Posts Tagged ‘Airports’

Where in the World is Shannon Elizabeth?

This is a story all about how
my life got flip-turned upside-down.
Now I’d like to take a minute,
Just sit right there —
I’ll tell you how I became a
victim of a traveling scare.

So, where in the world is Shannon Elizabeth?

Would it be weird if I said I didn’t know the answer to that? Heh. Well, that’s not entirely true, I suppose. I do know where I am. And I most definitely know where I’m not: I’m not in London like I should be. Here are some pictures of the madness that was my day. See if you can put this together and figure out what’s happening in my life.

Fun story: Our flight from Malta to Gatwick was cancelled due to poor weather conditions (read: London’s inability to deal with snow). Quite problematic, mind you, because I had a trip to Edinburgh planned for Sunday and Alex has a trip to California planned for Monday. All flights to Gatwick were cancelled and we were left with two options: fly to Newcastle today or fly to Newcastle or Gatwick on Monday. Unfortunately, Monday won’t work for either of us, thus we were left with one viable option and grabbed the flight to Northern England instead.

Where did we go from there? Well, that was a feat as we navigated the cold wintery weather up North (thank God for iPhones, laptops & Wi-fi). We hadn’t planned to end up in Newcastle and neither of us really had a plan of attack (or proper cold-weather clothing). We were offered a transfer from Newcastle to London via coach, but considering the gross weather and the 25 mile per hour ride involved with taking the coach, that would put us in London at around 3AM after a 7 to 10 hour coach ride. Ten hours on a stinky, stuffy coach is not my idea of fun.

Instead, we decided to take a train from Newcastle to Edinburgh, a much shorter ride than the one that we would have experienced from Newcastle to London. While we were in the train terminal at the Newcastle Airport looking at the train map someone stole my huge bag from literally behind my back! I noticed within 20 seconds that it was gone and Alex and I chased the culprit down and managed to retrieve my bag (thank God)!

After we arrived at Waverly Station in Scotland, we had to scale three sets of  these ridiculous stairs with huge 45 pound bags:

After getting to the top of the stairs we spotted a hotel across the way from the station — perfect price, Wi-fi, showers & warmth! Fortunately, I had over-packed for my Malta trip and have a load of extra clothes to wear in Scotland + my computer + chargers + my books, etc. Now Alex and I are warming our souls with Marks & Spencer salads and music to re-ignite our spirits after this soul-wrenching day. At least our window comes with a pretty gorgeous view:

Love from Scotland,

PS. Thank you to the best family for staying with us at the airport during this whole fiasco! Love you guys! We appreciate all of your support!

PPS. Paul & Charlie – I know you guys read this occasionally, don’t be afraid to comment on my blog; I love blog comments :)

My Guide to EasyJet

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

In the spirit of the holidays, I have decided to gift something travel-related:
My Guide to EasyJet.
Keep in mind, most of this can be found on the EasyJet website , but I find that websites can be cumbersome: everything that is relevant to you is mixed in with superfluous information that’s totally extraneous. So, here are the things that I think are important to know when traveling with Easy Jet. As a preface, I can’t really stress how much I prefer EasyJet to RyanAir. Although RyanAir has some really great deals, I find that their advertised “£5” fares actually end up being £40+ when you add in taxes, fees, etc. With EasyJet, I hop online and the advertised fee is what I actually pay. Additionally, EasyJet flies into major airports. If you take the time to peruse RyanAir’s website, you’ll see that you typically don’t fly into the city. Rather you fly 45 minutes to an hour outside of the city and then you’re bused in (for a fee, of course). All in all, I prefer paying a few extra dollars (or pounds, as it were) for convenience and time-saving. You are on vacation, after all and dealing with the headaches that come with travel are something you can probably do without.

Your Guide to EasyJet

When to Arrive:

This is relatively standard across airlines, but arrive 60 minutes early for domestic flights and 90 – 120 minutes early for international flights.

Where does EasyJet fly out of [from London]?

From London, you can fly out of Gatwick, Luton or Stansted airports. Just some info on the locations of these (since I had no idea where they were in relation to one another):

Gatwick is about 28 miles south of London; if you’re GPSing it, use postcodes RH6 0NP (South Terminal) or RH6 0PJ (North Terminal)
–  Luton is about 32 miles from London (North, I think!); if you’re using GPS for this one, use the code LU2 9QT
Stansted is in Essex about 36 miles Northeast-ish from Central London; use postcode CM24 1RW

I would recommend flying out of Gatwick unless it’s significantly cheaper to leave from the other two.

