Good afternoon from the American Airlines Flagship lounge where I’m trying not to make any Grey Poupon jokes.

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Why, Yes I do have Grey Poupon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xomArI4aJ0

More importantly, I’m happy to fly today (and you should be happy to fly to).

Firstly, I would direct you to https://www.aopa.org/About-AOPA/Statistical-Reference-Guide/General-Aviation-Safety-Record-Current-and-Historic.aspx which gives Fatal Accident losses per year.

It also gives the data on losses compared to other modes of transportation:

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Source: AOPA

When disasters, incidents and crashes hit the presses, it’s important to remember for that one loss, many other flights took off and landed safely that day. And the day after. And the day after that.

Flying itself is a safe form of transportation due to the systems in place, and the people who execute those systems… even if you’re on a metal tube going through the air, powered with two to four engines with wings full of fuel.

So, yes – its safe to fly. But that doesn’t excuse you from missing the safety briefing, knowing where the emergency exits are on a plane (count the rows forward and back from your seat to the exit) and keeping ones wits about you.

Keep safe out there!


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Good evening from a slightly different part of Newark Airport than I’m used to (I’m used to Terminal C… Not Terminal B – or the bit I’m looks a bit of a building site…).

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Well, I did make it in the end to Newark Airport – thankfully the only challenge was to navigates the rabbit warren of Penn Station. That and the ticket machines that NJ transit need to be better labelled stating which way up the ticket needs to go.

(I didn’t take the bus – last time the bus driver was more interested in eating potato chips rather than… driving – and it was rush hour when I was travelling, so a 90 minute transit could had easily gone to two hours).

American Airlines acquitted themselves quite well today – a shame luggage delivery at JFK was a shambles (10 minutes to first bag, 30 minutes to my bag… wasn’t impressed).

Meanwhile, since I’m in a BA lounge…

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See you later :)


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Whilst this doesn’t fall into the traditional trip reports, it does fall into the category of travel that I specialise in at GhettoIFE – mad and creative. Join me as I spend a few days at my parents… and be held at the whim of train and coach companies, as well as the great British Weather…


Somehow or other, my planning does suffer sometimes. This included this Christmas period, where I would be travelling down on the 24th December, and heading straight back on the 26th December, so I could be back at my console in the office on the 27th December.

A few days before, there were major storms that started to whip up in the UK, causing major damage, wind damage, forcing train operators to change their plans – mine too as I realised with a horror that I might not actually be able to get home without a minor miracle.

That came the next day, as conditions improved in the Midlands and North of London area. Whilst things were improving – they were not what I’d call “ideal” for travel, with the gusts still causing issues on Christmas Eve.

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Although Nyan Cat was enjoying the rainbow (www.nyan.cat)

By 3pm, I made the call to go from my office, first heading to West Bromwich, and onto the tram to head back to Birmingham. Thankfully, whilst the rail lines were suffering delays, the Metro was running a normal schedule.

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The tram ride was reasonably quick, with a 15 minute ride from the heart of West Bromwich to the business district in Birmingham. Conditions outside weren’t bad… but not ideal. Still, I had managed to cut across from Snow Hill to Moor Street with enough time to make my connection to a Chiltern Mainline service… that was today, operated by a real train as opposed to a Diesel Multiple Unit – or in UK train parlesseance a Class 67 Locomotive with five Mark 3 trailers and a Driving Trailer van.

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The upside being Mark 3 coaches being extremely comfortable for a long trip. Chiltern Railways spent time refurbishing their coaches, so they new seating and perhaps most visibly – plug doors as opposed to the slam-door stock.

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The seating is a mixture of table seating and airline style seating. Suffice to say, the train was lightly loaded for the trip to London, which would call at Solihull, Warkwick Parkway, Leamington Spa, Banbury and Bicster North – then fast to London.

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Pulling out of Moor Street.

The train pulled out on time, and even though there was flooding on the line, the train really didn’t slow down until it hit the outer suburbs of London, with the train pulling ten minutes late – nothing really in delay terms.

For my next task it was a matter of negotiating London Underground – which on Christmas Eve is pretty quiet.  A ride down to Baker Street, and onto Liverpool Street on the Metropolitan Line.

