In my ongoing desire to share the glories of my business travel I thought I'd explain my journey back from France to the Bay Area for your reading pleasure.
I got to bed Saturday night, Sunday morning at around 3:30am. My alarm went off at 6:15am and I leaped out of bed all panicky around 6:40am. I was checked out and on the road by 6:55 (I packed the night before... free travel tip, knock yourself out).
I picked up Brett down town around 7:05 and we headed down into the south of Perpignan and the freeway down towards Girona. We pulled into Girona around 8:15 and dropped Brett off in front of the main train station. I pulled back on to the main freeway to Barcelona and clogged it.
I pulled off at a gas station on the outskirts of Barcelona to fill up the rental car. It was a Renault Laguna. New one. A funny thing about French car designers - they like to do things differently. It took several minutes and the assistance of the garage attendants reading the manual in Spanish in order to find the gas cap release. Who know. You just push it and it opens. I pressed on to Barcelona and El Prat Airport. Dropped the car off and legged it to the American Airlines check in desk.
There was a huge line for check in for the main cabin and only about 12 people in line at the business desk. Excellent as, for once, I was traveling business. I looked up at the board and it already showed a 90 minute delay on my flight. Great. Time passed, the main cabin check in line dwindle and mine barely moved. I swear every single person in line before me on the main cabin line checked in before I did.
The flight passed reasonably without incident. Apart from the wailing bairn a few seats behind me. By the time we landed at JFK we were three hours overdue. My layover time which seemed generous now seemed paltry.
As soon as the doors opened I ran to the immigration desks and got in line. JFK being my first point of entry into the US meant that I needed to pass immigration and customs. Of course they aren't in a hurry and really don't care that much about potential missed flights. I eventually got through and headed for bags. One would have thought that given all the time in immigration the bags would have come through. But no.
Finally got bags and joined everyone else in the line for flight reassignments. They judged that I was worthy of a shift to a Delta flight. Which ran from Terminal 3. I was at Terminal 9. I hoofed upstairs and took the Airtrain over to Terminal 3, my least favourite terminal at JFK. There was a business class check in so I managed to skip the lines and got my back checked and boarding pass. Now for security.
Because I had now changed away from my American Airlines regular tickets and was now on Delta my return leg to SFO showed as a one way ticket. The TSA deem holders of one way tickets to be somewhat suspect. If you are flagged as suspect you get 'SSSS' printed on your boarding pass. (There is some debate as to whether SSSS is random, but each time I get a one way ticket I get SSSS). Being suspect means that you get a much more thorough search - which is exactly what I need after being on the road for about 12hrs at this point. A man in a headset talked to someone who was clearly watching us on camera. He searched me to the instructions being given to him on his headset. Rather bizarre.
Finally got onto my flight to SFO. Tried to eat. But fell asleep. Tried to wake up, several times, but couldn't. Finally arrived at SFO and waited interminably for my bag. Almost got into a fight with some kid on the airtrain,
"Is this train going to the airport?"
"Yes, it's the loop train... it only goes to the airport"
We pull out and move away from the airport (but it's a loop, it'll loop back) and he says,
"Ah, so you were wrong".
"What? What did you say?"
"You're wrong, it's going the wrong way"
"It's a LOOP!!!! It can't go the WRONG WAY"
I was so angry I could have punched him. Seriously, if you ask directions accept what people tell you. Or don't ask.
I finally made it to the car and staggered into my house a full 26hrs after I had left my hotel in Perpignan. Joy for traveling. Monday came around and I could barely walk, talk or phrase a sentence. Not sure that I've ever felt as tired. The combination of Beijing followed by Perpignan took it's toll.