Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On the road again

Back in Dallas again. This time I've budgeted to be here for two or so weeks. My return ticket is booked for February 16th though, of course, if I manage to finish before then I'm out of here earlier. I have two tasks to accomplish this time, for different groups within the customer.

My time estimation was based on the usual; educated guesses and a wet finger held high. Not a lot of breeze in Phoenix that day, which ought to give you an idea of just how accurate my estimate is.

I flew America West (US Airways) this time. Most of the time we use Southwest but some wierd laws force flights from Phoenix to Dallas on Southwest to take at least three times longer than they should; I've blogged about that before[^]. This time I was able to get a direct flight from Phoenix to Dallas on America West for less than a hundred bucks more than the Southwest flight. It's not my money but even if it was it'd be worth it. One can only hang around El Paso International Airport so many times before it becomes passe!

Well that was the theory. My flight out of Phoenix was scheduled for 10:14 AM. I arrived at the airport around 9 AM, checked in, got the boarding pass in my hot little hand and headed outside again for a smoke. One smoke later and it was time to face security.

Here we have evidence of some lingering traces of naivety in your humble narrator for, as I approached security using the cheap bastards (economy) line I saw a crowd of some hundreds of people who appeared to be lined up on the opposite side. The penny didn't drop; I thought (and should have known better considering how often I've been through Phoenix Sky HarboUr Airport) that they were lined up from another entrance. There isn't another entrance! I was at the back of a line of hundreds of people snaking their way into security.

I shouldn't complain; it only took 30 minutes to traverse the line. It would have been 30 minutes spent at the gate lounge if there hadn't been a line so no big deal.

Thus a quick boarding after a slow security transition. Followed by another half hour sitting at the gate waiting for connecting passengers on a flight from Anchorage. Actually I don't mind the delay all that much. I'd hope that if my flight from Anchorage was running late through no fault of my own that the airline would make at least a semblance of an effort to help me make my connection. On the other hand, 180 passengers twiddled their thumbs waiting for 12 passengers. *shrug*

Then came the bumpiest flight I've ever experienced. I've admitted before that I'm a somewhat timid flier no matter how often I fly but I've found that after reading this column[^] I'm rather less inclined to prognosticate disaster from a little turbulence. Of course it could just be advancing years but I doubt it :-)

At the other end it was almost an anticlimax. Dallas Fort Worth Airport is enormous; even bigger than I remembered it. Of course, there was a gap of 3,657 days between today and the last time I travelled through DFW but standing out there smoking whilst waiting for baggage to appear it was as though no time had elapsed.

Then came a relatively painless drive through the airport to 635 East and thence to I-75 North. Geeze, I rattle those numbers off as though they came naturally! At this rate Dallas is going to become almost as familiar as Phoenix is - and no where near as familiar is Melbourne is.

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