Posts Tagged ‘airport’

In lieu of your regularly scheduled day-before-Thanksgiving post, I bring you the following guest-entry from my wonderful wife, who will be regaling you with the tale of her torturous trip home from Las Vegas to Harrisburg.  It was too entertaining NOT to share.

The following is the body of an email Dee sent today to her friends that were on the trip with her:

Let's have a contest to see who had the worst experience on their trip home.
Let's see, after taking off on the Delta flight from Vegas, we circled for about a half hour.  The pilot then came on and said that the reason why we were circling was that they noticed after taking off that some of the wing flaps used to slow the plane on landing were not working and we were going to have to make an emergency landing.  We circled for about 30 more minutes to burn off fuel so we wouldn't go up in a fiery ball on impact.  Meanwhile people were getting hysterical.  (Except for the drunk English guys who were laughing and singing).  I ain't gonna lie, I was a little teary.
The pilot then came on to say that he was going to attempt a landing at a higher than usual speed and to not be alarmed by the fire trucks and ambulances we would see racing toward the airplane while we were landing.  After scaring the everloving shit out of all of us, the landing was fine, just a lot faster and bumpier than we were used to.   We sat on the tarmac for another 30 minutes or so while the brakes cooled.  They were worried the brakes might catch on fire, apparently they didn't give a shit about the passengers that might go up in the inferno.
We were on one of those huge planes (9 seats on each row), so ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE had to deal with some VERY bitchy gate agents to try to get the hell out of Vegas.  (Except for the English guys, they didn't care, they just kept drinking).  Needless to say I missed my connection and had to stay in Atlanta last night.  Sooo, I just got back to Harrisburg at around noon today, instead of at 10 PM last night like planned.
Sooo, unless anyone still hasn't made it home, I WIN! 
(And I'm not even bringing up the creepy guy who hit on me on the hotel shuttle in Atlanta.)
In the words of the drunk English guys on my doomed flight:

I'll be sure to share with Dee any comments you have commiserating her oh-so-fun flight home.  We would LOVE to hear any other airline horror stories you might have, too!

[NaBloPoMo 2008 – #26/30]

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I'd heard Europe had larger hazardous warnings on cigarette packages, but wasn't aware of how bad it actually was until I saw this display in the duty-free shop in the Manchester airport…

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(My apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien for swiping part of the title to this blog post)

I spent most of this past week over in the UK for an inspection for work.  It was quite an interesting experience, although not exactly what I had in mind (as you'll see if you keep reading).  Rather than tie everything up in a big wordy entry, I thought I'd keep my trip history short and sweet (too late), with a few pretty pictures sprinkled in between where possible.

The Airport, or a Cozy Home Away From Home

  • I left for the UK via Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.

  • Since my work was paying for me to fly business class, I took advantage of the situation and spent some time in the posh lounge before boarding my plane.  Very relaxing, and a nice way to start the trip.
  • The people waiting for our plane in Philadelphia all seemed lethargic and logy, so I ducked away from their sleep-inducing energy and spent some time watching the busy airline crews out on the tarmac.  Even in the 100 degree heat, everyone out there seemed truly dedicated to doing their jobs.

The Flight, a Journey Not Without Its Rewards

  • If you can ever get someone to pay for you to fly business class on an international flight, I highly recommend it. 
  • Although I declined the offer for champagne or a mimosa, I did have a glass of merlot with my lightly-seared tuna with a side salad.
  • Soon after, I bundled up in my seat underneath a nice blanket and caught about 4 hours sleep.
  • I awoke to the sounds of people around me having breakfast, and sat up in time to flag down a flight attendant to bring me the same.  Two cups of coffee, a bowl of yogurt and fruit, and some chocolates later, I was sated, awake, and ready to take on the world.  Or at least, ready to take on immigration and customs.

The Car, the Roads, and the Longview Hotel, or the First of My Trials

  • The rental car (or "car hire", as they say over in the UK) was reasonably easy to get settled in to, once I was able to find it.  The guy behind the counter really needs to learn his right from his left, and had I not already been 3 floors away from his desk, I might have gone back to tell him so.
  • I found the hardest part of driving in the UK was NOT driving on the opposite side of the road, OR dealing with the roundabouts, OR even finding out if the speed limits on those signs were referring to miles or kilometers per hour.  Instead, the hardest part was staying in my lane, as I was not the best judge of where the left side of my car was actually located at when I was all the way over on the right.  It took me a couple of close brushes of my tires against the curb before I got things straightened out and felt comfortable enough to chance the passing lane.
  • I arrived, a little shaky but otherwise undamaged, at my lodgings for the week, AKA the Longview Hotel.  After checking in and checking out my room, I decided to hit the town for a quick tour and lunch, as it was getting to be about that time of day.
The Longview HotelMy Room, My BedMy BathroomView from the Window

Knutsford, A Charming Community (With Excellent Sandwich Shops)

  • "Downtown" Knutsford is full of one-way streets lined with a mixture of shops, offices, and restaurants.  For the moment, I was just interested in walking off some of the restless energy I had picked up on my drive, so I just took it all in while I walked on past.  A light rain fell for a little while, but soon the sun came out and I had to take off the rain jacket I had been wearing or risk breaking a sweat in the cool 70-degree weather.
  • In the end, I circled around to where I had started and stopped in at a small sandwich shop that had quite a line coming out the door.  I had an excellent cajun chicken and swiss cheese panini sandwich, and carried it over to a nearby field/park where I sat on a bench in the shade of a large oak tree.
Your Typical Small-Town RoundaboutChurch CemetaryA Lunch with a ViewOak Tree DedicationElderly People?

