Mmm skycraper I love you
Mmm skycraper I love you… For those who don’t know where the heck this comes from, it’s a track by my favorite band Underworld and I found the title to be appropriate for the Hong Kong. As all I could make out in the darkness of the night were high rise skyscraper buildings!
My goodness what a trip it has been so far! I went from Manneken Pis to Frankfurter Würsten, on to Tiger City (google it damn it if you haven’t figured it out by now), then onto the city of the Gherkin, flew over the pond to My Hammy, immediate connection to Cowtown, then over to the city where Groove was filmed and where I had a “long” overnight, first thing in the morning back to Panther City and flew for 16 hours straight to where I am at the moment… Hong Kong!
Oh by the way sorry I didn’t post anything earlier, but WTF some of my connections were really short, especially in the USA. Let’s see if I can recall and recap what has happened since I flew out of Oslo…
Oslo – London
Well you probably read before how I spend the night at Oslo airport… Let me know you one thing, if you go on a trip like this, just put your mind to zero and give a f*ck about what happens along the way, just deal with it and learn not to make a big fuss out of things that happens. That’s not just a lesson while traveling, but also for life!
Luckily we arrived in LHR a bit head of schedule, I rushed myself from one terminal to the other and through security. At first I went to the British Airways lounge but I found it way too crowded there, so I headed over to the Admirals Club where I had been like 2 weeks ago. Perfect, almost no people, shower was ready for use!
Let me tell you that you feel a whole lot better after a refreshing shower, then a quick breakfast (croissant and Jack Daniels) and off to the gate for my flight to Miami. I got there just in time and got pulled to the side for a sniff by the K9 squad, nothing found so I could take a seat.
London – Miami
The flight to My Hammy was business as usual for me, I have become so used to flying that I’m not even bothered or nervous anymore, the only thing I care about is a good seat. I can’t recall which seat I had, but I passed out as soon as I got onto the plane! After a 2 hour flight I arrived in London Heathrow where it’s always a pain in the ass to change terminals as you have to hop on the bus. By now I know the drill and I managed to find the other terminal where I need to check in with American Airlines for my flight to Miami.
“How long will you be staying in Miami?” “Maybe an hour or 2 before my next flight.” “Euh what? Then what do I put as your address in the USA?” How am I supposed to know what the AA agent needs to fill into his system… He needed to ask his supervisor haha, “OK we’ll just put you as in transit, here are your new boarding passes.”
Again this flight was done on a 777-300 and I had an exit row seat, dreaded middle seat though, but hey again I survived!
Miami – Dallas
As Miami was my first point of entry into the USA, I had to clear immigration here and I had learned my lesson during my mileage run trip to Hawaii. I didn’t fill out the well known blue CBP form this time, but instead I went for the APC (Automated Passport Control) kiosk where you just need to answer a couple of questions, scan your fingerprints and have your picture taken and then you can head over to immigration.
“What’s the purpose of your trip to the US?”
“I’m doing a mileage run.”
“I fly from A to B to Z in a week to collect the miles.”
“How long will you be staying in the US?”
“A couple of hours maybe before I fly to Hong Kong.”
Again that look and then finally a reply…
“It’s a f*cking waste of time if you ask me but have a good day.”
Can someone please introduce the meaning of the word smile and humor to some of these CBP guys? Seriously, some of them look like they’ve been constipated for a week!
As I cleared immigration and security at the airport I headed outside for some fresh air and then took the time to fresh myself up a bit before checking in again for my next flight. Using the automated AA kiosks this works perfect and I headed over to the gate… Well that was the plan, but what a queue! 250 meter of people waiting for a security checkpoint!!
I headed back to the AA desk and asked if there was another way to get to the D gates and he told me to go to the E gates which were closer to my departing gate and security was a whole lot quicker. I got to the checkpoint and noticed that my boarding passes had a “TSA Precheck” stamp on them, ok let’s see how this works as I got pointed to the fast track queue and got a big green card which said “TSA Precheck, you can keep your shoes on and need to take out your liquids and laptop,… bla bla”.
Well suck my sideways, this so called fast track queue was even slower than the regular queue and another guy asked me cynically “How’s that TSA Precheck working out for you?” We both started laughing as he was in the same boat as me…
Dallas – San Francisco
At DFW airport I only had like 1 hour to make my connection which was crazy looking at it afterwards, especially if you take into account how BIG Dallas Fort Worth airport is… I got off the plane and started looking for gate information but couldn’t find anything quickly enough so I resorted to the AA app on my phone. Holy crap, I had arrived at gate A28 and had to make my way all the way to the D gates! Alright, “Warp speed captain!”, I sprinted towards the Skytrain and still had to figure out which direction I had to go… “Aaaah no panic, you’ll get there!” I thought to myself. I made it indeed with only a couple of minutes to spare!
