Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: Annual Leave 2011 Epilogue

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Annual Leave 2011 Epilogue

So I was in Florida and enjoyed visiting my mother and some old high school friends that still live in the area. The weather was on-and-off with a mix of rain and sunshine,It was good smelling the the fresh Gulf of Mexico air and not having to deal with the desert dust. I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time and the days flew by all too quickly. On my final day, I was having some beers with friends and it became time for me to leave for my 9PM flight to Las Vegas. I drove home and packed my things and headed for the airport. I checked in at 7:55PM, checked the rental car in and headed toward the security gauntlet.

Gulf of Mexico

Best Beaches in Florida if not the World

This is where my nightmare started. I went through the x ray and metal detectors but at the end of the line I was confronted by a TSA agent holding a factory sealed package I had bought at a pharmacy earlier. He said there were unknown liquids in there and he would not let me go without a further screening. I was unaware of the liquids and asked what I could do to mitigate the problem. He said he had to throw away the item. I said that since I had spent $40USD for it that I wasn't too keen on that idea. A discussion ensued and the agent's supervisor had to become involved. We all finally came to an agreement that I had to put the liquids into a clear baggie and I was finally free to go. As I walked from the security area, another TSA agent gleefully announced to me that my flight had already left. Bitch!

Security Theater

That left me in a pickle as there was not a flight until the next night which would necessitate razor sharp planning to get to Chicago for my Abu Dhabi flight the next day and I was still stuck in Florida. There are a few things wrong with this. First, I checked in on time with Vision Airlines (who by the way lost my bags on the inbound trip), second, TSA delayed me way too long in the security line. It was a small airport and I was the only passenger in the queue. Thirdly, when a passenger checks in and is known to be delayed in security, the flight is held, this did not happen. I have been in the airline business for over 12 years...I know.. 5 minutes earlier and I would have made the flight. They pushed away from the gate anyway.

The 9/11 guys ended up winning anyway because every US citizen is treated as a felon when attempting to board a flight as a result. Now there are backscatter units that see through clothes and exposes the victim to radiation that would rival Hiroshima doses.

Land of the Free?
.The particular airport I departed Florida from recently had some bad publicity by making a 95 year old woman in a wheelchair take off her adult diapers before she could board her flight. I am all for security and stuff but it has gone too far. If any passenger starts acting hinckey during a flight, they will get their ass whipped by the other passengers. If that fails, there are firearms onboard carried by certain authorized personnel. No one is going to get away with another 9/11 stunt again.

So the next night I boarded my redeye to Las Vegas. All liquids were bagged per orders so I got on the flight. I landed in Vegas around 2 AM and proceeded to drive the 2 1/2 hours through an inky black desert night to St. George where I had to leave for Chicago via Salt Lake City to catch my flight to Abu Dhabi.

I got to St. George just in time to collect some of my stuff I left there and get to the airport. I was already tired from the transcon flight to Vegas and the drive so I slept on the way to Salt Lake City. St. George has a brand spanking new airport.


US, Utah and St. George flags

I had a 4 hour layover there before my sector to Chicago so I got a few beers. Salt Lake City is a very passenger friendly airport. Time to go to Chicago and I slept most of the way after this sumptuous breakfast.

MMMM...Three or Four Peanuts and a Can of Beer!

 Another grueling 4 hour wait for my 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi but the Chicago terminal was nice. I fed and watered for the long time enroute and was happy to get a business class seat. The flight went quite quick and I was lucky to meet one of my bosses in duty-free upon arrival in Abu Dhabi, he gave me a lift to my flat.

All in all I spent almost 48 hours in transit that last day. I DO not want to do that any time again soon. I had a good time and felt very relaxed back home and was thrilled to see family and friends.

Saying that, things are bad back there economically. A lot of my friends are in danger of losing assets and savings. The government doesn't seem to care and is doing nothing for the average citizen. I know things are relative and the US is still quite wealthy compared to most parts of the world but stuff seems to be winding down back home. Maybe it is the inevitable ebb and flow of nations and cultures but it is still sad. We have no one to blame but ourselves, however. We had a good thing and we screwed it up.


Dave said...

Great stuff Ace...

Ace said...

Thanks,Dave.Miss you out here! Hope you are doing well!

Chuck said...

Wow, quite the ordeal there. Glad you made it back to the UAE safely!

I just got scanned for the first time myself - they bitched because I had a plastic comb in my back pocket. I agree, it's gone way too far.

Ace said...

Yeah Chuck, it was an ordeal I don't want to repeat any time soon. Since I lost a day in VPS, everything had to work on a very precise plan. There was not room for anymore errors or setbacks.

The TSA is under fire in VPS because of the elderly lady episode. Public demonstrations are planned. We are all sick of it.

The TSA is a perfect example of "Mission Creep" where the boundaries of a project inevitably expand over time.

Anonymous said...

You work for an airline and that is your flight plan home - VPS-LAS-SGU- SLC-ORD-AUH? Ace, you are a glutton for punishment. Try direct, it's typically a lot less hassle, over in less than 48 hours, and so worth the price difference...

Ace said...

My company ticketed (prepaid) me to my home of record, SGU via JFK and SLC. After a week there, I had to get back East to see family.

Then VPS direct LAS (no ATL layover),drive to SGU to catch the free return trip to AUH via SLC and ORD. Only the LAS-VPS-LAS legs were on my dime. Does it make sense now?

Direct is easier and cheapest but I had a free AUH-SGU-AUH ticket, therefore all the gyrations.

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