Finally In Germany!

posted Sep 22, 2008, 6:03 AM by Chris McKown   [ updated Sep 22, 2008, 7:41 AM ]
After leaving Wichita Falls at 3:00pm Saturday to drive to DFW airport, we checked in with no problems and toodled around the airport for a while. Nice terminal.

We boarded our Boeing 777 flight to Heathrow (London) and took off on schedule.
But we managed to get the worst seats on the entire plane. :) We occupied the center (and only) seats at the absolute back of the plane. We were right between both bathrooms and right in front of the galley (also where flight attendants sit when not flight attending).
OK as we were taxiing to our runway, all of the FA's were talking about the weird LOUD noise coming from the back of the aircraft. In fact, they got so nervous, they called the captain and #2 came back to listen to the noise. He said it was just the rudder. The FA's said are you sure? We have never heard that before back here? He said "don't worry about it:" and left.
So in addition to my normal fear of flight (control issue), I'm now trying to squirm around in my non-reclining seat so that I can kiss my big butt goodbye.
Takeoff was ok and except for "bumpy air" somewhere over the atlantic ocean (greenlandish) the flight was ok. It was hard to get the boys to sleep, but they did ok.

No power sockets for anyone that far back in the plane, so only in-flight entertainment (movies, cartoons, etc). Beer was $6 a can so I had free ginger ale.

Now... The lady at the checkin desk in Dallas said we would need to gather our luggage in London and recheck it. Fine. Also, the FA's in the 777 said we didn't need "landing cards".

We arrived in London (The FA sitting next to me called the back and forth leaning of the plane as the pilot fought to keep it upright after touching down left-right-left-right a "gangster lean").
After landing in London and Kissing my big butt hello again, We walk 2.7 miles from the worst ugliest terminal in Heathrow (I suspect a political statement by the Brits about US foreign policy) and follow all the signs towards "luggage claim" as we were told that we would have to collect and recheck...

We get to the immigration? customs? area (still grungy and yucky) and an indian? pakistani? lady asks for our landing cards. Remember the FA's said we didn't need them (since we were just connecting to a flight to Berlin).
We said "the flight attendants said we didnt need those... so we dont have one" She gave us (4) and made us fill them out. Maverick was at this time crying and hopping up and down because he needs to pee.

I take Maverick back aways through the maze to pee and Nadine fills out the cards.

We get in line to be "seen" by the next available customs person.

Again it is a pakistani or something that checks us out. She says "since you are going through to Berlin, you don't need the cards." So she checks us through.

Two miles further through the maze we get to the baggage claim and there are like 7 pieces of luggage waiting next to the turny thing. None of it is ours. We flag down a guy in uniform and he looks at our paperwork and says "your luggage is probably already on the next plane - it was checked all the way to Berlin - you dont have to recheck it."

half a mile later and without the aid of any clearly marked signs (we asked for help from a dude in uniform again) we are standing on a tube (subway) playform waiting for the "heathrow express" to take us to terminal 5 (since we are currently in terminal 3). The train finally arrives and we ride to terminal 5.

Terminal 5 looks like the year 2120 compared to the awful terminal 3. Very fancy - read about it - expensive, fancy, etc... There was a Audi R8 and a Ferrari something or other in the terminal and people were signing up to win them. (The steering wheel was on the wrong side, so I didn't sign up)

Anyway I get ahead of myself.

Before we get into the main terminal, we have to go through security again.
stage 1 - they look at our papers and ask about liquids. We say - "all of it is in baggies as it is supposed to be except the kids' drinks, which are in sippy cups"
The guy says "kids drinks are ok" move along.
stage 2 - We walk to the next area and get in line (20 or so ahead of us in this line, and there are probably 5 lines just like ours). We take off shoes, belts etc and get ready to load everything on the trays that go through the xray thingy. The TV over the security counter says "make sure your liquids are in baggies and out and visible" so we do that. (Except the kids drinks of course, they are OK - which stay in Nadine's bag) - Maverick wants to go through the people xray thingy first so he does, but he touches the side and it goes off. I go through and get Maverick and we both go back through. I go back through again and I don't think it beeped, and Maverick went through again with no beeps. Nadine and Silas: no beeps. However since Maverick made it beep the first time, they pat him and me both down and "wand" us. Maverick didn't care for it.

Meanwhile, the kids drinks were identified as liquids and they confiscate Nadine's carry-on for further examination. I take the boys over for a photo-op next to the R8 and the Ferrari. Silas has a hard time paying attention and Maverick has his finger halfway to his brain through his nose. Everyone witnessing me trying to take the picture is laughing.

I look back and Nadine is nowhere to be seen so The boys and I stand around assuming she will be back. After 10 or 15 minutes, I spot her down 20 Yards or so next to another security station. She is putting everything back into her bag. She says she had to "taste test" the suspicious liquids from the sippy cups while they watched. Hmmmmmmm.

We locate a sign which tells us our plane is already boarding at gate4a - which is a little ways away (3.7 miles it seems). When we get there it is just a bus outside. We get on the bus (steering wheel all wrong again) and it takes us 3.4 miles back the other way to a plane way out on the giant plane parking lot. This is a smaller airbus plane (British Airways).

We get on (having had no time to stop for drinks or anything in the airport) and wait 45 minutes or so for a place in line to take off. The pilot then says we have a place in line and will take off in 9 minutes. He was right. Up in the air finally away from Heathrow!!

Flying over London and the English Channel was cool.

France was cloudy so nothing to see there. About 30 minutes before we were going to land Silas decides he's had enough and doesn't want to wear his seatbelt. REALLY doesn't want to wear his seatbelt - So Nadine has to hold him and keep his seatbelt on by sheer Mom-Force. Silas screams at the top of his lungs until the plane lands and comes to a complete stop.

He stops crying and says "Are we done?" - And seems much better. Everyone filing off the plane leans over to get a look at the kid who sounded like he was being decapitated slowly with a nail file.

btw - the BA food was much better than the American Airlines food.

Anyway, we get to the German customs area and the Guy asks something in German about my laptop and Nadine asks me how much did it cost and how old is it. I guess and tell the guy. He wants us to pay taxes on it until we figure out he thinks we live in Germany and bought the laptop in the States. This is odd since 3 of us showed him US passports...??? Anyway he lets me keep the laptop and we arrive in Germany where Nadine's Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister are waiting to ferry us to the house.

Silas and Maverick rode in their new carseats in Opa's super nice BMW and Nadine and I ride with Brother Nils and Sister Wibke in "piece of shit" as Nils calls it. :)

We made it from WF to Berlin in just under 18 hours and lasted until about 10:30pm local time (3:30pm Texas Time) and then went to BED!!

This is the view from the back porch...

And from the dining room (breakfast this morning)

- More to come