So close. But no cigar. Not even a matchstick. The mission was nearly impossible. We were aiming to break a Guinness World Record, and would have to risk three very close airport connections to do so.
Or how about merely 44 minutes between flights? And not in the tiny international airport of Barbados, but the 9 terminal giant of LAX in the United States of immigration hell. And as if that wasn’t enough, we were flying in to one terminal, leaving from another AND on competing airlines. Just to add to the complexity and up the odds. United has had a relatively bad PR year so far, but provided service virtually unknown in aviation history and managed to get us onto the plane one minute before departure time. It left its gate 07:02, only two minutes late. “Everyone at United knows about you,” one of our many helpers told us at Tom Bradley terminal. We left the USA from Terminal 7 after a killing run to get there and the fastest check-in I have witnessed. Thanks go to the entire United team, and Ellen Marks in particular.
The 50 minutes between flights in Bogota seemed like a walk in the park, and it was. No need to go through immigration for transitting passengers in Colombia.
But the killer tuned out to be our 40 minutes between flights in Madrid. The ground staff had promised us to prepare our boarding cards in advance, we had sent copies of our passports and all. Let’s just say that they didn’t fulfill their promise. But doesn’t Air Algerie allow online check in? They certainly do, except from, yeah you guessed it, Madrid. That the terminals are only connected by bus on public roads didn’t do us many favours either. We did actually manage to check in, thanks to a very understanding lady at Iberia, but the gruelling underground train ride to Terminal 4S, and the run to the gate farthest away from passport control proved too much. The plane had just closed its door a couple of minutes early. Our luck had ran out.
The bad news was passed on to our sponsor, betting company “ComeOn!” Of course they weren’t super surprised. The odds, and they know everything about odds, were against us all along with sevcen flights and very short connections. Thousands of people were still following us along our route, many even followed us each airmile of the way on our GPS powered tracking map.
A lot of people we met along our route were impressed by our world record attempt, and the fact that we also raised money to clean water technology in develoing countries through Simple Drinking Water, a British foundation. The cabin crew of Emirates insisted on snapping photos with us, United’s cabin crew provided us with free wine, the purser on Qantas announced our record attempt on the PA system towards the end of the flight and the purser of Air Algier invited me into the cockpit.
So, no world record, but six continents in 60 hours, and an amazing voyage. It will for sure rate high up there when it comes to ultimate friend trips. Six lads on tour. And not just anyone either. An advocate of clean water technology for developing countries, a rockstar, a television host, a bodyguard, a happiness seeker and me – a slightly restless globetrotter. I consider myself lucky.
It was a hell of a trial run. RecordRunWorld will be back.