Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday 3/17/12: "GOATS"

American Airlines 41: Paris CDG - Chicago O'Hare
Depart 11:20 am, arrive 2:45 pm (local times)
American Airlines 637: Chicago - Los Angeles
Depart 5:10 pm, arrive 7:40 pm (local times)
United Express 6462: Los Angeles - Sacramento
Depart 10:52 pm, arrive 12:15 am

A morning of minor missteps

Took the shuttle from the Hyatt to CDG Terminal 3 and caught the CDG-VAL tram to terminal 2, then walked to Hall 2A (American).  We waited in a LONG line.  About halfway through, we were interviewed by an AA security employee, who said we could have waited in the short line to the right since we had already printed our boarding passes.  Misstep 1!

The area was crowded.  At the same time the Chicago flight was boarding, a flight to Dallas was also boarding, and it was oversold.  They were taking volunteers and offering $800 to switch flights - for people with reservations on the Dallas flight, but not the Chicago flight.  Misstep 2 - should have booked through Dallas!  (couldn't have known 8 months ago though.)

Security confiscated a bottle of kosher wine, some pear jam, and halvah with Arabic writing on the package which we had tried to carry onboard with us.  They said that we could check it, but it wasn't worth the cost of another checked item so we didn't bother.  In retrospect, we should have thought it through.  The 3.5 ounce limit for liquids was not news to us.  Misstep 3!

Flight to Chicago was fine and fairly uneventful.

O'Hare Airport

Chicago was 82 degrees and clear - not how I remember March when I lived there until I was 7.  After disembarking, we had to walk literally about a half mile to passport control.  On the customs form, we had checked the box stating that we had interacted with livestock.  The passport control agent asked us about the livestock and we told him we had been to a goat farm.  He wrote on our customs form with a heavy black sharpie the word "GOATS" and underlined it 3 times.

After collecting our bags (required at Customs in Chicago), we were directed to a special interview area.  Having associated with goats, we were obviously persons of interest.  We explained to the special interviewer that our interaction with the goats was limited to having patted one on the head.  He deemed us a non-threat, although our bags were scanned an extra time.  We were then cleared to the baggage transfer area, and it was smooth sailing from there.

From the boarding area we had a clear view of the Sears Tower or whatever it is that they changed the name to.   Mainly I was relieved that the flight would be on time:  I knew we would have no help from airlines if we had missed our connection in LAX, since we had separate tickets on American and United.  (due to my parents' change of plans, and there was no flight to Sacramento late enough on American)

Flight to LA was also uneventful, a bit choppy for a few minutes.  We slept for at least an hour as by this time we had been up for about 18 hours.


Arrived at LAX, waited about 40 minutes for our luggage at baggage claim.  LAX is my second-least favorite airport in the US, after Washington Dulles.

Finally got bags and we walked with them from American (Terminal 4) to United (Terminal 7).  Checked them for $50 (domestic - the first time we had to pay for checked bags the entire trip).

Our friends Nancy (no relation) and John were visiting Nancy's brother in Santa Monica, so they had come down to meet us for cocktails at the Encounter lounge, the round space-age building in the middle of LAX.  This is the only good thing about LAX, and it is very good.  We got there about 45 minutes after we told them we would be there, but our layover was 3 hours so we still had an hour to kill.  It was great to see them, and Nancy (my wife) and I both needed a stiff drink.  She enjoyed a mojito and I had a double old-fashioned.  We also had some fried calamari.  John paid before I got a chance to ask for the bill.  Classy.

Said goodbye and returned to terminal 7.  We had to pass through security at the very north end of the terminal, and then walk about 1/4 mile to the very south end of the terminal to find our gate.  This flight actually was overbooked, and I offered our seats.  However, I presume because we had checked bags, he had us board.


Slept most of the last flight home.  We happened to be on the same flight as Stephane, the husband of Nancy's friend Rosa.  He was in first class, so we only chatted with him at baggage claim in Sacramento.  He had just returned from Shanghai, where he had been for training for his job, and had been awake for the last 40 hours.

Got bags, got a cab, got home. Needed shower and took one.  Slept in own bed.  Great to see the kids and my parents.

The end

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