Tag Archives: american airlines

The Trip — 2016: Part 29 — Arriving Home

Once again our plane is a Boeing 777-300, very comfortable and smooth. We took off about three-thirty — a delay of about an hour and a half with arrival in LA scheduled to be about 6:10 pm.

I got a copy of the Wall Street Journal and The London Times and read through the taxiing and takeoff until it was time to eat. Well, at least, until it was time for a Jack Daniels or three.

The meal consisted of:

Starter — Prosciutto and Mozzarella with melon

Salad — Spinach and frisée with strawberries and blue cheese and yogurt dressing

Entrée — Seared white halibut with beurre blanc sauce, champagne risotto and grilled asparagus

Dessert — Gourmet cheese plate of red cheddar, blue cheese stick and Montero farmer white

It all tasted quite good. Filling but not stuffing.

Di watched movies on her video screen, and I worked on my Trip photos for most of our very smooth flight. Toward its end we were served another light meal, salad and sandwich and dessert. I also drank several glasses of ice water — no more Jack.

Touchdown at LAX was 6:20 pm. We waited until everyone else had deplaned before leaving. The scooter, despite the best efforts of the crew was not delivered to the plane’s door but a wheelchair was there and the scooter was waiting when we exited the boarding tunnel. A minute to put it together and we were off to Immigration and Baggage — it was, again, a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g walk and a couple of lift rides, as Di’s scooter cannot negotiate stairs or escalators.

Note: The elevators/lifts in this section of LAX only have access to two floors: the floor you are on and the floor Immigration wants you on.

Immigration was extremely busy as several planes had recently landed, including the three hundred people from our flight. We were allowed to use either the automated processing or Special Assistance and after a glance at the long lines opted for Assistance. A few minutes later we were through passport control/immigration and headed to the Baggage area.

We were passed on the way to baggage by several young (18-22) men who had been on our flight and had exited at the opening of the plane’s doors. They had waited in lines long enough for us old slowpokes to catch up and pass them — chortle.

Our luggage carousel (3) was just beginning to unload baggage from an AA flight just in from Mexico and a few minutes later began to disgorge the baggage from our flight as well. Wonder of wonders, less than ten minutes later I had all four of our suitcases and onto our last check by Immigration.

I handed him our customs declaration, a quick glance and we were out. Up the tunnel and into a sea of faces and name cards from drivers — ah ha, the driver who had taken us to LAX in June was right there. I called to Charlie, who was ahead of me and the driver took my cart. The time was 7:40 pm — an hour and twenty minutes after touchdown and we were out.

Because of the crowds and construction, our driver had to park in a lot several minutes walk away from the Tom Bradley International Terminal — that walk and a smoke for Di had us in the car at 8:00 pm on the dot. There was still a good deal of traffic on surface streets and the 405 Freeway, but we pulled up at our driveway a minute before nine. Home.

I walked Charlie to the bench outside our front door and then helped the driver with the rest of our luggage. The house key was actually in the carry-on where I remembered leaving it and I soon had the door open, the alarm switched off and Charlie deposited in her garden room.

The cats said “Hello” and “Where the heck have you been?” I brought in the luggage, put the scooter in the garage, made Charlie a cup of tea (decaffeinated Earl Grey) and sat down exhausted. Time enough tomorrow (or Saturday) for emptying the suitcases. “Zzzzzzz . . . ”

(to be continued / concluded?)

The Trip — 2016: Part 28 — Leaving England

We checked out of The Swan at Streatley at nine-thirty this morning and rode to Heathrow with the same driver who took us to Newbury yesterday and arrived at Terminal 5 shortly before eleven. Our itinerary told us to go to Terminal 5; however, BA said that our flight (actually on American Airlines like our flight to London) was leaving from Terminal 3. We are currently waiting for a Special Assistance bus to take us to Terminal 3.

Trip - Di and luggage in the bus

Di and luggage in the bus

Well, at slightly after noon the assistance bus arrived. The driver lowered the ramp in the back and then stopped traffic so that Di could drive her scooter into the back of the bus. He then loaded the luggage and we were off. The trip to terminal 3 took about ten minutes, without any stops or hang-ups along the way. We were quickly unloaded and . . . Di needs a last smoke before going into the terminal.

The AA desks are to the right of our entry and there is no one in line ahead of us. We are quickly processed except for the scooter. After about ten minutes the clerk finally clears things dealing with Di’s scooter and up into the lift we go to go through Security.

Again, Di’s scooter gets us the short line, which really isn’t too much shorter than the long line. Five or fewer minutes later we are through Security and into the shops and headed for Lounge H — AA’s Admiral’s Lounge. It’s a small lounge but there is warm food and cold drinks. I have a bit of lunch and a drink. Di has a cup of tea and a couple of pieces of chocolate cake and some bread and butter.

Our flight appears to be delayed a bit, but I don’t know how long a delay.

