Flying home to Toronto for a white Christmas in Canada, and then flying home to London for ... well, sleep.
24.12.2008 - 26.12.2008
View Phoenix Rising From The Flame on GregW's travel map.
I am now home again in London, watching reruns of Top Gear on Dave (that'll make sense to people from the UK - for the others, I'm watching TV), doing laundry and wondering what happened to the dryer in my flat since I was last here. It now sounds a little like the inside of a jet engine, and that's just what it sounds like one room over. Being in the actual laundry room adds another 100 db of noise as well as the somewhat disconcerting smell of burning rubber.
To get from Phoenix (site of my last blog entry) to London required two flights, and there were the most eventfully uneventful flights I have ever taken. By that, I mean they were both really good flights in that nothing bad happened. In fact, they were all good.
I'll cover more on the second flight later, but the first flight from Phoenix to Toronto I used an upgrade coupon to get myself upgraded to business class. As an Elite flyer on Air Canada, I can use a coupon to upgrade from economy to business class if the original fare was of a certain set of fare classes. My flight from Toronto to London a few days later was of a specific fare class that I could not use my status coupons on, so I figured this was my last chance to use an upgrade coupon, as I haven't flown enough miles this year to requalify as an Elite flyer.
The only bad thing about the entire flight I mentioned in my last entry, and that was the fact that it left 50 minutes late. However, the captain but the pedal down and we only landed 30 minutes late in Toronto. Otherwise, it was quite fine. The business class seat was one of the "old" style of regular, but larger and cushier seats than economy. My IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system worked fine, and I spent my time watching Ghost Town staring Ricky Gervais, eating a nice meal and drinking free Heinekens, though not too many as I was driving when I got to Toronto. I landed, and faced a customs and immigration line of 0 people ahead of me (one of the benefits of leaving the plane from seat 1A). I arrived at the luggage carousel, which in Toronto is usually an incredibly long wait. No difference this time, however my bag was the first one off, which made the wait much less than it could have been. I walked out of the airport relaxed and happy, which isn't usually a way one leaves an airport.
Christmas itself was good. I saw my family and had a big turkey dinner. Christmas Eve was dark and rainy, but at least it was just above the freezing so that I didn't face icy roads. Christmas Day itself was gray, but dry other than a little light snow in the morning. Boxing Day saw some snow, but later in the day the clouds did break and there was some sun.
I took some photos to try and capture the mixture of white and grey. It's a strange mix of depressing and pretty.
Boxing Day was my second flight - from Toronto to London. Driving to the airport I passed this plane from now defunct airways XL, one of many low cost airlines that bought the farm this year. XL left a number of UK folks stranded around the globe, but luckily the lead singer of Iron Maiden was available to save the day. Not sure why the plane is now in Toronto - perhaps someone bought it.
I did have a bit of an incident on Boxing Day. Walking to a table in a fast food restaurant, I accidentally hip-checked a table, and broke the screen on my mobile phone. With no screen, I actually can't do much with it. I can't look up people's phone numbers, and find myself unable to send any messages. No txt till l8r, lol.
My flight to London was again eventfully uneventful. I wasn't expecting to be able to get an upgrade, but ended up getting an "op up." An Air Canada flight to London was cancelled the day before, and Air Canada was still catching up. As such, they were cramming the plane as full as possible. To make sure every seat was full, Air Canada was even putting folks into the business class seats, so I got bumped up to Business Class, in what is called an Operational Upgrade, or "op up."
The plane had lie-flat seats, so I got to stretch out and lie back.
I did get a few hours sleep, and watched a movie (some historical thing about American wines and a contest in France). The only event was the fact that someone vomited in the sink in the bathroom. Walking out of the bathroom I told the flight attendants in the galley.
"The sink is clogged up," I said.
"I'll check it," one of the guys said, wandering towards the bathroom.
Sure that the situation was in hand, I turned myself to other matters. "Can I have another Heineken?"
As the remaining flight attendant popped me a fresh beer, the other flight attendant returned. "Okay, I'll let you have this beer, but then no more," he said to me.
"What, why?" I asked.
"Well, you just threw up in the sink," he said.
"No, man, that wasn't me. I just found it like that."
"Oh, okay. I think I know who it was," he said, though he never did bring me another beer after that one. Which was fine, because I pressed the ZZZ button, got the bed to lie flat and fell asleep after finishing my Heineken.
It was more comfortable than trying to sleep sitting up in economy, but frankly it still stunk. I arrived in London having only a couple of hours sleep, feeling tired and achy and just wanting to get home.
Sadly, it took two hours to get from Heathrow to my place due to closures on the London Underground. Tube closures... I am back in London.