Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer of 10: Getting there

Air travel is rarely as simple as it should be. Today's flights, for example. I had an hour and forty minutes between arrival and redeparture at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Just time enough to get off the plane, appreciate the latest changes underway at the airport, and the labyrinthine system of very long hallways, busses, escalators, trams and suchlike necessary to get passengers to their connections. You'd think things would get easier with experience in making airports.
Barely arrived at my new gate and it's already time to board.
But boarding would take ages, so I do have time for a brief tour through the duty-free area, and confirm that Azzaro's Elixer (in the men's section) will indeed be my next perfume, and enough to log on and check my email. Last now in the diminishing line, I notice my name on the list of passengers requested to present themselves at the Air France desk.
What could it possibly be?
My ticket is a reschedule of a trip cancelled for volcano problems back in April. Perhaps there's a problem with it. That could be bad.
No, they just want to let me know that the video at my seat doesn't work.
Oh. Is that all!
Beh... okay. I never use the video anyway: I hate wearing earphones. Thanks for the adrenalin rush.
Then I really am the last one to hand my ticket to the boarding agent, who mentions the same thing. By now, however, I've had a minute to wonder - if they find this a defect worth mentioning, what may be in it for me if I really wanted video? An upgrade, if I insist?
No, there are a few seats left in coach.
A window is available, in an exit row with its extra leg room.
I don't give a whit for a working video, but a window...and leg room...and having my own little standing area when my butt gets sore...well!
One thing I should have remembered about exit-rows: there is no window.
In fact, the side of the airplane is right up next to you. No spilling over the armrest at all.
A shame for a flight entirely in daylight. I'll miss the views of Ireland, and Greenland, and I won't be able to play what's that town/highway/lake down the eastern seaboard. On the upside, the middleseat next to me is empty. I can spill over that way.

In one way, thank goodness Air France hasn't 'caught up' with airlines in America, with the extra $25 to cough up at checking just for having luggage (I'm actually in favor of people paying according to the bags they bring or don't - it's not being able to pay the whole sum up front, or even conveniently compare what the eventual charge will be when reserving on line.) Not only is lunch still included in the ticket price, but drinking wine is so normal there's no surcharge for that, either. Yes I do think I'll have a glass of champagne for starters, thank you. Yes, I do think I'll have that little bottle of merlot with my lasagna (almost all of which stays in the bottle, but it's the principle!)
Comfortably airborne, I think back on my short connection time and wonder if my luggage has kept up with me. Usually I refuse connections of less than two hours if I'll be travelling with checked bags, but that would have meant waiting for hours at CDG and an extra connection in Newark or Detroit, so it seemed worth the risk. My luggage has often been delayed (up to four days!), but they've never actually lost it.

Landing at Dulles, we're treated to that new airport fashion: taking a bus to the terminal. Only this time with a twist. We actually deplane at a terminal gate, a pane of plexiglass away from being inside, and are shunted down a stairway to a bus, which takes us to a different terminal altogether. The adventure of modern air travel.
Happily, my luggage is waiting for me when I make it through customs. It's not even broken this time.


steven said...

nanu i love that "thanks for the adrenalin rush". it's so true! just when everything seems hunky dorey away goes the flow and along comes the challenge! i look forward to seeing something of your time away. steven

GingerV said...

your connection sounds easier than mine was, but maybe you are just more relaxed when you travel - I go all bonkers at every change I have to deal with... is this a sign of getting older or living on a mountain top in silence 75% of the time?
hope to see a few blogs about home. have a great trip

verf. word.... SEAKERS

Tabor said...

You are brave to continue to travel. I hate airplanes, airports and while I am flying to Calgary in the fall I will be much happier when I am sittng in the rental car!

shabby girl said...

Have a wonderful time!