FRIDAY & SATURDAY, MARCH 6 AND 7, 2009:
Leaving for Iraq – AGAIN. This time it is with country music artist Chely Wright. As most of you know, Chely has done NUMEROUS tours for the troops with me. She’s a huge supporter and a sweetheart to work with. Some of her musicians/crew have made previous trips with her but she also has several new guys who will certainly have a memorable experience.
Everyone arrived on time and check-in was painless. This is our first time to fly Delta via Atlanta. Delta only flies on certain days of the week and the flights haven’t worked out for any of my previous tours. I really wanted to check out the service as it compares to United. United is a larger aircraft with First, Business and Coach seating. Delta only has Executive Class and Coach Class.
We boarded our plane for a short 25 minute flight to Atlanta. Already, I like Delta better because they have a large plane, not the tiny jet that goes to Dulles on United. We had a great flight attendant who was cracking jokes with everyone before take off. Then, his microphone quit working. I didn’t think it was a big deal but evidently it was. They had to bring maintenance on board and it took over an hour to repair the problem. The pilot started the engines, then came over the intercom and said there was a ground delay in Atlanta. He taxied away from the gate and we sat and sat and sat. I wasn’t real worried because I booked a flight with a 3 hour layover in Atlanta to avoid problems such as this. We finally took off and landed in Atlanta over an hour late. Had time to go into the Crown room for a cup of coffee and then boarded the plane for the flight to Kuwait.
Again….MAJOR difference from United. There were bottles of water already sitting on the armrests by our seats. You know how I have to fight for water on United. And all the flight attendants were super sweet. I gave them the goodies AFTER they showed how nice they were and each one – all 14 – came by and personally thanked us. I really wish Delta had service every day. Even the little “amenity” kits are tons nicer than United.
The menu is also a hundred times better. I’m having grilled Mahi Mahi but the other choices were steak, fettuccini and a special chicken dish. The food was absolutely restaurant quality. There were fresh shrimp, a tomato Florentine soup, and sliced tomatoes with blue cheese crumbles and a vinaigrette dressing. Dessert (which I didn’t have) was fresh fruit and cheese AND a sundae that you picked your own toppings for. Even the bread was soft and warm. I knew it was going to be good when they brought around the little hot towels. They were actually “hot” and moist whereas United basically gives you a dry, cold washcloth.
The video channels were awesome – lots of first-run movies. I watched Slumdog Millionaire (because I wanted to see what all the buzz was about from the Oscars). It was just “okay”. Not Oscar material in my opinion. JAM watched the new DiNero/Pacino movie and said it was great. The nice thing about Delta’s video selections is you can pick the one you want to watch at any time. On United, the movie starts and ends at a set time.
The flight attendants continued to bring by small bottles of water (yes, I was in heaven!). I was drinking a lot but didn’t want to pause the movie to go to the restroom. Just as the movie was ending and I was really, really needing to visit the restroom, we hit severe turbulence. JAM was passed out next to me so he was no help at all. Chely looked back at me and motioned to her water glass. Guess she spilled it all over herself in the turbulence. The turbulence seemed to last for hours and I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I didn’t want to buzz the flight attendant and ask permission to get up even though the seat belt sign was still on. Finally one of the pilots walked past me and I grabbed his arm and explained my dilemma. He told me to go ahead, but be very careful. So, I made it to the restroom and when I came out the same pilot was standing there with a couple of the other guys from the cockpit. He looked at me and said, “Don’t you know the seatbelt sign in on. You’re not supposed to be out of your seat”. J
I didn’t sleep very well or very much. Think I was trying too hard. Had a couple of bites of a vegetarian pizza right before landing and watched the guy who was in the window seat across the aisle from me tear the seats apart (seriously, he took the cushions out) looking for his cell phone. He finally had the flight attendant crawl up under the seat of the guy behind him and located it. A few minutes later JAM poked me and nodded towards the guy who lost the phone. I thought he was telling me to look out the window then realized that the guy had his hands in a funny position. This guy was pinching his nipples as hard as he could. He had his eyes closed and his lips were moving like he was chanting something. He was American but he was one strange dude. He did this for at least an hour. Every once in a while, he would give this big smile. JAM had collapsed in hysterics but I was spellbound just watching this weirdo.
