I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Start spreading the booze

I just woke up in the city that never sleeps. Feel like I should watch an episode of King of the Hill, but I can't find much of interest on the TV to be honest so I've got a muted BBC America. I quite fancy some egg based breakfast actually. But first, this.

I fucked off from the AA lounge at about 1615. They'd said they were going to announce boarding about then, and that time was also written on my boarding pass. What's more, page four of the T3 PDF says gate 36 is 20 minutes walk at least, and I knew there'd be awkward secondary security and all that "are your electronics actually bombs?" stuff. So 45 minutes felt about right.

I was in my seat on the plane by 1624. 20 minutes to walk seems remarkably conservative. I know you have to get people to the gates on time so as to minimise delays and chaos but, I mean, really? I wasn't just at the gate in 9 minutes, I was on the fucking plane! Granted I did, in fact, not have secondary or any kind of security to deal with, and priority boarding was working well. Plus my seat was quite near the door, what with being in row 3.

Wow. What a seat. I'd booked this flight specifically to experience AA's new business class cabin, a supposedly giant leap forward taking them up to being one of the best in the sky. I was very impressed with it at first sight. The legroom was ridiculous, possibly even more than Qantas first class. The seat was not as wide or private, but there was loads of storage space and a fancy entertainment system. A blanket and pillows were on the footrest - too far for me to reach with my feet, mind. I sat and got comfy while being blasted by the loudest aircon I've ever heard.

It took 20 minutes for me to see a member of staff. Every business class I've been on, the staff come to ask to hang your coat, give you a drink or newspaper, ask if you need anything. I know it was still a long time to take off but to see no-one felt a bit... meh. I was in the front row of business, row 3, with a half decent view of First class which really didn't look like much of a step up.

Champagne arrived in a plastic cup. Plastic? Really? But, y'know, champagne... I also got handed my Bose noise cancelling headphones. Which I then spent about half an hour trying and failing to plug in. Their jack is actually 3 jacks in a triangle, and just above the USB socket was a triangle of sockets, but I just could not plug the fucker in. I also tried my own headphones in each of the three, and failed. For fucks sake. Wondered if I was going to have to move seat, if this was broken, so when a hot towel arrived I asked if there was a knack - and got told that the design is stupid, no one gets this right...and that the real headphone jack is inside one of the storage bits. The visible one is for component cables for video, wtf! Should I have bought my Wii?

They handed me a menu but correctly remembered that I'd pre-ordered chicken. We took off a bit late because some people weren't cleared to fly, I think. Not sure what time we left, I was too busy playing Threes... stupid fucking game.

Up in the air, champagne and nuts arrived and I slapped on Anchorman 2. Also bought wifi and got online, just for the sake of it. Meal service started really early, and it was announced that the flight time would only be 6:24 having been scheduled for 8:00, arrival time 2000.

The starters were absolutely delicious. Presentation was decent but these little cheap greasy spoon plastic salt and pepper shakers were oddly out of place. This is meant to be "premium", and it wouldn't cost fuck all to get some less flimsy pieces of crap to go with everything else. Weird. And such an insubstantive thing to complain about. The main course of chicken was nice too, and I turned down dessert in lieu of a cheese plate...which was tiny. Nice, but not enough for this fat bastard.

Loved Anchorman 2. Laughed out loud a lot. More champagne arrived and I set to writing the previous blog post while trying to watch Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman, which really pissed me off. The episode I had on was "Do we have free will?" and, grargh, I just wanted to shout OH FUCK OFF at half the segments. Especially the video vignette that seemed to say war and apartheid are like hurdling. I'm not making that up.

All throughout, the champagne came in a tumbler rather than a flute or wine glass. The quantity was vast.

It took me ages to write the blog post. Not entirely sure why. I fell into the trap of just "being online", so checking a guestbook here or there, looking at Facebook, etc. It felt bad. I couldn't concentrate, and missed the normal experience of just being free from everything by being in the air. I did very much like being able to keep tabs on Southend vs AFC Wimbledon though. Come on you Dons!

