#GPTechConf 2017: Getting to Fargo, North Dakota, USA


David Meego - Click for blog homepageIf you have been watching my Twitter account recently you would have seen that my journey to Fargo, North Dakota, USA for the Microsoft Dynamics GP Tech Conference 2017 was an lengthy and interesting experience.

I am back from Fargo now, but getting there took much longer than the usual 30 to 36 hours ….

The story starts with me getting up at about 2:00am (Perth time), which is really an awful time to get up especially when I did not get to sleep until late. It was actual half an hour earlier than I had planned to get up, but I woke up before the alarm and decided to get up any way. My bags were already packed and waiting by the front door, so I had plenty of time to get ready and have some breakfast and be ready for the taxi booked for 3:30am.

I had previously contacted Qantas and asked them when I should go to the airport because there had been an incident in Sydney earlier and security measures at the airports around Australia had been increased. They were saying you should be at the airport 2 hours before for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights. My flight was at 5:15am from Perth to Sydney, so it was a domestic flight with an international connection. Should I be there 2 or 3 hours before? Well, I was glad that I called because they reminded me that the Perth Domestic Airport closes around midnight and re-opens at around 4:00am. This avoided me arriving 3 hours earlier and spending 2 hours in the cold waiting for the doors to open!

Arriving at the airport at 4:00am, I caught the 5:15am flight to Sydney. This flight went smoothly and I arrived in Sydney on time (11.25 Sydney Time). When flying on Qantas (both domestic and international) the in-flight entertainment system includes lots of movies, TV shows and music and it is all complimentary. So this gave me an opportunity to watch some movies that I would not normally watch or ones that I am interested in and my wife isn’t. I will list the movies I watched with some quick comments.

  • Ghost in the Shell – Not bad, thought provoking with the concept of human augmentation.
  • Power Rangers – The character building and discovery at the start was good, but the fight scenes were the typically “over the top” as expected from Power Rangers.

After a quick transit from the Domestic to International terminals in Sydney on the complimentary bus, I grabbed some food and went to the gate for the Airbus A380 flight from Sydney to Dallas. The departure was delayed an hour to 13:30 which was fine (for me) as it gave me more time and shortened the wait I would have in Dallas. Once we got everyone boarded the airplane took off, it was a little bumpy and continued to be a little bumpy, but I did not think much of it.

Then the pilot announced that we were perfectly safe, currently at 5,000 feet (not the expected 30,000+ feet), and that there was a fault being reported with the flaps saying that they had not retracted after take off. The flaps are used to increase lift during take off, but are then retracted for cruising to reduce drag. The flight crew were working through their checklists to see what they could do to fix the issue. A little while later the pilot declared that they had been unable to resolve the issue and could not continue to Dallas. We would spend some time circling off the Sydney coast to dump fuel before heading back to Sydney.

I snoozed through much of the flight as I was tired, but did watch one more movie:

  • Lego Batman – I did not really concentrate on the movie, but it had some funny moments and definitely worked at levels for both adults and children.

When we landed, my wife had already sent me a text message saying “Welcome back to Sydney”. Our flight had made the news even before we had landed. There were actually three Qantas flights out of Sydney that had issues on Friday 4th, the flight to Dallas returned after issues with the flaps, a flight to Johannesburg returned with a crack in its windscreen/windshield and a flight to Auckland was cancelled. Not a good day for Qantas.

Below is an image captured from flight tracking software showing my flight spending some two and half hours circling off the coast of Sydney dumping most of the 15 hours worth of fuel that the A380 had on board for the flight to Dallas. Planes should not be landed with a full fuel load, it puts too much strain on the wings and having less fuel on board is safer.

After returning to Sydney it took a while to get the luggage from the baggage carousel as it was taking time for people to clear immigration. This meant that bags were not being removed from the carousel quickly and the carousel’s bag detection was preventing new bags being added while there were no gaps. Eventually the Qantas staff pulled bags off to make space and get things flowing again. I had watched to make sure my bag was not one of the ones pulled off, but I had not noticed that they had pulled bags off both sides of the carousel. So, I spent a significant amount of time waiting for my bag, only to find it had been sitting on the other side of the carousel. Doh!

