Travel Bit: Maryland Flights
On Wednesday November 22nd I headed to Maryland to visit JK and the rest of the Kamauff family for U.S. Thanksgiving. I had devoted a lot of effort to travel planning; it paid off, but not entirely as I had expected.
I avoided flying into MIA (Miami) from GCM (Grand Cayman). Lots of other folks share my aversion: MIA international arrivals can be a zoo - often flights have been delayed and sudden bursts of arrivals swamp customs/immigration and baggage.
I took an afternoon Delta flight into ATL (Atlanta), having scheduled a long (almost 4 hour) layover. I also flew first class, in order to have a shot at priority baggage handling (which rarely seems to do anything in the U.S., as opposed to Europe where I gather it almost always has an impact) and to get the speedy security line for my next flight after clearing customs/immigration.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the customs/immigration at ATL was emptier than I've ever seen international arrivals anywhere, and this on the biggest U.S. travel day. That was a breeze. Baggage came quickly, although the priority handling had no obvious effect - lots of regular baggage came through ahead of mine. The security line was easy, perhaps somewhat influenced by it being late afternoon (part of the planning).
One nice thing about flying Delta is that they are still recognizing my old (since cancelled) American Express platinum card, allowing me access to their lounges when I'm on their flights. They'll stop doing that when the card reaches its natural expiry date; maybe I'll have another one by then. Anyhow, that made a nice chance to sit, drink beer, and chat with a couple of friends who had been on the same flight.
My connecting flight to BWI (Baltimore-Washington) boarded on time, but was delayed in taking off. The pilot offered the explanation that the software had some out-of-date data and required maintenance personnel to upload updated datafill. That cost us going on an hour; ah well, it was another opportunity to sit and drink beer. Urp. The flight itself was uneventful, and JK was timely in collecting me at BWI (I'd updated him on our delay via cell from the tarmac at ATL and he doublechecked for flight updates).
On Sunday November 26th I took a morning U.S. Airways flight from BWI to CLT (Charlotte) to make a connection to GCM. Since I expected airports to be a bit quieter, and because I would stay behind the security line making the connection, I flew economy.
It was here that I received the unexpected payoff to my travel planning. I'd booked through Travelocity, and it wouldn't offer me the round-trip itinerary that I wanted; hence, I put together two separate one-way legs. It had slipped my mind that this pretty much guaranteed that security would want a closer look at me. Upon presenting my boarding pass they pulled me from the regular security line to a separate line, complete with the air-puff explosives detector. There was no one ahead of me in the special security line, as opposed to the long queue of people who had been ahead of me in the regular line.