Mar 24 2013

Travelling to America I

January 2013

One of the perks (or banes depending on the journey) of being a member of a long distance relationship (what\’s 600 miles when you\’re in love??) is that you spend a significant amount of time in airports. Not, time travelling. That is silly to think. The time is actually spent waiting after you checked in; and waiting during lay-overs towards your destination; and waiting when your flight is delayed.

I am Canadian and live in Canada.

My beloved is American and lives in the United States of America.

Seems logical.

My annoyance in travelling brews from the fact that I live in Whitby (44 km/27 miles from Toronto Pearson airport) and he lives in North Carolina (156 km/97 miles from the Raleigh airport).
No one goes to NC. This is what I have learned after more than a culmination of a decade of travelling to NC. He disagrees with me about this. He talks about the amazing golf courses that are “world renowned” – but all my friends that golf, and all their friends, and the random strangers on the GO train, go to SOUTH Carolina for golf. Not North.

Aside from golf, what\’s tourist worthy in NC? Nothing, unless you know people there. Seriously. Nothing. And therein lies the rub. It isn\’t a popular spot like Florida, Vegas or SOUTH Carolina for short jaunts. And it isn\’t on the WestJet or Porter short haul list like NYC La Guardia, and JFK or Boston. Not being popular means that there are few airlines that fly there directly from Canada. In fact, there are none. How many fly there directly from Buffalo, my closet USA departure location? None. Because apparently even people in the USA don\’t want to visit North Carolina.

(Alright… Settle down.. I am joking around Carolinians. There are many, many, many, Hunger Games fans that would like nothing else but to go to NC. And many Rainbow fans that would love to visit Charlotte once a year for the parade.)

Anyhoo – back to my musing – today I am travelling again to be able to spend January 27th with my beloved. That date is significant because it is his birthday. (According to him, birthdays ending in a zero or five are important. I\’ll accept that without agreeing.) and that means I am waiting around for hours on end today.

I booked my flight through Air Miles for “free” (paid $115 for the taxes) which means I got assigned an airline. Today it is American Airlines, which also flies under American Eagle (don\’t get me started!) and, as always, there is NO direct flight. Today it is YYZ to LGA to RDU, with a 50 minute layover in-between.

My first flight was scheduled to leave at 12:45pm. AA wants me there 3 hours early. Three. Why? Why? Really – why?


I left my house at 8am and my brother (soon to be rock star @pksongwriter – request his song on the radio and buy his CD please) took me to the airport before he headed off to work. Arrived at 8:40 or so. Wandered about aimlessly until check-in time at 9:45, Took me less than 5 minutes to finish, including filling out the blue form. Went through Customs, then the mandatory Security check point, in less than 30 minutes. (I counted them: 37 people in front of me in the Security line up. 37 – less than a minute per person processing. Good job.) I saunter over to the \’not seats but architecture that allows you to sit on them\’ area to put on my shoes, put my laptop back into my carry on, yawn, look about and, now it is – gee – 10:15. My flight begins boarding at 12:00. Thank goodness Toronto Pearson provides free wifi.

Worst part of the wait… Tim Hortons is on the other side of the glass wall separating USA Here, and Not USA Over There, and I can\’t get to it. Starbucks only over here. And a 5oz container of berries for 5.49 or a brie and apple on whole wheat sandwich for $12.99. Thanks, but No.

Positive surprises that I have encountered this trip:

1. The $25 for first checked bag fee advertised everywhere and listed on my travel itinerary for some reason was waived and free today. The machine checked me in so maybe that is a surprise perk. There was no human involved to over-ride that. Yeah.

2. The flights have beverage service only – no food – and alcohol is not complimentary. Wine is $6USD for a 1.89mL/6 oz bottle. But today – Because I am nice to people? Because I always thank the flight staff when getting on? Because I don\’t annoy the crap out of them and follow the rules immediately? – my flight attendant gave me one bottle and \’forgot\’ to charge me. Then just happened to hand me another bottle while walking back to return the cart. It\’d be easy to say it was because this flight attendant was flirting; but I look like crap today in my jeans and sweats and no make-up wearing a ring on my finger, and he was definitely not looking for a female for a date. Yeah again.

Not so positive surprises:
1. My sensitive teeth are not only sensitive to sweets (chocolate and I plough through the pain) but they are also sensitive to high altitudes. Felt like I was being punched in the side of the face repeatedly once we hit cruising altitude.

2. I am famished! By the time I was boarding my 3:10pm flight, the bagel and 2 coffees (and wine!) were obviously not enough to sustain myself. I should have remembered to pack some food to bring along. Seriously, a granola bar would be helpful at this point. But I have another hour to go in the air, and then who knows how long until my plane reaches the airport doors, my Beloved arrives, we get to the vehicle, we get to a food place, the food is ordered, the food arrives – Egads! – I\’m buying a $13 sandwich when I land in Raleigh. Hopefully it isn\’t deep fried.

Oops… and once I find a place to convert my money. Unlike the border states, NC does not easily take and convert anything but US-issued money on the spot; not even the banks. This may not go well for me.



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