After a very rough day yesterday, I did make it home last night in time to hit the hay by 11 pm. However, my body, which was still on Central European Time, was telling me it was past time to get up, not time to go to bed so I only could sleep 4 hours. I was wide awake before 3 this morning.
Because Charles de Gaulle is such a tough airport to get around in and security can take an hour or more during busy times, I caught the first subway at 5:30 am Paris time yesterday and was at the airport before 7 for my 10:40 flight. However, I breezed through passport control and security and was at the gate well more than an hour before boarding time. Those big A380 planes with so many hundreds of passengers take a long time to board despite the fact that there were three boarding jet-ways. Air France allows almost an hour for boarding.
I had flown to Paris on the upper deck of the plane, so I decided to try the lower deck on the flight back from Paris to Los Angeles. There is definitely more space to store carry-on luggage on the lower deck. The photo below shows the spiral staircase leading from the lower to the upper deck.
During most of the flight, a good-luck rainbow accompanied us as shown below. I finally figured out that it was produced by the sun shining through the vapor trail coming off one of the planes wings and then shining through the small porthole in the door at the rear of the plane. Incidentally, one of the advantages of being on such a big plane is that there is plenty of room to walk around and to stand to stretch one’s legs. On a flight that lasts almost 12 hours, the economy-class seat can get very uncomfortable.
Announcements were made on the plane in both French and English. I understood the French better. Most French people who speak English do so with a strong accent and speak very rapidly. It makes it difficult for me to understand their English.
The flight attendant in our section luckily spoke to me in French. I would have found it embarrassing to tell him that I didn’t understand his English. Incidentally, by airlines standards, the food on Air France was excellent and was accompanied by free beer or wine and, if one wished, even free brandy. I did drink two beers during the flight, but I felt that trying the brandy would be pushing it.
As we flew south over Canada toward Los Angeles, I took the following picture through that small porthole in the rear door. I didn’t have a window seat, or I could have gotten a much better shot.
Another advantage to such a large plane is that it responds less to turbulence. After takeoff, the seat-belt sign went off and it stayed off the entire flight until we were descending into Los Angeles. The flight was very smooth.
In Los Angeles, I breezed through immigration thanks to Global Entry. There were dozens of Global Entry machines available and few passengers using them. I had checked no bags (I’ve learned to travel very light with only one carry-on bag), so I went direct through customs without having to wait for the slow process of bag delivery.
When I was walking in the Los Angeles airport, an elderly woman (almost my age) asked me why I didn’t take a wheelchair instead of walking. I know I walk with a limp due mainly to a problem with my left leg, but I didn’t realize that the limp looked THAT bad. I’m not quite ready for a wheelchair yet, thanks. I feel that the longer that I force myself to walk, the longer I’ll be able to walk.
In the Los Angeles Airport, I had a layover of more than six hours before my flight to Phoenix. I have a Priority Pass, which gets me into many airport lounges, so I spent most of the layover in the Korean Airlines lounge. I was so groggy from lack of sleep, however, that I could have sat anywhere and waited. I was too tired to read or even to really enjoy the free food. I’ll admit to having sipped two free German beers, however.
I had bought a basic economy ticket on the Delta Flight from Los Angles to Phoenix. That means that I didn’t get a seat assigned until I reached the gate. When I got my boarding pass, I was surprised to find that I had been assigned a premium seat with more leg room and had priority boarding. I had bought the cheapest ticket possible, but for some reason that I do not understand, I was treated better than the passengers who had paid full fare.
I am still groggy from jet lag and lack of sleep, so I won’t get much accomplished today. If I can force myself to go out for a bike ride today, perhaps I will sleep better tonight. Surprisingly, my leg problem that makes walking painful doesn’t affect me at all when I’m pedaling one of my bikes. However, it usually takes me about a week to get back to a normal sleep schedule when I fly from Europe back to Phoenix.