I'd been to the US before, but only for a matter of hours between flights to and from Latin America. I got an opportunity to go back for slightly longer, to go to a conference in Tucson. This trip would be more than just hours, but not much more - three days was my limit thanks to commitments before and after.
I flew with American Airlines. I didn't particularly want to: I'd flown back from Quito with them and suffered a 12 hour delay leaving Ecuador, which meant an 18 hour layover in Miami. I didn't like getting delayed, and I didn't like Miami, but at least by flying to Arizona with them now, I'd accrue enough air miles to get a free flight out of them.
We left London and flew west over Ireland.