Thursday, May 26, 2011

Going from Point B(FS) to B(LK)

Travel day today. I took British low-cost carrier from Belfast International to Blackpool, and I must say it was a very pleasant experience. So pleasant, in fact, that I'm seriously considering using them to tack a Red Sea diving trip to Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada on to next year's Blackpool pilgrimage. The planes are spiffy, with "trimline" leather seats in grey and red, and the flight attendants were very cheerful. Two young boys traveling on the plane whooped with delight during take off. I smiled and wondered if it was their first flight.

A couple of notes about although they are low-fare, they are not low-service. Rather, all the services are offered a la carte. If you want to check a bag (up to 22kg, which is generous), you have to pay. If you want to check in at the airport, you have to pay. If you want a pre-assigned seat, you have to pay. If you pay for all these features in advance, they cost MUCH less than if you purchase them at the airport. However, and this is the most important point, if you decide to go for "airport" check-in you still have to print out and bring your confirmation notice. It's not all paperless like in the US. When I got to the check-in counter I didn't have the paper and the agent sent me to the ticketing counter where a supervisor had to verify that I had in fact paid for airport check-in. This seemed totally weird to me -- why couldn't the check-in agent see that when she looked up my Passenger Name Record? The supervisor was super-nice, but apparently there wasn't a way for her to just look this kind of thing up in the computer. Fortunately I had the original confirmation email from in my iPhone, which indicated that I had prepaid for my features. The supervisor walked me to the front of the very long queue (a planeload of people were heading off to Murcia, in Spain), and I got checked in and bag-tagged with no further problems.

Once in Blackpool I headed to my home-away-from-home and base of operations for the next week, the comfortable and modern (modern is VERY important in Blackpool) Coast Apartments. The owners, Karen & Steve, greeted me warmly. This is my second year here and I feel like a long-lost friend. I was also delighted to find that two friends of mine from California, who will be dancing tomorrow in the Senior (Over-35) Standard Ballroom Championship, are also staying here. I've got a new camera with a faster lens than I had on my last visit, so I'm hoping I'll manage to get a nice picture of Jody & Andreas dancing. Other friends from California are arriving in the morning, it will be a sort of reunion for me. When I quit competitive ballroom dancing in October of 2009 I stopped seeing my dancing friends as much, and I must say that I do think about them a lot and miss them. So here's to a week of great dancing and lovely friends!

Travel Statistics:
  • Countries == The United Kingdom (Northern Ireland, England)
  • Miles Flown Thus Far == 5870
  • Fight Segments == 4
  • Airlines Flown == United, Continental,
  • Hotels == Radisson Blu, Coast Apartments
  • Loads of Laundry == 2
  • Favorite Alcoholic Beverage == Magner's Irish Cider

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