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O Fim duma Viagem

One Way Ticket

IRELAND | Monday, 24 August 2015 | Views [340] | Comments [1]

 I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing next semester. I've not even entirely finished applying for the programme I want to go on, let alone been accepted. At the time I was buying a ticket, I hadn't even started applying. Besides, given what I want to do at the end of the semester is keep flying east, it wouldn't have really mattered if I had. What mattered was that I was not planning on flying back from Paris. So I didn't want to buy a roundtrip ticket.

The first thing that stuck out as I was looking at flights was that, without a return ticket, direct flights were not economically feasible. In fact, I could fly business class to Dublin and then economy to Paris for hundreds less than it would take to fly direct. Wait a second... That's not just a terrible price for direct flights, it's also a wonderful price for business class.

A couple of months later, I was flashing my boarding pass, skipping lines, and enjoying the executive lounge.

Advantage to flying business class: I got to skip a horrific line at security, and we got a line that was pretty much just for us.

Disadvantage to flying business class: never before have I been cut in line by so many flight crew members.

The woman who checked my passport before security had clearly had a very long day. She kept needing to tell the plebians not to sneak into the business class line and the business people that they weren't more important than the crew. Then she'd look at the line before security, look at the line of people she still needed to check, and sigh. When someone came to relieve her, she told them "good luck," and skipped off giggling. (That's only half true.)

Once I was through security, I found the lounge, my gate, and the lounge again. The lounge turned out to be the Air France/KLM lounge. I got the WiFi password, (it hadn't changed. So the next time I'm in O'Hare international terminal, I can probably steal their WiFi) something to eat and drink, and found a seat. The seat I'd used last year was available, so I took that one. It was really hard to make myself believe that I wasn't just remembering last year's study abroad in Morocco in vivid detail.

The flight was delayed, (déjà vu) and I didn't believe they would announce when my flight was boarding, (déjà vu) so I left and went to the gate. Every chair was taken, and there were a number of people on the ground. But the person behind that desk was able to give me a boarding pass to Paris, so it wasn't a complete loss. Besides, I knew that once I got on the plane I'd have a seat.

And oh, what a seat.

I believe that any seat in Aer Lingus business class would have been lovely. When I was choosing my seat, I'd taken the advice of a random person on the internet who told me that 5K was an especially nice seat. He did not lead me astray. I was not sitting next to anyone, and I had huge armrests on both sides. (Put together, they were probably the size on my desk.)

My business seat

There was also a panel with options of what I could make my seat do. The usual decline/incline, but also a foot rest incline/decline, repose, sleep, massage, and mood lighting. At the risk of looking like an eager child who was mistakenly given a too good seat, I had to resist the urge to immediately press all the buttons. (I waited until we had finished takeoff and were in the air to do that. Mood lighting just lit up my free water bottle, but the airline chair massage was pretty cool.)

Dinner was pretty good. It came in four courses: appetisers, (olives with a decent kick, toast and some meat, and goat cheese and beet) salad, (your average airline salad with slightly stale bread) entrée, (streak with mushrooms and mashed potatoes for me. It's kind of Irish, I suppose...) And dessert (cheese plate for me. I need to get used to France. And getting prepared for French cuisine is hard.) All of it was served on a tablecloth with cloth napkins, real silverware, and real glasses. It's amazing what a difference that makes.

I don't think people typically say this about flights, but I wish it had been longer. I was thoroughly enjoying my leg room, (I could stretch my legs all the way out without kicking the person in front of me) my ability to lean back without bothering the people behind me, my ability to get out without bothering anyone, my window, and all the space I had to spread my stuff out. I was kind of disappointed when the announcement came that we were beginning our descent.

My only real complaint comes with the flight information. It was fine until we reached Canada. Then something went wrong. Our aeroplane vanished from the map, and the map started showing West Africa. Meanwhile, the miles traveled and miles to go refused to change at, respectively, 12344 miles and 3177 miles. This was disturbing enough to make me check what Google had to say, (oh, yeah, I also had free WiFi) and I was slightly relieved to find it thought our flight was delayed, but otherwise on track. And when we landed, there were signs in Gaelic and Irish accents, so we were probably in Dublin and but 3177 miles away.  

Dublin airport was a lot like any other airport I've had to make a tight transfer though. There's not really time to notice or appreciate the distinguishing features when all you want to find is your gate and the nearest coffee shop to your gate. And quite frankly, those details don't matter.

The plane ride from Dublin to Paris is not a flight I could have happily stayed on. In fact, it's a flight I very much wish had been shorter. I was stuck in the middle, and the flight was extremely turbulent. We left Dublin at 6:50 and arrived in Paris around 9:40 which, with a one hour time zone change, made for a reasonably short flight. Unpleasant, but short.

This time, I had the time to appreciate Charles de Gaulle airport, and not just appreciate how big it is. This time, I could take note of how weird it was too.

It began with my first divergence from the route to connecting flights. I got onto an escalator, and stepped up to make sure my carry-on and I were both on the same pane. Turned out I need not have bothered, since it wasn't an escalator- it was a curvy moving walkway. And every time it curved down, my suitcase really wanted to run away.

And then there were tubes surrounding another one of the walkways. As far as I could tell, they existed solely to satisfy tourists looking for pictures without leaving the airport and people of all nationalities who want to pretend they're hamsters.

And then there were the pictures of famous places in Paris with captions relating them to daily life. Nothing weird about these other than the dawning realisation that those images were about to become part of my daily life.

I left the airport, found a taxi, and spent the ride to the hotel we were staying for the first week trying not to look at the dashboard. Half of my concern was explainable by units. 90 or 100 seem much too fast, but if you convert it to miles, it's a fine speed. However, whether it's gallons or ounces, an empty tank is still an empty tank. We drove the entire way from the airport to the hotel with the light flashing and the car occasionally beeping and displaying French words to the effect of "warning, gas critically low. Please find the nearest gas station immediately." It was not an experience I would want to repeat. But at least it got me to the hotel, ready to begin the next stage.

Tags: aeroplane, business class, departures, flights



I really hope the gas tank wasn't in ounces...! (There are 128 us oz in a gallon, about 133 imperial oz in a us gallon.) Glad you made it there safely though. <3

  Elishabet Aug 24, 2015 8:11 AM

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