Another Aurigny flight to Gatwick, and thence to Philly, and thence to DIA.
London Travel Blog› entry 23 of 24 › view all entries
We were up at 5 a.m. on July 24 to get to the airport for my 7 a.m. flight to Gatwick. We had a quick bite of breakfast at the airport, sharing a bacon sandwich, then Tom saw me onto my flight. Another half-bus. I made it to Gatwick by 7:45, and was directed to an immigration line for non-European Union passport holders. After about 20 minutes, I finally got up to the desk and the guy wanted to know where I came from. Guernsey, I replied, and he scowled and said I should have been in the other line …, which had long ago cleared through to customs. He tore up the immigration card I had filled out, and sent me on my way.
I got up to the main terminal, and since there was no signage indicating where US Air ticketing counters were, I stopped at an information desk. I got directed to “turn right at Marks & Spencer and then right again.” I went over to Marks & Spencer and encountered this looong line coming around M&S and running all the way down to the information desk! And yes, it was the line for US Air international flights. I got in that line at 8:35 a.m., and by the time I got ticketed and passed through security, it was 11 a.m.! Good thing I had landed 4 hours before my flight departed!
British security is very strict. One can have only one item of carryon baggage, and a purse is considered one item. Since I had my carryon suitcase, I had to stuff my backpack into my suitcase, which I had planned for, and for which I had plenty of room. I got my ticket to Philly, headed for security, when I was stopped by this cute young thing wanting me to put my bag into a rack. If the bag won’t fit into the rack, I have to return to ticketing and check it. So we pushed, and shoved, and groaned, and finally she asked if I had a book in my suitcase that I could take out, as I could carry on a book. Huzzah! I took the book out, and we successfully squeezed my suitcase into the rack!
Off I scurried to the x-ray machines, when I was stopped by this handsome, young thing who wanted me to put my suitcase in the rack. I said, “I just did that over there!” He replied, “You’re gonna have to do it again over here.” But now I know how to maneuver it into the rack, so book in hand, I satisfied his craving to have my suitcase in his rack.
Passed finally through security, I located the staging area, bought a salad and a bottle of water, and sat down to await my boarding. At Gatwick, one doesn’t know which gate one will be leaving from. One sits in a staging area and stares at an electronic board which lists all flights leaving Gatwick, and when one’s flight appears, one keeps a close eye on it until the departure gate information appears, at which time one jumps up and scurries down to the appointed gate. Which can take as long as 20 minutes, depending on how fast one scurries and where one is scurrying to. They do not make verbal announcements for flights.
Eventually, my flight with departure gate appeared, and I sort-of scurried down to the gate. We boarded, and I settled in for the 8-hour flight to Philly.
As we approached the US, the flight attendant passed out customs forms. Oh, my god … Customs wants to know what food I’m bringing in. My baci!! I might have my baci confiscated!! Oh, well, nothing for it but to be honest, I would hate to not declare the baci and then have them open my bag and want to know why I didn’t mention the baci.
We got to Philly, and I scurried over to one of the shorter immigration lines. The clerk wanted to know what food I had, and I told her about my baci. She said it would be no problem. Then I got directed to the Customs officer, whom I told I had Italian chocolates, but with a steely eye, he quizzed me about meat and dairy products, and fresh fruit. To which I was able to answer, “No, sir.” Then I was shunted through a maze where checked luggage was being transferred to connecting flights.
Fortunately, USAir had a check-in desk close to the maze, so I got my ticket to Denver and headed for the security lines.
Off with the shoes; pack and purse and hat and shoes in the tub. As my tub disappeared into the x-ray machine, some clerk grabbed an abandoned bottle of Gatorade and stuck it in my tub! And I forgot to pitch my water bottle, so the clerk at the x-ray machine fussed at me about liquids of more than 3 oz, and I had TWO bottles, horrors! At least they didn’t pull me aside for a more thorough security search.
I put on my shoes, got organized, headed for concourse C, and somewhere along the way I took a wrong turn and ended back at security! I told the clerk I’d just come through there, and he replied, “Well, you’re gonna have to go through again!” So off with the shoes; pack and purse and hat and shoes in the tub. But no water bottles this time. And of course, I got in a line that was being held up because of strollers that wouldn’t compress enough to go through the x-ray machine.
This time, I paid more attention to where I was going, and found concourse C. No scurrying necessary. I even had time for a leisurely stroll through the concourse, with window-shopping along the way. I called Bill, he told me he would wait at the 45-minute waiting area at the airport, and to call him when I was outside the DIA terminal.
Arriving at DIA, I was getting fuzzy around the edges, not having slept on the flight over from Gatwick. Rode the train to baggage claim, went outside, called Bill. Then I noticed that there weren’t too many people standing around, and all the traffic seemed to be shuttle buses. Suddenly, an announcement over the loudspeakers: “If you’re waiting for friends or family to pick you up, you are on the wrong level.” Oh, no! What if I’ve missed Bill!! Adrenaline rush! So I scurried inside, down the escalators to the floor below, went outside where there are lots of other people standing around awaiting pickup, whipped out my cell phone and called Bill … just as he was pulling up to the curb. Aaah. Home at last.