Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Traveling Home for a second Christmas

We awoke slightly after 5am on the friday morning.  Dad was already up, so Paul and I got dressed, washed, and shoved some coffee down our neck.  We got the kids up and dressed, not an easy feat, given they were used to waking up around 8.  Paul loaded the suitcases into the car in the pouring rain (a running theme for our trip).  I decided to check the status of our flight.  Delayed till 14.45, we were supposed to fly at 9.55!  hmmmm, not a huge delay, but a bare able one.

Because of this, we took it slightly easy on our drive to Heathrow in the rain.  We got to the car hire place just after 6am.  They hand over was quick and efficient.  I cannot fault Sixt car hire for our trip.  They were courteous and polite in wall our dealings with them.  I would choose to use them again.  We jumped in their van and headed to Heathrow.  

We checked in, using the self check in.  Shame you can't check the kids this way, so we had to go to the desk for them.  The man behind the counter was really feeling the fact it was 6.30!  He was a little dense to put it politely…. After about 15 minutes we were all checked in, and the bags despatched.  We headed through security.  Heathrow security is pretty good, as soon as they saw the kids, they sent us to a side aisle.  I remembered this from our big move, seems to be the aisle for families. Very convenient.  Out the other side, we checked the departure board.  Boarding delayed till……..15.30

So we tried to make the best of it.  We headed for some breakfast.  Not overly expensive (but not as cheap as Beefeater), good service, tasty food, happy boys.  There was not much left over. Then for one of our many walks around the terminal. Terminal 1 has had a makeover in the last few years.  We did not really explore it last time, but it has gone quite upmarket.  Not a fast food restaurant in sight.  There was however a children's play area, which killed a good 45 minutes.


We had a lighter lunch, and again, there was not much food left over.  We sat and waited for our gate, while the boys got on with playing their kindles/iPods/leap pads.  Thank goodness we got them before the trip.  They did manage to drain the batteries, but again, there are charging places in and around the terminal.

15.30 came and went, and still no sign of a gate…..  Eventually it was put up about 15.50, so we took a nice leisurely stroll in that direction.  There were a lot of disgruntled looking people waiting.  We eventually began boarding at about 17.00, and took off about 20 minutes later.  The captain was most apologetic.  There were maintenance issues with the plane (just what you want to hear when you are about to taxi down the run way), then there was a weather delay.  I later discovered that the flight had not left Charlotte for Heathrow till about 3am.  

The flight itself was not too bad.  The boys ate some of their meals, then had some computer time.  But they were tired, dog tired.  Sebastian fell asleep with a kindle in his hand, before they had even dimmed the lights.  Oliver and Isaac fell asleep shortly after.  Half the battle with the boys on the plane is getting them to sleep.  As they had all done it, I was able to watch a film in peace.  I watched Rush, and absolutely loved it.  I even had a tear in my eye towards the end.  Such an awesome film.

About an hour and a half before we were due to land, they put the lights back on.  It took the boys a while to wake up.  It was about 20.30 US time, making it 1.30 am UK time….  We touched down, and had a wait for the buggy.  Great I thought, by the time we get through Immigration, our bags should be out.  But no.  Despite the fact we were the last through Immigration, we had to wait 30 minutes for the bags to appear on the carousel.  Then another 20 minutes to get them all.  By now it was past 11pm US time.  We walked out of the airport, and found the bus to the long stay car park.  From here in, it was relatively plain sailing.

I really felt for the other people on the flight who had to catch connecting flights.  Many of them missed their flight due to the delay in getting their baggage.  That delay, and the general incompetence of US Airways, and Charlotte Airport will have cost them a fair whack in compensation, hotel fees and new flights.  It is only since getting home I have realized that we were lucky to have flown when we did.  Another 2 days and our flight may have been cancelled……

We eventually got home at 1.30 am US time.  We put the boys straight up to bed, and despite them all sleeping on the plane and in the car, they went straight to sleep, bypassing the massive pile of presents Father Christmas had left them.  We thought they would sleep till at least 10am.

But no.  Isaac was up at 7.45am.  We managed to get them to stay upstairs till 8.  Then we headed down to open their Christmas presents.

They were all pretty pleased with what they received.  Sebastian even managed to open some of his, before discovering the awesome presents his brothers had received.  Then he lost interest….

We eventually got him to open them all.  Isaac was the first finished unwrapping, Seb the last

Once all the presents had been unwrapped and opened, we got down to the serious business of taking down the Christmas stuff.  It was nice to go back to the UK, but very hectic. We never spent longer than 2 nights in a row in one place.  But thats what you have to do when you are short on time with lots of people to see…..

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