Not that we went first class (the military would go broke if that’s how they transfer their people on commercial airlines) but the whole experience of getting to the UK was wonderful.
Early Wednesday morning, 6:15 a.m. to be exact, I called United to confirm our flight. Due to the volcanic ashes air traffic to and from Europe, esp. the UK has been insane. After a lot of checking, she felt for my situation – two little kids and traveling to the airport, she confirmed that Heathrow is letting our flight in. YES!! So off we went (I did call one more time before we left town to make sure) and our first stop was Avis… I’ve been using a rental since I sold the car a couple weeks ago. Usually after dropping a car off one would catch the shuttle to the airport. But the guy checking us in thought that I had too many things for somebody traveling alone with two kids. So he asked this wonderful gentleman, Hank, to drive us to the airport. Well, Hank not only dropped us off, but he also helped take all our things to the check-in counter (one large suitcase, two carry-ons, one scrapbook tote, one stroller, two carseats, a breast pump, a bag full of frozen breast milk, my backpack and M’s backpack). You know one is just about helping when one refuses a tip. I tried but he said no, he just wanted to help and if I just do the survey and tell Avis how wonderful the KC airport Avis was he’d be happy. Great great start!
The person at the counter was very helpful. He was not only efficient he was nice too. He got us somebody to help me with my backpack, one carry-on, and carseat. Ok, they don’t seem like much but the two I have were very heavy (camera + computer gears). After everything went through the machines this person helped carry everything to a seat in the boarding area. Note to mothers traveling with milk… I had 30 oz with me. Frozen + ice pack and they did a special scan and that’s that. There was no hassle/question. So if you’re nursing, want to bring extra milk, you can and just let the security folks know and hand the bag to them. The flight attendants were great too, VERY accommodating with me having Jovie.
One great thing about our travel yesterday (besides seeing the hubby) was that I got to meet a cousin that I’ve only heard of and have only communicated via email. She lives in Chicago with her family and even though short I had a very nice visit with her. I arranged it so that we had a long layover in Chicago and we went out to lunch at a Japanese market. Very neat!! I’ve never been and it reminded me of Indonesia. The food was good too. After Chicago I left Jovie’s carseat with my cousin (that’s the only reason I brought Jovie’s carseat – we got a UK spec for her here) and the load was a tad bit lighter and less awkward.
Now, if you were an original ticket holder for London Wednesday, consider yourself lucky – it was like holding a small lottery ticket. For most airlines Wednesday was the first day for them to fly into Heathrow. The boarding area was jam packed. It was full of regular passengers PLUS 60 on stand-by. Some are families with young children. Who’d think that a volcanic eruption could displace millions of travelers (per CNN at least)!
The long flight, 8hrs, was nice. Nothing spectacular but it was smooth. This was my first international flight on a U.S. airline company. Usually I’d take Singapore Airline. There was no hot towels soon after you board/before landing, there was no toiletries packages, there was only one meal and a light breakfast (if you’ve ever been on an Asian airline food is abundant) and the alcoholic beverages were not free (although the first one was on the captain because there were a lot of stranded people on our flight), and there’s no special kid’s meal + toys, the people on United were very very nice. It was neat too to be in United’s first flight to the UK. Once we landed everybody cheered. Half were happy to be home and the other half were glad that they were safe. There were many hugs and laughter.
Here’s a picture of Heathrow. One of the busiest airport in the world…
Crazy, huh? Just reopened Tuesday late night. We were one of a handful first flights coming in that morning. Although the airport reopened they were limiting which flights can come in/out. Our flight was allowed to keep its schedule but the United flight coming out of London Wednesday was canceled. That’s why I stopped to take this photo. I felt like I had my own personal airport. On a normal day there’d be many many people.
After the border patrol and bags pick-up the first thing we saw was the husband/daddy. M ran straight to him and hugged and kissed and snuggled. Jovie was neutral but she did let him hold her and even though she fussed a bit she was fine. Wonderful wonderful reunion and now we’re finally home. The house is still empty — our furniture is suppose to dock the 25th of April — but we’re all together again! I had one nap so far. The kids listened and they slept for about 5 hrs on the plane. I think tonight they should be tired and go to bed as usual. We’ll see. I’ve been pretty good at controlling jet lag. With kids though it’s a bit tough.
Many hugs to you (I am just friggin happy to be here) and more stories, photos, and craft projects coming soon!!! First class experience for sure the last day or two!