Famous last words: They'll feed me, I'll be fine

Trip Start Dec 28, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, December 28, 2009

With the luxury of having my parents close to JFK, I decided to fly in a day early to eliminate any chance of getting a bad connection and miss my flight for any of the numerous reasons something can go wrong flying into JFK right after Christmas. Considering everything that went down on Christmas Day, or nearly went down, this was looking like a pretty wise decision. And given the absurd work schedule I was up against leading up to my departure, it was nice to have a relaxing day at home to take care of the last bit of minutia before the trip. Of course it didn't hurt to get a little home-cooking either on my way out to traveling on a budget, eating a big lunch of my mom's Christmas special spaghetti and meatballs and a slice of her famous birthday chocolate cake. I took another slice with me for the flight, because you would too if you knew what this cake was like. But on the way out my mom, because she's a mom, asked if I wanted to bring anything else with me. I kept telling her it wasn't necessary: I was stuffed from lunch, I had the slice and surely I'd be fed on the flight. What I didn't take into account was that I'd be flying Egypt Air.

I've come to expect certain things out of an intercontinental flight -- that it will be stuffy and uncomfortable, that the air will be cold and dry and a disaster for my skin, that I will sleep fitfully and insufficiently. I'm cool with, it's a small price to pay to get to places where it's summer in winter, the newest building are older than the United States and you see animals in their natural habitat that you never imagined you'd see anywhere except at a zoo. That's the price, and sometimes the point, of travel; there's a sense of accomplishment. If getting to Australia was a matter of hopping down the interstate or if getting to Asia was a matter of shutting off your brain and 'voila' you're there, it loses some of its exoticism. If it were that easy, then more people would do it, and it wouldn't as exciting or as unique or as adventurous.

What I'm getting at, in a long-winded, backwards method is, don't fly Egypt Air. (Editor's Note: Don't fly Egypt Air if you're actually going to Egypt. Do, by all means -- and I'll get into this in future entries -- fly Egypt Air if you only have a layover in Egypt.) I made my bed when I booked this flight, and I was content to not be able to sleep while on it. It was several hundred dollars cheaper than anything else. It afforded me the opportunity to get a layover in Cairo at absolutely no cost to me except for my time, and what is that anyway? But as low maintenance as I am, there are some comforts I expect when I'm confined on a plane for 11 hours, let alone one I paid four figures to sit in. And I don't think I'm too far out of line with these.  A beer with dinner would nice to take the edge off, though I'll concede the cultural/religious issues at hand (even if Emirates gleefully serves alcohol -- and that includes the hard stuff). A personalized TV on the seatback in front of me would be nice too. This is the 21st century -- and we're now a full decade in too. Eleven hours is a long to have few options beyond reading and getting meager sleep. And while these might be "luxuries" a snack, though, shouldn't be an issue. And I shouldn't even have to ask. Maybe airlines like Qantas go over the top where they lavish you until you have to decline, but 11 hours on a plane and at nearly $1200 for the ticket, I shouldn't also have to shell out for overpriced airport junk food if I want to have a more to eat than a crappy (even by airline food standards) dinner and a meager continental breakfast. With about four hours left in the flight I got up and went to the curtained off area where the flight attendants hang out and asked if I could get a snack, something simple like peanuts or a bag of pretzels. I was told that this was impossible, but worry not, breakfast would be served in two hours. Now that's service.
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