Previous Trip Notes:
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 8 – Cape Town & Radisson Blu Waterfront
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 7 – JNB InterContinental & SAA Economy to CPT
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 6 – Mauritius & Hilton Resort & Spa
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 5 – Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai & EK703
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 4 – Dubai, Al Maha & Sheraton Mall of the Emirates
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 3 – IAD & EK232
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 2 – Trip Report Setup
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 1 – Planning
We were about to embark on a relatively crazy flight schedule:
- Leg 1: 4,616 mile, 9.5 hour flight to Doha
- 3+ hour layover in Doha Airport
- Leg 2: 6,705 mile, 13.75 hour flight to JFK
- 2 hour layover in JFK Airport
- Leg 3: 213 mile, 1.5 hour flight to DCA
- Hour drive home to Baltimore
That’s roughly 26 hours in a plane in a 31-hour time-span. Cape Town’s airport was relatively easy to navigate, although the guys who rushed up to assist us as we unloaded our 1 million bags scoffed at the fairly good tip and tried to hard-sell for more money. Once we got past security, we headed to the Servisair Lounge, which overlooks part of the terminal. It was a nice lounge with the typical food & beverage offering. NSPwife did some final shopping, and then we all headed right downstairs to our gate.
Understanding this was going to be rough, we booked NSPpeanut and NSPbabysitter in Business Class with us, which they learned upon entering the plane. The 777 plane we were on did not have pod seats, rather, they had very large and spacious open seats. This turned out to be perfect with an infant.
We started out with some Champagne to close out a successful trip.
The food and drink on the plane was good, but nothing that stood out as exceptional; however, the service was indeed fantastic.
It’s amazing how much great service helps out when traveling with an infant. Being proactive, offering assistance, and being playful with the baby really make a difference, and our flight crew was exceptional. While this plane did not have enclosed suites, the “open” seats were actually perfect for flying with an awake infant:
The amenity kits, warm towels, and food were all standard, but welcomed:
We landed in Doha around 1am, and as we exited the plane, I approached a Qatar Airways representative asking if their Business Lounge was open at this late hour. She seemed disgusted at the insinuation that it might be closed, and replied: “of course is is open.” Ahh, the greatness of international travel. And boy was the lounge open.
This lounge was bigger than many airports I’ve been to. Two floors. a reflection pool, multiple buffets, nap rooms, made-to-order food, game room, bathrooms with attendants who hand you towels. And hundreds of people. We were exhausted, so did not get to take full advantage of the fare (and missed some photo opportunities).
After a bit of food and drink, we headed to our gate, albeit with a short detour to visit one of the world’s largest teddy bears:
We arrived outside our gate, only to find some pretty extreme security measures to get into the boarding area. While NSPwife, NSPpeanut, & NSPbabysitter had to endure standard security measures, NSP-yours-truly was randomly selected for secondary (intense) security screening. This included taking every. Single. Thing. Out of my backback. This included swabbing every. Single. Page. On each each of my notebooks. My screening alone took nearly 20 minutes, and found that it had taken so long the plane had already begun boarding. We all boarded the plane, again all in Business Class. This plane did in fact have pods, which turned out to be OK, as NSPpeanut slept peacefully in her seat for the first six hours of the flight.
One relatively cool experience was that I woke up at some point in the early morning hours, looked at the map, and saw that we were somewhere over Spain. Qatar offered 10MB of free data on their wifi, so I logged in to see what the score of game seven of the world series turned out to be. I pulled up CBS Sports, saw that the Cubs had blown a lead, but then won in extra innings. Wow. A guy was pacing the aisle, and when he saw me on my phone, he asked: “Are you on the internet.” I responded that I was, and he said “is there any chance you can check the score of the world series game.” I asked him who he was cheering for. When he responded the Cubs, I congratulated him. He seemed in shock, walked back to the “bar area,” poured a glass of Champagne, and promptly shotgunned it.
I went back to sleep for a few hours, then spent the rest of the flight watching movies, and enjoying some food and drink. While again not a world-class experience, the food, drinks, and service were all good, and it was a very enjoyable trip.
We landed at JFK, exhausted, but we just made it to multiple continents on many flights without the slightest hitch. And we only had one more short hop to go. That’s when it all began to go downhill. It started with us trying to hustle, praying that we could get on the earlier Delta flight to DC. We should have been able to make it as long as we didn’t dilly-dally. We make it to customs, and waited for our bags. All of our bags came quickly. Except 1: NSPpeanut’s airport carrier, which NSPwife and NSPbabysitter decided to GATE-CHECK FOR THE FIRST TIME while I was getting secondary-security-screened in Doha. So we waited. And waited. And waited. 45 minutes later, with a crazy infant in tow, we showed our passports to the customs officials, and took a few steps past the customs podium. We did a quick check, only to realize we left one of NSPpeanut’s carry-ons next to the carousel. Whoops. Of course, since we took a couple steps past the exit point, NSPwife had to spend the next hour waiting for a special customs agent, describing the bag, having the agent go find the bag, then get re-screened. Welp, we weren’t making that earlier flight.
Meanwhile, I was moving the full cargo which we had amassed which was piled high out of a cart. When trying to get into the train to move from one terminal to the other, the cart wheel got stuck in the track, and some degenerate started yelling at me to hurry up. As Taylor Swift would say: “Welcome to New York.” Luckily my quick wit didn’t dwindle with exhaustion, and I made sure they knew I could give it right back at em. That was fun. Almost as much fun as getting off the train, only to find the terminal was under construction, so had to navigate an off-roading type of track with the cart full of stuff. Luckily, the service elevator (the only one in operation due to the construction), couldn’t fit a cart in it. Oh, great. I had to take 50-pound bags off the cart, and stack them in the elevator, then taken them to the next floor, unload them, head back down to get the cart, and pop back up…hoping no one would take anything. At that point, I may have preferred is someone pilfered one of the bags so I had less to move.
I finally made it to the Delta counter, disheveled, sweating, and exhausted. I had some Delta Gift Cards that I had planned to use for the checked bag fee. Oh, really Delta? You don’t accept gift cards for checked baggage. That makes sense. And then the agent – piling it on – stated, you are going to have to check “that” bag, pointing to one of our carry-ons, which we carried on for all previous 24,000+ miles of flights without problem. I very politely stated that it easily fits in the overhead, but she wouldn’t hear it. She wouldn’t give me my ID back and stated that she would needed payment for that bag. I told her I was just going to throw it away. Somehow that worked, as she gave me back my ID. We then went through security, with the carry-on, and had no further problems with it.
NSPpeanut was fairly tired, and let it be known that she wanted chicken nuggets from Wendy’s. We bought some chicken nuggets and french fries, and then went up to the Delta Skymiles Lounge:
The check-in attendant was very nice, but told us that outside food was not allowed, even for infants. At that point, it was time for NSPwife to have her mild meltdown. She simply turned around, went right outside the doors, and sat on the ground with the infant and started to eat. The Skyclub attendant was borderline horrified, and then said we could go in as long as we sat in the back corner until we finished the food. Alas, we conquered the lounge and had a fortunately uneventful final couple hours.
It was a whirlwind of a trip; the longest we’ve ever taken in terms of miles. The first one with a kid. But it was well worth it, and the memories (and photos & videos) will last a lifetime.
Full Trip in Review: