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Friday, October 25, 2013
For any of you who have ever flown anywhere on a commercial airplane, as well as any of you who have not, the experience of flying a long distance can be grueling, especially in coach class. The seats were always a bit tight but it seems like they were more so this time around, particularly on the longer jaunts to and from Schiphol. It seemed Delta squeezed more seats into the fuselage than the last time we flew. Mind you, we have been spoiled by the very first flight Diane and I took way back in 2001 when, after 9-1-1, the airline upgraded us to business class for free the very first flight. Most of you know the story. Suffice it to say that our good friend Candida advised us never to turn right on an airplane, and she was so correct. Trouble is, we can’t afford Business Class; we can barely afford coach (this time the tickets were a gift, at that), and we learned the difference right away on the return flight from that first trip.
Ten hours doesn’t seem like all that long a time, a full shift with overtime, until you are seated in close quarters with the person in front of you reclining and the television remote in your hand only working in one direction, left. I think the remote wanted to be in Business Class itself.
The flight from Glacier International Airport to Minneapolis-Saint Paul took just over two hours. It was moderately uncomfortable, but anyone can do two hours. The flight from the Twin Cities to Amsterdam was just under eight and crammed with sleepy passengers. It turned out to be not horrible. Everyone was very nice on Delta and the food served was palatable if not particularly diet friendly. I had trouble with the remote, as I mentioned, but I had my Sudoku and my Kindle and I even managed to get a power nap or two while stuck smack in the middle of the plane. The return trip, also on Delta, in partnership with KLM, went to Seattle. We had better seats but felt even more cramped. Neither my nor Diane’s remotes worked properly on that flight, and the food, again, was tasty but heavy on the carbs.
Seattle is an interesting airport. We managed to wade through passport control and customs and another security check, grateful that our plane landed fifteen minutes early. Navigating the airport was more challenging: a tram system linked the terminals once you figured out where you were supposed to be. At first it was scary and uncertain for people on a time squeeze, but once through it we realized how quick and efficient the system actually was. I was most intrigued by the fact that these trams ran under the airport AFTER you passed through security, which meant that they had to be totally contained within the secure areas of the place. Pretty amazing.
Then we boarded the plane for our last jaunt. It seemed counter-intuitive to fly to Seattle just to head back east to Kalispell, but in terms of time spent traveling it turned out to be the fastest and most direct route home. The plane was a twin prop that could seat 80. It turned out to be the roomiest of the planes we were on, with plenty of leg room and overhead space for our carry-ons and coats. The plane also cruised along a bit more slowly, offering us wonderful vistas of Mount Rainier, the Cascades, and the Rockies. It was the most comfortable and enjoyable leg of the to and fro.
But the best part of the flying was a constant in every plane: in 2009, the last time we flew, Diane and I were so heavy and so big that even the seats were uncomfortable. Not this time. Diane proudly (and with good reason) proclaimed: “And I don’t need a seatbelt extension!”
Of course, she still looked dangerous even by half.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..