Chicago XV – Tiers and Dreams
- Tiers? And Dreams? Huh?
- Off to Heathrow, American Airlines FlAAgship Lounge
- American Airlines AA99 London – Chicago
- Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Back to O’Hare, AA AAdmrials Club
- American Airlines AA1380 Chicago to St Louis, St Louis AAdmirals Club, AA1685 St Louis to Dallas Fort Worth
- DFW and AAn CEO encounter…
- American Airlines AA1180 – Dallas Fort Worth to San Juan
- The Intercontinental San Juan and #Rucksackgate
- San Juan International Airport
- American Airlines AA1591 San Juan to Dallas Forth Worth
- More messing around DFW
- American Airlines AA1618 Dallas Fort Worth to St Louis International, A quick STL Stop, American Airlines AA1186 St Louis to Chicago
- The Hyatt Regency O’Hare with a Rucksack gate update
- One Time Exception: A Chicago Photographic Interlude
- O’Hare Take 3, AA AAdmirals Club
- AA3360 Chicago O’Hare to Toronto Pearson
- Toronto Airport Omnishambles – The Long Wait, BA Toronto Lounge
- BA96 Toronto to London Heathrow featuring the British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Homeward bound – THIS SECTION
- The long and winding road
By the time I had got off the plane, it was 3:30pm. I was due to be home two hours ago before this time point, and I still had a journey ahead of me.
I boarded the transit shuttle back to T5A after a short comfort break to see what the damage was, and how bad thing were on the other side.
I’m not drunk, but this is how I felt…
As usual when exiting the plane at T5A, you don’t go up the escalators, use the elevators – it’s quicker (or do the traditional thing of “Follow the crew”). This spits you out in front of those on the escalators and to the right of the UK Border.
Inspecting the queues, I saw that the Biometric passport queue would be the quickest today, as the UK/EU lane was rammed solid. It took about 5 minutes to get to the head of the queue, and about a minute to be processed.
Once the machine did its business, I was let on my way, and I headed down to the luggage belt, which had just started spitting out the luggage from the Toronto flight. And amazingly, both bags had made it intact, with the stitching still holding on the rucksack… although one of the buckles was broken at this point.
All intact… thankfully!
With all my belongings collected, I headed to Customs, and was cleared through without any questions.
My next job would be how to get home. I did have a return ticket, but the coach had long gone. As much as I relished the joy of cutting through London on the train home, I decided to try my luck with National Express to see if I could get home on the next coach.
I queued up at the stand, and was seen to. A quick explanation, and my ticket was changed for £5 + £1.70 to handle the credit card for the next coach at 4:45.
I was grateful at that point.
With that, I went to pick up some water, and then headed outside to wait for the coach.
National Express 210 – Heathrow Airport T5 to Birmingham Digbeth Coach Station
My new ticket was ripped, bags loaded and I was allowed to board this coach. We left on-time, tracking around the Heathrow perimeter, stopping at T4 and then T123, before heading away from Heathrow
Ready to depart T5
T5B and T5C in the distance
With our airport pick-ups complete, it was time to begin the long trek, which would take the coach through M25 rush hour traffic, up the M40 to Banbury, a diversion to Coventry, Birmingham Airport and finally Birmingham Digbeth Coach station
After crawling up the M4, we crossed it and headed for the M25… which was equally crawling.
Believe me, all I wanted to at this point was get home and curl up.
Once the coach got on the M40, it was plain sailing all the way up to Banbury (where the coach picked up no passenger)
Darkness fell, and I tried to get some rest… failing miserably. There was also a sinking realisation that I was in the office the next day too… so I would be jetlagged and have not time to unpack or anything… or even head to the Supermarket to get dinner.
Time wore on, and Coventry was a blur. By the time we hit Birmingham Airport, I really was no longer with it in most senses of the word.
However, being near Birmingham Airport meant the home stretch was in sight. Rather than head down the Coventry Road and be trapped in delays, the coach headed for the M42, M6 and Aston Expressway back into Birmingham, cutting a good 10 minutes off the journey
Racing along the expressway
Finally the coach arrived in Birmingham… and it was wet.
The more things change as some say.
I collected my luggage and bundled myself into a taxi for the short ride back to the flat. With the rucksack on my back, the ski bag on one shoulder my day bag on the other and duty free in my hands, I headed through the security gates, and into my block of flats, arriving at my front door.
After loading the stuff in and turning on the power in the flat, I headed off the local chippy, got dinner, ate it and collapsed on the sofa.
8am came… and it was time to go to work – the cycle of life had resumed again.
Coming up: The Long and Winding Road