Friday, June 27, 2008

Boston/British Accomodations/Delayed Flights (by Clara)

Well, my dad and I were supposed to be flying out of South Bend in an hour (5:30 am, to arrive in Boston at 9:48 am), but the wonderful crew at United Express at the South Bend Regional Airport have decided to trot out the Grand Ould Tradition of Delayed and Cancelled Flights. Was a time when a person had to plan for 2 or 3 hour layovers in O'Hare in order to barely make the connection by sprinting through the vast, sprawling concourses that United Airlines occupy in their midwestern hub. In those days, passengers learned not to get their hopes up with an on-time boarding, since there was sure to be something like an engine leak to keep the plane on the ground for another hour or so, and an on-time departure was shocking enough to send those with weaker constitutions into fits.

In this new, post-Wisconsin-Air-takeover-of-the-SBN-United-Express era, such delays are not nearly as common, and flights are on time often enough that one can usually book a relatively tight connection without worry. I suppose, however, that when the delays do occur, they can be blamed on the fact that the South Bend Airport is so small, and so little staffed: oftentimes the crew that flew in is scheduled to fly back out to O'Hare as soon as the obligatory rest time is up, meaning that delays just propogate without forseeable end. (The delays may be an artifact of the small staff, but they are still extremely frustrating.) This certainly seems to be our problem today, since the weather has been lovely for flying, if a bit thick with Indiana summer mugginess. It seems we will now be taking a flight at 8:20 am, and attempting to get on a 9:20 flight to Boston, which has plenty of room... but it's all in First Class. *sigh* Hopefully my father's status as a Premier Executive (i.e. the second-to-highest class of people who fly United Airlines a whole heck of a lot) will help us out there. If not, we'll be sitting in O'Hare until 2 pm central, which will put us in Boston around 5. Lovely. So much for my plans for a bracing swim in the harbor at noon...

Anyway, on a more swim-related topic, Mallory and her dad have been out in Boston for a day now (a plan of which her father was not aware until the afternoon before they left... at 7 am... from Chicago Midway, which is two and a half hours away on a good day), and she's had a chance to swim out there. Apparently it was around 59 degrees Fahrenheit, which didn't make for a very happy adjustment after training for weeks in an 81-degree lap pool, but it bodes well for our 6-hour qualifying swim tomorrow (which must be done in sub-60 degree water). The weather seems like it will be favorable as well: as I understand it, our plan is to begin the swim in the wee hours of the morning, so we should be well out of the way by the time the predicted thunderstorm rolls around at 7pm. Perfect!

In other news, I just finished making our final accommodation arrangements for the Britain portion of our stay (the bit in France has yet to be worked out, and probably has to be a little flexible, in case we end up needing to stay in England a little longer than planned). For the first two days of our trip, we'll be staying in a hostel in London, seeing a few of the must-see sights (changing of the guard, and a couple major cathedrals) and some of the cooler-seeming attractions, like an Imperialism Museum. Then it's off by train to Folkestone, where we'll be staying at the Grand Burstin Hotel (44 845 838 1005, in case anyone wants to surprise us with a visit while we're there!). They have a really sweet price of £25/person/night, which includes dinner, bed, and breakfast. Even without the food, this was the cheapest place around, so we're pretty stoked about the deal.

It occurs that perhaps I should spend my extra time doing something productive, instead of just sitting on the computer. Off I go.

Update: It's just after noon Eastern time, and I'm still sitting at O'Hare. If the flights had been on time, we would have been in Boston 2 hours ago, and we won't even be leaving for another 2 hours. Sometimes I REALLY hate flying.

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