What’s the best way to get to the airport?

You can, of course, get to the airport via taxi, car, bus or train, but let’s look at the most efficient and cost-effective ways to get there: EasyBus or the Express. EasyBus leaves from Central London and goes to Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton airports so regardless of where you’re flying out of, you’re well covered. Prices vary, but you’re looking at between £2 and £9 each way.

– If you’re flying out of Gatwick, the EasyBus pick up is at Fulham Broadway, which can be reached by tube.
– If you’re flying out of Stansted, the pick-up points are Victoria, near stop 6 or at Gloucester Place, near the Baker Street tube
– If you’re flying out of Luton, there are multiple pick-up points:  Brent Cross, Finchley Road Underground, Marble Arch (near the tube), Victoria or Gloucester Place

{The tube works great for getting around within London to find your EasyBus pick-up point if you don’t live close to one!}

The Gatwick Express is also an option, albeit a more expensive one. It leaves from Victoria station and it takes roughly 30 minutes to get to the airport; if it’s like the Heathrow Express, it’s comfortable and convenient. Count on your wallet being about £14 – £16 lighter.

What kind of luggage am I allowed?

Not much, I’m afraid. You’re allowed one piece of hand luggage (a carry-on) that can measure no more than 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm. On the bright side, there is no weight maximum, so you can load that bad boy up! Keep in mind, this is not British Airways: you don’t get a carry-on plus a personal item. You get one item. If you’re taking a real carry-on, your purse, briefcase or laptop case has to stay at home or it must fit inside of your luggage. The only additional things you can carry-on are:

a) one of the following: an umbrella, an overcoat or a shawl and
b) one standard size bag of goods purchased at the airport

If you need more than one carry-on (like in the case of my Maltese excursion), you can opt to pay a fee and take some extras with you. It’ll run you £18 for a checked bag which has a maximum weight of 20 kg (44 or so pounds). Do not go overweight on this! Every 3 kg of ‘extra weight’ (on top of the 20 kg that you’re allowed) will run you £42. I’m not kidding. Best plan of attack: put your heavy stuff in your carry-on and the bulky stuff in your checked baggage. I have yet to find size restrictions on checked luggage, but I’m taking a pretty large, full-sized suitcase! I’ll let you guys know if I have issues; I’ve never checked baggage before with EasyJet!

How do I change a flight, a passenger name or cancel a flight?

You can cancel a flight within 24 hours of making the original booking for a refund (excluding transaction/administrative fees). You have to call in to cancel (0871 244 2366; costs 10p per minute). After the 24 hour period, your flight fees won’t be refunded. You can purchase insurance for £25.

If you’re looking at changing a name (essentially signing your flight over to another passenger), there’s a £25 fee, but it can be done online. You can also call in and handle the name change, but either way it has to be done at least two hours prior to the flight.

Things to keep in mind when flying:

* Don’t forget the liquid rule! No more than 3 oz (100 ml) allowed in carry-ons. Believe me, it sucks having your brand new lotions/shampoos, etc confiscated. Double-check to make sure your stuff fits the requirement and that it’s in a plastic bag! If you forget the plastic bag, they’re pretty good about supplying them at the airport.

* Don’t forget your passport! That could possibly be the worst situation ever and it’s one that’s easily avoidable. Make sure you have your passport easily accessible but safely stored. I usually keep mine in my laptop case or purse in a zipper pocket. Losing your passport is more awful than forgetting it!

* Try to have some relevant currency. Luckily it’s 2009 and major cards are widely accepted, but it’s always nice to have some cash available just in case! I like to keep a mini stash of euros at home because it’s such a useful currency. I like to have 30 – 50 euros with me just in case we need a cab, bus ticket or in the off-chance that an ATM isn’t functioning. I find that being prepared reduces the headaches. Lots of banks will hook you up with a bit of relevant travel money if you pop in before your trip.

Hope that guide helps someone out there somewhere! That’s most of the information that I’ve ever found myself needing! If I think of anything else that is potentially useful, I’ll add it to the list.

