Tag Archives: United Airlines

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Flying back home to the States – The tail of the adventure

Wednesday, 04-Jan-2017


Flying home from an adventure is bittersweet. Home is calling, but the road is calling too… In this case, the plethora of Scottish roads that hadn’t been explored were calling pretty loud.

Oregon also has roads and mountains that need to be explored too though. Our own bed and Ollie were also calling pretty loudly… or at least barking and wagging at the thought of seeing us. Whether Ollie or us were the ones barking and wagging is still a point of debate.

Flights! Metal birds carrying us home!

Bill and Greta dropped us off at Aberdeen airport mid-morning for our short hop to London. This was our only non-fancy flight of the trip, though honestly it didn’t feel like it. European airlines still beat the pants of US airlines, in terms of comfort and service. That first picture, of the awesome breakfast? Yep. That’s what coach gets in the UK.

London was quick, nothing really of note. We landed, got on a new plane, and then took off again. London airport did have a pretty cool lounge, though. Very excellent butter chicken. Seriously. Everywhere. Everywhere in the UK serves butter chicken. If it’s not the official dish yet, it should be.

Then – a long flight. Like… you don’t understand how long this flight was. London to San Francisco. 13 hours, or something like that.

But we had comfy chairs! And movies! And booze! So much booze! I think we got up to 8 or 10 glasses, by the end of it… and that wasn’t even trying too hard. It reminded me of when I flew back to the States from New Zealand, and they had free drinks. Make the most of it, right?

We did make the most of it. They didn’t have the lobster mac and cheese that I was hoping for (that’s only East Coast to UK, it turns out), but they did have some amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup that I made great use of. And dinner? Ohh man… appetizers, main courses, desserts, wine… yeah. We enjoyed our flight.

An excellent end to an excellent vacation.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flight to the UK

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flight to the UK

Flight to the UK – Tuesday, 20-Dec-2016 & Wednesday, 21-Dec-2016

We left Portland just before midnight, on Tuesday the 20th.

As always, the days and hours before we left were stressed and filled with craziness – packing, dropping Ollie off at her puppy sitters, dropping Sarah’s car off at the shop, and just getting the ten thousand little things done that needed to be done.

But, as time stops for no one (especially not people trying to make a flight) we were soon rocketing our way over to Washington D.C. on my first business-class experience. And it was an experience! Our first flight (PDX to D.C.) was on a smaller plane, which didn’t have the full Polaris Experience (United’s fancy-awesome service), but it was still definitely something to remember. Drinks were complementary, as was food… but we’d expected that. What we didn’t expect was the conversation that we got to overhear from our seatmates, who were… ahh… ‘taking advantage of the complimentary liquor’, let’s say…

  • “There’s a time for diplomacy, and then there’s a time to kill” – a retired Air Force UAV pilot
  • “I’m really smart, you know. I used to be a chef major… until I started having sex with my math teacher. But I didn’t start dating him until the end of the semester, after I got my A” – an Insurance salesperson, flirting with said Air Force pilot
  • “Marriage is Marriage. But…” – Said salesperson, again flirting with said Air Force Pilot

The second leg of our flight was noticeably less adventurous… possibly because we were sitting together, instead of apart… but possibly because both Sarah and I slept clean through the whole event. We’d stayed up late, and barely got any sleep on the PDX to D.C. flight, and since the D.C. to London flight was so short, it gave us just enough time to have a nice nap before descending into the UK.

(Note: Ben was super bummed out that he slept through the whole flight. He’d loved the fancy champagne and other drinks that started the flight out, and had been really looking forward to the mid-flight meal of Lobster Mac & Cheese, which he missed due to being asleep at the time)

Once we landed, we visited a very rare and unique (read: we saw like 50 of them throughout our trip) cafe named ‘Cafe Nero’… which I had thought was all cool and special when Daniel brought us to back in July. But it was still a nice stopover before London, giving a chance to re-convene and take our bearings. Then a train into London, and a cabbie to our first stop of the adventure.

