Tina and I had plans to go to California for a visit during the Holidays. We both have family and friends in the San Francisco Bay Area and that was our destination.
We flew out of San Jose (Costa Rica) on Monday, December 22nd. Our flight was early (about 8am) so we had to have a driver pick us up to go to the airport. We had arranged for a driver we know and like to pick us up at 5:30am and he was right on time.
We arrived at the San Jose airport and proceeded to the special departure desk to pay our "exit fee". Yes, in Costa Rica you have to pay a fee for the privilege of leaving the country. If you fly out of the country, then you must be rich, so they charge you $29 per person when you leave. However, when we take the bus out of the country, it's only $9 per person.
Our flight was on Delta and we had just one stop - changing planes in Los Angeles. The flight left San Jose on time and we had a nice flight. The scheduled 6 hour flight to LAX arrived early. Of course, arriving early at LAX just means you are on the ground earlier than expected. The plane had to sit our on the tarmac until a gate was available, so we arrived basically on-time: about 12:30pm.
We proceeded to Immigration and Customs. We breezed through both. I have to say that LAX has a very efficient process. It has kiosks where you can scan your passport, answer some questions and be on your way. Fortunately, Immigration wasn't very busy at the time we arrived and that helped. We had plenty of time before our connecting flight - scheduled for 4pm.
We got something to eat and checked the flight board for the status of our LAX to San Francisco flight. It already showed it was delayed to 4:30pm. A little later it showed 5pm, then 5:25pm. I checked at the Delta desk and was told flights into SF were being delayed because of fog. I managed to make a change to get us on the scheduled 5pm flight, which was now going to leave before our delayed 4pm flight. The 5pm flight left pretty close to on-time and I patted myself on the back for my smooth move. That is, until our flight sat out on the tarmac for about an hour and 20 minutes before taking off. Aaargh!
After the short, one hour flight to SFO, then the hour and fifteen minute Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) ride from the airport to the suburbs, then a short car ride after being picked up, we arrived at my parents' house somewhere around 9pm. Mind you, we started the day at 2am California (Pacific) time. We probably could have rented a car when we first arrived at LAX, driven to my parents' house, and arrived earlier.
Those of you who have flown much at all have almost surely been through these types of scenarios. There's nothing you can do except go with the flow. Actually, given that we were traveling during Christmas week (something I've always tried to avoid), it could have been a lot worse.
Tina was born and raised in the Bay Area and I lived there for about 25 years before we moved to Hawaii. It's always nice to come back to someplace that is so familiar. We hadn't been there for Christmas since 2006.
Posted by Mark