Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The View From Above

Just flew over the Grand Canyon. Haven't been since I was 10 years old. I really ought to go back. Maybe this winter.

As we came into Salt Lake, we did so from a very different direction than I'd ever previously done. Right over the copper mine on the far Eastern side of the valley!

And therefore, right across the Great Salt Lake.

1st Class Baby!

Finally! On my last leg home. Had to get up at seriously stupid o'clock in the morning. The flight left at 6.00 am, which of course meant I had to be there for earlier. But, as I didn't have bags to check and I'd already checked in online and printed my seat request card, I didn't have to be there til around 5. My friend only lives 20 minutes from the airport, so we planned to get up at 4.45 and just jump straight in the car. I happened to wake up at 4.30, so was already up and finished brushing my teeth, had checked the status of the flight and made sure my carryon was packed by the time the alarm went off. My friend just threw on clothes, grabbed us each a Diet Pepsi, and we took off. So we were out the door by 4.50 this morning, putting us into the airport just after 5.

On our way, we met a local critter that my friend had never seen in her part of the city before. A coyote! He was just wandering across the road. It was funny because my friend saw him way before me (obviously, she was driving and watching the road!) and says, "Critter! Get out of the road." I looked over and said, "That's a coyote!" She said she'd seen them in other parts of the city, but not around her place before. But, it's only 3 miles to a less urban area, so I fugue that's where he came from. I'd never seen one in the city before. Only ever in Yellowstone. So, I thought it was a cool spot!

At the gate the agent called my name (got it very wrong, bless him! Called me "Able" instead of "Adele"!) and I went up to the front. Asked if he'd meant me, he said, "Oooh, sorry!" No problem, just makes me smile. Anyway, he said, "I've got you listed in coach, and I don't know why, so give me a moment, and then board when I call 1st class." Ummm... ok! Twist my arm! So I'm writing this from 1st class. Last row, but still, 1st class!

Once we got on the plane, the stewardess came around with drinks. Then snacks! I was actually really grateful for the snack, since I'd not really wanted to eat anything at a quarter of 5 this morning. So it took the edge off.

The flying time is only 1 hour 40 minutes. I'm like, really? That's only enough time to get up to cruising altitude, and come back down! I guess I'm just so used to the long haul flights like the previous two I have been on this week.

Saw a really cool thing on takeoff. There were a whole line of planes all queued up for takeoff. Would have loved to get a photo, but obviously I couldn't, since my camera had to be off at that point. Anyway, there was a US flight, a Delta flight, then 6 Southwest flights in a row, and another Delta, and another Southwest was just joining the queue. Was quite a sight, all those planes lined up together.

Also have seen 2 rainbows this morning! There's a funny layer of cloud just below us, and the sun's apparently at just the right angle to refract. They're very pretty, especially since, a rainbow seen from above is actually a circle.

Anyway, we're about to be served more drinks. Seriously, life's tough up front ;)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

No one has mastered the principle of Hurry Up and Wait like the airlines. Bless them, it's not always (or even usually) their fault. But, it is still miserable to be stuck on the runway for an hour. Especially stuck on the runway for an hour just before a 4 1/2 hour flight! Yeah, and then the pilot comes on and says... it'll be another 15 minutes! You know that went down like a lead balloon.

Never mind. we're finally on our way. I'm shattered, but looking forward to meeting my friend. And sleeping. Going to be honest. Looking forward to sleeping.

6 am flight tomorrow's going to be "fun". But, it shouldn't be a full flight. Fingers crossed again!

The Honest Truth

The following account is true. I promise.

I was sitting in Terminal 3 JFK today, waiting for the last Minneapolis flight (which I didn't get on!) when a family sat down along the table next to me. They were using the free iPads set up on the table, checking out this that and something else. About 82 kids (ok, only 4, but they were EVERYWHERE) older teens or early 20s, all of them. Anyway, they were talking about various things, and I just knew they were from Salt Lake. But, I didn't ask, because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable (a random stranger asking where they lived.) Eventually, though, my curiosity over came my good sense. I asked, "Are you from Salt Lake?" They said yes (the mom) and I said, "That's where I'm living now, too." And we started talking. They asked what I do, and lacking anything better to say for the moment, I said, "I've been teaching at BYU for the past year." They asked what subject. I said Linguistics. They said, "Oh, our son Mack graduates on Friday from BYU in Linguistics."

