UPDATED at 12:10 AM Tuesday
✔✔ The website flightaware.com, which is very cool, shows the charter jet carrying the Duke basketball team and supporters on a promotional junket to China and Dubai finally left Raleigh Durham at 1:34 PM Monday. That's almost 24 hours behind the original timetable, and a little more than an hour and a half behind the rescheduled plans.
Second leg Anchorage to Shanghai
First leg Raleigh Durham to Anchorage
If you need further help in finding this flight, the tail numbers on the jet are NAO 70.
The initial hop was to Anchorage, Alaska, and it took seven hours and 26 minutes. And if you want more statistics, the distance is 3,476 miles, but the plane actually flew 3,691.
After two hours and 27 minutes for a refueling stop, the jet is now en route to Shanghai. This is actually a shorter segment (some reports have it listed as a bit longer, but not FC) and should take 6 hours and 46 minutes.
✔ In original promotional materials, the jet for this trip was listed as a Boeing 757-200 (twin-jet). It is also known as a B752/Q. Then some weeks ago the plane was upgraded to a newer, and more comfortable 767.
That plane had mechanical problems early Sunday in Miami, but came into Raleigh Durham anyway. For reasons still not clear, it was not allowed to take off again.
So the charter operator, North American Airlines, had to find a substitute, and Duke got a 757.
Luckily this plane has 20 business class seats up front -- not a lot -- for the team, because there's no way some of the guys nudging seven feet would fit into coach seats. Several of the airline's 767's -- but not the original one assigned to Duke -- are all coach class, and it was possible one of these would have been substituted.
The bad news is that fans who paid through the nose for the privilege of being on board are stuck in a two-engine, narrow body plane that has a seating configuration of 3 and 3. In other words, for this arduous journey, you have a one in three chance of a middle seat. That sucks.
✔✔✔✔ The delay is going to really scrunch the team's schedule. After landing in an airport on the sea in eastern Shanghai, the team and hangers-on must make their way on charter buses through the teeming city of 20 million, to a hotel in the lake vacation district east of Kunshan. FC estimates this will consume three hours, and therefore, it will be 25 hours from the time everyone reported to the airport in Raleigh Durham on Monday. Try it sometime. Ugh.
Now more bad news. Tuesday will be over in this part of the world, so the rest and light practice scheduled for Tuesday is gone. The only sightseeing in Kunshan -- a visit to the Duke Kunshan University -- is being rammed into Wednesday morning, and then there will be a game Wednesday, time uncertain. The composition of the other team is also uncertain; originally listed as China's national Olympic team, it turns out all the good players are in a London tournament.
More bad news. After the game Wednesday, it's back to the buses for a transfer to a hotel in Shanghai. And on Thursday, a 2nd game. Too much.
Some notes and quotes from the long delay at Raleigh Durham Airport.
Coach K : “It’ll be tougher because we’ll just get there and play two games. But we’re not playing for the NCAA Tournament.”
Miles Plumlee: “It’s kind of a blessing in disguise — a pretty good disguise... It’s pretty horrible to sit around all day. Two hours waiting in the locker room, two hours at the apartment, come back, come back and wait (at the airport) I don’t know how many hours. But everybody is getting to hang out and it's fun.”
Thank you for allowing FC to be your travel agent.