October 2002 Trip
Tuesday, October 29th.
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Today, which did turn out to be the final day, started by leaving the hotel at 6:10 to be at Terminal 1 (not 2 as yesterday) by 6:30. Being as close as I was that was no problem. Not really knowing what I was getting into, and with nobody to get me through the formalities this time, I wanted to make sure I had lots of time. As things turned out it went pretty much flawlessly and before I knew it I was sitting at the gate waiting for the plane. I think the entire process took less than 20 minutes and I was at the gate by 6:50 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. flight!
We were bused out to the plane which turned out to be a Boeing 777 and boarded it. I found several things interesting. Egypt Air flight 777 was on a Boeing 777 aircraft and the seat number on this flight turned out to be exactly the one I would have been in on the cancelled B.A. flight. The flight took off a few minutes late but it made that up. The route it took was from Cairo to Alexandria, out over the Mediterranean Sea, just west of Crete, up the Italian side of the Adriatic Sea, just west of Milano, just east of Paris and on to London. One of the strongest visual memories I have of this trip is of the Italian and Austrian Alps as we flew north near Milano. The sky was perfectly clear and the Alps with their snow covered peaks were just beautiful. It wasn't possible to get a picture because lunch was being served at the time and I was over the rear part of a wing but I sure looked for a long time.
The flight arrived in the London area on time but because of problems on the ground we got a grand tour around the area 5 or 6 times so by the time we got to the terminal it was 45 minutes late. The connecting flight to Toronto was to leave at 3:05 P.M. and it was now 1:15. This may not sound like much of a problem, and it wouldn't have been if I had been on the B.A. flight but I wasn't. If I had been I would have been checked all the way to Toronto from Cairo and needed virtually no processing in London and also would have arrived at the same terminal as the connecting flight departed from. Not with the Egypt Air flight. It arrived in Terminal 3, and I had to make my way from it to Terminal 4 on my own after collecting my bags and clearing passport control all things not required if B.A. Things actually happened amazing quickly (I seemed to have something going for me this day).
I finally made it to Terminal 4 at about 2:00 and went to check in. There must have been several hundred people in the line and I thought "Oh no". Apparently they were still recovering from the effects of the storm 48 hours earlier. One thing B.A. seems to do well is take care of situations like this. They have people directing you and checking tickets and when they saw mine they shunted me into a short high priority line. It still took some time but I got checked in with a boarding pass with no seat number. The flight was oversold and they had to wait until the last moment to decide what to do. After a very few minutes they told me I had been upgraded to Business Class, gave me a new boarding pass with a seat number and sent me off to the gate. There was a horrendous line at security but a friendly B.A. person sent me to a fast track security line and I was through in less than 10 minutes. B.A. says that boarding must be completed 15 minutes before departure which in this case was 2:50. It's now 2:30. The gate was a ways away but not by far the furthest from where I was and by about 2:35 I could see the gate in the distance and realized that I actually had a chance to use the washroom, which I did.
From this point on everything went as planned. The plane pushed away a few minutes late and at Heathrow it took us probably 25 minutes of taxiing and holding before taking off. The route this flight took was quite southerly compared to some I've been on. This one went straight out the Bristol Channel and pretty much straight across the Atlantic, just north of Newfoundland, between Ottawa and Montreal and down to Toronto. We landed on time from the west and had to wait while an earlier B.A. flight departed the gate. One of the advantages of being in Business Class is that your one of the first people off the plane and so things went very quickly. The baggage came quickly and customs was quick so I was out of the airport in less than 45 minutes on my way home.
Arrived home by 8:00 after a day that started at 11:00 P.M. EST yesterday in Cairo and finished at 8:00 P.M. today in Brantford for a total of 21 hours of travelling.
People have asked me if I had a good trip? I sometimes think that the impression I give is that I didn't even though I feel I did. There were more problems than some of the other trips I've done. The Egyptian culture really threw me for a loop with its unpredictability and other differences. There was the food problem going into Egypt that didn't help any. There was a lot of food that didn't agree with me during the cruise. I put that down to me with my odd likes and dislikes and not any problem caused by the food itself. I went to see some of the oldest civilized history that still exists and did. And, I got to say "Hi Sphinx", as many of you knew I said I was going to do. This is also the first major trip I've done that didn't occur in the summer time and that may have had some effects as well. Overall, I believe that I saw what I went to see, perhaps could have enjoyed it more if some of the problems hadn't occurred. I am happy that I've got to see this area at least once.
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Created December 9th, 2002.
Final Edit December 20th, 2002.