I went... Mack. Graduating. Do you mean Mack xxxxxx? Gobsmacked looks. YES! Hilarious. I actually had him for two different classes! I had him for one class Winter Term, and another Spring.

What are the chances?

Actually, he was the best student in the second class he had from me.


Yeah, you all thought I was either not getting out tonight, or winging my way to Minneapolis on rout to Billings. Well I fooled you! I'm on the last flight out to Phoenix! Yep, I'm going south instead of north. Figured since I was not going to get to meet my friend in Minneapolis, I could at least meet my friend in Phoenix! Ok, so maybe it had more to do with the fact that there was simply no way I was getting on that last flight. I quickly hurried to the rebooking desk and had them switch my ticket to Phoenix, which was leaving in literally 30 minutes, and on the other side of the terminal! I rang my friend as I ran to the gate. And my seat assignment was waiting for me.

I'm in the "nose bleed section" (ie - the very back of the plane) but hey, who cares! I'm ON.

Means I won't get home tonight (which.... kind of is the same as if I'd gone to Billings, which isn't home, either). My friend very kindly said I could crash with her. She only lives 20 minutes from the airport, so it's not too difficult. Of course tomorrow.... it will be an even sillier o'clock of the morning than today. Except, of course, that I don't have to check baggage (it's in Salt Lake). So, even though the flight is at 6 am, I don't have to get there at 4. 4.30 should be enough ;)

The Last Passenger!

I was the only passenger not to get out on the 6.30 flight! Oh so sad :'( Particularly because, it was the last flight that was going to get me to Minneapolis in time to have dinner with my friend. Tragic, huh?

The ladies at the rebooking counter were total stars though. All day, in fact! They've been so sweet and helpful. One, the one I saw most of today, even said (last time I saw her) "I knew you were coming. I've been watching the list, rooting for you!" Yeah, she'd seen me often enough to know my name without having to ask.

The List

One finds that when travelling standby "The List" ("cleared list", meaning those waiting for a seat who will definitely have one) becomes the main focus of ones life. I stare for hours at the list. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Have I moved up? Down? Stayed the same? The main focus of the universe becomes that list!

*Blink* *Blink*

Wow. It's EARLY! I got up at 4.30 this morning to catch the shuttle from the hotel to the airport.

Here's the story from yesterday:

Arrived to JFK. Through customs no problem. Whilst waiting for my bags (because being in the front of the plane means you get through the passport control, but doesn't speed up the arrival of the bags!) and started chatting with one of the standby passengers I'd seen all day at Heathrow. She had a 9.00 am flight, I have a 7.00 am flight, so I said... want to split a hotel? Best decision.

We really wanted to get rid of the bags at checkin, but because the flight wasn't til the next day the desk wouldn't take it til 2.00 am. So we were stuck with them. bleh, but whatever. We followed a Delta employee just getting off work to Terminal 4 to get to the hotel info. Over there we got a hotel with free shuttle to/from, and went out to catch the Port Authority shuttle to the area that has the hotel shuttles.

It's raining.

I don't mean a little sprinkle, I mean chucking it down. So we're trying to shelter (along with the rest of the airport!) in these little bus hutches. We wait and wait and wait til finally the shuttle arrives. Get on, yeay! Well, it doesn't go straight to the shuttle area. It stops at 3 other terminals first. Not a problem except there's seriously no room on the shuttle. People are trying to climb on at every stop, but there's just NO WAY. They're trying to lift luggage over other luggage, and climb into crazy places. Look people, it ain't happening! Finally we arrive and wait for the shuttle.

It's been a long time since I was as grateful to get to the hotel as I was last night. And it was only 10.30 local by that point. But neither I nor my companion cared. We went straight to the room and crashed.

Of course, my 7 am flight means I've got to be up at 4.30, but that's another story.

Got to the check in and the agent's like, "This bag's overweight". Seriously? They didn't flag it in Heathrow. Either day! Whatever. I switch some things around and get them both to under the weight. Then she says, "Final destination Detroit?" Wait, what? I just told her my bags were already tagged to Salt Lake, so why would my final destination be Detroit? Umm, no. My bags are tagged Salt Lake. My seat request reads Salt Lake (I double checked). Why would you think my final destination was Detroit? I still don't have a clue what that was all about. But whatever, she got it sorted out, and I'm ready to go for Salt Lake.

