Travel Adventures (Or How My Airplane Karma Really, Really, Really Sucks)

We arrived in London on Saturday.  It’s been cool and rainy ever since.  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to put on a sweater and/or raincoat.  After almost 2 years in a disgustingly hot and humid climate, being chilly is like my own personal heaven.

Our flight here was not without adventure, however.  Waiting for my plane in SDO, I ran into a few of my wife’s colleagues, one going to Panama and one going to DC.  All our flights were in a 40-minute window, so we sat and chatted for a few before heading off to our respective gates.  Some thunderstorms were rolling in, but it’s 4:00 p.m. in SDO, when does that NOT happen?  My two friends each get on their planes, and Son and I watch them taxi and take off.  We’re up next, we board the plane, and even taxi out to the runway.  We hold for a few minutes, then the captain announces that the thunderstorm is a little stronger than expected, and we’re going to wait it out.  He also mentions that it’s quick-moving, and we should be underway in about 15-20 minutes.

An hour and 45 minutes later, we’re given the go-ahead for take-off.  Mind you I have a 2-hour layover in JFK to clear customs and immigration, get from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 with my suitcases and toddler, etc.  I ask the flight crew if they think it’s possible to make this connection in the roughly hour-long period we’ll have from touch-down to take-off of my next flight.  They assure me that it’s possible, and to help me out, they move me and Son to the first-class cabin for the remaining 30 minutes of the flight so we can disembark more quickly.

We land, and I have 1:05 to make my flight.  Luckily Dip passports are almost as good as those million-mile clubs when clearing immigration and customs in JFK.  I also had some ground crew escorting and expediting the process.  We could have made it.  I seriously think we could have made it.  The ground crew had a different idea, and decided to re-book me on an AA flight that was leaving a little later (I was originally scheduled to and excited to fly British Airways on a 10:55 p.m. flight), much to my chagrin.  I accepted, as I was not given much choice, and settled in to wait for this new flight which was supposed to take off at 11:15 p.m.  Of course, this being me, we were delayed until 12:45 a.m.  I emailed my wife (she was already in London) about my flight changes, and sent her a text, just to be sure.

Luckily, I had spent some of the time sitting in JFK to scavenge for food options (there aren’t many at 11 p.m.), and ended up with a couple of bananas, some chocolate milk, a couple of cheese slices, and some waters (for $23, mind you).  Thank god I did, because American DID NOT FEED US ON THE FLIGHT.  Beverage service and snacks only, with no option to purchase meals-in-a-box due to the fact that the plane we were flying on had landed about 30 minutes before we took off, and they were trying to minimize our delay.  Ugh.

I got almost no sleep on the plane (of course), and was ravenously hungry, but we finally landed in London at about 11:35 a.m. local time.  I collected our luggage and cleared Border Control and customs with no problem.  No sign of my wife, however.  Shit.  We had a wedding to get to by 2:45 p.m., and I had no way of contacting her.  I quickly bought a SIM card (I love the UK for this single reason: SIM card vending machines EVERYWHERE), used Skype to call my wife’s cell (no answer), and checked my email (no reply to my message).  Double shit.  We walked around the terminal for a few minutes looking for her to no avail, and then I decided I would ask where the BA flight I was originally on would have landed.  2 terminals over, of course.  Son and I schlepped our stuff onto the light rail, and made it to the other terminal (and by “Son and I,” I of course mean “I”), and after 15 minutes of searching, located my wife.  Phew.

Of course, by this point we had about 1 hour to get to the hotel, check-in, drop our things, shower, put a suit on, and take a cab to central London from Ealing.  Our Tube train had massive delays (25 minutes sitting at a stop), I had to get the wrinkles out of my suit (not too many thanks to this video), and there was traffic inbound to central London.  We missed most of the wedding ceremony, but got to hang out at the reception for a fabulous Indian banquet feast.

The end.  More about our London adventures as they happen.