We landed and our Visas were waiting for us so we moved through immigration quickly. Then all our bags came except for one of my “show bags”. It finally came around and I headed through the security checkpoint. Just as my bags were being put on the belt, Chely yelled that we didn’t have everything. Evidently the bass player had not found his bass. I couldn’t go back since my bags had already gone through, so I told JAM to wait with them and I stood just on the other side of the counter. Thankfully, the bass came in with all the “guns” for the troops and we were on our way. Broadie, our escort in Kuwait, was waiting for us. Only took a few minutes to get to the hotel. Rooms were ready and I started answering my emails as soon as everyone was settled. Worked until about 9:30 pm, then went to the gym and ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill. Then I met JAM in the restaurant for a very light meal. Back in the room trying to finish up emails now (It’s SATURDAY! Why do I have so many emails???) and will go to bed hopefully before 2 am. Have to be ready to leave by 10:30 am tomorrow.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8TH:
Almost 4 hours of sleep. Just kept waking up. Up at 6 am and hit the gym. Then had breakfast with JAM, showered and ready to go to Arifjan. Still watching the weather closely for tomorrow’s flights. Keeping my fingers crossed that we get to fly!
First stop after dropping bags at the Show Site was the DFAC. Couldn’t figure out why there weren’t very many troops in line for chow but realized it’s Sunday in Kuwait and the troops here don’t work 7 days a week like the troops in Iraq. They work 6 day weeks and have Sundays totally off. Had our Commander’s Office Call and my favorite person gave the brief again. Was disappointed that the CSM was on leave but left his some goodies. Lewis Jones always does such a great job giving the brief to everyone. This time he talked about some things that I had not heard previously. From there we went to tour the hospital. No “combat” injuries, just illness and a broken figure. Last time Chely toured that facility, they were in “tents”. Have a nice, new facility now. We visited the Warrior Recovery Unit next. That’s where the wounded go for physical therapy. There were some combat injuries there.
Back to the stage for sound check. Painless. DFAC for dinner. Can’t believe the food in Iraq DFACs is so much better than what is available in Kuwait! As we were eating, a soldier in line looked our way and started pointing. I couldn’t tell if he was pointing at me but as he approached, he started talking to one of Chely’s new musicians – Micah. The soldier was going on and on about how he couldn’t believe he was here and what was he doing here. Micah stuck out his hand to shake his hand but the soldier grabbed him in a big bear hug. Micah talked to him for about 5 minutes and when the soldier walked off, I asked him who it was and how he knew him. He said, “I don’t have a CLUE!!!” LOL He sure covered himself well.
Colonel Glen Moore introduced Chely. We had a little while to “bond” this afternoon because he is a “cop” from Tulsa, I lived in Broken Arrow for several years and that’s where he lives now. Super nice man. And the best intro we’ve had in a long time. Asked him to pack a duffle and come with us to Iraq as our emcee. J
Show started on time and hopefully we won’t be here too late for autographs. We are still being told that we have to depart the hotel at 2:30 am for a 7 am flight time. Supposedly there is “weather” in Iraq and if we don’t get out that early, we won’t be flying into Iraq tomorrow. I do NOT want to be stuck in Kuwait again!
I walked to the toilets and as I was coming back, a soldier grabbed my arm and said, “You MUST wear your reflective strap and ID Card at ALL TIMES”. I just sort of looked at him and then he asks, “Are you a Civilian?” Now, I’m standing there in a sweater and green pants, so I just sort of looked down at my clothes. He started apologizing. I told JAM, that guy needs to work on his “pick up line”!!
The show was terrific. Chely is a “talker” but the troops loved it. She has a lot of fun with the folks in the audience. Autograph line went twice as fast because she pre-signed photos and just took an individual photo with each person and talked to them. I was working with an MP who said he could get us a C-17 out later than our C-130 was scheduled. But, we started too late and he couldn’t pull it off. But, meeting him was a blessing because he says he can assist in the future so we don’t have to leave the hotel at 2:30 am.
I had the group prepared to finish the autograph session, go to the hotel, shower, and go straight to the flight line with no sleep. Which means they would be “dead on their feet” for the entire tour of Iraq. Just as we were leaving for the hotel, we got word that we don’t have to “show up” until 7 am which means a 5:30 am departure from the hotel. If I quit typing now and go to bed, I’ll get 2 hours of sleep. So, Good Night and I’ll email you when we return from Iraq.