So, now I'm sitting in the Salt Lake gate, hoping and praying to get on the flight. I looked at theta list, and it's going to be close. There are 13 (including "Inconvenienced Passengers") people trying to get 7 seats.

Yeah, you can do the math. Yes, I'm back to the bottom of the heap, too. But there are 4 flights today JFK to Salt Lake. Might have a look at the Minneapolis rout, see if that's looking any better. I wouldn't mind if I flew to Minneapolis, then on to Billings. Then I could drive my Mom down to Salt Lake, as planned.

*shrug* Whatever. I'll get there somehow.

The Sacrifices I Make

Seriously, if you only knew the sacrifices I make for this blog, and your entertainment! Here I am, sitting in 1st Class where they've already offered me intoxicants. Then they gave me a hot towel that nearly scalded me. Now they're trying to make me fat by bringing out assorted nuts, which will later be followed by a 3 course meal (Appetiser of chilled lime shrimp and seared scallop, southwest vegetable salad and roast yellow pepper soup. Second course of mixed green salad. Main course selection between Gemelli Pasta with cheese sauce, radicchio, spinach and shiitake mushrooms, or Tender Filet of Beef with blue cheese sauce, lyonnaise potatoes and sautéed haricots veers, or Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with citrus salad, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with roasted garlic, or Chilled Deli Plate of roasted beef, smoked salmon, defiled egg, grilled zucchini, yellow squash and capers.) That is all followed by dessert (selection of cheeses with fresh fruit, vanilla ice cream sundae or chocolate cake.) To say nothing of the "light snack" they serve pre-arrival (roasted chicken sandwich with pesto sauce, provolone cheese and tomato and cucumber salad or cold salad plate with smoked salmon and potato cucumber salad, served with breadsticks and fresh fruit.). All of that is, of. Course served on real china with actual cutlery, which was so chilled I nearly lost a finger to freezer burn, and a linen table cloth. And the cheek! They steal away my Diet Coke and bring me a fresh one before I'm empty!

Then, once I've finished my food, I'm going to have to put my seat into full recline and sleep, since my flight doesn't get into JFK til 8.30pm and the next flight to Salt Lake doesn't leave til 7 something in the morning. So I'll be up all night at the airport.

Yes, I tell you, I seriously sacrifice myself on the alter to the travel gods for your benefit!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

I'm OUTTA here!

My seat up front. 1C!


It's in the FAARRRR back, but who the heck cares at this point?


Watching the list. I'm now #2 on the list, and there are 3 seats.... so.... Eeeek! Adrenaline is FLOWING!

Wait... what?

Ok, that was weird.

I didn't get on the Minneapolis flight. They said all of us had been transferred to the Atlanta flight... What Atlanta flight? The one that was supposed to be leaving at the same time as this one? Because if so, WHY ON EARTH could you do that for this flight, but not the Miami flight, which had extra room?!? And left half an hour after the flight I was originally trying for? So confused.

Anyway, we all trouped back to the Atlanta flight (which was next to the Boston flight we'd all failed to get on earlier) and the desk attendants there looked at us and said, Why are you here? We said, the Minneapolis folks said they transferred us to your flight. They just shook their heads and transferred us to the last flight of the day (JFK).

Bless her, the poor attendant was the same one who'd tried to get us on the flight last night to JFK. She felt SO bad we hadn't got on. Obviously we knew it wasn't her fault! We were really kind to her, and had a chat. She said, "I don't know what gate the JFK will be at." I said, "Probably gate 10. Yes, I have been here that long!" She laughed and told us good luck.

Incidentally, she was the same attendant who'd transferred my listing from the JFK to the Boston flight this morning, in the middle of boarding! (Wait... was it JFK to Boston? Or was it somewhere else.... I've seriously lost track now!)

Right. One more chance tonight. There are currently 14 people on the standby list. I'm towards the bottom (but *shock* NOT the last!) We'll see if I get on. However, the plane is currently +3 (meaning they've still got 3 empty seats) and it's raining, and the M3 is closed.... which means more people might miss their connection.

