Monday, September 17, 2001

My Trip Began With Flight 2

Darn those time changes. Despite getting to sleep pretty late last night, my body decided to get me up wide awake at 6 this morning.

Anyway, "Bill", co-worker A and I left on a shuttle from work on Friday the 7th. Because of potential traffic delays, we were put on a shuttle at 3 for a 7:45 flight. We got to Dulles a little after 4. That gave us mucho time to kill. Fortunately, Bill is a Red Carpet Club member, and he can bring two guests.

The Red Carpet Club is an oasis United provides in the airport to its customers who pay for the privilege. It has comfy chairs, free sodas and munchies, free local phone calls, and perhaps most importantly, a quiet air that harkens back to a more refined era of air travel. So we sat there for a couple of hours. A and I read; Bill used his laptop. Then I ran out to McDonalds to get hopefully-mad-cow-free beef for the last time in a while.

My verdict on the Red Carpet Club -- it's nice. But I have a pretty good ability to find a secluded spot in the airport and tune everything else out. Once, when I was a kid, I was waiting for a bus at a playground with a whole busload of other kids. I was sitting on a swing or something reading a book. When I looked up, I noticed the bus had arrived and all the other kids had gotten on and were now yelling at me to hurry up. Which is to say with my nose in a book, which it usually is while waiting at an airport, I can't tell the difference between the Red Carpet Lounge and an unused gate I've wandered off to. Besides, next year with my Premier Executive (50,000 mile) status, I'll be able to use the Red Carpet Lounge when traveling internationally. But I can definitely see the attraction of the place.

So then it was time to board. We were on United Flight 2, which is United's round-the-world flight. It's the counter-clockwise version -- from Santa's perspective, at least. It goes Dulles to London to Delhi to Singapore to Hong Kong to Los Angeles and back to Dulles again. We were only on it for one hop, but there were a number of Indians on it for 2. (I sneaked a peek at their boarding passes.) Economy Plus and its 6 inches of extra leg room did not exist on this flight, and foolishly I put my carry-on luggage under the seat in front of me and reduced my leg room a bit more. Last time for that. I've learned my lesson, and I think there's going to be a lot more room in the overhead bins in coming years.

And so it was across the Atlantic for the most light-hearted flight I'll be taking for some time.

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