But, wait. Tommy told me he was in a lounge when I called him the first time. That means Ben and the guys are probably sitting in the same lounge Tommy was, and I just need to figure out where that is. After a long walk to the other end of the T4, it turns out that Skyteam(Delta) shares a lounge with Continental, go figure.
A few minutes later, I’m sitting down with the group eating a little breakfast. Ben teaches me a couple of things about BusinessFirst on Continental. There’s one row of seats (Row 8, IIRC) that has slightly more legroom than all the other rows in the cabin. Ben and I end up sitting next to each other, with the Alex and Hamish in the row next to us. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we had no way to squeeze Sven up into BusinessFirst with us. Thankfully, the flight wasn’t full, so Sven was able to get a whole row to himself to lay down.
LHR-IAH was/is my longest flight to date, at just over 10 hours and 4800 miles. A few courses of food, a movie and some sleep(there was some champagne in there), and we were descending into Houston, where there had been thunderstorms all day. Turns out those thunderstorms would come in handy. As soon as we landed I called Tommy. He said the top brass at AA had been working their butts off to make sure everyone got to DFW as soon as possible. He gave me the number for someone to call at AA, but before I could place the call someone from the AA Five Star desk called me to start helping me with an AA flight from IAH-DFW, instead of our later flight on Continental. Turns out one was a bit delayed because of the weather, and if I ran like hell, I might make it. I still had to clear customs, though.
Armed with a couple of tips from Ben, I took off like a bat out of hell. This would be my first time using my NEXUS card, which proved to be a huge time-saver. One of the tips from Ben was to take a quick shortcut through customs, which involved another sprint with a couple twists and turns and up an escalator. Through security, and onto a waiting train, and I was halfway there (or so I thought). The Five Star desk called me back at this point and started working on getting the other 4 people on the flight with us. I started calling them and telling them to run like hell.
When I got off the train, I figured it would be a short run to the gate. But, that wasn’t the theme of the day! I think this was probably the longest run I had, and was drenched in sweat when I got there. The gate was about as far from the train as it could have been. But, as luck would have it, the thunder storms hung out just long enough.
As I ran up to the gate drenched in sweat, there was one other person in front of me at the counter. Nobody had boarded yet, but that started about 30 seconds after I walked up. I was trying to get the gate agent’s attention since I figured she was trying to remove us from the flight since we hadn’t shown up yet. It took about 5 minutes for her to deal with the guy in front of me, and then she started to walk away. I politely asked her if I could just have a moment of her time and told her my name. As I suspected, she had already booted us off the flight and back over to Continental. She panicked a bit, but started calling the Continental folks and banging away on the keyboard. I turned around to call Ben and ask where he was, since I knew she was going to ask me that exact same question any second.
Most of you don’t know Ben, but he’s not the most in-shape guy I’ve ever met. Ben, apologies, you know I love you. I call Ben and he sounds a bit out of breath. His reply was something like, “How #(&(*#$ far is this gate?” Boy, did I feel his pain. At this point, the gate agent was looking awfully nervous since I didn’t have 4 other people standing next to me waiting to board. I assured her they would make it, and that’s when Hamish and Alex (both with a surname of Ho, so Tommy now wants me to say I was traveling with two Hos) called me to tell me they had checked luggage, and the ticket counter wouldn’t accept their bags since the flight was leaving any minute.
Yikes! 2 weren’t going to make it, but would Ben and Sven? In the nick of time, and with a bit more sweat than me, yes. We all fell onto the plane and collapsed after the second adventure airport of the day. We were informed we’d be landing at the C terminal at DFW a mere 45 minutes later. The Hyatt Regency DFW, the location for our kickoff party, was a 5 minute walk from there.
Once the wheels touched down at DFW, the adventure was over. And, despite a healthy share of hectic moments, it was probably one of the most fun days of travel I’ve ever had. I can’t really explain why, but I look back now and laugh my ass off thinking we were crazy enough just to fly JFK-LHR-DFW in 36 hours if NOTHING went wrong. But, as seasoned travelers know, anything can and will happen.
In the end, that’s the part of travel I love. It sounds corny, but getting there really can be just as fun as being there, in a slightly more psychotic way, wherever there happens to be. I talk constantly about how miles and points allow me the luxury to travel to far away places. But, it’s more than that.
We asked our daughter to put together a summer travel list. She decided she wanted to go to Paris, Rome, Disney and the beach. And the coolest part is she can actually do all of those. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get a little lost on the way.
How bad could it really be?