We stayed in a hotel at Heathrow Thursday night ready for an early start Friday morning. We checked in with plenty of time to spare; so far so good!
Chicago Immigration. Usually there are 2 lines: a long one for visitors and a short one for citizens/residents. We joined the short line, discovered Immigration has a new computer system to speed up processing, and queued for an hour to enter our details into an Immigration computer terminal.
Armed with a printout we joined another queue to give this printout to an immigration officer. Apparently two queues are more efficient than one. Our bags took over an hour to reach the terminal so a slight wait to collect them followed by a queue for customs clearance then another queue to drop off our cases for the next flight (“conveyor belt not working sir, just leave them here”. Fingers crossed).
Then we had to leave airside and make our way to another terminal. And of course another queue to get through security, then off to the gate. Or so we thought.
So far we’d spent half our 4-hour connection time but all going to plan. Then it went gracefully downhill. At the gate we were suddenly descended on by a herd of Reno-bound travelers who were apparently leaving at the same time. Their plane arrived just as our own gate change was announced so off we all hurried to the other end of the concourse.
By now our departure time had slid out an hour so our 4-hour connection was now 5 hours and moving. Finally, after 6 hours, we were boarding. The plane pushed back and stopped: the tug driver had spotted a leak. Back to the gate we went and deplaned.
Back on the concourse the agent announced meal vouchers because of the delay. This was followed almost immediately by another announcement of a new plane and, naturally, a new gate so no meal vouchers.
At last, 7 hours after landing in Chicago, we were on our way to Phoenix. And 25 hours after leaving the hotel on Friday morning we arrived home.