*This is of course from my trip home, so was written before my last post*
It’s becoming a habit of mine to do a bit of a travel log on my long haul journeys. Passes the time a bit for me, and informs and hopefully entertains you.
4:45am (will carry through with our time zone)- up and getting last-minute baggage stuff sorted. Beginning of 24 hours of traveling
6:15am- cleverly, my mum has put the tickets under my name, stupidly I try to find them under her name. We eventually sort it out but not before I manage to tip my suitcase over onto the barriers, which results in a domino effect of falling barriers. But it’s ok, I play the “I’m in a wheelchair” card and people are quite helpful. Our bags are underweight, for the first time in my life.
My wheelchair sets the alarm off- apparently there is some metal on it.
7:25am- we stop at Boots to get an earphone splitter which I already have but forgot 😦 there is a cool handheld device that boils an individual mug of water, I think it’s cool, James thinks it’s stupid. Either way I love Boots and random travel stuff in general.
We have one last proper cup of English tea.
We try to play hive but I decide it’s too early to try to be thinking. James is unusually chipper. He’s worrying about his paperwork.
7:30am- our meet up time with a very chipper special assistance staff member. So far the highlight. He says they are understaffed which is annoying because it means he actually has to work. I apologise and he says I can make it up to him by just going to the plane by myself, so he doesn’t have to go out in the rain. I say so far I am actually very impressed with the accessibility services at Bham INTL and we have a jab at rubbish Heathrow. He tells us about a very quiet man he helped the other day who panicked when he got on the plane. While he was trying to calm him down the man’s wife came over and just slapped him across the face! Saying he had spent the last 3 months watching Airplane Investigation. They ended up having to get off the flight because he couldn’t cope. Mr. Assistance Man says there are so many stories he could tell us about the airport and we start feeling slightly less safe 😉 Last year they shut the runway down for 6 hours because of ice despite having heated runways. Brilliantly, it costs less for them to shut the airport down than to turn the heating on! That was well thought through. When we get outside James takes one look at the plane and says, “This… is not a good plane.” And fair enough, it is pretty small. Mr. Assistance Man says its ok, “they’ve wound up the propellers very tightly with rubber bands.” He also tells me I might not find my wheelchair in Dusseldorf because he reckons he can get 70 quid for it on eBay.
Bham INTL is definitely beating Heathrow.
8:30am- Take off! First stop Düsseldorf. Just a few hours. James wants me to turn my iPod off so I don’t cause the plane to crash. I am practicing my German skills with James’ assistance. We just got some yogurt and granola! And a cuppa tea! I’m liking Lufthansa. James doesn’t want his, so double for me 🙂 he isn’t keen on the whole flight thing and I’m apparently not allowed to make jokes about us crashing. He watches too many films. He is sleeping, or pretending to sleep, or just trying to not look nervous ;). The guy beside us is doing the cross across your chest prayer. We wonder if we should hold his hand as well.
James’ ability to sleep is obnoxious. And enviable.
Mostly boring because of cloud cover. Letting up now though and seeing some of Germany.
James’ mum got us a cool game that is a cross of scrabble and boggle for the trip. Just opened it, our first Christmas present:)
(Local time) 10:30am- on German soil! They can pronounce my name:)
” Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” we keep being asked. James does a bit, but I sprechen English. We are amused at the way they phrase their instructions. Rather than “can you stay here” they say “you must stay here” or “you must wait.” There is no question, everything is said as a statement. “We are German, do as we say” 😛 The advertising is also humorously straightforward. No Minnesota nice here!
We are watching a few kids who are tethered to their mother. Two on leashes, one her back. Mental Mum! The little girl has put her leash around her ankles and her brother seized the opportunity to push her over. The boy is now playing sledge dog and trying to pull his mum away from the help desk.
12:45pm- take of
… The kids are sat right behind us. The man beside us jokes that he wishes he had paid extra for first class because he “barely likes his own kids.” Ouch. So there are 3 kids behind us, and 5 directly to the side of us, all under 7ish. Could be a long flight.
I’m impressed with these airplane blankets. Top notch. I suppress the urge to nick one.
We are putting our headphone jack to good use and watching Suits.
1:45- after 8 hours we are back where we started, flying over England. A bit counter intuitive.
Suits is brilliant. I am a fan.
Lunch! Pasta, bread, salad, Camembert and a brownie! 🙂 plus a cuppa tea after. My and James’ Camembert skinning skills are pretty excellent.