  • On finishing, I noticed the placard embedded in the oak tree, and thought it was a cool reminder of the past century, so I captured it for posterity.
  • I went back to my room, caught up on some emails, did some work, and then went out to dinner.
  • I ate at a Thai restaurant that had decent food, but not-so-decent service.  I probably wouldn't eat there again, but I enjoyed my meal and the two pints of Stella I had with it.

Disaster Strikes, or My Biggest Challenge Yet

  • Around 1 in the morning, I awoke with a gut feeling that something was wrong.  Or rather, that something was wrong in my gut.  Over the course of the next twelve hours, I came to know the contour of the bathroom floor quite well as I knelt in front of the porcelain throne ensconced therein.  I had some sort of stomach bug, and could NOT keep anything down.  I had a high fever and would stumble back into bed and pull the comforter up over me in between bouts with my stomach which, while empty, did not wish to remain quiescent in the late-night hours.
  • BBC 2 shows "Arrested Development" and "How I Met Your Mother" between 1:30ish and 2:30ish AM, in case some of you Yankees are missing your American comedies.
  • Around 1:00 the next afternoon, when I finally felt I could keep down a few sips of water, I had a taxi take me back into the downtown area, where an angelic pharmacist patiently worked out with me through my fever-induced haze what exactly I needed to buy to get rid of my headache, muscle pains, and fever.  I also picked up a pack of water crackers and a couple bottles of water.
  • By dinnertime, I was able to eat the broth from a bowl of minestrone soup, and a couple bites of a piece of toast.
  • By the next morning, due to carefully measured doses of Benylin's 4Flu medicine, I was able to have scrambled eggs and toast, and make it to the inspection.  I was not recovered, but recuperating.
  • It wasn't until I got home that I realized that Europe calls Acetaminophen by another name – Paracetamol.  Now I understand why that pharmacist was giving me funny looks when I was asking for it.

The Drudge of Work, Work, Work

  • Okay, work wasn't all that bad, although I think there was one point in time when my eyes glazed over during one of the technical explanations to a question I had asked.  We managed to finish up by the end of the day, and I was able to reschedule my flight back for the following day.  I was pretty happy with how things had gone at the site, overall.

Homeward Bound

  • The flight back was pretty standard – caught a couple movies, chatted with the woman next to me, chugged bottles of water like it was going out of style.
  • The Philly airport was a madhouse, and I got to the gate only to find that the flight was delayed indefinitely while they worked to fix the air conditioning on the plane.
  • Arriving back in my hometown about an hour later than I expected, I booked it on home, hoping to make it there before my daughter went to bed.  I was successful, and she nearly galloped around the room in her giddiness to see her "Dada".  As I hugged her and my wife, I finally felt like things were back where they should be.

The UK was a neat place, and I wish I had been able to see more of it (and that I had been healthy for more of the time I was there).  Still, it wasn't home, and nothing made that more clear than falling asleep in my own bed last night, sleeping peacefully through the night, and through my alarm the next morning.

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I love to people-watch – everyone is fascinating in some way or another.  And airports are great people-watching locations.  So in between sucking down chapters of the last Harry Potter novel on Monday, I looked around and saw some interesting character vignettes:

  • While waiting at my gate, I watched a woman sign up for a US Airways credit card because "she was cold" and wanted the blanket that came in the free gift set you received when you signed up.  And people wonder why so many Americans are in debt…

  • After parking my car in the parking garage at the airport, I trundled my big-ass suitcase over to the elevator/stairs down to the shuttle bus.  I looked over at the elevator in time to see a woman walk into the elevator, turn, look at me, reach down and push the button, and then look furtively at me, apparently hoping to get the doors to close before I could make it to the elevator.  I wheeled my suitcase up to the doors just as they finished closing.  Moving quickly, I grabbed my suitcase and jogged down the single flight of steps, making it to the ground floor while the elevator was still settling down from its slow descent.  As the doors opened, I walked past and gave her an evil look (she seemed surprised to see me but didn't otherwise react to my mad stair-descending speed).  I made it to the shuttle first and took the last available luggage-rack space.  We both had seats on the shuttle, but she had to steady her suitcase as the bus jounced its way to the airport terminal.  Maybe I would have been nicer if I had already had some coffee that morning, but part of me thinks she deserved it.

  • In a brief bout of irony, an airline employee driving one of those people-transport carts nearly ran over two elderly people on her way to pick up some other elderly people waiting just down the corridor.  The two near-victims finally shuffled out of the way but oddly enough were not offered a ride to their own gate.

  • The man across the aisle from me put his headphones on his ears as soon as he possibly could, ignoring all warnings from the flight attendants that doing so could cause a fatal electromagnetic pulse that would take out the pilot's electric razor (or some other jabberwocky along those lines).  He then proceeded to fall asleep and snored the entire 2.5 hour flight.  Either he was really tired or he was listening to "Hypnotize Yourself – The Audiobook".

  • On my way to the vendor's office, I drove through a corporate park that had a 4-lane road (2 lanes each direction) running behind some of the buildings.  I passed a UPS truck who had stopped in the left lane.  Next to the driver, facing the other direction in the other left lane was a station wagon.  Apparently, the guy's wife/girlfriend was passing him his lunch and thermos while they were stopped in the middle of traffic.  At least he stooped into her window to give her a quick kiss before he hopped back into his truck and got moving again…

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