The rest has become routine… priority boarding, exit seat, put my head down, not being able to sleep so resort to listening to some music until we landed in San Francisco. Due to a delay we landed in SFO just after midnight and I then had to clear security. I already knew upfront that I would have to spend the night at the airport, but as it was no longer than 4 or 5 hours, I didn’t want to waste money on a hotel. Like in Oslo, I would spend the night on some bench, seat or sofa.
As soon as I was through security I tried to check myself in for the flight back to Dallas. “WTF, you just flew in from Dallas!” Yes, I know but by (ab)using the AA routing rules I was able to get a layover in San Francisco and this allowed me to get additional miles! Yes more flights, more waiting, more security, but in the end it will all pay off! Believe me, otherwise I wouldn’t even bother to make this trip!
San Francisco – Dallas
After spending about 4 hours on a seat, which wasn’t too bad to sit on actually, I noticed that the American Airlines check in was opening. Staff was appearing and people were being helped out, so I decided to give it a go as I wasn’t able to check in using the self service kiosk. I kept getting an error that “assistance was required”…
The lady at the desk was very helpful, because as soon as she scanned my passport and saw my 15 segment trip she frowned her face and called in the help of a colleague. The reason why the self service kiosk failed to check me in was cause my routing demanded to have a next destination enter into the system for every flight. And because I was in transit everywhere, she had to do everything manually. It took her almost 35 minutes and then I was set. She issued me 2 boarding passes, one for SFO-DFW, the other for DFW-HKG. She even called the Admirals Club in Dallas to get me a better seat on the flight to Hong Kong.
She also advised me for my return trip to have my ESTA approval confirmation with me as hard copy. Good thing the AA club (could be Alcoholics Anonymous in my case after all my dates with JD) was open which had a business center where I could print the necessary document.
After about 15 mins in the lounge I got a phone call from an unknown number, now usually I don’t answer unknown callers, but at this time of day it could be something important or urgent. Well that call gave me some bad news, it was representative from American Express who informed me that my card had been used at an online surf shop and was charged for over $ 2000, WTF?!
As a prevention measure they had blocked my card immediately which resulted in me not having a credit card with me for the rest of the trip! F*CK!!! He asked me if I could pick up a replacement card, euhm no as I was in San Francisco, on my way to Dallas and then Hong Kong… So they will provide me with a temporary card, which would be send to my home address the following days… Luckily I had my bank card with me, so I had to resort to taking out cash for the rest of the trip. After the initial shock, I decided to let it go and not worry about it too much, things would fall into place, I hope!
Soon enough it was 5.15am and I could board the plane heading back to Dallas, again I had an exit row seat for this flight, awesome! Fleece hat over my head, earplugs in and try to get some sleep which again didn’t work out for me, so I decided to get online through the GoGo Air onboard wifi.
Dallas – Hong Kong
Sitting here writing this post while listening to some of my favorite music with lyrics going something like this: “Choose your future, choose life, I chose not to choose life, I chose something else…” That probably didn’t come to mind when I booked this trip, I absolutely didn’t want to think about spending 16+ hours on a plane, my longest flight ever!
Imagine being almost 2 meters tall and then being put on seat 29H on a 777-300 of American Airlines… Only good thing about this is that the seat was better than the initial seat I picked myself, which was on row 20. Shortly after take off the service began and I was already dozing off before my food arrived. Food and a JD for which I never had to pay was mine and after that I slipped into a coma for the next 10 hours straight.
I woke up briefly to go to the toilet, had a snack and drink and was in half sleep mode till about 1 hour before landing. Actually the food on this flight was “ok” haha! It didn’t f*ck up my stomach…
Hong Kong airport is just huge! First time for me here and good thing that everything is clearly pointed out with signs, because while still on board I had filled out a customs immigration form that I handed over to the immigration officer and I got a little piece of paper that showed how long I could stay in Hong Kong. I was through security in 2 minutes, the US customs could learn something from them, and yes the queues were just as long!
First mission was to find an ATM as my Amex card had been blocked due to being used for fraude in an online shop. I got some Hong Kong Dollars and then set off to find the taxis, which again is all so perfectly organised. Just tell the guy at the info desk where you’re heading and he’ll point you to the correct queue for the taxis. Again very short wait, 30 seconds maybe and I hopped into the taxi heading towards the city center! The ride took about 50 minutes due to heavy traffic in the city itself, on the highway the taxi was cruising and gave me a nice view of the port of Hong Kong. But once we reached the city center, traffic just choked…
The taxi driver did his best to take shortcuts and he managed to get me to the hotel in one piece as he told me that Friday and Saturday nights are always hectic. But hey I made it to my hotel for which a review will follow shortly.