In June 2015 I read Bill Bryson’s “One Summer, 1927” it focused on an American summer and whilst it was very focused on baseball and Babe Ruth, another thread was the beginning of the American Aviation Industry and in particular the first transatlantic flight. Bryson commented that the Europeans were well ahead of the game in aircraft engineering and based on recent experience I would say that that is probably still the case.
Today we take flying for granted and up until yesterday I had taken for granted a standard of planes for great distances. We had flown QATAR on our journey from Shanghai via Doha to Manchester on the 11/12 Manchester. We flew economy and had a great amount of legroom and width in the seat. All three of us slept most of the flight but we also had a tvscreen in front of each individual seat. Something we have taken for granted it seems. Eleanor, on both flights (just like with BA, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Virgin), was given activity packs and we had chosen in advance that she would get a children’s meal. The standard of QATAR was great and it had actually been the cheapest airline to fly to the UK with. (It was a slightly longer flight but we didn’t mind.)
We had booked our American flights to Orlando with BA and ended up code sharing with American Airlines. We were also not flying direct as that was very expensive. Instead we were due to fly to JFK New York and then onto Orlando. What we did was very different…
The plane was Boeing 757 old style. As we walked on and settled down the seat configuration was 3 seats aisle 3 seats. Not QATAR of 3 3 3 or Cathay of 2 4 2. Nor was there a back of the seat in flight entertainment system. We hadn’t been prepared for that… Not with Eleanor who usually sits down gets her ear phones out, plugs them in and gets to the children’s section within five minutes.
Another issue we had which was resolved at the gate was that we had been separated with a seat configuration of 2+1. Having settled down to three seats altogether we were never quite sure why this hadn’t been done in the first place as the flight was not full.
The next issue was that takeoff was not at 10.15. We sat at the gate waiting for a part as there were some technical difficulties. It was clear the flight had been changed from the advertised one as WIFI had been advertised. Someone else asked that and the flight attendant said the flight didn’t have 300 people on board and so we would pretty much have to deal with it. She also rolled her eyes at the question as she walked down the aisle. We were a pretty hostile set of passengers. A transatlantic flight on a delayed plane with no personalised entertainment.
Those of us with connecting flights were then given the option of flying to Chicago at midday with the promise that our luggage would follow us in the next few days. We opted for that but as we got to the entrance of the plane we were turned back as it was to be that the “part” needed was going to be taken from the Chicago flight so we could leave.
Finally up in the air, the flight was uneventful save the very large measures of wine they poured (probably to prevent us from being disgruntled and vocal). Eleanor contented herself with her iPad which lasted with the aid of a battery charger pack. We landed in JFK at 2.40pmish. But not enough time to meet the connecting flight. The last time that happened we had had to queue at Cathay Pacific desk in Sydney and sort it out. But on arrival we were met by a staff member who immediately gave us boardingpasses for another two planes and escorted us to the front of the immigration queue.
Immigration completed including a stamp for our resident Christmas Elf
We collected our luggage, checked it back in and headed for our flight to the next presidential airport – Ronald Reagan in Washington D.C.
Our names were called as we got to the gate (cutting it fine). We boarded for the hour flight. Again not a full flight but it seemed brighter and cleaner than our previous 7 hour transportation.
At 5.30 we had arrived at Reagan and with our next flight at 6pm to Orlando we were just a little nervy at having to wait for a plane to leave the gate we wanted. We disembarked and then found that we had to get a shuttle bus to the next gate. A bus which the attendant didn’t know how long it would be before the next bus arrived. It arrived at 5.45 and at 5.53 we were racing to the next gate. Again we were one of the last ones to settle into our seats.
Eleanor by this time is out for the count. Nothing was going to wake her on this 2 hour flight to Orlando.
During the flight (we haven’t had anything substantial to eat since lunch on our first flight) we were served drinks. Asking if we were getting fed the answer was “you have to pay for your snacks”. I replied that we weren’t even supposed to be on the flight, explained our issue and the lovely attendant gave us Pringles, and hummus with vegetable crisps and a packet of “goldfish”. (Nibbles) so kind. Then more drinks because of the salt content!
Finally we landed and met my mum and dad. Collected the huge car for 5 of us with suitcases and we rolled into our beds at the palacial apartment at the Holiday Inn Vacation Club.
The journey certainly was eventful. But I finished a book, Eleanor built a village on Minecraft and Martin read something that contained maths. We are now going to enjoy a little lady’s birthday, catch up with Martin’s twin, Claire, Lauren who is my ex colleague, and of course Mickey Mouse and all things Disney.
I wasn’t going to do a blog before the new year but I thought this needed documenting. Who knew there were still flights considered to be long haul without personalised entertainment. The films that were shown was the Minion film, new Annie and something else.
Merry Christmas and look at the BLUE SKY!