LH 419 from IAD to FRA
For all you neophytes out there, that means I’m on Lufthana 419 (a Boeing 747) from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt must be a significant hub for the Star Alliance (hurray Star Alliance – thanks for the Aeroplan points!), since this flight seems representative of the entire globe.
I’ve seen people on this flight going to Israel, Germany, Ethiopia, Lagos (Nigeria), Bangalore (India), etc. And that’s without asking around. I myself am booked through to Istanbul. Apparently, when I arrive there, I have to clear immigration and customs before finding the Tajik Airlines (aka Tragic Airlines – don’t tell my mother) desk to check in for my flight to Dushanbe. I have a reserved ticket, but I have to pay for it in US$ cash upon arrival at the gate. Tajikistan Airlines flies Tupelov-154′s, a notorious Russian-built plane with a spotty record, although my colleages reassure me that one landed upside-down in India once, and everyone came off uninjured. So they’re tough.
6:50 pm – Finally, we are in the air. The flight “left” 50 minutes ago – see previous posting regarding large international departures at close proximity. I am in 43K, an aisle seat to the rear of the final kitchen. This is a bulk-head seat, which has a variety of positives and negatives. On the plus side, there is more room for my knees, and I can stick my feet into the kitchen. On the other hand, I can’t stick my feet under the wall (or usual seat), and this row is full of children under age 2 flying with no ticket. There are 10 seats (3-4-3) in this row, but 14 people. The 4 infants are on laps, and are currently quiet, although I don’t give this much hope of continuing.
My first seat-mate was an Israeli aircraft maintenance technician coming back from a job in Los Angeles. He says that Israel’s cities are safer than America, especially after dark, and that we would all do well to ignore the news. He feels that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict gets more coverage in North America than it does back home. We had nicely settled-in to some banter when our teutonic (Lufthansa, don’t forget) stewardess (do they still call them that?) asked him to switch seats to accommodate a family. So now I am sitting with a couple from Lagos, Nigeria and their 3-week old daughter. He is a businessman, who has a renovation company, is in building supplies, and has a telephone equipment business. She is a banker. After some birthing difficulties in the past back home, the woman came to the States six months ago to ensure the best possible medical care (take that Tommy Douglas). The husband came about six weeks ago, and now they are heading home with baby (and about enough stuff piled around them to fill all the space in front of them. (The stewards just set up some basinets on the wall – see the photo – Airplane Bassinets.JPG.)
When asked about the situation in Nigeria, my seatmate responded with “things are getting better . . . but, oh the politicians . . . they just do what they want.” We also had a bit of a chat about Jos (another city in Nigeria), where my mother (hi Mom) was born.
Across the aisle and back a row are two good ‘ole boys from the south, complete with Nascar regalia, several days’ growth, camoflage hats and Harley Davidson t-shirts. Unfortunately for their neighbours, they are on opposite ends of the row, with two people stuck between them. They seem to be headed on some kind of (possibly central Asian) project that might involve oil. (Later investigation reveals their destination as Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. They will get there via a flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.)
The movie (or whatever it is – looks like a music video) has just come on. I am fortunate (!) enough to have the TV screen almost straight up above me, as well as the only screen to have the special look of unaligned tracking.
10:55 pm (Washington time), somewhere over the Atlantic – Am trying to read through the briefing materials received. Interesting background on the Tajik civil war (although by the description, I think that is almost too organized a word – anarchy seems more appropriate) is accompanied by the background music of a screaming baby. Fortunately the others are sleeping.
In-flight movie about half over – “Around the World in 80 Days” with Jackie Chan.
Have now moved on to more scintilating reading – the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan (nerd factor rising).
11:45 pm (Washington time)/5:45 am in Frankfurt – 38,000 feet up, 580 miles per hour, and it’s -83 F (-63 C) outside. We’re about 900 miles from Frankfurt somewhere just south and west of Ireland (or about 2 hours flying time – at least that’s what the screen says – if you do the math, you might think differently, but then again, you may not want to land at 580 mph). Given the fact that we left quite late, this is going to be a short connection of about 45 minutes. At least I’m not changing airlines. All quiet of the baby front.
Observation: As we passed over the SW tip of England, we ran into some rough air. But then, the Germans always ran into a rough ride over Britain. Long may she rule.
I do believe I am getting tired and rambling. Or rambling and tired. Or tired of rambling.
No flight report being complete with a food report, here it is. Was served supper last due to baby complications in the row. Some kind of pasta with mysterious tomatoey sauce, with a fruity pastry-ish dessert, cheddar cheese (which I collected from my Nigerian friends for later consumption), a biscuity roll, and a mysterious vegetable mixture. And now, I have been handed a box with a Black Forest (how suitable) Ham and cheese sandwich, some raspberry yogurt from the Upstate Farms Cooperative (Saskatchewan government officials heard cheering) Inc. (Alberta government officials heard cheering) in Buffalo, NY, and a Quaker Chewy Wholesome Favorites Baked Apple Low Fat Granola Bar.