I'm an evil person to be wishing horrible things on the paying customers!

Right. Hopefully I make the flight. Still have to admit to hoping for a 1st class seat.... I said I was an evil person, not a stupid one!


I'm not joking. Every flight I've been waiting for has made the following announcement:

We do apologise for the delay in boarding. This is due to the late arrival of your aircraft. It is currently being cleaned, refuelled and catered. Please note, we still expect an ontime departure.

What the heck? Was every flight out of the US delayed? Was there some huge headwind? What's going on?


This really is what I had for breakfast this morning. No, it's not a photo of lunch (which I haven't eaten.)

I dislike "breakfast" foods. In fact, I'm not wild about breakfast in general. But I was kind of starving this morning when I got to the airport. So this is what I found that sounded edible.

You Can't Get There From Here

That seems to be what is happening, anyway.


Running out of flights! Fingers crossed for Minneapolis. The desk attendants said that it was 6s and 3s for Minneapolis and Atlanta. In other words, it was pretty much equal chance. So I opted for Minneapolis.

New Plan

Me again. Yeah, I know. You were seriously hoping I'd flown off into the wild blue yonder..... Nope. Still here!

So the new plan is to try for:

New York (12.30)
Atlanta (1.00)
Boston (1.30)
Atlanta (2.45)
Minneapolis (2.25)
New York (5.40)

Hopefully I'll get on one of those flights!! Seriously, how long can one girl not get a flight?

I'll check to see which of the 2.45 flights are least full, least standby list and go that rout.

Once I get to the States, it'll be easier to get back home. If need be, I can walk. But it's kinda wet to walk from here.

Next Stop Detroit... no JFK... no Boston!

So I tried to get out on the Detroit flight. No joy. There were 20 of us standby trying to get on. Right next door was a flight to Miami that was just boarding. I asked about standby, and they said all standbys were going to get on. I asked if I could get my listing switched, but they said it was too late. Ok, lesson learned. When you're trying to get on a flight, always ask if another flight looks more likely.

So I went over to the JFK desk and asked about the flight to JFK. I knew that there were 20 standby passengers trying to get on, and whilst I wasn't the last on the list, I was a long way from the top. They had a look and said that there were 25 passengers who had not checked in, and checkin had now closed, so to leave it. I said, ok!

Maybe 20 minutes later I hear my name being paged. So I run back up to the desk, hoping they were going to give me a seat assignment. Sadly, no. BUT! They had switched my listing to the Boston flight that leaves a half hour after the JFK flight.

Which means? No one trying to get on the JFK flight will be able to get listed on the Boston flight, so I won't be in competition with quite as many people.

Bless them! I was the only person they did that for, and it was in the middle of them trying to get the flight ready for boarding, so you know they were busy. Seriously, it pays to be nice, to be friendly, to be easy going.....

So, now I'm sitting in the Boston Gate, fingers crossed to make it there. No idea what rout I'm taking after that, but who cares?!? I'll be past the worst bit!

Outter Limits

I've just arrived at the Gate for the Detroit flight. It's seriously the outer limit of the galaxy! You have to walk about 10 minutes down this long corridor. Nothing there except windows. Just a corridor. Strangest thing.

What really gets me, though, is they have the moving walkway, right? But only going one direction! So, great, if you're a passenger who gets out to the gate and doesn't have to walk back, but what if you're a standby passenger who doesn't make the flight? Or an employee who does that trip every few hours? Seriously, so odd. But very common in Britain. I can't tell you how often I've seen escalators that only go up. Sure, in theory it's not as difficult to go down, but actually, it's harder on your knees, so if you have knee problems...... or, if you're carrying luggage......

One of those things that just makes me smile about being in Britain.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Destination Detroit?

Well, here I am, back at the airport. Got all checked in and through security. Again, they won't let you through security if they're not fairly confident that you'll get to board the flight.......

But here I am a second (4th) day at Heathrow, so we all know it's not infallible.

When I checked with the desk attendant, she said they were -1 already (that's one person on the list more than they have seats for.) But, actually -1 isn't that bad. I've frequently got on flights that were -14! It just really depends on who actually shows up.

Being the early morning flight (by early I mean 9.15), I have the best likely hood for getting on for two reasons:

1 - Not as likely to have people who missed their connection.
2 - More likely to have people who overslept.

