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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Flying to Cairo, 2014

We departed on Wednesday afternoon for the annual trip to Cairo.  I frequently get the question, "how long is the trip?" so I put together a picture this time.  Basically, it is about 13 hours in the air over something close to 24 hours.  Your experience may vary.  This time we flew Delta Airlines via Chicago and Paris and the times looked like this.  We were scheduled to leave Minneapolis at 1 pm, arriving in Cairo after about 22 hours, around 7 pm their time.

Good news.  We qualified for the new TSA pre-check program.

That meant that we got to keep our shoes on (I'm still seven years away from the "old guy" exemption on shoes) and I could leave my laptop computer in my carry-on bag.

Bad news. Linda had too many suspicious wires and electronic devices in her carry-on and had to unpack the whole thing for TSA.  Or maybe it was the bubble-wrapped music box.  Once we made it to the gate, we saw a final reminder that it was still cold.

More bad news.  Delta flies a tiny Bombardier CRJ900 jet with 76 seats (2x2) to Chicago and that's what we were on.  Please plan on surrendering your carry-on if it is of any significant size.  Linda smiled, promised to put it under her seat and got an "OK."  She wasn't surrendering that music box to anyone else's control.

Still more bad news in Chicago.  Delta's domestic flights come into Terminal 2 but flights to Paris leave from Terminal 5 so we would be going through security again.  No TSA pre-check here.  And, a broken water pipe (it was cold there too) meant no access to the "people mover" and we should look for a shuttle bus on the first level.

Terminal 5 at O'Hare is a very nice, newly remodeled building.  Delta, following in Northwest Airlines tradition, apparently bought the cheapest gate - the one at the end of the very long walkway.  The concourse is lined with some very nice pictures of international destination.  There was even one from Egypt.

But there was now good news again.  We were offered exit row seats with exceptional legroom for the long portion of our trip.  We took quick advantage of that.  And this plane was a new Boeing 767 with incredible high-definition displays for movies, television etc.  They had a wide selection of movies and assorted video.  The only problem was that I could see about 4 different movies from my aisle seat, all somewhat intriguing.

We arrived in Paris to find we had another terminal change and security check to pass.

The departure schedule offers a lot of choices and the flights are sorted by departure time - that seems to be a world standard except in the U.S.  There we are - Le Caire - right between Ho Chi Minh and New York.  Once again, at the end of the concourse.

On this flight, we had seats several rows apart.  Linda's section was called to board first and just after she got on board, a mechanical problem was flagged and boarding stopped.  The flight crew had found a problem with damage to the speed indicator and repair was called for.  This was an Airbus and we all know about the Airbus and their pitot tube problems, don't we?  I had no idea what was actually going on.  Linda was getting continuous updates from the pilot walking the aisles on board.  Those of us in the boarding area were getting the "ten minutes - less than an hour" sort of updates from the gate.  We were about two and a half hours late leaving Paris.

The French, like the Dutch in Amsterdam, make accommodation for smokers with a well-advertised "smoking box."  It was unoccupied when  I went by but looked like it had been used a good deal.

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