So, after a 11 month delay, we finally get to go on our Grand Tour of the West Coast. 3.30 am Thursday 2nd. October saw His Lordship and myself hauling our cases into his beloved Soul for the 30 minute trip down to the long stay car park at BHX. Checked the car in for its 2 week holiday and wash and jumped onto the coach to the airport. Checked luggage in, explaining we had a very tight connection (1 hour 15 mins at Frankfurt) and they dutifully put a label on the bags to that effect. I had got a couple of express security passes, which turned out to be a godsend as even at 4.30 am, Birmingham Airport was pretty busy, and we were straight down the fast lane and through security in 10 minutes. Went to the gate to await boarding. As the minutes passed the time stated on the boarding pass, I got a little twitchy and went to the desk and explained that we had a very tight connection. "Don't worry", said the agent "there's fog at Frankfurt so all planes are being delayed and we are having to wait for a landing slot. All the other flights should be affected." Pacified, I returned to His Lordship. We were, I suppose, only 10 minutes late boarding and then sat a few more minutes while they tried to negotiate an earlier slot.
Take off and landing smooth, but my heart sank when I saw that we had been parked off gate and had to be bussed in. For some reason, despite FRA being one of the largest airports in the world, a lot of planes are parked off gate, which adds to the time passing through the airport. The bus arrived in concourse B and we had to get to concourse A/Z. I can't remember how later we were but the attendants on the flight had told us that our connection to Seattle was still ok. We trekked round the corridors of concourse B and boarded a train over to concourse A/Z. We had to go through another security check point and into concourse Z (the non Schengen area of concourse A) and rushed to gate Z52. To be greeted by unsympathetic gate personnel who told us that boarding had been closed as the flight had been parked off gate. If there's nothing that p*sses me off more, it's gate personnel who just don't appear to care. Wearliy, we trooped back down the concourse to the Lufthansa Service Centre. Here, we had much more success. The agent was polite, sympathetic and diligent. She must have spent about an hour searching for options to get us away that day, stopping every so often to check stuff with her supervisor and usually returning with water or snacks as well. Eventually, she was successful. She managed to route us to Oakland via Los Angeles. A bit later than expected but we were grateful none the less and with a cheery wave, we set off back to the gate for the flight to LAX. Looked out at the gate to see a 747-800 waiting.
Boarding time came, and Steve went first to the automatic gate, which produced a seperate piece of paper, which the passenger behind him had to call him back for. I was a few passengers back and saw this thinking "Ah, seating re-assignment". I went through the gate, picked up my little piece of paper which was marked "UPGRADE BUSINESS". I had a huge grin on my face, having experienced Lufthansa Business Class before. Steve was on the escalator looking back at me quite puzzled. We met up at the bottom.
"What does this ticket mean?"
"What it says - we've been upgraded!" So, we went down the Business Class air bridge and found our way upstairs to our seats to oodles of luggage space and complementary champagne, flat bed seats and a rather friendly bearded steward.
Stop right there. We did not join the Mile High club.
So, we arrived at LAX comfortably rested and fed. To high nineties temperatures and a walk outside from the international terminal to Terminal 5, with much kvetching from His Lordship who does not do the heat. Checked in for the Delta flight to Oakland, which was a Canadair RJ (another bugbear of His Lordship - hates small airplanes). But they had given us Economy Comfort seats so we could stretch out, so that was a bit more comfortable. Arrived at OAK about 10.00 pm PST. About 30 or so hours after waking up.
Tried to find the bus to the car rental station. which was nowhere near the stand it was advertised, but eventually united with our vehicle for the next 2 weeks, a Dodge Journey. And so, thanks to the gods of SatNav, we found our way to our hotel and flopped onto our beds...