I am not sure where day 0 ended and day 1 started. Rahman and I left Boone yesterday morning at about 10:30 am. We arrived in Erbil, Kurdistan at 8:15 am Boone time and 3:15 pm Kurdistan time (seven hours ahead).
The trip began with a 2 hour delay in our original 2:45pm departure time from Greensboro waiting on our plane to fly from Dulles down to Greensboro and then take us back before a 5:40pm departure to Vienna from Dulles. We held out little hope for making this connection and already made back up arrangements to stay overnight in DC and fly to Vienna the next. We left Greensboro at about 4:45 dodging some really cool clouds on the way to DC. As we taxied to the gate in Dulles we passed an Austrian Air plane at gate A47. I told Rahman that was our plane.
The time was 5:39pm when we pulled up to gate B something; actually stairs since we were flying in such a small plane. I had to put my carry on in the belly of the plane from GSO, so Rahman went toward gate A47 to get info on the connection while I waited for my bag. Gate A47 is at the other end of a very long concourse from the B something at which we arrived. As soon as my bag was available, I grabbed it and started to run, actually sprint, up the concourse with my bag in tow on its skinny little wheels. As I dodged and weaved through the people, went up and down an escalator between concourse A and B, and caught up with Rahman (in fairness to him his bag did not have wheels!), I failed to hear the public announcement stating “last call for passengers Rahman Tashakkori and James Wilkes for Austrian Air flight to Vienna.” I did come across an official looking young Asian fellow with a walkie talkie in his hand and he yelled at me as I whisked past asking if I was running for the Vienna flight. I said yes and asked if I should keep running. He yelled back “Yes!” as I was now 30 yards past him. As I passed Rahman, who was walking very fast, he picked up his bag and ran with me, A35, A37, A39, A41, I could see it ahead, A47. Four attendants in red outfits, the official dress of Austrian Airlines I assume, greeted us at the gate and told us we made it and gave us our seat assignments. In the back of my mind, I was wondering if our checked bags could run as fast as we did. I surmised that the little tractor things that pull luggage could drive faster than we could run.
Upon entering the plane, it was completely packed, 2 rows on each side with 3 seats in the middle. I felt like everyone was staring at us, not with loving looks either. We ended up about halfway back in the plane with me in the very middle seat and Rahman on one side and a not so friendly german (I think) lady on the other. I noticed lots of children as I wandered around looking for our seats, two right behind our seats. We then waited for two hours in a line of planes on the tarmac getting rather hot, smelling burning jet fuel, and listening to whining children and adults. Apparently those cool clouds we dodged earlier had become a major problem.
So we had another two hour delay. The rest of day 1 in the next post!