It’s nice to have a travel companion 🙂
6:30pm- The person in front of me has her chair all the way back. The kid behind me is kicking and kicking… And kicking. Not ideal.
7pm… Seriously, control your child! Just two hours left. Food soon??
9ish- arrival at Chicago airport. Get through customs easily because of the wheelchair, a nice perk. James remarks how he just loves Americans because we are so nice. Which I find strange, cause when it comes to airports I think we can be pretty rubbish.
They scan our tags and inform us that our flight is at 6:30… Tomorrow. We are a bit confused and slightly concerned. We explain that we are pretty sure our flight is 6:30 today and they get the supervisor right on it. Luckily, we do not have to be airport vagabonds as the tickets were just incorrect. They take our bags for us and direct us to our gate. James reiterates how much he loves Americans 😉
We have to go through security again now that we have entered the US. I roll up to the security gate and ask if I should go through the doorway metal detector as I obviously cannot fit through the normal one. An annoying security man who is a right pain says I should go through the one that requires me to stand. I say I would prefer to go through the other. He says I can’t do that and I ask why, informing him that I have been through many airports and have always gone through the doorway metal detector. His response is, “well think about it.. it’s metal!” Wow, that you Mr. Security Man, I had no idea. I regret doing this, but I give in and go through the scanner that I have to stand up in. I regret it because it was absolutely against the law for him to make me do it. The lady who helps me through the scanner makes sure I am ok and a asks who made me get out of my chair. I tell her what happened and she is very apologetic. They pull James through the line to come help. While I have the ability to stand I am very upset with the way the man spoke to me and made me get up, something he had no right to do. They ask me if I would be willing to speak with the supervisor and I agree (happy that it will be addressed). I explain to her what happened and they immediately pull the man from his work and start telling him off right behind us, awkward! We hurry to put our stuff into our bags so that we can leave before things get messy. All in all I am frustrated not for myself, but that he had the audacity to treat me the way he did when I obviously required special assistance. I said something so that hopefully, the next person who comes along will not be treated that way.
I have forgotten to declare an apple I’ve put in James’ bag. He tells me to say it’s my bag so that they take me papers instead of his. He is still a bit paranoid about being let into the country. They have a good look at my papers and search my bag and we are back on our way.
We buy some sandwiches and James is worried he hasn’t brought enough money. I remind him that airport prices in no way reflect real world prices. He is being lovely and rubbing my ankles for a bit while I lie down and watch suits. What more could you ask for of a layover 🙂
We’ve spotted Lady Grantham. Uncanny resemblance.
I have a 10 minute staring contest with a 6 month old girl in the tram on the way to the gate. She has huge, beautiful eyes. Her family lives in Tokyo and has been traveling 24 hours now. Travelling with kids would be tough!
James has just said “you being in a wheelchair is really good!” apparently this makes up for all the bad stuff, fair enough. Other than the security incident, It is much easier. They take our bags for us, lead us to our gates, let us on first, let us through customs first, etc. All in all a good experience, Chicago is doing pretty well facility wise for accessibility.
We’ve just seen the news of the shooting in CT and watch for a while in a small airport shop. Absolutely gutting. I pray for the families and can’t bear to think what they are going through.
Local time 6:45, our time 12:45, hours traveling: 20-
3rd and final flight.
A bit in awe of the leg room on this flight. The attendant was really great and moved us up to the front. My legs are fully stretched out up on my bag! Ankles much happier.
We can’t decide whether the flight attendant is drunk or has just been doing this a few years too many.
There are kids behind us again, their mum has requested sick bags. Lovely.
Chicago from the air on a clear night is definitely up there in my favourite flight views. Absolutely stunning. I wanted a picture but James wouldn’t let me turn on my iPod because the light wasn’t off yet… So English and obedient of him.
Less than one hour till we are home!!!
I keep saying cheers instead if thanks and have just realised I probably sound a bit funny.
The sick-bag people behind us ask if James is from New Zealand, he says Birmingham and the couple’s little girl recites a well-practiced explanation of where she is from, “I was born in Malaysia, grew up in Indonesia, live in Hong Kong, and am visiting Minnesota!”
8:30pm local time, 2:30am ours- We arrive safely at the airport, collect our bags, and wait outside for my family to come pick us up. I confuse my sister and dad by calling them from my brother’s phone and my dad even asks who I am. Forgotten so quickly.. 😛
10pm local time, 4am ours- after almost 24 hours of travelling we make it home, have a bit to eat and head to bed. Happy to have beds and ready to start a lovely holiday in the morning 🙂
Love from back stateside!