Friday, June 4, 2010

Aboard BA flight 207 to Miami

It's amazing how the cabin crew have managed to persuade a Boeing 747-full of passengers that it's time for their afternoon nap. But there it is: An early lunch was served, diners were offered white or red wine, and on a full tummy, soothed by tasty chicken tikka masala, a glass or two of wine, and strawberry mousse for dessert, everyone seemed willing to call it a day. The passengers, I mean. I trust the crew are always on their proverbial toes. Cabin lights were turned off, window shades pulled shut, et voila -- a plane full of people is snoozing for over an hour now.

It's also amazing -- to me at least -- how I've come to regard being suspended between heaven and earth, or more precisely up in the air, 36 thousand feet / 10 km above the Atlantic ocean, as soothing and relaxing. I used to be nervous about flying. One of those people who doesn't understand how such a heavy object can stay up in the air. The physical aspect has been, of course, explained to me more than once, and I'll take the mavens' word for it that the principles are sound and that it's not a fluke that these funny-looking caravans stay up in the air and actually get from airport to airport without flapping their wings and without any magic -- which is lucky, because I'd be more prone to believe in wing-flapping than in magic. I used to take a small pill shortly before boarding, to help me relax during takeoff and until I could convince my psyche that it's just like being on a train or bus or in a moving movie-house. But now, it's quite the spa: Just lounging, listening to Miles Davis or watching a recent release that people are talking about, eating and drinking without doing the washing-up.

I used to view my time on buses and trains as god-given (or at least ministry-of-transport given) time away from it all. A time where I no longer belonged to the place and the people I left, and not yet belonged to whatever duties lay at the other end of the line. Private escape time. Cellphones changed all that, of course. Everyone is always accessible. Work chases you and catches up with you wherever you are.

Buses and trains are no longer a safe haven. Looks like air travel has taken up the slack. In principle, it is possible to make a phone call right from my seat here on the plane. In principle, I can still be connected to the outside world. But I'm not really expected to. I'm truly on vacation.

Bumpety-bump. I expect the Buckle Your Seatbelts sign will go on any minute. The aircraft is dipping south of St. John's island, Newfoundland, on its way to Miami.

Later that Day

My first time in Miami. Not a very happy experience. The airport was somewhat confusing. Lots of Spanish all around me. No, the Spanish in itself was not confusing, but the insufficient signs and directions.

Though it was sweltering out when we just landed, the sky suddenly became a uniform gray, and sheets of rain splashed down, halting activity on the runways. So our flight was delayed.

Flight # AA 1007 wasn't a fun flight. The narrow-bodied American Airlines aircraft was crammed full. The housewifey flight attendants did their best, serving juice and awful coffee/tea. Blankets and pillows cost $8. A sandwich cost $10. Luckily we had our own earphones. Not that the inflight entertainment was very entertaining. And, in addition, through no fault of the airline, weather conditions made for a very bumpy, choppy ride.

Oh well. So long as it got us here safe and sound.

Next post: Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, Phoenix.

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