Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Last Leg of the Flight.. Heathrow to Dulles

The last flight leg—Heathrow to Dulles, Washington D.C. This will close out the last of the 37,000 miles in the last 121 hours. While I was in London, I checked up on my flown miles count, and it was up to San Francisco, and was up to 92,000 miles. The last two South Africa flights are each over 5,000, and this flight home is over 3,000, so I will be well over my requirement for 100k.

This flight is another 777. It has first, business and economy class. It has ~18 first class seats, galley, 3 sets of business class seats 2x3x2, another galley, 5 sets of business class seats and the rest of the plane is economy. I’m in the middle sets of seats on the window side aisle seat. It’s 11D.

3:58 elapsed time, 1669 miles to go, 3:16 PM EST arrival ground speed of 524 mph, alt 36K. We have passed under Iceland, Greenland, about to pass over Canada between Stephenville and Kuujjuaq (passed over on the SFO to Heathrow leg..) somewhere near Goose Bay and Wabash. That will be followed by an apparent arch down the coastal areas of Canada and on down to Dulles.

I realized as I read the blog for the last few days, I left out part of the political commentary on South Africa, and feel that I have to comment on what I heard and what I saw. But I'll discuss it one on one with people, because I don't know enough as to whether I'm passing along fact or not. I'll do more research in the future and will engage in conversations with anyone who would like. I heard many stories from many different points of view. All I can say, is that 13 years into it's new experiment, it has far to go to break down barriers between their citizens.

We just crossed over land in Canada. Stats on the map are altitude 36K, 1367 miles to go, 4:32 elapsed time, and 2:55 to go.. ground speed 527 miles, distance traveled 2352.
Looks like we will cross over an arc over Chicoutimi and Montreal if we continue current trajectory. Though the map seems to be showing a steeper turn passing much further south of Goose Bay and closer to Stephenville than what I said in my previous location paragraph.

They have done the “night” simulation deal once again, which I find odd, since we left at lunch GMT, and will arrive at around 3 in the afternoon eastern. I guess, I thought this leg would have been done as a “daytime” flight, instead once again the “night-time” concept has been implemented and most are asleep. Oh well… I’m awake for once, except for my normal “take off roll nap”. Ground speed is slowing a bit, wonder if that is the slow turn we are executing, or the jet stream or all of the above..

All in all, I’m amazed I’m doing as well as I am. I’m not feeling sick, have no sneezies, no cough, no cold, no nothing! I sort of expected that I’d not be at work on Thursday or Friday because I would probably be sick. But that just isn’t the case, unless something catches up with me from here on. I’ve take consistent allergy medicine, vitamin c, and slept relatively well. Friday night sleep was three – 3 hour sessions, I think first Sunday night was about 5 hours, 2nd Sunday night was about 4, Monday night was 7 hours, Tuesday night was 7 hours. My lowest energy state was on arrival into Heathrow from San Francisco—but that was improved by cleaning up and walking around a bit. I’m not sure I’d recommend “world tour” to others, but it has been much less taxing than I would have thought. Challenges?? Connectivity, finding places in public places to plug in and charge up, because I was not spending any appreciable time in hotels. (Total time in a hotel during this entire trip (from check in to check out) was 3½ hours, I believe.)

By the way, the comparisons between the SAA flights in the Airbus 340-600 and this 777 are glaring in the display technology. Over the entire trip, 777 or 747, they’ve had movie channel problems where channels were either noisy, or just flat out not visible. On this flight 4 of the 6 movie channels are impossible to view. Also, the fact that they can’t restart the movies until the longest of the movies completes (and someone remembers to restart the tape). Compared to the video on demand as well as all the other offerings in the Airbus flights—this feels like a comparison from 70s to the 21st century.

Continued navigation information, coming through Maine, above Fredericton, Bangor and Madison, almost overhead of Moosehead Lake Groundspeed now 486, 36K altitude. ATC asking all to change spacing, longer spacing put in place for today. Distance 608 smiles, 6:05 hours elapsed time, estimated arrival 3:17pm EST. Just got handed over to Boston center, requested altitude up to 38K and received it. (Prior center had denied it for multiple times). Now up to 38K and ground speed up to 580 mph. arrival now in 59 minutes at 3:13 (making up a few minutes)

Well, we landed, and Tyler, for your information it was runway 19R at Dulles. Went through customs and immigration with not a hiccup. So no, there is no software looking for really weird flights like mine. I know many had speculated that somewhere on the world tour, I'd start being asked harder questions as to what I was doing for only 6-8 hours in each stop. Maybe they are smarter and know I'm just a nice person!

I plan to post a few other items over the next week...such as hints for travelers at each of the airports, hints for minimal packing...and probably a few others. I've learned many things this trip of the mundane... But mostly I've learned that there are fantastic people all over the world that give of themselves and are kind to strangers...time and time again.

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