Friday, January 21, 2011

18 hours in the air

You know that feeling you get when you're pretty sure death would be preferable to your current condition? Well, that is how I feel right now.

My company decided, at the last minute, that I needed to go to Africa. It sounds ridiculous, and you are probably thinking that I am making this up, but rest assured, its incredibly true, or, INCREDI-TRUE!

So, I wanted to make sure that I would at least get as many miles as possible with United, after all, Tanzania is very very far away. Its so far away in fact, that gravity is reversed, and everyone just walks on the ceilings. The airport I needed to fly into is known as Kilimanjaro airport, with the call sign JRO. The really, really, really crappy thing is that there are no Star Alliance flights to this airport. I spend hours upon hours trying to find the best way to get to this airport. I was going to fly to South Africa on South African Airlines, then spend the night there and take Kenya Air to JRO, but somehow that wasn't going to work. Then I was going to take Continental to Belgium, purchase some fries, and then hop a plane to Rwanda, then spend the night there, get kidnapped, use Karate to escape, then hop a short flight to Arusha... but that turned out not to be an option either.

KLM flies direct from Amsterdam to JRO. But KLM is not a Star Alliance carrier. So I had two options. Kill myself to get as close as possible to JRO on Star Alliance carriers, or take a less stressful, easier route, and only get the miles from EWR to AWS (Newark to Amsterdam). Guess which option I chose? That is right, the third option; swim.

The Continental flight to Amsterdam should have been glorious. I had a huge exit row all to myself. I could put up the arm rests and lie across the three seats. But there were two problems. 1) I am sick as hell. 2) I'm way too tall to fit lying down across three seats. I got some kind of super virus that has plagued me with terrible cold symptoms for over a month now. As we all know, flying with a cold is just about the closest you can get to water-boarding yourself without actually being tortured by the CIA. So, despite the fact that I was offered two square meals, and had an entire exit row to myself, I was miserable.

The same was true on the second leg of my journey. After flying all night, I got to Amsterdam at 8am (after a painful descent where the change in pressure outside didn't equalize with the pressure in my sinuses causing a horrible sensation where you feel like you're head is literally going to explore). I aimlessly wandered around the airport, my mind clouded by copious amounts of phlegm, until I found my gate for my flight to Africa. The weird thing about Amsterdam is that I didn't have to go through passport control to board my second international flight. They had a security screening area... at the gate! Weird, right? But I prefer it. Instead of jamming everyone through one security area, each gate has its own. Once you get through it, they scan your boarding pass and then you're locked into this holding area waiting to board. Once everyone is through security, they say over the loud speaker "Ready... go". And everyone just boards at once. I was at the front and got on the plane early. Before I flew, I upgraded myself on KLM to "comfort economy", which is like EconomyPlus. More leg room, at the front of the plane... but it cost $150. Whatever, I didn't care. I needed the 'comfort'. Again, I had the row to myself, but since I had a bulkhead seat, the arm rests didn't go up. That flight was 8 and a half hours. I had brought with me an entire suitcase dedicated to cold medicines, which I took every 4 hours. Even so, I was still miserable. Coughing, sniffing, sinus pressure... I wanted to die. It is a shame as well because I was given three very delicious meals on the flight. But man was I jealous of business class. They had a 5 course gourmet meal, flat bed seats, and... well that's it. I would have killed to be able to sleep. I actually did kill someone so I could sleep... but let us forget who that person is, or was, because it isn't important.

I landed at JRO around 9pm, still sick as a dog. And that is when the real 'fun' began. Stay tuned to hear more about it.

:: cough :: :: cough:: :: sputter::


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