43 Hours… Door to Door from Scottsdale to Hyderabad… Part 1

Warning! This POST can be very long and you may need to get your favorite beverage to get through it…

In the last few years I have been visiting my India office 3 to 4 times a year and a lot of people made quite a few comments…

How long is it? I don’t think I can make that long trip… I can’t sleep so I will have tough time… I feel restless, etc.  We all made long road trips, but this is a bit different for sure.

So here goes my one way trip from Scottsdale Arizona to Hyderabad India.

24 hours before (pre-trip): I usually start getting into travel mode the day before, try to ware myself down, so I can sleep well.  I now pack the night before leaving, start gathering items I will take, along with all the Amazon boxes that were received for my India shopping.  Around 8 p.m. I started packing and as usual tried to distribute weight in to the 3 suitcases (I can check 3 bags w/each 70 lbs or less in International Business class).  I didn’t actually weigh them, but have a good feeling about them.  I decided to get the dogs to their kennels tonight, since I won’t be seeing them for 3 weeks.  Sent a few emails, printed itineraries, and almost ready for bed – around 11 p.m.  The flight from Pheonix is at 7:15 a.m. – so at least want to get out of the house by 5:30 a.m. – so eventually ended up going to bed around 11:30 p.m.

2 hours before: Got up at 4:00 a.m. (less than 4 1/2 hours of sleep), woke up Lesli around 4:45 a.m.  As always time flies fast in the morning.  5:30 a.m. – still not ready trying to pack up  my computer and load the suitcases into car, etc. .. finally all set to leave 5:40 a.m.

0-1 hr : Finally out of the door.. 5:45 a.m. (April 2nd) – a little later than I wanted to, but no worries… They say you need to “check-in” 2 hours before for International flights.. but if I can make it before 30 minutes cut off, I should be fine…

Arrived at Terminal 3 of Phoenix Airport at 6:10 a.m. – usually get the attention of Sky Cap guys quick, this morning everyone seem to be a lot busier.. finally got one of them to help with the 3 heavy suitcases.  Inside the terminal the lines are long, but fortunately the Sky Priority line has no wait.  The suitcases are weighed.. 56, 51, 48… not bad.. actually less than what I expected, I should have crammed a few more things in… Being a loyal customer has its perks, the check in was fast, said my goodbyes to Lesli… If I had to go trough the regular line, it would have been a little stressful.  Was able to get through the priority line, through security in less than 5 minutes and at gate by 6:35 a.m.

I am still “Checking In” on my Foursquare app and now at Gate 17, I just regained my mayorship… I have been fighting this one with a couple of people for a while.. If you use the app, you will understand.  If haven’t heard of it before.. check it out at Foursquare.com.

Flight #1 – Delta 1446 (Boeing 757 Tail Number: N654DL) from Phoenix to Atlanta: They started boarding early – so I didn’t even wait 5 minutes at the gate to board the plane. I started settling into my seat and started replying to emails on my iPad passing on the offer for drink from the flight attendant.  We pushed back 5 minutes early and on our way… I tried to get my power nap in.  The time when they close the door, you have to shut off all electronics (not all of them do, but that’s a different story), until you reach 10 K feet for Wi-Fi to be on.. is typically 20-30 minutes.  I mastered the art of sleeping during this time so you can wake up and get to work.  I woke up to the “ding” noises they make after we reach 10 K altitude.  Started with my iPad for work, since they are going to serve breakfast and you have to stop temporarily anyway.  I choose cereal instead of eggs and potatoes.. since I have many more airline meals coming up, better to start light. Last thing you want is an upset stomach on these long fights…

As I got up to get my earphones from my bag overhead, I noticed a really familiar guy behind me.. I knew he was an anchor on ESPN and his name was on the tip of my tongue.. I looked up ESPN anchors on Google and it is Steve Levy.  Even without “make up” he looked very similar to his TV appearance.  I wanted to talk to him and mentioned about our new venture Golfradar… but I am not going to be one of those “guys”.  After breakfast, I got up again to grab my laptop for work and noticed Steve Levy was wearing Ryder Cup Golf hat and looking in my direction.. so I said:

“were you golfing in Arizona?” – he smiles and say.. no “Just the hat”.. may be he thought I asked if he played at Medina Golf Course which was on the the hat… “Dumb move”… I told my self and sat down and went back to work.

