Killing an afternoon at YVR

We’re on our way to the UK for a holiday, travelling as much as possible on points. When I booked the trip, it was already too late to get tickets for the obvious routing on American, San Jose-Chicago-Heathrow, or even the reasonable alternative, San Jose-Dallas-Gatwick. Instead, all they could offer us (after considerable work by the agent) was San Jose-Chicago-Glasgow-Heathrow, with longish layovers in Chicago and Glasgow. Since “free” was the right price, I took that routing, but this week, I called back to see if there was a chance of improving our lie.

The obvious routes were still unavailable, but a creative agent found us an interesting alternative: San Francisco-Vancouver on Alaska, then non-stop to Heathrow on BA. There were plenty of seats available on the transAtlantic flight, but it took a couple of tries before we were able to get seats from San Francisco (the last time I called, I was willing to settle for a flight to Seattle and driving the rest of the way, but that turned out not to be necessary). The only downsides were that we’d have to get up very early to make our flight from SFO, and that we’d have a six-hour layover in Vancouver — or, more accurately, at YVR. But the total trip time was shorter than our existing routing, and fewer stops is always good, so I took it.

That was Friday morning. I had planned to drop a note to Tim Bray and Lauren Wood to get their advice about what to do with our layover, but work was too busy, and I didn’t get around to it.

It turns out that six hours isn’t quite enough to do anything useful, especially if you’ve got carry-on luggage and don’t want to pay to have it stored. We nearly taxied to a local shopping center so I could buy a cable I’d forgotten to bring, but finally decided just to go outside for a few minutes (it turns out there’s a mini-park just outside the International Terminal — very pleasant, if noisy), and then check in and go to the lounge to await our flight.

As we were sitting, reading the paper, I looked up, and thought I saw Tim Bray entering the lounge. But I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t say anything. But when Lauren walked in a moment later, I was sure — they were on their way to Oxford (with their son, Sean).

I guess I really should have written!

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