AA flight back to Narita had gone already. There were a lot of Japanese tourists on the same plane to LAX and they all missed the plane back to Japan. We went to a check-in counter and waited in line to be issued new tickets. Some of the Japanese passengers in coach class couldn’t get a non-stop flight back to Japan. Some were asked to go to Miami the next day, and then fly to Dallas to get a plane to Japan. I was nervous and desperate. What would we do if we had to stay another night in LA at a cheap motel provided by AA and then go to Miami? But, luckily enough, we got tickets for ANA going back to Haneda at midnight on the same day. We were asked to go to the carousel, get our luggage and come back at night to the international gate. I suddenly rose to the occasion and explained that we would fly business and be privileged to use business class lounge while we waited for the ANA flight back to Haneda. We were allowed to use AA’s lounge and spent another ten hours there until the ANA counter opened at night. Finally, when we arrived at the ANA counter, another problem came up. Although we had vouchers for ANA, my name was not transferred from the AA flight to the ANA flight. An American gate attendant at the ANA counter explained that AA’s ticket clerk failed to transfer my name to ANA. I almost fainted at the counter, but I convincingly explained the predicament we would be in if we failed to catch this flight back to Japan. ANA staff got in contact with the AA office which issued my ticket to Haneda. I really appreciated the help of the ANA staff, and I made up my mind that I would not use AA again.
I’ve learned valuable lessons during this trip abroad. I tried to look at the bright side of stressful situations. I was upgraded from an AA to an ANA business flight and spent longer in business lounges enjoying snacks and wine. I improved the skill of negotiating in English. The red-eye flight back to Japan gave me sufficient time to sleep; thus I got over the jet lag quickly. Finally, I learned regardless of the price, I will definitely choose ANA or JAL when I go abroad in the future.