I got up at 6.00 this morning, and my hotel was only 10 minutes from the Terminal. I didn't leave the hotel til 6.45, but still. How many people are going to be late for the airport because they had a few too many drinks last night? (I know, it's evil of me to hope someone misses a flight!)

So, we'll see what today brings. Fingers crossed.

Another "Helpful" Suggestion

Another friend suggested this:

On another note, Adele, have you thought of getting an apartment next door to Heathrow? Considering the amount of time you spend hunkered down there......or maybe a tent......

Seriously, I laughed so hard! She's right, though!

In Case You Were Wondering....

I opted for the Strawberry Tart!

Last Minute Deals Rock!

Let me introduce you to my little room at the Stanwell Hotel in Stains. It's only a few minutes from Heathrow Terminal 4, but it's a little slice of civility, after the chaos of the airport.

I decided to book the hotel because after staying with my friends for 3 days, I just couldn't impose on them any longer. Bless them, they've been marvellous, but it's always an imposition to have someone stay.

Arrived (only slightly soggy) to the hotel and was very surprised. I booked it on Hotels.com, and it was one of their last minute offers things. Only £58 for the night, so very reasonable. Outside it's all Victorian brick. Inside it's all Modern minimalism. Really nice. The room even has an "entry way". As in, you go in one door (no lock) and then in another door (locked). Craziest thing I've ever seen. The bed's beautiful with soft pillows and a cushy duvet.

Dinner was a 3 course meal. I had grilled goats cheese for starters, pumpkin and butternut squash risotto for mains, and.... I'm not sure what dessert I'll choose. Either the strawberry tart or the chocolate creme brule. Decisions, decisions.

Yes, I'm really suffering tonight, you can tell, can't you?

Immigration? AGAIN?

Everyone expects to go through immigration when the arrive to a country. Passport control, queues, baggage collection, grilled on purpose of visit.... But I haven't left the country! I'm still here!

In order to collect my bags from the luggage area, though, I had to go back through immigration control. So I get down there and I explain to the BAA (UK version of TSA) person that I'd not actually arrived from anywhere, that I was a standby passenger, and hadn't got out today. She says, "What passport?" "USA." "You have to stand in that queue over there. Take a landing card and fill it out." Ok... ummm.. when it asks "flight number" and "last port of call", what do I fill in? Oh, I leave it blank. Right.

So I wait. And wait. And wait. And wait in this queue. Finally, its my turn to go through Passport Control. The officer asks me for my flight info. "I haven't actually flown anywhere. I'm a standby passenger and didn't get on my flight, so I just need to collect my bags." "So you've already been in the country?" "Yes." "Then you don't need one of these [landing cards] and shouldn't be in the queue at all. Go on through." IF I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO HAVE STOOD IN THE QUEUE AT ALL, WHY THE (not going to swear) DID THEY DIRECT ME HERE?!? Really? I did explain to them the whole thing.

So, over an hour later, I'm finally through a queue I didn't need to be in, and have my bags. And I'm waiting for a taxi to come collect me and take me to the hotel I've booked.

In the rain.

Ahhh London. Got to love it.

Still Here

I know, you were really hoping not to hear from me again, at least for a good 10 hours.

No suck luck! You're stuck with me. I was literally the next person on the list. Yep, it was that close.

So I'm standing there as they're calling for the various people who haven't made it on the flight. You know they start paging people a good while before they have to be on the flight. They even made a few announcements to the effect that if they didn't get there within the next 5, then 3 then 1 minute(s), they would forfeit their flight, because their bags would have to be unloaded from the plane.

I'm not kidding when I tell you it was after the last minute had expired when these two teenage girls come flying up the concourse. They were yelling at the top of their lungs that they were here, that their family was behind them..... etc.

Well, thing of it is, they'd already missed the boarding time. The girls were livid. And I mean HOPPING mad. When their family did finally arrive, they were yelling and making such a huge fuss. I was shocked. And appalled. And thought, you lot are exactly the reason Americans have such a rubbish reputation in the rest of the world. Shame on you. I don't care if you were detained at security. The rules state that you need to arrive 3 hours before an international flight! If you'd done that, you'd have been fine. I know, because that's when I got here. There was no queue at the security, minimal queue at the checkin counter. It's your own fault. And even if it weren't, it's not on to take it out on the poor gate personnel! First of all, the airline gets quite a large fine if they miss their departure slot. They're not going to risk that for your family's poor timing. And then, it wasn't they who detained you at security. And even then, the poor security folk are merely doing their job! We're back to getting to the airport on time.

