Thursday, April 6, 2023

Three Flights Home

A technical note: We are having problems posting photos and maintaining them. This appears to have started at the beginning of this month. For example, the photos have appeared and disappeared more than once. We are pursuing this with our host platform, Google Blogger, and will see if we can find out what the problem is.

We’re safely back home after a relatively painless and pleasant trip from Frankfurt (FRA) to Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW) to Seattle (SEA) to Bellingham (BLI) that stretched over two somewhat leisurely days, at least in comparison to our recent trip to Indonesia.

Traversing FRA took a lot longer than we would have expected. It was lucky that we had skipped the breakfast buffet at the Hilton. The night before, we’d dined at the Paulaner not that far from the FRA Hilton, the same spot we'd fed three granddaughters Schnitzel on the last night of their 2019 European trip, so we were hardly suffering.

We thought we would walk from Terminal One to Terminal Two but suddenly we were directed to a shuttle bus that took a fair amount of time (think bus transfers at London Heathrow). We took the option of using the face-identifying kiosks for exit immigration, although we noticed several disappointed US passport holders heading back to the regular line, saying the kiosks “didn’t work.”

We were lucky. We found the kiosks worked but they simply took a lot of time once we’d placed our passports on the scanner. We each easily waited 30 seconds or longer, but finally the gates opened.

We experienced another hitch at security. Apparently they really did want every bit of electronics out of our luggage. The only other time we’ve seen this demand was in India. They pulled the tiny travel flashlight out of Brian’s rollaboard and quickly examined it. They pulled the Bose headphones, the electric toothbrush, a cellphone, the case of cords, plugs, and batteries, and another cube of foreign outlets out of his small bag and ran it through the x-ray machine again. We’d experienced nothing like this when we flew out of FRA with grandson Blane last summer.

All this held up the screening line for several minutes (so much for German efficiency), and the screener politely but firmly advised him to remove all electronics from his bags on future visits. Of course, it’s also going to hold up the line when he pulls everything out (there was little left in his black bag), and we also worry about leaving things behind, but we’ll do our best to comply. 

After all that, we only had time for a brief stop at a rather unexciting Premium Lounge, but soon we were aboard.

The 10-hour FRA-DFW flight on an AA 787 was quite pleasant, as was our second flight DFW-SEA on an Airbus 321 (alas, no flatbeds on that one). AA certainly confused us at DFW, displaying a total of four (!) different departure gates on the airport display, Brian’s app, and Kathy’s app. We finally found the right gate after a couple of train rides (DFW is largely unexplored to us and features an automatic train with a very long route between terminals) and a visit to an Admirals Club.

By the time we landed at SEA, at some point after 7PM PDT (4AM in Europe), we were exhausted, and very relieved to get a quick ride to the nearby Hilton Garden Inn we’d reserved on points. 

The following morning our trip concluded with the short flight from SEA to Bellingham and one odd incident. As we approached BLI, a route we’ve flown many times, the plane seemed at a high altitude as we crossed Interstate 5. 

There appeared to be no attempt to land but instead a “go-around,” as pilots refer to any kind of aborted landing. We circled around for another five minutes or so and eventually landed without incident immediately after crossing I-5.

There was silence from the flight deck so we’ll probably never know what caused it, but we were safe on the ground, and glad to be back home. 

On our quest to find flights that would work for the AA systemwide upgrades Alaska awarded us for achieving 100,000-miles status (MVP Gold 100k), we'd selected a fare bucket that only gave us 25% miles for our return trip. That was a minor nuisance but we're still within about 1500 miles of reaching 75K for 2023 and it's only April. There are more trips ahead. 

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