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12:39am on Tuesday, 2nd July, 2013:



My flight to the USA was, for reasons of cheapness, via Paris, France (the return is via Detroit, USA). Heathrow to Paris was a breeze, but Paris wasn't. First, we had to get a green sticker on our boarding passes, which entailed standing in line at the gate and showing our passports. Then, we had to line up for the flight itself. We were in that line for 50 minutes. The time we were due to embark came and went, with occasional explanations saying it was because the plane "wasn't ready". Every so often the time we were due to embark was put back another 10 minutes.

When we finally did get aboard, the pilot came over the intercom to apologise. Apparently, he and the first officer had been staying at a different hotel to the flight crew and the airline had neglected to send a car to get them. They'd had to come by taxi, which had taken them to the wrong terminal. So much fcr "the plane isn't ready"? Well, I'd agree except that we were still delayed while mechanics flipped some relays to get the air-conditioning working (which it did, fiercely).

I chose my seat yesterday so it was in the aisle and had a gap next to it. My gamble was that this would mean no-one would take the seat between mine and the window seat, thereby giving a little extra room. It was a strategy that worked well on the Madrid flight, but not this one. The danger is that the late-booking people who might take it are invariably bonkers, which proved to be the case here. The young Bulgarian woman sitting next to me had a dog with her.

I don't know what kind of dog it was, but it looked like some kind of long-haired dachshund. Naturally, as soon as she put its carrier on the floor, it escaped. The different reactions of the passengers were interesting: the English and French were "What the hell? There's a dog on this plane!", but the Americans were "Oh, what a cute dog!". It stayed quiet for most of the trip, thankfully, but I can't believe that it wouldn't have been impounded upon arrival, especially as the woman had to ask if she should declare it on the customs form (answer: yes).

Arrival in the USA was late, but I was right next to the door they let us out of the plane through so I found myself with no-one ahead of me. I was first through passport control, with no queue whatsoever. For some reason I then had to go through security (in case I had brought a bomb with me from France?) which involved removing my shoes, but I didn't care because I was first in line and zoomed through. I handed in my customs form and was able to go to where the driver was waiting to take me to the hotel.

Well, where the driver should have been waiting. He wasn't there. I borrowed a phone off another limo driver and called the number I'd been given, whereupon they sent me someone else's driver. It turns out that they expect people to take 45 minutes to clear immigration, but because I was first in line I took 40 minutes less than that. I suspect the woman with the dog will have taken rather longer.

Now to see if the Internet in the hotel works.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).