*sigh* Such sterling examples of American civility. *sigh*

To JFK or Not to JFK, That's My Question

Well, I'm listed for the JFK flight... so it's possible that I will still get a seat. But, who knows. I'm watching the board now to find out about the gate assignment.... Then off to beg a seat!

Fingers crossed. It's not great odds, but it's possible. Otherwise, it'll probably be tomorrow!

New Rout

My friend Laura suggested this for my new rout:

So, you just need to fly to China and from there, hit Brazil with a stop in Thailand ending in Toronto. You can take a taxi from there.

Thing is, I considered it! Ok, maybe not quite that, but I'd be fine doing a really round about rout, if it gets me to the States, eventually.

Hmmm.... Not Looking Good

Aaaargh! Seriously! Where on earth do all these "inconvenienced passengers" keep coming from? When I got here this afternoon, the flight looked brilliant. Loads of seats, few people trying to get one. And now, there's this huge bunch of "inconvenienced passengers"! They're people who for whatever reason, couldn't get on their original flight. Obviously, they get priority over me. But... it's really confusing. Where did they come from?

A little anxious at the moment, as I'm really desperate to get home. I got an email yesterday from my housemate saying my Jeep had been broken into, and my stereo stolen. So, I'm kind of urgently needing to get home to deal with that. I have filed the police report online, but... it's still stressful being here, not there.

It's seriously looking bad for getting on.


I've been scouring the terminal for a power outlet. Seriously, in this day and age, and in a terminal as new as this, WHY don't they have them in every corner?

Eventually I did find one. Got all set up. Everything copacetic. Except one thing. There's no power! What? Are you joking? It's this big hub meant to be for people to charge their batteries. I flipped switches, I poked buttons, I read all the signs. Cannot figure it out.

Give up. Just worked on the iPad as is. Figured it was fully charged before I left, still have 90+% battery life. Hopefully will be in 1st class, so I'll have a socket, anyway, and if not... well, there's always inflight entertainment if my battery did give out before the end of the flight. And, I doubted that it would. So just went about my web browsing as usua.

Checked the time, oh look! The gate's been posted. Made my way down. Told the guy on the desk that I was there (something I always do, so they know a standby passenger is there. Even though theoretically I'm on the list, I always check just to be sure.) The go find a corner to stand in and wait til they're ready to give me a seat assignment.

Another socket hub. Hmm.... check it out. Still nothing. Had a conversation with several others who had also had no luck getting it to work. Seriously, what's the deal?

Back in the Saddle Again

And here I am today back at Heathrow Airport.

The good news is, I've made it through checkin and security. I'm now inside the terminal, awaiting my seat assignment. That's not going to happen for quite a while, unfortunately. Probably not til nearly boarding time. Not too worried, though, since they won't let you check in if they're not pretty confident that you'll make it on the flight!

And, I'm going to admit that I'm cheeky enough to really be hoping for the first class seat assignment :D

Now for the people watching....

Has anyone else noticed the number of young men wearing hats? Seriously, they're everywhere! Young men who aren't otherwise particularly obvious about any sort of affiliation (meaning they're not "punk" or "goth", just average teens/20s) Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of this! I think hats look great. Just wondering what's sparked the comeback.

Saw one woman who I felt so sorry for. Her trousers had split, straight up the back. I have no idea if she didn't know, or simply couldn't do anything about it. Fortunately she was wearing a good pair of pants (underwear), and not a thong! Can you imagine how awful that would have been?

I'll keep watching, see if I spot anything else of the weird or bazar. Or even mildly interesting.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Leaning on a Lamppost at the Corner of the Street....

Well, actually, I'm sitting on the step of my friends' flat, not leaning on a lamppost. But there's no song for that. Anyway, I've spent a way fun day at Kew Gardens today. My "oooh lookie! Free day in London" idea.