Happy travels,

Prepping for an Early Morning Mediterranean Excursion!

Now that today is my last day of term, I finally feel the excitement for Malta building up! Not that I wasn’t excited before, mind you, but I felt so consumed by all things school-related that I didn’t really have time or energy to get as excited as I should have! Despite the fact that I’m 75% Maltese, I have yet to visit the hailed archipelago and am beyond excited to see my homeland (if you will) and check out the places where my mom and grandpa were born! Now, before the excitement can really begin, there are a few minor things to get in order: packing, getting to the airport and purchasing a thank you gift! Our flight leaves at 715A on Sunday from Gatwick airport which means that we have to be there by around 530A to check in and get through security. We’re flying Easy Jet, which means we can only bring one piece of hand luggage free of charge, anything that gets checked in is a charge (£18 per piece). Despite the fee, I’m opting to bring some luggage. Unlike American Airlines or British Airways, you’re not allowed a carry-on AND a “personal item”. Your personal item would qualify as your carry-on. Thus, since I’m bringing a laptop and other goodies, a checked bag is pretty necessary for five days worth of garb. Also, if I didn’t mention this before — Easy Jet is spectacular! We got our roundtrip flights for £58.

Now, here’s our very minor predicament: We need to be at Gatwick airport by 530A. We’re opting to take the Gatwick Express, which leaves from Victoria station, instead of EasyBus (or a similar service) because it’s so quick and convenient. At 430A, I’m all about quick and convenient. That being said, I need to actually get to Victoria Station. The problem? The tube is closed that early in the morning. So, to manage everything that morning, I’m booking a cab (which, FYI, charge a higher start rate when booked — convenience fee, perhaps?) Here’s our plan of attack to make it to the airport:

415A: Cab pick-up at my flat
430A: Pick up Al from her flat
440A: Get to Victoria Station
510A: Arrive at Gatwick on the Express!

I’m hoping that the Gatwick Express is as great as the Heathrow Express! Lindsay and I opted for the latter when we were heading to Heathrow for our Italian adventure. It’s £16ish for a one-way ticket, but it’s honestly so convenient! We were there in less than 30 minutes and it was so much more comfortable than a bus. EasyBus is another options for travelers looking to get some where on the cheap (I think Alex & I paid £6 each way when we went to Germany). The bus does take quite a bit longer though and it’s not nearly as comfortable!

I think I finally have everything in order. The only other bit on my agenda is purchasing a thank you gift for my Maltese family. They have been kind enough to allow us to stay with them for our five day stint and I’m trying to find the perfect something to say thank you.

Any ideas on an appropriate thank you gift?

Hitting up Borough Market tomorrow morning for a last bit of London love before my Malta/Scotland whirlwind adventure!

xoxo,

.leaving on a jet plane.

Trevi

Trevi Fountain -- near our hotel!

Ahhh, yes. I have just finished three article outlines, readings for an essay and nearly completed a second essay. Despite being holed up in my room all day (literally have not stepped foot outside), the day has been rather productive by most standards. And, fortunately, I still have a few hours of productivity in me before I get to sleep so I can wake up at 415A to head to the airport! Normally being up at such an ungodly hour would be unacceptable, but when one has to arise for the reason of heading to Italy, it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

So, being that our flight leaves at 730A, Lindsay and I agreed that getting to the airport a bit before 6A would probably be ideal. We’re leaving from Heathrow, a busier airport considering the big time international flights, so cutting it close is not on the agenda. Due to the fact that we live so close to Holborn station (home of the Piccadilly line), we had planned on tubing it directly from the station to Heathrow until we realized that the tube doesn’t open until 530A and doesn’t hit Holborn until 542A, which means getting to Heathrow before 6A would be impossible. Although there’s a pretty decent chance we would still make our flights, it wasn’t worth the headache. In lieu, we have reserved a cab at 4:45A to take us to Paddington Station where we can jump on the Heathrow Express (which starts outbound journeys at 510A) for 15 or so pounds. Although it’s a bit more expensive than tubing, our options were rather limited and missing our Roman holiday would have been a huge disappointment.

Also, we’re flying British Airways which works out well. Instead of the discount airlines (EasyJet, Ryan Air, etc.) where you are limited to one piece of hold luggage, we are allowed one checked bag, a carry-on and a personal item. Although we’ll likely forgo the checked bag, the carry-on + personal item bit is pretty nice. I’ll be able to take my laptop to upload pics and stay connected to the world!

