Thursday, January 31, 2008

Back to phone blogging

Here I am on the last leg of the trip. In true "Terry Fashion" I left plenty of time to make the 50 kilometer drive in. It was a tough night's sleep having to wake up at 1 AM to book a reasonable seat on my upcoming Southwest flight, doing no better than 35. Normally I'm in the 20s. The wind was howling for the rest of the wee hours and so I headed out into the gloom at 6 AM for the indeterminate drive in to the airport. Most of the advice I'd received suggested at least a full hour to allow for the nature of the inbound Dublin rush hour, the traffic moved though and I made the airport exit after 35 minutes of driving. I could see though that beyond my departure point that the commute ground to a complete standstill. Lucky me.

I turned in the car in the still howling wind, made my way towards the terminal, up a very strange ramp escalator that had no stairs and then went looking for the check-in lines. Aer Lingus provides a vast bank of automated kiosks, even for international departures , so I thought "what the heck" and went for it. It was a breeze, plug in your passport, enter some contact information and voila, a boarding pass. From there, you stand in line for a short spell to check your bag and you're done. The whole process took less than 10 minutes, contrasting sharply with the drudge of checking in at Delta.

Security was a snap and looking at my watch as I gathered my goods I realized it had taken me exactly 1 hour from signing my bill at the hotel to clearing the pre-travel process. Only 3 hours and 45 minutes to departure.

I made my regular beeline for a mobbed Butler's Irish Chocolate Cafe with a smoothie and chocolate muffin in mind. After fighting my way through the throng, I had my foodstuffs in hand and headed down the B concourse ply to run smack a satellite Butler's with no customers and all the same goods. Such is the story of my time management today.

At Dublin airport all of the US flights that don't stop in Shannon depart from a secure pod of gates that once entered, cannot be departed as US customs is down at the bottom of a slippery set of stairs. In general, you don't go down there if you have any intention of doing anything except sitting around. But when I arrived at the gate, the line was very long and so I queued up.

When I arrived at the agent, she asked me if I really wanted to go down and I said yes.

Waited a bit for customs and I managed to draw the crabby guy who told me not to lean on his podium. He was very interested in why I had been to China on this trip and why I had been gone for so long. I told him "Intel" and he stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

And there you have it, sitting here waiting and hoping for an ontime departure. More later as the trip evolves, next stop, LA.

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