Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On Flying Internationally

When I was a little girl flying to Africa, times were different. 

There would be one big screen in the front of the cabin, on which one movie was shown that everyone had to watch.  At least, everyone who was big enough to see over the seats.  And if their Mom let them watch that particular movie.

I also remember that those were the days of smoking sections.  Once we were accidentally seated in the smoking section.  Another time, we were in the row directly behind the smoking section.  The guy in front of us smoked cigars the entire 10 hours.  I visited the bathroom about 3 times an hour, just to get away from the smoke.

But the times have changed, and not just because smoking is never allowed on any airplane anymore.  We still fly coach, but 20 hours on a plane isn't nearly as bad as it used to be, especially for kids.

For the first time, we flew on Emirates Air.  They gave Grace a free blanket (to take home), a stuffed animal, and an insulated lunch box with snacks in it. 




We had a menu.  I had already pre-ordered kids' meals for Grace, but I got to choose from these options for myself.  U.S. airlines may only give you peanuts, but international airlines just keep feeding you.  




The best part, however, are the personal touch screens on every seat.  Dozens of movies, TV shows, and even video games that you can play with the other passengers.  I watched almost the entire Seasons 1 & 2 of "Downton Abbey."  I'll work on the rest on the way home!

Grace was in heaven.  Free toys, blankets, snacks AND she gets to watch 5 movies in a row?  Doesn't get much better than that for a kid. 

 

After our first 5 hour flight, Emirates even gave us a free hotel room (and meals) for our 8 hour layover in Dubai. 

I must admit, however, that even though I have been a missionary for most of my life, I had some pretty serious culture shock in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).  The Dar es Salaam airport, even though it's an international airport for a city of 5 million people, has only six gates.  Six.  Yep, just six. 

The Dubai airport, in a city where opulence is King and probably even the cockroaches wear gold, has over 200 gates in just one of its terminals.  When we landed on the runway, a bus picked us up and we drove for 15 minutes just to get to the terminal

So yes, on arrival I felt nauseous and panicky and wanted to run right back into my nice safe Dar es Salaam with its six gates. 

 

After an 8 hour layover, we got back on the plane for a sixteen hour flight.  Yes, you read that right.  Sixteen hours from Dubai to Los Angeles.  That's the longest I've ever been on a plane at once, but Downton Abbey made it pretty bearable.  And the best part was getting to see the North Pole from 30,000 feet up. 
Totally indescribable. 

 
And when we got off the plane, Love was on the other end waiting for us.  
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