All in all, I cannot wait to cross Rome off of my list of places to see! It hasn’t fully hit me yet, since I’ve been so engulfed in getting work done, but I know that I’ll feel that kid-in-Disneyland sensation when my alarm wakes me up in the morning! This time tomorrow, I’ll be sitting in a ristorante near the Trevi Fountain practicing my Italian, eating authentic Italian food and drinking Italian coffee. Meglio del sesso. That’s what I have to say about that.

Ciao,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Also, if I didn’t mention: through Expedia’s UK site, we were able to snag round-trip tickets and two nights in a 3* hotel for 215 pounds each including all taxes! Pretty sweet deal, and we’re flying with a legit airline!

Seattle, Part I.

So, today was our first day in Washington! Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 3:05P and we actually arrived twenty minutes early, which was awesome. We checked in and headed down to the Space Needle for the first stop of our trip. Due to the fourth of July holiday, the line was rather long, but once we got in, the elevator ride to the observation deck was a quick ten second trip. In a funny turn of events, Chris and I both discovered that he is minorly afraid of heights… kind of funny. <3.

SpaceNeedleShan3

ViewSeattle

The view from the top of the Space Needle was pretty amazing. You definitely have a great view of the city from 520′ up!

ViewRanier5

This picture is seriously amazing and even more breathtaking in real life! Look at Mt. Rainier in the background, it looks like its completely suspended.

 Although $16 seemed rather steep for the view, the pictures are pretty amazing! After checking out the Space Needle, we headed over to a little Greek cafe called the Grecian Corner which sits across the street from the Needle Center. We snacked on some pita and hummus and I grabbed a veggie pita and a Greek salad while Chris snagged a meatier version with an accompanying salad. Pretty delish and it was just a tad over $20 for everything!

GrecianCornerGreekFood

After that, we decided to head to our hotel in Oak Harbor, nearly two hours from Sea-Tac airport. Although the drive was rather long, I have to admit — Washington is beautiful! The only word I can use to describe it is pristine. Everything is ridiculously clean; there’s very little litter and even the view seems clearer here. The skies are bluer, the trees are greener and the ground is smoother. So far, I’m loving the area and the 85 degree weather.

We may (possibly) head up to Vancouver tomorrow. My grandma kept telling me how gorgeous BC is, so we may make the trek. It’s only an hour or so from here!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Onward to Seattle!

Hey Kiddos!

I’m at the airport right now, waiting patiently in Sacramento until 1P or so when we get to board our plane to Seattle! Even at 11A, I could feel the Sacramento heat bearing down on us, and I’m incredibly excited to be escaping it for the weekend. One of the things that I love most about the airport is people-watching; there’s always such a mixed crowd of people and it makes me laugh.

As I’m looking around, I see the standard techy, plug-your-laptop-in-and-escape type (such as myself), the under 18 crowd who are plugged into their iPods, ignoring their parent’s banter, the occassional business man dotted strategically through the waiting area, laptop open, bluetooth in ear, playing (pretending to actually be working) on their BlackBerry, and then there are the moms… oh, the moms. There’s the tattooed teenage mother, trying to keep her child in line, who is chasing her two-year-old through the airport (which is slightly entertaining), and then there’s the 40-year-old mom. Gotta love those; overprotective because they’re excited that their womanly parts could still bear children. She has her baby strapped to her chest in one of those Native American papoose-style carriers and she’s petting the child’s head, which I find bizarre. My fear, of course, is that this child will be on our plane. From my experience, children and planes don’t mesh well. I think this is likely a documented fact. Typically, after I’ve stepped off of the plane, I want to kill myself, the sounds of a beeping Nintendo DS and high-pitched screaming ringing in my ears. My hope is that this trip will be different. I’ve brought my new book, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, to keep me occupied throughout the hour and a half flight. Hopefully it works!

In any case, I feel satisfied at this moment, having just eating a tofu roll courtesy of Lemon Grass. I didn’t realize that they had a small station in the airport, so that effectively made my day.

Airport Kids

{You know the sight of all these kids scared the life out of me!}

On to Seattle!

Hope everyone has an amazing fourth!

Signature Stamp - Shannon