We’ve got a pretty good routine working for flying to America.
It starts with driving down to Heathrow the night before the flight and staying in a hotel close to the airport – usually the Park Inn as it does park and fly deals where you can get a room and 15 days of parking for under £120. Doing this has several advantages:
- Doing it by coach on Saturday morning would mean leaving Cheltenham at some very silly time in the early morning.
- If there are travel delays you are pretty much screwed
- An early morning start doesn’t fit well with a day that involves landing in Maine at 5pm EST (so 10pm UK time).
So instead we leave town after an evening meal, and after the commuter rush has cleared, and if there are delays on route it doesn’t really matter. We still have to get up early but 5am is a lot less ridiculous than 2 or 3am. We then hop on the Hotel Hoppa and it’s 10 minutes to the terminal with no major dragging of luggage down miles of corridors.
The only real gamble is the airlines… usually they’re pretty good but this time United Airlines let us down a little – UA 922 on Saturday was a tired plane, and apart from the wifi streamed movies via their app or browser it was like flying in 2001… a fixed set of movies running on a fixed cycle on a tiny seat back display and pretty uninspiring food (chicken curry or a pasta dish) and they’d managed to heat the butter up so you got a pot of melted butter rather and a portion of butter … However the cabin crew were friendly and were very pro-active in providing soft drinks throughout the flight and the legroom wasn’t bad for economy class.
New Yotk Liberty has a slightly odd layout – you arrive at the International Terminal (B) and go through immigration and customs.. then you drop off your luggage before getting on the Sky Train and going to another terminal (A) where you go back through security to get to the departure gates. But when you fly the other way you get a shuttle from A to B and don’t have to go through security again… seems very odd but that’s how it is.
The 50 seater plane to Portland Maine was basic as you’d expect and the turbulence that had wobbled the Boeing on the way down through Maine shook the smaller craft round quite a lot and the final approach into Portland was a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
But now I’m here for the next couple of weeks: