Sunday, 30 August 2009

Departing England

Having made everything completely ready the previous day, we had nothing to do all night... well, okay, we weren't THAT organized. I stayed up all night, cleaning up my room, sorting out what was to go in hand luggage and what into the hold, and Threshing. (What a surprise.) Lots of stuff gets thrown out, of course, but the stuff we're taking takes all available space. As everyone knows, the primary purpose of clothing is to do the job that trucks or bubble wrap do in mundane packages - cushioning the important stuff, in this case DVDs and books and stuff.

Michael's alarm was set for 3:45, but at 3:30 he was up already. I'd already nipped down to the office and found out that, contrary to our previous thinking, we would be able to leave our keys there in the office; so at 4:05, we headed down, towing all our luggage (two trundlies, two backpacks, two things-in-hand) down the flights of stairs. Fortunately it wasn't raining, so it was a pleasant stroll. Unfortunately, we were heading to upper Buxton, the market square, so we had a bit of a climb.

Sharp to 4:30AM, the bus arrives. Two one-way to the airport - L8.80. Not too bad. Friendly driver. Surprisingly, quite a few other passengers, even at this hour! Seventy minutes' journey later, we arrive at the airport, having gone through some territory familiar to both of us, although we hadn't seen most of it for two years. Heaps of time before our flight, so we made our way through customs etcetera, and then looked for breakfast. Not many options unfortunately; I figure a "breakfast hot bacon roll" for L3.35 should be passable (everything's overpriced in airports, so that's no surprise). It's not. The bacon was hot, but that was all. I think they just have bacon constantly hot, and just pull out a few rashers, drop 'em on a bread roll, and call it done. Not impressed.

When finally our flight is given a gate, we make our way down there. According to the boarding passes, the gate CLOSES at 7:30 (for an 8:00 flight); but owing, we suspect, to some other flights being late departing, this flight didn't get a gate till nearly that time, and loading started (with one wheelchair) at 7:27. Primary loading wasn't for another ten minutes, but once it happened, was efficient enough that pushback was able to happen at 7:59. (How? Largely because we all walked out onto the tarmac and then mounted stairs into the aircraft... using two doors. Two doors doubles throughput through all those highly-congested aisles!) Bit of delay getting moving after that; lots of planes taking off. We launched at 8:16.

Uneventful flight to Dublin. Landed 8:52AM; boarding passes for the connecting flight to JFK said gate closes 9:15. Having seen what happened on the first, I was prepared for a change to that, but still didn't want to risk it. We burn it through the walking parts of the transfer, then cool our heels queueing up to go through customs and stuff. Takes ages at some of the steps. And here it is, 10:35, flight scheduled to depart 10:30, and I'm sitting in seat 14A (funny, I think a Puffing Billy loco cab is a tad bigger than this) waiting for the crew to finish pre-departure checks. Traal's battery crashed out on me in Manchester, so I lost all my loaded tabs, including vital info about our US domestic flights; hopefully we will be able to get onto wifi in JFK!

The first airliner flight I went on, I was able to charge my laptop on the plane. Since then... never duplicated the luxury - why not? Is it that hard to provide 110V to every seat, or every pair? Oh well. Yay, pushback - 10:39AM. Traal suspend.

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