This blog entry is on the longer side. It depicts my 22 hour journey to Vegas from London:
I’m actually writing this whilst sitting on the plane to Vegas at New Ark Airport (New York). Today has been a pretty crazy day so far.
It started off with me waking up late at the Premier Inn near Heathrow in London and consequently having to pass up on breakfast. No big deal I thought, I could get something to eat at the airport.
So I proceeded to checkount and to catch the bus-transfer to Heathrow airport. I was informed the night before that I would be transferred to Terminal 3 and would need to proceed to Terminal 4 from there. This didn’t appear troublesome to me…
As I arrive at Terminal 3, after some brief intermissions envolving bus stops and bus driver switches, I immedeately locate the main entrance to Terminal 3 and walk in reluctant to find directions of how to make it to Terminal 4. Turns out things weren’t as straightforward as I had imagined and I end up getting sent back out of the building to a smaller building which reads ‚Transfers to Terminal 4‘.
Now this is where it starts to get ineresting. At Terminal 4 I head to the tickets counter of Continental Airlines. I remember speaking to Dodgy(ken) last year about getting cheap upgrades to flights before the flight leaves. At the time I was thinking 1-200 pounds for an upgrade that will increase my comfort and enable me to possibly plug in my laptop and watch some dvds on an 8 hour flight was worth it. I ask how much such a service wold cost and the lady at the counter replies ‚3000 pounds sir‘. I look at her mildly astonished and utter something along the lnes of ‚that’s a lot on a 300 pounds flight‘. The smirk on her face let me know there was a reason why business/first class was comparatively unreasonably priced…
Anyhow I made my way to the check-in counter where I had to deal with pre-homeland security. I input all of my details into the machine, and get my tickets printed. The next step is to put my luggage on the check-in belt. ‚Where are you travelling to?‘ I am asked. ‚Cleveland‘ my answer, but it was not well received. ‚Cleveland!?!‘ she exclamaited, ‚I think you are to late for that flight!‘ I check my watch and it reads 10.55. My flight is leaving at 11.40. The lady checks with her colleagues and informs me that they won’t let me through to the gate, even though I’m already checked in, as you have to be checked in atleast 1 hour before the flight leaves latest. After some more discussion with her colleagues the lady is advised to ‚take me out‘… of the computer and send me to the ticket desk to review my options.
Without being fully aware of the consequences of my delay in checking in, as I have never missed a flight before, I proceeded to the ticket counter. At this point I’m thinking of how random it was of me to miss my flight:
a) I wasn’t checking the time, because I arrived at the airport about 1hour 20 minutes before my flight was to take off.
b) I missed a transfer train on the way to terminal 4, resulting in a 15 minute wait.
c) I spent atleast 5 minutes talking to the lady at the ticket desk about flight upgrades. She later actually admitted that she should have told me to go and check-in.
As I approach the ticket desk for the second time, the worst and best possible outcomes are going through my mind. The best being no extra charges and a quick connection (possibly quicker than my previous one), the worst being me having to pay 600 pounds for a new ticket and possibly not leaving the same day :/.
We manage to settle for a flight to New York leaving in 5 minutes at an extra charge of 75 pounds. When I say ‚we settled for‘, I mean it’s the next flight she mentioned was leaving and given my previous analysis it sounded like a good call.
I rush back to the check-in to get everything sorted and 9 hours later I am in New York where it is my destiny to meet my friends, Homeland Security . Before you go through customs they give you forms to fill out. Some of the questions literally ask you if you are a former spy or terrorist.
Not quite done filling out the forms yet I reach the homeland security desk. Where the inquisition begins. I attempt to be polite and smile, but my efforst are not rewarded. ‚Purpose of travel?‘ I am asked coldly, ‚Where are you staying?‘, ‚How much money do you have on you?‘, ‚What are you doing in Vegas?‘, ‚What address are you stayng at?‘. Note how I am repeatedly asked the same questions over and over. At this point I am slightly frustrated, but I relaize that at the same time these tactics are commonly utilized to unmask frauds. It’s interesting that as I tell her I am a poker player she seems somewhat relieved and she says ‚So you are going to Vegas to gamble!‘, ‚Why didn’t you say so, that’s all I wanted to know.‘ I thought for a brief second about objecting as to me being a gamlber, but resisted. She gave me my Visa and I proceeded to the main area of New Ark.
Last year when I came to Vegas, Venessa aka Princessdonk picked up a pay as you go phone for me. Originally I only wanted a card, but she told me it would not work with my phone, even though it was an unlocked quad-band phoe. Turned out it actually really didn’t work which was surprising to me at the time. Anyway leading from there, I thought I might try and pick up a pay as you go card from the airport to cut costs early.
My mobile phone service provider doesn’t offer any roaming packages for the US sadly. So the costs of using my phone are enormous. I think I must be paying like 50 cents to send a text message. The sales-woman told me it would be 80$ to get a card plus 30 minutes credit.
As somebody who is a frequent traveller, this number immedeatly struck me as very high. In Europe you can get a pay as you go card for 20€ inlcuding 10€ in credit which is about 28$. The lady proceeded to ensure me that her pricing was normal, but I didn’t believe her, which she sensed and proceeded to be, let’s just say, noticeably less enthusiastic about me as a customer. At his point I think It’s needless to say that I was ecstatic about the occurences of the day so far.
I had about 1 hour left till my flight departed and I knew there was only one thing left that I could do to cheer me up…an episode of BlackAdder. When I at first started watching this series I was sceptical about it, but I have rather taken the liking to it. It’s also funny seeing Rawn Atkinson and Hugh Laurie in their earlier days. The imagery of Mr. Bean and Dr. House are so burnt into my head when I see them, that it is actually rather refreshing to see them in different roles.
And so this has been the story of my day so far. As I sit here writing this with my now very blunt pencil, completely nackered, it is about 3.20 am my time, but only 9.20pm New Yrok time. I can only hope for better things to come.