Getaway Day and Flight Diary

This past week, while I didn’t have a reliable internet connection I wrote down some thoughts and observations from the day I left Houston and my first week in London. There’s a few days worth, so I’ll post them here over the next couple of days. 

2007-09-22 – Saturday (Houston)

Grand plans are, as usual dashed to bits on the rocks of my procrastination. Last night after seeing Kara & Leslie I went home, did a couple loads of laundry and discovered that my suitcase was 10+ lbs. overweight. That was a bit surprising, considering that I’d already culled it rather ruthlessly yesterday. I suspected the culprit was the books I packed, but I really didn’t want to get into it just then. I ended up watching a few episodes of House that were Tivo’d and made sporadic attempts at finishing everything that was left before my flight. This was interspersed with times when I was so tired that I went upstairs and laid down on the bed for a while, only to awake a short time later in something of a panic. Usually I knew there was something that I was supposed to be doing, but I had a hard time remembering what it was. I’d stagger downstairs, look around at the mess and waste some doing. Repeat several times.

Finally around 11ish, I woke up somewhat rested and realized that I wasn’t going to the store, or the car wash or the bank before Kara arrived. She’d left a voice mail that she’d be there in an hour or so, so I actually began working on the luggage problem. I took out a few more things from the Ginormous Suitcase, eventually cutting a few books, towels and a pair of shoes from the roster. Folded the laundry I’d done last night and kept working thru the list. That continued until Kara arrived and we went to lunch.

After Lunch: T-1 hour to airport

Powered by Del Pueblo’s fajitas and the reliable desperation of last-minute deadlines I flew thru the remaining tasks, verified the Ginormous Suitcase was under the weight limit, transferred the goods to the newly borrowed backpack and we hit the road. After a quick trip to the bank, we did hit a snag. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kara’s friend, Jessica (I think). She called Kara when we were about halfway to the airport and as soon as Kara answered her phone I realized that I’d forgotten my cellphone back at the house. That morning I plugged it in in the kitchen to charge it up, and of course forgot it in the final packing frenzy. At that point, we had a good amount of slack in the schedule so we did a quick U-turn on the Beltway and got back the airport only about a half-hour after we planned.

Loaded up like a pack mule, I checked two bags and then submitted to the shared national indignity of security, and got to my gate. I saw a money station and even though I had the idea that it was a ripoff, I reasoned that the cash in my pocket would probably be in no better shape across the pond. Cashed in $104.90 USD for 45 GBP, which is quite a bit worse than 2:1. Still, I have British money now. Passed the time with a magazine until they called us.

A couple of interesting points. Terminal D at IAH is a ghost town, at least on Saturday afternoon. I’m not saying there was no one there, but compared to the rest of the airport, it just felt like there was a lot of room to stretch out, like they built it just for me and a few friends. Nice of them. Also, British Airways is keeping democracy alive in their boarding procedures. No (now defunct) Southwest-style cattle calls for them. Stiff upper lip and everyone get in two lines. Rich on the left (Club World), everyone else on the right and have at it. No boarding from the back first, no row groupings, nothing. Of course that may have to do with the fact that the plane is deserted as well. I have no ideas what their numbers look like but I bet that BA lost money operating this particular flight. I wonder if I would have had any luck buying a regular coach ticket and trying to haggle the premium economy or even first class out of them at the gate. As empty as this flight seems, it might have been possible.

The flight up to Detroit was uneventful. The AVOD (seat-based entertainment, a.k.a. Audio-Video On-Demand) as they insist on calling it has a decent selection of TV and movies, including The Usual Suspects, which I plan on watching after we get back in the air. Overall World Traveller Plus is nice, probably not worth all of the premium it costs, but definitely better than regular coach. I could still use a few more inches in seat width, but there’s not much that can be done about that. I’ve got the bulkhead and the legroom is impressive. I can cross my legs without hitting anything. We’re about to board the London-bound passengers from Detroit and points beyond. Hopefully the seat next to me that’s been empty since Houston will remain that way. Cross your fingers.

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