It's time to leave the Kingdom again. I flew out a couple of days ago, on the usual early o clock flight to Heathrow. The Saudia alternatives to this BA flight are at more civilised hours but there's a good reason to pick this one. Once we get over Egypt, BA has beer, and that's crucial for coping with the small child intent on destroying the back of my seat.

I've got a few days in the UK to do shopping and a few other errands. The important one is opening an offshore bank account, and I appear to have achieved that. I also crack after months of not having a watch, and invest in one that I hope is too nice for me to randomly destroy through neglect. Also, beer and curry.

So today will be a long day, flying from Heathrow to New Orleans. Crazy 7am start to get to Heathrow on time. I've picked American Airlines for my transatlantic flight because I've got a tight connection in Chicago, and I want to make it the airline's problem to get me on the second leg.

I've naively assumed that all transatlantic flights are much the same - where my experience is BA - but I'm not right. American is a proper trial. The in-flight entertainment is pitiful. There's no video on demand at all, and the choice is extremely limited. Even more shockingly, there's no free booze. The journey is as long and tedious as this post. Peering out of the window at Canada's frozen wastes does little to alleviate the boredom.

Happily, O'Hare is functioning better than I have been lead to expect. We land on time, immigration are swift and even polite, and I'm admitted to the country. My bags are soon re-checked onto the next leg of my journey and I'm on the way to the domestic terminal, which is where it all goes wrong.

The line for security is long and slow-moving, and uses up most of my remaining time. I'm getting twitchy as I finally reach the front of the line and dutifully undress in order to be violated by the hired goons.

I leave the security area in my socks, and hustle towards my gate, where my flight is ostensibly boarding. In reality, of course, it's not and they've just flicked the sign to "Last Call" to get all the sheeple in line before they open boarding.

The flight itself is uneventful and by the end of the day I'm ensconced in the disappointing Hilton Garden Inn with my colleagues.

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