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International arrivals

Started: 2019-09-12 21:23:07

Submitted: 2019-09-12 23:27:57

Visibility: World-readable

23rd August 2019: In which the intrepid narrator flies back to North America from Dublin

After a week in Dublin, first for Worldcon and then as tourists in the city, the time came for us to head back to North America on Friday, 23rd August.

Calvin and Kiesa walk down Meath St in Dublin
Calvin and Kiesa walk down Meath St in Dublin

Our plan was to catch the airport express bus from down the street from the furnished apartment we stayed in, but this proved easier said than done because the bus had been rerouted away from High Street, on the south side of the river, to Arran Quay, on the north side of the river. I had seen a vague reference to a reroute on the bus' website while gathering details for our departure, but they hadn't bothered to update any of the maps on their own site (or to inform Google Maps that the route had been changed). We walked across the river and caught the bus, then rode its meandering path through Dublin, picking up passengers at random places where tourists might be departing, driving past the Convention Centre Dublin for one last time, before finally arriving at the airport.

The check-in line for Icelandair was modest but moved slowly. (I spotted at least one other family that looked like they had attended Worldcon, since they were wearing t-shirts for the 2021 Worldcon in Washington, DC.) The line for security was long, but we emerged with enough time for me to grab coffee on the long walk down to the end of the Terminal 1 satellite.

Icelandair TF-ISL at DUB
Icelandair TF-ISL at DUB

We waited to board the plane, standing in line next to the window (where I could see that no one was actually boarding the aircraft sitting on the tarmac, despite passengers having already disappeared through the boarding door). I was amused to have the opportunity to board the aircraft using a stair through the rear door -- something I haven't actually done before in my experience in air travel.

Passengers board TF-ISL through the rear door on the tarmac at DUB
Passengers board TF-ISL through the rear door on the tarmac at DUB

I sat with Julian on the flight, in a middle and window seat, while Kiesa and Calvin sat immediately behind us. (It is inconvenient that our family no longer sits in a normal three-abreast seat section; though sometimes we get lucky and fly in planes with two-abreast seating so the family fits better.)

TF-ISL flies over the Irish countryside
TF-ISL flies over the Irish countryside

Our first flight took us to Keflavík, about two hours of flying, mostly over the North Atlantic, which was obscured by clouds anyway. Julian mostly amused himself with his iPad; then he watched the first half of The Lego Movie 2 before running out of time when we landed. The clouds parted by the time we approached Keflavík, giving me the chance to see Reykjavík on the way down. (Regrettably this was the closest I got to Reykjavík on this trip; I will have to return on a future trip to visit this volcanic island for real.)

TF-ISL flies over Reykjavík on approach to KEF
TF-ISL flies over Reykjavík on approach to KEF

We landed in Keflavík at the beginning of the coordinated Icelandair arrivals; the food service in the concourse was still opening up as we entered. We found an adequate lunch of prepared sandwiches, once we found the vegetarian selection, segregated from the rest of the food in its own refrigerator case, and waited through our four-hour layover.

At length it was time to queue for and board our flight to Seattle, taking care to pick the right flight to Seattle. (There were two flights leaving to Seattle fifteen minutes apart from each other; we ended up on the first flight.)

Jaeger on the tarmac at KEF with TF-FIP
Jaeger on the tarmac at KEF with TF-FIP

I sat with Julian again, and as soon as we sat down he wanted to continue watching The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; he had watched half of the movie on the first flight, and I had promised him he could watch the rest of the movie on this flight. Our in-flight entertainment screens, and several of the screens around us, were inoperable; I told Julian he'd be able to watch the movie as soon as we were in the air. This placated him until we took off an the screen still wasn't working. Another passenger nearby summoned a flight attendant, who told us that we needed to reset the screen by holding down the power button for forty seconds. This seemed like a rather odd number, so I asked to confirm the time, and she confirmed forty seconds. I held down the power button, watching the time on my watch; and forty seconds later the screen flashed, then took another minute booting up (and four more minutes showing the mandatory advertising video); and at length Julian was able to watch his movie.

Julian waits to depart KEF
Julian waits to depart KEF

An hour into the flight the map showed that we were flying over Greenland, but the land below us was obscured by clouds. Half an hour later I checked again and saw the snow covering the island, almost perfectly white, stretching into the haze at the indistinct Arctic horizon far to the north.

TF-FIP in flight over Greenland
TF-FIP in flight over Greenland

(This was the week after the leader of the free world announced that he wanted to buy Greenland and then threw a tantrum and canceled a state visit to Denmark when he was informed that Greenland was not, in fact, for sale. While flying over Greenland, I checked, and confirmed that it was not for sale. There was a sign, just out of view of the picture above.)

Despite stopping half-way across the Atlantic, our flight to Seattle took another eight hours. I watched our progress on the in-flight map (until it stopped working, and I reset the in-flight entertainment system again, to no avail) and watched a couple of movies: Alita: Battle Angel (an entertaining, if a bit campy, sci-fi action thriller) and Widows (a surprising crime movie). Julian watched The Lego Movie 2 twice, and amused himself with various other short children's programming on the kind-of-sparse on-demand streaming before falling asleep, rather awkwardly, using my shoulder as a pillow and my sweater as a blanket.

We landed in Seattle just before 18:00 localtime, and I tried not to remind myself that it was 02:00 in Dublin. The sky was overcast, but was still light enough that I could claim with a straight face that it was daylight. I packed up our carry-on bags and got Julian's shoes on and carried him off the plane. We headed for the mostly-empty Global Entry kiosks at the side of the international arrivals hall under the south satellite. (The last time I was here was after visiting my counterpart team in London this spring; the last time Kiesa and Calvin were here was on our way home after going to Hong Kong.) Posing Julian's face in front of the adult-height camera was a little awkward. The kiosk printed out a landing card with a warning that we needed to see the human agent for Julian, since he was enrolled in Global Entry (by virtue of getting a NEXUS card) but had not had his fingerprints scanned (by virtue of being a small child). The kiosk accepted my passport and fingerprints, so I took Julian and his passport to the human agent, who glanced at Julian's passport and stamped his landing card for entry.

We waited for our bags to appear at baggage claim, then exited through customs. We caught the people-mover to the main terminal, then caught a Lyft to Wallingford. We arrived at the house at 19:25 PDT, nineteen hours after leaving our apartment in Dublin that morning, half a world away.

yet another half-implemented feature... 2000.04.13; i'm going to bed
- Jaeger Comment in x13's Boxes.pm