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All quiet on the Met…

However, after clearing the barriers at Liverpool Street, there was a surprise waiting – and not a pleasant one at all

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What a sad thing to happen… at all times at Christmas Eve too.  The location where it occurred is on the main line of the Great Eastern Mainline, which jammed up traffic in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, with traffic backing up both ways.

And all you can do is wait. No point getting stressed, angry or anything – all you can do is wait.

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The waiting queues.

Whilst the waiting was ongoing, I was in contact with my loved ones and hung tight until the trains begun moving. After the investigations had been complete, the fast lines were re-opened, with two expresses to Norwich sent off first. A call for a semi-fast service was made, calling at my home town – allowing me and a lot of people to board.

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As soon as the train was reasonably loaded, our Siemens Desiro Class 360 was sent on its way, making the journey in a reasonable time. Whilst there was a slow-down of the incident area, the train soon reached my home town.

Soon, I was at home, and in time to celebrate Christmas with my family.

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Home.

As short as Christmas was for me, I had to be back at my desk on the 27th December – and the rail network out for two days, my parents kindly dropped me off at Epping Station, the most easterly point of the Central Line, so I could head to London.

Thankfully, there was a tube train waiting, as there was a 10-15 minute frequency at the extreme end of the line.

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One of the apps I have on my phone (TubePro) tells me the best place to change for a tube train. As I’m changing at Oxford Circus for the Victoria Line, I need to be in Car Number 1 – saves hiking down the platform, and fighting crowds…

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All quiet so far… (that will change!)

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Doors closing! Off we go!

Let’s face it – this bar none is the slowest way to get into Central London. From a set-off time of 12:10, it took the best part of an hour plus to get to Victoria.  But when there’s no other way, you go the way the wind blows…

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Avoiding Penalty Shunts where possible (Refer to both Mornington Crescent threads in the BMI forum and in FlyerTalk OMNI Forum. Sadly, Theydon Bois this is a legal move in this case…)

As the train closed in on central London, it filled up to what I’d call “normal” rush hour capacity… or to put it lightly, it was crammed in the lead carriage by Stratford, only emptying at Oxford Circus – where I had changed. Thankfully, my app prediction was correct, and I spilled out of the tube train, and headed for the Victoria line for the short hop to Victoria station.

Whilst the Victoria line wasn’t as busy as the Central, it was well patronised for a bank holiday.

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Still busy, full of shoppers with their sales bargains

At Victoria, I headed for the exit – and for the Coach station. Outside the station, there were plenty of confused travellers expecting the Gatwick Express operating, only to be told to head to London Bridge. Those who persisted, headed to the coach station, where there was a steady stream of travellers in both directions with wheely cases.

By the time I arrived at Victoria, I was a full 1 hour 30 early for my coach. I therefore queued up to change my ticket for the next coach at 14:00. I was lucky, as there were people queuing up for a coach to Gatwick, to be told the next coach was at… 17:00 (bear in mind it was close enough 13:40 by the time I got my ticket changed).

Still, for a £5 change fee, I was accommodated on the next coach to Birmingham. With that done, it was a hike to Gate 17 where my coach would be departing.

And like airports, even coach stations have gate lice.

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And with good reason too – the coach was meant to be serving Birmingham, Telford and Shrewsbury. However, the coach from Birmingham had just arrived, with a 40 minute legally required break between trips required. Therefore passengers for Telford and Shrewsbury were going at 14:30, whilst Birmingham direct passengers had a coach laid on for them. This was my call, and I headed aboard the coach.

The coach was one of National Express’s more modern coaches, and had capacity for 48 passenger – and only 30 on the direct service to Birmingham this day. That suited me, as I had a spare seat next to me.

A bit later than scheduled, our coach pulled out. But before we could hit the Motorways, the coach had to negotiate Central London and suburban London. This is easier said than done as our coach had to cross Oxford Street – with the sales queues queuing.

I’ll give you one guess which shop people are waiting for in the photo below.

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Those of you who guessed “Next” (a UK Fashion chain), you’re wrong. It is in fact… PRIMARK (the discounted clothing store)

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Really sums up the UK today – anything for a “bargain”

The coach eventually made its way out of Central London, onto the Finchley Road, and out, striking out for the M1, and then the M6. I took the time to catch up with some downloaded TV, before falling a sleep for an hour or so.

By the time I had fully woken up, the coach was on the M6 for the final leg home, the day long turned into night. Still, whilst I didn’t put the seat in recline, it was a comfortable ride back to Birmingham.

