I write this in the air, somewhere between Vanuatu and Fiji (although I won’t be able to post until we get to Sydney) in the midst of some light turbulence as we go through the clouds at 37,000 feet. I’ve been on this plane 11 hours already and still have about four more to go.
There are a couple great things about flying business class (besides getting to sit in the mystical upper deck of a 747-400). Being able to avoid lines is one. I got in a special check-in lane at SFO and was quickly processed through. Then – with almost 90 minutes to kill before boarding, I was able to avail myself of the airport lounge. Free food and drinks, comfy seats and big TVs – good way to kill time.
I then got into another “express” line to board the aircraft when the time came. I went and found my upstairs seat and was pleasantly surprised that I – a 6-foot, 1-inch tall male – could actually stretch my legs straight out without touching the seat in front of me.
The flight itself has been pleasant enough, save for one kerfuffle as we left. Just as we got near the edge of the runway to begin our roll, we had to go back to the gate because a passenger needed some heart medication that hadn’t gotten aboard yet (I’m looking at you 37E!). That delayed our departure by about 20 minutes, no biggie. I was a bit disappointed that we took off out over San Francisco Bay due to rainy weather. I had specifically booked a seat on the right side of the plane so I could see our house as I flew over (we are just off the “heavy” jet flight path for SFO).
(Right: my appetizer.)
Soon after takeoff, the flight attendants came over with the white linen and I was handed an appetizer plate: smoked salmon, veggies, a salad and a dinner roll. I also accepted a small glass of white wine.
Despite having had a sumptuous repast of fishsticks and mashed potatoes courtesy of Claire earlier in the evening, I gulped down the offering just in time for the dinner plate to come around (note that this was just after midnight, PDT). I ate about three quarters of my fork-tender short ribs (good, not great but better than what one usually gets in economy) and watched “Speed Racer” on my little personal video screen.
Unfortunately, this was an older 747 and the video wasn’t on demand – just looped. So I missed the first five minutes or so. Suffice it to say that I didn’t feel I missed anything (and I’m glad I had a choice of films in the first place). The flick wasn’t as bad as some critics claimed, but definitely catered to those in three categories: the very young, the animé crowd or older fans of the original 60s-70s cartoon. I was in the last category.
The felIow next to me is sleeping (he’s a hydrologist going on to work on a project in Papua New Guinea). I tried to sleep, and probably got about four hours worth. Not enough to call resting a success, but a good start. I went downstairs to take a walk to avoid deep vein thrombosis and saw that despite economy being about half empty – and folks down there thus being able to stretch out – about half the passengers were awake. Glad I’m up top tonight. As for my case, being super-tired in the evening might be beneficial to helping me knock off in the reputedly uncomfortable “day-nighter” seats on the Indian Pacific Railway.
I was half-expecting to have a mini-ceremony (perhaps a ceremonial whipping) as we crossed the equator, but sadly I think even the flight attendants were napping.
Coming up on New Caledonia now, three-and-a-half more hours of flying ahead. See you in Oz … hopefully one more quick post in Sydney before I hope the train, but no guarantees. (Below: Sunrise over the South Pacific.)
Update: It’s three hours later, still about 35 minutes to go. They were supposed to serve us omelets, but so far no sign of them … I was just handed warm towel for the second time, and tried to not look as clueless with it as Adam Sandler did in “The Wedding Singer.” After the events above, I caught “Baby Mama” on the video screen. It had its moments, but was generally blah.
Ah, good. Here’s my brekkie (as they say in Oz) …