Sunday, January 20, 2008

London Jan. 18: Back in Houston-Intercontinental

Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We landed on runway 8L and I looked over and noticed that the airport was using three runways for landing, which is always cool. On the ground I could see a few airplanes waiting to takeoff on runways 15L and R.

We had quite a long taxi to get to our gate and actually had to wait for an aircraft to clear 8R. Lufthansa's A340-600 was pushing back from D11 and Air France's Boeing 777-200 was still at the gate, I think a little delayed perhaps since it was about 4:30p. The guy next tome commented how cold it was (50F), but it was sunny out so it did not appear cold; typical Houston I said.

We docked into E18, next to a Boeing 767-200 at E20; when these two gates are used for widebodies, E19 cannot be used.

I disembarked and headed for Immigration. I called to see what time was the next bus and it was at 4:49p, so I had to hurry as it was 4:37p now. the next one was at 5:39p and I did not really want to wait.

E18 is actually closer to Immigration than most gates anyways. I made it to the line and luckily there were not many people there. Of course I got the line that had people with problems. Luckily it did not take lone and I was through in a few minutes. The guys asked me why I was only goes for a day and I I told I just went to visit friends. It is always funny when they ask questions as if it is a crime to just leave the country for a day, anyways... He was nice about it thought.

I ran downstairs showed my Customs form and exited. I ran downstairs again to see the train and it had just left, so I decided to walk to Terminal C. I had to take off my coat as I was sweating now.

Once at Terminal C, the bus stop was empty, but that just meant that the bus came and took up the people and went to the last stop and is on its way back; this was a good sign. I walked out and waited, calling my parents as I did so. My mom is out of the country and I wanted to touch base with her and my Dad as well, since oddly enough I had a dream about my dad on the plane and I never dream about dad. Both were fine. the bus came within two minutes, I boarded and then headed downtown.

London Jan. 18: At Gatwick airport

I got off the train and headed upstairs to the terminal. I then boarded the shuttle train to the North Terminal. Once there, I checked in for my flight and cleared security with much ease. I twas now 9:38a. I browsed in the WH Smith bookstore before going to the Lounge where I showed my credentials and entered.

The WiFi was not working so I hardwired in and that was fine. This would have been a bummer if I had a MacBook Air since it does not have an Ethernet cable.

I had some breakfast of a banana, fruits, potatoes, bread and a few slices of chicken.

I then submitted the reports and caught up on some other matters.

It is now time to board the flight to Houston.

London Jan. 18: Leaving London

777 Update...

At present, the authorities are trying to move it from the end of the runway. they think they will accomplish it today (20 Jan 2008), but the going will be slow and it depends on the local weather. They think it will be as slow as moving the space shuttle onto the pad. Luckily the hangar is close by; they are hoping they don't have to cut it apart to move it. As of this writing, it is still sitting at the runway and delays at LHR on arrivals run from about 30 minutes to 3 hours...

Leaving London

The first train at my station was at 7:30a, I arrived at7:52a and got a train within a minute. I connected at Kings Cross/ St. Pancreas for the Victoria line to Briton, my destination is Victoria. At Kings Cross, I easily changed to the Victoria and only wasted about a minute for a train. It was unusual that the display did not say what time was the next train as it was broken.

I arrived in Victoria at 8:14a and it was dark when I got into the main train station. A whole section had no lights at all. I thought that it was quite odd and I had never seen it like that before. The WH Smith store that was always open was in darkness. Only of the two major TIDs were working. There was a Gatwcik Express at 8:15a, so it was not shown on the board, the next one showing was at 8:30a from platform 14. I looked at the displays and saw that there was a Southern train at 8:17a, it was now 8:15:30 and counting. I thought that maybe I could catch the 9:30a flight at Gatwick if I got on this train.

I ran around the corner to the kiosk and saw a “CASH ONLY” sign on it, aargh!!! The one around the corner from it also had a “CASH ONLY” sign. I tried to use cash as I had a twenty and had a little difficulty as I had to ensure the bill was smooth. Eventually it worked and gave me 9.10 GBP change in coins :-(. I ran towards the turnstile and saw the train pulling away on platform 17. Disappointed, I turned away and headed back to the TIDs to see what time was the next one; it was at 8:32a on platform 19. The good news is that I already have a ticket, so I walked around a bit more noticing the dark areas. There was an announcement made to be careful and that the darkness was caused by a power failure.

I then walked back to the turnstiles and placed my ticket in it and entered the platform area. The area around the train was dark and there was no information on the monitor near the train. I walked down the train a bit and then entered, albeit a little apprehensive. I then heard a reassuring announcement that this was the right train. I also noticed a guy placing lanterns along the train, I thought that was so London-like I guess and could not help thinking of the Sherlock Holmes days…

A few other announcements were made throughout the time as additional people joined me on the train; one lady asking me if this was the train to Gatwick.

At 8:32a, we pulled out and are on our way to Gatwick on this 8 coach train with its 3-2 configuration and very narrow aisles.

Arrival in Gatwick was at 9:10a.