Sunday, September 07, 2008

Berlin September 2008: Departing Berlin-Tegel, Germany (TXL) for London-Heathrow (LHR)

07SEP08 Berlin-Tegel, Berlin Germany (TXL)

As we entered the airport, the driver asked me which gate was my flight. Well I had no idea and so he pulled into an area with a list of all the flights and their departure times and gates. This was cool as I always saw this gigantic flight Information Display there and wondered how it was used and now I know. We checked our check-in area as A04 and he used that information to drop me directly outside of the door.

As I usually take the airport bus (109 or X9) back to the airport, I did not realize that this was the case, although I had taken a cab once before now that I think about it. The guy never stopped and checked this board though.

I arrived at the terminal at 6:30a, paid the drive the 19.80 EUR fare plus a tip and entered the terminal.

There was no one at the normal check-in, but the line for Fast Bag Drop was about 6 people long. I checked in and was told to hang on a bit for a boarding pass. At about 6:45p, one was issued to me, an apology being made for a middle seat, but that was all that was left on the plane. I thanked the agent and made my way to security line which was really long. I think everyone had waited until this time to get on the security line.

Soon, an agent came out and directed some of us to another area which had no line. In no time, I was cleared through security after the agent re-checked my back as she saw something, but when she checked it was fine. I then cleared Immigration and made my way to the gate. The area we used was actually that for Continental’s flight to Newark which was departing at 9:35a.

As they were boarding, I boarded right away and the same agent who checked me in was took my boarding pass.

Berlin September 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

7SEP08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down quietly and made out way to the gate. It is always weird when you sit in the middle of the plane as you can never tell what is going on outside. All I could see is the flaps on the left wing.

We blocked in five minutes later E4, so we could not have been that far away from the gate.

I got my stuff together and headed out towards the Immigration Hall. As I walked out I could see that they were using the Lee Road runway as I saw the Lufthansa (LH) Boeing 747-400 behind a few Continental (CO) planes and a United Airlines (UA) Airbus A319.

It was quite the wait there as they were having computer trouble so they could not process the Visitors which was really annoying. I could just imagine if that was the case when I arrived in the U.K. on Saturday, I would not have made that connection at all.

Eventually after about 15 minutes waiting I saw an Officer, cleared and then head to the Baggage Claim area. I did stop by Global Entry and was told that I do have to make the appt. online and then come in. I will see if I can get an appt. this week. I then made my way out.

Berlin September 2008: Arriving in London-Heathrow (LHR) from Berlin-Tegel, Germany (TXL)

07SEP08 London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR)

I was jolted awake by the touch down on the right runway. I continued to sleep until we blocked in at the gate. I did hear the pilot say that we had blocked into the Satellite terminal so we would have to take the train into the main terminal.

It was quite a long way to get from the plane to the train. It is a series of walkways, escalators, signs and elevators. They do have a board with a few flights that have to take a shortcut, which is cool. There were about 6 flights on that list including flights to Miami and Los Angeles.

I cleared Immigration quickly after waiting a bit for a train to show up. I then cleared Customs and looked for the signs to the in terminal train. I could have also taken a bus, but decided against that this time as I had done that once from T4 to T5 which was an O.K. experience.

Once I made it to the platform, I noticed that the next train was in 10 minutes. Bummer. I waited and sure enough in 10 minutes, we were out of there. Sadly, there is no direct way to get from T5 to T4, so the train first went to T1,2,3 and then I had to wait another 10 minutes for a train to T4 that takes 4 minutes. Come on Heathrow, I think I know why you did this, just so you did not have to have special trains just go between the terminals, but you do have one that goes from the satellite to the main terminal? It should not take a customer 28 minutes to get from T5 to T4 by train!

Once in T4, I re-printed my boarding pass, got my security checks and then headed for the security area. I cleared without any issues and headed for the Club. Once there, i showed my credentials and entered. I had a little trouble connecting to the Internet, but eventually it worked.

I also headed up to the "tower" and watched planes depart. It was great to see Virgin's B744, Air India's B777-300ER as well as Jet Airways' plus a few BA's Airbus A319s.

It was soon time to go, so I headed to the gate where I got a seat at the aisle in the first Economy class cabin of the Boeing 777.

Leaving from gate 9 always gets me as it is farther than it seems from the HoliDeck.