Old Jun 7, 09, 3:07 am
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: ABQ, LAX, ORD, TLV and beyond
Programs: Mostly a free agent nowadays: UA,AA, LH, DL; Starriott (er, Bonvoy); Hilton; Amex Plat
Posts: 1,581
Once clearing security and taking in my first glimpses of LHR Terminal 5 (first impressions--sensory overload, poor security layout, unmatched shopping options, seems designed to resemble the hectic airport environments of yesteryear while still allowing decent traffic flow), I decided that, since I had 8 hours to kill in London, I would leave the airport for lunch and a walk around Windsor, a suburb that I hadn't yet visited but that friends had promised me was no more than a 20-minute bus or train ride from LHR.

In order to leave the airport while in transit, it was necessary to inform customer service of my plans and then wait for a "customer host" to escort me to customs. As promised, the host arrived 30 minutes later, but I was not informed. I approached the gentleman who I suspected the host and identified myself, at which point a quite irritable man with an Irish accent snapped, "We've been waiting on you, you know," even though the host had arrived less than 2 minutes earlier.

We walked through a series of doors and hallways before reaching immigration, which I cleared without event (other than being asked to show my Indian visa). I then made my way to the bus stop, where I boarded a 71 bus to Windsor. While the trip took much longer than anticipated--almost an hour--I enjoyed my short self-guided tour of Windsor and my lunch near the Thames. Soon, it was time to head back to Heathrow for my second overnight flight of the day (the entire journey ORD-DEL took roughly 24 hours, including the layover, but because of eastward travel, I experienced three sunrises in that span).

Flight: BA 0257, June 5-6, 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Flight time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Depart: 5:45 (5:35 scheduled, 10 minutes late)
Arrive DEL: 6:20 a.m. (scheduled--actual arrival at 6:15)

After doing some spotting and further exploring the terminal, I headed to gate B44, where my 777 to India awaited. The passengers on this flight were an animated group, full of families with small children on their way to visit relatives in Delhi and beyond.

By this time, fatigue and jet lag had begun to catch up with me, and I admit that I was simply looking forward to catching a few hours of precious sleep on the plane before a long first day in an unfamiliar city.

Once again, I turned right upon boarding and took my seat in steerage. I had inquired about an upgrade to World Traveller Plus earlier in the day, but the customer service representative simply said, "that's going to be pricey," and gave me an askew glance. I took his point and decided to keep my original plans.

The plane pushed back from the gate 10 minutes late, since it was necessary to offload the luggage of a few passengers who had missed the flight due to a late arrival from LAX.

By the time I felt the big GE engines rumble to life, I was already half-asleep, and when dinner was served, the kind gentleman to my left had to nudge me awake. I noticed that about 25% of the plane had requested Hindu vegetarian meals and was already eating. The rest of us were served an Indian-style meal with choice of beverage. I opted for coffee over alcohol and enjoyed the dinner of Indian chicken (something resembling paneer sauce). The yoghurt-based dessert was...dodgy...and after finishing Anchorman (comic gold and one of my favorite films of the genre), I was in and out of sleep for the next several hours.

One of the reasons that sleep did not come easily to me during this flight was the fact that the young woman--perhaps around age 20--sitting behind me seemed to constantly be kicking and shaking my seat. She would do so consistently at 4- or 5-minute intervals, and I can only guess that she was either having trouble getting comfortable or having trouble figuring out the AVOD system.

Now, I try to be as understanding as possible during flights. I've endured kicks to the face from sleeping toddlers and pulled hair, and I once happily vacated my seat no less than 15 times on a flight where the gentleman sitting beside me clearly had an overactive bladder.

This time, however, my impatience got the best of me for only the second time that I can recall, and after several hours of being awoken by a kick to the back and a jiggling headrest, I turned around and asked the woman (politely) if she could please try not to kick my seat. Her response was, "well I only did it ONCE," at which point, I gave up and told her not to worry. It was one of those instances where immediate hindsight told me that I should have simply let it be.

I awoke with the airshow indicating that the plane was passing between Qandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan, west of Lahore. It's not everyday that one finds themselves in close proximity to those cities.

When breakfast was served, I was offered my choice of English or Asian breakfast, and I opted for the latter. The FA laughed and commented on my adventurous appetite (if only she knew what I'd eaten in past trips to Asia...). It turned out to be the right choice, and I enjoyed the Indian-style potatos with roti bread and orange juice. During breakfast, FAs passed out Indian landing cards as well as a new supplement that required those traveling from the US, Canada, or Mexico to identify themselves and answer a series of questions regarding swine flu--er, I mean, the H1N1 virus (sorry, PC police). This made the gentleman next to me nervous, but I suspect that he had nothing to worry about.

After another cup of coffee, anticipation and excitement began to replace fatigue as we neared Delhi, and my first glimpses out the window at the city's environs as we made our final descent only served to further whet my appetite for what lay ahead.

Upon deplaning, I was hit with the strangely appealing combination of heat, diesel fuel, incense, and burning wood and garbage that, I later realized, permeated the entire city.

Immigration was a breeze, and after retrieving my luggage, it was time to take a pre-paid taxi out into the deliciously colorful and yet excitingly rancid city of Delhi.

Much more to come over the course of the next several weeks...

Last edited by zcat18; Jun 7, 09 at 10:15 pm
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