From the US to Turkey and back ... trips that were realized ... trips that had to be shortened ... trips that were canceled. All during a year that saw the world dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Day23

    Aboard UA652 ... BOS to DEN

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 48 °F

    It’s exactly noon and we are in the air. The Boeing 737-800/900 that is our air-chariot is winging it’s way to DEN. The announcement from the cockpit said we'll be landing in Denver in 4 hours and 19 mins. Add a couple of hours to collect bags, get an Uber, and drive to Colorado Springs ... we should be home by 5:30p ... thanks to the two-hour time gain going from EDT to MDT.

    Speaking of the bags ... they are on the aircraft. Since we turned our bags into United last night after going through customs, we were keeping 🤞🏻 that the bags would make it onto the plane this morning. It was such a relief to see them rolling up the conveyor belt and into the belly of the airplane.

    Our departure from BOS was timely ... push back at 11:40a ... wheels up 15 minutes later. I got one misty glimpse of the Boston skyline before we were above the cloud deck.

    Although the four-row first class cabin is full — 16 pax in all — most of the occupants are UA employees ... flight crews deadheading to Denver and points beyond. We’re in the last row again ... no one to sneeze on us and a solid bulkhead between us and the economy cabin. One of the UA pilots switched seats with me, so Mui and I are sitting together instead of across the aisle from each other.

    I can’t see into the economy cabin, but based on the number of people waiting at the gate, I will venture to say that there is plenty of social distancing ... I’m sure the middle seats are all empty. Had we not been upgraded, we probably would have been just fine in the exit row seats we originally had.

    A flight attendant has come around to take our lunch order. But the pilot has requested that the crew take their jump-seats as he has been unable to find a route around the thunderheads in the area. He’s expecting a bumpy ride for the next hour or so. It has indeed been a bit turbulent ... not too bad, however.

    LATER ...

    Somehow the captain found us a way around the bumpy patch — at least long enough for the meal service to be completed. I’ve always been curious about how tandoori chicken tastes, so that’s what I selected ... the other option was a salad topped with chicken breast. The verdict on tandoori? It’s a tad spicy for my palate.

    No real entertainment system on this aircraft ... except on eDevices. I’m not going to mess with that. I’ve got 📖 and ✍️ to keep me occupied for the 2+ hours remaining before we land.

    More when we're on the ground.
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  • Day23

    At BOS Again!

    March 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

    Good night’s rest. Back at Logan Airport for our flight to DEN.

    Grabbed a bite to eat at Starbucks ... got ourselves upgraded to first class ... awaiting boarding to be called. All’s good in our world at the moment.

    P.S. Got a ding from our Simplisafe camera doorbell. Turns out we must have gotten more than 3” of snow overnight ... snow clearing crew is at work and triggered the alert. It’s nice to be able to monitor activity at home no matter where we are.
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  • Day22

    Bureaucracy Alive & Well

    March 19, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 41 °F

    What do I mean by the title of this footprint? Let me backtrack a bit and explain.

    TK81 from İstanbul landed at Boston’s Logan Airport around 7:30p. We were quick to disembark and follow the signs to immigration. Found the Global Entry kiosk ... processed through with a few quick selections on the monitor, and got our receipt to go through to customs. No problem.

    With our Global Entry renewal applications still pending, we were supposed to do our approval interviews on entry back into the US. Turns out all interviews have been suspended indefinitely. Alrighty ... one less thing to deal with. No problem.

    Next we collected our bags ... and headed to customs to turn in our entry receipt and the health forms we were asked to complete on board the flight. No officials along the route to hand anything to. No problem.

    So, what happened to having to re-route through an airport that had quarantine and testing facilities because we transited through Barcelona less than 14 days ago? We weren’t expecting much when we arrived at Logan. Maybe a temperature scan would be taken ... which may have been done unobtrusively as we walked from the plane to immigration. At the least we expected to be asked some questions. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

    We did no more to enter the country in Boston than we would have done in Houston. And that’s what I mean by bureaucracy being alive and well. Someone somewhere came up with some re-entry rules for the USA that caused a slight hiccup in our travel plans. But no one is seemingly implementing said rules. Go figure.

    Oh well! We’re in the US. We know we got on the airplane in Turkey hale and healthy. We plan to self-quarantine at home for the suggested 14 days ... as soon as Mui makes an off-hour run to Walmart for milk and other necessities. No he’s not going to stock up on 🧻 🤪. And of course, we are going to practice social distancing whenever we go out and about.

    Anyway, to wrap up our arrival in Boston ...

    After turning over our checked bags once we got through customs, we headed to the United ticketing counter to see if there were any earlier flights. Nothing tonight ... nothing non-stop tomorrow morning before our scheduled 11:55a departure. Alrighty ... let’s stick with the plan and get some rest.

