August 1, 2011
Des Moines, Iowa to Frankfurt am Main, Germany
5:30 p.m. CST
John’s friend, John C., picked us up at 1:00 today, taking us to the airport in Des Moines. We took United Flight 6048, a United Express Economy flight that involved sitting in an airplane too small to accommodate carry-on luggage. Nervously, I watched my carry-on suitcase slide down the conveyor rollers from the boarding ramp to the plane, hoping that the suitcase containing my laptop would not crash to the ground. Later, though we were told that you could take only a handbag or small backpack with you to put under your seat, I noticed that other people who were nervous about their laptops pulled them out of their carry-on luggage and put them on their laps. I don’t blame them, and think I will do the same on the return journey.
We landed what felt like a half hour later in Chicago (but was really longer), and proceeded to our gate, where we were told that we still had about 20 minutes before our flight would begin boarding. We were invited to take advantage of the Red Carpet hospitality room, which is available to passengers like us who are flying Business Class. That is where I am writing now. It is so much more quiet here than at the gate, where many people waiting to board cannot even find a place to sit. Refreshments, other than alcohol, are free of charge. John and I had a cup of cool, refreshing water, shared a cup of dried fruits and nuts, and ate some fresh baby carrots. Nice! We took the time to leave David a voice mail message saying good bye, and to call John’s mom to let her know that we arrived okay in Chicago.
We just heard the loudspeaker announcement, letting us know that our flight is getting ready to board, so I will resume this narrative later.
10:00 p.m. CST
It is now 7:00 a.m. in Germany, but we are only about three hours into Flight 940 aboard a Boeing 747-400. I am taking the time to jot down a few impressions before I try to get some shuteye, since it will be about another five hours before we land in Germany, where it will be 10:00 a.m.
This is the first time that John and I have ever flown Business Class, and let me say that I would not hesitate to fly this way again on a trans-Atlantic or any lengthy flight. The seats themselves are a miracle—fully cushioned, wide, and adjustable. You can actually lay the seat down flat for sleeping and are provided with a pillow, blanket, bed socks and eye mask to keep out the light. Many of the passengers are already reclining after a wonderful dinner consisting of a center cut of smoked salmon loin, seasonal mixed baby greens, herbed Boursin® rotisserie chicken with a pomegranate glaze, along with stir-fried sugar snap peas and carrots, and a whole grain roll. Delicious! The steward welcomed us by name, and service is really excellent.
There are three columns of seats in Business Class, which occupies part of the upper tier of seating in the plane. You know those windows that you see close to the top of a Boeing 747? Well, that’s where we are. The Economy Class passengers are actually seated below us. When we boarded the plane, we entered one door of the plane, and Economy Class passengers entered another. From left to right, the first two passengers face the rear of the plane, the ones in the middle column (four seats across) face the nose of the plane, and the two far right seats face the tail.
Each passenger has a personal viewing screen where you can watch a movie or select a television program, check out information about the plane’s itinerary, or listen to music. When the pilot makes an announcement, programming pauses, but beyond that you have uninterrupted time to spend with your personal entertainment system. I browsed through the various categories, but in the end decided that sleep would be more productive than seeking audiovisual leisure, since we will be spending an entire day with my Uncle Herbert and Aunt Doris before we can go to bed seven hours later than we would normally dive beneath the covers.
2:30 a.m. CST
I woke up about a quarter of an hour ago, feeling a bit gritty-eyed but otherwise okay. I guess I’m excited about getting our first day in Germany started. I can hear the stewards and stewardesses clinking silverware, plates and drinking glasses in preparation for breakfast; in fact, some people have already been served while I take a few minutes to freshen up in the bathroom, washing my face, brushing my teeth and reapplying makeup. One of the items we were provided, when we boarded the plane, was a zipper pouch filled with personal care items, including a toothbrush and toothpaste. Breakfast, like dinner just a few hours ago, is excellent, consisting of a plate filled with fresh fruits, orange juice and a tasty croissant.
The plane will land in about 90 minutes, so we’re getting excited. John is more tired than I am, since he slept for only an hour and 15 minutes.
© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.
© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.