Sunday, October 2, 2011

Traveling all day

I got up at 8:00am, knowing that I didn't have to leave for the airport for a couple hours. I'm not sure why I booked a 1:00pm flight, other than to match the symmetry of flying back on Air Canada from the UK. I was lying in bed for 10 minutes, trying to decide if I could sleep more when the maid opened the door. Fortunately she announced herself before walking in and then quickly left when I answered. However that got me up and moving right away, pulling on running shorts and shoes, heading down to the health club in the Heathrow Renaissance. 

I last ran there over 2 years ago when I was on my first year of running and had to spend a week in England. I wasn't sure if I'd have the chance to run that day, since the year before it had taken me 22 hours to get home, so I got up at 4:30am and ran that Saturday. This was a more leisurely run, and surprisingly without company. Not even an attendant as I knocked out a fairly even paced 2.4mi in 24:00. A guest and an attendant walked in as I was cooling down, and I wasted no time getting back to my room, showering, and then packing up.

I arrived at Heathrow at 10:30 and I'm glad. On the way over I'd flown through Calgary, and had the best flight I've had across the Atlantic. I think the combination of getting up early and then flying on my time zone helped, and was thinking I'd booked the same route back. I even had the tickets in my iPhone marked as a 1:15 through Calgary and a 6-something flight to Denver. When I went to check in, the agent told me that I was in fact booked on the 12:15 to Toronto and a 5:15 to Denver. Surprising, but god for me. I'd arrive in Denver 2 hours earlier than I thought, but still an all day travel. I got my boarding passes, grabbed a Starbucks and sat reading for a few minutes, glad that I'd come to the airport early.

Flying to Toronto was worrisome. We were delayed (again), but some mechanical issue and didn't leave until an hour late. It seems that I'm perpetually delayed by some mechanical issue on many flights. Not most, but the age of the fleets seems to be a problem, at least with United, the airline I fly the most. I knew things might be close, but was OK most of the trip, only worrying as we were descending into Toronto. I've never flown there, but if it was anything like the Calgary airport, I might have issues.

I had my bags, got out of the airplane as quick as someone in row 41 can, and then passed a number of people getting through the airport and was surprised to find that customs wasn't required. They had a US area, and I slipped through the international baggage claim and into the US pre-clearance area without an issue. Well, there were lines, and I was worried while waiting for US immigration, but one attendant pointed out that it wasn't a 5:15 Denver flight, but rather a 5:40 Denver flight. I was looking at the boarding time on an Air Canada pass, something I'm not used to. I relaxed, but still hurried, glad that I had my paperwork out and ready for customs, no issues with my passport expiring today, and no issues with me at the metal detector. That was a surprise. Supposedly I'd be in a secure area the whole time, but moving from the Canadian international arrival area to the US entry doesn't mean they don't need to inspect you. Or maybe people from Canada can slip in there. In any case, I was more relaxed, but hurrying.

I got to the gate at 5:12, thinking I might grab some food or water before I boarded, but I saw people boarding. Once again, nervous, and not remembering my place, I decided to forego a Canadian credit card transaction and just board. I figured worst case I had a bar in my bag. I was thinking that I was in 4F, which may or may not have been first class, but I wanted to board and ensure I could get both my bags on with me. As I walked up to the gate, I pulled me pass and realized I was 2F. Still not sure if first class existed on this plane, I decided to just board. turns out I was in first class, and there were still two seats open.

Relaxing, and reading, I was looking forward to white wine on the flight, of which I've had two. Waking up at 8am UK time, and now flying, I should arrive around 6:00-6:15pm Denver time. Late for me in the UK, but in time to get home, see the kids, and start to get back on a normal schedule.

For a week. I leave for Seattle next Monday.

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