A Travellerspoint blog

2. En Route

Who said getting there has to be boring?

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Saturday, April 8, 2017

On final approach to O'Hare aboard AA 3404, a 65 passenger Canadair CRJ-700 regional jet operated by Envoy Air as American Eagle, I spotted though my window at seat 3C, an aircraft approaching from our one o'clock position and just below us an instant later to be directly beneath us. At those speeds, everything one sees that is nearby is fleeting and that was the case here. A second later, looking across the aisle and through the window of a fellow traveler in seat 2A I got a better look; we had passed just over another jet, also on final to O'Hare. We were landing on some runway R---either 9R or 27 R or 10R--and the other aircraft was landing just ahead of us on some runway L--either 9C or 9L or 10L or 10C or maybe even 28C or 28L--I was too rattled to figure that part out.

In any event, it was as close as I have ever been to another aircraft in the air. They guy in 2A said the same thing. It was a Delta A320 according to him. "I could damn near touch the tail," was his comment. An exaggeration, to be sure, because his window was, obviously, closed.

On the way out, I asked our Captain, a stocky man in his forties with gray highlights in his fashionably long hair, (Perfecto according to his name tag), what our separation had been. "One thousand feet," he said "and we had him on visual of course. Nothing to worry about," Perfecto told me. Glad to hear that. I am usually not worried when I am aboard an aircraft but this time, well, I was.

Visualize 1,000 feet with me. 1,000 feet is a bit less than three football fields (including end zones), is less than the height of the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building and is equal to about thirty telephone poles or four Alameda Towers (where I live). An aircraft of this type at this altitude is doing about 175-200 miles per hour. For me, that's pretty close and pretty fast. Whew.

Our connecting flight is on British Airways and, as luck would have it at O'Hare, that entails a bit of a hike up Concourse G in Terminal 3, down the hall to the end of Terminal 2, out of the sterile security area, down the ticketing concourse, up the escalator, over the driveway to the ATS (Airport Transit System) train which runs every few minutes to Terminal 5. There, where there is no TSA Pre-Check opportunity, we got to be re-screened. Of course, this entails a more intrusive process using millimeter wave advanced imaging technology rather than the walk-through metal detectors that I am used to. I screwed up. I left the medication I need to take tonight in my pocket and the AIT (Advanced Imaging Technology) detected it and flagged me for a patdown. Spell check just corrected that word to putdown and that is insightful. It wasn't pleasant. I am spoiled by Pre-Check.


After that, it got better as we made our way to the British Airways Business Class Lounge which was tacky, crowded and noisy. It was there that I tried to get my adrenaline level down and pause to pen this entry. I erred in not following B4's advice to get something to eat back in Terminal 3. The offering in the BA Lounge, like the lounge itself, was unappetizing to me. We had just a bit over three hours connecting time but I am not able to fully relax until I have cleared security and am ensconced near my ultimate boarding gate. Today, I should have opted for a change of habit.

To minimize my jet lag, it is my habit to immediately adopt "destination time" when I board an overseas flight. I always try to have eaten before the flight and skip the meal service to facilitate that process. The time difference between Chicago and London is six hours. Our departure time is 5:30pm. That means that as I settle into my seat I should "pretend" that it is 11:30pm. I doubt I get that done tonight.


The Boeing 777 for tonight is fine; we're in 15 A-B, Business Class. The seats are lie flats and we face each other through a lowered divider; in the window seat I face aft.

There is salmon on the menu and things are looking, well, up, literally and figuratively. We push back at 5:16pm, fourteen minutes early. Imagine that.

Posted by paulej4 07:52 Archived in USA

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