Saturday, October 31, 2009

Delayed! - 10/31/2009

I went down to the Turkish Airlines ticket desk at about 12:45 pm. Along the way I rode the elevator down with a woman who looked asian. I assumed that she was Korean because when I arrived earlier there was a Korean Air flight leaving and a lot of asian looking people wandering about. When I got to the ticket desk, I found that the asian woman was standing there, and she was on the same flight to Istanbul. She asked if I had heard the bad news about the flight being delayed 3 hours and I chatted with her a little bit about the situation and found out that she was heading home to Kyrgyzstan, a former soviet republic, known apparently for the practice of bride snatching. She was just making her connection through Istanbul and was distressed to find that she was likely to miss her next flight home. I don't think she was being bride snatched. :)

When I reached the counter the attendant said that they would start checking in at 1:30pm and waived me to the counters around the corner. I walked over with several others who were waiting for the flight. The area was still set up for the Korea Air staff, so I waited and watched with the growing mass of coach passengers as they reconfigured the area for Turkish Airlines. As I was waiting I watched a woman come to the remaining Korea Air staff member with a little brown dog in a small mesh carrier. I passed the remaining minutes listening to some heated discussion, I think relating to the dogs vaccination papers. It was very engrossing :) Fortunately for me the entrance to the line was constructed right where I was standing, so I was the first one they called to check in. A few minutes later I was carrying my bags to the security area and then quickly passed through the security checkpoint.

I walked down one of the jetways to see where I would be spending the next 6.5 hours. There were only a few people walking around and the restaurants (what little there were) were all empty. I passed on the doner sandwich figuring that I would have plenty of opportunity to eat good Turkish food after my arrival. I finally settled on the meatball hero and a bottled water. So much for low carb eating :)  After finishing the mostly satisfying meal, I tried calling Mom again. She answered and we talked for another 45 minutes or so and she caught me up on all the goings on in her life. I then called Shanna again to let her know my flight was delayed. After that I called Dad and talked to him for a while.

After catching up with Dad, I called AT&T to find out why I couldn’t login to the wifi hotspot. Turns out that they don’t have the contract here at JFK so I have to shell out 8 bucks for “Boingo”. After all that talking my phone battery is nearly dead (and I packed the charger in my checked luggage!), so I figured it was worth it to pay it, just so I could stay in touch while I am waiting. So far the service seems to be OK, though it recommends that I install some kind of extra software which I just ain’t gonna do! :) I Skyped with Shanna & the kids for a few minutes since they were planning to go out in the evening and there may not be another good opportunity. I pointed the computer camera out the window so he could see the planes and he asked if he could go on the airplane. I don’t think he understands yet that I am going away.

Not a lot happening here in the terminal. What sounds a lot like the fire alarm keeps sounding but nobody moves, so I guess it is not a fire alarm. Wonder where you are supposed to go in a terminal if there is a fire? Also, there is a little bird that keeps hopping around under the chairs. Seems pretty friendly.

I almost forgot to mention it, I am flying on Halloween, and many of the airline employees are dressed up for it. At least I think those are costumes? :P

Leaving Home - 10/31/2009

Up at 5 am this morning. Showered, put on some coffee, and ate a frozen omelette for breakfast. I walked the dogs in a light rain and by the time I got back it was time for my friend Mustafa to come and pick me up for the airport. I am carrying a bag for him which his father-in-law will pickup at the airport in Istanbul. We chatted a bit on the way over and found out that Turkish Airlines is the best and will be feeding us lots of food! He also tells me how H1N1 is getting really serious in Turkey, and that Ankara has closed its schools. After reducing his bag a little bit to make it fit under the weight limit, I check in and I’m ready to go. I say goodbye to Mustafa and head through security.

 There are only a few people in the security lines, so I quickly pass through into the departure area. I am flying American to JFK, so I will be departing out of the new Terminal 2 at RDU International. It is big and shiny and a major improvement over the old Terminal C. After a stop at the bathroom, I order a large coffee and sit down to check some last minute email and set my vacation auto-responder. After just a few minutes they start boarding. I take my seat in the front of the small commuter jet where Jose the flight attendant relieves me of my backpack. By this time, it is just getting light outside and the day is revealed to by dreary and overcast. At takeoff, the visibility is poor and I can’t even see to the end of the runway. After a few minutes we are above the clouds and the sun is shining brightly out of the east.

The trip to JFK International is short and I spend most of the time reading my bible. I have recently been felt encouraged to read through my Bible without jumping around, so I started with the first few chapters of Genesis. It has been a while (years?) since I have read through Genesis and my reading of it today has a sort of strange quality to it. The creation story reads more like the Silmarillion or The Magician’s Nephew than the straight factual report that it seemed to be before. I think it is sometimes good to take a break from the familiar parts of the Bible.

I arrived at JFK a little bit early with my bladder about to burst after my large coffee and a Diet Coke. After visiting the bathroom again I headed down to the baggage claim to get our bags. I’m not sure which terminal I am in nor where Turkish Airlines is located. I get some cash for the visa fee in Turkey and head to the AirTrain hoping that there will be a directory with the airlines listed on it. My hopes are met with success and I determine that I need to get from Terminal 8 to Terminal 1. After a grand tour of all the terminals, I finally arrive. The small Turkish Airlines ticket desk is right near the door where I enter, sandwiched between a large number of Korean Air counters. There isn’t anyone at the desk, but one of the Korean Air staff is nice enough to let me know that they will be in around 1pm. It is 10am now, so I head across to the upper level food court and stake out a good place to sit and wait for the next 3 hours. I can’t get onto the wireless internet so I abandon the tables with a nearby power supply and get a diet coke from McDonalds. I find a seat near a family with some several young boys. It sounds like they are speaking some dialect of Arabic.

I didn’t tell any of my family that I was going to be visiting Turkey. I was mostly concerned that my mother and grandmother would only be worrying about me. I did want to talk to them, though, before leaving, so I first called my Mom, who didn’t answer, and then my grandmother. I talked with her for 45 minutes or so, trying (despite the loud PA in the background) not to let on that I was at the airport. It was nice talking to her as it had been a while since we’d spoken on the phone. Sorry for not telling you guys!