Thursday, 20 September 2012 – The Flight

We’re on our way!

We had the good fortune that our houseguest Cynthia was able to drive us to the airport this morning.  Thank you, Cynthia! At first we had a problem finding the meeting place at Terminal 1, but finally we heard Tom Karlo calling to us from across the road. There are 32 people on the tour, but only nine of us are taking the bus from this airport to LAX. There was Tom and Julie, Sam and Marcia, Brandon and Janine, and Art.

Gathering for the drive to LAX

Others had gone earlier, or were coming from another location.   We finally got under way at around 10:50 AM but since the flight was scheduled to depart at 4 PM we had plenty of time.

We had a wonderful ride to LAX discussing KPBS and its programming with General Manager, Tom Karlo. We got a little inside information, but what happens on a bus to LAX stays on a bus to LAX.

We arrived and were let off at the main terminal, where we soon learned that the departure of Flight 065 had been moved Tom Bradley terminal.  Fortunately our van had not left yet, so back went the bags on the bus for a short ride around the corner to the next terminal.

As we pulled up to the Tom Bradley, there was Pat Allen, waving to us. We met tour members Jeff and Catherine, and inside we found Rebecca, our second tour director, waving a KPBS sign. Getting through baggage drop-off and security was easy, as it generally is these days, I would say. I found I have a new travel privilege: because of my age: I no longer have to take off my shoes (or light jacket if I had one) going through security. It’s a little insulting, because I am just about as capable of creating mayhem as I ever was. We headed for the waiting area and found that there were multiple waiting areas, depending on your class of flight, which deck you are on, and your seating row number. The waiting area for our section was huge and I suddenly realized how big this airplane was. It’s an Airbus A380 with two decks and seating for over 500 passengers. Along the way we met another member of our party, Karen, our guide Becky’s aunt.

The “ramp” to the A380 door.

I  never heard them actually call our flight so when the linesbegan to form, we stood up and got in the line running past our seats. It was only later that we found out lines were forming or according to the row you are in. Our row was 35 and through good fortune we happened to have joined the right line. We found out how high the plane sits on the ground when we used the zig-zag ramp up to door level.  It’s a big plane.

On the main deck the seating was 3-4-3, so our E and F seats did not come close to being a window seat. In fact, we were in the very middle of the airplane. I wound up sitting next to an artist who was lamenting the fact that she was not sitting next to her husband. She noticed that in the two seats directly in front of us there was only one person, and she asked that lady to give up her seat and the empty one to her so she could sit with her husband. I’m not sure I would’ve done that in the same position because that lady wound up losing the empty seat next to her for a long flight. She later said to me she almost refused the request, but some people are really nice.

The announcements in French and English went on forever, but included was a special welcome for our KPBS group. Nice touch. The food was slightly better than typical airline food, and to get in the French mode I finished off my dinner with cognac and coffee. We each had our own video screen but I couldn’t get any of the games to work.  Others around me seemed to be having the same problem.  Teresa and I finally selected the movie “Analyze This” with Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal. We each watched it on our own screen with our own headphones but I synchronized our video so that we were watching it together.  It turned out to be a great choice, very funny.

En route. It looks like you can see the earth’s curvature.

The Airbus has a special feature: three cameras mounted to scan forward from the nose, forward from the top of the tail, and straight down. From the top of the tail you could watch the plane itself as it took off and landed. Quite interesting.

 

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