Returning home

A few notes gathered during my trip, now that I’m on the way home (yay!) I got up early, finished packing, and ran into my friend Rick Taylor at breakfast. We had a great chat about the perils of raising kids (he has two girls and a boy about the same ages as our three boys). He also told me that Joel Oleson got to go to a sacrament meeting in Barcelona, and I confess to being a bit jealous.

First, airport security in Barcelona is a far cry from what we see in the US. My boarding pass underwent a cursory check, but no one checked my passport. At the screening point, no one asked me to take off my shoes or remove my laptop (though I did have to go back through the metal detector because my watch and class ring together were enough to set it off.) There were no shouting uniformed bullies, and no screening for liquids. This might be because of a casual attitude towards security at this one airport (security at Amsterdam is much more US-like), or it might be a more realistic assessment of the actual threat.

Second: my KLM flight BCN-AMS was delayed by about 45 minutes, but no one at BCN seemed to care. I thought I could call Northwest to get protected for my AMS-DTW leg, but once you check in, only the airline operating your first segment can modify the ticket. No one ever made announcements about the flight status or delay time, and two of the three gate agents I spoke to didn’t know how long the BCN-AMS flight was supposed to take. I guess that’s better than getting bogus announcements every 15 minutes, as sometimes happens on Comair. I just barely caught my AMS-DTW flight. Good thing AMS is uncrowded and easy to navigate. I never would have made a 30-minute connection at CDG, for example.

Third, intra-Europe business class isn’t what you think. I was seated in seat 2C, in what would be “domestic first” in the US. The seat pitch and size are identical to the coach seats, and seating on the 737 is 3-3, just like in coach. The difference? One, there are no complimentary upgrades (at least as far as I can tell) so it’s only about half-full. Second, they serve your choice of two hot entrees, plus hot bread. I had a grilled chicken breast with mango and pepper coulis, trout tartare, and a small square of chocolate-banana cake. All were delicious, way better than domestic US first-class food– and all this on a two-hour flight. (Extra bonus: KLM 737s have in-seat power using regular outlets.)

Fourth, the video-on-demand system on NWA’s A330 is really slick. I watched the Simpsons Movie (laughing my butt off the whole time) and was able to start and pause it when I wanted– almost as nice as being in my living room with ye olde Tivo.

Finally, I’m looking forward to having a couple of weeks without any air travel.

Birthday bonus: NW lost my bags. Thanks, guys. (The FA did offer me a birthday bottle of champagne, though, so I guess that outweighs the temporary hassle of being bag-free).

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