Viva México! (parte tres)

The title is misleading, as this is not about Mexico at all. It’s about our trip from Puerto Vallarta to Vancouver, connecting through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

As you may have read in parte uno of this series, Eric and I prefer to travel light. I once travelled solo to Israel and Jordan for two weeks with one carry-on suitcase, even though British Airways allowed for one free checked bag. The connection was in London, and with an 8-hour layover, I decided to leave Heathrow Airport with my carry-on. I met up with a girlfriend for coffee and we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, all with my carry-on in tow. Travelling light not only saves you money on checked bags, it also opens up options should plans change — whether it’s your plan or the airline’s.

For Mexico, we decided to bring one carry-on suitcase for both of us. We also brought a backpack for a laptop and a couple of books for beach reading. To get to the airport, we opted for the city bus instead of a taxi. Due to the resort’s check-out time, we ended up arriving at the airport much earlier than necessary… at least earlier than I would have if I was travelling solo. After we got married, Eric and I quickly learned that we have different travelling styles. He likes to abide by the “arrive 3 hours before departure” rule, whereas I prefer to arrive in time so I wouldn’t waste time at the airport. I think we’ve found a happy medium that alleviates his stress about rushing and keeps my wait time productive.

The first flight from PV to LA was delayed by about 40 minutes, which made the connection at LAX enough excitement for this post. 😀 We arrived in terminal 3, had to clear US Customs and go to terminal 5 for the flight to Vancouver. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong! The way LAX is set up, we had to exit the airport to get to terminal 5. The terminals are big, so it took a while to walk from one terminal to another. We also had to go through Security again in terminal 5. Thank goodness we only had a carry-on suitcase, as passengers with checked luggage had to wait to get their bags before boarding the next flight.

As the first flight was landing in LAX, passengers with short layovers were given bright orange “express connection” papers and were instructed to keep them visible so airport personnel could fast-track them through to connecting flights. We held ours out the entire time, but they proved useless at both Customs and Security. We had bought tequila at the Puerto Vallarta airport duty-free shop and were told that it is allowed as long as the bags remained sealed throughout the trip. After a mad dash from terminal 3 to terminal 5, we were pulled aside at Security for further inspection by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guard. At this point, our flight to Vancouver had begun boarding. The TSA guard saw the orange papers and asked us the departure time, but decided to take his sweet time to inspect our laptop for gunshot residue, open the sealed duty-free bags (which had receipts clearly printed and stapled on the front), and even joked that the alcohol didn’t pass inspection and that he was going to keep it. He thought he was being funny; we found him insensitive given the time pressure we were under.

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While we were waiting for Mr. TSA to finish the inspection and re-seal the bags, I saw a sign with our gate number in a range of numbers not far from where we were standing and said to Eric, “At least our gate is close.” Unfortunately, I was wrong! The sign directed us down some stairs to a door that led us, again, outside the airport and onto a bus that would take us to our gate. The bus was driven on the runway and had to stop twice for aircrafts to pass. By the time we made it to the gate, we were among the last few passengers to board. When we finally buckled up in our seats and breathed a sigh of relief, we remarked about how much better Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is run, then Eric took this stunning photo of the sunset as we left LAX.

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Thanks for reading the posts on our getaway. It’s a good thing he and I like each other enough to laugh these incidents off. 😉

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