Friday, July 29, 2011

FLYING FUN


One post only. One bitch and moan post about my flights to England and back, and I'll lay the subject to rest. I promise. My flight from New Orleans to Newark, NJ, was to leave at 3:15PM. In Newark, it was a dark and stormy afternoon. All flights to the airport were delayed because of the weather. At one point, our plane was backing away from the gate, and we were ordered back. Thank heavens the crew let us off the plane, because we stayed in the airport for hours, until I can't remember what time, but so late that I was going to miss my flight to England at 10:10PM, the last overseas flight of the day.

But wait! If all flights were delayed, perhaps my plane to England was delayed. It was! Until 1:30AM! Then it was delayed until 2:30AM because of the weather and because of "issues". Now, I wouldn't want to fly on a plane with "issues". Would you? We finally departed at 4:30AM, which meant that I spent the night at the Newark airport. The fun begins!

Cathy was to meet me at Euston Station in London, where I should have arrived early in the afternoon, but she had to go to work at 4:30PM. I had to get word to her not to meet me, that I would be late, and I'd take a taxi to my hotel. By then, it was past bedtime in my zone, Central Standard Time, and on the East Coast. I had no computer with me, and my phone worked only in the US and Canada. I thought of friends further west in the US and called Ann Fontaine and received no answer, so I left a message, but Ann's husband thought I said "Jewel" instead of "June", so that didn't work. Then I called cher Paul in ABQ, and he answered his phone! I asked him to email Cathy to forget about meeting me, as I would be late, very late. My flight arrived in Manchester, England around 2:00PM, and I took the train to London and rode a taxi to my hotel, arriving there around 5:00PM.

My holiday in the Green and Pleasant Land was lovely, immensely enjoyable, about which more later, after my vent about flying.

On the day of my return home, I woke up at 5:30AM. Nothing went really wrong on the flights home, except me. I was patted down and watched the agents paw through my undies when I left England, all the while chuckling to myself as the workers spoke in soothing tones, because they didn't want the old lady to freak out. There were no long flight delays, but when I reached the airport in Newark, the lines at Passport Control were long, very long. After waiting my turn, not so patiently, I got through. Then, I picked up my checked suitcase and went through Customs, then passed through the security check once again, shoes off, jacket off, all the crap associated with keeping us safe in the skies. Next I took a train to another terminal to catch the plane to Houston for the next leg of the journey.

By the time I reached the huge Bush airport in Houston, I was ready to drop. My one small carry-on felt as though it weighed a ton, and the walk to my gate in another terminal seemed miles away. I tried to commandeer a cart, but the driver could not take me, however she was kind enough to call on another driver who agreed to deliver me to my gate. TBTG! One more plane to New Orleans, the 45 minute ride to Thibodaux, and I reached home just after midnight. After adding 6 hours to account for the time change, from 5:30AM in England to after 12:00AM in Louisiana makes for a long travel day. I won't do it again.

Forgive me for this indulgence in whining, but I had to vent, and I want to have a record of the journey so I won't ever think of doing it again. It's like having a baby. You forget the pain, and go on to have more babies. I realize that I suffered no permanent damage, but while I was in the middle of it, I was miserable. I'm too old for this sort of thing, even if the rewards in the middle of the two periods of misery were great. I love England. I've loved England since I was a teenager, and I traveled there more times than I can count, but I've made my farewell tour of the lovely country. Good-bye, my English sweets; I'll see you online, or you visit me here in the US.

30 comments:

  1. It does seem like the older we get, the more the difficulties involved with travel get to us. I love England too and missed not going this summer. I do NOT miss what you went through though.

    wv=triat You had a real tria(l)t

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  2. I'm very happy that we met up several times during your farewell tour and we've already started saving up for a visit to your beautiful country. It'll take some saving but we're hoping to get there!

