Viking Agean Cruise, Post Vacation Part 1
Reserved this 8 months prior, what can go wrong? *
Ten changes to flight itinerary over this period, with seemingly weekly alerts requiring several periods of over an hour on the phone to reconcile. Good luck to you, if your are not a Medallion Member (frequent flyer status) and trying to communicate over the phone. I mostly fly on the Sky Team Alliance- Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM. Of the 3 airlines, virtually every change that had to be mitigated came from Air France or KLM. If I have the choice, I will choose Delta over the other partners every time.
*Disclaimer: I am a Delta Airline retiree, who lived in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) for 30 years.
- IMO, both Paris and Amsterdam airports are currently ungainly messes from an operations standpoint, especially Amsterdam. If they are your final stop this is better than trying make a tight connection. In Amsterdam, we had a 3 hour connection and spent most of that time navigating the long terminals, without cart assistance, not to be seen, and standing in the passport check line for over an hour, with 3 of 8 processing windows open for business.
- Never accept less than a 2 hour (3 is better) layover in these airports, if you expect to make your connection.
- If there is a choice, choose Delta over the partners. Most if not all the Delta airplanes are new/newish, and feature new generous electronic entertainment with personal screens. Both KLM and Air France run 737-800 cattle car configurations domestically in Europe. The Air France aircraft did not even have wifi onboard.
- If flying to Greece, any direct flight out of the US to Greece is better than going though Paris or Amsterdam. Delta flies direct to Athens out of JFK.
After being beat down with changes, we went originally from 2 legs over, 2 legs back, to 3 legs over, 3 legs back. The icing on the cake coming back was a 65min layover, arriving 10 min late, in Paris to navigate multiple terminals and the dreaded passport control.
With the help of a magnificent woman, person of color, wheelchair captain (for my wife who does not walk well or fast over long distances), we achieved what should have been impossible as she flew though the airport, with me in tow, though all the secret corridors and multiple lifts, to the front of the passport line. We were the last 2 people boarded with minutes to spare.
Of note, when on the aircraft after landing in Paris, the Air France flight attendant went though the airplane and told the people who were going to use wheelchairs to remain seated and deplane last! I looked at my wife and said NFW, we would not make the connection. Being among the the first off and using a wheelchair was what made it work for us.
Minneapolis-St Paul Airport remains our favorite. It’s not huge (a plus), but mostly it’s a joy to travel though.
Honorable Mention: The Mile High Club
You’ve heard of it, having sex on an airplane?
My impression is that sex on a commercial aircraft happens in the lavatory. Never ever would I anticipate, I would witness this in public where the enthusiastic but quiet couple fulfilled their fantasy corner bulkhead seats, In a dark cabin with people (us) behind them and next to them across the isle. By this description, I don’t mean to sound overly critical of the woman…
Strangers on a Plane meet.
Aircraft configuration 2-4-2. They were on the side, 2 seats, bulkhead row. She is 30ish, he is 40ish. They talk, talk, talk, deep into the night. She is loud and for hours on end, we (with ear plugs in), can still unwantedly could hear her life story and her expletives, not deleted talking about her X husband. I actually started to drift off, when my wife nudges me, the woman’s hand is gripping the back of her chair, her hair is falling over the back of his seat covering parts of he monitor. The cabin is very dark, my eyes are not what they used to be, but I can see the siloutte of her head as is moves up and down, with soft moaning for effect. If I had been any kind of a man I would have hit the Flight Attendant call button,
but fortunately someone walked by and the next thing, a male flight attendant was there telling them to stop right now.
The climax to the story was that after hours of non-stop drinking (her), I am tapped on my leg by the passenger across the isle, I looked and he pointed. Peering around the seat in front of me, I see her head with that pretty long straight hair hanging over the arm wrest puking her guts up, threatening my right shoe. Cabin lights come on and a contingent of flight attendants appear, not to scold, but to clean up this woman’s mess. The man’s description “things happen
” and I imagine “I got lucky!”
After things settle back down, she sits with her head on her new friends shoulder. So, touching, the start of a beautiful relationship. But as we stand up to deplane, after a short goodbye, she says “See ya!”
To be helpful, and I imagine as a parting shot, the woman passenger next to the woman in question told her, you got some puke in your hair.”