2009 TRIP TO ENGLAND, by Colin L. Miller

Intro May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31 June 01 June 02 June 03 June 04 June 05 June 06 June 07 June 08 June 09 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 Expense Report

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Departing home and heading out on the road was a bit more enjoyable this time. I didn't have to compete with fellow commuters. I also drove past the office and left it far behind while all the others were going to work. The trip to Tucson was smooth, with light traffic and few trucks on Interstate 10. I parked at a $3.50/day lot (+taxes/fees). These lots were nice: as soon as I drove in the attendant signaled the waiting shuttle van, which followed me to my parking spot. I was the only one riding, so the drive to the terminal was quick. Check-in was easy as I didn't check any suitcases. A service person assisted with the kiosk. It scanned the barcode of my passport and printed up the boarding passes. Then on to the security checkpoint. With all my junk in the carry-on and the computer bag, I made it through quickly, although they checked the computer bag again as it was stuffed with cords, cables, batteries, etc. In the gate area, there was free and unrestricted Wi-Fi, so I went to a quiet table overlooking the runways, pulled out my little netbook, and did some browsing.

Then it was time to board Continental (BTA) Flight 2156. The plane was a tiny jet, an Embraer EMB-145XR. My carry-on was too big for the tiny overhead baggage compartment, so it was loaded into the cargo hold. The plane only had one small seat on the left and two on the right. I got the solitary one, which was, of course, a window seat. In the air, I watched the southern Arizona scenery pass by as we headed south and east. Gradually the land changed from rugged desert to a jumbled patchwork of light and darker greens, and then to housing and industrial areas among the greenery. Finally we were at Houston. I picked up my carry-on in the jetway and headed into the terminal and onwards to the automated tram to go to the international flights terminal. The center of the terminal was something like a mall food court, with many stores and restaurants. For my next flight, I got a bottle of water from a newsstand that was strategically placed at the end of the terminal corridor at the corner of the waiting area. After getting my passport verified at the gate check-in counter, it was time for the big flight.

The plane was a big Boeing 777-200ER. Not as big as a 747 or the huge new Airbus A380, but big enough. I'd decided not to get a window seat as the flight was about 9.5 hours and I'd probably want to stretch my legs and have easy bathroom access. It was a 99% full plane, with only a seat or two free. In my area of the tail section, some of the passengers were grumpy about others bumping the backs of their seats. One pair argued that he was tall and needed more legroom so the other shouldn't recline so much, while the other called him an asshole and suggested if he needed more room he should have gotten such a seat. Fortunately, a free seat was nearby, so the tall man got some relief.

Continental Flight 32 from IAH to LHR

The plane progressed generally north-northeast over Louisiana, Arkansas, Illinois and Michigan before turning more northeast over Canada and over the Atlantic south of Greenland and Iceland. In the video monitor in the back of the seat in front of me, I watched the progress on a map. After only a few hours in it was already night.

From flightaware.com, Details for Flight 2156 from TUS to IAH, and Flight 32 from IAH to LHR

Intro May 28 May 29 May 30 May 31 June 01 June 02 June 03 June 04 June 05 June 06 June 07 June 08 June 09 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 Expense Report