A brief stop off in Chicago

Five years in Iraq……
Originally uploaded by StripeyAnne.

The six-hour stopover in Chicago on our way back home gave us chance to take in the city. For the ridiculously cheap fare of $4 return, we hopped on the CTA and headed downtown.

Armed with good advice from the security folk at O'Hare (seriously!) we got off at Washington and started our neck-cricking walk to the Millennium Park. At the risk of stating the obvious, the skyscrapers are tall – you can spot the tourists because we're the ones rubbing our necks from the constant looking up. And my word, it's so drafty as the wind whips around the tall tunnels created by the buildings.

It was the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion – and there were quite a few people with something to say – and none of it good. Though judging from the presidential campaign, it'll be a brave contender who dares criticise the US troops. Who'll blink first?

Rant time……Amateur Airlines

Right, it's rant time now. The Utah Seven will NEVER travel with American Airlines again. Ever.

AA used to be quite upmarket and was my airline of choice for US travel, but we've re-named it Amateur Airlines after our long and tedious trip back to Manchester.

The flight was late, which can't always be helped, so no real black marks there. But what happened to the legroom? TransAltantic spacing should be 31 inches – the only way I could see 31 inches was measuring diagonally.

Then there was the food. Cold lasagne? Feel those microbes breeding! But worst of all we force-fed breakfast if we were awake, then woken again at 5am to be told we were only 50 minutes away. Thank goodness, was the collective sigh. But no. While the USA had taken an early plunge into daylight saving time – its equivalent of British Summer Time – AA's assumption that the rest of the world had followed suit was at least flawed and at worst arrogant. So after the 50 minutes there was a rather sheepish announcement that they hadn't reckoned on this and actually there was still another hour in the cramped, crowded plane.

To put the tin hat on it, as we say in parts of Leeds, the video to help foreigners arriving on British soil find their way through immigration and to the right door out, was actually the one for arriving in the USA. They didn't have the UK one. Ah well, said the stewardess, hopefully it won't be complicated….. oh to run a multi-million dollar business on hope!

It said a lot that no eye contact was made on leaving the plane. Next year, it's Delta or United for us. AA – you've had your chance…….

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