Just checked at the entry to the lounge and it seems as though the two o’clock flight to LA is now the three-fifteen flight to LA and should start boarding from Gate 27 about two-thirty or in about thirty-five minutes.

Well, I went shopping. First I went to a couple of book/magazine type stores and tried to get a crossword puzzle book — but, they only have British style crossword puzzle books. And, second, I went to buy some whisky. That took me to World of Whiskies. I found some that the clerk told me were not exported to the US — maybe, maybe not, but they are not generally available in Britain. I bought two bottles of Auchentoshan which I had enjoyed at the Quod Restaurant in Oxford. I hope they’ll taste as good in the US.

Trip - View from the lounge

View from the lounge

Returning to the AA lounge at about two twenty-five, I found that our flight was already boarding at Gate 27 — Di didn’t know because the announcements did not reach the part of the lounge in which I had found seats.

Gathering our stuff together, we ventured out into the Heathrow pathways and slideways to Gate 27. Upon arrival we were given assistance and shunted, after passport checks, etc., to the front of the line into the aircraft. Di drove her scooter to the aircraft door, escorted past everyone else, of course, and put on board. I brought our hand-carry items to our seats — garnering some comments along the way about her riding and me having to carry both her and my carry-on luggage — and then went back to fold up the scooter so that it could be stowed in the cargo hold and brought to us at LAX without delay. (Of course, they wouldn’t let me off the plane to go some six feet and fold up the scooter until they got an OK from Security.)

After stowing our gear in the overheads Di had some OJ and I some champagne while we waited for everyone else to finish boarding and the flight to begin.

(To be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 2

The next problem had nothing to do with the government but with American Express.

Charlie made our flight reservations through an American Express (https://travel.americanexpress.com/home) travel agent. She, very explicitly, wanted to fly British Airways (https://www.britishairways.com/travel/home/public/en_us) and was assured by the travel agent that our flight to the UK was on BA. It turned out, however, that the BA flight, operated by American Airlines, was actually an American Airlines (https://www.aa.com/homePage.do) flight.

BOOM! The fecal matter met the rapidly spinning rotary impeller.

She proceeded to spend many, many hours on the phone with BA and AA and AMEX trying to find out how they would handle her battery-powered scooter (http://www.tzora.com/Easy%2DTravel%2DScooter.html) and batteries and whether it would be allowed on the flight at all. Phone tag played with customer service representatives shunting her off to the next company’s customer service representative. And round and round we go unable to get definitive answers to just about any substantive question. Phone Tag Hell.

Eventually, it boiled down to: Yes, she could bring her scooter. No, no spare batteries. No, bring the sealed dry-cell battery and not the longer-range lithium-ion battery. Yes, the plane check-in and departure would be from the Tom Bradley International terminal at LAX. Well, sort of . . .

Trip -- Di on Tzora Scooter

Di on Tzora Scooter

Thursday — We arrived at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport — http://www.lawa.org/welcomeLAX.aspx) about two and a half hours before our scheduled departure and entered the Tom Bradley International terminal. Looking at the displays, we, to my wife’s great displeasure found that our flight’s check-in was not at TB but at the next terminal in line — Terminal #4.

It was the matter of a three-minute walk, for me with our luggage and Charlie on her scooter, to get to Terminal 4 and then a couple of more minutes to find check-in. Five minutes later we were at the front of the short line and spent the next ten or twenty minutes going through the formalities with boarding passes, luggage and scooter and sorting things out.

Then on to the lift, elevator, and through security — less than ten minutes in line. I went through the regular line while Charlie, seated in her scooter, got some individual attention. Following this was a l – o – n – g hike (especially as I was carrying all of our carry-on bags) across the bridge from Terminal 4 to TB and the very last gate to board our plane.

Less than fifteen minutes later we were pre-boarded and ensconced in our Business Class lay-down seats. The only hassles being removing the twenty-pound battery from Charlie’s scooter and folding it up so the attendant could put it in cargo (while I put the battery in my seat storage area on the plane’s floor). I then returned to the front of the plane and helped Charlie through the aisles to our seats at the very back of Business Class (right in front of the toilet so Charlie would not have to walk any distance when she would need the facilities).

As I also had the battery charger with me (no, it was not packed away in our luggage), I was able to re-charge it during the flight. Clothes can be replaced without too many problems if the carrier loses our luggage. Her scooter charger and her medicines would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace if lost on the way to Europe so they were all a part of our carry-on luggage with our electronics and cameras.

The plane was a Boeing 777-300 (https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/experience/planes/boeing-777-300er.jsp) with comfortable seating and an excellent entertainment suite. Charlie took the window seat, and I got the interior seat with no outside view (dirty word, dirty word, dirty word). But that’s how it is when we travel.

Although Business Class is quite expensive compared with Coach, Di’s medical problems do not allow her to travel comfortably in Coach seating. As we do not travel by plane more than a couple of times each decade, we find the expense tolerable and can juggle our budgets sufficiently to afford the expense. I cringe a bit when looking at the actual financial figures, but . . . .

(to be continued)