The next 2 1/2 hours went by fast.  Between the chats with India crew online, emails and everything else, I squeezed every minute until they ask you to shutdown before landing for work. After I shutoff all electronics the guy next me started talking about Atlanta and how it is his first time and I gave him a few pointers on where to go, etc.  He was reading Golfdigest so we ended up talking golf, PGA TOUR and of course Golfradar.  Gave him a card and asked him to check out our site next week.

Transit in Atlanta: 1:30 p.m. 5 hrs since left home

We landed a few minutes early.  I checked my next gate was E12, landed at A28… will be perfect walk for the next flight.  I have been walking between terminals in Atlanta for last few months – it is a bit long and much needed “exercise” doctor recommended.  As I started my walk, I notice Steve Levy is a couple of steps ahead of me… so here we go… I got my card handy… so I catch up to him and said…

“So heading back to Hartford?” …. another dumb move… nothing better to say?

He says “Yes and You?” – cool we are going to have a conversation now 🙂

Me: “I have 3 more flights to go.. my next one is to Amsterdam in an hour and half”

Steve: “What kind of flight is it?”

Me: “It is an Airbus 330” – (Idiot!! I said to myself – he didn’t ask you what kind of plane..) before I can recover he goes “I meant how long as is it?”

Me: “Oh (giggling), 9 hours and then another 9 hours and 1 hour”

Steve: “Wow, hope you sleep well…”

Me: “What were you doing in AZ?”

Steve: “I was covering baseball last night, back to the Studio now”…

By this time we are approaching the middle of the terminal and I have to turn right and he stopped to see which way he needs to go… so I guess it is end of the conversation. He says “Safe Travels, Nice to Meet you”… Dang.. so close, but couldn’t slip my card to him…

Brisk 20 minute walk to E12 (checking on Foursquare at will on the way)… it is 2 p.m. – not enough time to go to Lounge, they will board soon, so decided to hang around the gate.. doesn’t look like a full flight.  They announced that they will start boarding around 2:20 p.m. – made a couple of quick calls to customers and ready for my flight.

PS: If you are still with me here.. I appreciate it.  If not, I have to get better at my narration.

Flight #2: Delta 174 Atlanta to Amsterdam (Airbus 330-300 Tail Number N817NW)

Started boarding at 2:25 p.m. – Usually like to get on these flight when they start as you can get settled, have a drink and get yourself into the long flight mode.  I am in seat 2G (Aisle), looks like 2H is empty, I like it when it is empty so no one jumping over you to get to bathroom… but at last minute an ex-employee got the free seat that he was waiting for and was quite happy he made it (by his conversation on the phone, I got this part).

Settled into my seat, noticed that Delta changed to new amenities bag to Tumi… looks nice, took my shoes off and put on the travel socks, started sipping on the Champagne and started making my calls and last minute emails.. since International flight don’t have Wi-Fi yet, you can finally get “disconnected” and not worry about work for at least 10 hours.

We pushed back few minutes early here too.. the Bursar of the flight comes and introduces by name and calls your name and takes the order for dinner.  I noticed that she went and talked to all Diamond Medallions first and did her rest of the route… I guess they want us to get the first choice of meals (I can think I am special right?)…  20 minutes into the flight, they start the service.. warm nuts and first drink.  I decided to watch “Silver Linings Play Book” since I had to stay up until we finish dinner… I am pretty impressed with the movie… Bradley Cooper wasn’t particularly my favorite actor, but he was very good.. and of course Jennifer Lawrence was awesome..

Dinner and Dessert over.. time for my sleep… I noticed we are almost 2 1/2 into the flight and have about 6 hours left… looks like good tail wind.  I started watching Louis CK, and trying to fall asleep… it was another 30 minutes before I did.  I really don’t like the Airbus 330s.  They are the old fleet of Northwest and don’t have flat beds.  The seat extends quite a bit but is at a slant.. so you feel like you are slipping… but it is much much better than sitting the whole way.  I woke up “now and then” to see what is going on, I noticed the guy next to me is not able to sleep and kept getting drinks… I got a good 5 hours and skipped the breakfast service and woke up 30 minutes before landing… We are 40 minutes early and it is 5:20 am. on April 3rd in Amsterdam, by the time we landed.  That means it is still 8:20 p.m. on April 2nd in Scottsdale – and I already gone through the night with 5 hours of sleep on the plane.  My next flight is at 10:35 a.m. – almost 5 full hours to go.

I told you… it was going to be long.  I will cover the rest in Part 2… can’t believe it is going to be so long… oh well.

Part 2 in a few days…