In San Francisco (San Francisco IAP, CA)
Trip Start Aug 01, 2011
34Trip End Aug 25, 2011
Today is 25 August 2011; our final bag drag day because we're headed home! We’re excited but at the same time sad to be leaving such a beautiful place and wonderful experience. We were up and at it at 0730 and ate our final breakfast in the executive lounge at 0845. Rosalind and I thanked all of the staff members that had so graciously taken care of us.
One of the waiters asked if we knew why the sky was so hazy this morning; we joked and said because we were leaving and the sky was sad. He immediately corrected us; in the last few days, an international sporting event was held on the outskirts of town. As a result, the government closed factories in the area to maintain good air quality during this period (similar to what took place during the 2008 Olympics).
The door to the taxi closed at 1007; I am impressed. We rode through the business district for about 15 minutes. Once at the train station, I revalidated the airline check-in process with the information desk I received two days ago. I was also able to purchase our train tickets from the information desk instead of a nearby ticket machine; saved us 40 YUAN. The check-in process was as follows: 1) buy train tickets to the airport; 2) swipe the tickets to enter a restricted airlines processing area; and 3) once checked-in, go to the lower level and catch a train to the airport. We did everything normally done at the airline ticket counter right in the train station; luggage turn-in, boarding pass issue, everything! We checked Rosalind’s limo in; arrangements were made for an airline representative to meet us at the platform upon arrival with another limo.
The train left for the airport at 1100. Each car had monitors with streaming video of news and advertisements. One advertisement we saw touted two Chinese firms development of computer software that could successfully hack US computers
I got Rosalind and me some grub and a couple of drinks. The lounge, located in the upper level of the airport had frosted glass along the railings which didn’t give us a view of very much; just ceiling and sky. So I stood most of the time looking over the rail to see all the action going on below. I hadn't purchased a Hong Kong souvenir book and had HK dollars to exchange, so I went on a little stroll. Just before reaching the escalator to go down one level, I looked over the railing and spotted Amare Stoudemire. We exchanged pleasantries and kept moving. Once on the lower level, it looked like a shopping mall, with restaurants, duty free stores, kiosks, fast-food joints, new car displays, you name it. In the airport! I have been through many airports and thought the one in Dubai was tops, but this one is incredible too
A few minutes after getting back, I watched a ramp crew tow our aircraft to the gate and start servicing it for our departure; we had an hour and fifteen minutes to go. At 1320, a man returned to escort Rosalind and me to the gate for departure. Once at the gate, our passports, boarding pass and carry-on bags were checked. With that finished, we were taken to the aircraft.
Flight attendants Pepper, Kate, Cathy and Ina met Rosalind at the door, helped her out of the limo and escorted us both to our seats. The love fest began! Our aircraft was a Boeing 747-400 with nine seats in the first class cabin. Our seats were 1A and 1K; actually forward of the flight desk on the upper level. Words cannot describe our seats and the immediate area. We had a little compartment like area; with a 17-inch monitor, 36 inch wide seat that lay flat into a bed, a closet for storage, amenities kit, PJs, slippers and face mask. WOW! Our individual seat area was so big that I could go to Rosalind’s seat, sit across from her and eat together. Now I see why the American Airlines Representative recommended we try Cathay Pacific on our return flight back in February when I purchased our tickets
We both got settled in and the bubbly started to flow. The flight attendants came by, introduced themselves to us and advised they would be taking care of us and to let them know whatever we needed or wanted. The captain for our flight was American. He made an announcement that we were almost ready for takeoff; the only thing left was to fuel the aircraft. He asked that we unbuckle our seatbelts during the process and remain in our seats. Takeoff time was scheduled for 1405. We pushed back from the gate at 1421 and took-off at 1439.
About five minutes later, our in-flight service began. Our meals were cooked-to-order from a large selection of items. I even had a bowl of rice with my meal! They waited on Rosalind hand and foot; I almost got jealous. They helped her to the bathroom, got ice bags for her knee; kept checking on her throughout the flight; the pampering was great! During my first trip to the bathroom, I extended both my arms out full; they didn’t touch either wall! After the meal service, we were ready for some shut-eye; we had to call the attendant, step away from our seat, and allow them to get our bed ready. Do you hear me? We had a mattress pad, sheets, two pillows and comforter turned down. Our flight was scheduled for 11 hours and 51 minutes; it actually ended up being 12 hours and 1 minute
We landed at the San Francisco International Airport, California at 1140. As soon as the aircraft cabin door was opened, a limo was waiting for Rosalind. We had a pretty good walk before reaching the customs processing area. No problem here; we claimed our bags, cleared customs, and rechecked them for the continuing flights. Our next stop was the Admiral’s Club to wait for our next flight, which was scheduled to depart for the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, Texas at 1435.
It was a very long walk to American Airlines new terminal. And because we had exited the secure area at some point during this process, we had to go through security again. We finally reached the Admirals Club, had a drink and some pretzels, and began calling family and friends, letting them know we were back in the "good ole USA." It was really good to be back home; well almost home. At about 1340, we moved to the departure gate of our next flight.
See you in Dallas…it’s been a long day!
Love You All
Lionel and Rosalind