Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Step #1

I suppose being offered a job was Big Step #1, actually. Regardless, I've just taken what feels like the first Big Step, and booked a flight. I'm flying out of Chicago on August 11 and arriving at London Heathrow on August 12 at 8 am. Shockingly, Virgin Atlantic had the cheapest flight, so that's the airline I'll be using. I've got no brand loyalty; I've used a different airline on each trip to England.

The first time, I flew with Northwest, which proved to be quite an adventure. After an on-time departure from St. Louis, I had to suffer through a roughly 5-hour layover in Minneapolis. Layovers are typical, but this one was only supposed to last an hour. The plane was boarded on schedule, actually, but after about 45 minutes, they announced that there were mechanical problems. Scary. The announcement was followed by a trek across the airport to a new gate and plane, where we had to wait for several more hours. Vouchers for Subway definitely did not make up for the experience. In the end, the functioning plane was very comfortable, and I think the food was probably edible, but I was terribly sick because of nerves. This meant that I did not sleep or eat; I only watched movies (They had a pretty decent selection.) and tried not to think about the pain in my stomach. Fortunately, I was sitting next to a nurse who, in an oddly serendipitous stroke, worked at the hospital next to my new university. Conversation was somewhat inhibited by my weak stomach, but she was able to give me advice on how to minimize the pain of airsickness and then how to get to the university. Overall, it was actually a fitting introduction to my study abroad experience--full of luck and inconveniences.

I took United Airlines this spring. This flight was much smoother; there were no plane problems or delays. I wasn't nauseated, either. Huzzah! I was able to concentrate on my Austen (Persuasion) and eat. Word of advice, though: Never even try to eat an airline breakfast. Ugh. I also wound up with a terrible seat and didn't speak a word to anyone around me, which was rather disappointing. I didn't like the experience very much at all. I guess the impersonality of United and the mechanical issues of Northwest balance each other out, and I don't really want to fly on either again. I'm excited about trying out Virgin; obviously, it's targeted toward young people, so I'll see if it lives up to its advertising.



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