Monday, January 07, 2008

London Jan. 4: Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)

Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

I deplaned and headed for the Immigration counter, passport in pocket. It is always so far away to get to the place; once needs like an electric cart or something.

I cleared Immigration without incident and encountered a long line at Customs. Lots of flights had arrived from Mexico, the Caribbean and out flight from Europe. I also noticed the luggage from the Emirates flight from Dubai. It looked like it had arrived a little while now. Soon, I will take that flight.

I got through Customs and then headed for Terminal C. I took the little slow train that runs around the airport and arrived in about three minutes. Once can actually walk, but I decided not to do so.

Today, I was taking the bus home; I did not have to wait too long, so it was not an issue.

On the bus

It came, I got on, some guy was asking about the Greyhound bus station. His story is that he was going to Lafayette, LA, but wanted to take the bus as opposed to flying. It was cheaper he said. I think he was from NY as he was asking if there was another bus service such as Peter Pan. I told him that Greyhound was it unless he was going to Mexico.

As the bus progressed, a lady got on and she was on the cell phone. She was talking to someone about her dog. It sounded like her boyfriend had lost the dog, but she thought that he had sold the dog. She started to curse loudly and the driver told her that she should keep it down. He also played a tape that I'd not heard before (I take the bus a lot), that said it is against Texas law to use indecent language on the bus. It was in English and Spanish. The lady continued and she was also crying as well. the driver cautioned her again.

I was hoping she would get thrown off as it was really becoming uncomfortable for everyone as she was threatening violence to her boyfriend. Eventually this died down and life continued. Soon, I was downtown.

London Jan. 4: London-Gatwick (LGW) to Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)

CO5 7JAN08 12:00 4:30p Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to London-Gatwick International, London England (LGW) 777 N??012

Flying Time: 10:15

I boarded and showed the agent my boarding pass, who vectored me through the galley and down the other side since I had "J." I walked through the BusinessFirst cabin in its 2-2-2 configured cabin with seats that recline to 170 degrees.

I continued on to the second Economy cabin, noting that the first cabin was pretty full; so was the second cabin as well.

I said hello to the guy at the window who did not really say much back. i looked around and eventually found a place for my bag and jacket, just one seat forward.

I was hoping that this was one of the airplanes with the new Audio/Video systems and power in each seat, but it was not. There are only 4 that are done so far; 019, 020, 010 and 013. So I had to use the computer as soon as we took off as I doubt the batter will make it 10:15.

As soon as everyone was on board, we closed up and pushed five minutes early. The flight attendants took their positions and then the safety video started.

we got to the runway and waited; behind us was a British Airways B777 (G-VIIE), an XL Airways Boeing 737-800, a flybe ERJ175 and a Air Malta Airbus A319. A busy time although you would not know it from the people in the terminal.

It was our turn, so we took to the skies quickly. We made a "U" turn which allowed me to see the entire airport through the window. it took a few turns to get us on our Northwesterly heading towards the North Atlantic Ocean.

It took us a bit to get above 10,000' and then the lead agent told us about the service for today. Drinks first, then the main meal, then a mid-flight snack, then an arrival snack before landing.

The snacks came in the form of peanut with your beverage of choice. Alcoholic drinks are 5 USD. After the snacks, the flight attendants cleaned up the trash and then served the special meals and then fed everyone else. Today, we had a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian. By the time they got to me, they only had chicken and beef left with about 1/2 of that second cabin to serve. Unfortunately, the meal was a bit lukewarm as well...

I think it was chicken cordon blue; it was served with beans and pasta, plus a brownie, a crackers and cheese and a roll in a plastic bag with butter. I had some ginger ale and water with it all.

The movies had already started and I chose "The Jane Austin Book Club" from my choice of:
  1. Continental Presents House
  2. The Jane Austen Book Club/Ojo Critico
  3. Continental Family Channel 2: Duma/The Powerpuff Girls, Tom and Jerry
  4. The Comebacks/Build it Bigger
  5. The Nanny Diaries/What I Like About You
  6. Continental Presents CSI
  7. Comedy Programming: The Class, The Kings of Queens, Everybody Hates Chris, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, The New Adventure of Old Christine
  8. The Entertainment Channel
  9. Airshow
Headsets are complimentary and were already on the seats when I sat down. Once can also use their own headsets. The Jane Austin Book Club is an interesting film; it is about a group of people who read's her books and how it affects their lives.

I fell asleep and was awoken when we were over Northern Canada with 4:45 or so to go as the flight attendants were serving vanilla ice cream and beverages. I ate and went back to sleep for a bit.

I awoke later as the guy at the window was going to the lav. I awoke and read some and also was on the computer and watched "Mastermind," a program I had downloaded from the BBC on Demand. I wanted to use the computer some more, but I was out of juice. So, I fell asleep once more.

About 1:44 to go, we were served an arrival snack; potato chips, chocolate bar and a chicken and a chicken and cheese sandwich plus beverages.

After that, we were given arrival documentation and shown an arrival video. We were reminded that pens are not provided, so it is necessary to borrow from your neighbor. As one of my neighbors did not have a pen, I loaned him one.

We landed without incident and had a long taxi over to the Terminal E.

London Jan. 4: The journey to Gatwick

I got up at about 7a and got ready to depart. I had some breakfast and eventually got on my way at 8:05a a little behind my 8a intended departure time.

I walked to the tube station where I boarded a train headed for Kings Cross St. Pancreas station where I would take the Victoria line southbound. At Kings Cross the place was a zoo! I don't think I've seen that many people on the Underground ever! I even missed the first train as a result of the chaos. The next train was equally full. I walked towards the front of the train so that I could get on and even then it was difficult.

The train was full for the entire ride to Victoria.

London Victoria Station, London Victoria

Once there, I headed for the trains to Gatwick. There was a Gatwick Express train at 9:00a and a Southern train at 9:02a. It was currently 8:46a.

I chose to take the Southern train at 9:02a and bought the 10.95 GBP ticket using the Quick Ticket kiosk and my credit card. I did not know how long it would take, but I figured at most it would be 45 minutes so I was still O.K. for time.

I got on the train which was making four stops before Gatwick and made myself comfortable. There was only one other guy in the car when I came in and by now there were about 8 or 9 others. We pulled out promptly at 9:02a. at the first stop, the train filled up a bit. I continued to do some updates on the computer until we were close to the station at Gatwick.

London-Gatwick International, London England (LGW)

I arrived in Gatwick at 9:39a only nine minutes behind the Gatwick Express and I paid less, so that was a steal I think.

I headed for the North Terminal using the transit which arrived within a minute f my arriving at the stop.

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Check-in for CO5 was a breeze using the kiosk. I was originally assigned a window seat, but I changed it to an aisle that had the middle open using the kiosk.

The airport was very empty, which is usually not the case when I take the 9:30a flight. i got through security in no time and without any issues. I didn't even have to take my shoes off either.

I headed straight for the airport Lounge as I had quite a bit I wanted to do and needed as much time as possible.

London Jan. 4: In the Emirates Lounge

I am sitting the Emirates Lounge at Gatwick enjoying breakfast. I had some bread, hash browns, chicken and potatoes. This is a fantastic with a huge Business Center, two wine bars, a lot of lounge space and showers.

There are about five separate lounge areas, plus the Business Center, ample news papers and just a fantastic atmosphere to await your flight. Plus there is way too much to eat including Champagne and a plethora of wines.

I got my Economy Class seat, so I am awaiting my flight.