Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting into Florida

... still had some surprises on the way. As written in the last post, Air Berlin was really helpful with the glider. We took off from Koln Airport and I was happy that everything ran smoothly. I had to make the connection to Miami and needed to pass the 'flight-to-the-US' security check. The officer looked at me and said "didn't they tell you in Koln"? I had to say "no".
The problem was that I booked a one way ticket to the US and so I needed a visum. The ESTA waiver was not enough. And that meant that I needed to book a return flight, or else I wouldn't be able to board the plane to Miami. I tried to book online, but the redirect for the payment didn't work, so I eventually went to the Air Berlin counter and booked a flex ticket out of the US. Much more expensive than I would have liked, but I had no option anymore, time was ticking.
I was boarding the plane from the tarmac as the last passenger and someone from the ground crew told me they had taken good care of my glider. It was on the plane.
After a 10 hour flight we landed in Miami. 1,5 hour wait at the immigration service. Picking up everything at the baggage claim. That's one piece of 'normal' baggage, my harness and the glider. Quite a lot to handle when you have to walk through customs on your own. On to the exit to pick up the rental car. I was looking for the signs and noticed the "rental car shuttle" sign. O-oh, I couldn't take my glider on that one! And of course, I couldn't just leave it unattended, I asked security staff what to do and they confirmed my problem. You can't leave it here and you can't take it with you on the shuttle. I had to take the glider to storage room on another floor, pick up the car, retrieve the glider from the storage and than drive on to Orlando. That is, if they would accept my glider at the storage. Which needed some convincing...
Landed at 4 PM and finally left the airport on 7.30 PM. The slow, sleep-inducing cruise (fastest sections at 70 mph) to Orlando ended a long day. The handirack worked well. It kept the glider on the roof during the obligatory "left-foot-on-the-brake" mistake.

I received a very warm welcome at Quest. And Timothy had a beer in the fridge :-)

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