It probably isn't much of a surprise, but leaving the US isn't all that hard. Sure, you still have security to go through, but honestly they seem pretty happy you are leaving.
Actually for me it was even easier as once again I was put through the TSA precheck line which is the greatest thing ever. It is like travelling 20 years ago (I guess?) They just put your bag through x-ray and you go through a simple metal detector. You don’t have to take anything out of your bag, or remove any clothing. I think they were even allowing people to smoke.
I guess the one downside is that they don’t feel you up...
Another thing that makes air travel nicer is half empty planes. Sure, it was a late night flight from Boston to London via Iceland (so maybe not a super popular route), but when only 2 out of 3 seats had people in them you really notice the extra room (I understand this would technically be a one third empty plane, but that just doesn’t sound as good).
I had actually forgotten planes didn’t always fill right up.
It was so good.
But, because it is international air travel, someone was always going to try and make the experience unpleasant for everyone. That person was the lady that was meant to be seated next to me.
See, we got on the plane and were seated in an exit row. It was just the two of us, and an empty seat. It was a good start to a flight.
The plane continued to fill up, and still no one sat next to us. We didn’t want to celebrate our minor air victory too early, but it did seem like a good sign when the cabin announced we were ready to go and just waiting on one last passenger. There were still plenty of empty seats, there is no way this one last person is going to be sitting next to us, right?
Yeah, you can see where this is going.
So, let me tell you about this last passenger.
To start with, she is a horrible person because she was late to the plane. Getting to a plane on time is not difficult.
When she got to the plane, the crew let her know she was the last person to board, and that if she just took her seat quickly we would be on our way. They walked her to her seat and everything, just trying to speed it up.
But this lady was not to be rushed. She didn’t care she was holding everything up, she had to put her bag into an overhead locker - and there was no way she was just putting it in ANY overhead locker. She opened about four different lockers - all of which had space in them - and then she began rearranging other peoples bags! Who does that?!
She was the last person on the plane, then she moved our bags so that she could put her bag in the locker directly above her (rather than opposite her, or one in front or behind - they all had room). I didn’t even know that was a thing people did.
Now, with her bag put away she was ready to sit down and we could get on our way.
Well, sort of.
See, this was an overnight flight so she planned to sleep during it (on the surface of it I have no problem with that), but this meant she wanted to recline her chair (which I do kind of have a problem with - but that's not important for this story).
This caused two problems.
The first problem is that we are in an exit row, so you can’t recline seats.
The second problem is that we were trying to taxi and take off, so you can’t recline seats then either.
Maybe it is just me, but I consider those two things to be self evident. I mean, it is the same on all flights, plus, the crew had just announced as much. This lady apparently didn’t know this and so began trying to recline. When the normal button didn’t work, she put her feet on the back of the seat in front of her and was trying to physically push the chair backwards. I would have said something, but by this stage I was largely convinced this person was insane.
After a few failed attempts to recline this lady did what any rational person would - she got up and tried to move seats.
Again, someone moving seats on a plane isn’t something I would have had a problem with, IF it wasn’t while we were trying to take off. The crew came down and told her that she needs to sit down, but she wasn’t having it. After some intense negotiation they realised they should just let her take another seat now as it was going to be faster than trying to make her follow rules. She got a seat a couple of rows forward, and everything should have been fine. Until she decided she needed her bag to move.
She got up again, got her bag, and then opened several other lockers to move other peoples bags around again. All of this while the plane wanted to take off. Despite the no longer quite so friendly crew telling her not to, she got her way again.
Then she sat down and instantly reclined her seat.
(She is lucky it wasn’t an internal american flight, apparently they are constantly getting grounded because people recline seats - has happened three times this month?)
At least she wasn’t our problem anymore?
A few hours later, this happened:
And then another flight and we were in London.
Arriving in England wasn’t totally a pleasant experience. There wasn’t a huge line for customs, but it didn’t make the questions I was asked any less, well, weird? I understand I am arriving on a working visa, but how exactly was I meant to respond to this question?
“Are there no jobs for accountants in New Zealand?”
Actually, that question is the problem with the whole customs and airport process - if you are a customer (which I guess is what I was) you aren’t allowed even the slightest amount of sarcasm. Which, you may be shocked to know, is a departure from the normal for me.
Another reason arriving wasn’t nice is because I don’t like flying with checked baggage. Had I not been moving countries I would have gone a month through the states with just hand luggage (the key is learning to shower with your clothes on as a way to wash them). I am not worried about the potential of losing or damaging things, but I don't like the added time of having checked bags, and I really don't like the baggage carousel.
The time saved by not checking bags is pretty obvious, but the baggage carousel maybe not.
I have almost never encountered a baggage carousel at an airport that didn’t make me hate everyone around.
The baggage carousel problem is no one is there to enforce rules, so everyone stands right next to it. This means no one can see or get access to their bags unless they also stand right next to it. They paint that yellow line on the ground, and people seem to believe that you are meant to stand inside that, which just ruins the whole process. If everyone just stepped back slightly everyone still gets their bags, and, no one gets in anyones way. Do people not understand this?
The problem was worse for us because our flight took an hour and a half to even start unloading bags.
Eventually we got our bags, and then got on a train to the middle of London so that we could then go and catch some tubes at 5.30pm on a weekday with big bags!
Basically the greatest idea we ever had. But, I guess it was a fast way to get jumped into London?
Tune in later for more stories about stuff and things.