It turns out there is no simple way to travel from Macon, Georgia to Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Our adventure (my wife JoAnn was travelling with me) was 30 hours door to door. The journey commenced with a short drive from our house to the airport shuttle company in Macon. Next was an incredibly comfortable and stress-free drive into Atlanta … so far, so good. We arrived at the airport early, probably earlier than necessary but we certainly did not want to be late. The four hours flew by as I tweaked my presentations planned for my first day in Al Ain.
The next leg was a Delta flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam with a flying time of about eight hours. Given that I had caught up on work, I decided to enjoy a movie (The Martian) and then had a nap. The flight arrived in Amsterdam a little early giving us lots of time to navigate through the airport. I have always enjoyed connecting through Amsterdam; however, it was a little more difficult this time as the terminals are undergoing a major renovation.
The next leg was supposed to be a six-hour flight from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi with KLM. I was excited to be flying on a brand new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” that had only been in service for three months. The boarding started on time and was incredibly efficient. Everyone was onboard and ready to go very quickly. After a looooong time of sitting the captain
announced that there was a problem with the navigation system. Given this seemed like a pretty important thing to have working, it seemed perfectly reasonable that they fixed this before we left. A small army of KLM technicians paraded by and into the cockpit. About 30 minutes later the “army” left and we pushed back and taxied toward the runway. The aircraft stopped just short of the runway and after another loooong period the captain stated the navigation problem was not fixed and we would have to return to the terminal area. After several more updates, the captain announced that none of the fixes had worked that he would have to shut down the entire airplane and “reboot” everything. After yet another loooong wait the captain jubilantly announced every was working and we were ready to go. We finally departed Amsterdam three hours after our scheduled departure, effectively making the planned six-hour flight a nine-hour journey. Better safe than sorry. The 787 is very nice aircraft so the flight was very comfortable and uneventful.
The flight arrived at Abu Dhabi airport about 11PM, three hours later than scheduled. I was a little concerned that our driver might not be at the airport given the long delay. Turns out this fear was unfounded as he was patiently waiting with a sign as soon as we exited the immigration area. All that was left now was the trek from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, which is about 150km. We arrived at our hotel at about 1:30 AM making this a very long travel day 🙂