Monday, April 29, 2013

Norway: The End

Our trip home was long but relatively easy. 

We had realized that we only had an hour to connect in Frankfurt.  While that is a legal connection time, we had proved on the outbound that it was near-impossible enough to be undesirable.  We pitched this story to United, and they agreed to change the ticket to go via Dulles on United instead of via Toronto on Air Canada.  In addition to saving us the hassle of possible misconnect, this got us Economy Plus seating (woohoo!), mile bonuses, and lifetime flight mile credit for flying United metal.  All around a real win.

We had to leave our hotel to get the 4:30am shuttle bus to the airport, and the kids handled that relatively well under the circumstances (i.e. still operating mostly on Denver time).  At the airport, there was some confusion about checking us in due to the last minute itinerary changes, but the SAS staff who contract to Lufthansa were friendly and got it worked out after a bit. 

Flights and transit in Frankfurt went smoothly, with time enough to hang out in the Senator Lounge, planespot, and have breakfast.  D was obsessed with his birthday toys - Dump Truck, Cement Mixer, and Elephant - and insisted on feeding his elephant.  Whenever he wanted something else he would ask on behalf of Elephant: "Elephant egg?  Elephant water?  Elephant bread?"  We almost lost Mixer and Elephant when he left them on a magazine rack, but a lounge staff member came to the rescue. 

Our FRA-IAD flight was nearly empty in E+ (though full in the back!), and we were able to secure two rows of three seats next to the windows for our family... and there were enough empty seats that there was yet another row to fully lay down on during the flight!  So our family of 4 had 9 seats.  Not bad.  Everyone slept.

Unfortunately, we had again set up a tight connection in IAD.  We took a 30 minute delay out of Frankfurt due to air traffic control in Europe (it was funny that the pilot felt compelled to specify that this did not have anything to do with FAA furloughs, but that in fact France was having technical problems with their ATC systems).  And then once we arrived in Dulles there was a string of unfortunate luck combined with some general incompetence that resulted in us missing our planned IAD-DEN flight and, sadly, losing our upgrades - parked at the gate furthest from immigration, took ramp crew over 15 minutes to bring up strollers, SAS forgot to priority tag our bags in all the confusion so we had to wait for them, IAD security from customs to domestic transfers has no premier line.   (But Global Entry did get us around the long customs line.)  Despite our best efforts, we ended up at the gate a few minutes after the door had closed.

Happily though, United actually did something useful for once and had protected us on the following flight, which left only 30 minutes later.  Because we were protected, D's upgrade even cleared!  So I took the first class seat with C on my lap, and T and D shared a row of three seats in the back - not too shabby.

Sunset at DIA
 We arrived home, with luggage, at 9pm - about 24 hours after we left our hotel in Bergen, and everyone slept like logs (C only woke up ONCE in the night!).

Very successful.

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