A quick break from posting about our South Africa trip, to say we’re safely back home now. I’m still going to continue with my posts after this, but as they take several hours to write and post photos, it will take me a while to catch up on them. Over the weekend we rested up quite a bit, and Steve (DOS) started going thru his massive souvenir collection he acquired on the trip. Actually he bought some nice things, and we assembled another glass display case for some of them. He also placed spread some of the souvenir gifts out on a table to sort them, and updated our couch pillow covers with the African animals on them.
Now It’s 1:30pm, Tuesday afternoon, and I just boarded Jet Blue for a nonstop flight to Baltimore. I’m in 4D and gladly paid the extra $35 each way for ‘Even More Space’ due to more legroom and early boarding. This is my first business trip since we got back from Africa less than a week ago; last Wed 1am to be exact. (And that’s a story for another upcoming blog post!) Hint – flight delays getting home, lost luggage, and the Police showing up at home! Dramatic ending to a wonderful trip!
For now, I have to fly to Baltimore. After checking in (and paying $25 for my one checked bag), i took the tram from the main terminal to the ‘A’ gate where my plane was parked at gate 4.
I like Jet Blue, thought don’t fly them much, mainly due to routes offered, but that’s growing, and they are great for MCO to Northeast cities nonstop. They fly all coach Airbus or Embraer jets, but have more legroom than the legacy and low-cost airlines, and you can pay extra for the ‘Even More Space’ which is equivalent in pitch to First Class on a domestic flight, although the width is not, nor extra service. In a stroke of luck, I have the entire row to myself; not just my row, but the row across from me, and even the row behind me is empty! I’m in 4D, and the extra legroom goes to row 5, but rows 1 to 3 are mostly full, as is the back of the cabin. I think people aren’t as fussy as me with their legroom, or simply don’t want to pay extra for more legroom.
There is a huge storm brewing, and I’m hoping we get out before the storm, or we could be delayed for a long time. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like flying into or out of Orlando in the afternoon summer time, due to the daily storms in June – August; you can almost set your watch by it, but it’s typical not until later in the afternoon around 3 or 4pm.
I forgot how hectic it can be flying out of Orlando in summer time as a business traveler. Since today is a Tuesday, Steve (DOS) was in Sarasota and not available to drive me to the airport, so I drove myself. For the first time in the 19 years I’ve lived in Orlando, and flown out almost weekly, both the A and B and Terminal Top garages were completely full! I have never, ever seen that before, including Christmas and other holidays. Yes, they will frequently have a notice level 1, 2, 3 etc are full, but never every single space full! I defied the sign order to exit the garage and go to the remote lots, and ended up driving around for half an hour in search of any place in either A or B or Terminal Top lots. Just as I was about to give up and park illegally like a bunch of other cars were doing, I found the last spot on the outdoor level in the B lot, which I gladly took, taking a photo of the parking sign so I remembered where I parked when I come home Friday evening.
I’m flying out of the A terminal, but know the Orlando Airport very well and how to get around to ticketing, the gates etc. After dropping off my bag, I headed to the ‘CLEAR‘ lane, which is an expedited lane that uses biometrics and costs $179 a year. It’s better than Pre-Check, as even if you have Pre-Check, CLEAR will put you thru that lane, however bypassing the initial long lines leading up to the Pre-Check, ID verification from an officer. There is never move than a couple people in CLEAR, so it is worth the annual fee if I only used it in Orlando, although more airport are getting it. But then after being verified at CLEAR, I ultimately have to go thru the security point with the other Pre-Check people, none of whom looked to be traveling on business. I wonder how they choose who gets Pre-Check if you don’t pay for Pre-Check or get it with Global Entry, which we have? I think they put every wheel chair, large families, and people with dogs in that lane. It didn’t use to be that way, as there was a special assistance line, but now everyone gets thrown into Pre-Check it seems. I welcome a special assistance line for those that need it, but many people in the line are seldom flyers who don’t know the procedures and slow the line down for everyone, thus defeating the purpose of expedited screening. There were THREE huge dogs a bit in front of me belonging to these little old ladies, and I’m sure they purchased one of those $35 lanyards you can buy on the internet, as they didn’t seem to be service dogs. In fact it had a home tag that said ‘Please pet me!’. For service animals, it usually says ‘Do Not Pet Me’! Meanwhile other smaller dogs are being walked on their leashes thru the terminal like they were taking a walk in the park – my has flying changed!
Anyway, I’m blabbing on. We didn’t depart before the storm, so we will have to wait it out as it’s lightning and thundering and the ramp is closed. Travel tip: When flying into Orlando in the summer, always carry your bags aboard if you can, because if there is lightning (probably if you arrive in the afternoon), the ramp will be closed, and you may not get your bags for hours.
Update: We just got a text giving a departure time of 2:15pm, but that’s still subject to change. No rush, fortunately as this is a nonstop flight, and I don’t have to work in Baltimore until tomorrow. Welcome Home! I mean ‘On the Road again!’
P.S. I had a great flight to BWI once we were underway. For the first time in I can’t even remember when, I had the entire row to myself, including the row across the aisle from me! The rest of the plane was filled, but I guess people don’t think it’s worth it to pay an extra $35 each way for a lot more legroom. Not me!
Now I’m having dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s after checking into the Hyatt Place BWI airport for the rest of the week. Will continue my postings of the Africa trip soon.