20 June 2012, Gail’s trip log

What a day! We got up at 500 again and got the little shuttle to Heathrow Terminal 1. We checked in and paid the $45 for the third bag. Then we found an English pub that served breakfast. So far, so good. Even the security had been pretty easy so early in the morning. After breakfast we just had to wait until 800 when we’d be informed of which gate our flight to Dublin would be at. When it was finally posted it said it would be a 25 minute walk to the gate – good grief! So off we went with our 4 carry on bags. They weren’t kidding about the walk! But we got there and waited a bit until we could board. Quick and easy flight to Dublin – didn’t get anything to eat in that 80 minute flight since they charged for everything, including water. But we’d brought water, so all was well. While moving on to the other terminal in Dublin we had to go through security again even though we’d never left the secure area. No big deal, and not a big surprise. Then a very long line, at least half an hour, for U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance, done by US Customs employees. It looked pretty daunting at first, but we filled out our customs declaration forms, had our passports scanned, identified our bags on their computer screen (we had no idea they took pictures of them as we checked them in), answered the usual questions, and continued on our way. Good thing Orbitz knew all this and gave us plenty of time in Dublin for all the steps, both procedural and by foot, we needed. As it turned out, all of this was our clearance for customs in Chicago, and we were able to just walk off the plane at the end in Chicago. Next, we went through our third security screening of the day, this one by USA standards, though they appeared to be Irish employees. So we took off shoes for the first time in months, pulled out our baggies of toiletries, our iPads and Mac, etc, etc. Then another trek to our final gate. We got a little snack, but since we had learned that Aer Lingus did provide a meal and snack on the long haul flight, we didn’t load up with anything but water, which was a good thing. With a large plane (A330) boarding was going to be long, and since I’d been having trouble with my knee after all my eating on the ship and walking all morning around terminals, Dan said that I needed extra time boarding, so we got on early. We left Dublin half an hour late, but with a tailwind we landed in Chicago a half hour early, a total of 7 ½ hours. I had watched a movie and done puzzles – never did sleep. We had to wait ten minutes for a gate to be available. Cinda and the kids actually saw our plane waiting (only bright green plane around at the time). We got our three checked bags pretty quickly and were off when they picked us up at the curb a few minutes later. Traffic wasn’t bad at all and after a run through McDonalds drive-thru for a snack we got home to Cinda’s by 430. Kellar had a softball game at 600, so Dan went to that, but I was tired and stayed home. They just got back and are discussing dinner – but I am just getting in bed, since my body thinks it is about 300 in the morning. Very happy to be back in the USA!

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