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Amanda Goes to England, Volume 2: 14 November, 2012

A very wordy and not very photograph-y post…

My last morning in England. I would put a sad face emoticon here, but I was actually really excited to get home! My final couple of days in London were good, so I felt I’d ended things on a postive note and could go on home with a smile on my face. I had no idea when I woke up that morning what sort of day I’d be having during my journey home…

I rose early so I could leave for the train station with Kayla. I’m talking EARL-EEEE. Kayla had to beat a path to her job to get some things done before work, and we bid a quick adieu before I got on a train going the opposite direction.

 

Up early with the commuters

I arrived at Gatwick a few hours before my flight, just in case security took awhile. It didn’t. Well. It did, sort of. I asked if my film be checked by hand rather than x-rayed. Airport security begrudgingly obliged. They had to swab each individual roll of film I had to see if there were any sketchy chemicals on them (i.e. were they secretly canisters of bomb materials), so I can see why they would be annoyed. Of course, because film is MADE with chemicals, there were traces of chemicals on my film. That meant that they had to fill out a form about me, I had to answer some questions, I had to be patted down again, and my luggage had to be x-rayed a second time. One of the security guys was a really smarty pants. He said, “Out of curiosity, why did you want this hand-checked?” I said “Because exposure to x-rays can have a cumulative effect and fog the film.” He replied, “It’s going to be exposed to a lot more radiation on the plane than it would be here, so if it’s going to end up ruined, it would be from radiation on the plane.” Thanks for that, dude!

I decided to spring for an expensive(ish) breakfast and relax while I waited for my flight. It relaxing, until my bank card wouldn’t go through and nearly gave me a coronary! I ran across the food court to an ATM and was able to get some monies for brekkie, but I’m pretty sure the waiter thought I was dining and ditching.  It ended up being the single most expensive meal of my life, with the exchange rate and tip and ATM fees.

Where I ate my final breakfast in England

From Instagram: What turned out to be the single most expensive meal of my life 🙂 French toast.

I boarded my flight and everything was great – so excited to be going home!

Poorly executed “Bye-bye England!” photo. But this goodbye ended up not counting anyway…

Then something unexpected happened. The pilot made an announcement that we were all going to get off the plane so they could search the cabin without us or our belongings in it. “There’s a security issue that’s come to my attention.” Oh Lord. We were told it would take about half an hour to get us back on our way. LIES!!!!

We were all ushered back into the waiting area at the gate.  After a short while, airport police showed up. Then most of the US Airways employees in the building came too. One of the police officers was going around to all the groupings of passengers, seemingly giving a brief statement about what was going on. When she finally made it round to where I was sitting, I found out what she had to say: “There was a small object found at the gate after everyone got on the plane. Nothing to be concerned about.” \/\/hatever! We all had to have our luggage checked by hand again and were each patted down before we could board the plane once more. It was over two hours before we were able to leave. That meant the luxurious layover I was going to have in Charlotte was dunzo. In fact, it was highly doubtful that I’d make my scheduled flight from Charlotte to Memphis. The poor Australian girl in the seat next to me definitely would not make her flight by that point. By the way, my seatmate was awesome during all this. She let me use her phone to email my family so I could let them know what was going on. Little did I know that the airline had called my “emergency contact” (Mom) at 4:30 Memphis time to tell her that some passengers were running late for the flight and that we were going to arrive about half an hour later than expected. Again, LIES!!!

BYEEEEEE ENGLAND? Hopefully?? 

Okay, bye-bye FUH REAL this time, England!!

I will say that the flight crew was great once we finally got in the air. They even gave us extra food to help keep the passengers pacified. It took me awhile to relax, but once again, the in-flight entertainment system was invaluable.

I wanted to kiss the ground when I arrived in Charlotte. There was no time for that though. I did manage a blurry photo of the Tarmac to commemorate the fact that I’d made it back to America though!

‘ello again, America!

We landed about 45 minutes before my flight to Memphis was supposed to leave, and the airline had already rescheduled flights for all of us. When I got through customs and was handed my new boarding pass, I asked if the new boarding pass had nullified my original one. The woman from the airline said I was welcome to TRY to make my flight, but she didn’t think I would. The new flight they had me booked on was FIVE HOURS LATER. I knew there was no way in God’s green earth that I could withstand another five hours of this journey. So I ran. I ran like there was no tomorrow. I ran to the gate printed on my original boarding pass, the very last gate in that particular terminal. Then I freaked out because the flight to Memphis wasn’t there. Had I missed it?! I ran again to the nearest departures screen to find that my flight was actually at the THIRD gate in that terminal, not THIRTIETH. When I got to that gate, the woman at the desk was closing the door. I begged her to let me on. She told me to get on the plane and just find the first seat available. I did that. I’m so thankful I sat in the particular spot I that I did. My seatmate was no nice. I was clearly flushed and hot from all the running I’d been doing (with coat and heavy luggage and plus I’m just a chubby American) so she reached up and turn the air conditioner nozzle on me. Real talk:  I then cried quietly for the first ten minutes I was on the plane. It was all a bit much for me. My seatmate and I struck up a conversation though and it helped calm my frazzled nerves. A fellow Downton fan. Huzzah! I had to keep mum about the third season, which I’d watched at Kayla’s house and which wouldn’t air in America for another two months. #Spoilers!

I really REALLY wanted to kiss the ground when I made it to Memphis. As I was leaving my gate, I noticed that one of the flight attendants from the London flight had also been on the plane from Charlotte. I told her that I thought she and the flight crew had done a terrific job with the circumstances we had been under during that flight. She was grateful and asked me, “What exactly did they tell the passengers about what was going on?” I told her “They said they found a small object at the gate, but that it was nothing to be concerned with.” She kind of said, “Huh.” Like, “Interesting…” As I was walking away, she said, “It was a knife. They found a small knife at the gate.” What da heeeeeck?? I got patted down and questioned because I had FILM but someone made it to the gate with a knife??

I got the BEST surprise when I got to the lobby: My niece was there with my parents to pick me up! She was supposed to be at church that night but had decided that she wanted to surprise me. I nearly cried. If I’d had to catch that rescheduled, five hours later flight and found out that my niece had been there to meet me but had to leave because I got in so late…I would have had myself a little emotional breakdown. Seeing her helped me so much. She was so pleased that she’d pulled off the surprise. Perfect ending to that long, stressful day of flying!

I am ever so thankful that I arrived safely, despite all the weirdness of my journey home. Many thanks to everyone who was interested in my journey and who supported me along the way ♥♥♥

Photos taken with Olympus XA and Instagram

Did you make it all the way to the end of this journey? Want to read the epilogue?

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