Sunday, 8 March 2015: Québec to Tallahassee, at the crack of dawn

Written 10 March 2015

Sorry, no photos today.

David planned to stop off in Tewksbury on his way home, to check on sister Martha, so he was scheduled to catch a midmorning flight—strangely, it would take him to Boston via JFK in New York City.

I, on the other hand, was going straight back to Tallahassee, and the only way to make those connections work was to leave Québec on a 6:15 a.m. flight! I calculated backward to when I would have to get up and arrived at 4 a.m., sigh. The front desk assured me that taxis were always waiting at the hotel's door, even at that hour of a Sunday morning. Then, just to top it off, the housekeeping staff helpfully left a letter in my room (and in all the others) reminding me to set my clocks an hour forward, to begin Daylight Savings Time. So that early wake-up was going to be at an hour that my biorhythms were firmly convinced was 3 a.m.

Still, at the appointed hour, I was up and out, and sure enough, a taxi was waiting. So was a grad student also headed for the airport, so we shared the ride and the fare (flat rate of $34 to the airport).

The line for check-in and that for security were both long—no TSA Precheck here—and I got randomly chosen for the explosives test, so by the time I got to the gate, although I still had time to eat a full breakfast, I didn't have time to wait through the long, long line at the breakfast counter. So I just grabbed a pastry and caught the flight to Toronto. Once again, the flight was half empty, so I had a three-seat exit row to myself.

Surprisingly, the U.S. maintains a full customs and immigration establishment in the Toronto airport, so I had to claim my luggage, go through customs, and recheck it there. They had global entry kiosks, though, so I could skip the long line at passort control. Going through security after rechecking my bag, I got randomly selected for the full pat-down. Because my layover was over four hours, though, I still had time to get my full breakfast.

Several restaurants in the Toronto airports have what they call "enhanced seating," which they invite anyone to use, even if they don't order food. In some cases, the enhanced seating extends for a couple of gates on either side, so there's no shortage. The enhancements consist of, for each seat, a table with a nice reading lamp, an electrical outlet or two, a credit-card reader, and an iPad! The iPad is tethered by a short security cable and rests upright in a little cradle, but you can pick it up if you want. You're free to use the iPad as long as you sit there, to surf the web, play games, check your e-mail or whatever. If you want something from the restaurant, you tap the "order food" icon on the iPad screen and select from the menu, then shove your credit card into the reader. Within 15 min, your order is delivered right to your seat, even if you're two gates away from the restaurant! This is a cool concept.

For the Toronto to Atlanta leg, I got upgraded to first class, and once I boarded, I could see why. First class was slightly more than half empty, so I had a two-seat row to myself. The flight was at noon and included no meal service (even in first class), so before boarding I got myself a very nice sandwich of chewy bread, prosciutto, and mozzarella, with a thin smear of something tomatoey in it. Excellent combination. Hot tea in a real China cup. Airline snack (rolled cookie with chocolate filling) for dessert. Entirely satisfactory.

In Atlanta, because we'd already done customs and immigration, they just dumped us out on Concourse E and let us go. Another long layover .before catching that last leg to Tallahassee. While I waited, the agent at the podium paged somebody I knew, but I never saw him. Maybe he never showed up. On the flight, which was crammed full (I thought all flights everywhere were always crammed full these days; those empty flights in Canada were a surprise), I sat a couple of seats away from the FSU volleyball coach, who was travelling alone (no crowd of six-foot women in matching sweats; the season's over) and in the economy cabin. I would have thought he had enough miles always to get upgraded.

Finally got home to find the house intact, the yard in bloom, and the temperature over 70°F. David should be home on Thursday.

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