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  3. One thing that I've found that helps a lot is to always book your trip on Asia based carriers. They actually think the passengers are human rather than cattle! Can you imagine? Delta has been pretty good too, but when you fly from Portland to Boston I think you have to transit through Atlanta...

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  4. Amelia, yes, indeed. When I was younger, I was able to take inconvenience in my stride.

    Erika, start saving now! Although I'd love to be your guest again, getting there is hard to do.

    Wade, can you find an Asian airline that flies directly from the US to England? If I'd chosen a German airline, I'd have had to fly to Germany first. If I'd chosen a French airline, I'd have had to fly to France first, etc., etc., etc.

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  5. Mimi,
    There used to be direct flights from New York to Bristol but they seem to exist no longer. But there is direct 9 hour 10 minute flight from Orlando to Bristol.

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  6. I sort of hope you forget the "labor pains" again. I love "going along for the ride" w/ you, so to speak.

    [Though if you wanted to deputize (cough * fund * cough) me to travel to the UK in your place, then you---y'all---could go along for the ride w/ ME! ;-)]

    Glad you're home, safe&sound, Mimi.

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  7. In May and June I was on a plane every other week. It sucks, no matter how old you are. It sucketh worse as you age. I wish I could be like John Madden and never fly.

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  8. My dream is they will develop a system whereby they give you a knockout pill and load you in a crate and you wake up at the other end :-)
    I have decided to give Europe and the USA a miss for the next 18 months and just tour in Australia (and NZ) next year. I have already gained in the much lower annual travel insurance I paid yesterday. However I could not give Europe up entirely and will return as long as I have good health and adequate finances. A friend (student in my first class back in 66) with a house in Southern France sent me a photo this morning and he has told me I can stay there any time. Oh the temptations.

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  9. Erika, there are direct flights from Orlando to everywhere. Everyone loves DisneyWorld. I'm afraid the trip would not be a whole lot easier flying from Orlando.

    JCF, I don't think I'll go for the labor pains again.

    If you want to be (cough * funded * cough) to go in my place, you'll have to get in line. KJ is already ahead of you.

    IT, how awful. It would be nice to say, "I don't fly," and make that the end of it.

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  10. Brian, traveling sedated in a crate sounds lovely. We could even be stacked to save space, so long as the ventilation was adequate.

    About that house in the South of France.... See how great is the temptation!

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  11. Flying is a pain in the arse, especially as we get older, but I'm not sure the younger folk are enjoying it much either.

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  12. I hear that you dropped a handkerchief while you were here. Do you want to come back and get it?

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  13. Mimi, I'm just back from a multi-leg trip to Europe as well. I've found that it can help to break up the trip. England to New York on a late afternoon flight, spend the night and then go on to NOLA. You don't have to get up before the Holy Ghost. No worries about missed connections. It makes a world of difference. Coming back from Spain to New York, my flight was leaving London on Monday. Rather than trying to fly from Spain to London and then on to New York the same day, I flew to London on Saturday. On Sunday I went to Mass at St. Margaret's Westminster and Evensong at the Abbey, slept late on Monday to start getting over the jet-lag and flew home Monday evening. Barely suffered from any jet lag for the rest of the week.

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  14. Pluralist, I'll leave my handkerchief in England for the use of any English person who cares to have it, including you. ;-)

    Ueber-G, breaking up the trip is an excellent idea. I've thought of that, but the idea of getting where I'm going quickly and getting home quickly usually trumps breaking up the journey. If I ever decide to travel across the sea again, I'll give serious consideration to the idea.

    A major plus is that I did not suffer from jet lag on either end of the trip. I'm hope I'm not speaking too soon, and delayed jet lag is lurking and waiting to strike.

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  15. Dear Mimi, that truly was too much of a trip. I was thinking of you while you were away as I happened to be in London at the same time.