This morning when I left the house, I text my friend that I was leaving, and what time did he want me back this evening? He text back, "Don't you have a key?" Ummm... no.... yesterday when I went off to the airport, he gave me his keys (so I could double lock the door as I left) and I tossed them back through the letterbox on the door (common thing to do in the UK). His partner let us all back in when we got home that evening. So I just assumed we still didn't have any spare keys! He texts back that there's a set on the kitchen table. Oh dear... well, I've already left the house, and it's locked. So, I'll just get home whenever is convenient for them. I knew he'd be in and out all day, as today was his day off work (he's an ambulance driver).

Anyway... this evening I get back to the flat around half 5, as planned. No one's home, but no big deal. I rang to say I'd arrived at the flat. He tells me there's a key under the dustbin. So I go find it, and try to get in. Bottom key turns fine. Top key..... nothing. Won't work. It's a brand new key, and you know how sometimes the cut doesn't go right, for whatever reason, and you get a bum key? Yep. I got a bum key.

So I'm sitting out front of my friend's flat. Their neighbours keep giving me odd looks as they pass back and forth. I have no idea what time they'll be home. Not particularly fussed, because it's a nice night. I have my iPad, not raining, not hungry...... but..... do I text to say that the key didn't work and risk them cutting their evening short? Or just wait til they get home and risk having them be all embarrassed? I'm really not inconvenienced, like I said.

Hmmm.... quandaries!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Nope, Not Today

And not even tomorrow! Bless her, Vee's been a real star.

The problem with a cancelled flight is, it messes things up for a couple of DAYS. Vee checked out the flights for tomorrow, and there was just no way. 1st of all, Weekends are much more busy. So, it would have been less likely for me to get a seat, anyway. But with the combination.... yeah, I wasn't at all surprised to hear her say it was a no go.

Fortunately, I'm flexible! And, I have fantastic friends. They've very kindly invited me to stay as long as I need. I guess it does help that I'm pretty low maintenance. I don't need picking up or dropping off to the airport. I'm happy to hang at the airport all day, til one of them comes home and can let me in. I'll eat anything, and am happy to contribute to the grocery fund. Anyway, they've been ever so very kind! So, I don't have to worry about finding a hotel or anything. Free place to stay, free internet. Life's good!

Guess Who?

Knock knock! Guess who? It's your favourite stranded traveller!

Yep, I'm stuck at Heathrow airport. My wonderful friends have already said that they'd be happy for me to stay another night with them, so I might just pay a couple pounds to have my bags held at the "Left Luggage" locker overnight, and take just my carryon back to their place this evening. We'll see. Might just decide to find a hotel close by.... options, options.

This is actually the first time I've got stuck leaving London. Usually it's a fight to get here. Unfortunately, Delta had a cancelled flight to Boston earlier today. That's the spanner in the works. They had a load of people to deal with!

So... off to figure out what I'm doing tonight.

I May Have to Swim

I'm sitting in my friends' flat in London. They live a half hour drive from Heathrow, so very kindly invited me to stay with them the night before the flight. That means I wouldn't have to do any marathon runs to the airport (which I've done) or pay the price for an airport hotel (which I've also done!) Bless them. Actually, I frequently use them as my port of call when I'm flying out of Heathrow.

Anyway, it's been gorgeous weather for about 4 days. You know that sort of thing isn't tolerated in the UK. So in order to break this horrible trend, two days of solid rain were ordered! Sadly, for me, that delivery was received last night. It's been pouring for about 10 hours. Looks like I'll arrive to the airport swimming!

But, I did something very sensible yesterday. I booked a mini-cab to take me to the airport. It's only £18 from here to the airport via mini-cab (which are not as expensive as a London Black Cab, but you only want to get one if you've booked it from a car service!) and it saves me all the pain and effort of getting to the train station on my own (because, of course, my friends are both off at work) and then getting from the station to the correct terminal, all with two bags to be checked, plus carryon! Totally worth the money.

Hopefully, I'll get to the airport and be handed my ticket straight away! Fingers crossed, anyway. I'm flying to a less popular destination this leg. Heading to Billings, Montana via Minneapolis, Minnesota. There's not quite the same crush of people desperate to fly to Minnesota as there are to New York or Atlanta (being the biggest Delta Hub). So, fingers crossed that this is an easy rout!