However, the bus network in Birmingham was not a comfortable ride, with arguments, moans and whining – and that was just a bus driver.

Yes. I was back in my “home”.

Eventually, I negotiated a couple of buses, and finally wound up at my front door… an adventure home complete.

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At my front door again.

Thoughts

Nearly all transport providers (National Express, Chiltern Railways and Greater Anglia), did a good job under the circumstances – be it track conditions, people doing the unthinkable and traffic being traffic). But more importantly, those transport connections allowed me to do something more important – connect with those who I love.

And at Christmas – that’s the most important thing. That, and getting back in time for work also helps too.

And £50 or so I spent getting home and back? There’s 75 Diamond Club miles at least there. Better than a kick in the teeth.


That’s that. A quick travel monologue compared to some of the stuff I write. Don’t worry – those of you who want long and detailed reviews, hang tight – I’ve got a special coming in January/February…

Map – Great Circle Mapper www.gcmap.com

Look out for The Final Push sometime in the new year… with a few surprises thrown in!

Comments Welcome as always.


Want to keep up with me at GhettoIFE? Join me either by signing up for my newsletter, or follow me on Twitter @GhettoIFE for when there are posts to the blog!

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The Pictures from “Big Plane! Heavy Plane!  are now all live on the Photoblog – www.photoblog.com/kevincm

But for your convenience:

I’ll be uploading more parts as I go along – with hopefully a couple of parts today..

 

 

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Well, that was short and sweet. Now homeward bound (well, London bound)

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More later on….

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Good afternoon Frankfurt Airport!

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Yes, I’ve made it here, and will shortly be turning tail and heading straight back to London. A pity really… but this is what happens when something runs against you….

More later on, as well as the full comprehensive trip report to come!

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SO the beginning of a trip again – Good morning from Birmingham Airport! (Well I would call it Birmingham International Airport, but the branding team might  come and do evil to me in the middle of the night…)

Well, once again I’m sitting in an airport departure lounge, waiting for a go to gate command to be issued.

This time, its light as possible on the way out… and whatever I can fit on the way back…

Amazingly, even though it’s an early start, the sun is up and I’m sort of faking being awake after 4 hours or so of sleep… heck, I can’t remember a recent trip where I haven’t left in the dead of darkness.

So I’m checked in and awaiting departure. And you if you want a Remove Before Flight Keyring, play on Twitter  @GhettoIFE and you can win one by guessing where the picture is taken!

(and there is a major hint here! ;))

 

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Yes, it did feel that tight down the back…

… and yes, there’s a trip report brewing.

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I’ve had a very interesting morning so far… All to do with this airport.

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There’s a lot (and I mean a lot) to come over the next few days as I take you behind the scenes at London City Airport, the operations, ground team, fire and a few other surprises too… as well a lot of pictures!


Something that will also have surprises is the Star MegaDO4 flight. And you can win with GhettoIFE!

To win a seat with Randy, head to http://ghettoife.boardingarea.com/2012/10/01/win-a-seat-with-randy-petersen-on-star-megado-4/, read the rules, and if you’re the winner from the random draw, you’ll go forward to another random draw where 2 readers from Boarding Area blogs will a seat on the US Domestic MegaDO flight!

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Well the trip report is a tiny bit delayed as I’m having a bit of writers block (although I’ll clear it when I change the names of the guilty, and hold my tongue a bit).

For now, the pictures have gone live as well as the videos:

Pictures:

Videos:

The creative photography part is still coming along and something I hope to have written near the end of the week when the final part of the trip report goes out.

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Well as this trip beginning to draw to close, it has had its low points (the Mac going bang, the memory card with most of BA1′s images going missing and the EOS deciding it liked dirt rather that pictures… and oh yes, screaming kids on BA1), but life isn’t that bad as I learned:

  • Ear plugs help with screaming kids
  • Computers can be repaired without costing the earth
  • When in doubt – second hand cameras don’t cost the earth ;)
  • And friends make everything better by being there, helping out, talking and being friends

There still is the fun of BA004 to come, but no live reporting as I’ve seen my roaming bill already… and I’m in bill shock land on that front already!

And a big thank you to all the GhettoIFE viewers for listening to my moans and grumbles over the past few days :)

 

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