Saturday — April 18
We boarded the Boeing 767-400ER that whisked us away from Perú around 11:30p last night. This time both the business and coach class cabins were booked to capacity and boarding took the entire time that was allotted for the process. In seats 3A and 3B, we sipped our complimentary OJs as we watched people settle into their seats around us. DL 236 was wheels up on time at 12:25a, flying into the inky darkness that surrounded us.
Skipping the dinner service, we prepared to snooze the flight away as soon as the announcement was made that we were at cruising altitude. Comfy full-size pillows, cozy comforters, and seats that reclined nearly flat made all the difference in the world. I can’t say that I slept the sleep of the dead, but it sure came close. Five hours of the 6-hour-and-29-minute flight to Atlanta was over in the blink of an eye — or so it seemed — and we woke to the tinkling of china and crystal. As we flew over Havana, Cuba, we enjoyed a breakfast of warm croissants, fresh fruit, strawberry yogurt, and a cheese omelet with ham and skillet potatoes.
Our flight landed early at 7:45a. Amongst the first ones off the plane, we breezed through passport control and went to collect our luggage. An impromptu tribute to a squadron of US soldiers returning from Iraq left nary a dry eye while we waited for our bags to roll off the carousel. Mui and I heartily joined in the clapping and shouts of “welcome home and thank you” until the last of the desert-camo clad soldiers disappeared from view.
As soon as our bags were in our possession, we rolled through customs, handed in our “nothing to declare” form, and joined the line at the Delta service counter to see if we could get on an earlier flight. We were thrilled to hear that they could put us on the 9:30a flight. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t time to re-tag our bags or that the aircraft was heading to Ronald Reagan National Airport instead of Dulles. We were delighted not to have to wait until 12:20p to start the next leg of our trip home.
Our bags turned over to the Delta personnel, we hurried through security. It was 9:00a and we had 20 minutes to make it to the gate before DL 1236 was closed to passengers. Our luck held — an electric cart whisked us to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. Didn’t even have to break a sweat. By 9:50a we were in the air, flying to our final destination.
Our travel day concludes at Ronald Reagan National Airport way ahead of schedule.
We landed at Reagan National around 11:15a. Though we did not expect to see our bags come rolling onto the baggage carousel, we waited around for a few minutes before I suggested that Mui file a claim at Delta’s missing luggage counter so we could get going. Perfect timing; by the time the long claim line behind him finished forming, we were on our way to the taxi stand. At 12:15p, a few minutes before we would have been taking off from Atlanta had we been unable to change our flight, we were at home sweet home.
By the way, remember that lost boarding pass? I found it while we were waiting to see if our luggage had made it from Atlanta. It was in a “non-obvious” pocket of my carry-on!
Next Up: Wrap Up