    Instead of messing around with an off-airport hotel, we headed to the Hilton, which is between terminals E and A. Pricey ... but convenient. After being up and about for more than 24-hours, convenient was good!

    Tomorrow we head to Colorado.
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  • Day22

    Arrived in Boston

    March 19, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 41 °F

    I’m too beat to write much. Only four hours of sleep last night and then a 24-hour+ travel day has taken it toll. But all’s well. We’ll get a good night’s rest at the Hilton Hotel at Logan International before continuing our trip to Colorado mid-day tomorrow.

    More to come later.
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  • Day22

    Aboard TK81 ... IST to BOS

    March 19, 2020 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

    Smooth flying so far. We have about three hours left before we land at Logan Airport. Time to do a quick catch up footprint.

    I’ve already posted about the glitch that has us heading to Boston instead of Houston ... no quarantine facilities for those who transited a Schengen country ... should that be necessary.

    Since the tickets were issued through United, however, we had to get the change made through UA. Though Star Alliance Partners, the two airlines’ rezervation systems apparently don’t talk to each other.

    Placed a call to UA ... no can do ... the wait time to get to an agent was two hours. Tried to make the change online ... no can do ... had to check in to the flight first ... not possible on the UA site since the Houston flight was operated by THY. In the end, we just bought another set of award tickets — these through Boston — and then canceled the Houston tickets. Worked like a charm.

    Boarding TK81 at 2:50p, we settled into our Biz Class seats — 5J/K ... last row in the cabin, with a bulkhead behind us. Excellent ... no one to cough or sneeze on us. The flight was 10 minutes late, departing the gate at 3:50p ... wheels up 30 minutes later.

    THY is known for its good service, and this flight has not disappointed. The flight attendants have been quite attentive. The Meal service — which was preceded by wine + warm-from-the-oven nuts + nibbles — was excellent ... mezes (tapas); creamy red pepper soup; sea bass en papilotte (one of three main courses available); and a selection of desserts ... including a to-die-for chocolate bomb filled with chocolate mousse and a mango surprise. Really yummy!

    After dinner, our lie-flat beds were prepared and the cabin lights were dimmed. Mui did manage to sleep for a few hours, but I was too wired. So I spent some time journaling, processing photos for this footprint, listening to music, and watching a movie or two on the in-flight entertainment system.

    I checked out the views below ... but once we were over the Atlantic it was either 100% cloud cover or nothing but “water, water, everywhere.” We did see some amazing mountains while still over Europe ... will have to check the GPS tag to see if they were the Alps. If so ... wow! So little snow on those peaks!

    And here we are ... all caught up. The aroma of food is wafting in the air ... the 👨‍🍳 is preparing the “before landing” meal. I think I am going to abstain ... I’m still stuffed from the first meal service.
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  • Day22

    Hit a Glitch ... Going to Boston Instead

    March 19, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 48 °F

    Turns out Houston can’t take us because we flew through Barcelona, Spain less than two weeks ago ... no quarantine or testing facilities apparently.

    No problem. We switched to Boston. Still flying to the USA today ... but have a long layover in Boston. No problem ... will get ourselves a hotel and rest before continuing onto Colorado.

    The best thing to do now is to go with the flow ... and that is what we are doing.
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  • Day22

    THY’s Miles & Smiles Lounge

    March 19, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 46 °F

    Because flights to the US have an extra level of security checks when departing IST, we’re going to leave the lounge shortly and walk to the gate ... 15 minutes from here. Here are a few quick photos.

  • Day22

    At IST ...

    March 19, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 45 °F

    TK2309 was scheduled to land at 9:20a. We did so much earlier. With very little ground traffic, we also made it to the jetway at the domestic terminal in record time.

    It was so odd to see the concourse and baggage claim all but deserted. Far from the norm here at IST. There were more people wandering about and standing at the counters when we crossed over to the international terminal, but no lines whatsoever at immigration ... two minutes, if that, and we were in the secure area. Now — at 11:15a — the number of people wandering around has grown, but nowhere near to the numbers that we’re used to seeing here.

    Most of the people around the check-in counters were trying to find ways to get home ... lots and lots of canceled flights. One large group of passengers were protesting, marching while chanting “Bu uçak kalkacak.” (This airplane is going to take off.) They peaceably dispersed when the police showed up.

    Mui and I headed to the THY Business Lounge ... only to find that wing of the airport closed in its entirety. So we re-routed to the Smiles & Miles Club ... another THY Lounge. I’ll give you a tour in a separate footprint.

    Our gate assignment for the Houston flight has been posted ... no blinking yellow words next to it. That’s a good thing.
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