Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's a Layover at DEN

Morning came early as we took a taxi to the Quebec City Airport, YQB. Wow, the security for trans-border flights from Canada into the USA is just as annoying as we'd heard it is. We were turned back on our first try to enter security because our rollaboard wouldn't fit into the sizer. The wheels wouldn't fit! It wouldn't have fit if it had been empty and this is our favorite 21" rollaboard that fits everywhere except in Europe and now in Canada. Canada must have imported little metric sizers.

In other words, the bag that we gate-checked on UA Express flying ORD-YQB was disqualified from being gate-checked to fly YQB-ORD. Oh well, anything to make us feel safer...

We returned to the front counter (not a long walk and no lineups) and checked the bag. We then returned, this time being allowed to enter. At the checkpoint, a screener took every item out of our notebook computer / miscellanous electronics case. Thorough they are but we were eventually waved on.

We then gained access to the airport's executive lounge as UA 1K / Star Golds. It was a very pleasant place, complete with a beautiful glass fireplace near the center. There was a pleasant variety of breakfast offerings and great coffee. The self-serve bar was open, a bit early for us, but the array of premium brands (e.g. Johnny Walker Black Scotch,Bombay Sapphire Gin) was impressive.

We left the lounge to go through the second tier of security to board our UA Express flight to Chicago. Brian was waved through while Kathy was required to undergo quite a serious frisking by a female employee. The lounge attendant had suggested that about every other passengers gets selected for this additional indignity, but at least we made it to the plane.

After zipping through a deserted US Immigration area at ORD and taking the train from the International Arrivals Terminal to Terminal 1, we then had the, ah, honor of using the new body scanners for the first time as we went through the TSA checkpoint. One security thrill after another today! The main annoyance about that (once you've forgotten that some employee is viewing your naked body from another room and put away any apprehensions about the potential damage to that body) is that we're now required to take everything out of our pockets, as is common in Europe.

Once we'd complied with that, we spent a few minutes in the C17 Red Carpet Club before boarding our flight. As with the first flight of the day, the flight attendants were excellent, and we enjoyed our lunches in First Class.

So here we sit in a DEN RCC. Flight are booked solidly. We have our names on the standby waitlist and we're at the top. There was room for one of us on the flight that left at 3:30 p.m. (another CRJ!) but we're sticking together. The next flight, on a large 757, leaves about 6:20 and is currently showing as overbooked but we'll give it a try. If that fails, we fly out of here after 9:00 p.m. and don't arrive in Seattle until well after 11:00 p.m.

No complaints because this particular connection was the one that got us our cheap flights. If we get out a little earlier that's simply a bonus. Besides, our flight to Narita Japan tomorrow doesn't leave until the afternoon so we'll be able to sleep in and relax.

Our flight schedule looks something like this:

Tue, Apr 6 YQB 08:24 AM ORD 10:07 AM
ORD 12:10 PM DEN 01:48 PM
DEN 09:19 PM SEA 11:10 PM if no standby success
Wed, Apr 7 SEA 01:29 PM NRT 03:35 PM Apr 8
Thu, Apr 8 NRT 05:50 PM SIN 11:55 PM (overnight at the Changi Airport Transit Hotel)
Thu, Apr 9 SIN 06:40 AM HKG 10:30 AM

YQB-ORD-DEN-SEA-NRT-SIN-HKG totals 12,472 miles flown on six legs but who's counting?

We are. Of course we are...

Wednesday Morning Update: Yes, we were number 1 and 2 on the waitlist and cleared. Kathy sat in 10A and Brian sat near the back of the bus, 33C in a 34-row plane. Nothing like sitting back in The Village, as some flight attendants allegedly refer to Economy, to make us appreciate our upgrades. One of our main projects today is retrieving our other other rollaboad, the one we should have taken to Quebec, from the car and putting together one rollaboard of clean clothes for Hong Kong, which will feature both warm weather and thunderstorms.

1 comment:

Dennis Warner said...

The security measures are becoming more and more intrusive and are certainly a pain. I'm glad you had a great time in Quebec and I'm sure the second half of your back to back in Hong Kong will be enjoyable too.