Friday, 8 July 2011

Airport Adventures: Newcastle-Paris-Seattle

Experience has taught us to avoid Heathrow airport where ever possible. If anyone can lose your luggage, they can. In spite of the fact that Bill once picked up some very nice new clothes in Germany at the expense of the travel insurance people, lost luggage is not a fun start to a vacation. So, we travelled first to Paris. 

Now, the French people are lovely, but I'm not sure one could say organisational skills are their national forte. Changing planes at Charles de Gaulle was a nightmare; we couldn't tell which queue we were actually in, never mind if it was the right one. Also, see my point yesterday about airport security. I think they make up their own rules so they can enjoy their authority. However, we made the connection and saved all kinds of money not having time to do any shopping in the duty free area.   My purchase of a Chanel jacket will have to wait for another time.

Our long haul flight took us to Seattle, where we went through immigration. Having passports from different countries means Bill and I have to join separate queues. I'm always a bit uneasy, wondering where we might meet on the other side of passport control, as each airport is different. No doubt he remembers the layout of each one, but I sure don't. 

I was next-to-last in a very long queue. Sadly for me, the last two people were two 20-something American females, apparently having a soap opera life and no compunction about sharing the details. For about 20 minutes I heard: 

Hi Mom, no I'm not really in that much trouble. They knocked it down to just a misdemeanor so it won't go on my record. No, Mom, it's really OK, I won't have any jail time, just a fine. Yeah, I know, I know. No, really, Mom, like it's no big deal. I looked it up on the internet and I talked with their people and I just have to go to court, like show up and stuff. No, Mom, don't do that, don't. I can handle this, I'm not really in trouble, very much. Yeah, I know, Mom. Look, I need to go, I'm going through immigration now... 

She had at least another 10 minutes before her turn, but I'd have said the same, not that it did her any good. I could hear Mom - frustrated, yelling, ranting, bossing - because the phone was held so both girls could hear it, as well as the rest of the world (you know how those queues wrap back and forth putting loads of people in proximity?) Of course I, despising soap operas and public phone conversations, was in Hell. Can we please go back to phone booths?

I got through immigration of course, having the right sort of passport, don't you know, but then Bill didn't show for ages. I wondered if they'd decided he was a terrorist or if he'd got impatient waiting for me and wandered off. I doubled back behind the of row immigration officers and was relieved to find him still in the queue.   (Wearing a silly hat is very useful at times). 

Turns out the computer system had gone down and I was looking at a row of blank screens and impatient men wearing guns. I began to consider whether anyone in that endless queue needed a loo or if bedrolls would be provided.   According to what I overheard the system was 'only' down for 11 minutes. Strangely as soon as it came up one of the officers noticed me lurking and told me I had to move along. I moved a little, but hung about long enough to signal Bill where we could meet up.    We just had time to grab our bags - I'd spotted them ages ago - and make our connecting flight to Ontario.

That's not in Canada, by the way, it's a small airport outside of Los Angeles, about 20 minutes from Claremont, our first actual destination.

1 comment:

Jg. for FatScribe said...

oh, how you cracked me up with your travel comments over at FatScribe. you do lead the life, sharon. i really enjoy your adventures with bill and all of your walks and your posts. you make our day!