We left our house near Richmond Virginia at 4:00 p.m. and got to Dulles Airport in good time and with surprising little traffic. Found long term parking and hopped the shuttle to the international terminal.
Our tickets identified our airline as American operated by Etihad. There was very little American involved. By the time the Etihad counter opened there were probably more than a hundred people in line to check in, fortunately we were near the front.
Dulles was originally designed so no traveler would have to walk more than a few hundred yards. Unfortunately, that is no longer true. Next was security, which was a walk but easy and fast. Dulles has the full- body scanner for adults. They have a simple walk-through metal detector for children, which I thought was interesting. More walking to find the trolley which has very few seats. Once we located the gate, we doubled back to a restaurant for drinks and dinner.
We boarded the plane at 9:55 p.m. and passed through Business Class on our way to steerage. Our seats were the last in the section, backed up to a wall, and next to the bathroom. Etihad is not generous with space. We had about two feet between our foreheads and the seats in front of us.
For the next 13 hours, I tried to find a comfortable position to sleep. This never happened, although I did catch a few naps due to sheer exhaustion. The flight staff was very nice and accommodating. In fact they seemed to take it personally when you turned something down. Our fellow travelers were extremely mellow and while we had the requisite screaming babies, they only fussed for takeoff and landing. I have no room complain, having subject my fellow travelers to my screaming children many years ago.
Even with the frequent feedings, movies, television shows, and plentiful bathrooms, thirteen hours is a long time on a plane. I felt fidgety and stiff. Before we touched down in Abu Dhabi an announcement reminded us we are in Ramadan and there would be no food available in the terminal until sunset.
We were nervous about the transfer in Abu Dhabi to our flight to Kuwait, but no need. Other than another long walk, all went well. We boarded the next flight which was on time. Again great service from the Etihad flight staff. The plane wasn’t full so we could spread out a bit for the two hour flight.
Our hosts arranged for a service at the Kuwait Airport that picked up us at the gate and shepherded us through the passport and visa processes. I strongly recommend this to anyone traveling to the Middle East for the first time. Our guide took our passports and led us to the first stop, a big shiny room where our guide obtained our visas at a desk that looked a lot like a DMV counter. Then we lined up to get our photos and fingerprints taken. This uber ID requirement has been on the books for a while but apparently a new airport manager just started to enforce it. This was the longest wait we had on the trip. Despite two stations, there was only one technician and each traveler took about 5 minutes to process. We were lucky to be at the head of the line. Apparently this identification process can take up to four hours on a busy day.
We went back to the counter to get our passports stamped then were finally set free to claim our luggage. This was the point at which we were united with our host who drove us to his home in Jabriya where we were welcomed with fresh fruit, vegies, and hummus dip. Delicious!
Despite the length of the trip, I really can’t complain. We were treated with respect and a varying degree of efficiency at each juncture. My big question is, how do the disabled, elderly, and people with children do this! There was one woman with three small children, one of whom was a babe in arms. The walking, waiting, standing, and prolonged sitting involved in a trip from Dulles to Kuwait are substantial. I was physically and mentally DONE by the time I finally got to my destination. The second thing that struck me was how patient everyone was. Good heavens, don’t you people realize what a pain this is? Shouldn’t we all be grumpy and whining?! My fellow travelers shamed me into behaving myself, especially the children.
That’s it for now, because while my body has no idea what time it is, it knows it needs a nap.
Thank you for visiting.
We moved to Colorado in the 90’s before Denver International Airport (DIA) had opened and the main airport (Stapleton) was still within the city limits. Before we set off from Longmont, Colorado to pick up some friends, we asked one of our new neighbors for directions…which we promptly forgot. The old, “I thought YOU were listening.” “I was busy with the kids, I thought YOU were listening!” But the neighbor had assured us there was really good signage to enhance his directions. This was pre-GPS.
The problem was, there was a lot of construction in Denver (the infamous Mousetrap) and most of the signs had been taken down. So we decided to do what any well-educated, intelligent couple would do, we decided to follow the planes to the airport. After all they were flying right above us, how hard could this be?
