I hate flying. It’s not the part up in the air that bothers me. In fact, that’s generally a pleasant experience.
Here’s the beginning of the trip to France. We get a ride from a friend of ours to the Albany-Rensselaer train station, arriving at 10:30 for an 11:10 train to New York’s Penn Station.
The train leaves on time. I helped a young woman put her – god, that was heavy! – luggage in the overhead area. We used the Wi-Fi to check our email, and I wrote a bit.
We take the Long Island Railroad train to Jamaica, Queens. My daughter and I became experts in traveling the LIRR during her college visits. Buying the ticket at a kiosk is easy.
We’re to take the AirTrain to Terminal 4 at JFK Airport. This is a new experience for me. The one time I flew from Kennedy was as a connection between Albany and Barbados, so I’ve never had to get to that airport by land. It was pretty straightforward.
Alpha, beta, gamma…
When we get to Delta, though, it all falls apart. Where should we go? We asked five representatives and got as many contradictory answers.
We were in one massive line for a time. Then an airline representative directed some of us down escalator stairs and a five-minute walk to ANOTHER place we could check in. Good thing we had four hours before our flight.
It turned out we had more time than that. Our flight was delayed, first for one hour, then two, because of a window not sealed properly. Initially, they were going to fix it and repressurize the aircraft. Ultimately, they had to get another plane from a hangar. This is not a complaint, though being told we needed to go to three different ages was exhausting.
Finally, at 9:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time, we took off in one of those widebody vehicles that seat two, then three, then two across. We were in row 47 with lots of folks behind us.
The flight attendants spoke English, French, or both. Delta is affiliated with Air France. I watched two movies and one TV episode and got decent food. Considering it was seven hours, it was all good, although I never went to sleep as my wife did, using a light-blocking mask.
Landing at Charles DeGaulle Airport in Roissy-en-France was a massive confusion. The line I thought was to retrieve my luggage was to get my passport stamped. Regardless, it was long and chaotic. Occasionally, some staffers would say that if you have an American or a Canadian passport, you could go to a different line, but this was inconsistent.
Finally, we were sent to a shorter but hardly short line. The electronic scanners were down, and they were checking passports by hand. I got my passport stamped – my first on this document, which I procured in March 2022 – and I retrieved my suitcase at least an hour after getting off the plane.
We took a local train to the Luxembourg station in the Latin Quarter, walked to our first hotel, and dropped off our stuff about 24 hours after we left our house. FINALLY, the adventure could begin.