MONDAY, MARCH 9TH:
I checked the weather right before we left and it said, “wind gusts up to 36 MPH with SWIRLING dust and 70% chance of rain” for Q-West where we were going. I knew our flight would not depart but we had to go to the airfield anyway and “wait”! Left at 5:30 am and arrived at 7:00 am. We went to the DFAC for breakfast and before we could even finish eating, we were advised that our flight had been canceled. They started working on getting us another one and finally found one to Kirkuk which is where we are supposed to perform tomorrow evening. It didn’t depart until 4 pm and everyone was so tired. Matt – our escort from Baghdad – came to Kuwait last night Thank God and was able to get us a couple of tents so everyone could get some sleep. I couldn’t fall asleep, of course!!! This was about 10:30 am and we all went back over to the DFAC at 1:30 pm to have lunch before flying. We were told that the main dinner line closes but we could make sandwiches. A really, really rude female soldier jumped on us the minute we walked in and told all the workers to remove all the food. You’ve never seen anyone take food away so fast. I wanted to pull her aside and explain what everyone was doing there – donating their time just to come over and say “thank you” to her! The person escorting us was able to arrange for us to at least make some sandwiches.
The lady who drives the bus from the PAX terminal to the plane – Donna – was there and took good care of us. She is a real sweetheart. We were able to board a few minutes after arriving at the plane. They told us the flight would be about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was one of the most turbulent flights I’ve been on over here. At one point, the engines began a really high pitched whine and JAM and I thought it was probably all the dust getting into then. Not very comforting. When we didn’t land after about 2 hours of flying, I sent JAM up to see what was going on. There was weather in Kirkuk and they were going to try and take us to Q-West (our original destination) OR back to Kuwait (I was hoping not!!!). We flew threw 30 more minutes of brutal turbulence and it suddenly got really “hot” inside the plane and thought we could smell something burning. Then landed so hard I thought we had been shot down!!! And, we landed in Kirkuk….where they had just had a major fire in the PAX terminal and taken a round of mortar hits. Nice welcoming, huh? J I felt so sorry for our little pilots because they had to turn around and fly back to Kuwait in that mess. Our escort at Warrior said 30 minutes before we landed, the dust was so think they couldn’t see 10 feet in front of their hands.
Got everyone into lodging and went to the DFAC for dinner. Then I walked over to the Rec Center to try and get on internet. After about an hour of trying, I finally logged in. Now, it’s raining so hard, I can’t get back to my lodging. I sure don’t want to sleep here!!! Really, really tired from the lack of sleep last night, too. Lodging here is the same as last time with females having an individual “trailer” with the bathroom inside and the guys are in a building with several different rooms with bunk beds in each room. They are sharing 5-6 to a room. The room that they gave JAM, Matt and our sound techs is a “storage” room. There were no linens on the beds and the heat didn’t work. The bunk beds were falling apart.
Weather is supposed to be horrible through Wednesday. Our show tomorrow night is scheduled for outdoor so I’m not sure what will happen with that. Have a feeling we may be at this camp for a while, too. Just hope we can get back to Kuwait on Friday for our flight home that evening!
This computer room won’t allow you to plug in a laptop and my battery is running low, so short road report!
TUESDAY, MARCH 10TH:
Got 5 hours sleep last night and then went to the gym to work out. Quick shower and then I blew up the power strip in my room trying to make coffee! Fortunately, there were still outlets I could use for my hair dryer and computer. Went back to the Rec Room to use the wireless and then found the Green Beans coffee shop next to the stage where we will perform. It’s also on the same side as the Taco Bell trailer where one of the members of Filter crawled up under that trailer when we had the mortar hit. J Chely and I were supposed to be picked up at noon to meet the guys at the DFAC for lunch but our escorts had miscommunication and didn’t pick us up. We asked some soldiers where we were supposed to go and walked down.
After lunch I went with the guys to visit the Air Force and Army sides of the base. First stop at the Air Force was to see the little Cessna airplanes that the Iraqi Air Force is flying. Our host told us that only a couple of years ago, the Iraqi Air Force consisted of only a few hundred but now has more than 2,000 members. The Iraqi Trainees are very intelligent young men. One of their classes is learning English. I spoke with several of them, one young man who was educated in the Netherlands. It’s just strange to see the “Air Force” flying the little single engine propeller aircraft. We made a stop by the flight simulators and then had to cut our visit short to go to the Army side. Our host here was excellent and I learned so much about the Iraqi Air Force. Very impressive stuff. The guys got to play in the Abrams and Bradleys and saw a howitzer on the Army side. We also made a stop by the supply unit and saw some of the large “trucks” that are used in delivering various “supplies”. Chely didn’t go with us on the tours as she needed to get things ready for the performance that evening. I gave everyone an autographed photo and wristband and told them to come see her show. When I get tired, I start “losing” things (right, Bebe?). I left my external hard drive in the computer room this morning and someone brought it to me. Then I left my purse in a van that we were supposed to be riding in all day only they switched us to a bus. Thankfully, the van is assigned to us and I was able to retrieve it!