After clearing custom, Qantas had coaches to take some 300 passengers from our flight to hotels in the Homebush/Olympic Park area of Sydney. They provided free taxi transfers to passengers who could return home in Sydney and hotels with a $50 credit to everyone else. On the way to the hotel, I called my Sydney based family and organised for my brother-in-law, Paul Templeman, to come and meet me at the hotel for dinner. Paul used to work in the Dynamics GP world, both with me at his company Sequel Technology and later with Eclipse Computing. He passes on his “Hello” to anyone in the GP Community that remembers him. 🙂

The next morning I checked out of the hotel and caught the provided coach back to the airport. Thanks to Qantas, I got to spend the night in the five star Pullman hotel including dinner and breakfast for all of $7. I was surprised that the coach left the hotel at 7:00am for the rescheduled delayed flight that was now planned to leave at 11:30am, but then I had forgotten Sydney traffic.

As we approached the Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney, I took a photo of a the tail of an Air Niugini airplane from Papua New Guinea as I saw something interesting in the airline’s logo. I know the logo is a representation of a bird, but I saw a different image when I looked at it. So tell me what you see, post a comment below.

We eventually got to the airport and through check-in, immigration and security and had some time to kill before the flight. Qantas also gave us a $15 voucher for use at any of the food outlets. A nice gesture that provided a free snack before the flight.

The second attempt for the QF7D (delayed) Friday flight to Dallas ended up being delayed another hour by the time they got everyone on board and only left Sydney just before the scheduled QF7 flight for Saturday. I wonder what the flow on effects were for the people expecting their flight from Dallas back to Sydney?

The flight across the pond went without a hitch this time and I arrived in Dallas at 13:00 on Saturday, one hour later than re-scheduled and 24 hours late from the original schedule. On this flight I watched too many movies when I should have been sleeping, but this was an opportunity to catch up on titles missed or ones that you were curious about, but not willing to pay for.

  • Keeping up with the Jones – Very funny with some great action scenes. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Jungle Book – A fantastic live action version of the Disney classic, including your favourite songs.
  • Assassins Creed – One for the Assassins Creed fan boys. I wish there was more of the historic storyline rather than the modern storyline.
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – An interesting take on the King Arthur legend, with very little historical accuracy or character development.
  • Why him? – Funny romantic comedy, the trailer gave away almost all the best bits, but it was entertaining, if predictable.
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife – This one is worth seeing. The true story of the Warsaw Zoo and how its owners used the zoo to smuggle Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII.

Clearing Dallas immigration and customs was fairly quick and I went straight through security to the domestic gates. Now I had lots of time to kill before the final leg to Fargo. I did a little shopping and browsing, but spent most of the time reading. Just before the flight, I was went to get some food and on the way while on a phone call to my wife, I heard my name called. I looked up to see my good friend Sheila Jefferson-Ross who was on her way to join the same flight as me.

The flight to Fargo left Dallas at 18:55 and arrived in Fargo at 21:30. During the flight I was able to take an amazing photo of the setting sun lighting up an interesting combination of cloud formations with the moon in the distance.

Arriving in Fargo’s Hector International Airport, it was good to see that SpongeBob and the Minions had been joined by Jedi Master Yoda.

Sheila and I grabbed our bags before catching an Uber to the Home 2 Suites and the long journey reached its end. Due to the day’s delay with the flight from Sydney, the door to door transit time reached a whopping 56 hours. A record that I do not want to break any time soon.

Once at the hotel, we caught up with Leslie Vail MVP and John Lowther MVP, who were chatting in Leslie and Sheila’s room.


Left to Right: Sheila Jefferson-Ross, John Lowther, Leslie Vail, David Musgrave

We ended up chatting and eating Pizza around the outdoor fire pit at the Home 2 Suites until around 1am before finally calling it quits for the night. A really enjoyable evening catching up with friends after a ridiculously long journey to Fargo.

More to come.

David

This article was originally posted on http://www.winthropdc.com/blog.

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