Mum and Stu very kindly got up at a ridiculous hour to drive me to the airport, and we got there nice and early. Which was useful, because when I got to the check-in desk the line was actually really short and I zipped through, but the second I actually got to the desk ALL the computers crashed. I was quite relaxed knowing I was really early, and I chatted to the lovely check-in ladies. The queue grew and grew, and they were getting some really dirty looks, but I was so sympathetic that when it did get up and running again, I was only charged for one of my two extra bags. The moral is be nice, it's just pleasanter all round.
As I wrote yesterday I really hoped that I would be sat next to a nice lady, and I was very lucky indeed. The lady who did have the seat next to me was utterly delightful. When she sat down I noticed that she had a British passport, but her accent was very much American with the odd English phrase here and there. It turned out that she had moved to America 60 years earlier having married a GI at the end of WWII. She'd left Britain when she was 18, but always retained her British citizenship and seemed to be very happy with how the move had worked out. I think she is a very positive role model for Alien Spouses everywhere!
There were only a couple of films that I wanted to watch (I watched the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" which is really long, and overly complicated.), so I mainly listed to music or chatted to my flight companion. We did however still have plenty of drama, as we were sitting right behind the seating area reserved for the stewardesses (They get the bulk head seats, and a curtain across, so it's a really neat little cubicle) and, about two hours before we landed, they brought one of the passengers to sit there. He was having trouble breathing and had had chest pains that morning, so they put out the classic call "Is there a physician on the flight?". They were inundated, a woman who introduced herself as a general surgeon turned up first and got the gig, but very close on her heels was a man who said "I'm a dentist, but I have had some general medical training as well". I think I counted at least another four doctors who made themselves known. It was very reassuring.
As it turned out the poor man had been going through several very stressful and emotionally draining situations all at once, and was just completely stressed out. Combine that with a general fear of flying and you get a panic attack. He calmed down a lot, and by the time we landed he seemed a lot more comfortable.
We landed slightly early, and the line for immigration was quite short (we were the first flight to arrive after their lunch break) but again the second I walked up to the desk the computers all crashed. I think that worked in my favour because the immigration officer was a bit concerned that I'm currently unemployed and visiting my American husband. I had to reassure her several times that I am literally almost at the end of the visa process, I actually forgot that I had all of the paperwork with me in my courier bag but perhaps I otherwise I would have actually shown her that! Fortunately with the computer glitch and the growing queue she decided to let me go through without too much hassle.
When I got to the baggage carousel my bags were all there waiting for me, but it turns out the baggage trolleys at Charlotte are crucially smaller than the trolleys at Gatwick and there was just no way I could fit everything on. Whilst I was trying to re-stack the bags into some feasible configuration, I had one cop and one airport official each separately ask me what was in Doc C's guitar case, which is a long oblong box and not actually guitar shaped. I resisted the urge to say it was a high power rifle, smiled and explained it was a bass guitar.
Just when I thought I was going to have to balance something on my head to get it all through customs, a lovely airport employee, who was parking a wheel chair nearby, saw me struggling said "Do you need some help?" and took the trolley, so I could wheel the one bag that wouldn't fit on there.
We walked through customs, down a ramp and round a corner and there waiting for me on a seat by the window was Doc C. And he had roses with him