Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Scotland Experience...Part 1

This time last year I was counting down the days for our departure to Scotland! Amber and Mike were living there for a year and it would be Louis Dean's first commercial airlines flight (having only flown once when he was in the army) as well as his first trip abroad. I did not have a blog last year and since I intend to 'blog to print' this year, I wanted to include our amazing Christmas in Scotland Experience. I had written this journal in 2009. There are nine parts so I now present to you.....

Part One…The Journey

Dec. 10th was filled with excitement and anticipation! I had finally arrived at my ‘wake up’ day! We would LEAVE for Scotland! Ruth Ann took temporary custody of our dog, Lucy, before taking us to the airport. We arrived at 1:30 for our 6:20 pm flight! I KNOW! We couldn’t WAIT!

And we fly stand by so we had to be there 4 hours early to check in. Jesse, Jr. came and helped me through the kiosk check in procedure punching in the last entry at EXACTLY 2:20! He did not leave us until we were safely through security! He continued to monitor our process from his office and we were thrilled when we received our boarding passes to BUSINESS seats!!! At first we were not seated next to each other but 2 other people changed their seats….one gave up an aisle seat for a center one and the other fellow gave up a window seat for the one on the aisle so we could be together!

This was Louis Dean’s FIRST commercial flight and he had a blast! We were served delicious food, wine, nuts, dessert…..had seats that made down to almost a bed with a pillow and comforter plus our own headsets and movie screen! I watched a holiday movie and Louis Dean watched the monitor……all night! I went to sleep but he was glued to the screen! It gave the flight plan and kept up with our location, altitude, speed, etc. He was fascinated! The time literally FLEW by!!

We were served a Full English Breakfast before landing at Heathrow.

After going through customs and getting our bags we took the train to Terminal 5 where we were scheduled to fly out on British Airways to Aberdeen. We had noticed how FOGGY it was when we landed but did not realize what an impact that was about to make on our travel plans for the next 24 hours. As I tried to check in we were informed that flight had been cancelled….due to FOG! I did not know what to do! The agent said I had to contact my son and be re listed on a later flight….so I called Jesse! I found a pay phone and figured out how to make a credit card call to the U.S. It had been a LONG time since I had used a pay phone! When Jesse answered it sounded like he was whispering. I thought he must be in a business meeting, forgetting the 6 hour time difference and it being 4 or 5 am in Texas! He was a very good sport and did not mention this! Instead he got us re listed while I was still on the phone with him! So far so good, EXCEPT the next flight was FULL since it had to accommodate those with tickets on the cancelled flight. Same thing with the next one which was the LAST one out of Heathrow for Friday! By this time several of the British Airway staff had helped me understand the routine of ‘Staff Travel’ which is the status we were flying. There was a yellow sign above a door that said “All Faith Chapel” and under that in smaller letters “Staff Travel.” We would go through THAT door and down a hall and through another door….all of which looked like AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY to me, to a room with a monitor that had the listing numbers of the staff travel flights. We were to go in there one hour BEFORE our flight and WAIT. If you were accepted it would say “Go to the BLUE desk!” If DECLINED “Go to the RED desk!” We learned the RED DESK was the kiss of death to that flight possibility! However the people at the Red Desk were very kind and helpful and kept re listing me so I would not have to keep calling Jesse! At the end of the day, a nice man listed us on the 2:55 pm flight on Sat. into Aberdeen saying the earlier one was already full. Then he advised us to get a hotel and come back tomorrow. He would be working and would remember my Texas accent so look him up and he would help me. For the next hour we were a bit dismayed. We went downstairs and found the hotel brokerage guy…..400 pounds for a 4 star hotel! NOT an option! We contemplated taking the train back to the main terminal but were so brain dead we decided against it. That was also the reason we decided against going into London and finding a reasonable hotel. We were afraid we would not find our way back to Terminal 5 the next day!

It wasn't as uncomfortable as it looks......or maybe it WAS now that I think about it!

(My middle of the night snack!)

SO we opted to spend the night in the airport which was not such a bad experience! We watched the airport go to sleep and then wake up again. The bathrooms stayed open all night as did the Internet Cafe. LD slept 11-1am and I slept 2-4. We freshened up and I changed from my red sweater and scarf to a white scarf and my parka. I did not want to LOOK like I had slept in the airport OR like a bag lady! We ate another ‘Full English Breakfast’ which consists of eggs, sausage, ham, potatoes, pork and beans, and a tomato. At that point it was 8 am. I decided to visit the Red Desk people again and was quickly re listed on the earlier flight, waited in the ROOM and laughed out loud when our number had PROCEED TO BLUE DESK!!!!! Everyone waved and said, ”Cheerio!” as I called out, “We get to leave!!!” We RAN to security and were boarded as we smiled and laughed! 24 hours in London Heathrow and we were ON OUR WAY to ABERDEEN!!

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