Although I didn’t need to check out until 10:00 or be at the airport until 13:00 I decided to get up relatively early to allow time to get the last few items packed ready for flying. I couldn’t pack entirely as I was still waiting for that friend’s drink he wanted me to take back to England with me and he’d got in late and wasn’t awake at the time. Can’t blame him though, he’d been up late watching the reruns of the panels in Hall H.
Instead I showered and went for a light breakfast and by the time I got back I was able to finish packing. For a while I sat around trying to waste a bit of time and by 09:30 I’d checked out and was walking towards the USS Midway. It was about a 30 minute walk from the hostel, though I may not have taken the most direct route as I had to double back on myself to cross over the road to it. At first I queued at a kiosk and paid before realising that was for a boat tour and not the Midway, fortunately I got a refund for it and was pointed in the direction of the right kiosk.
The tour of the USS Midway cost $19 and they allowed me to leave my luggage and backpack at the visitor information point – this was a huge relief! To start with I headed straight up to the flight deck so I could get ahead in the queue for a tour of the bridge. Amazingly there were only two people in front of me so I was able to go more or less straight up. It was an interesting tour and very informative – the guide talked about what everything was for and even talked about some of the experiences of the Midway.
Once done I wandered around the flight deck taking photographs of the airplanes and helicopters on deck. There are a few which you’re allowed inside of which I thought was quite cool. Inside one of the helicopters though there was a dove nesting so they’d put up a sign asking people to avoid disturbing the mother and the chicks. I was pleased to see people paying attention to the sign too.
Back below the flight deck there are various areas where you can go below deck to engineering, sick bay, the mess hall, crew quarters, and other parts of the carrier. On the main deck that is referred to as the city they have a place to get food and a souvenir shop. I had a brief break there to get a hot dog before continuing swiftly around the self-guided tour. I could have spent a lot more time there, but with needing to get to the airport the available time was limited so just after 12 noon I continued on towards the airport.
Once I’d left the Midway I continued walking in the direction of the airport. It was a little further than I thought but I arrived with plenty of time to spare. The commuter terminal has basic facilities so its possible to have a snack whilst waiting for the flight. I decided to have some crisps and a drink whilst making use of the free Wi-Fi.
Once again it was a small aircraft for the San Diego to LA segment of the journey, and I was told my luggage should be transferred through all the way to Birmingham. Again, I’d believe it when I saw my luggage at the other end. The arrival in LAX was quick and relatively easy, though I didn’t understand what TBIT meant on the departures board. After speaking with the information desk for United it turned out it meant I needed to take a shuttle bus around to the international terminal.
As I didn’t have any luggage to check in I walked around to the security and onwards to the gate. At the airport I bought a California magnet for my parents for $7.09. If I’d thought about it sooner I would probably have been able to get them a better one whilst in San Diego. I was surprised the only souvenir shop in LAX was a kiosk though, at least as far as I could tell from my walk through the terminal.
The flight to Frankfurt wasn’t as good as the outbound journey; this one was on an older 747-400 that had no entertainment system. As I couldn’t pre-select seats for this flight I also ended up with a bulkhead seat so I didn’t have much leg room either as there was a dividing wall present. The first meal wasn’t too bad as it was pasta again. It was then a long, uncomfortable wait until breakfast – which I didn’t eat.
Once again it was quite a trek across Frankfurt International Airport but this time I had a little more time to get there and at a very brisk walk got there with 25 minutes to spare. I expected to pass through immigration at this point due to coming in from the US, but there was only a security check.
The flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham was far more comfortable and was on a newer Airbus. Surprisingly they also served sandwiches during this very short flight. By the time this was done it was almost time to land. Getting through Birmingham airport was as quick as ever and from landing to sitting down on a train I think only 20-30 minutes had passed.
One thing I found at baggage claims though was that the lock on my suitcase was gone. There was no sign of it having been opened or inspected so I can only assume I didn’t put it on right when I changed my t-shirt in San Diego airport. It didn’t bother me though as this had been a fun trip and one I hoped to do again in the future.