Our lodging for the first leg of the trip was an organic restaurant that also hosted a Bed and Breakfast in the floors above the dining area.

Our cab dropped us off, and after a whole slew of adventures with credit cards, US Dollars, and Euros, we finally had him paid and got ourselves in to meet the host, a very friendly French Armenian man named Raffi.

Raffi was hospitable. Like… seriously, grandmother-level hospitable. We had to convince him to show us the room so we could put our bags down, because he was so focused on making us plates of food. And the food! Ohh man… when we scheduled this place, we saw that it included two meals a day; one of the reasons we picked it. We thought those meals would be from the shop, but we didn’t realize that this was a top-notch fancy restaurant. As in artfully-arranged lasagna, calamari, shells, quiche, all stylized with fancy presentation.

We checked out the room. We ate. We chatted and learned a bit. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Then we slept. The sleep that only tired travelers can sleep. A sleepy sleep.

Christmas in Arizona: The flight from Boston.


A southwestern Christmas – Vacation in Arizona

Sunday, 22-Dec-13 through Saturday, 28-Dec-13


Sunday, 22-Dec

  • After a bit of adventure earlier in the day, Terese drops me off at Logan right around quarter after three – easily enough time to get to the gate… as long as security is nice to me…
  • I get to the TSA checkpoint at 3:20, and it takes me a full 20min to get through. Seriously. I am through security by 3:40. It was easier to get through TSA’s scanner than it was to get through the ticket line to get my dang boarding pass.
  • Funny story of the security line… I’m behind a black kid, who’s dressed pretty nice, but has the stereotypically horrid sagging pants. One of the TSA agents gives him some shit about it, telling him that having a belt would make everything a lot easier. His response? “Dude! I do have one – You guys took my belt!” The agent, of course, looked extremely sheepish. To his credit he did apologize, but not before giving the kid a complete pat down and scan.
  • After getting to my gate and seeing that I had roughly a century before boarding, I pull out the phone and chat with Mom & Dad. Then? I relax and write. This gate… I’ve been here too many times. Leaving for Venezuela, coming back from Sao Paulo, seriously. It’s almost a second home; it easily has enough stories.
  • The flight to Dallas… Boooooooring. Seriously. Nothing to say about it, I just sit in my seat and awkwardly wish that the people next to me were even remotely interesting… or at least interested in chatting.
  • We land in Dallas, but my flight out is delayed… Excellent! That means I have time to hunt for something to EAT…. But there’s nothing. Nothing. With a capital N. Seriously, it’s 10:00 and nothing is open… at all. Seriously?
  • Bar! Bar is open, and it’s named something BBQ-ish! And… they have salads. Literally only salads. Wtf.
  • Qdoba is the only place open. Damn it all to a freezing doom. Fine, ok. Whatever. I order up a Burrito and run back to my gate, where I snack on chips until we board.
  • Get on the plane after watching some poor guy fighting with the airline. I eat the burrito, while making happy-noises that kinda creep out my neighbor. Whatever. He just wishes that he had a burrito like mine.
  • The guy who was fighting with the airline gets on the plane and sits behind me. Cool! That means that I hear the story:
    • Him and a few others (all sitting nearby) were flying in from Toronto, but their flight out was delayed… so American sold his tickets. Seriously, they sold them off in like three hours. All of them.
    • But… our flight was delayed too. So now they can make the flight, but their seats are already sold. “We’ll put you on a flight tomorrow”… wtf, no. They’re going to a conference or something, so that’s not really an option. So fighting and battling and running between terminals commences, just to get them tickets… finally the airline figures out that there’s a lot of people who didn’t show up and/or canceled, so they Toronto folks get put on, and we can move along.
  • Looks like, even with Toronto, this will be another boring fli…. <sleeps>
  • Can barely wake up, but get moving and meet Dad at the airport. Wow Arizona is warm!
  • Chat as we drive back home, chill, see the upgraded house, and crash asleep