If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Length Of My Thigh Minus 1" = Seat Room In Coach

My flights back today were from Duesseldorf to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Newark. I didn't pay much attention earlier but after I got my boarding cards I noticed the first leg boarded at 10:55 while the second leg boarded at 11:55. Checking my itinerary, I noted only a 45 minute layover.
The first flight was delayed when someone checked-in but did not board the plane. This means going through the cargo hold to find their luggage and get it off the plane. The pilot assured us that even with this delay we would make it to Frankfurt in time.

During the short 25 minute flight, the flight attendant made an announcement that passengers with connecting flights should check the board for connection information. Passengers connecting to flights in the US are urged to go directly to their gate as the security measures for these passengers take much longer. I checked my watch. My flight home had already started boarding and we weren't even on approach yet. At this point I figured I be going home Monday unless there was a later flight.

A few minutes later, another announcement: "Passengers connecting to flight ### to Newark, there will be a bus waiting to take you to the terminal." That sounded good. Must be half the plane going to Newark. They'll hold it for us.

We land right on time, 20 minutes after my other flight began boarding. As I head down the jetway I see a bus on the tarmac. It says Newark on it's electronic sign and it is right near the stairs connected to the back door of the plane. Was I supposed to exit from the rear of the plane? Did they only announce that in German? I ask an employee on the Jetway. He doesn't understand much English but is not about to let me back on the plane. He says something about "checking the sign" in the terminal. Well, I'll just find somebody else to help.

How about this guy holding the sign (in the terminal) that says "Newark Passengers". He has me wait a minute as the final passengers empty the plane. Then I and the rest of the Newark bound passengers are told to follow him. We both do.

He takes us out a security door and onto the tarmac. We get on the bus and we're off. It's amazing how much traffic there is on the tarmac. At one point we had to yield right-of-way to an Airbus 320. Right-of-way always seems to go to the biggest vehicle.

We must've driven a couple miles and we're let off at a door way. Up an escalator and we hit obstacle number 1, passport control. Our escort says something politely in German as he cuts us into the front of the line. Judging by it's length, probably a 20 minute savings.

Our escort is moving pretty quickly, dodging in and out and paying no attention to us. We almost lose him in a group of Asian tourists. We finally arrive at the security line. No metal detector just an Xray, maybe a sniffer in it too. This line looks to be well over an hour. We cut past everyone. Shoes off, laptops out, everything out of your pockets. "My hanky?" "Everything." I toss my dirty handkerchief in the bin with my wallet and change.

"Arms out please," comes the command. I look down and notice half my toe sticking out a hole in my socks. A sure sign of a shoe bomber, probably. I am then patted down. I haven't been this intimate with a man since my last prostate exam.

No time to tie my shoes, I am near running to the terminal. Untied shoes on an escalator seems like a really bad idea. But I make it. I hand over my boarding card and turn and yell "Danke schoen!" to my guide. I go down the jetway but there's no plane at the end; just stairs. Down the stairs and, ohhhkay, it's another bus. This one with quite a lot of people aboard. We sit for a few more minutes and a couple more people straggle on.

As we wait, the guy next to me is filling out one of those "next of kin" cards. I tell him not to bother. The box for dropping it into was at the top of the jetway and that the card would be going on the plane with him. "I hope it makes it OK," I joked but I don't think he got it.

Finally the bus drives away, first stopping about 200 feet away, right by a 747 but the doors don't open. At first I can't believe they made us get in a bus to go such a short distance. Then I can't believe they won't open the doors. Then I see that the 747 is being pushed away. As we drive away I realize that there are quite a few 747's at this airport. Ours is far from the terminal, out on the tarmac. Jet engine noises roar all around as a female German voice makes an announcement over the bus PA about which door on the plane to use, fore or aft, depending on your row. Well, that was the gist of the announcement. I only caught a few words and had no idea which door to use. I opted for the rare opportunity to use the rear door.

Thankfully I had taken my Meclizine because the flight was very bumpy the first hour or so and again with the last hour or so. We had a couple of those experiences where it feels like you just drop a thousand feet, when it was probably 10 or 20.

I totally dropped the ball on postcards, so my apologies and these blog entries in their place.

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