We went to the stage for sound check and learned that the show time had been moved to 8 pm instead of 7 pm. Wish we had known earlier because we could have spent more time on the “tour”. Sound check was much quicker today and we were able to eat dinner early and then have about an hour to “rest” before the show. There was a huge crowd at the performance and Chely again performed a two hour show. She talks about half the show and involves the audience heavily – which they love. The line wasn’t very long for autographs but since she had each person sit and chat with her when they took a photo with her, it took over two hours to complete even though the photos were pre-signed. Like she says, “isn’t that why we’re here?”. And it is. I met an Iraqi interpreter and talked to him for quite a while as she was signing autographs. He’s a really young guy – 20 years old! We took some photos together and I made sure it would not put him in danger if I add them to my website. He assured me that it was cool.
I was very surprised that we didn’t take a mortar hit during the show or autograph session. Our escorts had a much better “game plan” in place this time – so we wouldn’t be sitting underneath a 10,000 fuel tank instead of in a bunker!!!
Finished up autographs and Chely had to do a quick interview. It was 1 am by the time I got back to my room and then I had to go check email. Didn’t get in bed until almost 3 am and had to get up at 7 am for a 10:30 am departure time. We’re flying at noon to TQ – a Marine base. I’m sure Chely will enjoy that because her brother is a career Marine.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11TH:
Got 3 hours sleep and then hit the gym, showered, and went to the Rec Room to check email. Logged on easily and was just deleting all the “Spam” and getting to my “work” messages when the internet went out. I asked what had happened and was told that they were upgrading and the internet would be down all day! I begged our escort at the Rec Desk to let me use a computer “somewhere” that I could log onto AOL. She took me next door and a nice young man let me use his computer.
We flew on a “new” Marine C130 and one of the flight crew remembered me from the D. B. Sweeney tour last May. He and his flight crew flew just me and D. B. from Al Asad all the way to Kuwait. Since there were only 2 of us on the plane, D. B. and I sat up on the flight deck with them the entire time. He also flew Gary Sinise around and said he had 3 seconds of fame in the special that Gary did for Fox.
We landed and the Marines were “all over it”. What great coordination and hospitality. We went to lodging which were trailers and Chely and I shared a bathroom. JAM and Christian were right across from us and all the other guys were across the road. After dropping our bags, we went to the DFAC – which has fantastic food – for lunch. Lodging for me and Chely is a shared trailer which means we each have our own bedroom but share a bathroom. Christian and JAM are across from us and the rest of the guys are in “rooms” where they have to hike to the latrine and toilets.
After lunch we all went for our brief and then for a tour of the Ops Center and the “Dark Tower”. The General at this base was here years ago when I was here with Charlie Daniels and he remembered us coming out to Habbinayah. He is awesome. After those visits, Chely went to the gym and I went to the stage. Green Beans has an internet service that you can pay for and use. I purchased one hour for $10 and then it wouldn’t open AOL. I went back to their home page and if you only purchase one hour, you get 64 KB! There was an AAFES Miilitary special for $25 but it doesn’t’ tell you how many KB you get. To get 254 KB, you had to pay $180 for a month! I tried the $10 special and I could open AOL but couldn’t send anything. Gave up on that and decided to use a computer in someone’s office after the show. Only problem with that is all my “files” are on my laptop and I really need access to them. Oh Well!!!
Had dinner at the DFAC which is excellent (again) and then went over for the performance. It’s outdoor again and very convenient to Green Beans and all the shopping. Gary had told me about an internet café that was back behind the PX where it only cost $4 per hour and you could use your own laptop. I checked it out and it’s open until 3 am! Perfect for me.
The show was really great. Only problem is that the Marines are so “quiet” and polite. Not the rambunctious Army crowd. Show was again 2 hours and then the autograph line looked pretty short compared to other nights. Again, the Marines were so polite that they wouldn’t stay and “chat” with Chely when they had their photos taken. She finally made me start giving them the autographed photos before they came up to her and then she personalized each one. The whole point of pre-signing was so the line would move faster and she wouldn’t have to personalize. But, she wants to spend time with them and that seemed the only way to hold their attention.
