Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dulles to Munich

Wow, what a plane. Excuse me, AIRBUS. After an impressive-looking first class area, the rest of the plane had a front and back section, each almost as big as regular planes. There were 2 aisles separating the sets of 2, 4, 2 seating in each row.

I’d been on a plain like this as a kid when my family took a trip to Israel and Egypt. But that was 25 years ago. Jeez… back then I used to think just being 25 was old, or old enough. Now somehow I’m old enough to remember something I did 25 years ago.

I’ll tell you what, Lufthansa has nice service. Each seat had a fresh pillow and blanket it in plastic waiting for our heavy heads and weary bones. The plane started moving very soon after we all boarded. None of this shit we usually get on AirTran or Southwest where you sit there for a half hour in the stuffy air while the captain tells you that we’re waiting for other planes to take off so we can first start taxiing down the runway.

No, these Lufthansa peeps are all business. Once we took off, the little TV screens showed maps with a little airplane icon tracking our progress. It would zoom in on the DC area and then zoom out to bigger pictures showing the ocean we’d cross and marking our final destination of Munich.

Quickly, the efficient staff was serving drinks and some strange cheese-stick crackers. They didn’t have Jack Daniels, but I can’t complain: the drinks were apparently free. I opted for some Warsteiner premium verum: German beer. Pretty good.

It’s something like 10pm and they’re serving a hot dinner meal after coming around to give us hot/moist towels. Dinner came in little foil containers with either a veggie/pasta dish or chicken, green beans, and mashed sweet potatoes. I got the chicken. They came with a roll, a surprisingly nice salad and some tiramisu cake that was really good.

After dinner, the beer and Zanex team was starting to win the battle against the cramped seats and nearby crying children. It was time for Radiohead’s Kid A album to take me off to sleep among the clouds. I faded in and out, changing pillow positions and shifting in my seat and apparently sleeping for 2-3 hours. I’m really not sure.

Soon the house lights were back on, people were stirring and bright sunlight came through the few windows whose shades had been opened.

My eyes hurt, barely encouraged by the sight of the coffee and breakfast carts coming around. Didn’t we just eat dinner? It’s 3am, but with the time change it’s 9am. I’m tired.

As we approached Munich, we quickly realized we’d be landing at about the time our connecting flight to Athens would be boarding. Looks like we’d have to do an O.J. Simpson through the airport to make it to our gate on time. (Keep in mind, in this context, to “do an O.J. Simpson” means running and jumping over luggage if necessary to hustle through an airport like the old Hertz commercials, not stabbing and killing our ex-wife and her friend and dropping our bloody glove near our house and not going to jail and then coining a new euphemism: “Looking for the real killer,” which actually means “Playing golf and making smarmy comments at money-making appearances.”)

I’d heard how nice and modern the Munich airport was, and it was, but we didn’t have time to linger. We negotiated all the escalators and corridors following the signs for Gate G20. We got there just in time to join the end of the line of people boarding the flight for Athens.

Thank god. I don’t care how nice the Munich airport is, the next flight to Athens wasn’t till 7pm and the thought of sitting around for 8 hours in another airport was unappealing to say the least.

A smaller, regular-sized plane this time. Just a 2-hour flight. But once again, Lufthansa hooked it up: lunch was a hot rice dish and 2 more free Warsteiners.


maureen elizabeth said...

This was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, yes. I always fly Lufthansa when I go to Germany for a couple of reasons. First, I'm pretty sure that Lufthansa planes are maintained in Germany by Lufthansa employees who have all gone through an apprenticeship of at least 3 years, as opposed to some US airlines which have their planes serviced somewhere in South America...
And, the service is wonderful. The food isn't as great as it used to be, but there IS food, and the hot towels, and the beer or wine offered generously. And the staff all seem competent and interested (as opposed to what I experienced eight years ago on an Air France flight).
I'll be passing through the Munich airport soon and am eager to see what it looks like. I've heard it's lovely. But there's not much that can beat the strangely illuminated underground corridor with changing lights and spooky sounds in the Frankfurt airport...

Another traveller