American beckons!

Very smooth flight over. The films very Marie Antoinette (which wasn’t all that) and Man of the Year which was absolutely, and unexpectedly, awesome! Very very funny. I wasn’t going to bother watching it, until I heard everyone else on the plane laughing, so decided to plug in the headphones. Glad I did. I also had time to squeeze in some development on the plane for the demonstration the next day.

Arrived in Kennedy on time, did the whole passport, baggage reclaim (one of the first off, unusually!), and customs, then throw my bag into the transfer pile for the flight to Boston, through security again, grab a Starbucks and back online for some e-mail and other bits and pieces.

We board the shuttle to Boston in good time, get away from the gate cleanly – captain introduces himself and says

“It’s a rare day at Kennedy when there’s no traffic before us, we are number one for take-off.”

And indeed we are – straight onto the runway, all raring to go.

Except we don’t actually go. Can’t have been more than about 5 minutes, but it felt like ages, especially at an airport as busy as Kennedy. Finally the engines roar, and we start off, only to hang a right turn after about a hundred metres (I’m mildly surprised the plane could do a ninety degree turn at the speed we were going, but clearly it could). We footle around the apron for a bit, then the captain comes back on.

“Looks like I spoke too soon folks. The plane behind us saw a piece of plastic fall off – it’s nothing important, but we need to go back to the gate for maintenance as safety is our first priority.”

So back to the gate. Doors open again. Lots of coming and going – the captain’s on and off of the plane like a yo-yo. I can see enough out of the window to see them turn up with what appears to be a roll of gaffa tape, and then apply a strip of it to the leading edge of the winglet. It can’t have really been gaffa tape because it was transparent, but it really looked like it from where I was.

Captain comes back on.

“The item that came off the plane was the erosion tape on the wing – it has now been replaced, and we’ve just got to fill in the log-book, then we can go again.”

All of this has taken about 30 minutes, and I’m starting to get nervous for the people due to be meeting me in Boston. We leave the gate again, and this time:

“This is the captain – we’ve now hit the rush hour, and there are 8 planes ahead of us, so I estimate we’ll be about another half an hour on the ground.”

When we finally made it on the runway again, I looked behind, and there were 14 planes behind us!! Busy airport. Anyway, we made it up into the air, an hour behind schedule, and the captain made a mysterious comment about taking a a few “short-cuts” (how can you take a short-but between New York and Boston in a plane?!), and we magically only landed about 5 minutes behind schedule. Go figure. (Actually it was later explained to me that they schedule bag loads of extra time for planes going to/from JFK because there’s usually a long delay involved. In this particular instance they’d timetabled one and a half hours for a 35 minutes flight, but I guess it all worked out in the end.)

So safely in Boston, more or less on time. No problems collecting bags (although there was a mildly humourous moment when me and the person I was supposed to be meeting had to phone each other to make contact, because were we standing on opposite sides of the carousel. We then proceeded to both walk anti-clockwise around it, so were still on the opposite side to each other at the end of it. Several of my fellow passengers found this very amusing – actually to be fair we did too!)

All that remained of the day was to get to the hotel (very easy journey), grab a quick shower, then out for dinner. More about dinner on the next exciting installment!