Finished up autographs at midnight and I went to the Internet Café. Right outside the café is a pipe shop and there are tables and chairs outside. The guys and girls were sitting around smoking those big “hooka” pipes. Very strange to see the military doing that! At midnight I drank a “SHOCK” which is a cold coffee with triple caffeine. I remember it said on the can “Sleep is overrated”. I wanted to be able to stay awake and answer my emails. My PSD who took me to the internet café wouldn’t sit down. He stood over my shoulder and chatted with me while I was working, so I really didn’t get many emails answered. But he was so sweet and talking to him was a lot more important than answering emails. I finally gave up at 1 am and went to my room. I was trying to be really quiet and not wake Chely. When I lay down, I could NOT go to sleep. Not at all. That “Shock” coffee kept me away all night. Not to mention the fact that it was freezing in my room. I had a really thin blanket and I kept turning the heat up and up and up.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12TH:
Gave up even trying to sleep and got up at 6 am. Then the person behind us flushed his toilet and it got “stuck”. Instead of the sound that toilets in the U.S. make when they stick (constant running water), this is more of a “thudding” sound. I knew she’d never be able to sleep through that. I went to breakfast with the boys and felt absolutely horrible. I’m staying away from the “Shock” coffee unless it’s a real emergency!
We had some time to kill after breakfast and the boys went to see the Camp Mascot – a mean ole donkey. He tried to bite and kick them. The troops said he’s been at TQ since before the invasion.
We all met at the flight line at 7 am because we were told they couldn’t “soft load” our personal luggage and that it, too, has to be palletized. Then about 30 minutes after we arrived, they told us they were not going to palletize it. Next we were told that all our equipment and the passengers wouldn’t fit on the two choppers. They were going to fly our Coaxial techs and all the equipment and luggage to Ramadi and then come back and get us. They said it was only a 10 minute flight. The Coaxial techs were waiting to get on when one of the chopper crew came up and said all the passengers were going on the first bird. We all walked out to the flight line with me in the lead. One of the chopper crew grabbed my arm to take me up front and I was shaking my head “no”. The rotors were turning so it was very hard to hear. He thought I was “Ms. Wright”! J They took Chely up front and two of the pilots had flown with her brother. One of them was a General. I’ve never flown on a chopper with a “General” as a pilot!
We landed and Mark – our escort – was waiting for us. I remember that he was great when I was here with Aaron Tippin for Thanksgiving. Amanda and Matt from Public Affairs were also here and I had worked with them at Thanksgiving, too. Our lodging last time was nice but this time Chely and I got the “DV” deluxe treatment. Nice trailers with our own bathrooms.
We went to our lodging for a few minutes and then to the DFAC for dinner. This is supposedly the BEST DFAC in all of Iraq. Only problem for me was that there wasn’t really anything “low calorie”. But, they had a great salad bar.
After lunch we went around and met the people at the Operations Center and some of the offices. We kept running into people who had seen Chely in Iraq on one of the previous tours as well as in Korea. These visits only took an hour, so I had a little time to spend on the internet before sound check. Sound check ran a little longer than normal but was fine. We went to the DFAC again for dinner. I was walking through the DFAC and this guy comes up to me and says, “Tell BEBE I like her”. My first thought was that he knew Bebe Evans who works with Charlie Daniels and he knew I was bringing them to Iraq next month. Then – and I don’t know how I remembered this – I realized he was talking about the pink rhinestones on the seat of my jeans! I hate jeans and really any type of clothing that has the “name” on it, especially in rhinestones. But these are my absolute FAVORITE jeans right now, so I suffer through all the jokes. I did thank him. J
Show started almost on time and all our shows have been outdoors. I saw the sweet lady who shared her trailer with me when I was here with Aaron as well as several guys who knew me from Balad Air Base. One of them was our escort when Chely and I got to go outside the wire (that was in 2004) and visit a school and give supplies and toiletries to the school kids. That is still one of the highlights of my visit to Iraq. Chely did an amazing last show, but then all her shows have been that way. Right in the middle of her show, her new bass player decided to get a “Mohawk” haircut. Now this kid has really long hair that sort of sticks out all over. The “barber shop” was right next to the stage, so the barber came over and proceeded to give him a Mohawk haircut. It LOOKS horrible!!! No kidding. It’s still long on top and sticks up everywhere but is shaved on the sides.