Gave up on the Wormhole and scanned through the vast film library. Loads of good stuff but I wanted something I'd not seen before and picked Oculus, which sounded OK. I learnt during the intro credits that it's from WWE studios.

After a while I'd realised skipping dessert wasn't ideal cos I fancied summat sweet. I also remembered there was a self service bar/snack area, and obviously wanted to give that a go. A member of cabin crew told me to just help myself and then disappeared, without actually telling me where the beer was. A different guy appeared though, and told me which of the mini desserts I should have. Put 3 on a plate and asked where the beer was - he said he'd bring me one, which sure enough he did along with a chipped glass. C'mon American, where's the flawlessness?

Turned off wifi and gave up on Oculus, deciding instead to opt for 12 Years A Slave. Dozed for half hour, and got woken up by cabin crew prodding me to ask if I wanted a light meal before landing. Well, yes, of course I do: turkey sliders and a diet coke. "Sliders" appear to be mini burgers which aren't very nice.

A "how to arrive in the USA" video got played, and I checked in online for my next flight (on Thursday). The remaining time was spent looking at sunset over NE America, bemoaning how bad the TV choice was given the excellent movie choice. We landed at 1925 and fuck me did they slam on the brakes or what. Turned my phone on to get a variety of texts and Facebook messages, all complimentary it seems. Thanks :)

So I'm not sure what to make of that flight. I had privacy (especially as there was no one in the seats near me) and the seat was spacious, the screen great, the movie selection fantastic...but I didn't make the most of it because I just dicked around on my ipad like I would at home. I didn't make it special. I did neck a lot of free booze and have good food too. Some of the small things felt big because they were out of place, and I didn't really enjoy the service. Hard to really describe why, but just generally felt a bit rigid, timetabled, there was no real personalised touch. I guess I just didn't find them friendly. But maybe it's me that isn't? Meh.

Anyway, hello JFK T7.  Everyone knows that US immigration is awful, slow, etc. And upon entering the arrivals hall I thought, uh oh. There was only one staffed desk - out of 15 - for the visitors queue, which rapidly grew to over 100 people. I was tenth or so from the front and the first person took 6 minutes to clear. Glance at the watch. 1939. Could be here a while.

Or not. They started sending people to queue up at the residents' booths.  I got very few questions from the official and walked right past the baggage carousels because I fucking win. Straight into the terminal landside and followed the signs to AirTrain. I knew the deal here: you buy your ticket at the end, not the start. By 2000 I was on my way to Jamaica station.

Very easy vending machines to use, card bought, and out into the main station. Followed the signs to the Long Island Railroad, bought a return to Penn station, got on the train imminently leaving, the 2021. Sat by the door opposite the sleeping beach goers and chatted to Chris by text. Reached Penn within 20 odd minutes, followed the signs to 8th avenue exit and GOD FUCKING DAMN IT I HATE NEW YORK.

I don't understand the roads. I knew I wanted W 35th Street and just needed to go along 8th Avenue to find it.  So I emerge from the 8th Avenue exit outside Madison Square Garden and follow the blue dot on google maps by walking straight ahead. First street: 32nd. How do I know if I'm going the right way? I just guess, and follow the dot. Next block: 31st. For fucks sake! Turn round walk back 4 blocks, bemoan how easy I find NYC's numbering system to get lost in every fucking time I'm here.

My hotel is down a side street, past the backstage area of some venue - Hammerstein Ballroom I think? And appears to be next to a police station. I check in and am told the bar shuts in 2 hours. In my room and online by 2100 - which, for a scheduled 2000 landing at JFK is pretty fucking good.

Tired. Chris was awake so I chatted to him. Turned the TV on hoping to find WWE Main Event but failed. Thought about going for a nightcap but, y'know what? I've been awake 21 hours, taken 3 flights 2 monorails 1 train 1 coach and travelled over 3700 miles. I've had 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner and lots of snacks. And I've had a bunch of champagne and beer and...maybe I should just go to bed.

No comments: