Saturday, March 5, 2016

Norway Journey Begins

Chicago to London
click images to enlarge

Anticipation was at its peak as we got in our car to head to O'Hare Airport.  The Chicago weather was cooperating so we had figured there shouldn't be any delays in our departure.

Even though our flight wasn't scheduled to depart until 6:45 PM we arrived at the airport around 4 PM. after dropping our car off at a local parking lot.

Since we were on an international flight, we weren't able to print off boarding passes in advance.  That meant we also could not get our seat assignments for our second flight (more about that later).   We checked in our bags, and headed for security check-in.   One of us had TSA pre-check and the other didn't so we split up at the check-in.  All the electronic gear went to the pre-check line which made things very nice.  It took a bit to complete the check in but we were now headed towards the gate.

We decided to get a couple of burgers and fries from McDonanld's which was conveniently across from our gate.  Despite knowing we'd have dinner on the plane, we knew it would be awhile before we'd be served and this light meal would hold us over.

AA Flight 86 (ORD / LHR)

We boarded our flight and stowed our hand luggage by our seats.  We always like to have a carry-on with a couple of days worth of clothes so we don't need to open our big suitcase in the pre-cruise hotel.  It is also comforting to have some clothes for each of us, should our luggage not get to our destination at the same time we do.

We had an aisle and window seat on the right-hand side of the plane in the last cabin of the B767.   There were plenty of empty seats, and boarding was completed, so we spread out.   The plan was for me to lay down in the middle section of seats once dinner was over and try to get some sleep.  Shortly after dinner, I would put that plan in motion, but it wasn't a sound sleep.

Looking out the window, as you can see in the picture above,  it was a clear night over Chicago as we took off.  We bid good-bye to the lit up checkered city below.  Gazing out the window, the moon was reflecting off the wing.    We thought that that these were good signs of things to come.

We had dinner which was a choice of pasta or chicken, typical for an AA flight over the pond.   Our selection was one of each - the chicken was the better choice for the record.  One and a half hours before landing in London, we had a light breakfast served to us.

Good Morning from London

Opening the window shades we got glimpses of the England countryside and a clear blue sky.

Our flight arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and we had to park until our gate was freed up.  After deplaning, we followed the signs for connecting flights.  It wasn't necessary to claim luggage or go through customs in Heathrow.  We did have to go by bus from terminal 3 to terminal 5 for British Airways.

British Airways to Oslo

While we didn't need to collect our checked bags, it was necessary to go through security.  There are two checkpoints - at the first one, they checked our tickets & passports and gave us hand-bag tags for our luggage.

The agent said that our plane was small and said the we needed to check one of our rolling bags as it wouldn't fit.  We weren't happy about that because there went our safety net of having some clothes if the other bags weren't in Oslo when we got there, but we couldn't argue.   It turned out that the plane wasn't small by our standards and the bag would have fit especially since the plane was almost empty.

Since we had made this slight detour to drop off our bag, we weren't sure where to go next.  We were directed up the lift to the security checkpoint.  Here, all large electronics needed to be removed and put in bins along with coats, shoes, belts, and 3-1-1 bags.  Even the bag itself had to be put in these large bins to go through the screening.   We collected our bins and headed off to find out what gate we were at - all we knew so far was we were departing from the "A Gates".

Our next flight would be boarding after 10 AM.   Signs indicated that it was a ten minute walk to A gates from where we were at, but the departure board still didn't have a gate posted - instead it had a time when it would be posted.  That time came and went and still no posting, then finally it appeared. We headed off to A21 where we found seats in the departure lounge.  

The plane boards by rows, but since we had status on American Airlines, we were able to board with the first group. Recall that we didn't know what our seats were for our BA flight until we checked in at Chicago.   You could pay $30 per person if you want a specific seat or you can wait until 24 hours in advance and get a seat assignment for free.   We opted for the latter.  Once again, the flight was pretty empty, so there certainly wasn't a problem with waiting until day of departure to get seats assigned.

We took off on time and shortly after that we were served  a light breakfast and beverage.  

The story continues in our next post.  Be sure to bookmark our Diary Hurtigruten Classic Voyage Bergen
 page so that you can easily navigate the entire journey.

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