If flight AA0008 had left at 4 pm as scheduled rather than
5:30 pm, maybe it woulda been easy to get the connection at Dallas onto QF0008
heading for Brisbane.
We’d arrived at Cancun airport around 1 pm (get there three hours ahead of the flight
time, they say.) Even found somebody to share the taxi with, so we didn’t have
to pay the full fare ourselves. Tipped the driver and took our own luggage into
the terminal, despite efforts from locals to help us with that task.
Baggage and ticket check – fine, although the fella at the
counter said we’d have to collect our booked-through luggage at Dallas and then
put it on the Qantas flight. Didn’t seem a big deal at the time. Now all we had
was our back packs, the netbook, a bum bag (Fay) and a man bag (me). Not a
great effort to go through other aspects of the process – security check,
customs, passport check. Finally we found a spot to sit so we could (a) work
out how many pesos we had to spend, (b) what we’d have for lunch, and (c) generally
relax before climbing aboard our 4 pm flight.
Then the fly in the ointment – flight has been delayed. Now
due to depart at 17:20. Hhhmmm. We were
gonna have a bit of time in Dallas…now it seems it’s gonna be rather squeezy to make the connection.
Departure time did finally arrive, with us saying things
like, There’s no way this baby’s gonna
get away on time, as we queued to get on the waiting plane. Yep, we were
right – it finally took off at 5:35 pm. Was there a time difference between
Cancun and Dallas? Nobody on the ground at Cancun could tell us. They are
pretty laid back there so even when I asked police, airport security and
anybody else in a uniform, I got nowhere.
Meanwhile, back on the plane we were trying to work out
whether we had a chance of making the connection or not. I was a bit
optimistic, especially when the captain said he expected we’d have a flight
time of about 2:20 – below the scheduled 2:45. However, once we flew over land,
things changed and airport authorities sent our plane on a particular route
which would mean we certainly wouldn’t achieve the flight time of 2:20 as the
captain had said. He apologised and knew there were people who were looking at
making connections in Dallas.
The plane did arrive in Dallas. We were somewhat anxious I
guess. We were well down the back of the plane so it took us some considerable
time before we started forward with our carry on. Time just seemed to hang. When
we got to the end of the “tunnel” it was 9:30 pm. Our QF0008 was due to depart
at 10 pm.
Have you been through an American airport lately? If you
have then you understood how we felt. I mean, where the heck do we … oh forget
it. When we reached the end of the “tunnel” there was an airport lady there with
an orange sign – QF8 KEAST .
She said… Ok,
let’s go! We’ve gotta run! (Or words to that effect.) The next thing she did
was to offer Fay a wheelchair for the coming journey. We both figured we could
run…. Yep, even with all three crook knees and the one good one between us. So we declined the wheelchair. (Did Fay look
all that bad?)
Back in the resort Fay had done the final packing before
we’d left. She had purposely kept our backpacks as light as possible. All the
heavy items were in our booked suitcases. What a great move, Fay. Well done.
Mona (we learnt her name later), said we were gonna have to
run. So run we did.
Fay isn’t really into running. Swimming - yes; cooking -
yes; gardening – yes; bushwalking – yes; even some cycling. But running? No,
not really. But like Henry Lawson’s Loaded Dog, both Fay and I were glad that when
the chips were down, we’d remembered how to actually run.
We’d only gone a short distance when my glasses fell to the
ground – at the top of the escalators. Fay grabbed them in her stride like a
good polocrosse player scoops up the ball. Within 5 seconds of that, a mobile
phone bounced to the ground. That was Mona’s so I copied Fay’s agile style and
grabbed it on the go.
The journey took us to the head – forget about lines – of
the immigration check. People in the vicinity picked up on the urgency of the
moment and stepped aside to let us through. The lady started to process us, and
as per usual, I had to place 4 fingers from my right hand on the screen while later
Fay was asked to do ALL TEN – yep, fingers and thumbs. I know my son Jeremy
would’ve been tempted to ask if she wanted Fay to do the toes as well, but I
worked out the scene when her answer to my only comment was, “We don’t work for the airline!” Once
through there it was running again – yes, the three bad knees and the one good
knee keeping pace with Mona. Customs was
excellent. He could see the urgency, took the completed card and let us
continue. Security was pretty good but still thorough. We ran up to them and
were instructed to remove shoes and belts and put everything in the trays which
would go through the x-ray machine. Oh, don’t forget to take the netbook out of
its case too. Then we went through
the x-ray machine for people. The official asked me what I had in my pocket. I
dragged out tissues, cards and my hand sized diary. He poked his nose and his
white gloved fingers into the diary before saying we could grab our stuff and
go. I knew he didn’t work for the airline so I didn’t make any comments at all.
Nearly lost Mona at this stage. She’d sped off ahead – did
she go this way or that way? Oh, there she is! The gallop continued.
There’s the Qantas gate ahead. Looks like we’re gonna make
it after all. Only Qantas officials in sight. The lady there took quite a while
to punch stuff into the computer from our boarding passes before we were
allowed to board. As we took our seats, storing our back packs in the overhead
locker, the captain said, We have
everybody on board now, so we’re right to go!
The plane took off on time. Thanks Mona. Thanks Qantas. How
are your knees Fay? Only 15+ hours and we’ll be in Brissy. Short layover before
heading on to Sydney.
That was the furthest and the fastest either of us has run
for quite a while. Don’t forget, Fay was a sprinter in her heyday.
Oh, the luggage you ask? Good question! Well, there’s no way
they made the connection so we just hope Mona was able to grab our two cases
from the carousel, with all the souvenirs from 8 weeks’ travel and get them on
the next flight to Sydney. I’ll let you know. I just remembered how many
foreign number plates are in my suitcase!
PS Yes, we've actually arrived in Sydney! 28 beautiful degrees. 22.5 hours from start of the journey at Cancun to when we arrived in Sydney. Weary, that's for sure. All we need now is our case full of trinkets and number plates! Tomorrow? Goodnight.