Travel Diary – Getting to Seattle (Part 1)

Air France Boeing 777-300ER I don’t really know why but travelling has become a chore for me. As much as I love to go new places and meet new faces, I dread the actual travel bit. Whether its driving to Durban for the Christmas holidays or going overseas for business, its stressful but the stress begins a good while before the travelling actually begins.

It all starts with getting a visa. This can be an absolute schlep for us South Africans but fortunately for me, I still have a valid US visa from my trip to the 2008 Global MVP Summit. This afforded me a little less stress too early, however I still suffer from the day before stress. You know the kind, when you need to pack your suitcase and hope you don’t forget something in the process. This year I planned to pack for the trip the night before, but alas my car decided to give me grief, so all plans went out the window and things went adhoc from there.

Getting to the airport is always something that needs planning, especially if you don’t have family nearby. Yep, most people don’t realize how lucky they are to have a family member drop and collect them at a whims notice. I’d decided to take a shuttle to the airport to reduce the stress, a decision compounded by a faulty car. So I booked a shuttle through the EZShuttle service that numerous people have recommended. Unfortunately they were 1 hour and 15 minutes late for the pickup from my office resulting in me basically flipping out. Yeah I was this close to cancelling my entire trip and going to fetch Data, my cat, from the cattery.

The trip to the airport found me getting car sick due to the stop start nature of the traffic through Alexandria township and the driver continuously applying and releasing the accelerator. The last time I felt like that was being driven around in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2002 but I’d rather forget that stressful trip.

Arriving at the airport exactly two hours before my international flight put me into mission mode. I systematically and logically proceeded to eliminate the hurdles. First lets get checked in, Air France staff point me to the new electronic check-in machines and whoops, problem, I need to see a check-in counter agent. Apparently it’s because I’m travelling to the US. That done, visit customs for a DA-65 form – can’t leave SA with a laptop and camera without one as it will result in too much stress on the way back in.

Besides for the long queues at the security checkpoint and at passport control, the rest of the experience was quite pleasant. The Air France flight was jam packed aboard a Boeing 777-300 and left soon after the scheduled time. Food on the flight was excellent and the staff were friendly and cheerful as I remember them to be.

Next stop, Paris.

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