Tags: airport

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Today was a travel day. It began in Brighton and ended in Bulgaria.

Jessica and I were up early to make the trip to Heathrow. From there we took a flight to Frankfurt, where we killed time waiting for our next flight. Despite having a three hour layover, we still ended up rushing to the gate—I blame the lack of signage and wayfinding in the airport.

From Frankfurt we flew to Sofia. With each leg of our journey, we set our clocks forward. Now we are two timezones away from where we started the day.

Tomorrow: Bulgaria Web Summit.

August in America, day twelve

Today was a travel day, but it was a short travel day: the flight from Tucson to San Diego takes just an hour. It took longer to make the drive up from Sierra Vista to Tucson airport.

And what a lovely little airport it is. When we showed up, we were literally the only people checking in and the only people going through security. After security is a calm oasis, free of the distracting TV screens that plague most other airports. Also, it has free WiFi, which was most welcome. I’m relying on WiFi, not 3G, to go online on this trip.

I’ve got my iPhone with me but I didn’t do anything to guarantee myself a good data plan while I’m here in the States. Honestly, it’s not that hard to not always be connected to the internet. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. To avoid accidentally using data and getting charged through the nose for it, you can go into the settings of your iPhone and under General -> Cellular, you can switch “Cellular Data” to “off”. Like it says, “Turn off cellular data to restrict all data to Wi-Fi, including email, web browsing, and push notifications.”
  2. If you do that, and you normally use iMessage, make sure to switch iMessage off. Otherwise if someone with an iPhone in the States sends you an SMS, you won’t get it until the next time you connect to a WiFi network. I learned this the hard way: it happened to me twice on this trip before I realised what was going on.
  3. I use Google Maps rather than Apple Maps. It turns out you can get offline maps on iOS (something that’s been available on Android for quite some time). Open the Google Maps app while you’re still connected to a WiFi network; navigate so that the area you want to save is on the screen; type “ok maps” into the search bar; now that map is saved and zoomable for offline browsing.

Rescue

Getting from MIX08 in Vegas to South by Southwest in Austin should have been fairly straightforward. All I had to do was change planes in Dallas. But the best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley.

Moments after my flight from Vegas landed, Dallas was hit with an unseasonable snowstorm. My flight to Austin was cancelled. One phone call to American Airlines later, I was booked onto a (much) later flight. Jessica was flying in from London and I managed to get her booked on to the same later flight to Austin. Now we just had to kill some time in an airport. We met up with Natalie who was also trying to either get on a later flight.

Inevitably all the flights were cancelled. At this stage, there were no more hotel rooms to be had in Dallas. The airport infrastructure was beginning to collapse under the weight of a thousand irate passengers.

In the end, Twitter came to the rescue (I know that surfacing serendipity is meant to be Dopplr’s bag but I’m accumulating quite a store of serendipitous Twitter stories). Erin was also in the airport. She read of my predicament and sent a direct message to tell me that she, Peter and Josh had managed to rent a vehicle with space for a few more people. All we had to was get to the rental space. That turned out to be quite a challenging level of the game. It was like Trains, Planes and Automobiles crossed with War Of The Worlds.

Eventually we made it out of the airport and begin a classic American road trip through the Texas night in a gold-coloured rental van, stopping at the occasional gas station to buy toothbrushes and souvenir t-shirts because American Airlines still had our luggage. Meanwhile, other stranded geeks were making their way to Austin by any means necessary. An octet of Britpackers rented a taxi all the way from Dallas (one fine geek didn’t even make it that far).

My simple shot from Vegas to Austin turned out to be quite an adventure. I feel like quite a few us really paid our dues getting to SXSW this year. It was certainly worth it.

Gladwell in Gatwick

After getting off the plane from Texas, I made my way through Gatwick airport towards the train station to catch a train down to Brighton. I saw Malcolm Gladwell walking by.

Maybe it was the spirit of South by Southwest still coursing through my veins or maybe it was just tiredness from the long flight, but I decided “what the heck?” and I went up and introduced myself to him, told him I liked The Tipping Point and bid him a good day.

It was one of those snap decisions.