This method was easier than it sounds and did indeed take us right to the airport…to the very end of a runway where small groups of weirdo plane groupies lay on their trucks watching enormous aircraft fly directly over them and land. It was obviously pre-9/11. Without having to ask any of the weirdo plane groupies, it became painfully obvious we were nowhere near the terminal where the normal people hang out. So we stalked a letter carrier we saw in a nearby neighborhood and he explained how to get to the airport.
This brings me to today’s topic, house guests and airport transportation.
For the guest:
Please, for the love of all that is holy, RENT A CAR at the airport! Factor it into your expenses. It will be better for everyone. I promise. This is especially important if your hosts work full time, have young children at home, or are senior citizens who are no longer all that comfortable with driving.
Warning! Warning! If you do rent a car….especially at DIA…ask about tolls at the rental counter! I know you can’t wait to get going to your destination, but this can save you hundreds of dollars. I won’t bother with a long explanation, but forgoing the toll package allows the rental companies to charge you for their post-trip “toll mitigation services”. It’s become a legal scam that fleeces travelers out of a great deal of money. I’m not sure how they get away with it, but they do.
If your host’s home is less than 15 miles away, consider taking a taxi, Uber, or similar service. Keep in mind that Uber rules differ from airport to airport. Look it up before you leave.
If renting a car is simply not an option, here are a couple of tips that will make everyone’s trip more pleasant. If you are flying into a major airport, book arrival and departure times that do NOT coincide with rush hour. There’s nothing worse than starting a much-anticipated trip by getting off a plane and into a traffic jam. Makes folks grumpy. Offer to pay for parking, tolls, and gas. These expenses mount up when you have frequent guests.
For the host:
I think it’s perfectly acceptable for hosts to suggest car rental. This can be done graciously, “Our guests have found it so much more convenient not to be limited by our hectic schedule.”
But if that doesn’t work, track the flight’s arrival time on your phone and use the cell phone lot to wait. Tell your guests to call you once they have their luggage in hand. I love my cell phone lots which are free and usually less than a mile from passenger pickup. Saves time, money, and hassle. I don’t know why more people don’t use them.
Although, for some reason the cell phone lots do remind me, just a little bit, of the weirdo plane groupies.
Thank you for visiting.
photo attribution https://www.google.com/#q=Airport+Images
What’s worse than overzealous security personnel on a United Flight? Little Bunny Flu Flu!
Little Bunny Flu Flu,
Hoping through the air ducts;
Jumping on the passengers;
And giving them a bug!
My husband came home from a trip to Colorado with some extra baggage, a really nasty virus. That left me to take care of him and prep for Easter weekend and a cabin full of houseguests, one of whom was a Home Ec teacher. This wonderful lady actually made a career out of home making and is really good at it. She does not judge, but I can’t help making sure my home is extra polished for her visits. As if that isn’t intimidating enough, she’s also an amazing cook. Here’s what she brought for the weekend:
- Homemade cheese;
- An assortment of meats;
- A bundt cake;
- Two dozen pastries;
- Fruit Salad;
- Green Salad with homemade dressing;
- Asparagus-feta tarts;
- Shrimp ceviche;
- Two bags of thick-cut potato chips;
- Butter in the shape of a bunny; and
- A Partridge in a pear tree!
This doesn’t even include a wide assortment of beverages both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. As you can imagine, this lady is in high demand as a house guest. She and her husband are booked months in advance.
My husband managed to rally a bit by the time the first guest arrived, but was still pretty weak so I volunteered to drive with one guest to the Easter vigil at the Catholic Church on Saturday night. That sucker lasted two and a half hours. There must have been a lot of grace going on in there.
When we got home from church at 10:00 pm, we found the oldest and youngest cousins had discovered my stash of Easter candy for the next day and were hunched over it like zombies with a particularly plump corpse. Did I mention these cousins are 26 and 49? Apparently they also tucked into the stash of Gin, because they thought this whole scene was hilarious!
The good news is we all had a fantastic time with great conversation, great food, an amazing session of star gazing, and a lot of laughter. This Easter was another hosting opportunity that made me truly grateful for the blessings of my family and friends.
The bad news is, as that last guest pulled out of the driveway I felt that tell-tale tickle in the back of my throat. I now have the flu. Thanks a lot Little Bunny Flu Flu.
Thank you for visiting,