Show lasted 2 hours again and then the autograph line took a little over 2 hours. I got to talk to so many people that I had met on previous tours that it was a fantastic way to end our visit to Iraq. Went to the Internet Café and checked email and going to try to go to bed soon. We have to leave lodging at 7 am to take choppers to Al Asad and then a C-130 from Al Asad to Kuwait. If all runs smoothly, we’ll be back in Kuwait by noon! That will be a “first”.
Micah – Chely’s drummer – left his passport on stage after soundcheck yesterday. He’s been frantically looking for it for quite a while now. Hope the boys let him off the hook before he goes to bed!
FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH – (SOMEONE’S LUCKY DAY!!!)
Got up at 6 am and was out of lodging by 7 am. We went straight to the flight line to wait for the choppers. Were told that they wouldn’t be there for at least an hour, so we made a “coffee run” to Green Beans.
Choppers showed up right on time and we got all the equipment and luggage loaded. Flight to Al Asad was 20 minutes. Landed there and there was a little confusion about whether or not we had to go to a different “terminal” to get on the C130. But, it’s the Marines! They brought the plane to us. J
Had the same nice, new plane and most of the same flight crew from yesterday. That was nice. Landed at KCIA this time, too. That’s the military side of the Kuwait airport. It’s only a 30 minute drive from there to the hotel whereas when we land at Ali Al Salem, it’s an hour and 45 minute drive.
We were back at the hotel by 3:00 pm. I had to pack and re-pack the “show” bags and determine what I was storing at the hotel. Was hoping to get in a workout but when I checked email, I had 141 new messages Spent the entire “free” time I had answering those. Everyone met for dinner at 7 pm and it was a nice “wrap up” to the tour. We departed the hotel at 9:00 pm and arrived at the airport by 9:30 pm. Since we’ve never flown anything but United, I had a bit of trouble finding the check-in counter. As we were checking in, Chely asked the guy at the ticket counter if she could purchase some drink coupons to give to her boys. I reminded her that Kuwait doesn’t allow alcohol. LOL
Boarded the plane right on time and about 30 minutes into the flight, we hit turbulence that was even worse than what we went through in Iraq. There was lightning all around and the turbulence seemed to go on forever. I had a glass of water when it started and most of it went straight up into the air. John took the glass away from me and held it out over the aisle so try and keep the rest from spilling. Jeff – Chely’s production guy – is very superstitious and said he hoped that we were late departing so that we would be leaving on the 14th instead of Friday the 13th.
Once again the menu on the flight was excellent. Since we had the nice “wrap up” dinner at the hotel, I didn’t eat. Worked for about the first 3 hours and there was again some severe turbulence but not as bad as that first hour. Slept better than I think I ever have on a plane for about 4 hours. Chely said I missed the “Drama”. Evidently a guy in business class went to the restroom and when he came out, he fell and landed on the drink cart. They got him up but then he starting falling backwards. Said he was yelling “I’m not drunk. I’m just tired”. He split his head open and bit through his lower lip and Chely helped the flight attendants clean him up. Sorry I missed all that. J
Looks like we are going to land early which is good because we have a tight connection. I think we may be on a tiny little prop jet from Atlanta to Nashville but I certainly hope not!!!
Landed almost an hour early and the guy who fell got off right in front of me sporting band aids all over his face. There was a ton of security in the jet way as we exited the plane and everyone had to show their passport before we were allowed to go to Immigration. Not sure what was up with that.
I used my new “Global Access” kiosk so that I didn’t have to stand in line for Immigration. Everything worked like a charm but then I got an error message saying the “request had taken too long and timed out”. I held up the slip of paper it printed to one of the Immigration Officers and they let me come through before everyone else in line. Sure hope they get this fixed soon. It’s a terrific service – but only when it works.
Our flight to Nashville departed on time and it was a large plane again. If Delta ever goes to daily service, we’ll switch to them exclusively instead of United because there is just no comparison to the service. Delta wins hands down. And, all the “horror” stories I heard about lost luggage didn’t apply to us. All our bags arrived and the business class passengers even received theirs first – something other airlines always promise and never fulfill.
It was another great trip for our group and for the servicemen and women that we met. Every trip leaves me with so many wonderful memories and new information about our impact in that area.
I’ll be home for 4 whole days and then going to Switzerland and Germany with the Bellamy Brothers.