Thursday 11 April 2019

Texas there I go

I have to be up reasonably early. My flight is at 9:55. And I wouldn’t want to miss out on the bacon.

Working out the time is tricky. The clock in the room is 2 hours and 10 minutes out. Why the hell would that be. I have to keep checking because it gets light quite late.

I don’t lay into the bacon quite as enthusiastically this morning. Not that hungry, for some reason. I can barely force down six rashers. Plus a couple of cups of coffee to liven me up a bit. It’s going to be a long day.

Breakfasted, I’ve just time to polish off my hotel whisky before it’s time to check out and pick up a cab. It’s been a pretty short trip. Over just as I’m getting into it.

My taxi driver is an affable Mexican around my age. As we trundle along the motorway, through the monotonous beige landscape we chat about football. When I tell him I live in Amsterdam, he assumes I’m Dutch and support Holland. I don’t have the heart to tell him I hate the Dutch national team almost as much as I hate Arsenal.

Needing to print my boarding pass, I go to a machine and type in my confirmation number. It can’t find my reservation. I try again, in case I mistyped it first time. It still doesn’t work. An airline employee comes over to help. “You’re flying with United,” she says, looking at my confirmation, “these are American Airlines machines.” I feel pretty stupid.

Luckily this is a pretty quiet airport. There isn’t the usual scrum of confusion around the United baggage drop off. Which is a pleasant change.

Considering how deserted the place is, security takes quite a while. As initially they’re running just a single X-ray machine. Just as well I’m in no rush.

Avoidance of any rushing – and its accompanying stress  - is one of my main objectives while travelling. Waste some extra time waiting? Fine by me. I prefer that to dropping dead. Which, when you hit my age, is an increasingly likely possibility.

No bar visit in San Antonio airport.  I upgraded to first class when I was checking in yesterday. So I’m saving myself for the free whiskey on the plane.

Upgrading barely cost me anything, really. I’d have had to pay $30 for a check-in bag. Then I reckon on drinking $30-$40 worth of whiskey on the plane. The upgrade was just $80. So I’ve only really paid $10-$20 to board early and have a nice wide seat.

We pull away from the gate almost exactly on time. Then park on the tarmac for the best part of an hour, waiting for a departure slot. At least I’ve some free whisky to keep me company. No worry about missing my connection. I’ve allowed four hours, paranoid as I am.

I wander down the baggage reclaim. My flight’s luggage is due on carousel 12, according to the screen. The screen above carousel 12 confirms that. I stand next to it and wait.

The odd bag comes out, but not mine. It doesn’t look like a full load. My legs are getting tired, so I take a seat and pull out my Private Eye.

A young bloke comes up and says: “Are you waiting for bags from the United flight from San Antonio?” Seems I’m not the only one hanging around.

There’s not much carousel activity, but I’m in patient mode. And sit reading my Private Eye a while more. Though I am beginning to be slightly concerned that they might have lost my bag. Then the bloke comes back and say: “Try looking at carousel 9. That’s where I found my bag.”

Sure enough, my bag is sitting there on carousel 9. Time to head to terminal D to check my bag in again.

Houston airport isn’t the best signposted I’ve ever been in

Have a couple of Jim Beams in Hugo’s Cocina. And Meat tacos. Which, at just $11-odd aren’t that bad value for an airport. Not too bulky, either. While I’m eating them, I stare blankly at a TV behind the bar. Quite pleasant to switch off your brain every now and again.

Hugo’s is conveniently close to my gate. I wander along there quite soon, even though my flight has been delayed by 45 minutes. I don’t want to spend too much at the bar. I can feel Dolores looking over my shoulder. And I’ve all of series 9 of Peep Show to watch. That’ll occupy a couple of hours.

I don’t bother with the inflight entertainment and continue watching Peep Show. (Who would have guessed that Super Hans was really called Simon?) At least until the meal arrives. Beef something. They didn’t specify exactly what. I struggle to identify what it might be.

Then it’s kipping time. Which goes remarkably well. I awake just before breakfast is served.

It’s weird going through passport control. Is this the last time I’ll use the EU lane?

My bag comes out pretty quickly. But what’s that? Is it a damp patch? Damn. A bottle must have broken. Opening it up, it’s pretty damp inside. Luckily it contains no books or anything else that could be ruined. There is my coat, which I’ll need to wear on the way home, as it’s pretty chilly.

I wonder what the other passengers on the bus think of my beer-scented attire?

Hugo’s Cocina
Gate D6,
Houston International airport.

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