So here we are back in Florida. Our flight was terrific, business class on a United Airlines refurbished 767, courtesy of someone who shall remain nameless, (thanks Greg). The Immigration Officer at Orlando airport couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. In total contrast to previous times we have entered the USA, she smiled, asked how long we would like to stay and then stamped our passport for six months.
Despite the pilot’s best efforts strong headwinds delayed our flight just long enough for us to miss our connecting 1235 flight at Washington DC. There was no chance of getting on the 1730 flight either, it was fully booked, ten o’clock at night was our best bet. So we had ten hours to wait in the airport, it was fun! There was a brand new hi-speed driverless underground Aero Train between the terminals that you could ride on all day long if you wished. Just don’t accidentally walk through and out of security. We also passed the time by standing on the moving connector walkway between the AeroTrain C-Gates station and the C Concourse which gave us the opportunity to study the local photography associations exhibition “In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight”. And of course there was plenty of time to drink gallons of Starbucks. A couple of hours of this and we were bored so returned to the departure gate to wait. Also waiting was a young soldier, mid-twenties or so, travelling home on leave. In between mouthfuls of his foot long Subway he told us that he had set out from his base in Korea 32 hours earlier and this was now his last leg, if he could get on the flight. His Mother and wife would be waiting to greet him and ‘Mom’ wanted to see him in his uniform, (combat fatigues and a rucksack), although he would normally travel in civvies. I suggested that wearing his uniform would get him a few concessions. He said it doesn’t happen but then, on second thoughts, he informed us that as he was standing in line (in the queue for English speakers), to pay for his foot long Subway, the chap behind stepped in front of him and said ‘It’s okay son, I’ve got this.’, and shook him by the hand.
We left him in peace to finish off the rest of his Subway and carried on reading our books. The soldier wiped the remainder of his lunch from around his mouth and went up to the desk and asked very politely if he could get a seat with a little more leg room. A passenger sitting within earshot jumped up, went to the desk and gave the soldier his first class seating ticket. Lots more handshaking and thanks from the passengers nearby that this young soldier was protecting us all. Not wishing to be left out, a large breasted blonde cabin crew member, also travelling home on the same flight, stepped forward and said she’d accompany him to the United Airlines Red Carpet Lounge until boarding time.
Before we fly home again we are going to the Army and Navy store and get a set of combat fatigues each.