    I hope you'll take some time to recover before you commit yourself to avoiding all overseas travel in the future! There could be easier ways to get to Europe. I take the British Airways nonstop from Baltimore to Heathrow, which is about 7-1/2 hours, and get into London from there on the tube. If you want to try another transatlantic jaunt, consider stopping over in Baltimore. You could get a cheap nonstop flight from New Orleans to BWI (try Southwest, for example), stay overnight chez Mary Clara, and take the nonstop to Heathrow the next evening.

    I have a painful shoulder injury so on this recent trip I upgraded to get a wider seat ($320 round trip additional) and that helped. But there is no getting around the fact that the aging body is not happy with the depredations of long journeys. I find this adjustment every bit as hard as adolescence! (sigh) But we've got to keep moving, girlfriend.

    Looking forward to your report of adventures in the UK.

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  16. Mary Clara, thanks for your kind offer and the tip. For domestic trips, I favor certain airlines, specifically Jet Blue and Southwest. If I broke the trip, I could fly with my domestic airline of choice, which I fear to do if I travel on one day (or two days) without a break, just in case I miss a flight because of delays.

    I spent a good part of yesterday and this morning trying to get my photos in order, and the reports on my trip will be forthcoming, but probably not quickly.

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  17. Mimi, I think you should think of breaking up your flight too. Also, what's wrong with a stopover in France?

    Anyway, I'll be coming to visit in the US. But it would be lovely if you came back to England to see Cornwall, which you have not seen.

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  18. Cathy, if I ever go again, it won't be for a while. I have to pay the bills, and I can't run up such bills again any time soon. However, if I do, I will consider breaking up the flights.

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  19. I say the same thing after each overseas flight ... never again. I suppose the inconvenience of it all does get less tolerable with age. But I think the entire process of flying has become less and less tolerable over time. We have booked a trip to Egypt and the Holy Land down the road a bit, but I'm already dreading the flight. And I have long time to dread it. We are going to try to use miles to upgrade to more comfortable seating, but that doesn't really make up for all the indignities of being treated like a potential terrorist.

    Of course, if you sail over, you'll be spoiled and pampered for the entire trip.

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  20. But I think the entire process of flying has become less and less tolerable over time.

    Mike, I agree. At any age, flying is not as glamorous as it once was. I can speak from first-hand experience that there's been a huge change in 50 years.

    You know, if you watch closely, Cunard has amazing bargains on trans-Atlantic cruises from time to time.

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  21. Yes they do ... and I know the offers sometimes come with return air included, sometimes round trip by sea.

    Regular cruise lines have repositioning cruises in spring and fall that are always a bargain. They are on the long side, however, usually 10-14 days because they include a few stops along the way. One of the nicest cruises we every took was a repositioning cruise from England to Boston with stops in Scotland, the Faroes, the Shetlands, Iceland, and a few of the Canadian Maritimes.

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  22. Mike, Grandpère doesn't want me to leave again for such a long time, and he won't travel away from home for more than a week, so one of the long cruises would not be feasible either. I think it's time for me to travel closer to home.

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  23. It'll soon be a memory. Don't listen to her. She'll be back!

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  24. Don't listen to her.

    But I will listen to Grandpère. Nearly 3 weeks was too long to be away from each other.

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  25. SR, in a sailboat? Well, it would have to be a large sailing yacht for me even to consider crossing the ocean, although I do love to sail.

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  26. And if you again get stuck in Newark Airport, or if you want to take a layover, REMEMBER TO CALL ME. We are just 32 minutes away.

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  27. Paul (A.), I would not have called anyone in the middle of the night. And the reports from the airline kept getting pushed back and back, so we couldn't leave the airport.

    If I ever do make the trip again through Newark, I may take you up on your offer of a layover, because I can't do what I did this time again either way. In fact, a one night layover both ways would be just about perfect. Be careful what you offer....

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  28. Paul (A.)'s invitation is seconded by me--be sure to put us on your itinerary!

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  29. Catherine, thank you. Such a layover would have made all the difference in the world.

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